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 10:26PM
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I have all confidence in Sears products!!! I recently had to stop using a dehumidifier becaus of a recall  by Sears . I received a credit towards another unit- wow!
Dec 7, 2012 10:16PM
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It is this easy. DO NOT PURCHASE CRAFTSMAN TOOLS.

It is this easy. DO NOT SHOP AT SEARS.

It is this easy. DO NOT SHOP AT WalMart.

It is this easy. DO NOT SHOP AT SAMS CLUB.

 

Is it that hard to understand?

 

Dont buy cheap chinese ****.

 

Dec 7, 2012 10:15PM
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Looks like Greed is in control in America.  If a company or an individual is successful at something it is time to find a reason to sue them.  Just another for of distribution of the wealth with the lawyers using the legal system to benefit the most.
Dec 7, 2012 10:15PM
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I have always beleived craftsman tools were made in america if not it WILL be the Last craftsman tool i will ever purchase another craftsman tool ever  also i am a ww 2 baby boomer and when i was growing up in the 50's everything was made in America i mean everything and we had the most powerful economy in  the world  now we have few jobs and less every year and we have a failing economy gee you think if we had all that manufacturing and jobs we'd have a great economy once more wells DUHHHHH go figure but what we have is to many politicians owning to many favors and too greedy so guess what America is doomed unless we rally get rid of these morons
Dec 7, 2012 10:14PM
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Ka  Knee Shi Wa ......   OOPS sorry  that's  Japanese  and I'm sure it's spelled wrong to
Dec 7, 2012 10:14PM
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 I would pay double for a tool  or anything else knowing it was made by a union worker  in the USA  than I would for any foreign made product  and I'm just a low income lady making under 18K a year.
Dec 7, 2012 10:10PM
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I have just bought a new set of craftsman tools for work and I am not impressed with them.  I heard for years that the tools were made over seas.  The only reason I bought craftsman was I can't afford snap-on and matco tools and I don't have to wait for a truck.   I'm not really surprised at all.  Corporate America only believes in a strong profit margin for the share holders.  It cares very little for the blue collar worker and whether he/she is making a liveable wage with good insurance, let alone the quality of their product.  I have never been a fan of unions but I swear workers rights have been turned back 100 years.
Dec 7, 2012 10:10PM
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Now I know I made the right decision to stop trading at sears after they ripped my wife off by putting new shocks on her car 2 months after I put new ones on.
Dec 7, 2012 10:08PM
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My entire working career, which began in 1956, I have never been helped by belonging to a labor union.  Thankfully I have only been under the control of a labor union, once at GM and once at United Air Lines.  Never once did I ever get any help from them.  I agree that if the Labor Unions did not keep pushing for higher wages there would be more made in america products.  True, at one time in history the labor unions were definetly needed but now they are a corrupt and devious at some of our politicians.

Dec 7, 2012 10:02PM
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Stopped buying Craftsman many years ago when Sears refused to stand by the guarantee and that was the only reason to go to Sears.
Dec 7, 2012 9:55PM
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What is really sad is how many people have posted that Craftsman tools labeled made in USA are not?? were did you get these facts? no wonder obama go re-elected seems most Americans cant even read a article and understand it ..but will buy into and believe any yahoo who says the tools marked USA are made in china?? get a grip people. try not to be ignorant and read. no place did this article say the USA made tool were made in china ..stop being sheep and stand on your own .get the facts ..dang
Dec 7, 2012 9:55PM
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People also need to be aware that there is a town in Taiwan called Usa. So be sure to read the label carefully.
Dec 7, 2012 9:51PM
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Jim Beam is Still made in the USA too !!! Here in the great state of Kentucky !
Dec 7, 2012 9:49PM
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Fisherman commented that he had things produced overseas 40 years ago. I doubt that statement. considering the red tape he would have gone through to get his items imported and the cost that would have incurred. Government import laws and controls were completely different and strictly enforced.  Availability for a new product would have been very long and would have huge import taxes and  restrictions. An import would have to pass all USA stipulations, safety measures etc. 40 years ago, there was not an agreement on imports and exports as today. Just a comment of what I remember from that era.

Dec 7, 2012 9:48PM
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I've taken back my husbands tools after they'd broken and gotten "new" broken ones.  What's up with that?  I've taken them back and being told that they were refurbished.  And?  Apparently NOT!  At least not by and American who would cherish his job and make sure that they had done it right!
Dec 7, 2012 9:47PM
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Read

customers claiming to have bought Sears Roebuck & Co.'s Craftsman tools under the mistaken belief that they were made in the United States

it does not say that had mislabeled tool..this article is like most media today written with alot of extra words that lead people to think something other than the facts...people that don't  read and understand that is..  read ...at no time will you find this article say that Craftsman tool have marked any tool made in USA that was imported. no place ..  some people have the mistaken belief that smoking cigs wont cause any harm...so as its been said there is no cure for stupid
Dec 7, 2012 9:44PM
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In today's world, it's a global economy.  Plain and simple.  There is an entire import and export economy in this country employing Americans.  We export globally and import from global suppliers.  There are rules and regulations surrounding every transaction, including Country of Origin markings.
Dec 7, 2012 9:44PM
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They should just change the lable on the tools to read...PLAYSCHOOL TOOLS......Proudly made in China
Dec 7, 2012 9:44PM
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Even if the tools were made in the U.S.A. they would not be made by Americans??????
Dec 7, 2012 9:43PM
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I've been a mechanic on heavy industrial equipment for over 30 years and I've always found Craftsman tools to be uncomfortable to work with. Give me Snap-On, Mac or Matco. Hell, I'll even take Proto over Craftsman. Just my opinion.
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