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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May 26, 2014 11:58PM

Craftsman commercial - A.J. Foyt and sons

and "Made in America" is the last frame...

Nov 26, 2013 10:04AM
When I found out that craftsman tools are being manufactured in china I was highly disappointed. I honestly can't believe they sold out.
Dec 11, 2012 10:41AM

As for Sears. They're finished and had been for years. Very sad.

But looking at the posts on here makes me wonder if people really can't handle the truth. When someone comment about how many items around your house that is not American made. They are getting the thumbs down. Why? It's all true. Take a look around (I did).

Anything that is made here is actually assembled here with parts made over seas in various countries. Read the packaging.

Dec 10, 2012 7:40PM
Since Sears is getting away with fraud because they scammed too many people, I think the 20th hijacker should use the same defense and see what happened.  For that matter, any child rapist who gets caught "too soon" could claim that he/she was unjustly forced to terminate their crime sprees too early to be able to legally get away with those crimes.

Columbine, Thurston High, Aurora, Oklahoma City, NYPD, BART.  So many potential class members.  Welcome to Amerika.
Dec 10, 2012 10:41AM

so you want no unions in america so your kids could be child labor and make 20 cents per hour--boy, we could really compete with china then.


Dec 10, 2012 3:05AM
Dec 10, 2012 3:02AM
Umm, ya'll Sears is not the only compnay that sells Craftsman tools.  Jerry's Home Improvement sells them too,   And I would imagine other retailers do too.
Dec 10, 2012 2:59AM
Who cares.  I understood that Craftsman was the #1 tool in American.  I never knew where they were made, I just liked the lifetime guarantee.  Why sue?  Just another waste of money and the courts time.
Dec 10, 2012 12:02AM

Where y'all been?  Even ol' Stars and Stripes is made in China now.  Heh!


Dec 9, 2012 11:56PM

I do like Craftmans Tools  The only ones I use and never had a problem with any ot them.  Some I have owned for over 40 years.


I do not like false advertising ... cheats ... self serving people ... those that think their **** don't stink ... hell mine sure does!! 


I hope this class action Law Suit stands up and SEARS has to pay for their false advertising.


Keep up the good work SEARS! 


WTG Grumpyguy ... Jack Daniels ... Made In America ... and so am I .... I drink to that!           

Dec 9, 2012 11:51PM
I myself link loosing manufacturing jobs to an organization call "Enviromental Protection Agency". The restrictions and regulation placed on all businesses are in excessive proportions and can't be dealt with so you ship it overseas where there are no regulations. Try and recycle metal in this country and see the hundreds of hoops you have to jump thru to get a permit. I bet you can't even get one. The fluid used in dry cleaning has to be put in special containers and be disposed of by licensed handlers and recorded accordingly. As a child I chewed on all my toys and many were coated with lead paint and I probably swallowed plenty of it but it didn't kill me. Today if your house has lead paint they treat it like it is radio active material. Special suits, breathing apparadus, containers, and high fees for disposal. Yes, I hate the EPA for what problems they cause and they don't have to answer to a higher agency, hence what they want they get and jobs and manufacturing will never appear like what made this country great. Can you imagine fighting a war on two fronts like WW II. Where would we get the materials and built ships and armory like what we did back then. Think about it!  EPA is a cancer we can't defeat. 
Dec 9, 2012 11:39PM

It does not matter where these tools are made. If a Craftsman tool breaks Sears will replace it no questions asked. Craftsman is the only tool you will find in my daddy's shop because they stand

 behind their product. If it breaks they will replace it.

Dec 9, 2012 10:57PM
Future US jobs will only be the ones that cannot be outsourced.  Healthcare, construction trades, transportation (truck driving) and retail.  There will be so many people competing for the left over jobs that the pay will be low.  This is, and will always be the outcome from globalization.  A lowering of the standard of living for the US.  
Dec 9, 2012 10:37PM
You had my trust. HAD! You won't get it back. 
Dec 9, 2012 9:20PM
Hey BOBOMACK what is tork? How about torque you tool!
Dec 9, 2012 9:14PM
All you dwarves better start getting smart.Sears should be boycotted.When will you learn that you are getting ,'tooled' by Sears,Walmart et al.Get ready it is coming and it ain't going to be pretty.Stock up on canned goods and ammo and be ready to rock and roll when the smoke comes up the hill.
Dec 9, 2012 9:14PM
I've been working on heavy equipment for almost 50 yrs. I'll trust Craftsman tools against pretty much any on the market. There are some items that I might buy another brand , but Craftsman has the best guarantee in the market.There is no tool co. that has 100% American Made tools. Craftsman tells you if it's made here or in another country. It's your choice to buy it or not, but these lawyers trying to take down companies with class action lawsuits have really started to pi$$ me off. The lawyers are the only ones that make anything in a class action suit unless you think $100 or something is a lot of money. It's time for people to go to work and give a days work for a days pay again and quit blaming everything on other countries. That's  when we'll get our jobs back  and how we'll keep America great. Russia tried the communist system for how long before they realized how futile it is? God Bless America!
Dec 9, 2012 8:47PM
Sears was a company I would look to for appliances and tools.  quality have gone south over the last 5 years, but  now they are no better than  wal-mart.  lost another customer.
Dec 9, 2012 8:37PM
They would be the best quality if they were Made in Japan.
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