Help! A Sears layaway delay means I’m getting married without a ring

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By Christopher Elliott

After Nora Heuton places her wedding ring set on Sears layaway, the company runs out of stock and cancels her order. There’s just one detail: The $586 she paid hasn’t been refunded. Can this wedding be saved?

Question

I’m trying to get my money back from Sears.

Last summer, I put several items on a Sears layaway plan. Then the company told me that the items were discontinued and out of stock. Sears promised to issue a refund.

Sears still owes me $586. The company claims it mailed me a check in January, but I never got it. A representative promised a district manager would call me back. That never happened, either.

Please help me. The items in my Sears layaway are our wedding ring set. I don’t want to get married without rings. — Nora Heuton, Bronson, Fla.

Answer

Oh, no. Are you saying your June wedding will be ringless unless Sears coughs up the refund it promised you last summer? That is a problem.

Sears layaway operates much like that of any other department stores. You have up to 12 weeks to pay for the merchandise, and the company charges a “service fee” of anywhere from $5 to $10 for the service.

If Sears gives you up to 12 weeks to pay, I think it’s reasonable for you to give it 12 weeks to refund your money. But it had been several months since your Sears layaway purchase by the time you contacted me, and perilously close to your wedding. Sears needed to do the right thing — quickly. (Related: Home Depot messed up my kitchen. Can you help me fix it?)

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I don’t want to make excuses for Sears, but the retailer has been through a lot lately. At about the same time you contacted me, I caught a story about Sears that summarized the conventional wisdom on the retailer’s future: no hope. It is, at the time of this writing, a favorite of short-sellers. Which is a real shame, considering the company’s storied past and its former prominence in American business.

Getting your Sears layaway refund

I publish executive contacts for Sears on my consumer advocacy site, including the names, numbers and email addresses of key customer service managers.

Appealing to a Sears executive might have helped, but given the apparent chaos at Sears, maybe not. I contacted Sears on your behalf and the company refunded your money quickly. I hope the check reaches you in time to buy another wedding ring set. And one more piece of advice: Cash it soon.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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