Sears(.com) - Stuck in the Stone Age

Posted on Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 6:43am CDT by 4fdbac0a

Product: 1/2 -3/4 ct. t.w.* Round Diamond 3-Stone Ring in 14k Yellow Gold

Company: Sears(.com)

Location: US

URL: http://www.sears.com/

Category: Other

This actually isn't limited to August 2, but has been going on for a few days now.

I want to purchase a ring. The retail price for the ring is $1079.99. The first time I saw the ring (on sears.com) it was $539.99, with an extra "unseen" discount of 15% that became clear only when you tried to check out. I attempted to use Sears' online layaway option so that I could make two payments, as I didn't have the full $500 or so that the ring came to after warranty and tax in my account.

No luck. The online layaway did not work, but it gave me no error message. I clicked on the box, navigated through the transaction and then it just tried repeatedly to charge me the full (sale) price. Eventually I figured it was a website hiccup and I'd come back another day soon (since at that point I didn't "need" the ring for almost a month).

Go back a little less than a week later and, to my disappointment, the 15% hidden credit is gone. Online layaway also still does not work, so I tried to contact a customer service associate to explain the problem to me. The website gave me a number, which I called and was told this was not the right department. That associate gave me a number, which I called, and which turned out to be out of service. Eventually I had to give up on this and go back to work.

A couple of days later, I make one final attempt to setup online layaway. The hitch? The item's price has increased by over $100, to $647.99, but ONLY IF YOU TRY TO BUY IT. If you search the item (or a similar product by the same manufacturer/supplier) on the Sears.com page, it appears in the jewelry list as still $539.99. If you navigate to a similar item, there are small icons at the bottom of the page of "other suggested items" that appear in a graphical crawl. In that crawl, the item I wish to purchase is still $539.99. Again, I contact support--this time, I choose online chat support since I've had bad luck with the phones. After putting me on hold numerous times, the Sears.com support rep finally told me that he would not honor the lower price, and was at that moment changing the search results to reflect the correct price. As it was still a substantial discount, but no longer what I was budgeting for (by this point I had the $539.99 ready), I asked this person for assistance setting up an online layaway so that I could have the item delivered (it's now getting urgent--the ring needs to be resized and I need it shortly after my next paycheck). The representative told me to have a nice day and vanished.

After several more attempts to make the online layaway work, all of which failed, I called the local store. They did not carry the item and referred me instead to a store over 100 miles away, which had one. While that store allowed me to set up layaway over the phone, they would not ship to me, they would not transfer the inventory into a more convenient store (a pretty common practice among large retailers) and they will not ship it to me once the transaction is completed. So now, I'm paying $108 extra for the ring, plus tax now that I cannot buy online which comes to about an extra $50, plus the time, money and inconvenience of driving all the way out there to pick up my purchase. It's after hearing this part of the story that my mother says, "Maybe I can pick one up locally so that we have time to get it resized." I fire up the Sears website to see whether there is a ring closer to where my mother lives than there is to where I live--and the price has reverted back to $539.99. Bear in mind, this is a possibility that I specifically addressed with at least one of the employees, since once before the price of an item on Sears.com had gone up for a day, and then back down before I bought it. This now means that I'll be driving a hundred-plus miles to pay almost $300 more for the ring than if I simply purchased it online today at full price, which I cannot do now because I put a substantial amount of the money earmarked for this purchase, down on the layaway.


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