On 7 April 2011 I visited the Bolingbrook, IL Sears Store (200 North Weber, Store #5702) to purchase a rototiller that Sears had on sale. When I went to pay the cashier requested my phone number. I explained to her that I do not give out my phone number and that it is personal information. She stated that I could not purchase the product without giving her a phone number. Because I consider my phone number to be a private matter I did not find this to be an acceptable response. I asked for the on-duty store manager (Rick) who basically insisted the same thing.
Thinking that this was just a matter of the cashier needing something to fill in a blank on her cash register I told her to use any number. She would not. I then gave her a number to use, which she would not accept. Rick, the store manager agreed with her that she could not accept the number I had provided. Overhearing what was transpiring, another employee came over. She told the cashier to "just put in any number, that this was done all the time" and that there were many people who did not like to provide private information like their phone number.
Finally, they accepted the number I provided to them. I thought we were
over the hurdle, only to then have Rick insist that I was now no longer
eligible to obtain a standard warranty for the rototiller I was
purchasing. Basically, no phone number, no warranty. I explained that
I would be happy to register my warranty online or by mail, but he
insisted that was not an option.
I must say that the way I was treated at Sears was terrible. I
know that I am not the only person who values their privacy and personal
information. I also know that Sears' system, and that of many other
companies much larger than Sears, can easily be hacked into,
compromising customer databases. In fact, just recently I received a
notice from Capital One that their marketing vendor, Epsilon, had their
system compromised, releasing my name and private email address and that
of millions of customers. In the last month Sony's site was breached twice, releasing 24.6 million subscribers' info and credit card data. So, everyone should have legitimate fears that any private information they provide to Sears or others can over time become compromised by these ever occurring breaches.
Even forgetting the private nature of such information, one could only
extend Sears' stated store policy to imply that anyone who does not have a
phone number, such as someone who recently moved or are in the process
of changing phones cannot purchase their products and obtain a warranty. And I say products, because although I was purchasing a rototiller, I suspect if I had been purchasing a new refrigerator, dishwasher or their Utility Mate portable trailer, (each of which could be an indication of someone moving who may not have an active phone number ) I would have been subjected to the same treatment. And, to make matters worse, the rototiller was a gift for a relative, so registering a warranty with me would not have even been correct!
In this day of economic downturn one would think that a company like
Sears would be happy to make a sale like this. Obviously, I
must be mistaken. However, in his February 2011 letter to its
Shareholders, Sears Holdings Chairmen Mr. Lampert noted that "2010 was
another challenging year for Sears Holdings. Our financial results
remain at unacceptable levels, and we are working to drive better
performance in both the short and long term". Perhaps if Mr. Lampert
knew what was happening at the customer level he would realize where a
gaping hole lies.
I will continue trying to get an acceptablre replay from Sears, both on the warranty and on their poor policies. But in the mean time I guess we should all assume that with Sears, NO PHONE NUMBER, NO WARRANTY!