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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Dec 8, 2012 8:05PM
I have some older 1980's era craftsman that say made in japan they are very good wrenches metric of course.
Dec 8, 2012 7:47PM

lets start a game







Dec 8, 2012 7:40PM
let us not all forget that even if the product is made in another country it is the American company that determines the products quality is ok and passes their quality tests.  while I support american made items 100% and agree with what everyone is stating, look to the companies who allow this crap to be made.  If they really cared they would change things at the point of manufacturing.  Do not blame the workers who make it but the exec who say cheap crap is fine with them.  After all they only care about profits and satisfying the stock holders which is usually themselves.
Dec 8, 2012 7:32PM

they're made in china along witheverything else , what a shame ...need i say more?


Dec 8, 2012 7:30PM
The nit-wit with the abolish union comments. I hope you enjoy working for minimum wage all day long! Oh , if not for the union, there wouln't be minimum wage. Also, have you bought a burger at your local McDs lately, $4 should just about cover it and no union. Isn't hard to figure that one out !
Dec 8, 2012 7:29PM
So, what's new? I'm sure most Americans knew Sear's tools were made in China - why else would they break down so often, are not reliable and cannot purchase parts unless they were "Made in China," and resale of a Sears used electric tool is sad to nothing.  As for chrome on "Made in America Hogg's" guess again riders, that's not the only part of a Harley NOT made in America and is made in China.
Dec 8, 2012 7:28PM
Frankly who cares, I understand the trust issues and the issues with false advertising but how many retailers lie to us and we never find find out.  Isn't this rather an issue of attorneys finding a company with deep pockets who may or may not have made a mistake and they(the attorneys) have decided to go after them to make some money for them selves.  So what the attorney client split here, they sure are not doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, Oh!! do they have hearts....  Craftsman tool have been sold for years as a very reliable brand.  we have been involved in a world economy for a lot of years and it's to late to change.  Just look at the TV show Shark tank, those guys& gal want everything made over seas greed greed greed.  I thing the judge should have thrown the whole case out.  So who's next Walmart,Target,Macy's,Kohls,J.C. Penny's, hey you attorneys look at these deep pockets, i'll bet if you look real hard you could find something to sue them about.  Dirty bathrooms.  Why stop there how about Wendy's or McDonalds say where are those burgers made and how about those maybe chicken pieces where are they made??????  So just how many other companies have lied to us and just how many lawyers have lied to us.  Wait, I've got it why not sue congress and the president they lie to us all the time and they have really deep pockets, the tax payers.
Dec 8, 2012 7:04PM
Next time you go to the dentist, make sure they show you proof of where your teeth are coming from. Im in the dental lab business and alot of large dental labs and dental groups are sending all the work to china and mexico. (the work and quality sucks) possible lead in the alloys on bridge work. Reason behind this is china will do a crown for $29.00 with free shipping. I charge the dentist $95.00 for quality work. Hmmm lets see how much can we save $70.00 times say 1000+ crowns per year. Hello!!!
Dec 8, 2012 7:04PM

You're a Fool it you think Unions are killing America then use Walmart and Kmart as upstanding companies.... Walmart is as close to slave workers as you can get, Walmart destoryed more communities then GODZILLA!... 


When you as CEO can run a company into the GROUND, then BLAME the unions then walk away

with Millions of dollars something is wrong with that picture.  You see GREED, comes in lots of forms from the UNION BOSSES to the CEO to  the STOCK HOLDERS ..

Dec 8, 2012 7:01PM
Sorry to inform the public but Porter Cable and Milwaukee Tool are also mostly made in China now. Seems stock holders and return on investor dollars are more important than a quality product. anymore.
Dec 8, 2012 7:01PM
That is no reason to sue anyone.  American's continues to bring its own down.  


Dec 8, 2012 6:44PM
China will get Sears business anytime they can under-price american production of american products.
Dec 8, 2012 6:42PM
Why don't we "JUST BUY AMERICAN" instead of by those foreign products that has taken food from our families mouth.  True our standard of living is higher then those countries, but we must learn to get off our high horses and get those jobs back to the good ole USA. Remember that a majority of the rich are getting rich from products that are made overseas and we as american along with the federal government let  this happen.  If start we start boycotting  these companies one by one there will be changes. Hostess should have ever closed, but the union did not take the company serious.  Now what happen, all those people are out of work except the union. 
Dec 8, 2012 6:40PM
Nothing is made in America.  Even our President may not be made in America.  So what's the problem.
Dec 8, 2012 6:39PM
It will never change until american companies are forced to ensure that their foriegn workers are being paid the US minimum federal wage. In addition, the employers should also be forced to pay the corresponding taxes on such money.  Companies are compelled to employ foriegn labor and materials to remain competitive in the global economy since their rivals are doing it also.  The USA needs to remove that incentive of ridiculously cheap labor.
Dec 8, 2012 6:30PM
Sadly this is about lawyers and money and very little to do with where Craftman Tools are made. Too bad we can't see clearly through the vailed attempt at patriotism and expose the muatant side of capitalism at its gawdyist.
Dec 8, 2012 6:19PM
its all due to the 2% moving everything over seas...yea they create jobs but not here !!!!
Dec 8, 2012 6:02PM
Deceived!  I have always tried to buy things that are "Made in America" when there is that choice.  Have a lot of Craftsman tools for that very reason.  Shame on you Sears, will not be sorry to see you close your doors if it comes to that.  Good riddance!!!
Dec 8, 2012 5:57PM

Welllllll........they USED  to be.

''assembled'' in america ?

''Invented'' in america ?

SOLD in america !


But even most made in america your Chevys and Fords.....are assembled from components NOT made in america.

The circuit boards, resisters, capacitors, wires, relays, levers, bearings, and on and on and on.  

Dec 8, 2012 5:33PM
i wonder if user are concerned where their dope come from.................................................................
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