When I was a kid, the most exciting thing in the world for me was getting the Sears Christmas Catalog every October. My brother and I would fight over who got to look through it first a who would get to mark up the pages with their “I want it” stickers.
Fast-forward twenty years to yesterday. As a gift-giver, I’m excited when I find the perfect something for its recipient, something that says, “I need to be wrapped up and given to Mr. X.” I use Mr. X here as it’s not yet Christmas.
So on to my recent experience with Sears. I’ve heard great things in the past about their customer service. Sadly, I’ve yet to experience any of that.
Yesterday, while on the phone with a relative, we found the perfect item for someone in our family: A set of tools, on sale. It was something this family member needed, wanted, and would use–three things that are essential to giving the perfect Christmas gift. I checked the “pick it up in store” option, was in stock. Hooray! I work right next to a Sears, so I couldn’t beat this opportunity. I filled up my online cart, clicked “Check out,” entered my credit card number and hit “Submit!”
I received it in under 30 minutes. Hot Dog! I was happy as a clam! I figured I’d go grab it from the store, grab some crappy mall food for lunch and be back at my desk happily clicking away at my keyboard in under an hour. Or so I thought.
When I get to the Sears Location I’d selected, (Lloyd Center, Portland) I went to their “Merchandise Pick-Up” area, where you scan your receipt in this unfriendly kiosk that tells you they have 5 minutes to complete your order or you get a service coupon for $5.00. Ok – You’ve set my expectations, you’re going to grab my order in 5 minutes or less, that’s pretty good service. I noted a white board on the wall which rated their “On Service Guarantee delivery time: 95% for the month, 98% for the previous day.” That’s a pretty good record, though it doesn’t say how many people served. Whatever.
I wait and I watch the little screen with my last name and a clock, time ticks away; 3 minutes, 4 minutes, 5 minutes, then a little “CC” appears next to my name. 6 minutes, 8 minutes, 10 minutes… Then a stock person comes out of the back room with a coupon and says, “Sorry, we’re still trying to locate your item.”
And then, at minute 15, he comes back. “We don’t seem to have that item in stock, do you want to go up to the 3rd floor and see if they have it up there?”
“No, not particularly. That’s something I’d expect you to do.” I think to myself, but instead I say: “Uh, Sure, I guess so.” And off to the Tool Department I went.
When I reached the 3rd floor tool department, I go directly to the service desk, and start to ask, “Hey, I purchased this item online…”
He interrupts, “You have to go down to the first floor to ‘Merchandise Pick up.'”
I finish my previously started sentence “…and they don’t seem to have it downstairs, they said you might have one up here, where would they be?”
“Oh,” he says. “They were just up here looking for it. We don’t have any in stock.”
So, “They already looked, didn’t have it in stock, and they sent me up here to you. Now what?” I ask.
The clerk responds: “Well, I guess I can refund your money.”
I’m not particularly pleased with that idea at the moment, I ask, “Can you call another store and see if they have it in stock? I guess I could drive to another location.” As a customer service professional, I would have wanted to keep the sale and the customer happy by being proactive. I guess that wasn’t the case here. Reluctantly, he calls another store, finds they have them in stock, but he can’t ask them to reserve one, he tells me. I’m surprised by this, I mean, I’ve already paid for the item, they’re a national chain, you’d think they’d be able to say to another location, “hey, I’ve got a customer that we somehow sold him an out of stock item, can you help me out?” Alas, no, nothing.
The clerk proceeds to say that he’ll be able to credit my card back the amount it was charged and that when I drive out to the other store (10 miles away,) that they have a few so they should be in stock when I get there. (I’ve heard this story before…)
I’m still waiting, 24 hours later, for the credit to post to my credit card. Something in the process has tied up 300 dollars of my available limit, twice the amount of the purchase, so I’m unable to go to the store and purchase yet another one. Sears says that they’ve released the charge and it’s whenever my credit card company posts it, and my credit card company says they’re waiting for Sears. Forty-five minutes later I walk out of the Lloyd Center Sears, empty handed and disheartened. Meanwhile, there’s still a perfect gift out there, that I’m probably not going to purchase because of this poor display of Customer service.
I’ve reached out to Sears via social media, asking for assistance. I keep getting the response:
— Sears Cares (@searscares) December 22, 2011
I’m still waiting on the delivery.
When writing this post I wondered if I should wait to post it until after any resolution has been made. Judging from the expectations set by Sears customer service examples with my previous experiences? I may be waiting a long time.
Update: I finally received a call back from Sears corporate. A “Social Media Case Manager” has opened a case number to deal with my issue. They’ve understood my issue to be that I’ve not gotten the credit right away.
Update #2: I received the credit to my card and release of funds, done so on Saturday night (Christmas Eve.) Now, I can’t say whose fault that actually is, my credit card company or Sears… I think it should be clear what my complaints are, I guess not.
Here they are:
1: Sears sold me a product that you said was in stock and didn’t have.
2: Sears said my item was ready for pick up, I have the confirmation, and it wasn’t in stock.
3: When I went to pick up the item, it took Sears stock people 16 minutes to realize they didn’t have the item in stock.
4: Sears stock people searched for the item on their own, then sent me to the Tool Department to search on my own, knowing it wasn’t in the store.
5: Sears sales clerk offered no other options to retrieve my item (like getting delivery from another store, asking another store to hold the item) preferring to lose the sale.
6: There has been no apology, from anyone in Sears’ organization, for the inconvenience.
7: Sears’ attempts at Customer Service have been, at best, an attempt to quiet me socially and sweep me under the carpet.
As a customer service representative I would ask here, what would make you (me) a happy customer. I don’t have an answer to that. Sears has missed the mark on 4 different occasions here, and at 7 different junctures. I don’t know how you reconcile that. Even my extensive experience at customer service has left me at a loss at “what should be done.” It’s really sad. There were so many opportunities to make it right.
Update 3: Final — I’ve certainly had plenty of misses within this experience, this final email – confirming my refund – personifies how clueless Sears seems to be.
Here’s the risk you run by using one email address for all your customer service. I can’t call their customer support number during the day – So I have been trying to communicate via email, using my “Case Manager’s” name in every email. I haven’t gotten any responses from him, just these canned responses.
Sad. Just plain sad.