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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Just another p o s lawyer feeding off the public? The only thing that will happen is lawyers will make tons of money and the tools will double in price; Hello already, joe public just does not get it, a big shell game; all these law suits ever do is make our products more complicated and expensive!!!!!
I wonder how many tools the carpet bagger (attorney) has ever bought? If you want to rip off the public, make things complicated/ confusing and take the longest route possible to settle a case ( they get paid by the hour or pro bono and then rip off the serttement); The first thing taught in lawyer school, is make a case that could be settled in 2 days, drag out for 2 yrs.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
sears for years had commercials and adversment that always said made in america
100% satisfaction guarantee..
and there craftsman line was always stamped made in usa
i have plenty of there older tools with the made in usa..
starting 7 years ago or so, i noticed made in china stamped on the tools
but yet on the package it says american made,, then went to assembled in america
funny thing is the tools are cheaper can see with your eyes in the castings
and they charge the same for what they pay pennies on the dollar to make
i blame all this on giving companies tax breaks to send there companies overseas
At one time I was a diehard craftsman buyer of hand and power tools. These days if you have a ratchet fail, they replace it with a "refurbished" one that works worse than the one you took in. My son had a craftsman tape measure that broke. They don't carry them any longer so they replaced it with a crappy Stanley, and now they are out of the warranty cycle on the craftsman item.
I had a shovel that the handle broke on. Took it back and they wanted to replace it with their garbage Companion line that has a limited warranty and you have to have a receipt to return. After a 15 minute argument with the sales clerk who claimed I had no choice, "Sears only has to replace the item and it can be with their choice of products", I got the store manager involved. Argued with him for another 10 minutes before they finally gave in and replaced it with another Craftsman shovel. Never use to have to do this. It was always just replace it an move on.
This is just another example of why Sears is failing. They used to be the place where you could believe their word on warranties. Today, their product sucks all around. I rarely even enter a Sears store now days. They went to hell when K-mart took them over.
My tool purchases today are at Lowes. I know theirs is Chinese mostly also but at least they are honoring their warranties (at least for now).
Does that include our so-called American government, which has lied to the American people.
This government has failed and the American people want more - free money, free phones, free health care
Nothing will change until the American people change - no more freebies, no more dependency on the government.
It is time to start again - an independent and truly free United States of America!
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