Sears owed me a refund — but it gave me a runaround instead

By | October 1st, 2016

How long should it take to get a refund from Sears for an online order that was made and canceled the same day?

Question: I placed an online order with Sears for tires. But then I changed my mind and decided to get different tires, still from Sears. So I canceled the first order that same day. It’s been a month now and Sears still has not processed my refund and the charge is still on my PayPal account.

I’ve called Sears and I’ve communicated with them via social media. But all I get is a runaround. Sears tells me I have to talk to Sears Automotive because they operate differently. When I talk to Sears Automotive I get more excuses. I’ve talked to at least six different people now and I’m at my wits’ end. Please help! — Dorina Mordkovich, Jamaica Plain, Mass.

Answer: It takes an online seller only moments to process your order and charge your card. It shouldn’t take any longer to credit your card when the order has been canceled and the product has not been shipped. Making a customer wait a month seems unreasonable.

But it’s not always that simple. Sometimes it depends on where your order is in the seller’s system. If you look at the returns and cancellations section of Sears’ customer service policies, it says, “Orders you submit online may be cancelled until they are processed. Orders with a status of ‘Processing’ may not be cancelled, and you must wait until your receive the merchandise in order to return it.”

It could be that your order was already in that “processing” status, which would complicate the situation. However, the excuses you got from Sears didn’t make that clear.

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Still, Sears customer service representatives should not have tried to push you off to Sears Automotive. Even if Sears Automotive does operate differently as a third-party seller, those same online policies say:

As payment agent, Sears will refund any money to you for returns of third-party/Marketplace merchandise via the payment method used to purchase the merchandise, after we receive notice from the third-party/Marketplace seller that you have returned merchandise to them in accordance with their return policy.

That indicates Sears should be handling the refund. But there’s a catch. To get the refund, you have to return the merchandise. Yet you could not return the merchandise, as you never received it because you canceled the order. That feels like a “Catch-22.”

After getting the runaround from their customer service organization, you could have written to a Sears executive contact from those listed on our website. That can be much more effective than a series of phone calls and tweets.

We noticed that almost from the beginning, your social media communications with Sears included threats to report the company to your state’s attorney general and the news media. That probably didn’t win them over. There are tips on how to write an effective complaint letter on our site.

One of our advocates contacted Sears on your behalf. It still took the company several more weeks to refund your money. In the meantime, you disputed the charge with PayPal, which agreed with you and credited your account.

Two days later, you received a check from Sears. While some people might let their anger justify keeping the money, you did the right thing by letting the company know that the matter had been resolved. Sears told you to just tear up their check, which you did.

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  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Glad to hear the consumer was ethical, but I doubt that Sears will be their first choice in the future for automotive repairs.

  • Fishplate

    Sears charged me for a service call knowing that it was to replace a particular part. That part was not available, no longer stocked, and not in the manufacturer’s inventory – all of which they knew, or should have known.

    It took a dispute and chargeback to settle that one. But it got settled in less than two months.

  • AAGK

    PayPal is incompetent and Sears seems to have no clue what it’s doing. I placed an order on Nike.com the other night. It charged my card. A few hours later I called Nike to cancel. Nike refunded and my card reflected the refund immediately. Use companies that do things the right way.

  • AAGK

    So annoying that you had to even deal with disputing when you so obv deserved the refund though.

  • The Original Joe S

    one day. chargeback when they ignore you.

  • Dutchess

    Tell Sears I’m STILL waiting for the additional $100 they promised me when they botched my refrigerator delivery for the fourth time.

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