Sears.com and Shop Your Way Rewards are pure evil and represent everything that is wrong with ecommerce sites today.
Last month I bought a patio furniture set. I got it from Sears because the price was decent and they offered free shipping and 5% cash back.
The Sears website isn't exactly a joy to use. It's one of those really wordy ecommerce sites, the way they apply discounts to your cart is very confusing, and the checkout process could definitely be streamlined.
The "cash back" offer is a common hook that retailers use these days to 1) get you to sign up for offers, 2) send you updates on your point balance, and 3) get you to come back and buy something else. Look, I get it. Sometimes I'm willing to play the game. I usually sign up then immediately opt-out of emails.
But Sears makes this very difficult. There isn't the easy "unsubscribe" option at the bottom of their emails that more courteous sites offer. Their terms try to scare you from opting out by saying "By joining the Program, you agree to receive promotional emails from the Program. You may opt-out from these promotional emails at any time, but by doing so, you will cease being eligible for offers for Email Members." When I first read this I thought it meant I would lose my points (about $31), so I didn't opt-out immediately.
Then came the emails.
Sears sent me so many fucking emails over the past two weeks that I was compelled to write this post. Here's a recap:
- 1/29 >> Thank you for your order
- 1/29 >> Attention: Complete your sears.com profile
- 1/30 >> Please confirm your email
- 1/30 >> Your Sears delivery is just 3 days away. Are you ready?
- 1/31 >> Thanks for your purchase at Sears.com!
- 1/31 >> Regarding your subscription
- 2/2 >> Hello again! ッFree shipping & more member perks! ッ
- 2/3 >> Your Sears delivery is tomorrow! Here's your delivery-time window.
- 1 week break >> (I think I actually deleted these.)
- 2/10 >> Take a break. ッ Check out these Wednesday deals!
- 2/12 >> (Sears Home Services) Schedule your annual appliance check-up
- 2/12 >> COUPON FOR YOU! We're serious about saving more this Presidents Day!
- 2/13 >> Thank you for your order - tell us how we did!
- 2/14 >> Awesome achieved - Smile for 40% or more off Kenmore appliance hot buys!
- 2/15 >> Special message: We'd appreciate your attention for monumental savings!
- 2/16 >> (Sears Home Services) Repair or replace - save on Sears services and appliances
- 2/17 >> (Sears PartsDirect) Save 10% - Only in stores this Friday-Saturday
Again, I know I deleted at least one if not several emails before compiling the list above.
On 2/15 I tried to opt-out. Enough was enough.
Let me tell you, they don't make this easy. The opt-out option is buried deep in their menus. Eventually I found it under Profile > More (!) > Settings > Email Notifications. I hate it when companies pull this kind of shit.
Wow, that's a lot of options. And yes, I manually clicked "No" on each one. And don't forget to hit "Save"! Given the light font weight and the fact that it looks nothing like a button, surely they're hoping you miss it.
During this awful process I had to poke around their site and I got a sense of what it's about. Essentially, it's an evil pseudo-social network wannabe site trying to trick users into handing over tons of private personal data for god knows what. Here is a screenshot of the "General" category of my profile:
Seriously, Sears wants to know where I went to school? Where I work? The charities I donate to? What the fuck?? And this is just ONE category. There are 18 more!
Oh, and by the way your "profile" is public by default. To make it private you have to navigate to Profile > More (!) > Settings > Email Notifications.
Again, don't miss that barely visible "Save" button!
Anyways, back to the emails. I thought I had banished Sears from my inbox, but no. The next day I received an email from "Sears Home Services". WTF? Ok, at least this one makes it easier with an "UNSUBSCRIBE" link. Done.
The next day, ANOTHER FUCKING EMAIL?! This time it's from "Sears PartsDirect". Parts? Seriously?
Ok, obviously I'm doing something wrong. Apparently, the first time I had opted-out of emails from Shop Your Way Rewards, but not from Sears. Ok, so I log on to my account on Sears.com and finally find this:
"Sears Home Services" was unchecked, but two others still were checked, including the generic "Sales, coupons & promotions" option. So I uncheck those and hit a save button somewhere below all that junk in the screenshot.
So is that it? Is it over? Will Sears let me live in peace now? Oh god, please.
I guess I have to wait and see.
Until then, Sears, fuck you.
Oh, I forgot to mention one thing. Sears also targets you very aggressively with Google AdWords. View one Sears product and you'll be seeing that product for weeks in ads on other sites. You've been warned.
Found an ecommerce site that's worse than Sears? Let me know on Twitter @cschidle.
UPDATE 2/17: Holy fucking shit, the moment I published this post I received ANOTHER email from Sears. The subject is "Friendly reminder: because you're special to us, we saved it for you" and it explains that they saved my $31.23 in points and that I "left behind a whole lotta awesome!". Jesus Sears, you can't take a hint, can you? Please respect the unsubscribe!
Do people really put up with this shit? My girlfriend has 23,619 unread emails in her inbox (no joke, that's the real number), most of which are from online retailers so I'm guessing maybe they do? I just don't get it.
UPDATE 2/19: Got another generic promotional email from Sears. Subject: "Start your weekend with Friday deals".
The email footer points to shopyourway.com, so I went there, logged in, and looked for something that I might have missed (because two unsubscribes apparently isn't enough).
I found this under Profile > More (!) > Settings > Account:
I must have missed this before, but can you blame me? They couldn't possibly make that font any smaller.
So I clicked where it says "click here" to unsubscribe and then on "delete", which they tell you doesn't ACTUALLY delete your account but just deactivates it. (Thank you, Facebook, for giving us that piece of shit trick.)
I followed that up with this email to email@example.com:
Subject: Email Unsubscribe Please unsubscribe me from all email communications and completely delete my account. I have tried to unsubscribe multiple times using multiple methods and you assholes are still sending me email. Read the entire account of my complaint here: http://chrisschidle.com/fuck-you-sears/ Then, forward this email to Bill Kiss (Sears Holdings CMO). Let him know that I will also be filing a complaint with the FCC for violation of the CAN-SPAN act. Screw you guys. -Chris
Very late update, but I did get a reply that day. Within it they said:
... We are sorry to hear that you no longer wish to be a member of our program. Your request to inactivate your account has been processed. You may receive Shop Your Way Reward emails in the next 7-14 days. This is due to those emails being processed within our computer data base to be sent out to your email address prior to removing your email address from your canceled account. ...
Why, in 2016, they need two weeks to remove you from mailings I'll never understand. It's not like it's being sent out to a print vendor—it's email!
Anyways, I continued to receive emails for 8 days, then it stopped.
Oh, and I did file a complaint with the FCC. They closed it immediately and sent a canned response with a link to their consumer guide.
I replied thanking them for their generic canned response but pointing out that I didn't think the issue should be closed:
... Your consumer guide says that commercial email "must provide easily-accessible, legitimate and free ways for you to reject future messages from that sender". The opt-out procedure used by Sears is neither easily-accessible (deceptively designed and hidden deep within their site) nor legitimate (they continue sending email daily after opting out from all communications). ...
But that was the end of the matter; I received no response. (Shocker, I know.)
Look, I know this sounds like a lot of effort over some commercial email spam, but privacy is important. If we don't draw the line somewhere, abuses like this will only get worse.