The Real Reason Sears Faces Extinction

UPDATE March 25, 2017:  Well, the Advertising Standards folks were a little bit slow, but eventually they got around to my complaint, and the outcome of their investigation was that last week Sears Canada and I reached a happy settlement of my complaint.   (Happy for me, anyway.)  It’ll probably still be awhile before I shop for clothes at Sears Kingsway, but I don’t have a problem with shopping at the Sears West Edmonton Mall location.  I’ve never had a problem there, and have always found the store staff there to be friendly and professional.

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When I was growing up in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada back in the seventies, (point of disclosure:  I’m actually fifty-eight years old but I have few memories of shopping before that decade), the department stores were the cat’s meow for clothes, furniture and appliances.  Twice a year the Sears catalogue would be thumped down by our front door and we would eagerly scan it.  Going to the stores, Sears, Woodward’s, Eaton’s and the Bay, there would always be staff on hand to help you.  Contrast memories of days gone bye with my experience on Sunday, November 13, 2016, at the Sears in Kingsway Mall, Edmonton:  I stood in line at the cashier’s in women’s wear for fifteen minutes, only to be told that the Carroll Reed items I had were not in fact on sale, even though a huge sign on the rack said they were:

See that sign?  The writing under it says “all Carroll Reed wear,” which is the only outfit on that rack, in varying sizes.  When I demanded to speak to a manager, I was told he was “too busy to talk to me.”  A “floor manager” named Alisha arrived, and told me I “should have read the sign” because in very very tiny print, as it turns out, it says that the exception is any clothing where the price ends in .97 (cents).  But the only items on that rack were all priced with the same price, as they were all jackets and pants of the same leisure outfit.  Every item was priced $32.97, jackets and pants.  I complained a few days later online, and spoke to one Tyler in Sears Canada’s Toronto head office.  He told me he would write a report and I would hear back from the Edmonton district manager within a week. I heard nothing.  (I have since placed a complaint with Advertising Standards Canada:  http://www.adstandards.com/en/consumerComplaints/howToSubmitAComplaint.aspx  )  This is not the first time I’ve had a problem with Sears.  A few months ago I set up an online account and ordered two different pairs of pants.  Both pairs came in the wrong size, and Sears Kingsway was surly when I returned them.  Contrast these experiences with Northern Reflections:  https://www.northernreflections.com/  whom I order from at least half a dozen times a year, often multiple items, who never get an order wrong, ship promptly with tracking information, with clearly marked sales and signs and friendly, gracious clerks in their stores.  Not occasionally.  All the time.

Some heavy financial analysts are predicting a bad ending for Sears:      http://www.forbes.com/sites/walterloeb/2016/02/15/quarterly-loss-says-sears-is-a-sinking-ship/#42860c4e99f4 

http://www.businessinsider.com/sears-obsession-with-wall-street-2016-3 

http://www.infoworld.com/article/3083712/application-development/what-sears-financial-trouble-can-teach-us-about-it-decision-making.html

Sears CEO Eddie Lampert bewails the “unfairness” of the gloomy predictions: http://fortune.com/2016/02/25/sears-lampert-letter-unfair/

But I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go in my lifetime, and there’s one sure-fire way of dying in retail:  ignoring the customer.  Ignoring complaints.  Ignoring changes in customer buying patterns.  Ignoring them on the floor.  I’ve walked through Sears Kingsway and said hello with a friendly smile to floor people only to have them just give me a stony stare.

I worked as a cashier for almost a decade.

It’s all about how you treat people.  If you don’t understand that, or you’ve forgotten it, then the end is coming for you; you just don’t see it yet…

A structure in Galena, Illinois with old Sears signage.  photo by https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:DR04, creative attribution, share-alike license; dinosaur by http://www.pngall.com/

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About Marnie Tunay

I'm not here much at the moment. You can visit my web-sites to learn more about me. https://marnietunay2.wordpress.com/
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