Facing a rapid decline in sales, Sears Canada will meet its demise after 65 years in business. The store has received lousy customer reviews in recent years, and complaints about poor quality of customer service flood the internet and make the media headlines. The customers’ dissatisfaction seems to gather momentum as the retailer enters a liquidation process that will soon wipe out all remaining stores across the country. “Sears never cares!” customers say.
然而，西尔斯这一零售名牌也拥有其辉煌时期，那时它视客户为上帝，对客户不满关切备至。本报记者Nancy Jin回忆起一段曾代表读者的利益与西尔斯打交道的工作经历。当时她曾因读者在西尔斯Fairview Mall分店被征收退货开箱费而联系了媒体关系部。当时西尔斯对客户投诉非常重视，详细解释了征收开箱费原因和他们的退款政策。Jin表示， “与今天消费者对西尔斯的失望及不满相比，这位读者在当时获得了皇室待遇！”。
But the iconic brand had its golden era when it valued customers’ concerns and treated them as king. Nancy Jin, a reporter with this paper, recalls a job experience when she contacted the retailer on behalf of a reader – who was dissatisfied over a restocking fee he was charged by the Fairview Mall store. Sears took the complaint very seriously and went above and beyond to explain the reasons behind the charges, as well as their refund policy. “Comparing with the bad reviews and consumers’ frustrations towards Sears today, the reader got royal treatment back then,” says Jin.
Sears Canada has entered liquidation process at its remaining stores across the country, as it prepares to shut its doors for good after 65 years in business. Articles and posts have flooded various media platforms, offering opinions and views about the reason behind the downfall of the retail giant. While the changing retail landscape and rising competition from e-commerce has created disruption to its core business, most believe that the retailers’ failure in satisfying customers’ needs and the deterioration of the quality of customer service has played big roles in its nosedive.
但在我印象中，10年前的Sears可不是这个样子 。 2007年，刚进入记者行业的我就读者闵先生的投诉曾采访了西尔斯。闵先生（化名）因对在西尔斯购买的一个电器不满而退货时，被征收了20％的退货费。闵先生对此颇生怨言。当我通过电子邮件联系西尔斯公关部，并转达了闵先生的不满时，他们对这起投诉事件非常认真。通过电话和电子邮件解释西尔斯的退货政策，提供了从包括从哪里可以找到他们的退货政策到该退货政策如何具有竞争性等一系列信息。西尔斯虽然最终没有将20%的退货费还给闵先生，但他们热情而周到的服务让闵倍感温暖，认为西尔斯对客户重视有加。
But that was not my memory of the department store a decade ago. In 2007, I as a rookie reporter with this paper interviewed Sears over a reader’s complaint. Mr. Ming (not his real name) was dissatisfied over the fact that he was charged with 20% restocking fee when he was returning an electronic product he did not like. When I contacted Sears media relations through emails, expressing Ming’s frustration, they took the complaint very seriously, going above and beyond to explain their return policies – through the phone calls and emails -- from where the policies could be found to how justifiable they were. While the reader did not get the fees refunded, Sears actions made him feel he is valued customer.
But the quality of customer service has gradually disappeared at Sears in recent years. During a Christmas season five years ago, I as a customer, I ordered a delivery service for a fridge I bought at the same Sears store where Ming bought his product. The delivery was delayed multiple times and the customer service was slow in responding to my inquires and complaints. The frustrating experience had ruined my good impression of how Sears treated customers before, leaving me wondering what had happened to the customer first mandate that the store said it had advocated for.
Apparently, I was not the only customer who was dissatisfied with the quality of service. Over the years, bad customer reviews about Sears have flooded the internet, and customers’ complaints have made the media headlines. Things seem deteriorating more rapidly as the store approached the bankruptcy process.
According to the article “Sears’ service department is in shamble, customers claim” published on Business Insider last year, hundreds of Sears customers spent weeks on end without hot water, heat or functioning refrigerator at a time, because Sears home repair department failed to fix faulty or broken appliances they bought at the retailer in a timely manner. When service technicians did not show up for scheduled appointments or failed to fix the diagnosed problems, many people said it’s nearly impossible to reach a customer service representative over the phone, as the service phone line were frequently disconnected. One customer said she made as many as 47 phone calls with Sears customer service department to solve her problem but to no vail. “I will never buy anything again from Sears!” the customer was quoted as saying.
Indeed, judging from the angry comments and infuriating experiences from these customers – myself included, Mr. Ming got a royal treatment from the retailer at the time. But today I am sad to see the quality of service has been lost and that the store has entered liquidation process, killing thousand jobs and wiping out Fairview store and many others along the way. Amid a widespread and extensive competitions from digital rivals and other retailers, Sears has failed to maintain its excellent customer care and to continue treat customer as king, which has precipitated the downfall of Canada’s iconic brand.
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