1. Description of the purchase
A the beginning of July'08 I went to Sears to buy an Air Conditioning unit. When I asked the seller what is their return policy on that he told me that I've got 30 days to return it if I don't like it. After finalizing the deal I got the unit home.
2. The merchandise and it's quality
The AC unit: portable AC Kenmoor 1000BTU for $649.99
First run was a little bit disappointing - the first impression was that it is too loud we could't hear that in store where background noise was apparently high.
3. Problem description
Over couple next weeks we barely used it due to spending most of our time outside of our apartment. One day in the nigh wave of heat came and we turned the unit on. Unfortunately in the night the noise was even bigger - we couldn't sleep even on it's lowest setting. Next day we decided to return it because we had about 5 days left before the 30 days return time pass.
To my surprise when I brought it to the store I was told that there is 20% of the restocking fee. I calculated roughly that it is around $120 - it wasn't cheap AC unit. I mentioned that I wasn't told about any restocking fee when buying the item. The associate didn't want to listen to my arguments and she mentioned that all rules are on the reverse of the receipt. I checked and yes there is a statement: "If for any reason you are not satisfied, simply return your purchase with your receipt within (...) 30 days for Electronics, (...) and Seasonal Merchandise*, less a restocking fee if applicable."
Nice statement but it doesn't say anything about what is considered the "Seasonal Merchandise" (for me it could be shoes) nor it says anything about the 20% fee. I asked the associate where the 20% fee comes from and she told me that she is telling me that this is the fee. I tried to convince me to show me some rules which were saying about the fee amount but what she could do was connecting me with, I think it was a customer service which turned out to be already closed. Also the text on reverse of the receipt doesn't clarify under what condition the restocking fee is applied - everything is fogy here and open to interpretation. When I was paying the seller didn't even mentioned that there are any rules on the reverse of the receipt. The receipt itself doesn't say that signing it (I was paying via credit card) I agree to those rules. Nowadays usually the revers carries some ads which I never bother to check but in
case of sears it contains a fuzzy rules (comparable to fine print you can find on some tricky user agreements).
4. Steps I has taken so far
I tried to talk to the store manager but I was told the same story that everything is on back of the receipt and he cannot waive the fee. I asked him to date the receipt what he did.
5. Steps I'm going to take
I'm planing to take the case to court and fight for my right as a customer. I used to be a good Sears customer but it has changed now.
6. Final impression
Freedom of choice is an illusion at Sears. I'm stuck now with crappy AC unit while on the market there are some models with better quality (meaning quite) for lesser price. I'm not going to pay $120 for the Sears version of freedom of choice. This was my last deal with Sears and I'll also let all my friends know about Sears approach to a customer who is buying more expensive merchandise. Any customer who is planning to buy anything from Sears should recall my case.
Product or Service Mentioned: Sears Manager.
Monetary Loss: $649.