Home Consumer Goods Sears pays fine over refund policy

Sears pays fine over refund policy

Sears Roebuck and Co. has agreed to pay the state a $150,000 fine after shortchanging refunds to customers who participated in a company promotion, the state attorney general said.

Sears’s “Come Back Cash” promotion offered an award card of either $10 or $20 to customers who spent more than $50 or $100, with the amounts and thresholds varying based on the promotion. But when customers returned the merchandise that qualified them for the card, they were not given full value of what they returned but instead an amount reduced by the value of the gift card.

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who announced the settlement Thursday, said Sears enforced the policy even when the amount of unreturned merchandise exceeded the qualifying threshold, when the gift card hadn’t been used and when the gift card had expired.

“This settlement ensures that consumers who participate in a promotion of this type and later return merchandise will receive a full and fair refund – and not a penny less,” he said.

The settlement stemmed from a complaint from a shopper at the White Plains Sears, who bought seven items for $164 and received a $10 award card. The customer returned three items totaling $30, but was only given back $26.30 even though her unreturned purchases of $134.68 still exceeded the $50 threshold.

Sears held the promotion between August 2010 and October 2012 and Schneiderman said that an investigation from his office showed nearly 26,000 transactions in New York where customers received reduced refunds, with reductions in those cases totaling $82,800.

Sears, which updated its returns policy prior to the settlement, is based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., and has 45 New York locations.


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