Marketing Pilgrim's "eCommerce" Channel

Sponsor Marketing Pilgrim's eCommerce Channel today! Get in front of some of the most influential readers in the Internet and social media marketing industry. Contact us today!

And So It Begins: Sears Botches Their Early Black Friday Sale

The Black Friday craziness has begun and we have our first casualty – Sears.

Hoping to do something nice for their “Shop Your Way” members, they had a pre-pre-pre Black Friday sale on Sunday night.

According to BFAds.net, Sears was selling a 32″ HDTV for only $97. Buy online and pick up at your store. Wow.

Things started to go wrong immediately thanks to poor coding of the website’s countdown clock. Instead of counting down to 5 pm Central time, it adjusted based on each shopper’s time zone, so unless you happen to live in the Central Time Zone, you had the wrong start time on your computer.

Then the doors opened and the shopping began. I bet you can guess what happened next. Orders went through, excited people cheered, then the cancellation email showed up. Unfortunately, everyone’s credit card hold will take 3-5 days to expire, so you might have your credit card freed up by Cyber Monday but possibly not.

Other folks tried the Buy Online, Pick up Local option to save shipping. And guess what? The majority of people couldn’t find any stock in their local store. Some reported calling their local Sears only to find out that they never had any of the sale TVs to sell in the first place. Can you say bait and switch?

So the unhappy shoppers went to Facebook to complain and Sears was determined to make it right by doing this:

Seriously? This is not what I had in mind when I talk about personalized customer service. Did they really think that naming everyone who complained, Romper Room style, was going to make it better. It makes them look robotic and uncaring. (Facebook’s new, admin can reply to a comment feature could have helped. . . alas. . . )

After almost 400 comments, a completely neutral party posted this:

This was a very nice idea Sears came up with allowing long time shop your way rewards members early access to the doorbuster deals. I would love to do all my shopping online and pickup in store. It’s easy, convenient, no pushing, shoving, no lines and on my own time. People tend to buy more when they don’t have to lug all of their purchases around from store to store. It is easy to pick up everything in the merchandise pickup area of your store.

Yeah, because that doesn’t sound phoney after 15 plus hours of complaints.

Once again, if Facebook gave admins the ability to post one featured comment at the top, it might help stop the tirade, but I doubt it. So Sears tried a different tactic.

Yes, because asking people to stop complaining en masse is going to work. Oh Sears. Oh world. Black Friday is here and it’s only Tuesday.