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August 29th, 2006

Sears and How They Still Don’t Get the Internets

2001. That’s the year that I gave all large national companies until to figure out how to do the “order online, pick up at the store” thing on their web site. It was more than enough time, really.

2006. That’s the year the Sears is still doing mind-numbingly stupid things. Let me expand on that a bit.

Friday, August 25, 2006. I place an order for a stroller in a color that’s only available at Sears. I specify that I’d like to pick it up at the store, figuring I’ll do so on my way home from work. They let me know that I should receive an e-mail within two hours letting me know my order’s ready to pick up.

About two hours later, I get an e-mail, but instead it tells me that they had “experienced a delay in processing” and that when the order was done processing, I’d get another e-mail. It was time to head home, so I wasn’t going to be able to pick up the stroller. No big deal, though, since it’s not like the baby’s been born yet.

Saturday, August 26, 2006. In the middle of holding a devotional ceremony for the ill Daily Ping, I receive another e-mail from Sears with the subject line of “Your Sears.com Order is Now Ready for Pick-Up.” Hooray! I’m not going to pick it up until Monday but, still, hooray!

Sunday, August 27, 2006. Day of rest.

Monday, August 28, 2006. At lunch, I head over with the intention of making a quick 15-minute trip to pick up my item. Of course, if that had actually happened, I wouldn’t be writing this Ping now.

I arrived and used the kiosk to let them know, “I’m here. Bring me my stroller, sucka!” The kiosk politely tells me to wait and my order will be brought to me. Plus, if it takes more than five minutes, a $5 coupon will automatically be printed for me. I take a seat and stare at the overhead screen that shows how long I’ve been waiting.

2 1/2 minutes later, I look up and realize that without noticing it, my order had been serviced by Christian. “How nice!” I thought. Of course, it would have been especially nice if I had actually received my order. I waited a few more minutes thinking, “They probably marked it off and are on their way out.” No such luck.

About ten minutes later I’m able to flag down another employee who goes in the back to see what’s going on. Five minutes later, he comes out with another man who tells me that there aren’t any of these strollers in stock.

Huh?

Next, he leads me up to the baby department. He points out where on the shelf the item should be, but it’s not. He then passes me off to the manager of that department who offers to call the Sears Hotline (no bright red Batman phone, sadly) so I can place a new order and have it shipped to me. In the meantime, she lets me know, she’ll cancel my original order.

I go through the whole rigamarole with the Sears Hotline employee. I’ll be charged $12 for shipping, but I can mail in a rebate.

After all this, I try to get information out of the manager. “So, when I received an e-mail that said, ‘Your order is ready for pick-up!’ you didn’t really mean it?”

“Sometimes this happens. But we want you to come in because we’re committed to making sure you get your product. When you come in, we’re able to help you get it.”

“Um, OK,” I replied. “But that’s a really screwed up process.”

To recap:

  • I get an e-mail that tells me my order is ready for pick-up.
  • I arrive and I’m “serviced” (ahem) without anyone ever saying anything to me.
  • I find out that my order was never really ready for pick-up, but if I want, I can place my order again! Oh, and I’ll be charged shipping, but I can send in a rebate form to get it back! Convenience! Power to the consumer!

Everybody was very nice throughout the whole process, but holy crap, what a back asswards way to handle orders. I don’t think I could conceive something more ridiculous if I tried.

Posted in Consumer Commentary

Dave Walls August 29, 2006, 3:34 pm

I’ve actually had pretty good luck with the system at Sears, the two times that I’ve used it. In my experience, when the screen says “serviced”, someone should be right in front of you. My wait times were minimal, even during really busy periods. We ordered a mini fridge for the den, and even with it being a Saturday afternoon in July, the Sears in King of Prussia, PA whipped through the 20-or-so people in line quite efficiently, and we had our fridge in about 4 minutes.

I don’t shop at Sears often (cause it’s usually overpriced and the salespeople…..ugh), but as far as ordering and picking up, I’ve had nothing but success. Hopefully, it’s a one time occurance for you.

Seriously, though…Them asking you to pay for shipping is total BS. I’d have cancelled the order right there. I mean, what’s the point?

Paul September 2, 2006, 3:55 pm

So Ryan, it turns out I had a similar experience after your Sears one.

We’ve been looking for some swanky new bed pillows. We found a couple on sale at Linens-N-Things and, best of all, they were shown as being in-stock at our local store. We didn’t place an order but decided to check them out in person last night (memory foam, y’all) before buying.

Got there and didn’t see them whatsoever. After a few minutes, I asked a person for help. She didn’t work in pillows (what a great gig!) but paged someone who did… he never showed. We were on our way out the door, planning to order online and pick them up today, when Jeani suggested we ask to confirm they really did have them.

Over the next 30 minutes, we learned:

– some guy who worked in the deparment was *really hungry* and whined to his manager incessantly about it;
– the computer was “very very slow”;
– best of all, the store had none although they claimed to, online.

I was told that their online availability – get this – *is not accurate*. That’s right! Their inventory isn’t hooked up whatsoever with the stores in this area. I can’t understand why that’s acceptable in 2006.

So we were referred to another store. I wanted to get their phone number and address, as we were told they had some. This took about 10 minutes as the person helping me had to use a computer in a back room to get this information, for some reason.

In any case, we phoned around to the locations that per the website had this pillow in stock. Guess what? None did. Amazing. I checked again this morning and they show as being in stock.

I just have no clue how the hell that’s supposed to be helpful. For god’s sake, man, the inventory is in a computer somewhere! Hook up the systems!

Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Paul September 2, 2006, 4:44 pm

Oh, and here’s the kicker: a store that was listed as not having the pillow? Had it. Nice!

Dave Walls September 2, 2006, 6:59 pm

My head….is….spinning. Too..much..incompetence..

Greg September 7, 2006, 8:59 pm

Two Saturdays ago, (Paul, you might remember this) I found myself at The Great Indoors. This is a Sears Holdings company. I wanted to get some low-voltage lighting, found the one I wanted and proceeded to find someone to make my purchase. “We have 18 of these in stock” I was told. They made the call to the stock room. 15-20 minutes later… “we don’t have any”.

More empty promises were made before I left unhappy.

I had to go back yesterday because this is the only store I’ve found that carries the particular items I’m looking for. They still had 18 in stock but none in the store. What’s amazing is that they cannot place an order to get more. They can’t ship them from a store that might have some, they don’t have a distribution house that might have some, and they surely can’t order it from the supplier!

“Sears – We operate with 1950s technology and 2006 customer service.”

captainjim February 7, 2008, 9:36 am

I work for Sears. At our store, we are required to say “yes” to all dotcom orders.

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