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Call Kurtis: Shop ‘Online Marketplaces?’ Read the Fine Print

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Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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VACAVILLE (CBS13) — Borrowing a laptop from her office, Fannie Wong sat down in her living room to check her email again for an update on her order.

Still no word on the replacement Android tablet she was supposed to be receiving in the mail — which was supposed to replace a broken one that arrived when she ordered in August 2012.

“Give me a new tablet or give me money back,” she said.

She bought it on Sears Marketplace — a new online store from the retail giant that allows consumers to shop through Sears from third-party stores and sellers.

Wong thought Sears would have her back if anything went wrong with her order — just as it does when you buy through the regular Sears online store.

But unlike Amazon or eBay — two of the established online “marketplace” giants — Sears Marketplace refused to help, even though Wong paid Sears directly for it, she said.

It was time to Call Kurtis.

Now she wants to know who’s responsible for getting her what she ordered, she said.

Wong paid Sears $211.82 for an Idolian Android tablet, but Sears directed her to Idolian to work out a full-functioning replacement tablet, she said.

But after sending her faulty tablet back to them, she said Idolian stopped responding.

“I’m just thinking, ‘What happened to my tablet?'” she said. “I just want it back.”

While sites like Amazon, Walmart and eBay said they’ll help you if you have a dispute with a seller, Sears’ Terms of Use say it’s only there for “receiving … and transmitting … funds to the third party.”

Consumer attorney JR Parker said those Terms of Use make all the difference to consumers.

“Unfortunately, the fine print applies,” he said.

Parker said it may be bad business practice, but based on those terms, Sears doesn’t have to resolve any disputes with the sellers using its site.

“Sears, basically, is telling people to pound sand if their item doesn’t work,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s fair at all,” said Wong. “I paid the money upfront and I’m not getting what I paid for.”

We reached out to Idolian which said the employee handling Wong’s case left their company — causing the delays and lack of response.

They agreed refund her money, but Wong said she won’t be shopping through Sears Marketplace again.

“I’ll be more careful,” she said.

We wanted to know why Sears doesn’t offer the same buyer protection as Amazon or eBay. The company spokesman did not respond to our request for comment.

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