Last week, Mouse Print* examined the speedy delivery guarantees of three major retailers for shoppers who order online but want to pick up the merchandise in-store.
The policy from Sears was simple and straightforward: scan your confirmation at the store kiosk, and if your goods are not handed to you in five minutes, you get a $5 coupon toward a future purchase:
And there was no fine print. Or so it seemed.
On Friday around 6 pm, “Mr. Consumer” ordered an item online at Sears.com for in-store pick up. By 8 pm, no confirmation email had yet been received. By the next morning, the confirmation had arrived, and I took it to Sears in Cambridge, MA at 7:15 am. Promptly upon scanning the receipt’s barcode at the pick up kiosk, a Sears employee appeared and scrutinzed the confirmation. He seemed puzzled, but retreated to the backroom to fetch my goods.
Up on a video screen above the kiosk a list of customers appears along with the amount of time they have been waiting for their goods to be hand-delivered. My name was there with the minutes and seconds ticking off — 2 minutes and 12 seconds, 3 minutes and 30 seconds, 4 minutes and 51 seconds. At this point it felt like it was going to be my lucky day and it was. The clock stopped at 5:29, indicating the order was complete. A few seconds later, I was handed my package, but no $5 coupon. I asked for it, and mere seconds later was handed one.
Similar luck was not had by some others, unfortunately. A few hours before I ordered my item, I placed an order for a friend in Lincoln, NE who agreed to pick up the item at his local store. On Saturday morning he trotted over to his Sears and encountered 20 people ahead of him in the pick up area. Once he scanned his confirmation, the time ticked off and kept ticking for nearly 35 minutes.
Being the smart consumer that he is, he asked for a $5 coupon. Sears personnel explained that that store didn’t give out compensation for slow deliveries and they showed him some paperwork to back up their position.
I contacted the national customer relations department of Sears on his behalf to find out how it was possible that his store was exempt from the 5 minute/$5 guarantee. The customer service representative explained that the “Ready in 5″ guarantee was a “pilot program” and that not all stores participated. I pointed out that there was no disclosure on their website that this was a limited offer, and even mentioned that while on hold waiting to talk to her, the non-music on hold was interrupted by Sears promoting the 5 minute guarantee, again with no restrictions stated. She refused to provide a $5 coupon to compensate my friend for the long wait.
The worst MOUSE PRINT* is the fine print that is missing — leading the consumer to believe one thing, when something else is really the case.