In fairness to Sears, I wasn't all that surprised to have online ordering issues. I do most of my holiday shopping online, and on Black Thursday night/Friday, many websites were obviously straining under heavy loads. I drove to Sears with a printout of my order and advertisement in hand to show that I tried to receive the package price but wasn't able to. The salesman didn't have the authority to make the pricing adjustments, but called over a manager who listened to my situation and price-adjusted the extra lens and memory card without hassle. I finished and walked to the product pickup to receive the camera. It was at that point I was advised that they didn't have the camera in stock. A day or two later, I received an email from Sears that the order was canceled because it was not in stock. The Canon Ti3 is a regularly stocked item, so I'm not sure why my order was canceled instead of simply delayed.
Neal: Let me explain that for you.
Neal: The protection agreement will give you unmatched service around 24 hours and 7 days a week, if you need any repair on the appliance within the covered period of time.
Neal: Plus, you will have annual tune up service at your convenient time; this will definitely prolong the life of the appliance.
Neal: In addition to this, you can get the item replaced if there are more than 4 repairs in a year.
Neal: Our 5-Year In-Home Repair Protection Agreement (best value) adds $149.99.
Neal: Our 3-Year In-Home Repair Protection Agreement adds $99.99.
Neal: Our 2-Year In-Home Repair Protection Agreement add $59.99.
Neal: Which one shall I add to the cart, Robert?
Robert Weinstein: no thanks, after 5 years I will be replacing it anyway
Neal: Robert, I would suggest you to add the 2 year warranty for just $59.99 as you are getting $74 as a refund for this gas grill.
Robert Weinstein: well, i don't think of it as a refund, because the price was 399 and at 474 I wasn't going to buy it
Neal: I do understand your concern, Robert. I am providing the refund as it is an one time exception. The sale on this grill has already ended.
Neal: Shall I add the Protection Agreement? After the website error frustration, I then had the pleasure of repeating myself for the third time that I didn't want an extended warranty. Neal relented and let me have the grill without an extended warranty.
And what does a "one time exception" mean to Sears? If its website doesn't honor a legitimate sales price in the future, I shouldn't bother contacting customer service because I already used up my "one-time exception" to receive the correct price? Unfortunately, Neal and Sears weren't finished with me. Even though Sears offers free shipping, Neal tried to create a delivery date of Saturday for an extra $10. Also, he told me I can't use the points I earned from previous purchases at Sears on this order. My order is completed, and I have (mostly) the sales price, and after being advised that it will take two weeks before I receive the grill (I live about four miles from Sears), I changed the order to in-store pickup. OK, so we've all had our Neals to deal with, and even after spending over an hour ordering a grill that could be ordered with free two-day delivery at Amazon (at a higher price), but wasn't available at Wal-Mart or Sam's Club, I drove to Sears the next day to pick up the grill.
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.