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Thread: Craftsman tools: guaranteed forever? Guess not

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Boston, MA

    Craftsman tools: guaranteed forever? Guess not

    < rant mode on >
    So I went to my local Sears store today to swap out my old tape measure. Over the last 10+ years, the thing has worn out.

    I figure no big deal, I'll take it to my local Sears store and swap it out -- just like I've done on occasion with other Craftsman tools and how I remember my father doing when I was young. The sales guy tells me that Sears no longer sells a Craftsman brand tape measure. He tells me they decided to stop carrying them because the warranty exchanges were too costly. They would do a one-time exchange for a Stanley tape measure, but after that I'm out of luck.

    I didn't know what to say. This is now the second or third time Sears has discontinued a tool that I supposedly had a lifetime warranty on.

    I've probably bought my last Craftsman branded product. If I need a hand tool I don't already own, I'll probably buy a cheap one at HF. If I happen to use it enough that I wear it out, then I'll step up to a better brand. Just no more Craftsman products for me. It will even have to be one heck of a deal for me to buy another Sears product -- I'm that annoyed by this.

    <rant mode off>

    Thanks for letting me blow off some steam.
    Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an axe.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    No, not all of SoCal is Los Angeles!
    Sears is just as much a victim as other retailers. We insist on Wal-Mart prices and Nordstrom service; somethings got to give. There are still lifetime warranty tools available but it is not 'anything' with the Craftsman badge at this point. Be selective and things "should" workout. I'm sure that occasionally a lifetime tool purchased today will no longer be available a decade from now. Sad, but true. However, wearing something out over years of use doesn't really constitute a warranty claim. I'm impressed that they offered anything.

    Darn. I just came in for a coffee refill and now I'm back on the forum. This place is addictive . . . in a good way ;-)
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 03-18-2012 at 05:32 PM. Reason: sp
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  3. #3
    Im alittle confused by your rant. Sears has a lifetime warranty not a free replacement policy. If your tape measure had been used for 10 years and has gotten worn out with use then maybe its time to buy a new one. Their warranty is for products that break or have defects so I dont understand why they should replace your tape ?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Independence, Kentucky
    Matt, I hear your rant and I feel the same frustration with Sears. I grew up with, and still have some Craftsman stationary tools that have served me well over the years. So far I have not had a problem with parts, but the lifetime warranty is slowly going away, I suspect due to the influx of all the foreign manufacturers that our country is supporting in favor of large profits and lower quality, that most people are demanding. The old saying holds true, Buy cheap, get cheap.
    I don't believe that Sears will survive this business model that they have chosen to follow. They bought K Mart, and now at least here the Sears stores are thinning out along with the K Mart stores, so I think the hand writing is on the wall. I often wonder about all of the lifetime warranties that are out there, most are not worth the paper that they are written on, but people still think that they are a great thing.
    At least you got one replacement for your tape measure, which is better than nothing, but I know it left a bad taste in your mouth for Sears, which I fully understand.

    Oh and Eric Sears started out stating that ANYTHING that has a Craftsman name on it has a lifetime warranty if I am not mistaken.
    Last edited by Charles Hans; 03-18-2012 at 05:05 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Hans View Post
    ...Sears started out stating that ANYTHING that has a Craftsman name on it has a lifetime warranty if I am not mistaken.
    Actually, I think the warranty was always only for non-powered tools, and it definitely was a "Lifetime Free Replacement" warranty. I've also encountered some problems with getting that replacement, though. Seems a whole lot of 'old' tools have no 'new' equivalents - at least according to Sears...

    As for the power tools, they've always had a limited time warranty, but my real complaint there is that Sears changed models so often, and their parts support was so crappy, that it was hard to get parts for a tool that was more than a few months old. I've quit buying anything Craftsman. Snap-On, Proto, Mac, etc. all make much better hand tools, and nearly everybody makes better quality power tools these days.

    And Matt, as for buying your new tools from Harbor Freight - they're probably as good as any Sears tool these days.
    Jim D.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Boston, MA

    Even as recently as the mid-90's (when I worked in the Sears tool department) the policy was: if the tool no longer functioned, replace it. There were exceptions for things like dull router bits, hand planes, drill bits and similar things. But any tape measure, level, socket, screw driver, etc that bore the name Craftsman got a free replacement - no questions asked.

    For me, it was worth paying a premium over HF level prices to know that when it wore out it would get replaced. Even back in the `90's when I bought a lot of my basic pliers, screw drivers, etc Craftsman was not the cheapest game in town. There was a certain satisfaction in thinking that if I spent a bit more money, I'd only have to buy the tool once. It made me a regular Sears customer for far more than just tools.

    But as Glenn pointed out, they have decided to stop trying to compete on decent products with superior service and instead go after the cheapest prices available. Now, they still charge a premium over a HF tool but now I feel like I get nothing for that premium.
    Measure with a micrometer, mark with chalk, cut with an axe.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Central NY State
    Matt, I can't address your experience as a former Sears employee. There are some tools which wear out with use. Plane blades, carbide saw blades, and yes, tape measures. I don't see how a current vendor can keep a lifetime warranty on tools that essentially are consumables. If it broke after a week, sure, but not 10 years, IMO.
    I recently had a socket break [1/2" to 1/4" adapter] that I used on my torque wrench. No questions asked, it was replaced.
    When my Craftsman torque wrench malfunctioned though, they told me it had only a one year warranty. That left me feeling less than well served.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Indianapolis area
    I must agree with Glenn on this issue. IMHO it is not the manufacturer's problem if a item is simply worn out. My first set of real tools came from Montgomery Ward as a college graduation gift in 1969. I still use them today and have had to replace not even one of them due to breakage. I have some Craftsman tools almost as old. I did crack a 1/4 in socket, and it was instantly replaced at no cost in probably '85. The business model of Wards and Sears in the past has been the source of their downfall. They simply made things too good in the first place. Planned obsolescence for a hand tool after 2 months is ridiculous, just as it was for 60 years or more when I got these tools.


    "Individual commitment to a group effort--that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work."
    Vince Lombardi

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Beaverton, Oregon
    I purchased a Sear Craftsman ratchet in 1990 used it very hard one days and it broke when I tried to return it the employee that I spoke to first told me I abused the tool and they would not replace it. The tool was covered with grease. I asked to speak to a manager and was told no it was my fault and they would not replace the tool. I went to customer service and asked to speak to a manager, they asked me what the problem was and then asked if I wanted my money back or a replacement. After getting the replacement I was told that the employee I spoke to no longer worked for Sears and they do indeed have a lifetime replacement warranty. I have been happily buying my hand tools at sears ever since. I generally find asking for a manager works.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Santa Claus, In
    I took a ratchet back here awhile back. They tried to swap just the internal parts. He explained the new policy is to swap out the internals. I said nope, replacement means replacement. I explained the the counter guy that when I bought this ratchet, back when he was still in diapers, it was to be replaced no matter what. He started to get a little stiff in the backbone, I told him to call security. Don't play around with your supervisor, get security, I want my replacement ratchet. I got the ratchet, he said he was doing me a favor. Don't know for sure what would have happened if he called security, but I did get a new ratchet.
    If you don't take pride in your work, life get's pretty boring.

    Rule of thumb is if you donít know what tool to buy next, then you probably donít need it yet.

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