Why won’t Sears refund my canceled order now?

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By Christopher Elliott

Greg Johnson is frustrated. After waiting for months for a new refrigerator from Sears, he finally gave up and canceled the appliance. Now he’s been waiting for Sears to send his refund for almost as long. Can we help?

Question

I ordered a refrigerator from Sears three months ago. The appliance was delayed multiple times. Last month, I decided to cancel the order. I’ve had many phone calls with Sears since then, and I’ve been hung up on multiple times. Through the online chat feature, I never get anyone outside of a bot.

Sears has yet to refund the $1,641 it owes me for the canceled order. Unfortunately, I used my debit card instead of a credit card. Can you help me get my money back? — Greg Johnson, Blackwood, N.J.

Answer

Sears should have delivered your refrigerator on time — and if it couldn’t, it should have promptly sent you a refund.

You’re right, using a debit card certainly complicates things. Under the Fair Credit Billing Act (FCBA), which protects credit card customers, you have the right to dispute a charge when a merchant doesn’t do what it promises. If you make a purchase using a debit card, the FCBA does not apply.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of credit cards. They’re loaded with “gotcha” fees and fine print, and I believe they also deepen the divide between the “haves” and “have-nots.” Credit card debt is a terrible burden that financially hobbles large swaths of the population. But at least you have some legal protection when you’re paying with a card. So next time, as much as it pains me to recommend it, consider using your credit card for a major purchase. (Related: Where’s my Sears.com refund?)

Your first step to retrieving your money is sending a brief, polite appeal to an executive at Sears. We list the names, numbers and email addresses of the Sears customer service managers in our database. You can also consult my ultimate guide to getting a repair, replacement or refund for your broken appliance.

Finally! Sears sends the refund

I’ve reviewed the paper trail between you and Sears. (By the way, good job on keeping your records). It looks like you were getting strung along. Here’s how it should have worked: You asked Sears to refund your money and then they return it quickly. Easy, right? Now, I understand that there are some accounting systems that must ensure the right refund goes to the right customer. But three months? Come on. (Related: Confusion about Sears’ refund policy.)

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I connected you with some higher-level contacts at Sears. You reached out to them with a brief, polite email. I advised you to wait for the system to work. Fortunately, it did. A few weeks after you contacted me, Sears finally credited you with $1,641, as promised. It did not offer a reason for the delay.

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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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