August 1, 2014

Check Your Cart at Sears.com

Is Sears.com tacking on added purchases without your consent? Automatically adding on a service package is up-selling and Sears.com may have been doing just that.

Edgar Dworsky, a nationally-respected consumer advocate and founder of the website ConsumerWorld.org, says he went on the site on Black Friday weekend looking for a refrigerator. He found a model he liked, put it in his cart and noticed that a five-year service contract for $469 had been added without his consent.

Dworsky points out that the charge for the service plan is easily removed from the cart if the customer spots it. If not, they could overpay from $110 to $550.

“How many shoppers have in their mind, ‘Oh, I’d better check the cart just to make sure they haven’t slipped something in there that I didn’t order?’”

Dworsky shopped for various appliances on Sears.com and he says the same thing happened every time: an expensive five-year extended warranty turned up in the shopping cart.

After Mr. Dworsky contacted Larry Costello, Sears’ public relations director, who says the company has received “very little negative customer feedback” about its up-sell policy,the company says it will change the way its website operates. Sears will now make their extended warranties an optional add-on, just as other major appliance sellers do.

Black Friday Appliance Sales Results

Major appliances have never been a traditional holiday gift category, and as such have always taken a back seat to electronics, apparel and home fashions in the pantheon of Black Friday promotions.

All that began to change last year when Sears offered an Electrolux front-load laundry pair for $600 the morning after Thanksgiving. This year, following one of the most challenging periods in recent white-goods memory, appliance offers came fast and furious on Black Friday, rivaling consumer electronics doorbusters in sales.

Apparently the ploy was effective: According to comparison shopping service PriceGrabber.com, sales of laundry pairs, one of the most heavily discounted categories of the holiday weekend, rose 70 percent on Black Friday compared with 2008.

One of the biggest major appliance blowouts was mounted by The Home Depot, which offered deep discounts on LG and Whirlpool’s Amana- and Maytag-branded products. Holiday specials included the high-efficiency Maytag Bravos 4.7-cubic-foot top-load washer and companion dryer for $499 each, down from $799 and $699, respectively, and a 19.7-cubic-foot LG French-door refrigerator, in white, for $798, down from $1,199.

Whirlpool was also front-and-center at Lowe’s on Black Friday, where $998 bought a 4-cubic-foot Duet front-load or Cabrio high-efficiency 4.7-cubic-foot top-load laundry pair, and $898 fetched a 25-cubic-foot French-door fridge in black or white (regularly $1,298).

New York metro area appliance titan P.C. Richard & Son was equally aggressive, offering $1,000 Samsung and Whirlpool front-load laundry pairs, both with 4-cubic-foot washers, and a 3.1-cubic-foot front-load Frigidaire washer and companion dryer for just $500.

But the day still belonged to Sears, which leveraged its private-label Kenmore brand to follow up last year’s Black Friday offering with a 3.5-cubic-foot front-load laundry pair for $580, a 23-cubic-foot French door fridge for $750, and a 4.7-cubic-foot high-efficiency Kenmore Elite Oasis laundry pair for $850. All were advertised as 50 percent or more off from Sears’ regular prices, but shoppers were warned that inventory was limited to only about two SKUs per model per store.
You can read this whole story at Twice.com

Jenn-Air to Move to Sears From Lowes and Home Depot

According to an article at Remodel.net, Sears will become the sole national retailer of Jenn-Air appliances after the new year, supplanting existing distribution deals between the super-premium Whirlpool brand and Lowe’s and The Home Depot.

Sears, the nation’s No. 1 appliance retailer, said it will introduce 17 Jenn-Air refrigerators, dishwashers and cooking products by mid-month at 255 of its largest stores. Jenn-Air will continue to be available to independent dealers and regional chains.

This presents Sears with a prestige kitchen collection just as consumers begin planning their holiday entertaining.

Price points for the luxury line run as high as nearly $10,000 for some built-in refrigerator models.

Sears has recently beefed up its high-margin premium portfolio with the addition of Bosch appliances and the expansion of its private-label Kenmore Elite collection.

“Sears continues to listen to our customers who have voiced their desire for a super-premium line,” said Sears’ home appliances president Doug Moore. “Our relationship with Jenn-Air to carry its luxury line of kitchen appliances is another great example of how we continue to enhance our brand offerings.”