When Hurricane Michael destroys Katharyn Goodrich’s home, it also delays her Sears Optical order. Can anyone secure a refund?
I’m trying to resolve a problem with my Sears eyeglasses, and I need your help. I haven’t been able to contact the Sears Optical store in Panama City, Fla., about a delayed order.
I’m currently in Virginia, because my home in Panama City, Fla., was destroyed by Hurricane Michael. I contacted Sears Optical, and a representative told me to come into its store in Winchester, Va. and they would sort it out for us.
I drove over an hour to that Sears location, only to find that it didn’t have an optical department. A representative then referred us to a Dulles and Fairfax location, both of which were more than an hour away.
I called the Dulles location and spoke to an employee in the optical department, who did what he could to locate the right person. His manager informed him that they could not issue a refund because they are in a different district and state. The only thing I could do was contact my home Sears Optical store or neighboring stores that were not affected by the hurricane.
But the neighboring stores in Tallahassee, Pensacola, and Fort Walton were all affected by the hurricane as well. I filed a claim through the Sears corporate office, and they assured us that someone would be calling in 24 hours to go over the details to get started on a refund. No one called me back. Can you help? — Katharyn Goodrich, Panama City, Fla.
I’m sorry to hear about your home and the delay on your Sears Optical order. Sears is suffering, too — and I’m not just referring to the hurricane. At about the same time all of this happened, the company filed for bankruptcy protection. That bankruptcy has turned Sears’ customer service into a nightmare for consumers.
The easiest way to fix this would have been to file a dispute on your credit card. But you used a debit card, which means Sears has your money, and the Fair Credit Billing Act doesn’t protect you.
I publish the names, numbers and email addresses for the Sears customer service executives. A look at your paper trail shows you’ve already tried that route, to no avail.
Who is responsible for Sears Optical orders?
Unraveling this mess took the full efforts of my nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. We tried to reach out to our regular Sears contact, but the bankruptcy had claimed her job. Eventually, Sears told us it had outsourced its optical department to an Italian company, Luxottica. A Luxottica representative agreed to refund your order and also shipped the glasses to your Virginia address.
Your story serves as an important warning to others. Be careful when dealing with any company that has filed for bankruptcy protection. If you do, use a credit card so that you’re protected by federal law. Otherwise, you might have to turn to us for help.
Katharyn, I wish you the best of luck in rebuilding your home after the hurricane. I hope this refund helps a little.