Why “Known Brand” Does Not Mean Reputable Service: What You May Not Know About Sears

9 Jun

DollarThe unsuspecting shopper inspects the aisles.  Smith’s workwear carelessly tossed on shelves, exercise equipment scattered across the floor with boxes torn open and electronic displays with pieces missing.  Sales associates haughtily help the annoying consumer who dared interrupt their jovial conversation with the other six employees working the floor.

I am going to compile several review site URLs at the bottom of this article, all of which have reviews of Sears‘ corporation, some of which have over 300 reviews in which Sears is given a robust 0.0 out of 10.

First, however, I am going to include my latest experience with this magnificent foundation.

I was hired as a purchasing agent in the employ of a theatre company, to search for the, “most expensive cheap jewelry,” I could find.  This was bound to be an exciting journey, but I was not about to embark on it with no trail whatsoever.  It seemed only logical that I should pursue it with a company that was known, there would therefore be no way that I could be put astray.

I began at KMart, a subsidiary of Sears Holdings and strolled up to the jewelry counter.  I waited for an associate and was told, “I don’t know ’bout all them other KMarts, but we can’t sell jewelry unless your credit card got yo address on it.”  I assured the associate that such credit cards are not mainstream, if they in fact do exist and proceeded to show her my American Express, Visa and Mastercard cards, business and personal; none of these 20+ cards matched her criteria [including my Sears card].  She assured me that all of her credit cards have this feature and she refused to sell me anything behind the counter.  She suggested that I go to the location at 770 Broadway, which was implicitly, in accordance with her sneer; less distinguished than the venerable 34th street at which she worked.

A few days later, after discussing this incident with my employer, I moved forward and made a significant purchase at the Broadway location.  It took about 50 minutes for a salesperson to materialize, but otherwise the transaction went relatively smooth, with little or no turbulence.  I made it very clear that I was making this purchase for a theatre company and that it was up to their discretion whether or not I would have to end up returning the products, I asked if there was any reason that I could encounter resistance in the return process and I was told that as long as the jewelry was in new condition with the tag left on the item, there should not be any problem.

I came back at the request of the company to acquire more rings and two bracelets, this time however, they required manager approval.  The manager looked at me suspiciously, spent about 40 minutes interrogating me after he finally showed up and left with my card to, “call for approval.”  He informed me that my card was declined for this, rather large purchase.  I began to sweat and thought that perhaps I had miscalculated my credit limit and would be unable to place the purchase, so I called the card company.  The manager, let’s call him Ted Kaczynski, PhD; to preserve his identity; neglected to mention, or to realize that he had put the charge through, which was why I had been declined.  The cumulative amount was just over $12,000 and he had tried charging over $24,000, which is just a tad above what my card company is willing to risk on me.

So, the sales associate explained that the manager had lived under electrical wires growing up etc. and on we moved with the sale.  The transaction took over 4 hours and I made sure to ask, just to double check, if there would be any such disruption upon return of the items, should it be necessary.  They told me that as long as the return was carried out personally by me and the manager approved it, it should be relatively smooth.


It should be relatively obvious what happens now.  In accordance with Murphy’s Law, the group went with a wholesaler and I found it necessary to go back and follow through with the return.

So, I returned it and it was super simple.

You got me, I lied.

I went back to return the product and about 3 levels of manager were called, they began the return until manager number 4, [who was clearly the most important, because he had a banker blue polyester button-down, not a dark blue polo shirt] decided that they had to wait until he called in his, “expert,” to handle the return.  He informed me that I should have scheduled the return in advance [my goodness this distinguished organization does stand on formality, doesn’t it?] and he offered to pencil me in a spot the following week, i.e. this week.  I explained that I was leaving New York this week, so he offered to do it on Tuesday morning.  I told him that that would be a fantastic idea, if he could explain to me how to do it from an airplane.

He told me that I would come in Sunday.  No that is not a grammatical error.  He told me, “you will come in on Sunday.”  I asked for assurance that assuming all the merchandise was originally quality, I would be given my money back and would be done with the matter; he and the salesperson both assured me in the matter and I walked away, feeling slightly disgusted.

For those who have put two and two together, yes, today is Sunday!  I got there just after they opened, as I assured them I would and began the return process.

They used a diamond checker in each diamond, including accents.  I don’t know if you have ever seen over $12,000 in KMart jewelry, but that is like 50 carats worth of diamonds in stones that all weigh a fraction of a carat.

The process was tedious, albeit less so than the purchase, so I was relieved when we finally got to the customer service desk to handle the refund.

That is, until I was told that the points acquired from the purchase, would be subtracted from the refund price.  In other words, rather than subtract the balance of the rewards points, they gave me back less than I had spent so that in essence, I unwittingly purchased rewards points and was expected to pay the difference to my credit card company for the cost of them.

I almost had an aneurysm and I now have to wait for the refund to post before I can dispute it with the card company.  (For the record, KMart also told me that the refund would be instant, because they would handle it as a “voided transaction,” instead of a return.)  I asked how this could happen and what I could do.  The woman behind the counter said, “Because you got the points.  There is nothing you can do.”

I pretty much begged and she stared at me.  I now owe over $4,000 to KMart for products that I returned; on their terms; in pristine condition; with their reassurance.

Here is one cluster of happy customers:

.01/10 with 378 Reviews and counting:

I like that this one is a forum on Sears’ website, but I kind of feel that if I were a multibillion dollar enterprise, I would immediately try to win over my clientele and prove a resolution upon seeing this:

I encourage you not to risk the consequences of shopping with Sears Holdings or its subsidiaries, personally, this debt has made me a nervous wreck and in my mind feels like sheer extortion.

Feel free to post your own experiences, both negative and positive- objectivity is important.

And please, share this post.


Movie: The Little Princess

11 Oct

The Shirley Temple classic directed by Walter Lang.


Weekend Movie: Robin Hood: The Betrothal

5 Oct

Weekend Movie: Robin Hood Starring Richard Greene: The Highlander

28 Sep

Weekend Movie: Frankenstein (1910)

23 Sep

This is the classic black and white silent movie, “Frankenstein.”  It is short and I will do my best to supplement it with a second weekend movie later.

The life-changing poem about life that you have never read

23 Sep

When I was young and still had a lifetime of, “when I was young,” stories ahead of me, I noticed an old, brown book with a deteriorated binding, decrepit pages and to my endless delight, chapter upon chapter of poetry.

Obscure, reputed and the line that lies therein between, it was a treasure worth one thousand times its weight in wonder.  I opened to a random page and found a poem that after my first read, became the poem that I liked more than any short text in the world.  Within a short minute of intent, fascinated repetition, I had it memorised.

I still do and I most likely always will.  I carried it with me always from that day (it fell out of the book when I opened to it) until the binder in which I had carefully secured it, was stolen years later, along with my precious page.

When my life is going well, when it is going poorly and when I just need to be reminded that life is there to live, I think back to this:

When all the world is young, lad,
  And all the trees are green;
And every goose a swan, lad,
  And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
  And round the world away!
Young blood must have its course, lad,
  And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
  And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
  And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
  The spent and maimed among;
God grant you find one face there,
  You loved when all was young.
-Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

Retro Film Review: Chasing Amy

2 Sep

“Chasing Amy,” Kevin Smith’s third “Askewniverse,” installment, pushes past the category of “Romantic Comedy,” by removing all the bows, ribbons and butterflies and cutting straight and deep into the euphoric pit that is true love.

Partly inspired by his relationship with then girlfriend, Joey Lauren Adams, Smith manages to smash through the wall that is cinematic division of gender ideals to offer an honest perspective relatable to all viewers.

The film stars Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee, with a very brief appearance of Jason Mewes and Kevin Smith reprising their respective roles as Jay and Silent Bob.

Ben Affleck and Jason Lee star as roommates, Holden and Banky.  Early in the film it is made clear that Holden is the quiet, calm and more intelligent of the two, comparing his comic character creations, “Bluntman and Chronic,” to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern meet Vladamir and Estragon.” to a somewhat confused fan.  Banky in contrast is shown as defensive, wise-cracking, impulsive and homophobic.

Joey Lauren Adams is the magnetic and charming Alyssa Jones, with whom Holden is enamoured at first sight.

Affleck’s acting is not always what you might call, “top-notch.”  He is no Olivier.  However, in this film, Affleck really delivers.  His character and all the others of this terrific cast, evoke empathy from the viewer with smoothness and ease while still deliver a chuckle in between every sigh.

The text is organic and amazingly well written, sticking with a true and natural voice, while still stylistically inimitable.

Chasing Amy addresses virtually every socio-sexual issue at the political forefront as well as some more quiet and taboo, in a way subtle enough that leaves about an hour before the viewer contemplates any individual statement.

The message behind most successful romantic comedies is often, if not generally, “love is not easy and requires some sacrifices to be made.”  It is a message that does not necessarily mean all that much when the two main characters are completely functional, have stable, white collar employment and Manhattan condos and suffer relationship problems that do not relate to the average person watching the movie.

Smith’s initial attempt at filmmaking and the first movie in the series, “Clerks,” cost him $28,000 to make, all of which was acquired using credit cards.

Smith’s movies are not flashy, over-the-top or action packed, often the photography and editing is not flawless.  Smith’s movies are, however most accessible of any director’s.

“Chasing Amy,” is a thinking comedy, except for the Jay and Silent Bob appearance, there are few laugh out loud moments.  The movie has layers of depth and complexity and should very well have created a standard for all romance movies that followed.

To simplify things, if you loved, “Something Borrowed,” you will probably not love, “Chasing Amy.”  This is not a movie in which the Princess is rescued by Prince Charming.  This is a movie in which Prince Charming and the Princess acknowledge their faults that cannot be reconciled and they do not find or look for reconciliation.

By destroying archetypal characters, by looking past ideals, Smith and the amazing cast of this film create a journey that offers no advice or answers, but an unbeatable and passionate lens of perspective, in a movie that will embed itself in history as one of the best romance movies of all time.

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