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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soon the only MADE IN THE U.S.A. STUFF will be lawyers contracts !
a nation of paper shuffling pussefide pencil pushers !
The first Craftsman ratchet I bought lasted over 30 years. The last one, clearly labeled made in USA failed after 6 mos. It was a 20" 1/2" inch ratchet and the shaft snapped. You could clearly see the inferior metallurgy. Had to fight with Craftsman to honor their warranty.
For all the complaints about unions, can you live on a bowl of rice and a fish-head a day? An American citizen with bonafide citizenship is on the hook for rent, auto insurance, a mortgage, health-insurance, etc. I don't like unions either but I know they are the only thing between us an a standard of living equal to that in the Industrial Revolution.
Any business that sells a product in the US must operate in the US and hire US citizens. The sham of the maquilladores must stop now. NAFTA must stop now. Require that elected officials be capable of utilizing basic math. Oh, and while we are at it, stop the expedited green cards for foreign educated workers. Hire only American citizens!!!!
Not only have they been fibbing regarding "made in America" but recently (allegedly) they stole the design from a supplier of a universal wrench that really was made in America. The owner of the company that made the wrench couldn't figure out why his orders from Sears had dried up. (BTW, he had to sign an agreement that he would sell to no other company but sears.) With a little investigation he found that they were having the same tool as his made in China and putting the Craftsman name on it. He is suing.
chinese tools (everything) suck! They can not stand up to daily use Lowes and Home Depot tools break...chinese tools are sh..poop..it! If Sears are making Craftsman in china, they should rename the line of tools to"Crapsman tools"
Why do you think that the Middle Class Chinese want American goods?!?...because of the quality built into our goods!
They have had so many issues claiming to be made in the U.S. and they told people they were made somewhere else several times so why sue if you like the tools You people are getting sue happy if you don't like it don't buy the DAMN thing. If you have that mush time to sit and pick at everything GO volunteer and hekp ibstead hurting and YES I love AMERICA I always will but people its getting down right stupid another person got burnt with hot tea and sued so who do you sue at home when you burn yourself or lie to your kid same thing different time GET A LIFE
American steel is alot better than china, thats why the tools were better.
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