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.
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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as usual missing the point...what damage was caused to anyone that would require a law suit to be brought???
This should have not only been dismissed the plaintiffs should be fined for wasting time an money.
I have a mind to fight for every dollar I spent giving Craftsman as Christmas and Birthday gifts for my dad and my hubby!!!!
Sears just lost another 3 loyal customers!!!
Snap-on may be expensive but they last and are Guaranteed and have a Warranty!!! Also, the kicker.... Snap-on IS made in the USA!!! Worth every penny!!!
Lifetime warranty, and no arguement when trading for a new one.
Not good enough for you?
Sheesh! You can't please some people.
A corporatized American government plays the role of taxpayer protector while using the companies for money and then portrays those same corporations as the bad guys. Washington plays the game 'we're rubber, corporations are glue, it bounces off us and sticks to you'. Whose the bad guy? Political manipulators smokescreening the public. Obama wants to create a 'department of business'? No scam here in the transparent smoke-filled oval office.
When I brought Craftsman Lawn Sprinkler,Trowel,Hose End Sprayer and other garden tools back for replacement,they tried to give me replacements that were only warranted for 2 or 3 years.The original ones I bought were warranted "FOREVER" so I told the salesperson that I would only accept ones that were warranted "FOREVER" as replacements. After talking to management I was finally given warranted "FOREVER" replacements. They will try to screw you if they can!
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The company has made at least 4 acquisitions in the space, and few people have paid any attention.
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