I canceled my Sears order -- why can't I get a refund?
October 7, 2021
Greg Johnson orders a refrigerator from Sears, but it never arrives. When he tries to cancel, Sears keeps his money. Can he get a refund?
I ordered a refrigerator from Sears three months ago. The appliance was delayed multiple times. Last month, I decided to cancel the order. I've had many phone calls with Sears since then, and I've been hung up on multiple times. Through the online chat feature, I never get anyone outside of a bot.
I have yet to be refunded the $1,641 I am owed. Unfortunately, I used my debit card instead of a credit card. Can you help me get a refund? -- Greg Johnson, Blackwood, N.J.
Sears should have delivered your refrigerator on time -- and if it couldn't, it should have refunded your purchase promptly.
You're right, using a debit card certainly complicates things. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act, which protects credit card customers, you have the right to dispute a charge when a merchant doesn't do what it promises. If you make a purchase using a debit card, the money is gone.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm no fan of credit cards. They're loaded with "gotcha" fees and fine print, and I believe they also deepen the divide between the "haves" and "have-nots." Credit card debt is a terrible burden that financially hobbles large swaths of the population. But at least you have some legal protection when you're paying with a card. So next time, as much as it pains me to recommend it, consider using your credit card for a major purchase.
Your first step to retrieving your money is sending a brief, polite appeal to an executive at Sears. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Sears customer service managers on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.
I've reviewed the paper trail between you and Sears. (By the way, good job on keeping your records). It looks like you were getting strung along. Here's how it should have worked: You ask for a refund and then they return your money quickly. Easy, right? Now, I understand that there are some accounting systems that must ensure the right refund goes to the right customer. But three months? Come on.
I connected you with some higher-level contacts at Sears. You reached out to them with a brief, polite email. I advised you to wait for the system to work. Fortunately, it did. A few weeks after you contacted me, Sears finally credited you with $1,641, as promised. It did not offer a reason for the delay.
© 2021 Christopher Elliott.