Saturday, March 28, 2009

Of Comcast, Sears & Faux Hipness

Comcast and Sears are among the companies that have launched new ad campaigns in an effort to appear hip. Which is to say to try to make customers forget about how sucky they are.

Comcast, the cable-Internet-phone giant, is running mesmerizing animated TV spots on a make-believe "Comcast Town" where the sun is always shining and there is a smile on every face. Even the squirrels.

As Will Bunch notes, given the company's abysmal customer-service record, "Comcast Town would be a wasteland of flickering streetlights and crumbling apartment blocks. It would be populated solely by fat repairmen, who would stare listlessly at their clipboards and tell you they're still not sure why your cable's snowy."

My own experience is mixed.

When I first became a customer in 2000, Comcast's cable service was satisfactory but there were frequent Internet dropouts and slowdowns. Since then there has been a slow if steady improvement, but Comcast still manages to infuriate in small ways like being disinterested in reconciling my home phone number with my account so I can pay my bill by phone.

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There is no other way to say it: Sears deserves to die a horrible death, it's dysfunctional sales people be damned, and it beats me why a company that set the standard for decades but hasn't been worth a crap in recent years hasn't already gone belly up. After all, Comcast is a monopoly in most communities while Sears typically goes up against other big-box retailers who do a much better job.

Sears' new "Blue Appliance Crew" ad campaign will fool no one. The DF&C and I certainly weren't.

Right after New Year's, she decided to buy a compact, high-efficiency, energy-saving Bosch washer and dryer tandem. We marched off to our local Sears store where she was able to twist the arm of a taciturn salesman and locked into a deal at a pretty good price -- but only if she applied for and bought the units with a Sears charge card. The salesman, while obviously unfamiliar with the units, nevertheless tries to foist accessories on the DF&C at additional expense that she didn't need or want.

Charge card applied for and approved, the washer and dryer were supposedly ordered and were to be delivered to a warehouse for pickup in early February. Early February came and went and it turned out the salesman was not only taciturn, but was disinterested in closing a nearly $2,000 deal during a crushing recession.

Long story short, after innumerable phone calls and cajoling involving salespeople who would never be mistaken for Blue Crew members, the washer and dryer finally were available for pickup in mid-March.

Alas, there were to be further complications.

The units were in the warehouse but no one could find them. No matter, I was entertained by two salespeople on a smoke break discussing paternity tests while the search went on.

And in a perfect coda to this retail rat f*ck, when we unpacked the dryer the power cord was hard wired and incompatible with the standard dryer wall outlet -- something that none of the salespeople had a clue and/or cared about even though they wanted to sell us useless stuff -- so a professional had to be called in at additional expense to rewire the unit.

Die Sears die!


Anonymous said...

My wife & I also purchased said washer, however it was obtained at our local Lowes. No credit card app needed, excellent service from the sales person, a discounted price if we bought the unit that day. Done deal, picked it up the next day since I didn't have my truck at the time. Installed the machine and it worked once. Called the 800#, got a tech on the phone who walked us through some re-programing steps and it's been clean undershorts ever since. You're right about Sears

joel hanes said...

On the other hand, Sears Craftsman hand tools are still both inexpensive and very good. I would be sorry if they disappeared. I suppose I'd find another source for bog-standard decent screwdrivers and wrenches, but it will take a lot of brand destruction before I'm willing.

Anonymous said...

I was shopping for a new mattress but had a similar experience. I have given up on Sears.

Anonymous said...

You're right. Sears deserves to die.