Sears accused of misleading public on Craftsman line

A lawsuit says the company wrongly claimed its tools were made in America. A California judge refuses to certify class-action status, but plaintiffs say they will appeal.

By Jonathan Berr Dec 7, 2012 3:47PM
Sears store in Milford, Connecticut -- Spencer Platt/Getty ImagesSears Holdings (SHLD) says its Craftsman line is America's most trusted tool brand. But are those tools even made in America?

That issue is at the forefront of a claim that the company snookered consumers into believing that its famous Craftsman tools were made in the U.S. Sears has beaten back the lawsuit for now, but the battle appears to be far from over.

A California judge rejected an effort late last month to certify the suit as a class action. In his 42-page decision, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Anthony Mohr argued that there were "serious problems" with the case and that it would be a "nightmare" to manage because there are 40 million potential class members, according to the National Law Journal.

Sears, which registered the Craftsman trademark in 1921, cheered the decision. But Barbara Hart, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said the ruling will be appealed. In an interview with MSN Money, Hart said that her clients will seek certification under a narrower class definition. 

"We are pleased with the court's ruling but as the matter is still pending, we decline to comment further," Sears spokesman Larry Costello wrote in an email.


Costello declined to say how many Craftsman tools were made in the U.S. and Hart, who filed suit against the retailer in 2004, isn't sure either. After the suit was filed, Sears took Craftsman tools off the shelves and blacked out the words "Made in America," she said.


Sears will not share records about where its Craftsman tools are made, but Hart said the company utilizes more than 130 Chinese manufacturers for the Craftsman line.


Craftsman has been one of the few bright spots for Sears in recent years as the retailer has  struggled to compete against larger rivals such as Wal-Mart (WMT) and Target (TGT). The stock has slumped more than 20% in the past year. Sears not a bargain for investors, trading at more than double its average 52-week price target of $17.83.


According to a recent report in the New York Times, the "Made in the USA" label has grown in popularity because it is a "signifier of old-school craftsmanship." It's also hard to find in today's global economy. The U.S. trade deficit with China alone is about $232 billion. 


--Jonathan Berr is long Target.  Follow him on Twitter@jdberr.

 

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794Comments
Dec 7, 2012 6:26PM
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I support America made stuff and don't think they should have lied but it makes no difference in the product where it is made.   When a company like Sears contracts with a supplier or manufacturer.   They have specifications and quality standards they have to adhere to.    So really the quality isn't suffering Craftsmen is still a good brand.   I wish more things could be made in the USA again at a competitive price.  Lawsuits like this are just a waste of time, the only one that wins is the lawyer handling the case.  I hope this case gets thrown out.  I think the judge made a good decision.
Dec 7, 2012 6:26PM
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I've been using Craftsman tools for years. Needless to say, my older ratchets and wrenches were made of much more stronger metal and would take a beating. The junk Sears is selling now are junk chinese imports. This year alone, I had to exchange 3 ratchets and 6 ratchet wrenches, who can't take the tork and the bearings fall apart. Don't be fooled by Sears claim of "Made in America", it's self evident their tools are now imported, and are next to junk.

 

Dec 7, 2012 6:24PM
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i have in the last year purchased around 3,000.00 dollars worth of chraftsman power tools for my woodshop and have found 99 percent of them made in china including a allmost 600.00 dollar Table saw that i found out was made by Ryobe had i known that i would have bought a Ryobe saw for over 300.00 less money. so now if i buy a power tool i buy it at Lowes,Home Depot or Harbor Freight
Dec 7, 2012 6:23PM
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If they are advertised as Made in America but they were not then they should be sued! End of story.
Dec 7, 2012 6:22PM
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I know for a fact there pry bars and screw drivers are made in the USA.. My wife works at a tool company that makes them.. you would be surprised how many differant names can be stamped on the same tool..LOL
Dec 7, 2012 6:22PM
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130   CHINK COMPANIES  HELP BUILD THE  SEARS   CRAFTSMEN  LINE      THE SAME FOR DAM NEAR EVERY OTHER IMPORTER    I N THIS COUNTRY  WALL MART  KMART  TARGET  TOYS ARE US    ETC ETC ETC ETC ETC<><><>  THE  TRAITORS THAT ARE MAKING BILLIONS ON THESE FOREIGN INVESTMENTS THAT HAVE GIVEN OUR JOBS  OUR  PRIDE   AND OUR COUNTRY   AWAY .    LOW AND BEHOLD    >>>ROMNEY   IS ONE OF THEM .    WHEN YOU BUY THOSE GIFTS THIS YEAR       TAKE NOTE  WHAT  YOU BUY  80 TO 90 %  WILL BE MADE IN CHINA  .  >>>>>>>>>>   MADE IN AMERICA IS  AN ENDANGERED SPIECIES <<<<<<<  WE SHOULD TAKE AWAY FROM THE RICH  FOREIGN INVESTORS  WHAT THEY HAVE TAKEN FROM  US   <<>> OUR       VERY EXSISTANCE    .
Dec 7, 2012 6:18PM
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Didn't know that because a broken law would be a "nightmare" to resolve, this constituted a legal precidence for dismissal?  Too much of a pain to prosecute.  Uh, yeah.  And we wonder why lawyers and doctors use their own peers when deciding legal issues, duh.
Dec 7, 2012 6:18PM
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If the tools still wrk as well as they always have and Sears will replace them as they guarantee, then what difference does it matter where they are made.

As long as the quality of the material is still the same, country of manufacture should be of no concern. It would be similar to comparing Japanese made autos to US made autos. It is about quality of the product.

Get over the fact that things aren't all made in the USA anymore. If they were, then most people who  buy the products would not be able to afford them.

Dec 7, 2012 6:17PM
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Don't blame Walmart for the countries ill's with their low wage paying jobs because without them you would be paying a lot more for products sold at stores with high paying union represented employees. AND again don't blame Walmart for ruining the mom and pop stores as they are NOT holding a gun to anyones head forcing them to shop there.
Dec 7, 2012 6:16PM
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I have owned craftsman tools for over twenty years and never had a problem with them they have always stood behind there product . so what is this  persons problem ? 
Dec 7, 2012 6:15PM
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Useless lawsuit.  Tools are good and have a lifetime warranty.  Just a bunch of bottom feeding, worthless lawyers looking to screw somebody.
Dec 7, 2012 6:13PM
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Saying they are "America's Most Trusted Brand" doesn't say they're made in America.  Did Sears say they were?  Volvos aren't made in America but they are a well trusted brand too. 

Dec 7, 2012 6:13PM
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this is about the plantif lawyers making money, and nothing more. The tools will not change, the name wil not change, no one will get any money back, but the lawyers will make millions
Dec 7, 2012 6:12PM
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why is "America's most trusted" interpreted as "made in America"?

As has been said, nothing is made in America anymore.  For some reason it is cheaper to have items made in a country where people live in small houses without running water or electricity for people who prefer to pay a low price for a product.

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I bought over $5,000.00 worth of tools knowing they were Made in the U.S.A.  what a god dam rip off,all my other tools are made in china I guess all my tools are made in china which is our enemy their comunist why do we give our enemy's all our trade. We need a new government and congress.
Dec 7, 2012 6:10PM
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Great - now if Sears goes under how good will that "lifetime warranty" be? How many Sears employees will there be? There are way too many lawyers in California. I would rate lawyers right under politicians - oh wait, aren't most politicians under employed lawyers?
Dec 7, 2012 6:10PM
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All of my tools are Craftsman - power, mechanics, garden.  Not, however, because I think they are "Made in the USA".  But why would I or anyone buy anything else from Sears when most items can be purchased from other outlets at much lower prices.  For examplde, a 55 inch tv at Sears for nearly $900, I can get at Walmart for more than $300 less!!!!!!!!!! 

Dec 7, 2012 6:10PM
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EVERONE knows and has known for years that most of the Craftsman tools were made overseas.
Same as almost every other top brand.
This is just another lawyer/law firm trying to make millions while the people they recruit for the lawsuit get pennies.
There is a real need for tort reform which we will never see as long as lawyers keep getting elected into the house and senate.

Dec 7, 2012 6:10PM
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With millions and millions of illegal immigrants here in the country working in factories do they still consider these products as "Made In America" ? Seems like a catch-22 to me.
Dec 7, 2012 6:09PM
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plus these lawsuits do not help.  How is this going to create american jobs?

 

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