Customer Service Nightmare: Sears vs. iPad Devotees
Customers are ruthless, and being a former employee as a Customer Service Specialist, I can vouch for that. I once had a customer yell at me for ten minutes over four cents because our register miscalculated tax. So when I see situations like the latest Sears misprint, my heart goes out to both the consumer, and the retailer.
The question is, does Sears owe it to their customers to give them iPads as advertised, instead of refunds?
My answer, plain and simple, is no. While a $69 dollar iPad would obviously be awesome, customers need to live in reality as well. There is no way on gods green earth that Sears is going to sell the iPad nearly $500 dollars below normal price point. A refund is sufficient, especially since no product has been shipped.
In response to this, many have argued that most states require that Sears honor the advertised price. This is true, for brick and mortar stores, but not for online retail. And in the case of brick and mortar stores, they are allowed to deny claimed ad price if fraud is suspected (this does not happen often). There are also various exceptions as well when honoring prices that are clearance vs. sale.
Now, the better question is, did Sears make the right decision?
This is a tricky one, but we have to assume that a company who has been in the retail business for so long knows a thing or two about handling a mass of angry customers.
If Sears felt that making these customers angry (as they should’ve known this mistake inevitably would) was worth the cost of losing them as potential repeat customers, and had data to back that up, then I find it to be an acceptable move from a business perspective. Would it be a move I would’ve taken though?
Not a chance.
As a big wig at the Sears company, I would’ve bitten the bullet, taken the loss, and went after the third-party that made the mistake. After all, while Sears and others are defending themselves by, “it really wasn’t OUR product,” that logic doesn’t matter. Sears is the face of the product in the eyes of the consumer, and that leaves Sears with the responsibility to rectify the situation publicly.
With that said, the situation has only garnered so much attention because of the iPads near god-like status with consumers. Truthfully, this situation is not uncommon, and has happened to Amazon and others before, with the same response.
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