Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An open letter to the CEO of Sears.

W. Bruce Johnson,
Interim Chief Executive Officer and President
Sears Holdings Corporation
3333 Beverly Road
Hoffman Estates, IL 60179

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I have an old Craftsman circular saw that is nearly 40 years old and still going strong, but it will only accept 7-inch blades.
The carbide-tipped blade I currently use has finally become dull and needs to be replaced.
7-inch blades are difficult to find these days, since in the intervening four decades, 7 1/4 has become the standard blade size for these type of tools.
This size blade will not fit in my old saw.
So, in order to use a new blade, I needed to buy a new saw.
Plus, I wanted a new saw.

I made a special trip to your store here in Huntsville, Alabama, to buy a new Craftsman circular saw.
When I arrived in the tool department, there were about ten customers and/or children milling around looking at the displayed inventory.
There were no sales people around.
There was no one at the cash registers/checkout area.
I walked around the tool department looking for someone to assist me.
I found no one.

After about 5 minutes, a young lady came out of the back to get something from her purse under the (still empty) checkout counter.
I assumed she was on her lunch break.
On her way back to where she had come from, she asked me if I needed any help.
I told her I did.
She looked around for a sales person, found him and told him that I needed some help.
He was apparently by himself and was assisting another customer.
The young lady disappeared into the bowels of the store and I waited five more minutes.
More people came into the tool department.
There were about 20 people milling around the department now.

While I waited to be helped, I examined the circular saws on display again and found to my distress that Craftsman circular saws are now made in China.

I wanted to buy a Craftsman saw because I thought they were made in the USA, and because I wanted to support the Sears company policy of holding jobs for its employees who are called to active duty in the military reserves.
Now I had only one philosophical reason to buy a Sears product.

Disappointed, I waited for the lone salesperson.
I began to rethink why I had come all the way to this store to buy a Chinese saw.
I could get a Chinese saw at the Peoples Republic of Walmart for less money.
But I still wanted to support a company that supported our troops.

Five more minutes passed.
The lone salesperson was now helping another customer.
Two more were waiting near him.
I waited a couple more minutes and decided to go a half mile up the street to Walmart and buy my saw.
Total time in your store - about 20-25 minutes.

This was not the first time I have been ignored in this department of this store.
A few years ago, I came to the tool department to buy something (I forget what, now) on a Saturday morning.
I was one of only three customers in the department, I think.

There were at least three young men dressed in white shirt and tie, standing around talking to each other.
Since they did not have Bibles in their hands, I assumed they were Sears employees, not visiting Mormon missionaries.
One of them acknowledged me as I walked past, but he, nor any of the others, broke off their conversations to ask if I need help.
A young man at the checkout counter finally asked if I could use assistance.
I came very close to calling the department manager that morning.

It took me about three minutes to walk from my car to the tool department in Walmart.
I looked at the brands and the prices, and picked up the box of the saw I wanted from the shelf.
It took about five minutes to pay for my purchase (there were two people in line ahead of me).
Total time in the store (which was very busy), about 15 minutes.

I am now the proud owner of a new Skil 7 1/4 circular saw, similar to one you sell in your store.
Made in China.

Do I need to tell you that I am extremely disappointed in your change in tool suppliers, and the customer service in your store here.

Best regards,

Steve Nordstrom
Huntsville, Alabama

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