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Entries in Sears (12)

Friday
Mar082013

Sears Pulls "SNL" Online Ads in Response to "Django Unchained" Spoof

Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- Sears says a controversial sketch that aired on Saturday Night Live last month will not stop the company from advertising on the NBC program.  However, Sears adds that it is pulling ads from online versions of the show.

Earlier this week, the conservative group American Family Association claimed that Sears and JCPenney had removed its ads from SNL in protest of a Django Unchained spoof the show aired on Feb. 16 called "Djesus Uncrossed."  The segment featured host and Django star Christoph Waltz as a violent Christ.

Sears clarified its stance in a statement to ABC News Radio on Thursday: "We received customer feedback about our ads running on NBC.com and Hulu in a rotation with other advertisers around the online rebroadcast of that particular SNL episode.  We informed customers that it wasn’t supposed to happen, and while going forward we may advertise on the television broadcast, we’ve taken steps to ensure that our commercials do not air online exactly as they did in this situation."

JCPenney tells The New York Times it hasn't been advertising on SNL.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jan052013

Macy's, Sears, Amazon, Max Studio Fined for 'Bamboozling' Customers

Bloomberg News Photo by Diane Bondareff(NEW YORK) -- Four national retailers have agreed to pay $1.26 million in penalties for falsely labeling clothing and textiles as made of bamboo, when they were actually made of rayon, a synthetic material.

The Federal Trade Commission announced this week that Amazon.com, Leon Max, Inc., Macy's, and Sears, Roebuck and Co. ignored warning letters the commission sent to companies in early 2010.

Accordingly, the four companies agreed to pay penalties totaling $1.26 million to settle charges that they violated the Textile Products Identification Act and the FTC's "Textile Rules" by mislabeling and advertising products as made of bamboo.

The FTC warned that unless a product is made directly with bamboo fiber, often called "mechanically processed bamboo," it can't be called bamboo.

In a guideline issued to companies, the FTC refers to the mislabeling practice as "bamboozling" customers.

Sears, which is the parent company of Kmart, agreed to pay $450,000. Amazon is paying $455,000 while Macy's will pay $250,000, and Leon Max, which produces Max Studio clothing, is paying $80,000.

The FTC said the varying penalties reflect how long the companies continued to sell mislabeled textiles after receiving the warning letter and the number of products sold.

"We cooperated with the FTC in reaching this settlement in lieu of pursuing further litigation," said Sears Holdings Corp. spokesman Howard Riefs in a statement. "We continue to take these regulations seriously."

A spokesman for Macy's declined to comment. Amazon and Max Studio did not return requests for comment.

The FTC said the companies will be required to ensure the labels and ads for bamboo textiles they sell "accurately indicate their fiber content."

For example, the FTC said Macy's allegedly used the terms "bamboo" and "bamboo fiber" on textile labels.

So-called bamboo textiles are often marketed as environmentally friendly, but the process for manufacturing rayon, even when it is made from bamboo, "is far from a 'green' one," the FTC said.

Rayon is sometimes made using "environmentally toxic chemicals in a process that emits hazardous pollutants into the air," the FTC said.

"While different plants, including bamboo, can be used as a source material to create rayon, there's no trace of the original plant in the finished rayon product," the FTC said in a guide for marketers.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Nov142012

Wrench Inventor Claims Sears Stole His Idea, Took It to China

ABC News(CABOT, Pa.) -- In the small town of Cabot, Pa., Dan Brown is the proud inventor of the Bionic Wrench, a product made solely in Pennsylvania.

His goal from day one was to make his invention in America.

This time last year, Brown's factory was buzzing, with his employees working overtime to fulfill holiday orders. With the help of Sears, Brown's company sold more than 200,000 wrenches at Christmas alone.

"Last year was a great year," Brown said. "We got ourselves on a commercial and Sears had us in stores. We were going crazy."

Brown says he agreed with Sears not to sell his bionic wrench to any other national chain such as Lowe's or Home Depot. Brown's company continued business this year but suddenly there was no deal from Sears for Christmas.

Brown had three production lines working to fill orders last year. But this year, there's only one running and he has had to lay off 30 workers.

"We were building at a forecast that Sears had given us, then they just cancelled it," Brown said. "We built so much ahead trying to avoid the overtime that we were going through in previous years that we got caught now."

When Sears suddenly went quiet, Brown wondered what was going on.

"We had an arrangement. Last year was our first test on TV and it went extremely well," Brown said. "They [Sears] kept delaying it and delaying it and we didn't know what was going on. They really wanted to get the Father's Day orders in but they didn't want to commit to Christmas, which is much larger than Father's Day. It just didn't make sense."

Brown heard from a customer that there was now another wrench on the shelves at Sears with what appeared to be a similar mechanism. But this one, made in China, is sold under the Sears brand, Craftsman.

Brown wasn't surprised by the new wrench, he said.

"It's a knockoff. There's no question," he said. "If you take them apart and look at the plates, they're virtually the same. ... It's our patent. We've got it covered."

Brown has now filed a lawsuit, claiming Sears stole his idea. He is being represented by the Grossman Law Offices.

But Sears argues it didn't steal anything.

"The allegations made by Mr. Brown simply are untrue and we will vigorously defend against all of the allegations raised in his lawsuit," Sears Holdings Corp. said in a statement to ABC News. "Despite some visual similarities to other tools on the market, the Craftsman Max Axess locking wrench operates in a different way, using a mechanism designed in the 1950s that Mr. Brown expressly argued to the patent office was different from his own design."

Brown stands by his claim, however.

"They're lying. That's what I say, they're lying," he said. "There's no other way. And I don't call other people liars easily, but there's no question in my mind."

Brown argues that small-town American inventors like him rarely have the means to fight back against big businesses. It can cost up to $50,000 just to get that original patent and then most inventors can't afford a court fight against a corporate giant.

"I think they [Sears] thought they're really big and we're too small to fight them effectively to bring them to a position where they couldn't get away with it," Brown said. "They're not going to get away with it. I'm not crazy enough to go against the tide to let this just go away now. This is fundamentally why we don't have jobs in the states."

As for Sears, the company says that it has 264,000 U.S. workers and that "Sears believes in America."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Jun152012

Women Taped in Sears Dressing Room, Bathroom

Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg News(LOS ANGELES) -- Female customers who shopped at a Sears store in North Hollywood, Calif., over the past three years may have been videotaped in the dressing rooms and restrooms, according to an attorney representing 25 women suing the retail chain.

The group is suing Sears and a former maintenance worker who allegedly videotaped them from 2009 to April 2012.

Michael Alder, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said an unknown number of female customers were also likely videotaped in the store during that period.

"There's a lot of people who were patrons and don't have any idea that they've been videotaped," Alder said.

Alejandro Gamiz, 27, a maintenance worker who worked at Sears for seven years, is accused of placing hidden cameras behind the walls of the store. He was arrested on April 12 for burglary and surreptitious filming of unsuspecting women by North Hollywood Area Sexual Assault detectives. Gamiz posted $20,000 bail and was released from custody.

The Los Angeles District Attorney's office is still reviewing the case and has not yet filed charges against Gamiz. Gamiz did not return a request for comment.

Of the women filing the lawsuit against Sears, 16 are employees while the other nine are store customers who believe they may have been taped, including four children.

The group filed a lawsuit against Sears on June 11 in the Los Angeles Superior Court, asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages for unpaid wages, mental and emotional distress, and attorney fees and costs, among other damages.

The plaintiffs said Sears knew or should have known that Gamiz had installed video equipment and created peep holes within the three years he had set up the equipment. They are suing Sears for invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, hostile work environment harassment, and negligent hiring, supervision, retention, among other charges.

Alder has invited other female patrons or employees who were in the dressing rooms or bathroom of the North Hollywood store in the three years before Gamiz was arrested to contact his law firm and visit the special website his law firm has established, SearsPeepingTom.com.

Kimberly Freely, spokeswoman for Sears Holding Corp., said the company could not comment because the litigation is pending.

"But as we said previously, and with all due respect to the associates who may have been impacted by this incident, no member of management or leadership in the company had any prior knowledge of the accused's alleged conduct until it was discovered in our store," she said. "At that point, we immediately launched an investigation and turned the matter over to the police."  

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Mar222012

Sears Chief, Other CEOs Riding High Despite Layoffs

Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg News(NEW YORK) -- It's good to be the king -- or in this case, the CEO of Sears.  At the same time the troubled retailer is shutting stores and laying off "associates," it is paying $800,000 a year to waft Chief Executive Louis J. D'Ambrosio between Philadelphia, where he lives, and Chicago, where he works, by private jet.

The exact amount of these rides, as reported in Sears Holdings' most recent SEC filing, is $793,224.

While using a private jet for one's regular commute might seem excessive, it's just one perquisite among many that public companies are continuing to pay top dogs during tough economic times.

Sears's SEC filing shows it posted its largest quarterly loss in nine years, $3.1 billion.  In addition to stores already closed, it shut another 62, including 43 Hometown Stores, 10 hardware stores and all of its nine Great Indoors stores.  Sears estimates the layoffs at between 40 and 80 associates per store.

Corporate spokesman Chris Brathwaite responded, saying, "If you add the cost of his [Mr. D'Ambrosio's] commuting and related expenses to his salary and bonus, you will see that his compensation package is not out of line with his peers at other major companies (Fortune 100 CEOs or other retail CEOS).  Also that figure takes into account temporary living expenses (housing) and ground transportation."

According to a ranking by Crain's Chicago Business: The Fortunate 100, D'Ambrosio's commuting bill is not the biggest perk among those enjoyed by 100 local CEOs.

As for total compensation, the Crain's list puts Miles D. White, chairman of Abbott Laboratories, at number one, with $25.5 million.  D'Ambrosio's total compensation is just under $10 million.

Corporate jets are just the top of the perk-berg, according to an analysis of recent corporate filings by Footnoted.com, part of Morningstar.

Former CEO of Massey Energy Don Blankenship, who departed the company in 2010, following an explosion in a Massey mine that killed 29, got $39 million in accumulated retirement benefits, plus $14.4 million in severance and perks.  These included five years' use of an office with a secretary, free use of a house and land that formerly were Massey property, and reimbursement of taxes on the free house and land ($257,111).

Martha Stewart, chief content provider for troubled Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, received $1.95 million just for letting her own company film her television show at one of her own properties.

Jet use, though, remains a favorite perk, even at Expedia, which you'd think would have an inside line on affordable airfares.  Expedia CEO Barry Diller racked up $605,786 worth of private jet travel in 2010, plus another $644, 530 over at IAC/InterActiveCorp, which he also runs.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb242012

Sears to 'Unload' 1,200 Stores

Sandy Huffaker/Bloomberg News(CHICAGO) -- Sears might “unload” 1,200 stores in an effort to raise money, the company said Thursday. A majority stakeholder in Sears Holdings Corp., which operates Sears and Kmart, is hoping to receive $770 million in cash related to the stores.

Sears Holdings Corp., based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., Thursday reported a significant loss for the fourth quarter after a difficult holiday shopping season. The company had a net loss of $2.4 billion for the quarter that ended Jan. 28, including several one-time charges, compared to a profit of $374 million for the same period last year.

Sales dropped $518 million to $12.5 billion last quarter. Officials have tried to turn around the company as same-store sales have fallen for six straight years.

Sears describes itself as the country’s, “fourth largest broadline retailer with over 4,000 full-line and specialty retail stores in the United States and Canada,” according to its website.

ESL Investments, a hedge fund that controls Sears through a 61 percent stake, has plans to unload more than 1,200 stores, a plan that some interpreted as the beginning of the breakup of the company, according to the Wall Street Journal.  A spokesman for Sears said the company is not selling the stores, but “unloading” them.

Sears Holdings said Thursday it intends to separate its Sears Hometown and Outlet Businesses and certain hardware stores by selling their rights and hopes to raise $400 million to $500 million. The company also separately announced the sale of 11 Sears stores in nine states for $270 million. The sale to General Growth Properties is expected to close in the next 45 to 60 days.

The company laid off 100 employees earlier this month at its headquarters and announced in December the closing of 100 to 120 stores, eventually disclosing a list of the first 79 locations.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Dec302011

Sears Discloses List of Store Closings

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Sears Holdings released a list of 79 stores on Friday that will be closing under its plan to shutter up to 120 stores. Most of the outlets to close are in the South and Midwest.

“Employment varies by store and format and at this time we cannot provide the total number of impacted associates. However, a typical store that is being closed employs between 40 and 80 associates,” the company said in a statement.

The closings will lead to between 4,000 and 9,600 job losses.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec272011

Wall Street Closes with Mixed Results in First Post-Christmas Session

Mario Tama/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Light trading on Wall Street's first post-Christmas session produced mixed results for investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial closed down nearly three points at 12291.35, while the Nasdaq was up six and a half points at 2,625.20, and the S&P 500 was up 0.10 points to 1,265.43. Meanwhile, the monthly "consumer confidence index" offered unexpected optimism as consumer faith in the economy surged in December to the highest level since April -- and is now almost at a post-recession peak.  

However, consumer optimism was offset by signs of lingering trouble in the housing market and poor holiday sales for Sears.

A review found prices dropped in 19 of 20 metro housing areas in October from September, while Sears holding shares lost 27 percent of their value amid news Sears is shutting down as many as 120 of its Sears and Kmart stores as a result of dismal holiday sales.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Dec272011

Sears to Close 100+ Stores as Sales Fall

Tom Pennington/Getty Images(HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill.) -- Sears Holdings Corp. said it will close 100 to 120 of its full-line Sears and Kmart stores as it struggles to attract shoppers.  The company said Tuesday its sales for the fourth quarter so far are off 2.6 percent compared with last year.

In a statement, Chief Executive Officer Lou D’Ambrosio said, "Given our performance and the difficult economic environment, especially for big-ticket items, we intend to implement a series of actions to reduce on-going expenses, adjust our asset base, and accelerate the transformation of our business model. These actions will better enable us to focus our investments on serving our customers and members through integrated retail -- at the store, online and in the home."

The company will take a fourth quarter tax-related non-cash charge of $1.6 billion to $1.8 billion.

According to the Hoffman Estates, Ill.-based company, fourth quarter sales at its Kmart stores fell 4.4 percent and Sears domestic stores fell 6 percent for a total decline among all its stores of 5.2 percent.

“Kmart’s quarter-to-date comparable store sales decline reflects decreases in the consumer electronics and apparel categories and lower layaway sales.  Sears Domestic’s quarter-to-date sales decline was primarily driven by the consumer electronics and home appliance categories, with more than half of the decline in Sears Domestic occurring in consumer electronics. Sears apparel sales were flat and Lands’ End in Sears stores was up mid-single digits,” the company said.

Sears said its earnings excluding certain items would be $933 million in the fourth quarter -- half its level of last year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct262011

How Does Walmart’s Price Match Measure Up with Other Retailers?

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) -- Walmart has announced that it’s beefing up its price matching policy for the holidays, but is the company’s new policy any better than what competitors are offering?

The temporary price-matching policy will give customers a store gift card for the difference of any eligible product purchased from Nov. 1-Dec. 25 that is found at another store for a lower price.

“The great gift we can give our customers this holiday is great low prices on the things they want most,” Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S., said in a statement.  “Walmart is easing shopping stress this Christmas by allowing customers to shop when and how they want, all while guaranteeing low prices through the entire holiday season.”

The move comes as the 2011 holiday season, which accounts for a good portion of retailers’ annual revenue, is ramping up.

But price-matching is not new to Walmart or other big retailers.  Numerous retailers like Target, Sears and Best Buy have price matching policies in place year-round.

With holiday shoppers expected to be tight-fisted this year, price matching is one way to lure consumers to retailers.  So as retailers duke it out for the projected $465 billion in retail sales, here’s a match up of pricing policies at some of the nation’s top retailers:

-- Staples
“If you find a lower price anywhere else on a new identical item, just show us the lower price when you buy the item at Staples and we will match the price, or within 14 days of your Staples purchase and we will give you the difference,” according to the website.

-- Target
“If you find an item in a competitor’s printed ad that is priced lower than it is at your Target store, we will match the price. The competitor’s ad must be local and current, and the product must be the identical item, brand name, quantity and model number,” according to the company’s website.  Customers have within seven days of purchase to make a claim.  Target.com, the online entity of the company, is excluded from price matching.

-- Sears
“If you find a lower price on an identical branded item with the same features (in Consumer Electronics identical brand and model number) currently available for sale at another local competitor retail store, Sears will match that price plus give you 10% of the difference. Just bring in the original advertisement to a sales associate at the time of, or within 14 days after, your purchase,” according to Sears.com.

-- Best Buy
“Best Buy will match the price if you find a lower price on an identical available product at a local retail competitor’s store, a local Best Buy retail store or BestBuy.com. Simply let us know when you are making your purchase or during the return and exchange period. Perfect Match Promise products have an extended 60-day price match period,” according to the company’s website.

-- Amazon
“With the exception of TVs, Amazon.com doesn’t price-match with other retailers (including those who sell their items on our website). We do, however, consistently work toward maintaining competitive prices on everything we carry,” according to Amazon.com.

-- Home Depot
“If you find a current lower price on an identical, in-stock item from any local retailer, we will match the price and beat it by 10%. Excludes special orders, bid pricing, volume discounts, open-box merchandise, labor and installation, sales tax, rebate and free offers, typographical errors and online purchases,” according to the company’s website.

-- Lowe’s
“If you find a lower everyday price on an identical item at a local retail competitor, just bring us the competitor’s current ad and we’ll beat their price by 10%. If a competitor is offering a percent off discount, we’ll reduce our current price by the same percentage discount that the competitor is offering,” according to the Lowe’s website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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