Sears sales 'strategies'

svejkovatFebruary 11, 2013

Incorrigible skeptic that I am, not bad tempered, just cautious, I was disgusted by Sear's visit to my home for a new furnace installation yesterday.

Two days earlier I had one of the more well known and respected HVAC shops in town over for an estimate. Arriving in white trade van, company logo, fresh work uniform and clip board in hand, he was in and out of the house with a few pleasantries, ultra professional and confidence inspiring, and left me with a signed proposal for removal of my 60 year old honda-civic-sized beast and installation of "Comfortmaker" 60,000 btu 96% variable-speed for 3,300.00. Add a humidfier for another 450.00.

"Any other concerns?" No, I'd asked all I needed to know as he went through the house taking measurements and notes. But I might be interested in a hot water heater. Off the top of his head he jotted down a Bradford White sidewall vent M-1-TW40 40gal 40,000 btu install and remove the old, for another 1,200.00. 4953.00 with water heater (I later discovered the M-1-TW40 on Amazon averaging 1,000.00 to 1,100.00 retail)

Sear's estimator shows up two days later. Dark blue Ford 500, suit and tie, large soft leather briefcase... (i worried I was getting served). Where'd Sears go? Younger casually clad apprentice showed about two minutes later in separate car, and ended up observing all with more apparent interest in strategy than installation.

The first twenty minutes, I swear, went wasted on obsequious commentary.. the nice house i own, how neat, my my, the beautiful neighborhood (he hopes his apprentices is noting the charm offensive), and why Sears IS GOING TO BE (apprentice, are you listening here?) the best choice for installation, service and price of my new furnace, and then laying the groundwork for later impressing on me their tiered protection plans for so much each year, renewable beyond the life of the unit...and discounts on each subsequent appliance with membership to some appliance club or other.

Only half an hour later did we get around to taking a few measurements and then sitting down to my kitchen table for... one and a half more hours!!!!! 75 percent sales pitch and 25 percent substance about the unit and install till his charm literally was getting offensive.

One point he apprised me of was the little need for a variable speed fan unit since it would tack many hundreds of dollars onto the price of his furnaces and would not show much benefit in a single story home. "I'll be up front with there. Won't steer you wrong.... I'm just not that kind of guy" Apprentice beaming with pride suddenly for no real reason I can tell.

Fine, i guess, you're the expert here. Can we get to a price? (under my breath)

So he tally's everything up, it's going beyond two hours now and I'm frankly getting a little irritated by my day that he's wasting with all the sales pressure and he comes out with a real buzz killer....

"Now, are you going to be using your money or mine for this?"
There we are.... right on the cracked and oily used car lot. It took me a sec to grasp the sales-wit, then i told him I'd be paying full in cash.

His apprentice pipes in, intemperate little brat who'll probably get slapped down later over burgers at Wendy's, "tell him about the discount for cash". Turns out you get 300 dollars off for cash payment. Well now, that might be worthwhile. So let's get around the bottom line finally, may we? (under my breath. of course. i'm a wimp with this stuff, outwardly anyway).

He spends another 10 full minutes painfully reiterating his talking points, so I'm quite clear, on why I'm going to be very happy with his choice for me regarding BTU, fan type, humidifier, etc, his little buddy hanging on every word all but taking notes. The longer the prologue, the more my instincts told me he was softening a blow, the tighter I held on the arms of my chair. 5.967.90. Well, it's not ten grand, but I can't even get a #$@&in water heater in there?

So I told him I might be interested in a water heater as well (may as well get a really comparable estimate).

"I don't do water heaters. But I'd be happy to schedule that team to see you this week!"

(oh good lord)

I wanted to take a little wind out his sails before he left and showed him the "other guy's" estimate. There it is, 3,750.00 with humidifier. There's the oh-so-costly variable speed fan and 96 percent rating.

"Of course it's not a Kenmore." (but i'm thinking his probably spent it's dreary formative youth in the very same factory in 中华人民共和国 before its christening)

"It probably does not have a stainless steel plenum" (this from a guy, amid other wasted chit-chat, who has already told me he was a small town lawyer for 14 years before this sales job, not even remotely an HVAC guy).

So he starts yammering on about the superiority of his "estimate" and that there will be no more tacked on (like the 'other' guys i'm to guess).

......."except perhaps if the contractor SEARS employs balks at the size of that original furnace and charges more for removal."

But that's not something I'd absorb would I?

"Yes, of course, but I'll let you know well before they begin work."

Man, this just keeps going lower down. Then the final, lowest, pitch is lobbed and makes me physically want to press him toward the door.

"And the 300.00 discount for cash payment. I'm afraid I can't offer that at another time. We've got many places to be in Michigan today, and not every estimator can offer that incentive. I personally may not get a chance to return to your home for a second visit."

I"m not sure I understand. You're saying that If I don't make the decision to have Sears install my furnace this week, to sign and commit, I won't be able to take advantage of any incentive for paying cash?

"Well actually, (he smiles like he's being jovial) in the next five minutes, since we're almost finished here."

"That's just completely off the table (i tell him.. yaay! go brad!) I could never base a decision this big on such a small percentage of discount. "

So they left me with a paper estimate and drove off in separate cars.

I wouldn't on PRINCIPLE, base a decision on sales pressure to "act this minute or we can't offer it later", even if it were 50 percent of the price. That's is among the top five sleaziest sale pitches ever recorded, and I've heard it dozens of times from some pretty low characters. But SEARS? What a disappointment.

Today, I get a phone call from SEARS from a pleasant young woman who understands that I had a visit from their installation specialist yesterday. She has "great news" for me. Their prices for furnaces and installations have "just come down substantially" (by the miracle of coincidentality no doubt) and she wonders if I'd be interested in having another visit from another specialist to discuss it.

What is "substantially" I wonder to her. Even ball park?

"Well, I can't explain it over the phone, you'd have to talk to a specialist."

Is there anyone there at the store that can?

"I'm afraid that a home visit is necessary. But I do know that they would not be sending someone out if it weren't more than a couple of hundred dollars. It's a very significant discount."

No thank you. I'm not interested

Whole thing was just sickening all around . I feel like taking another shower this morning after writing this.

This post was edited by svejkovat on Mon, Feb 11, 13 at 12:12

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You should start a Blog or work for Sears!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:45AM
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You should start a Blog or work for Sears!


    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:47AM
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I predict Sears and Best Buy will fold - soon!

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 12:54PM
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Like Best Buy taken over by

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 1:55PM
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I hope everyone who reads this post will eliminate calling Sears for an HVAC equipment quote.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 2:04PM
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@saltidawg: "Like Best Buy taken over by"

Yeah, neigher Sears or Best Buy has anything left to sell.

Last year we were looking for a small freezer. Decided to try Sears, hadn't been there in years. First thing we noticed was there wasn't any other customers in the store.

Found a freezer, asked the salesman what the warranty was on the compressor. It was one year. Any reputable company knows that the compressor is the key component and if it fails - well you have a boat anchor - cause they are not worth fixing. An additional 3 year warranty was $100 - the freakin' freezer was only $175!!. Went to Cosco - paid $150 for a 7 cu/ft - with a 5 year warranty.

Best Buy: I refuse to patronize stores that inspect your purchase when you leave the store.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 3:17PM
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"I refuse to patronize stores that inspect your purchase when you leave the store."

If that's the case, if you lived in my area, you wouldn't have bought your freezer at Costco. Costco employees stand at the exit and compare each customer's sales receipt to their basket before they can leave the store.

I've been to Costco in a few other states and it's been the same everywhere.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 11:34PM
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Sears and Home Depot farm out their products with subs that you would never let in your house if you saw examples of their work. These guys wouldn't be working for Sears if they had any kind of skills.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:51AM
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"Sears and Home Depot farm out their products with subs that you would never let in your house if you saw examples of their work."

They pay to get the work.

Sears has been going downhill for years, ever since they decided that financing was their real profit center.

Hopefully they do not take Lands' End down with them.

As the companies approach failure the sales tactics get worse and worse.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 11:40AM
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you legally have 72 hours to change your mind
after contract is signed.
offering a discount only until time conversation is finished is pretty offensive.

rather than dealing with the bs from sears & HD it
is better to invest that time into finding an hvac company
that doesn't add their fee to sears or HD 's fee.

what apparently makes it attractive to a lot of people is the finacing options, & that they mistakenly believe that if something goes wrong, sears, hd will help to make it right.

sears does windows, & hvac that I have seen locally.
not top tier work by any means.

and btw..stainless steel plenum??
how about sheet metal plenum.

keep shopping.

best of luck.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 6:58PM
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