Sears started a sale on 12/26/2009 according to TV commercial. I found a 32" HD TV on sale at Sears.Com for $299.00 at 6:00 a.m. on 12/26/2009 that was in stock at the Waco, Texas store. I completed the purchase via their web site and waited for the email to confirm my purchase and give me the receipt to pick up my new set - that was clearly a condition of the purchase - it was not a done deal until the confirmation email.
The email 20 minutes later stated that my sale was canceled because the set was not in stock at the Waco store. The email (which is in my hands) says my card will not be charged - it does not say my card was already charged and that I would have my money tied up for 5 to 10 days or whatever my bank's policy is for placing holds for purchases from merchants. I asked why Sears first charged my account before checking the availability of the merchandise, and Supervisor Tiffany (who is an obnoxious tart) told me it was their policy. She is correct - if Sears doesn't complete the sale with a confirmation charge, the "hold" drops off the in five to ten days pursuant to federal and state banking regulations.
However, the vast majority of merchants run a card to see if the account is open by charging only a dollar through the sales system. If the sale is not able to be completed, the customer only has a dollar tied up for 5 to 10 days. If the product is ready and available for sale, the merchant merely charges the sales price less the $1.00 processed earlier.
Tiffany just couldn't understand that just because their internal policy says that is how they are going to do it, that doesn't make me, as a consumer, or ten shoppers or a thousand shoppers across the US, should be denied thousands of dollars of their own money because Sears chooses to take an easy way out - that is, care about customer and confirm availability first rather than charge first, do nothing later. When I told her I was not satisfied with that, she tried to claim I was being abusive. My wife, sanding just a few feet away had to laugh - I am a former local prosecutor and now work for my state, and if telling the "supervisor" that I disagreed with their inconsiderate and literally harmful policy constitutes abuse, you should have listened to her tone when I asked for the legal department's phone number. I did get it - but Tiffany was still trying to tell me I was wasting my time. Tiffany said the legal department's phone number is (847) 286-8371.
I don't have to shop at Sears - and it may be a cold day before I purchase anything from Sears due to the attitude of a snotty supervisor who couldn't are less about the public. I even explained up front that she may not be able to help me, but she took it upon herself to educate me and lecture me about their policy and that there was nothing I could do about it. I'll remember that the next time I send someone to jail - I wonder how they will feel if I tell them you're going to jail, and that's that. There are many judges and lawyers who would take issue with that.
If I succeed in changing Sear's policy, I will probably ask for a copy and have one sent to Tiffany so she can read that policy is flexible when you go high enough in an organization. Nah, it'll be my policy to let Tiffany continue to be a ***.
Perhaps if enough people complain, Sears could program their computers to take that little step of checking to see if the item they show as being in stock actually is in stock before tying up a customer's money. This is the first time I can think of that I had a merchant pull a stunt like this - most other retailers sell you the product or won't let you complete the sale - not take the sale, then try to confirm product to sell, and send you a "Dear John" letter and let the customer's money be encumbered for a week or more. Bankruptcy didn't do Sears or consumers any favors if Tiffany is the best they got as a policy-spouting supervisor.
Monetary Loss: $325.