Why I Do Not Have A Treadmill (Sears Can’t Deliver)

On Aug. 27 I ordered a treadmill online from Sears.com. It seemed like a pretty good deal for a Sole F80.

Ironically, given what was to follow, I picked Sears because of its delivery policy: for a $100 extra, Sears would carry the treadmill up one flight of stairs and assemble it. There were better or equal prices online, but not from companies that did their own delivery (I wanted one company responsible for the whole transaction), or would do stairs; one other company would sell me the same model for the same price, but wanted more than double for the install. So Sears, at least on that day, offered the best deal. Consumer Reports liked the model, and I figured it would pay for itself in a couple years of gym memberships, and be far more convenient too.

I wanted the treadmill in my upstairs bedroom, but the same heart condition that makes a brisk walk the only exercise my doctor permits me also means I can’t lift up anything heavy. So I needed the delivery and setup. We scheduled delivery for the next Saturday ($10 extra) so I wouldn’t have to risk missing something at work. Although I have some flexibility in my day, Sears won’t promise a particular delivery window more than a day in advance and there didn’t seem to be any way to choose one. I didn’t want them to pick a time I had a class or a meeting. The next day Sears charged my credit card for the treadmill, for the delivery, and for the Saturday delivery supplement.

A few days before the Sept 1 delivery Sears robocalled me to confirm someone over 18 would be home on Saturday. The robot said it would call me again on Friday night to tell me what time the delivery would be. That’s not ideal – it means you can’t plan to do anything else all day, but I did want the treadmill. And on Friday evening the robot called back to say delivery would be between 9-11. We got up early to move the dining table and the heavy sofa to clear a path to the staircase and to make the bed so the room would look nice for the delivery people. That’s a bigger issue than it sounds – we have to get up at 6:15 on workdays to get our son to school, and we really really like to sleep a bit later on weekends. Ever since my operation I find that it’s much more important to get that extra sleep, or I really don’t feel as good or work as well. But I wanted the treadmill.

Eleven o’clock on Saturday, Sept. 1 came and went. I called Sears to find out what was happening. The truck is running late, I was told, but it will be there soon. And indeed, a few minutes later a truck pulled up and two friendly guys, one of whom even spoke English, came in the house to survey the route to the bedroom where I wanted the treadmill, where a rubber treadmill mat awaited. Looking at the stairs, the delivery guys announced that it looked like a tight fit, and it would be better to open the box outside the house, take up the two big pieces separately, and then assemble the treadmill upstairs. I was fine with that. They lowered the large box on the truck’s tail lift and opened up the box. The treadmill was all smashed up, as if someone had taken a giant machete to it front and center, or maybe dropped it from several feet.

Having read many online horror stories about how hard it is to schedule treadmill repair, and generally believing that it would be nice to have the new and undamaged unit I’d paid for, I told the delivery guys that I would not accept it, and to please take it back and bring me an undamaged one. They called dispatch, and a very annoyed lady made me recite all my personal information – name, phone number, address, zip code – even though they were delivering to me, and their delivery guy had called her from his phone – before asking peevishily why I wouldn’t take the damaged treadmill. I explained it was smashed.

She offered me $100 to take it and schedule repair. I refused. Although she sounded quite offended and surprised by my decision, she grudgingly agreed to schedule a new delivery. For some reason – I almost wondered if it was to punish me for not taking a perfectly fine smashed treadmill in lieu of a working one – the next Saturday wasn’t available, so we agreed it would be delivered on Saturday Sept. 15. After the truck left we moved the dining table and the heavy sofa back into their normal positions.

A few days before the Sept 15 delivery date Sears robocalled me to confirm someone over 18 would be home on Saturday. The robot said it would call me again on Friday night to tell me what time the delivery would be. That’s not ideal – it means you can’t plan to do anything else all day, but I did want the treadmill. And on Friday evening the robot called back to say delivery would be between 11-1. That evening we moved the dining table and the heavy sofa to clear a path to the staircase; the next morning we made the bed so the room would look nice for the delivery people.

This time the delivery guys were a few minutes early. One of the very businesslike delivery guys came in the house to survey the route to the bedroom where I wanted the treadmill, where a rubber treadmill mat awaited. Looking at the stairs, the delivery guy announced that it was “a four-person job” — because it was a tight fit, and because we had wood stairs, the two-man team would not be able to do the job. I was a bit surprised, since the previous two-man team hadn’t suggested this would be an issue (or even that four-man teams existed). Couldn’t you open the box out here, I asked? No, this guy said, it would be too hard to assemble that way: it’s better to have all the pieces to hand. So again we called dispatch, and rescheduled for Sept.22, for a four-man team. This time the treadmill never even made it on to the tail lift. We moved the dining table and the heavy sofa back into their normal positions.

A few days before the Sept 22 delivery date Sears robocalled me to confirm someone over 18 would be home on Saturday. The robot said it would call me again on Friday night to tell me what time the delivery would be. That’s not ideal – it means you can’t plan to do anything else all day, but I did want the treadmill. And on Friday evening the robot called back to say delivery would be between 9-11. The night before we moved the dining table and the heavy sofa to clear a path to the staircase. Then we got up early to make ourselves presentable and to make the bed so the room would look nice for the delivery people. I didn’t like getting up around 8am on a Saturday … but I wanted the treadmill.

Around 8:45 a live person from Sears called. There was a problem: they did not actually have our treadmill. Could they reschedule delivery for Monday? I found this hard to believe: why would Sears robocall me twice in the week if they didn’t actually have the goods? I asked to speak to her supervisor. “I don’t have a supervisor,” she said. “I am a specialist.” I said I would need it on a Saturday, not a Monday. We set delivery for the following week.

Suspecting something was odd about this, I called the 800 number for deliveries. The nice person there seemed mystified – the treadmill was in fact in stock. She agreed to call the Miami dispatch office to find out what was going on. After a period in which I was treated to hold music, she came back to tell me that the treadmill was there, but the Miami office couldn’t assemble a four-man team. But not to worry, I could have the delivery on the next day, Sunday. At 7am. My hear sank: I’d have to get up at 6:30 on Sunday? What would my wife say? And I really wanted to sleep late at least one day on the weekend. But I also really wanted the treadmill. Remembering the vagaries of Sears’s actual delivery times, I asked how sure she was about 7:00am … not too sure it turned out. She’d just said that to be safe. Would I hold on again and she’ll call Miami to find out if they could give her a more specific time? I would. And fairly soon she was back with 8am. I’d be the first delivery because a four-man team was actually two trucks made up of two-man teams, and they meet to do the four-man jobs before splitting up. After that call we left the dining table and the heavy sofa where they were, out of the way.

During dinner Saturday night, Sears robocalled to tell me the delivery was scheduled from between 7:45 and 9:45am, and, as the robot had done every time before, asked me to “press 1″ to confirm that I could accept delivery in that window. I did. But this time the robo-response was that I should hold while I was connected to a representative. I wondered if I’d hit the wrong button, but my son, who had been watching, assured me I had not. A human came on line. I went through the laborious project of identifying myself even though they had called me. Phone number. Name. Address. Zip code. The lady then announced that delivery would be between 7:45 and 9:45am (like the robot had said). I would be the second job of the day. Then she asked a strange question: was I the owner of my home? It transpired that the reason for that question (and perhaps the reason I had been transferred to a person?) was that she wanted to sell me some more home services. Needless to say, by this time I was not thinking that Sears was the sort of company you want to rely on; the call ended quickly after that.

Sunday morning came, and we got up early again. At least we didn’t need to move the furniture. We had breakfast. We waited. We waited. Surely the first job of the day didn’t take more than an hour? Finally at 9am I called Sears’s delivery 800 number to find out what had happened. “They didn’t call you?” the person said. Apparently they should have: My delivery was cancelled. The merchandise was damaged (again? the same treadmill? a different one?). And they would not be able to schedule a new delivery time because the model I’d ordered was discontinued.

Incredulous, I called Sears on its main 800 number, hoping to figure out what was going on and what I should do. After navigating the short phone tree, my call was taken in what sounded like a foreign call center – maybe the Philippines? I went through the laborious project of identifying myself. Phone number. Name. Address. Zip code. Order number. Having passed the test I asked if they could please tell me how I would get my treadmill, that I’d paid for a month ago. Could I hold please, the lady asked. Yes, I said. First hold music, and then a few minutes later I was listening to the US operator say “If you’d like to make a call, please hang up and try again…” Sears had disconnected me.

Now I was peeved. I called again. Again, after navigating the short phone tree, my call was taken in what sounded like a foreign call center – maybe the Philippines? Again, I went through the laborious project of identifying myself. Phone number. Name. Address. Zip code. Order number. I then explained that I’d just been disconnected and really didn’t want that to happen again. I promise I will resolve this for you, the earnest woman said. Here is my ID number if anything goes wrong – she gave me a six digit number. Then I launched into the saga of my incredible not-appearing treadmill. She read her script about being sorry and all the rest of it. They could send me a treadmill. But they couldn’t tell me when, because – rather than being discontinued – the treadmills are “backordered”. And the system didn’t tell them when my treadmill would become available. If I had any questions, I should speak to “sears.com” from whom I’d actually ordered it (as opposed to whatever Sears she was representing), and she’d be glad to connect me if I wouldn’t mind being on hold.

And then she disconnected me.

So I called a third time. Again, after navigating the short phone tree, my call was taken in what sounded like a foreign call center – maybe the Philippines? Again, I went through the laborious project of identifying myself. Phone number. Name. Address. Zip code. Order number. I then explained that I’d just been disconnected by operator ## and I could I speak to her again please so I wouldn’t have to repeat everything. But no. It appears there is no method to connect you to a particular call center operator, even if you have their ID number. So I had to repeat the saga yet again.

This time, when we got to the part about connecting me to sears.com, the operator also gave me the direct number 800 number to call if I got disconnected. But this time we made the connection, without using the backup plan.

I started telling my story to the fifth or sixth Sears employee of the dwindling morning. But I didn’t get very far. My cordless phone went dead – the battery was used up. So I was disconnected again – the sixty to ninety minutes I’d spent on the phone that morning, either talking to them or on hold had taken its toll on my cordless phone.

I got another phone and called Sears.com again. Again, I went through the laborious project of identifying myself. Phone number. Name. Address. Zip code. Again I told my saga. The customer service rep said they would give me a $100 discount for the inconvenience, which sort of seemed the least they could do at that point. But having suffered four non-deliveries, I was now just a little suspicious. I wanted the answer to three questions: (1) how long I should expect to wait to hear from Sears that the treadmill was available; (2) what I should do if after waiting that long nothing happened and no one called me; and (3) what my options were – in other words, what Sears would be prepared to do for me – if it turned out that they were unable to deliver the treadmill they had promised me and for which they had had my money since August 28th.

I will spare you the details of the unpleasant and unsatisfying 40 or so minutes that followed, as it has a certain plodding and repetitive quality. It turns out, however, that the answers to none of these three questions of mine are in the script that Sears has issued to its phone service representatives, and that they are unwilling to or incapable of deviating from the script. Indeed, one sometimes waits for a considerable period of time in a conversation while call center staff wait for their systems to tell them what to say. At the first level, my questions were parried with rote repetition that the item was backorded and therefore would some day become available but they could not say when. If I did not want to wait, I could cancel the order or choose a different model. My protestations that other models were either not as good or more expensive did not elicit interest or sympathy. After some time on this verbal treadmill, I asked to be transferred to a supervisor.

The request for a higher-level response earned me about 15-20 minutes of hold music, followed by a less mechanistic but equally unavailing conversation with second level customer service. They don’t know when the treadmills will be available. The system doesn’t tell them. They are sure there must be some, since the treadmills are still being listed as for sale at the website. My only options are to wait, cancel the order, or change to a different model. Frankly, their advice would be to order something else. No, they can’t put me in touch with anyone else at Sears who would be able to help me. There are no other phone numbers for me to call. But I should be aware that I probably would be getting automated calls from Sears once or twice a day (for weeks????) until they could give me a date for delivery. “Thank you for choosing Sears.”

So I went out to buy groceries.

When I came back, there was a message on my answering machine from a Sears robot caller. There was a problem with my delivery and they would not be able to deliver my appliance today. I must call this number before 8pm Central to reschedule.

So, fool that I am, I called the number. Again, I went through the laborious project of identifying myself. Phone number. Name. Address. Zip code. They looked me up: and then they gave me the surprising news that Sears could not deliver my treadmill today. And sorry, it’s back ordered, so we can’t tell you when it will be available. Thank you for calling, “we appreciate your business.”

It turns out that using a treadmill is not the only way to go on and on without getting anywhere.

While writing this on the afternoon of Sept. 23, I looked up my treadmill on Sears.com. It’s still offered for sale at the price I paid. The web site says it will be available for delivery in my zip code next Saturday.

Wanna bet?


Update (9/24/12): See Monday Treadmill Update for the next installment.

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24 Responses to Why I Do Not Have A Treadmill (Sears Can’t Deliver)

  1. Just me says:

    Treadmills were invented by someone residing in or around the 4th ring of Dante’s Inferno. Cancel the order. Adopt a nice small/medium sized dog from the shelter, and take it for daily walks. You will be much happier for it.

  2. Just me says:

    Here is a nice looking option for you. http://www.petharbor.com/detail.asp?ID=A1462734&LOCATION=MIAD&searchtype=ADOPT&start=3&friends=0&samaritans=0&nosuccess=0&rows=10&imght=120&imgres=thumb&view=sysadm.v_miad&text=000000&fontface=arial&fontsize=10&col_bg=99b5c9&col_bg2=e7eec4&SBG=026BA9&zip=33183&miles=10&shelterlist=%27MIAD%27&atype=&where=type_DOG

    This dog is a miniature poodle mix just over a year old. Poodles are excellent pets. They don’t shed, their unique hair/fur makes allergies almost a non-issue, they are happy indoors, are of medium energy levels (probably just what you need!), and are very obedient. This dog is probably in the 20-25lb range. Very manageable.

    I have a toy poodle (about half the size of the miniature poodle) at home along with an American Bulldog and a cat. The poodle is wonderful. Absolutely obedient. No worries about “going” indoors. Wants nothing more than to cuddle. Loves to go for walks! .

  3. Just me says:

    Health Benefits of owning a dog: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/dogs-cut-common-cold-risk-ways-dogs-health/story?id=16604565#.UGBjF3mCV8E
    “In addition, a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that male dog owners were less likely to die within one year after a heart attack than those who did not own a dog.”

    • 1. My heart problem is that I have a metal aortic valve, not that I’m at risk for a heart attack.

      2. We travel a lot — and plan to travel more, maybe even visit at another law school when we are empty nesters — and having a dog would complicate that too much.

      3. It’s really hot (and often very wet) out there. I don’t enjoy being out in that.

      • Just me says:

        Oh well. I could argue with you, but why. All I can say is that my dogs have been worth having, and that any trouble/complications caused have been minimal compared to the return I have received from them.

        Best of luck with your treadmill.

  4. Bruce says:

    When you buy from Sears, they physically allocate a box to you and mark it with your name. If they lose or can’t find YOUR box, they can’t deliver it and keep rescheduling until they find your box. If you cancel and reorder, they will give you a different box, which they may be able to find again and deliver.

    If the price is $xx.98 or $xx.88 (8 as the last number) then it’s discontinued and they can’t get any more.

  5. milo says:

    Do you think that any person you spoke to actually works for Sears, Inc? My guess is that every person you were in contact with, including the delivery drivers works for a subcontractor. For all the time you wasted, you could have gone to the Sears store.

  6. maya says:

    Pauvre cheri! I hope you send your saga to the Sears Manager, by certified snail mail, and demand an answer. With a copy to the director of their customer dept., and another to the director of public relations. Love, M.

  7. Emma Green says:

    What an awful experience. I can’t believe all that you have been through, and that you still don’t have a fully functional treadmill in your home. You definitely did the right thing refusing to accept the damaged machine. That would have been a horrible start to a long headache that would probably never be solved. At least at this point you may still have the option of getting a full refund (though for all the trouble you went through, you deserve more than that!), or getting an upgraded machine. Best of luck through the rest of this process, and I hope that you are eventually able to enjoy your treadmill and be through with the ridiculousness of Sears customer service! -Emma

  8. Pingback: A Treadmill Buyer's Nightmare / TreadmillReview

  9. Patrick (G) says:

    Small claims court, perhaps ?

  10. Mike D. says:

    Good afternoon Michael,

    I came across your post today and wanted to reach out to you to offer our assistance. My name is Mike and I am a member of the Sears Social Media Support team. I am truly sorry to see that you still have not received your treadmill. We strive to make our online shopping experience as smooth and hassle free as possible for our customers, and we do apologize for falling short of that goal in this instance. Given the amount of time that you have spent trying to resolve this matter, your aggravation is more than understandable at this point. If you would allow us the opportunity, we would very much like to connect you with a dedicated case manager to further discuss your situation and see what options may be available to you concerning your treadmill order. At your convenience, please send us an e-mail containing your preferred contact information, including the phone number that your treadmill was ordered under, to SMAdvisor@searshc.com. Also, please include your screen name, (Michael Froomkin), for reference to your issue. Thank you for your time and we hope to speak with you soon.

    Thank you,

    Mike D.
    Sears Social Media Support

  11. Terry Kilbride says:

    Wow. Here’s mine, really similar. My MIL ordered a ping pong table for my wife’s birthday. She went into Sears to find the one, ordered it and paid with a credit card. About three days before my wife’s birthday/deliv day, I got at least five robo calls confirming the delivery window. Four or five more the day before. Then, the nite before the delivery, a Friday at about 9:00 p.m., a HUMAN called me to ask if I could “confirm my agreement to accept damaged merchandise.” I said, in my most erudite manner, “huh?”. The rep said, in effect, “we can’t deliver damaged merchandise unless you agree to take it.” I explained that a new ping pong table is what was ordered and paid for, and that we would not accept damaged merchandise. “No delivery for you,” she said. I asked for someone at the store, which she gave me, and which I called. This person said “we cannot refund your money over the phone” because (a) you didn’t pay for it, and (b) since the person who did paid in the store, he or she would have to go to the store to process it. So I I had to call my MIL and tell her this. It took her a bajillion calls and two visits to the store to get her credit card “credited.” Never again.

  12. Nikki says:

    Wow, I am so sorry to read about all the problems you’ve had with this. Last year I purchased a Sole F80 from Sears and had a perfectly fine experience with their delivery etc. Hopefully their terrible treatment in your situation is not going to be the norm going forward. I see that Sears Social Media contacted you so I’d be curious to hear how this all ends. Good luck! (and if you ever get your treadmill, you’re going to love it, the F80 is a great little machine!)

  13. sonya browne says:

    Wow, Michael, do you have patience! I would have been hollering and gone elsewhere long before you did. Don’t a lot of places deliver free now? I almost never pay for delivery, but they have been mostly smaller items. Looking for a self powered treadmill, walmart delivers to the store for free, a stronger younger friend will carry it for me. Glad You wrote this; I was thinking of buying one from Sears; but life’s too short.

  14. Steve Bowker says:

    Well, they delivered my Solo F60 Treadmill on time.But it’s broken and runs for about 20 minutes before the motor starts to grind and the track starts to speed up and slow down. Bought it with the extended service contract. I’ve been waiting two weeks for the service tech because according to the sales rep it needs parts. Anyhow, the automated robot called today to cancel my service call indefinitely until the parts arrive. I’m calling Sears tomorrow and asking them to either fix it this week or take it back. What a nightmare. No wonder they’re loosing business.

  15. Monica says:

    Garbage, Garbage, Garbage!!!!!!!!! these people are truly a joke I will never ever buy anything else from Sears again and I would advise anyone who thinks about buying anything from Sears and waiting for it to be delivered expecting it on a certain day taking the day off from work to have it delivered losing $400 for the day in pay don’t order anything from Sears!!!!

  16. ryan says:

    They delivered and assembled my nordictrack elliptical, and guess what, didn’t work. Now they give me a repair company to call for this, and guess what, no response.

  17. Pretty sad story. Glad you took the time to write it. I’ve been researching a treadmill and looking at sears but I’ll certainly stay away from Sears. Trouble is there doesn’t seem to be any place that’s better. How in the world can a company expect you to buy a 300 pound item and pick it up at the store. One solution is they deliver, but you have to pick it up at the curb. They probably built it in China, maybe we can get a Chinese company to deliver and install it. All this is product of minimum wage, zero career path and squeezing out the last penny of profit while top executives don’t do their jobs but are nevertheless lavishly compensated. The only choice we have is to walk away from them. Vote with your feet and give you patronage to those who deserve it.

    Feel good

  18. Pretty sad story. Glad you took the time to write it. I’ve been researching a treadmill and looking at Sears but I’ll certainly stay away from them now. Trouble is there doesn’t seem to be any place that’s better. How in the world can a company expect you to buy a 300 pound item and pick it up at the store. One solution is they deliver, but you have to pick it up at the curb. They probably built it in China, maybe we can get a Chinese company to deliver and install it. All this is product of minimum wage, zero career path and squeezing out the last penny of profit while top executives don’t do their jobs but are nevertheless lavishly compensated. The only choice we have is to walk away from them. Vote with your feet and give your patronage to those who deserve it.

    Feel good

  19. Dave Burford says:

    Sorry to hear that someone else had a worse problem than I did at Sears. Ordered the Nordictrack Elite 7700 treadmill from local Sears store in Jacksonville, NC, along with 3 year Sears in home service warranty. Total was in excess of $2100. Scheduled delivery on Monday, 23 December. Received same robot call Sunday evening giving me a delivery window of 12-2 pm. Left work to be home by 11:45, waited until 1:00 when I received a call saying truck had overheated, might be fixed that day but couldn’t guarantee it, may have to reschedule for another day. Called local Sears informing them of the call. Sears representative me that she could reschedule the delivery and I agreed provided the next scheduled delivery would be at my convenience vice theirs, since I had already taken off work once for delivery. She informed me it would be no problem, she would reschedule delivery the next day after 6:00 PM and I would receive a call informing me of my new 2 hour delivery window. About an hour later, I got a call from a Sears Representative in Raleigh, NC informing me that they could not reschedule my delivery and I would have to call another number to reschedule. I informed her that I was not calling anyone since I’ve already paid for everything and was simply waiting for delivery. She told me she could not reschedule the delivery but if I wanted her to, she could cancel my order. Need you bother to ask which option I chose? Call local Sears store again two days later to inquire as to how long it would take to credit my credit card so I could purchase another treadmill and they informed me 7-10 days. Bet you can guess how long it took them to take my money once I signed the credit card receipt! Will never buy another product from Sears unless it is unavailable elsewhere and it will fit in the back seat of my car.

  20. Sue Andrew says:

    Thank you so much for your warnings about Sears. I have been researching treadmills and planning to order from Sears. I now know that I should look elsewhere. I would rather spend more than deal with the terrible service that some of you have encountered. Thanks again for the information!

  21. Kelly says:

    Exact same thing is happening to me. I refuse to buy from Sears ever again and I’m thinking about canceling my order. I just don’t know of another company that will deliver, assemble, and carry away. It’s obvious they don’t care about customer service.

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