There are a lot of screwy mistakes we see in this market. For instance Sony should have really become Apple given they were dominant in personal music players first and were known for ease of use. Steve Jobs actually copied Sony’s model when he rebuilt Apple and Sony should have still been better because it was their model but that isn’t what happened. Sears and Amazon have an even more troubling story because Sears had been the leader in catalogue sales for around a century before Amazon even existed and on-line buying is very similar to catalogue buying. Sears should have easily been able to rotate to the new model because it was so similar to what built the company but that isn’t what happened either.
This was driven home to me this holiday season when I bought products from both firms. This is my horrible Sears story.
I almost moved out of the country recently but one of the big reasons I didn’t is because Amazon doesn’t deliver to the country I was moving to. You take this for granted until you go someplace that doesn’t have this. When you buy something from Amazon it generally shows up when they promise and increasingly you can even get it in some areas the same day you buy it. If, for whatever reason, it doesn’t show up when they promise they generally send you an alert and refund your shipping fees.
The only company that may be better with returns is Costco and that is a pretty impressive bar. In short even though Amazon handles millions of transactions generally you can depend on them to take care of you well.
We ordered a Washer and Drier from Sears to go into a house we were remodeling in Bend Oregon and they were supposed to be delivered the day after Thanksgiving. These were top of the line Kenwood units and they were selected because their color, purple, was consistent with how we wanted the house to look and Kenwood is typically highly rated by Consumer Reports.
We drove to Bend to receive the appliances (a 9 hour drive) and called to find out what time they would arrive only to find they weren’t shipped yet. Not only weren’t they shipped but we were told that Sears didn’t ship to Bend. Apparently you can’t get to a live body easily (we were told they’d only deal with us over email and would respond in 24 hours or so or after we’d left to return home). Bend isn’t that small and there is a full Sears store in the city.
After days and weeks of trying to figure out where the appliances were we have recently been told they did ship out earlier this month but no one seems very clear as to where they were shipped. There is a great deal of doubt whether we will have these things by Christmas even though our contractor has volunteered to drive the 200 miles to their distribution center to pick them up in person (largely because they aren’t there anymore and have slipped into shipping limbo).
My recommendation, if you want to order something and actually want to get it buy it from Amazon don’t buy it from Sears.
I don’t get how a company with a well-regarded brand like Sears can put in place policies that are so anti-customer. If I have a concern with Amazon I can get a live person to talk to, hell they even have a button on their new Kindles I can use to get a video conference with them. Sears has an email system with responses that may come back in 24 hours and not be particularly helpful. When orders don’t show up Amazon takes responsibility with Sears they seem to say that is the risk of doing business with them. Given this experience I’m not surprised Amazon is kicking Sears’ butt, I’m surprised Sears is still in business.