Argh! This damaged freezer is making me come unhinged

Photo by stevendepolo/Flickr Creative Commons
Question: My husband and I ordered an upright freezer from Sears. The delivery driver bounced it off of a wall in the basement and now it has a large dent in the side. The driver was concerned, and he said that he would try to help us. I assume he did this so we would accept the unit, and he wouldn’t have to carry it back up the steps.

He and my husband, Edward, each spoke with a Sears representative, who offered us a $100 gift card.

My husband asked me if I thought that was good, and I agreed. We were told it would be mailed, and would take about two weeks to arrive. When it finally arrived three weeks later, it was a coupon for 10 percent off my next purchase, which is considerably different from the promised offer of the gift card.

I was hoping you might be able to help us. Can you get Sears to keep its word? — Alex Schuler, Erie, Pa.

Answer: Sears seems intent on disappointing you — and me.

Of course, the Sears technician shouldn’t have damaged your freezer when it was delivered. And I agree, trying to get you to sign off on the delivery with the “promise” of a gift certificate was a ploy to get you to accept a damaged product. You probably shouldn’t have done that.

The key strategy to prevent this situation would have been to get some kind of assurance of a $100 gift certificate in writing, even if it meant asking the technician to scribble something on the back of his business card. All of your calls to Sears, and all of the verbal assurances by the technician, are difficult to verify, because you have no way of proving they happened.

Sears worked hard to screw this case up. Even after I contacted it, and it promised to send you the gift certificate, and you got that promise in writing, it failed to deliver the card within a reasonable amount of time. (How do I define “reasonable”? I just used Sears’ own definition. It didn’t send you the card when it said it would.)

Your dented freezer lifts the lid on several problems at Sears, including an outsourced delivery company that Sears won’t stand behind, phone representatives who apparently will say anything to make you happy but then pretend the call never happened, and a company that’s so indifferent to the needs of its own customers that it will brush off the overtures of a reader advocate.

The gift card eventually arrived. But by then, you had already made up your mind about your next Sears purchase: there won’t be one.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • emanon256

    I voted no. Sadly Sears has disappointed me so many times now that I gave up on them. They used to be good, I am not sure what happened.

    The last time I tried to use them was when I purchased a new dish washer two years ago. When it was delivered it was not the right color. The driver claimed it was the one Sears gave him, so I called and was told that if I accepted it, they would send me a $100 gift card. I guess this is there MO. I refused and said I wanted the correct color dish washer, they said it would be 30 days before they could deliver it. I refused it, and told them to take it and asked for my money back. They put up a flight and said I was the first person ever to refuse their offer, I didn’t believe them. They finally agreed and the delivery company left with the dish washer. This was my third and final problem with Sears.

    I then got the correct color dish washer at Best Buy of all places for even less than it was at Sears. Who Knew?

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Sears is what’s broken.

  • Carver Clark Farrow

    If I had your experience I would never ever shop at Sears again. Who cares if you are the first person in the entire history of the universe to refuse the offer. BFD!!

  • EdB

    After having Sears automotive tell me they couldn’t do a front end alignment on my vehicle because the tie rods had plastic joints and were worn out and required replacement at a huge cost (took to another place who was able to do the alignment and verify that those joints were metal) and them telling our elderly female neighbor she needed new tires when she had just bought new ones FROM SEARS less than a month earlier, I have never been back since.

  • TonyA_says

    Kmart bought Sears many years ago. They are both largely owned by hedge funds.
    Whenever you hear that a store got bought out by a hedge fund or private equity, chances are the store gets lousier.

  • $16635417

    I’d still spend the $100 gift card, it’s their money after all, get something your want or need with it. A hundred bucks is a hundred bucks.

    Who’s writing in now? The other day someone claimed not to care about the $1000 from U of Phx, but it was the “principle”…now someone who wont use $100 gift card at Sears… again for the “principle”? Have the 1%’ers discovered Chris. ;)

    Spend the $100 and THEN stop shopping there if you choose. I went ahead and voted no…I don’t consider using the gift card as “another chance”. Now. if the poll question was “Is it OK for Alex Shuler use the gift card then stop shopping Sears?”… that would be a “yes”.

  • Peddler

    ” a company that’s so indifferent to the needs of its own customers that it will brush off the overtures of a reader advocate.”

    Typical of Corporate America …

  • BillCCC

    I voted yes. If there is an item that he wants and it is available at Sears for the right price why not buy it there? In the future don’t accept damaged goods and get promises in writing.

  • fshaff

    I try to avoid Sears/Kmart at all costs. Sears “used” to be a good store to shop at, and they stood behind whatever they sold. Today, forget about that! About a year ago, I purchased a Sear’s brand food processor, through a 3rd party. I needed to get a replacement blade for it, so I went to their website, found the correct part, paid for it by c/c, and got a confirmation from them stating it would be delivered with 10-days. About 2 days later, I got another email from Sear’s stating that the part was NOT available as the item was discontinued! What? It was less than 1-yr old, and now they don’t have parts for it??!! I got my money back within a few days. The kicker to this story: I found the needed part through another 3rd party at less than what Sear’s was charging me.

  • JenniferFinger

    Sears really screwed up…and it doesn’t care. I wouldn’t go there to buy any major appliance…I did years ago when I bought an air conditioner, it wasn’t delivered on time, and the company gave me a shrug when I called them to complain.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    “Have the 1%’ers have discovered Chris” Poor writing aside, what an ugly thing to say. Not accepting a damaged item, not giving in to their offer of payola, makes someone a member of the so-called “elite”?

  • ExplorationTravMag

    My husband and I refuse to go to Sear for anything. Several years ago, we had a garden tractor delivered and the delivery driver didn’t engage the brake, thus, it rolled off the back of the truck and was damaged. He was flummoxed that I refused to take delivery. Sears tried to give me the run around and after several phone calls, we ended up cancelling the order and buying another one at Lowes.

    In addition, while our local Lowes and Home Depot offer 10% off all the time to military and military retired, Sears does not. Nope, we don’t use Sears, either.

  • Frequentfliermom

    I will never ever set my foot in Sears again. They have dented my credit score, and even though they were at fault, they will do nothing to correct it. I have written 3 letters, I actually got them to remove the late fee they stuck me with, but they will not repair my damaged credit. I have now written to all 3 credit bureaus, and hope to resolve my issue this way, but the customer service at Sears is horrendous.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    It never actually says they had no intention of using the gift card. The entire reason they contacted Chris was to get the gift card. I think Chris’ comment about there not being any future purchases quite obviously referenced major items like appliances. Like they’re not going to go into Sears and pick up some clothing or something else for free?

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’ve seen this sort of thing from them, as well, where third parties have no problems getting parts but Sears themselves can’t help you. The sad thing is that some of the Kenmore appliances and Craftsman tools (all made by other parties, of course) are still quite good. The problem is Sears whole system is broken.

  • $16635417

    Thanks for pointing out the typo. I’ve corrected it.

    The OP DID agree to accept the damaged item in exchange for the $100 gift card:

    “He and my husband, Edward, each spoke with a Sears representative, who offered us a $100 gift card.
    My husband asked me if I thought that was good, and I agreed.”

    Now….Sears dragged their feet and didn’t send it in a timely manner, yes that’s a problem. The OP’s revenge? To not use it? How does that hurt Sears more than the OP?

    You also took the 1%’r comment a bit too seriously. I notice you left part of it out of the quote in your response. Please note the semi colon followed by the close parenthesis at the end of the sentence. That is a “wink” which notes a bit of intentional over the top sarcasm on my part.

  • S E Tammela

    I voted yes – just make sure your purchase is $100 or less and use the card.

  • $16635417


    One would think, but check out the last line:

    “The gift card eventually arrived. But by then, you had already made up your mind about your next Sears purchase: there won’t be one.”

    I’d like to think your scenario is correct. If that is the case perhaps it should read something like “there won’t be one….after using up the gift card.”

  • Jherrmannmt

    Sears made its reputation as a great organization on the basis of customer service. That was then (1930s-50s), this is now. When I was a youngster I worked for Sears and witness things like a man returning for full refund a 10 year old water heater that originally was guaranteed only for 5 years. He was given a new one at no charge. Someone needs to remind the company that it is at zero now re. customer service.

  • StarKiller

    Go to and get advice about dealing with this.

  • Frequentfliermom

    Thank you, I appreciate the advice.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    That is Chris’ line and I expect worded that way for effect, implying future monetary purchases, not that the person wasn’t going to use the free gift card. After all, they’d already gotten the runaround before contacting Chris yet still wanted the card. They’d be even more into sticking it to Sears after it drug out for even longer.

  • $16635417

    Kind of my point. Stick it to them for the gift card value THEN make your stand on principle to not purchase from them again.

    For me, pointing that out would have had a better effect rather than make some of us wonder if Chris is being literal or shall we interpret some sort of message.

  • Christopher Elliott

    We had a little hacking trouble with the site this afternoon. I apologize for any service disruptions (a little ironic, considering this post…).

  • emanon256

    Do we all get gift cards? Just kidding ;)

  • LeeAnneClark

    I want a full refund! WAAAH!


  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Maybe the same people that stuck popups like this morning’s Netflix ad or yesterday’s LowerMyBills ads. Very ironic, really. Glad to see the site is up again.

  • Ann Lamoy

    The only thing I would buy at Sears is a name brand item that I could get at a better price there than any where else. And I could take it with me.

    In addition, I would not buy the extended warranty from them. If it were an expensive item that needed an extended warranty, I would get it from Square Trade.

  • taximommy

    Yeah, good luck with that. I argued with them for a year about a new ice maker that never did work from day one. I finally contacted Visa with which I purchased the ice maker and got my account credited.

  • Christopher Elliott

    It’s on the way. Free beer for everyone!

  • AgentSteve

    This year, we purchased new top-end “Kenmore” appliances from Sears.
    The fridge was delivered (outsourced) with no problems and they moved the old one, from the kitchen, to the garage, at no charge.
    The double-oven was (outsourced) delivered and installed with no problems and they hauled away the old one, for $10.
    The dishwasher was a floor model and I picked it up from Sears, as I have a truck, so it was easy and I was doing the installation and disposal of the old one.
    Yes, it sounds like a run-around, whereby the left hand isn’t quite coordinated with the right hand. But what concerns me most is accepting the damaged freezer. Even if it’s just a dent, one needs to be assured of it’s operating condition, affect on warranty and of course, documentation, documentation, documentation!!!

  • $16635417

    hmmm…and if you don’t pay up…who do we turn to with our complaints? ;)

  • Sears Cares

    Alex Schuler,

    Please accept our sincere apologies for the difficulty you have
    experienced with the delivery of your freezer.
    I understand how frustrating it is to purchase a freezer and have it
    dented upon arrival. Even more, I can
    see how irritating it can be promised a gift card and receive a coupon instead.
    My name is Liz and I am with the Sears Social
    Media Support Team. We would like the
    opportunity to have one of our dedicated case managers contact you with
    possible options to resolve this matter.
    At your convenience, please contact our office via email at so you don’t have
    to be upset by this any longer. In the email, please provide a contact number and the phone number that the freezer was purchased under
    (if different than the contact phone number) and we will call you
    directly. In addition, please include your Screen name (Alex Schuler) in the
    email for reference to your issue.
    Again, we’re sorry for any trouble we have caused and we hope to talk to
    you soon.

    Thank you,

    Liz R.

    Social Media Support Team

  • Christopher Elliott


  • Jeanne_in_NE

    So, where the heck was “Liz R.” when the Schulers were trying to resolve this with Sears directly?

  • Andrea Elkins

    Hmm. Loads of detail filled in makes it appear to be a real human. Typical of huge corporations, it’s probably a short-term social media outreach initiative that will die on the vine because, as we’ve seen, customer service processes, attitudes, and options have to be in place first. Companies can’t just add another (public, no less!) communication mechanism on top the same f***ed up policies and expect customers to be happier.

  • Tracy Anne Hart

    The freezer story is worse than my dishwasher delivery/installation story, but I totally believe it because it is so similar … We purchased all our appliances from Sears over the years since buying our home in 1997. But this dishwasher purchase is the last one we will make there. Eddie Lampert (the chairman of Sears) should be ashamed of what he has done to an American icon.

  • nathan

    I ordered a fridge from sears they delivered it scratched on the front from the packages rubbing they gave me 600 dollars of course at first it was 100 dollars, in a gift card said it would arrive via email this post scares me hope someone sends me something soon…