This past summer (yes, it's over already), I ordered a new air conditioner from Sears.com. Now for the sake of transparency, I'll share that I have been Sears brand-loyal my whole life. As a kid, my parents shopped there and I was taught that Craftsman tools were the only way to go. I also worked there for five years in high school and college. Lastly, I had bought this same air conditioner a few years before for another room in my apartment. So this should have been an easy sale for Sears.
The order itself went great. No issues, no errors, no privacy concerns. Sears.com has a good e-commerce experience. The air conditioner arrived a few days later, and that's when the problems began. Upon assembling the AC, I noted that all of the mounting holes for screws were too small for the screws themselves, and not threaded to accept screws at all. This made assembly really tough.
So I called Sears, first the service line, which led me to the Sears.com customer service line after I decided having a service technician come to the house and tell me what I already knew ("These screws don't fit in those holes, sir...") was probably not a good idea. Upon talking to a customer service rep, I requested that they pick up the old AC and ship me out a new one. And for my trouble (and just to set the stage, it was really hot), I was hopeful they would send the new AC via overnight shipping, even though the original one came to me via UPS Ground.
Sears said no. First the customer service rep then his supervisor told me they could not and would not upgrade the shipping. They agreed that a new AC was in order, that they would pick up the old one and ship out a new one, but they would not take on the additional shipping cost to make my Sears.com experience a positive one instead of a negative one. I was astonished, especially when the supervisor told me:
"It's not worth the extra cost to have it arrive 2-3 days faster. It's just not worth it."
Wow. I even decided to put it in branding terms for her, saying:
"So it's not worth the cost of faster shipping for me to have a positive Sears brand experience rather than a negative one? To tell my friends that they should shop at Sears.com rather than not?"
She reiterated that it simply was not worth it. Unbelievable. Sears had a clear opportunity at a conversion here, to turn my negative brand experience into a positive one, and they blew it. Making the wrong move in a conversion opportunity is a major mistake, as it takes the word of mouth marketing power and makes it clearly negative rather than positive. This post is evidence of that.
Regarding the air conditioner itself, I refused the UPS pickup of the old unit, and instead sat on my living room floor threading each of the screw holes on the AC with my trusty Craftsman drill. So I suppose I'm still brand-loyal.