Kmart customers enraged at layaway debacle
For unexplained reasons, many online shoppers that chose to use Kmart’s layaway program received notices that their layaway items were cancelled, with no refunds offered for already paid balances until after Christmas. Consumerist readers uncovered what appears to be a widespread problem, and that although it was understood that items must be paid off by December 14th to be delivered by Christmas, but many orders were cancelled, saying items are “out of stock,” and customers took to Facebook en masse.
The top complaint is that Kmart should have placed items on hold that had been put on layaway, and the shame of this problem is that many people tapping into a layaway program are unlikely to come up with the cash in time to replace their investment.
One customer said online, “What a joke this company is, sold products out from under our layaway contract. I even paid it off early before the deadline for Christmas and after I complained 2X they sent me a canceled layaway email, a week after I paid the layaway off! I talked to customer service and after they patronized me and talked to me like I was stupid they said it would take 7-14 business days to get my money back. That is way after Christmas, how does that help my child not having the gifts?”
Items paid off will not be sent to some online shoppers
Another vented, “You guys are the absolute worst. I will no longer be shopping at Kmart, and Sears. I had 2 layaway orders, both placed early last month. Finish paying them, excited to get my son’s Christmas shopping done earlier than normal, only to be told all the items I’ve purchased are out of stock. How very professional of you. When I have items on layaway at another store, like Walmart, they take those items and put them back to prevent this sort of thing from happening. How absolutely ridiculous of your company. You’ve lost my business and the business of family, friends, and anyone else willing to listen to my complaint. Seeing as I now only have 10 days to find all these items for my son, my FULL refunds better be in my account very, very soon.”
To some Facebook commenters, Kmart responded, “We are very disappointed to hear that you had to go through this experience with your layaway order. Please let us know if you do not see your refund within 5-7 business days.”
This led many to feel like they weren’t being listened to, and the generic platitudes led to even more anger. The company went on to offer a 10 percent discount on a “similar order,” but that wouldn’t change the refund process or offer the same item already paid for. The company simply apologizes, but with no real offer of reparations.
“We deeply apologize…”
Kmart issued the following statement to Consumerist:
“We deeply apologize to our customers affected by this online layaway issue. Some of our online layaway customers received inadvertent cancellation notices on their layaway contracts and have not received certain items they ordered through online layaway. This issue is specific to layaway contracts online for ship to home and does not impact in store layaways. We are in the process of contacting those customers who have been affected and are working with them to resolve the issue.
Not all of their contracts were cancelled and many of them have already received some of the items that they ordered through online layaway. For the undelivered items, we’ve been able to find many of the items through our supply channels and are leveraging alternative sources to try and locate the remaining items. We are sensitive that this is a special time of year and are working hard to find and deliver these items to customers before the holidays, including expedited and free shipping to those affected.”
The company still has not explained what caused the problem or provided a real path toward fixing the error for so many shoppers who now feel cast aside. Apologies are a great start, but without explanation or a fix, wronged consumers remain enraged.