Hey Kmart.com, where’s the refund for the tablet you never delivered?

Joe Kim orders a tablet from Kmart.com, but it never arrives. Now they’re balking at a refund. What gives?

Question: I’ve been a loyal customer of Sears and Kmart, making multiple purchases online of electronics at both stores. I recently bought a Samsung 16GB 10.5” Display Galaxy Tab S Tablet at Kmart.com, for which I paid $475.

This was a wedding anniversary gift and it was imperative that I receive the item on time. The reason I made the purchase online to have it delivered was due to the website stating that the product would be delivered within two business days or by September 25, 2015.

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I received an email confirmation within a few hours, indicating that the product was shipped via UPS and giving me a tracking number. According to the UPS tracking, a shipping label was created but no item was shipped. Sears/Kmart customer service reps are now telling me the item was never available at the warehouse.

I’ve contacted customer service by phone several times, and the representatives from India cannot assist me. The best they can do is tell me to wait three to five business days, then eight business days, and so forth.

I’ve sent several emails as well, and they assured me a refund was processed and to wait 10 to 14 business days. I contacted them again yesterday, and now a “case manager” is telling me a refund was requested but nothing has been done.

They want me to wait again. I am hearing the same story over and over again with no results. To hold a customer’s funds after not delivering a product is unethical. Please help me! — Joe Kim, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Answer: In a perfect world, Kmart should have delivered your product when it said it would. And when it didn’t, your refund should have been immediate.

It’s not a perfect world. Products are not always in stock, which is what happened with your tablet. Refunds can take time — too much time. The standard line is two to three credit card billing cycles, which can be up to four months. It rarely takes that long, but it can.

The strange thing about your case is that Kmart.com first promised you the refund would be in your bank account within three to five days, which is unrealistic. Then it gave itself two weeks. Still, in my own experience, it normally takes longer.

I list Kmart’s executive contacts under its parent company, Sears, on my site. You might have appealed to one of them when it became obvious the phone reps were stringing you along.
Let me add one thing: The practice of making customers wait three “billing cycles” is nonsense. Someone is benefiting from the money that’s in limbo — you’re basically giving them a short-term, interest-free, free loan. If corporate America wanted to fix its refund sluggishness, it would have by now. But it’s not motivated. Why would it want to spend money to fix a problem that will result in it losing money?

I contacted Sears on your behalf, and it agreed to expedite your refund.

14 thoughts on “Hey Kmart.com, where’s the refund for the tablet you never delivered?

  1. Chris, it is clear that this kind of refund nonsense is ‘standard operating procedure’ for businesses. Perhaps a petition to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau regarding the processing of credit card refunds would be in order?

    1. Yes, the “next billing cycle” rule on refunds is a legacy of the time when credit card charges (and refunds) were processed by shuffling around slips of carbon paper everywhere. There’s no excuse for them taking so long now.

    2. MF – I totally agree. If a business can deduct an amount from your card or account in milliseconds, in any amount, then logically they have in-place the mechanism already to CREDIT the same amount by billing you negative number, and can do it within the same time frame. IT’S JUST THE SAME SOFTWARE CODE!

      Since greedy businesses have no incentive to do this, free money being what it is, the CFPB should pass a regulation that if a company takes money across state lines, then they are subject to the instant refund rule – The same speed and payment type must be used to take and refund the money.

      We can call it the You Brought This S**t On Yourselves Instant Refund (YBTSOYIR) rule. Drips off the tongue, no?

  2. A credit card dispute was totally called for here.

    Really K-Mart/Sears are in the “Retail Death Spiral”, and you should just assume that if they have any opportunity to screw up, they will, on their one-way trip to bankruptcy.

    The Hedge Fund Baron in charge of the outfit has no interest in actually running a retailer; he just wants to look for the best opportunities to sell the often-valuable real estate the stores sit on. (And he has some weird fixation on the rewards program, believing it will be the triumphant savior of the chains.)

  3. “Expedited?” How about just refunding his credit card “today” which is already a few months later than it should be? And toss him a % off coupon for his next purchase, too, although I doubt there will ever be a next purchase.

  4. One Word… ChargeBack …

    You give them 2 or 3 days to process the return, No credit.. No waiting 2 or 3 cycles By time that all happens you have lost your right to do a chargeback. Save the Email with the tracking number, Print out the screen from UPS that shows it was not shipped. FIle a charge back with your Bank, Let KMart Fight with its Bank to “Keep” your money after its taken out of its account.

  5. I think Sirwired mentioned this. I think the 2/3 billing cycle thing is a throwback to when people didn’t check their accounts online and in real time. Instead they relied on actually receiving the statement in the mail. If the current statement had already cut, then 2 billing cycles is when the customer would notice the refund. There is no reason why it should take more than a couple of days for the refund to appear. If it is taking longer then the company needs to be reported. They should not be booking transactions on their balance sheet until complete. This is why accounting practices are so screwed up and people are buying shares in companies that don’t even report accurate earnings.

  6. It would be helpful for consumers if Sears did not farm out their customer service to India. I placed an online order with Sears which never arrived. First I called their customer service number and got some Indian I could barely understand. He said I needed to call a different number. I called the second number and got another Indian who basically said, as near as I could understand, that he couldn’t find any record of the order. I told him what I thought of Indians being customer service reps and hung up. Then I emailed the company, again telling them what I thought about their using Indians who could not speak understandable English as customer service. I received an email apology from Sears, and they shipped another order which I received a few days later.

    1. Are you just as vocal about understandable English when you visit south Georgia, Alabama, Boston, or New York? Do Canadians bother you too?

      1. I live in Alabama, was born in New York and have visited Canada many times. I don’t have trouble understanding any of these. I object to farming out jobs that Americans should have. I also object to the Indians who call me wanting to sell drugs or fix my computer for non existent problems or call saying I have won a prize and are trying to get personal information. These and the African scam perpetrators should be rounded up and shot.

  7. HMMM, 60-90 days of interest, no telling how many people they do this to–adds up as extra revenue for a strapped company. I remember several years ago I was studying accounting practices, and Sears stood out as a somewhat shady character. They unilaterally decided to extend their payment terms to their suppliers from 30 to 45 days, and in reality, didn’t pay until 50 days. It was estimated they pocketed several million per year in extra revenue, riding on the backs of their suppliers.

  8. Businesses should be required to have a refund issued and submitted to the credit card within 10 days. That’s 9 more days than the consumer gets with his payment. The fact that this kind of stalling is accepted practice does not mean it’s ethical.

  9. Way late to the party here, but Kmart did the same thing to me. I eventually got the refund and haven’t shopped there since. Been three years, and nope…never, ever going back.

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