View Full Version : It's not Just the Borg! (a long rant)

Bill Lewis
12-05-2005, 9:17 AM
Unless you consider Sears to be included in the Borg catagory.

About 3 or 4 weeks ago I was using my 3/4" craftsman combination ratchet wrench when the racheting box end of the wrench fell apart. Well, to keep it brief, I decided to return it and get a replacement, plus I had a craftsman lifetime (bought in 1989) hose that had failed earlier that day and it too needed to be returned.

Upon arrival at the store I placed the items on the counter in the tool department, and the woman at the counter looked absolutely dumbfounded. Even though engilish was obviously a second language for her, I figured she could comprehend what it was I was trying to do. But it didn't seem to be getting through.

Then along came a salesman that works in the department that said "Get So-and-So to do the exchange" Well, So-and-So shouted out from behind a computer terminal across the way "I'm not doing it, I'm going to lunch" quite emphaticly.

So the other guy reluctantly looked at my hose and said, "You have to take that to Lawn and Garden, we can not do that here!". I showed him my wrench and I protested slightly about doing both at the same register, but he held his guns on the hose. "We can not do that here!"

He took my wrench and stared at it as if it was going to tell him "I'm not broken, give the customer an even harder time" He then handed it to me and asked what was wrong with it? I handed it back as I showed him, and he asked what size is it? "3/4 inch" I said, but that's not what I was thinking.

He went and got the wrench and then handed it to the woman to process, I also asked about the hose again, Nope, I got the same story about Lawn and Garden.

Does it need have mentioning that as with most Sears stores, the L&G department is right next to the tool dept.? They really can't get any closer without actually occupying the same space. Besides, I'm pretty sure that I've paid for stuff at either register.

So I stuff the wrench in my back pocket, and walked the 20' over to L&G dept. I throw the hose up on the counter and scan the area, not a soul in sight. I ask my wife to find a replacment hose, so I don't lose my chance to spot an elusive employee. Well I think I would have a better chance of spotting Bigfoot. There were lots of employees around in other departments, and walking about, but none that appeared to be working there. I finally nabbed one guy passing through, and asked him if he worked there, "No", was his answer. So I asked him if he could find me someone, and gave him the brief story about the hose, and the tool dept. etc. etc.. Well he said he would page someone, and off he wandered.

Well, we never heard a page, and he was never spotted again, so my wife insisted we go back to the tool dept. I was fine with that, but now they were forming a line for the register.

I was now now third in line. The same woman as before was processing another transaction, that literally took her at leat five minutes to complete. Seems the guy had an exchange for a socket, but the replacment cost more than the actual or something like that, total confusion on her part. During this time, another man was asking for someone to open a display case for him, the Indian guy was successfully ignoring him, by talking on the phone and then running off, and repeating this several times.
The woman at the register told him he had to wait in the check-out line for someone to help him. He left, vocally disgusted.

I finally made it to the register, put the old and new hoses on the counter, and said I was exchanging this for that, and she processed it with no problem, and no questions. Gee why couldn't they have done this in the first place.

I should mention that this occured on a weekday, the Friday before "Black Friday" the store wasn't being overrun, in fact it was fairly quiet.

So, should I have gone to the main office and complained? I would've if my wife wasn't with me, and we had even more time to waste. Her thoughts were, "What are THEY going to do?" She's right, probably nothing at all.

I found it ironic that all through the store there are these little counter signs that state "Your Satisfaction is important to us...blah blah blah"

Bill Green
12-05-2005, 9:32 AM
My experience is that telling the story to the store manager is the best place to start. If you are getting a song and dance type of response at that level, ask for the name and number of the next person upline. If you deal with this in a calm manner, I suspect there may be coupons or store cards in you future.

There is a huge gulf between the staff and management when it comes to customer satisfaction. You need to deal with the people that do care.


Cecil Arnold
12-05-2005, 11:22 AM
Unfortunately I don't find any irony in this. Sears has been in a downward spiral for the past 20 or so years IMHO. At one time they sold reasonably good tools and had decent CS. I think they have failed to recognize changing conditions and focused on profitability at the expense of their product line (first shoddy, then other brands) and employee loyalty. It seems obvious to me that the employees were only collecting a paycheck and had no investment in the success of failure of Sears. I think Bill is right in going up line, but in my experience you may have to go up two or three levels before you reach someone who is responsive.

Dan Racette
12-05-2005, 11:25 AM
I work for a subsidiary. I think more like Borg in the star trek sense. But I see them as a big box too. (from a woodworkers point of view).

They always have some new "invention" each year that is supposed to be revolutionary. They always seem to not sell well, and go by the wayside.

I really wish I could talk to some product managers and find out what's going on, but me just a wee peon.

we got's ourselves a new pretty smart CEO, and I hope he will give the company appropriate direction!


Aaron Kline
12-05-2005, 11:26 AM
Two years ago, I made a commitment to myself I would never buy another thing from Sears. I got a planer for Christmas, it had nice features and looked like a well made machine and I made the mistake of buying the Craftsman brand. I got to use it for the first time a couple of weeks later and ran some boards through and it worked darn nice. The next time I went to use it, the motor burnt up completely. So took it to Sears and we had to take it to a authorized repair center nearby. Fine and dandy, I drop the planer off there and wait....and wait, and wait. Apparently, they have to send it back to China. In a month I get a call that they found the part that went bad. Ok, it took another month for him to call me and say that the part wasn't in stock so I could either echange it for a new planer or wait. So we went to the Sear's store and explained and I wanted my money back. Fine and done, that piece of junk is their's now and I can go buy a new planer. That's why I'll never evereverever buy from Sear's again.

Jesse Cloud
12-05-2005, 11:31 AM
I thought Sears was still good for handtools, but guess I better think again. At least you got replacements, wouldn't want to try that at Wallie World.:)

Wes Bischel
12-05-2005, 11:46 AM
It is sad, but I had a similar experience this spring when I wanted to purchase a lawn mower. Suffice it to say after being ignored for about 40 minutes at our local Sears, we went to the smaller Sears store 30 minutes away. We were greeted politely and had our purchase completed in less than 10 minutes! The employees at the smaller store couldn't have been more helpful - even the guy who helps load items was great to work with.

It all comes down to the management of each store.


James Ayars
12-05-2005, 12:49 PM
Our local Sears store is one of those small, 2,000 or 3,000 square feet maybe, and I prefer it to the huge Sears 30 miles away. When my cms blew apart, the small Sears exchanged it with no problem. I put it on the counter, the sales guy said "let's get you another one." and I walked out the door with it. All in less than 10 minutes.

At the huge Sears store, you have to get a return ticket, walk to another part of the store, self scan it into a machine, ait for the item to be brought down etc. etc.

2 years ago, I bought a bench vise at the huge Sears and the cashier acted mad that I was spending money and causing her to do some work. At out small Sears, the workers will do whatever they can to help you get checked out and act glad that you are spending money. A couple times they've even told me that if I can wait a day the item will be on sale.

One big difference is that our small Sears is a locally owned "Home Town Dealer" store while the huge Sears has become Leviathan.

I do still like Craftsman hand tools though.

Dennis McDonaugh
12-05-2005, 1:11 PM
I had a 3/8 ratchet go bad and took it to my local Sears for replacement. The guy reached under the counter and handed me a rebuilt (it looked new except that the knob to change the rotation was black instead of chrome) ratchet--no paperwork or anything.

Bill Lewis
12-05-2005, 1:13 PM
It may be just my opionon, but I think the bigger differences lie in regional/cultural differences. In other words, it's a North Carolina, or a small town thing. I visit a friend in Pilot Mountain ever year, and it usually requires a trip over to Lowe's in Mount Airey (Mayberry) to get stuff.

I am always absolutely amazed at how much cleaner, better organized the store is, and how many helpful and friendly people there are working there...and my friend says it's only about average.

Like I said, if I had the time (well I did, but my wife didn't), I would've taken it up the chain.

Michael Gabbay
12-05-2005, 1:21 PM
Bill - Being on the other side of the river from you, I can completely understand your frustration. It seems that the quality of the staff at pretty much all of the retail stores are on a steady decline. What I have found helpful is to call and write the corporate offices as well as the local manager. Many times I receive discounts with huge apologies. It does not change the local staff but at least it helps make the experience worth the hassle.


Chip Charnley
12-05-2005, 1:26 PM
Like I said, if I had the time (well I did, but my wife didn't), I would've taken it up the chain.


Don't let the fact that you have left the store stop you. Write a letter. Send it to the local store manager and, if you don't hear anything in a couple weeks, send a copy to the president of Sears. You would be surprised what letters to the president of a company can accomplish. I didn't believe it until I actually did it a couple times. All I can say is WOW!

That said, Amazon.com recently ripped me off and my letter to the president has done nothing to resolve the problem. He hasn't even bothered to acknowledge that he got it let alone respond. Needless to say I won't be purchasing anything from them again.

Mike Henderson
12-05-2005, 2:27 PM
I had the opposite experience with Amazon. A while back, I ordered an expensive Palm Pilot from Amazon. When it shipped, I got the UPS tracking number and checked which day it was to be delivered. I was out when the delivery occurred and didn't find it on my front porch, even though the UPS site said it had been delivered. I checked all the houses in the neighborhood on other streets with the same house number but no luck. Finally, I contacted Amazon and asked them to help me track the package. Amazon said that it was indicated as delivered but that they were not satisfied until the customer was satisfied - they sent me a new one free.

A few days later, I saw the UPS guy and asked him if he remembered delivering the package. He said he did remember delivering it. The only thing I can think of is that there were people working on the house next door and maybe they saw me leave and decided to take the package. I'm just sorry it wasn't something like a Danielle Steel book - would have served them right!

Anyway, I've always found Amazon to be very responsive and very customer focused.


Wes Bischel
12-05-2005, 2:37 PM
I I'm just sorry it wasn't something like a Danielle Steel book - would have served them right!

A few years ago, someone took a package from our side door - again, they must have seen it delivered. It was part of a small crèche set - with the baby Jesus, Joseph and Mary!:eek: :D I just wish I could have seen the face of the thief when he opened it!!:D


Jerry Bittner
12-05-2005, 2:46 PM
Could not agree more with the comment that when your not satisfied with service, ask to see the manager.

Used to walk away mumbling and swearing I would not shop their anymore even though I knew I would return, but now whether it's Sears, or Lowe's, Home Depot, or a restaurant, I complain to the maager when things are not right and first of all, they appreciate it and, secondly, they normally do something about it.

Incidentally, Home Dpeot sales people, I find, are the most courtoues and helpful. When a Home Depot opened up here, all of a sudden the Lowes staff decided to try and get customer friendly.

And finally, I have never had a problem with returns at Sears. Don't know if it will change since they were merged with K-Mart, but Satisfaction Guaranted always has worked with me.

Bill Lewis
12-05-2005, 3:24 PM
When a Home Depot opened up here, all of a sudden the Lowes staff decided to try and get customer friendly.See, I think it's that North Carolina thing again. Now you've got two stores trying to "out-freindly" one another.

Did I mention I was born in Raleigh?

Travis Porter
12-05-2005, 3:45 PM
Lowes is headquartered in NC. Unfortunately, I have seen it go both ways with HD and Lowes as to "friendliness" and customer service. Going to the manager does work. Did it to HD a while back after waiting an hour to get some electrical wire.

Greg Heppeard
12-05-2005, 7:29 PM
I manage a franchise of a national woodworking retail store. I'm proud to say that the whole company is constantly working on ways to improve customer service. I must say that, MOST of the time I can do what it takes to make the customer happy. Sometimes, tho, there's nothing within reason that I can do to make their shopping experience a better one.

Randy Moore
12-05-2005, 7:43 PM
I went into a restuarant back in '95 for breakfast for about 18 months. One morning I got terrible service and wrote a note on the back of my ticket. I told the lady who took my money to make sure management read the note. She said wait a minute, she turned it over, read it and told me she would make it right. Boy did she and I am still paying for it :rolleyes: ........I married her 6 months later and we're still married and very happy.:)

So watch what happens, you might get more than you bargined for!!!!!


Dennis Peacock
12-05-2005, 8:53 PM
Since Sears was a customer on our company and it was my job to support them in IT services, and after dealing with them for over 4 years, I swore up and down that I'd NEVER buy a single thing from Sears ever again. So far, I've stuck to my word.!!!!;)

Jerry Olexa
12-05-2005, 9:44 PM
Ask for the highest ranking person you can find (usually the store mgr) and express your concerns. If they have any brains or judgment, they'll correct A/O the poor handling you encountered..

Kirk (KC) Constable
12-05-2005, 10:27 PM
I thought Sears was still good for handtools, but guess I better think again. At least you got replacements, wouldn't want to try that at Wallie World.:)

I think WalMart sells the 'lifetime guarantee' PM wrenches...might be interesting to see what the exchange policy/location is.

John Shuk
12-05-2005, 11:18 PM
I've found Sears to be a mess. I never seem to have things work out for me that I buy there. Then there is my buddy who swears by them. Go figure. I pretty much stay away as best I can.

Dev Emch
12-06-2005, 2:20 AM
And folks wonder why us OWWM dudes love to restore rust and consider passing into a sears, orange borg tool department or grizzly showroom cruel and inhumane punishment.....

Chuck Wintle
12-06-2005, 8:54 AM
Lack of service is everywhere in my opinion. In a small woodworking store once as I approached with my stuff the cashier she gave me the obvious idea that I was disturbing her conversation with a fellow employee. So while I avoid Sears for many reasons besides bad service it is getting bad in small stores too. An exception is Lee Valley Tools where they actually take the time to train their people. I wonder if there is a website that rates customer satisfaction? Would be nice to patronize stores that are appreciative and forget those that are not.

Lee DeRaud
12-06-2005, 11:53 AM
And folks wonder why us OWWM dudes love to restore rust and consider passing into a sears, orange borg tool department or grizzly showroom cruel and inhumane punishment.....Of course, if what you need is a cordless drill or a finish sander, the stuff on OWWM seems a bit...excessive.:eek:

Dave Anderson NH
12-06-2005, 1:29 PM
In my experience bad service can occur anywhere, including the best companies. Usually it is the result of either inadequate training or inadequate supervision, -- or both. Yes, there are the occasional slackers and the folks with outright bad attitudes, the folks who in my Marine Corps days were called the "ten percenters". These are few and far between however. Most people do not go to work with an attitude of, "I'll see how much I can screw up and how little work I can get away with doing." Normal human nature is just not like that. People want to do a good job and be able to take pride in what they do.

The responsibility lies squarely with management for all of these ills. Making a bad hire offers the manager 2 choices; terminate or adjust the attitude and performance through either counseling or through training depending on the case. In the case of bad service either the manager needs to train or retrain the staff or supervise them more carefully. Realistically, a combination of both training AND closer supervision is necessary. Employees need to know what is expected of them and then they need to be corrected if they fall short. In most of the cases you folks have cited, I'll bet that the manager not only wasn't doing his or her job, but that the manager had the attitude problem. The bottom line is that leadership is always by example-- either good or bad.