Sears Holds Appliance Sale, Redefines The Word ‘All’

sears15offadrevisedannotated-sIn recent weeks, Sears has had some really great appliance sales, trying to drum up some business. That’s great news for Sears and for anyone who needs a new dishwasher, but confusing news for consumers who took last week’s ad literally. It offered an additional 15% off “all appliances” for customers who used their Sears credit cards, which some customers naively thought meant all appliances.

Mouseprint.org owner Edgar “Mr. Consumer” Dworsky noticed this ad
and pointed out the sale to a friend in the market for a new stove. The friend learned that there were exclusions to the sale, even though the ad had no telltale asterisk.

There was some information missing from that ad if you didn’t read the fine print. By “all appliances,” What Sears actually meant was that it excluded entire categories of appliances as well as entire brands. Among those brands? Cooking, wall ovens, cooktops, and ranges from Kenmore. You know, Kenmore, the house brand of Sears. The 15% deal also ruled out sewing machines, countertop microwaves, water heaters, air conditioners, and other items that you may or may not consider “appliances.”

Dworsky contacted Sears, and they acted quickly to correct the erroneous ad, and released this statement:

As the nation’s leading appliance retailer, we always strive to provide our members with great prices and value. However in this case, it appears we had an inadvertent error in one of our Sears online home appliance offers on 10/26 which appeared on the site for a very short time. The offer has since been corrected. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused as that was not our intent.

Hurray for consumer advocates standing up for potentially misled customers! Only on the next e-mail blast, Sears forgot to exclude the Kenmore appliances from the additional 15% offer.

As we learned in a Businessweek article last year, excluding Kenmore products from a promotion may be a symptom of what’s wrong with Sears in the first place. The company incentivized its department stores to not push Kenmore appliances, since different divisions of the company compete against each other. While selling a Kenmore oven is more beneficial to the company as a whole, selling a Samsung oven means that the store doesn’t need to pay royalties to the Kenmore division.

At Sears, “All” Does Not Always Mean “All” [Mouse Print]