Posted by: Pete | Thursday, April 2, 2009

Pete speaks: Why Sears is going out of business

Dear Sears,

You have probably heard the buzz on the street that you are somewhat unlikely to make it through the year without going bankrupt.  You may also be wondering how that could possibly be, given that you’ve been around since the early days of the railroad and are an icon of American retailing.

Well, let me give you a few tips:

1) If you advertise an item on your website, show that it is in stock, and allow a customer to order it, you might want to actually have or be able to get said item.

2) When you send said customer an email the next day telling them that you’re canceling the order because you don’t have the item, perhaps you could give them the option of waiting for it to come back in stock instead of unilaterally canceling the entire order.

3) After you send this email to the customer, you might want to stop offering the same item on the website as still being available.

4) When you do this to the same customer virtually every time he tries to order from your website over the course of a few years, this customer might eventually become suspicious that you never had the item(s) in the first place.

5) Try not to be mysteriously out of stock of everything whenever you have an online “sale”.

6) Don’t waste time and effort on a new website redesign if you can’t perform the basic retailing task of selling items to customers. (Actual text from your site today: “We’re changing to serve you better.”)


-Former customer (maybe I’ll be back for the liquidation sale!)


  1. If they go bankrupt do I have to pay off my Sears card??
    If not—I’m going shopping—but only in the store, since their website is obviously imaginary items only.

  2. I had the same thing happen with an order from Amazon right before Christmas. They took my order, promised delivery before December 24, and SURPRISE! An email apologizing for not being able to fill my order — too late to find it elsewhere in time for Christmas.

    I don’t suppose Amazon will be going out of business any time soon though.

    Grr Amazon and Sears.

  3. Why am I not surprised about loss leaders on the Sears website? Bad Sears.

  4. I always believed Sears was subpar! Montgomery Ward was better and what happened to them? Out of Business.

  5. At one time, I was too sick to work and my husband had a short-term unemployment. I was way behind on my Sears bill. I called and asked if we could work out a payment plan.

    They said I could, but they would be closing my account. I said “that’s what you do to a 25 year customer who has bought all her major appliances from Sears?”

    That’s when I stopped being a Sears customer.

  6. Perhaps you can find your item at Circuit City?

  7. are you buying a skee ball machine?
    maybe you are shopping at the wrong store.

  8. I’ve had issues with them since I, at 9 months pregnant and ready to pop (literally, I think I had the baby the next day), was buying a gift for someone and they had no boxes at the register and they made me schlepp all over the store to find one. Lousy service.

  9. My fav Sears story is….my husband got a “discman” back in the day and it stopped working a month later, we had the reciept so we returned it to the store and they said we could exchange it for a new one….my parents had bought it on sale for $99, now the item was no longer on sale, it was $120 so the clerk said we would have to pay the difference, $21…What????? I had previously worked for Sears in the returns/cust service department and knew that was incorrect, an exchage of the exact item on sale or not is just a straight exchange, so I asked for a manager, about 30 minutes later someone claiming to be the manager came and said we had to pay the difference to exchange, after much discussion she admitted to not being a manager. I kept trying to explain that we were not asking for anything unusual, the value of both items was the same and that at any store in the world if you buy something on sale and then exchange it you do not have to pay the difference but it was like being in an alternate retail universe. They then said they would take the broken item and send it out for repair. The next day I sent an email to the president of Sears Canada and he apologised and kept saying he couldn’t believe that they had treated us that way etc etc… he replaced the discman and sent us a gift certificate for $25. I don’t think I have shopped there since.

  10. Amen, sistah. I loathe ordering anything from Sears.

  11. Uh-oh, alex just called Jen’s husband-sistah. ;)

    I have an old Sears vacuum that I use for the car. Whenever I go to buy replacement bags, etc. the store is always deserted. That coupled with a defunct website, it’s a wonder they’ve hung on for this long.

  12. I think that falls somewhere under FALSE ADVERTISING. How irritating. Though it IS scary to think of Sears going out of business, like you said, they’ve been around forever.

  13. How annoying! Why even have the website at all?

  14. I have no Sears stories, since I was raised to obey my father’s three rules for living:
    1. Make your bed every day.
    2. Always pay cash for a car.
    3. Never shop at Sears.

  15. LOL! Whoops, I forgot it was Pete talking :)

    Amen, brotha! ;)

  16. Hi Pete!

  17. And when you are already six hours late delivering the washer and the dryer and the customer calls your 800 number, don’t tell your customer that the delivery truck is somewhere in “Milwaukee City.” Tell me EXACTLY where the truck is — and I mean street address, bitch — and how many deliveries he has to make before he gets to my house, where I have been waiting since noon, without food. Why is there no food? The same reason there is no washer and dryer. We have not moved into the house yet! So there is NO FOOD! NO BOOKS! NO TV! Nothing to do but WAIT FOR THE SEARS DELIVERY GUY WHO IS “SOMEWHERE IN MILWAUKEE CITY USA!”

  18. You tell ‘em, Pete.

    I hate Sears. The only reason I might hope that they don’t go under is that I actually bought warrantees for my appliances that I bought from them. (If anyone is thinking about buying appliances from Sears, DON’T!! I don’t care what Consumer Reports says. Don’t do it!)

    They are completely incompetent, and it’s a wonder that they’ve been able to stay in business this long at all.

  19. Right on, Pete. Can’t stand Sears anymore and avoid at all costs.
    And yes, I remember Montgomery Ward and they were far superior.

  20. Well said, Pete.
    Are you buying a Skee Ball game?

  21. Well said. Sears, you’ve been struggling for years, I say cut your losses and give it up.