In a bid to keep its sinking retail ship afloat, Sears on Thursday announced the sale of its iconic tool brand Craftsman to Black & Decker for a mere $900 million. But with the change of hands, many stalwart Craftsman lovers aren’t sure if they’ll be sticking with the brand in the future.
In emails to Consumerist, a number of Craftsman tool owners shared their surprise about the sale, and their concerns over the future quality of their favorite tools.
Electrical design engineer Mike tells us he’s been using Craftsman tools for years, citing their “great workmanship and quality.”
And like a lot of people we heard from, the potential loss of Craftsman’s lifetime warranty protection is a big concern for Mike.
“Best part is the lifetime warranty. Break a tool, bring it to Sears, get a brand new one, no charge or backtalk,” he says. “Virtually everyone in our shop feels the same way. They all also use Craftsman.”
But with the change of hands, Mike says he “cannot believe” that the warranty and other perks tied to Craftsman will stick around.
“Once upon a time all Craftsmen tools – both power and hand – were covered under a lifetime warranty,” says Russ, another Craftsman user. “Now only the hand tools are and not all of them, either.”
With the switch to Black & Decker, Russ and others are worried that the tools they own now, and any they purchase in the future, won’t come with such a guarantee.
Consumerist has reached out to Black & Decker for details on any changes to the Craftsman guarantee, but have not yet received a response.
Consumerist reader Victor says he is disappointed to see what was once a “trusted, reliable, and well made brand” be reduced to a disposable asset.
“It was obvious by 2004 the brand was no longer what it once was, but over time it continued to decline in subtle ways,” he says, noting that he hopes Black & Decker can revive the brand.
Others told us that while they are fans of Craftsman, they also use Black & Decker products, and they aren’t too worried about the change.
“If they had to find a new home for Craftsman, I think this might be a good one,” says Jacob, one of the more optimistic Craftsman users. “My understanding is that the overall quality of Craftsman products has decreased recently so perhaps that is a trend that [Black & Decker] can reverse.”
Whether or not Black & Decker will uphold the Craftsman values remains to be seen, but some of the tool brand’s fans, like reader Doug, are hopeful.
This “could be a very positive thing for the brand,” Doug points out, noting that Black & Decker already owns several popular brands including DeWalt and MAC tools.
“The only thing I hope they continue is provide a lifetime guarantee for the Craftsman brand tools,” he says. “I know I have had a socket wrench fail a time or two and Sears replaced it no questions asked. If they guarantee the tools for life, then the Craftsman brand will continue to have a permanent place in my tool chest.”
While Sears has noted in the past that selling off some of its brands — like Kenmore and DieHard — would help keep it up and running, Craftsman tool users say the sale has severed one of their last ties to Sears.
“With the sale of Craftsman, it seems like Sears is giving away one of the only reasons a consumer would want to go to a Sears,” says skeptical reader Rob. “I’m not going to Sears for clothing. At this point, they need to sell Kenmore and DieHard too — then pay off the debt and close.”
The sale of Craftsman didn’t come as much of a surprise to Scott, who now thinks of Sears Holdings as “a destroyer of brands, capital, and anything resembling a functional business.”
Russ reiterated that there was less of a need to go to Sears, thanks in part to the declining customer service and store features.
“Sears once was the store to go to for everything, not now,” Russ says. “There are minimal employees who collectively know nothing about the various product lines. I remember when Sears had an Automotive department sale, their service department was jammed with cars, now no one goes there.”
Then there’s Jacob, who reminisced about the bygone days when Sears was on top of its game.
“Overall, I think the decline of Sears is very unfortunate,” he tells Consumerist. “They were the original Amazon, selling everything imaginable and delivering it to your door. It’s a shame that they are facing this slow and very public decline.”
Even if people do feel like going to Sears, there will be 150 fewer of them this year.