How do I make Sears refund my money faster?
Sears promises Diana Linville a refund for her freezer. But the money seems to be frozen in the company's accounts. After a four-month delay, is there any hope for getting her $1,099 back?
Q: I ordered a freezer from Sears four months ago. Sears promised it would deliver the appliance within a month. It did not.
I canceled the order and requested a refund of $1,099 after two months. I have not received the refund. I have chatted with Sears on its website. I have transcripts of the chats with them giving me specific dates for a refund. These dates come and go, but I haven't received any money.
So I go back to the Sears site and chat again. And again, Sears promises to "escalate" my request and please give it time. It's been more than two months since I canceled my order. I want my money! Can you help me? -- Diana Linville, Padroni, Colo.
A: You deserve a prompt refund. If Sears couldn't deliver your freezer, it has no right to put your refund on ice.
Or does it? You bought your appliance last spring, just as the pandemic started. Businesses were in chaos after that as stores closed and employees scrambled to find a way to work from home. That delayed your freezer by months and also held up your refund. That's not an excuse -- Sears should have had a system in place to handle requests like yours quickly. But it explains your long wait.
For a quick question about technical support or on the status of an order, chatting with a company through its website makes sense. For a refund request, not so much. You want to create a proper paper trail that you can forward to a supervisor, consumer advocate or government regulator, if necessary. You had to copy all of your chats into a document and forward them to my staff, which was a real hassle for you.
You could have sent Sears an email and, if that didn't work, appealed to one of the Sears executives I list on my consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org. If neither of those steps worked, you could have disputed the charges on your credit card. If a company goes silent -- particularly a company like Sears, which has struggled recently -- then you're better off asking your bank to reverse the charges. It can do that under the Fair Credit Billing Act. That's a law you should remember in case you have to fight the charges on your credit card.
In the past, customers have suggested that companies intentionally delay their refunds as "microloans" to benefit the business. In your case, I think Sears was just overwhelmed by the pandemic.
I contacted Sears on your behalf and forwarded the chats, which showed you had been more than patient with the company. It quickly refunded your money.
Christopher Elliott is the chief advocacy officer for Elliott Advocacy. Email him at email@example.com or get help with any consumer problem by contacting him at http://www.elliott.org/help
© 2021 Christopher Elliott.