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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Post #40 - Sears Wet/Dry Vac and the 5 Foot Power Cord

I sent this on 6/15/1997:
Dear Sears,

I bought your Craftsman 8 gallon/3 horsepower Wet/Dry vacuum for use in finishing our Rhompus Room add-on. I was stunned—no, floored to find that your product has a five foot cord. It turned my whole world upside-down. If I have an eight gallon puddle, and a five foot cord, you are suggesting that I stand in the water while I plug it in.

As a mechanic and carpenter with a repair show on cable television, I have based my life on the Craftsman name. People tune in every Thursday evening, at 7:00 PM, and see your masterpieces in action. The Craftsman name always meant something—“We have an obligation to our customers, not to take shortcuts.”

A few years back, I tattooed the Craftsman logo on my leg—back when Craftsman meant quality. Now it seems that Craftsman means “Let’s treat our customers like we’re a starving family, and they’re our little sister—a commodity on the seedy side of town.” I have spent more money at Sears than Castro in a tobacco hut, but no more—I won’t get fooled again. So why did you sell out? Profitability? Betrayal? How many silver pieces does it take before one starts slicing little pieces of his soul with a dull cheese knife, and selling them to just about anyone?

I need a written explanation as to the reasoning behind the feeble power cord, and the corresponding betrayal toward a loyal customer. In paragraph two, I need an explanation as to how you plan to bring the loyal customer back to the Sears flock. Maybe I should have my Craftsman logo tattoo replaced with a big ol’ “Montgomery Ward.”

Sweeping Instead of Sucking,

Note sent to me on 3/17/2009 by Patricia at Sears.

Dear Mr. Herman,

We received your letter regarding your disappointment regarding the cord length on the 8 gallon Vac. Your commentary made your feelings on this particular feature very clear to us. As we bring new innovation into the marketplace, we do take into consideration our customers’ input. At this time, I will not offer defense on having a five foot cord on the 8 gallon Vac, as our defense would be overshadowed by your well-stated arguments in favor of a longer cord.

Before you make your lifelong commitment to change your loyalty to one of our competitors, we would like to share with you what impartial consumer product testers think of the Craftsman Wet/Dry Vacs. In the enclosed article from Consumer Reports, the Craftsman Vacs were rated best in their category, both Large Tank and Small Tank Vacs. Relative to the length of the cord of the 9 small tank vacs tested, only one had a cord longer than the Craftsman unit. However, we do set our standards to be the best value to the customer and we try to consider all the features in establishing that value. As we develop new Vacs, based on your input we will prioritize length of cord as a consumer feature.

We would like to thank you for taking the time to share your wit and wisdom. To show our appreciation, we are sending you a Craftsman 16 gallon 6 hp Wet/Dry Vac with Detachable Blower. We hope you will enjoy the use of this fine Craftsman product.

We hope you have not already submitted yourself to the agony of removing your Craftsman logo tattoo. As you have the opportunity to use more Craftsman products. We are sure you will be even more proud to wear the name.

Very Truly Yours,

Patricia Mayer

Cc: Keith Gilomen, Emerson Electric
This letter was preceded a day or so by a delivery man with a large Craftsman box at my doorstep. I was shocked, and what a great word-of-mouth advertisement I have been for Craftsman over the years as a result.

When my basement was flooding in September, 1999, I had this vacuum positioned at the top of the stairs, and sucked much of the water up the stairs, out my side door.
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