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February 24, 2014

At Sears, Hoops, Fine Print, Stamina, and Nagging Needed to Save the Most

Filed under: Internet,Retail — Edgar (aka MrConsumer) @ 6:18 am

Sears frig  Saving money on major appliance purchases is no longer easy. You cannot simply look at a sale circular and be assured you are getting the lowest price. You now have to combine savings offers and strategies, and then fight to get what you were promised.

MrConsumer finally broke down and decided to order a new refrigerator he had been eyeing at Sears. The one he selected was the only non-water/non-ice model available and the only side-by-side that could fit through his back door. (Most online specs ignore protrusions on the back of refrigerators like water pipes and metal jutting out that can add up to an extra inch to the stated width.)

The model was regularly $1299.99 (an inflated price because the list price for the Whirlpool version is only $1199.99), advertised on sale for $899.99 in Sears’ weekly flyer. This was the lowest price it had been advertised for in the recent past. There was, however, a small print footnote.


“Advertised savings are valid in-store only.”

Good thing, as it turns out, because the online Sears.com price was $809.99! The website was offering an extra 10% off appliances $499.99 and up.

MrConsumer remembered that there had a been a high-value dollars-off coupon floating around the Internet, and sure enough he found it: $35 off a $300 or more purchase. When that was factored in, the price dropped to $774.99.

Sears had just begun offering free delivery for online customers, so that saved another $69.99.

Since Sears has been heavily promoting its “Shop Your Way” rewards program, MrConsumer checked the list of available coupons, and lo and behold found this way to get $50 back:

$50 back

And as Ron Popeil always says, “but wait, there’s more.” When it comes time to pay for the item, the question is whether to use a 2% cash back reward credit card, or use the Sears MasterCard. After assuring that the Sears card doubled the manufacturer’s warranty, thus adding an extra year of coverage for free, the choice was simple because:



The footnote did not say “in-store only” so the offer should be good for an online purchase to save an extra 5%.

Lastly, knowing that websites like ebates.com and FatWallet.com offer cash back rebates when you shop using their links to merchants, MrConsumer checked how much they were giving back. Both were offering a generous six-percent rebate. Ca-ching.

All these savings are great in theory if you really get them. And that’s the problem. Other than getting the refrigerator for the $774.99 price after deducting the $35 coupon, no other savings were realized automatically as promised.

The extra 5% off for using the Sears card never materialized. Only after two calls to customer service, and then requesting a supervisor, did Sears provide a credit of $41.67. The 6% back from FatWallet didn’t get credited in full because Sears appears to have manipulated the sale price to be close to $200 below the actual sale price. That will be another fight. And the $50 back in points that were promised took two phone calls to get. It was, however, mouseprint that prevented this rebate from properly being added to MrConsumer’s order.


Shop Your Way

So despite electronically clipping the $50 in points coupon and adding it to one’s Shop Your Way account, Sears provides an additional fine print link that also has to be clicked to “apply” the coupon to your order. Who knew? And would most people catch that inconspicuous link?

Adding insult to injury, of course, two days after the sale was consummated, Sears offered a $50 off a $300 appliance purchase coupon. Under the Sears price adjustment policy, MrConsumer should get the extra $15 off (the difference between his $35 off coupon and this one). That only took two additional phone calls to square away.

So, to recount all the promised savings:

Discount off regular price:     $400.00
Online only discount:           $90.00
Online only free delivery:      $69.99
$50 off a $300 purchase coupon: $50.00
5% discount using Sears card:   $41.67
50,000 ($50) points credit:     $50.00
1% in regular points:           $7.75
6% FatWallet rebate:            $45.60
Total savings:                  $755.01 

Is all this worth it, you ask? For veteran bargain hunters, it is all part of the game. For regular folks, few would have the patience to deal with all this detail, the problems, and the follow-up.

Finally, from the “too-good-to-be-true” department, only after MrConsumer made the purchase of the refrigerator, did he decide to check Consumer Reports’ ratings. Of the 74 side-by-side models tested, the sister model to his came in 73rd place. Grrrr.

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  1. This is definitely a savings spree for the big leagues.

    I don’t think I would have the patience. It’s the main reason why I maintain the belief that someone should only purchase something if they think it is worth it. If it takes a bunch of sales and discounts for you to want something then it might not even be worth having.

    I only deal with direct sales, free shipping, and online coupon codes. Anything beyond that makes it feel like I have been sucked into the sales game that I typically dislike participating in.

    Comment by Wayne R — February 24, 2014 @ 7:49 am
  2. All these stores are terrible. Kroger now has their ads with big “sale” prices, but small print tells you it is only if you go online and put digital coupons on your card.

    And we know how horrendous CVS can be with their ads showing a great price, to find out all they do is credit you for your next purchase which has to be done within a week.

    And that crap at Staples where they keep telling you something is free or only a penny, to find out you have to buy the same item to get one so it is really only 50% off (not that I expect something for free, but don’t advertise it deceptively).

    It is such a joke, it’s like you ask for the final price and they look at you and say “why would you want to know that”?

    Comment by Max — February 24, 2014 @ 8:42 am
  3. hey Edgar, As usual that’s some fancy shopping! We just bought a house here in Tx. Unlike NY, a fridge is not included with the home, That’s odd, don’t you think? Here in TX they consider the fridge more personal property.?? We move in April 2nd and have been looking for the best price for the model we like. I’m confusing my husband by trying to secure a deal. We have a 10% off coupon at both best Buy and lowes? I was thinking I could bargain with those two….now you are talking Sears…..HUMMM I forgot about them.
    Your final price was quite a deal….I do hope after all that trouble the fridge is not a dud! LOL

    Comment by Gayle — February 24, 2014 @ 10:21 am
  4. Sorry, guy. I would not have the fortitude and patience to pursue all those discounts. I’m a cheapskate too but what you did is way too much for me. Then, to get the bad news of your fridge being rated 73rd out of 74? Ouch.

    Comment by Gerry Pong — February 24, 2014 @ 1:11 pm
  5. Don’t feel bad about the 73rd ranking in CR. I’m shopping for ALL appliances (buying a home with appliances from 1975) and checking everything on CR… even the highest rated appliances have horrendous consumer comments. I spoke with a repair guy who said all the new ones are awful, will last maybe 5-7 years if you’re lucky. At this point, I have no idea what to do! (Maybe keep the ones from 1975, they all work!)

    Comment by Susan — February 24, 2014 @ 1:41 pm
  6. Susan,

    I’ll tell you what our appliance guy told us when our 10 year old washer was on “life support”–he told us to replace it with a Roper(made by Whirlpool) from Lowes–a basic mechanical machine for ~$450 and to avoid computerized machines at all costs! (He also repairs computers.)

    Instead we opted to go to a local appliance store and bought the best looking used washer for ~$150. We decided that we could buy three before we spent the amount for a new Roper (which Lowes has to order–they don’t keep them in stock so we could not look before we bought.) We’ve had it 2 years with no trouble and it is about 20 years old. I want a machine to clean my clothes–nothing else. My old machine was new in 2004–a small front loader that was repaired 2-3 times before we replaced it. I do miss the delay start option but little else–the new-old one has a large capacity and a short wash cycle.

    Our 80 year old house came with a Roper fridge from the 90’s which we have had to repair once in 12 years. It is a basic fridge–no fancy ice makers or water in the door but our food is cold and it does it’s job.

    Craig’s list is another great place to find used appliances of varying ages/conditions for much less than new.

    Comment by J in VA — February 25, 2014 @ 12:02 am
  7. I was looking to buy a new dishwasher in January. I spent a few days researching them and after I found one that came highly rated I started checking prices.

    Having dealt with sears before I wanted to get it from them. However I could also get it and have it delivered and installed much cheaper by Home Depot.

    Well I decided to see if Sears would price match so I contacted them. Not being born yesterday I wanted to confirm, recon firm and even triple confirm that they would provide the same exact model, delivered and installed for the exact same price as Home Depot.

    They agreed so I started to order it and when I was confirming the price with the rep it was a hundred dollars higher than we just agreed upon.

    I stopped right there and asked why it was higher. He said not to worry sears would refund the money on my credit card within 3-5 business days. I told him that Home Depot and lowes match right on the spot. He said this was Sears policy. I am not that stupid soI cancelled the sake went to Home Depot got it on sale for $100 less than it was the day before with free delivery and installation.

    Bye bye sears

    Comment by Richard wright — March 2, 2014 @ 7:36 pm

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