Worst Company In America Round 1: Sears Vs. JCPenney

To mark the halfway point in the first round of WCIA, we bring you this fight between two department stores that are wildly adored… in an alternate universe where it’s still 1985.

In addition to all the nominating e-mails we received about Sears, complaints about the once-great retailer’s installation, repair and warranty service are among the most-common items to fill up the Consumerist tipline, and subsequently the pages of the site.

Just some quick examples — the installer who demanded additional payment when he arrived, only to do a really horrible job; the washing machine that sat idle and unrepaired for months; the stove that required eight service appointments and still didn’t work; and heaven forbid you need to get your cracked boiler fixed.

This doesn’t even get into employees who game the clock on the 5-minute in-store pick-up guarantee, store-wide coupons that can only be used on about five things, price-matching weirdness, and generally rude customer service.

Putting down the Sears catalog of suck for a second, we turn to JCPenney, a store that has desperately been trying to figure out its identity. First it ditched sales, letting the world know via a series of loud, screechy TV ads, then it gave up on the idea after about six months. Now the store is advertising its deep discounts on items, but some accuse JCPenney of falsely marking up the full retail price in order to make the discount seem bigger than it is.

Meanwhile, the company is laying employees off like they’re going out of style and the robots hired to handle customer service e-mails aren’t doing a bang-up job. And some of the retailers’ customer service people that remain are just downright terrible at customer service.

It’s time to check out the sale in housewares — then vote!


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2013 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2013 bracket HERE.

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