'I feel very used': Shoppers complain of price hikes during Sears' liquidation sale
Sears Canada began its liquidation sale on Oct. 19.
Published Thursday, October 26, 2017 9:25AM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 26, 2017 9:25PM EDT
Despite the bright yellow signs with enticing slogans such as, “Store Closing,” “Everything 20-50% Off,” and “Everything Must Go” splashed across the entrances of Sears Canada stores this week, frugal shoppers hunting for a bargain have been disappointed… and they’re talking about it online.
In the week since Sears officially kicked off its liquidation at its 74 remaining department stores and eight home stores across Canada, disgruntled consumers have expressed dismay at the level of discounts with some claiming prices have actually gone up during the sale.
Stephanie Regalado ventured into her local Sears store at the Bramalea City Centre mall in Brampton, Ont., in the Greater Toronto Area, on Tuesday. She was on the lookout for some Christmas gifts and a few items for herself.
After spending approximately $350 at the bankrupt retailer, Regalado went home and noticed that other shoppers were complaining that the prices at Sears were actually higher than at other stores.
Regalado immediately compared the prices of her purchases to other sellers online. She told CTVNews.ca in an interview on Wednesday that a pair of Tender Tootsies riding boots she bought for $129.99 was $99 or even $79 at other online retailers.
What really made her upset, however, was the sale sticker on the tag of a bathrobe set she bought as a gift.
Tucked underneath the 20 per cent off sale sticker price of $34.97, which Regalado paid, was another sticker with the price $16.97 on it, which appeared to have been placed there before the liquidation sale began.
“So not only did it over exceed the 20 per cent discount, it was like almost double of what was on there, of what the price originally was,” Regalado recalled. “I’m pretty pissed off about it.”
She said she tried to take back her items for a price adjustment or refund on Wednesday evening, but was told by a manager that there was nothing he could do about it.
“I feel very annoyed to say it nicely and I feel very used,” she said. “They basically pulled one over on me.”
She’s not the only one upset about the seemingly inconsistent tags. In a Facebook post that has been shared nearly 30,000 times, Elizabeth MacMillian warned others about price hikes at Sears’ closing sale.
“I looked at 4 different items I nearly bought a few weeks ago before the liquidation and all of them had their prices changed and were now higher to offset the ‘discount,’” she wrote on Sunday.
MacMillan included photos that appear to show a Sears tag with its sale sticker of $9.97 partially ripped off to reveal a lower price of $7 below.
Just an FYI to anyone looking to check out the liquidation sales at Sears Canada. Be very careful and check your prices...Posted by Elizabeth MacMillan on Sunday, October 22, 2017
The post has attracted more than three thousand comments with many users claiming to have had similar revelations at the liquidation sale, including Tara Ruparelia. She visited a Sears store in Brampton, Ont. on Monday in the hopes of scoring winter jackets for herself and her husband.
Ruparelia told CTVNews.ca on Thursday that she peeked at the original price underneath a sale sticker on the tag of a jacket she liked because she was curious. The sale sticker said $69 and the original price below it said $49, she claimed. With the 20 per cent off discount, Ruparelia said the sale price for the jacket would have worked out to almost the same as the initial price.
“It’s false advertising,” she said. “I was so angry.”
Ruparelia said she was accused of tampering with the tags when she tried to show the discrepancy to a cashier. Disheartened by the experience, she said she left the store without purchasing the jacket.
Sears Canada won court approval earlier this month to liquidate its assets and close its remaining stores. A joint-venture group, which includes Hilco Global, Gordon Brothers Canada, Tiger Capital Group, and Great American Group, is handling the liquidation sale for the 65-year-old retailer.
In an emailed statement to CTVNews.ca, Vincent Power, a spokesperson for Sears Canada, said the reported markups are probably from regular price increases “some time ago,” as the retailer entered a new season.
“When it comes to regular price changes, stores are asked to remove the original price sticker or ticket before applying the new one; in some stores, on some items, it looks like the staff simply applied the new price without removing the old...someone took a short cut, which should not have been taken,” Power said.
Power said customers who encounter such markups will be given a discount off the lower price, and added that customers who find out after they’ve bought products should return to the store for a discount.
“We regret the inconvenience of having to make a trip back to the stores, but we will make an adjustment on their return visit,” he said.
With files from The Canadian Press