After arriving at Sears, I was told the grill was in stock, but I also noticed another grill on sale that was a little more money but included features that made it worthwhile. I asked Paul Sikkema, the grill salesman, if it was a problem refunding the online order so I could buy a different one. Sikkema said it wouldn't be a problem.
I don't know Sikkema outside of a few purchases I made at Sears, but he's one of the best salespeople Sears employs. He's honest, knows the answers and doesn't try to force anything you don't want to buy. Sikkema did demonstrate the features of the next step up, but not in a pushy way; rather, he showed the other grill in a way to inform and make sure the unit we walked out with was a good fit.
At the same time I'm there looking at the grills, I get an email from Sears informing me that the grill I am 2 feet away from is now out of stock. My first reaction was to laugh and shake my head, but my second was to create a mental note not to order from Sears online again and to check the stock price.
Sears' error saved me the task of canceling the original order. I didn't ask, but I do wonder what the store would have done had I still wanted the original order that was actually in stock. SHLD Revenue TTM data by YCharts
The reason I didn't ask is the checkout at Sears took about an hour. It wasn't Sikkema's fault from what I could tell, but Sears has a long way to go before it is able to play at the same level as Amazon and Wal-Mart. SHLD Operating Income TTM data by YCharts
I bought other outdoor items at Sam's Club and Amazon over the weekend. The grill from Sears will be the last item to arrive. A spokesperson for Sears emailed the following response: "We're working hard to put our Members first and earn a reputation for great service. When you're a company our size and on the cutting edge of integrated retail, occasionally a customer experience under-delivers. We're sorry your experience fell short of expectations and we've discussed the specific training issues related to your case with the associates involved so we can learn and do better next time. In fact, storewide and at the individual associate level we're using technology and training to encourage and embrace feedback to improve accountability. Members like yourself are the future of our company and we are committed to serve them well every day, in every transaction, no matter how they choose to shop with us." At the time of publication, the author did not have any positions in stocks mentioned. Follow @RobertWeinstein This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.