Sears Can’t Accept Your Return Because They Just Can’t



The Ooma Telo is a voice over IP device that looks like a spaceship and lets you connect up your home broadband connection, your existing landline handsets, and the Ooma service. Francesca ordered one of these devices last week from while visiting family, and used in-store pickup to fetch it from a Sears store near where she was staying. She didn’t open or use the Telo, and decided not to keep it. But that’s the point of visiting large chain retailers, right? You can buy an item from one place, or online, and return it anywhere. That’s true in theory, but not at Sears.

She wrote to Sears:

I recently purchased an Ooma Telo on June 22nd (order # [redacted]). I ordered the item online for in-store pick up. I picked up the item as planned that night while visiting family in [redacted]. I decided to return this unused, unopen item to my local store ([redacted]) on July 4th. The sales associate in the electronics department was not able to process my return because I was not given a receipt that contained a return code when I picked up the item. However, I was able to call Sears customer service and get the code.

Unfortunately, that did not solve my problem. The customer service person ultimately called over a manager, who I believe was named [A]. She also tried to process the return, but eventually told me that I could not return the item because it was a “marketplace” item (even though my receipt says sold by Sears). I told her that I did not see anything in their return policy (which was taped up on the back of the register) that prevents customers from returning marketplace items in store. She then became rude and told me there was nothing I could do except return it to the store where I purchased it. The store where I purchased it is 3 HOURS AWAY!! I told her it was practical to return it to that store, but she did not care. After one hour of them attempting to return my item, I was rudely told that I was out of luck.

I decided to call Sears customer service again to explain my situation. They told me that my item was NOT a marketplace item, and that there was no reason why they should not be able to process the return. With this new information, I headed back into the store and asked to speak with a manager.

This time I spoke with [R], who is the Assistant Store Manager. She told me that whenever a person orders from, there is a good chance the the item will not be returnable because the system is old and it just won’t allow it.

At this point, I was upset, angry and shocked. Are you really telling me that a very large national store can basically pick and choose what they will accept back, even if the customer falls within all of the guidelines? Are you telling me that I take a chance of getting no return on any item I purchase from just because? Is “the system is too old” really an acceptable excuse for not accepting my return? This is absolutely ludicrous.

Mrs. [R] did tell me that I could mail the product back to, and even offered to pay for the shipping costs. That is a nice offer, however, why should I have to go out of my way again to go to the post office, then go back to Sears to see if this person will refund the costs.

Now I just spent another hour on the phone with customer service, who patched me through to [my local] store. The man at the local store suggested I drive to another Sears and try again. Really! I have to drive all over town wasting my gas and time in hopes of finding someone who might possibly help me! This is crazy!

I shopped at for the convenience, and I all got out of it was a product I don’t want and can’t return, and a huge hassle. Ironically, [my local] store has “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back” printed over the door I entered (see attached photo). I wish that was true! I’m desperate to get my money back! Now that you have heard my story, can you PLEASE provide me with a way to return this product!

She’s right: the Telo is available from Sears Marketplace sellers, but for a higher price, and not for in-store pickup. Marketplace items ship from outside vendors.


Edit Your Comment

  1. milrtime83 says:

    I’m guessing Sears doesn’t sell it in their stores and doesn’t have it in their system so they can’t process the return.

  2. Kuri says:

    Sears can’t accept the return because it would bite too much into their current income. /snark

  3. Misha says:

    Sears is obviously in the wrong, but who makes a purchase of that amount without being sure they’re going to keep it?

    • MeowMaximus says:

      Why do people still think Sears is competent at ANYTHING? Stop buying stuff from Sears! Sheehsh!

  4. Scooter McGee says:

    So the lesson is to continue not shopping at Sears in any way, got it.

  5. az123 says:

    Seems to me the OP just wants things her way. While I agree that there is some stupidity going on here, the store clearly cannot take it back for some unclear reason and has provided a method for the customer to return the product and get her money back, that the OP basically is refusing to do.

    Stop crying like a baby and just send the thing back to through the mail and get your money back. You do have a legitimate irritation with sears, but really just do what you need to to get your return completed and stop complaining

    • Hi_Hello says:

      yup. not sure why she said she can’t return it. she can mail it in. The guy even offer to pay for shipping.

    • makxmachine says:

      Watch her mail it and then have them tell her they have no record of receiving it as her attempts to provide copies of shipping receipts prove futile. Now she has no product nor a refund.

      • kc2idf says:

        That is exactly what I predict would happen.

        She should videotape the entire process of it going into the package, and the package being handed off to a shipper. That way, she has evidence to post on YouTube when Sears does do this, which, because they are a bunch of incompetent boobs, they will.

        Once the video has been posted to YouTube, this video, plus any paperwork, and this thread on Consumerist can be offered up as evidence of why she is doing the chargeback she’ll eventually have to do.

    • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

      Agreed. Even out here in BFE we are near a post office at least once a week. She needs to STFU and go mail it back.

      On the other side, Sears should be thanking their lucky stars she didn’t open and try to use this thing. THAT could have been a farging nightmare.

    • Murph1908 says:

      Sorry. I disagree. I actually think it’s fair to expect the store to follow their own posted policy.

      If this thing gets lost at Sears after she mails it in, she’s out of luck even further. You can’t trust Sears to do anything right at this point.

    • Kestris says:

      Why should she have to mail it back when she’s been told TWICE by a Sears customer service rep that she CAN return it at the store?

      Why can’t the store reps call customer service and ask what’s going on with their system that they can’t process the return?

      Sears is in the wrong here- they have a clearly posted return policy, their reps say the item can be returned and for whatever bullshit excuse, the in store reps are refusing to take the return.

  6. MightyHorse says:

    “why should I have to go out of my way again to go to the post office, then go back to Sears to see if this person will refund the costs.”

    consider it your punishment for being foolish enough to shop at sears.

  7. incident_man says:

    Ahhhhh…..Sears…..fading further and further into obscurity.

  8. offtopic says:

    Yes, Sears stinks, but why did she not take them up on the offer to have Sears pay to ship it back? She is unwilling to drop off a package at the Post Office, but will spend hours dealing with Sears and will drive to the Sears store to do battle – what gives?

  9. Blueskylaw says:

    “Sears Can’t Accept Your Return Because They Just Can’t”

    Well, since their explanation was so compelling, I have to agree with Sears on this one.


  10. blinky says:

    “why should I have to go out of my way again to go to the post office, then go back to Sears to see if this person will refund the costs.”

    Perhaps because you want and end to the hassle and don’t want to spend another hour on phone with Sears? Sounds like somebody’s got a bug up her …

    • msbask v2 says:

      Exactly. No one is suggesting that this is how is should be, and it’s fair warning for everyone else. But now that you’ve been given a solution: Take it!

  11. RobHoliday says:

    I have had the Ooma Telo for nearly 2 years and it works great. Never a problem. Nearly free phone ($11/yr).

  12. penuspenuspenus says:

    “Mrs. [R] did tell me that I could mail the product back to, and even offered to pay for the shipping costs. That is a nice offer, however, why should I have to go out of my way again to go to the post office, then go back to Sears to see if this person will refund the costs.”

    What exactly do you want them to do for you? Run your errands for you? You obviously want a refund, and they are telling you how their shitty system works and how to get it. You seem to be stuck in the “I want this done my way NOW and anything else is unacceptable. Why won’t anyone think of my hardship? :(”

    Stop it. You are wasting your time and money doing this. Just return the stupid thing through the mail like they told you to and learn the lesson everyone else has: Sears Sucks.

    • Scoobatz says:

      My thoughts exactly. Once I read the statement about Sears offering to pay the shipping costs, I thought the problem was resolved. I guess not.

      • One-Eyed Jack says:

        After she mails it back for refund, with tracking, I can see this headline on Consumerist:


    • 180CS says:

      I think the more exciting thing to do would be to sue for gas/time/depreciation of vehicle/stress. I sued my cell phone provider because they wouldn’t get my service working again and couldn’t explain why.

      Sure, the problem wasn’t solved, but with $600 bucks, my pocketbook didn’t even feel the changeover.

    • incident_man says:

      What if the product gets “lost in the mail” and Sears doesn’t refund the money? What if Sears does, in fact, receive the product back but, due to their incompetence, doesn’t refund the money? I’ve seen these things happen with other companies before and the customer is left without a product AND their money. Then they have to fight said company tooth and nail for a refund, jump through a ridiculous number of hoops and provide and endless amount of tracking numbers and other proof that the item was shipped back as instructed. Meanwhile, weeks pass before any semblance of funds are reimbursed to the buyer.

      The OP bought the item from Sears; any Sears store should be able to accept the return for refund back to the original form of payment without hassle. It’s called “customer service” and, obviously, Sears is lacking in that department.

      • scoosdad says:

        There’s a great Seinfeld episode dealing with shipping through the post office and having packages lost or damaged. Jerry has this conversation with Kramer:

        Jerry: So we’re going to make the post office pay for my new stereo now?
        Kramer: It’s a write-off for them.
        Jerry: How is it a write-off?
        Kramer: They just write it off.
        Jerry: Write it off what?
        Kramer: Jerry, all these big companies– they write off everything.
        Jerry: You don’t even know what a write-off is.
        Kramer: Do you?
        Jerry: No, I don’t.
        Kramer: But they do – and they’re the ones… writing it off!

        You can actually see Jerry start to laugh as Michael Richards leaves the scene. It’s here on YouTube:

      • penuspenuspenus says:

        What if she explodes before ever getting her money and her next of kin has to go through this hardship on her behalf??

        This whole “can’t return online items to a B&M store” scenario is not new. It’s annoying and rather stupid, but it’s nothing that hasn’t been bitched about for years on this site.

        Mail it back with insurance and delivery confirmation (or just use UPS/FedEx) on Sear’s dime like they offered. Keep a copy of the receipt and the delivery confirmation numbers and use that to fight if shit happens.

    • George4478 says:

      >>Just return the stupid thing through the mail like they told you to

      The first person told her no refund and give it up. Those instructions were inaccurate.

      The next employee told her that is was a marketplace item and give it up. Those instructions were incorrect.

      The next person told them to return it to the store. Did following that employee’s instruction work? No.

      Why should she think that following THIS employee’s instructions will work? That after she mails it Sears will refund her money AND pay for the shipping? Based on the prior three employees, I think this employee is just making stuff up to get her out of his hair.

  13. Snullbug says:

    OP has learned a valuable lesson – never to shop at Sears in the future. With a company this dysfunctional be happy that they have provided any way at all to return the product. Return it by mail and consider yourself fortunate that you have even that option.

  14. Jacob says:

    Some credit cards (especially American Express) will refund your money if the merchant doesn’t accept the return.

  15. StevePierce says:

    At some point, spending hours and hours on the phone is not worth it. Drive three hours, visit your friend, return the item and NEVER EVER buy anything from Sears ever again.

  16. IraAntelope says:

    perhaps this is why most consumers no longer shop at sears? or one of the reasons. not just outdated systems but outdated customer service.

  17. 180CS says:

    This kind of “customer service” is what I experienced at my own sears the first (and last) time I was there.

    This is why sears is another company I’m happy to see having financial troubles.

    • 180CS says:

      Also, why on earth would anyone trust them to properly receive and process the return when apparently “their system is too old.” What if the warehouse has a system that “is too old.”

  18. dush says:

    Sears didn’t force her to buy something she decided to not use. Did she not research what it was or whether she would actually need it? Seems there’s more to this.

  19. jeepguy57 says:

    Just another thing I hate about most consumers. A return like this should be considered a privilege, not a right. All consumers should have the right to return a defective item, but it should be consider a privilege to return something just because you changed your mind. Just my opinion.

    • balderdashed says:

      Nonsense. If Sears or any other merchant induces me to shop there by promising that I can return a product within a certain period of time, defective or not, such a return is hardly a privilege.

  20. Boiled for your sins says:

    At least Sears didn’t shrug…

  21. Lombard Montague says:

    “Are you really telling me that a very large national store can basically pick and choose what they will accept back”

    Sure can. Unless there are actual laws involved, such as implied warranty of merchantability, stores are not legally required to accept any returns. This is why people need to think before they buy things.

  22. Velifer says:

    OP, you actually received a physical product after shopping at Sears.
    This is better than anyone else posting about Sears on Consumerist.
    Y U Mad?

  23. 4Real says:

    Back in the 90’s Sears had an unlimited time to return things. He would buy computers then after a few years return it for a new one for

  24. kcvaliant says:

    Well depending on sears old system. The store that does the return probably gets hit with finance of it and effects their numbers. And upper management/corporate will tell the customerthat yes they can do it, but then dock the store for performance results on why they did not meet budget.

    What it sounds like to me.

  25. scurvycapn says:

    Why would I want to take a guaranteed solution that would require a trip to the post office when I could try making more phone calls that didn’t do anything for me yet so far? SEARS, You so crazy!

  26. sparc says:

    so she went through all this hassle of wasting gas and probably hours of phone calls. offers to take it back including free shipping for the return. And she claims she’s desperate to get her money back. wtf?

    funniest consumerist story in a while….

  27. thatfunkylady says:

    It’s a marketplace item, so no you cannot return it to Sears. It says that when you are purchasing it online. If you looked at the packing slip that came with the item I bet it will even say the same thing; to call an 800 number. The item did not come from inside the store; you chose to have the item shipped to the store to be picked up instead of being shipped to an address.

    If you’re going to shop online at Sears for the love of your god do it right. On the left hand side of the page when you’re viewing a selection of items, there’s the option to view items from Sears and other sellers (usually it’s the second to last box). CLICK SEARS AS THE ONLY SELLER. This will save everyone lots of trouble. And don’t take it out on the store employees; you have any idea how annoying it is that people can’t read return policies? >.<

    • sparc says:

      she bought it there and not via marketplace. So, your whole post does not apply.

      • thatfunkylady says:

        Actually I did read it. It was a marketplace item. And if you do a search for that item you’ll get a handful of results, one of them being sold by Sears (the one you linked) and the others from other sellers. Calling the people at Sears for help is always a big mistake; you can call three different times for the same issue and get three very different answers. The lady on the phone probably thought that it was the item from Sears (since they do sell one) and not one of the marketplace items instead.

        • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

          Your proof that it was a marketplace item is the word of an incompetent Sears clerk?

          • thatfunkylady says:

            The word yes, and the fact that it doesn’t have a return code. If it’s not a Sears item-a martketplace piece of crap-there isn’t a return code on the receipt so it can’t be precessed at Sears. Even though she was given a return code it was most likely a override one that can be applied to most everything-except marketplace items. The registers won’t let you process marketplace items whatsoever. You can kinda get around it and do the return (sometimes), but it involves manager approval, getting the customers driver license number and other personal info, the store taking a hit, and the employee processing the transaction taking a major hit in their metrics. And the customer would only get a giftcard back, if they are able to get through everything.

            Trust me, not a single Sears employee likes this marketplace shit they rolled out, it’s caused nothing but issues all around.

    • jsodano says:

      There really is nothing more annoying than someone who doesn’t read the post and then tries to blame the OP. Now, in this case, the OP is an annoying whine bag who needs to just mail the product back – but she explicitly states it was not a marketplace item and that she confirmed this with Sears customer service. Jeesch.

  28. SunsetKid says:

    Sears is living on borrowed time. The company is doing poorly. They are closing stores. I would not be surprised to see them go out of business.

  29. Badger Tale says:

    I am reading this and thinking to myself that this person could have saved a lot of stress by driving three miles to the original store or allowing the manager of the second store pay for the shipping back to SEARS.

    According to her own argument above, she’s spent over three hours already trying to get a refund. I would also like to point out that the one solution she could have taken, free shipping back to SEARS.COM, she didn’t take. She wants it her way, right then and there and even though she was told what the problem is she still wants to give her the money back on the spot.

    It reminds me of the most entitled people in the world, i.e. the people of Detroit featured on that crazy pawn show on cable….They scream, pout and demand money for their possessions and refuse to leave the store until they get what they assume they want. Well, the woman was told why it wasn’t gonna happen and now she wants the good people of consumerist to do it for her.

    Well, I guess kicking and screaming childish adults will never learn…

  30. mcgyver210 says:

    K-Mart Killed what was left of Sears they just haven;t buried the dieing remains yet.

    I stopped shopping at sears even for tools 3 years ago. K-Marts Idea of Unconditional Guarantee is as long as no one returns too many of them we will honor but if more of our China Crap is returned than we think should be we will just discontinue it & no more pesky Unconditional Guarantee issues. Of course they can have a new replacement that has no real Guarantee though.

    SEARS a once very respected service oriented company long ago now just a K-Mart in disguise.

  31. exemployee says:

    This is true of sears….as a former store manager it was a frickin nightmare explaining this crappy return policy to any customer. The website is very deceiving to a normal person, because you think that the item is coming from Sears. If the item states marketplace it is coming from a third party vendor, which making a return on the item a burden on the customer. So much for their crappy Shop your way bullcrap program.

  32. SearsCares says:

    Dear Francesca,
    My name is Tony and I am with the Sears Social Media Escalations department. I would first like to offer our sincerest apologies for everything that you have gone through since purchasing the Ooma Telo. I can certainly understand your continued frustrations with being told different things when it comes to reaching a resolution as well as having to use as much gas as you have used, especially so with the level that gas prices are at.
    At this point, you have done much more than you have to and we would appreciate the opportunity to speak with you further and be your one point of contact within Sears to get this matter resolved in a timely fashion and to your satisfaction.
    At your convenience, please contact our office via email at so you don’t have to be upset by this any longer. In the email, please provide a contact number and the phone number that the item is listed under (if different than the contact phone number) and we will call you directly. In addition, please include your Screen name (Francesca) in the email for reference to your issue. Again, we’re sorry for any trouble we have caused and we hope to talk to you soon.

    Thank you,

    Tony T.
    Social Media Moderator
    Sears Social Media Support