Where’s my Sears.com refund?

1-Screen Shot 2012-09-28 at 2.30.24 PMQuestion: I ordered three items from Sears.com three weeks ago. Two arrived, but the other — a coat for $75 — was canceled by Sears the same day I placed the order because it was no longer available in a warehouse or store.

It has been 20 days and I’ve received no refund for the canceled item. I’ve done online chat, e-mailed, and contacted Sears on Twitter and Facebook. According to @searscares, I am now on a waitlist for a “case manager” regarding my refund.

I have also escalated a claim with PayPal, as I paid for my order with PayPal
funds and Shop Your Way Rewards. Can you help me get a refund for the canceled item? — Elizabeth Smith, Johnson City, Tenn.

Answer: Sears was dragging its feet on your refund, no doubt about it.

A look at its own return policy and PayPal’s policy reveals … well, not much. They are long, convoluted documents that make it difficult (if not impossible) to know the timeline for a refund.

That’s not just a Sears and PayPal problem — you see it everywhere. The money is taken out of your account at lightning speed but returned at a snail’s pace.

Here’s the problem I have with your case: You didn’t cancel the transaction; Sears did. There’s no reason it shouldn’t have quickly returned your $75.

Companies will say that it’s not that simple. There are complex systems at work behind the scenes, managing millions of transactions. But the truth is, refunds could be made as quickly as purchases, if companies were willing to invest in the technology.

You could have filed a dispute with PayPal, which functions similarly to a credit card dispute, but that might have tied up your refund even longer. You were better off asking Sears to do the right thing soon. Too bad no one was listening.

By the way, if you ever hit a brick wall with Sears again, try emailing someone higher on the corporate food chain. All Sears email follow the convention [email protected] Forwarding your email to a supervisor would almost certainly ensure your case would be assigned a higher priority, but I can’t guarantee it.

I contacted Sears on your behalf. It processed your refund within a few hours.

Do you think online retailers profit by taking their time with refunds?

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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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