It's hard to walk into a Sears store without seeing signs for the Blue Crew, the face of the sales team for hard goods such as appliances, home improvement products, electronics, and more. There's even a Blue Crew Web page with a theme reminiscent of 1960s spy thrillers. Instead of spy-counterspy, the agenda is personalized service and expert advice.
But for all the hoopla over what amounted to a rebranding of the same sales force, our survey suggests shoppers are responding with a collective yawn.
Sears, which had the largest market share among survey respondents, was not one of the star performers for overall satisfaction.
Despite claims that include "We find the lowest prices, then we beat 'em—period" and "more top brands than anyone," shoppers for small and major appliances were not especially satisfied with price or selection. Nor did the availability of a Blue Crew's "personal shopping expert" sway their impressions.
Readers who have contacted us are often even more vocal. One who praised the Blue Crew for helping her buy a dishwasher for her mother said delivery and installation were botched by finger-pointing between Sears and a subcontractor, delivery of a model in the wrong finish, and a $70 shipping fee, despite a guarantee of free shipping.
Another consumer, who ordered a refrigerator and a range, spent weeks trying to arrange delivery and installation of the range. Long phone waits and e-mail miscommunications over Sears' Price Protection Policy ensued.
We've received no complaints about personalized service that leads to the sale. But when you can't reach the same person to resolve concerns afterward, it's the customer who's left feeling blue.