Since the brand was introduced by Sears in 1927, Craftsman hand tools have a famous warranty, lifetime and unlimited. Legend held that scavengers used to scour for old beat-up and broken Craftsman wrenches in the trash, and would bring the damaged tools manufactured half a century or more earlier to a local Sears (SHLD) store.
When they walked out, in hand would be a shiny new wrench—or sometimes a rebuilt one with someone else’s initials still scratched in. No receipts or proof of purchase were necessary to get a replacement or a free repair. They’d then go flip that cold steel for cold cash. In a way, Craftsman tools, enabled by their generous guarantee, were cash.
“We used to have people go looking for Craftsman tools at old garage sales,” one former employee posted on Reddit. “Or from little old ladies who still had some in storage and return them for brand new [tools], then turn around and sell them as new.”
But the long-popular choice for home tools may have its status as currency thrown up in the air. After 90 years, Sears announced Thursday that it would sell the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) for $900 million to raise cash it needs, as Sears weathers store closings and declining revenue. Sears will continue to sell Craftsman products – which include everything from wrenches to floor jacks – for 15 years without restriction. After that period, it will pay 3% royalties to Stanley Black & Decker, which sells its own line of tools as well as other brands.
The Craftsman warranty has suffered some loss to its reputation in the past decade, with some stores setting quotas, such as a three-piece limit on exchanges, as Consumerist reported in 2009. At the time, Sears VP David Figler wrote to confirm the warranty’s robustness, restating the version at the time: “If for any reason your Craftsman hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, return it to any Sears store or other Craftsman outlet in the United States for free repair or replacement.”
Today’s updated version of this warranty, which took effect in 2014, seems to have lost a little bit of its “unlimited” status, noting that the tool must be returned to the store “from which it was purchased.” The new policy also gives stores the option to decide how they want to accept the return, which may mean being “subject to a limitation on the number of items allowed per exchange.”
With the sale, the big question is whether Stanley Black & Decker will further the erosion of the warranty. According to Tim Perra, Stanley Black & Decker’s VP of communication, some Craftsman warranties resemble Stanley Black & Decker’s existing lifetime warranties for certain lines, so there’s reason to believe the warranty for Craftsman hand tools will live on.
However, the future of the warranty isn’t yet clear. “It is too early to speculate on the specifics,” Perra wrote in an email to Yahoo Finance. “But we would expect that to continue and we are always committed to doing the right thing to support the brand and our end-users.”
Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter@ewolffmann.
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Since Sears bought the trademark in 1927, Craftsman tools have had a famous lifetime - and unlimited - warranty.
But after nearly 90 years, Sears announced Thursday that it's selling the Craftsman brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc for $900 million that bosses hope will keep the company afloat.
The change of hands has caused some to question whether Craftsman's lifetime warranty will still apply to tools people own now or purchase in the future.
Craftsman's lifetime warranty may change once its acquired by Stanley Black & Decker Inc.
'Best part is the lifetime warranty. Break a tool, bring it to Sears, get a brand new one, no charge or backtalk. Virtually everyone in our shop feels the same way. They all also use Craftsman," electrical design engineer Mike wrote to Consumerist.
Stanley Black & Decker spokesman Tim Perra answered yes, hinting at some possible changes.
'Today, Craftsman's warranties vary by business and product lines, and in some cases are very similar to Stanley Black & Decker's existing lifetime guarantee policies on certain product lines', Perra said.
'It is too early to speculate on the specifics, but we would expect that to continue and we are always committed to doing the right thing to support the brand and our end-users'.
Craftsman's lifetime warranty only applies to hand tools and not to items that can wear out over normal use, such as saw blades.
Sears is selling its Craftsman tool brand to Stanley Black & Decker Inc for about $900 million
The company's warranty has lost its luster in the past decade, with some stores setting quotas on the number of items that can be exchanged.
An updated version of the warranty in 2014 further eroded the company's reputation by noting that tools must be returned to the store 'from which it was purchased'.
Sears will continue to sell Craftsman products for 15 years at its Kmart and namesake stores until an undisclosed time.
After that period, the former retail giant will pay three percent of royalties to Stanley Black & Decker.
Stanley, which makes and sells tools under the DeWalt and Black & Decker names, wants to grow the Craftsman brand by selling its products in more stores outside of Sears.
Today, only 10 percent of Craftsman products are sold in other stores.
Woodworkers, mechanics and crafts people have loved Craftsman tools for years , because of their lifetime warranty. If one broke, you could just.
Stanley has clarified their lifetime warranty for Craftsman tools.
From their web page:
If the product fails to perform for any reason, we will replace it. Return damaged product to a stocking Retail Partner or call 1-888-331-4569 for details. No proof of purchase required.
This covers all Craftsman tools that were covered by the lifetime warranty regardless of manufacturer or where they were purchased. Retail partners are obligated to replace them if they are in stock. They are not required to break open sets but will replace individual items with its equivalent that they carry in open stock. If they do not carry it you need to work through the 800 number.
Notice the wording has changed from if for any reason, to fails to perform.
It seems that they will replace broken tools only now.
Now that Sears has filed for bankruptcy Ace has changed its policy. It will now cover tools bought at Ace and a receipt is needed. If you have tools that you believed are covered by the lifetime warranty, Stanley has said numerous times that they will continue to cover them. They have not worked out the process yet for the retailers to do this, so your best bet is to check the website below, run by Stanley now, and work through the 800 number.
Ace follows the warranty guidelines of Craftsman Tools. You can find the details here:
However there are differences in how they handle the lifetime Warranty. Ace will exchange any product covered that they have in stock. Because of the limited selection of items carried and lack of open stock inventory sometimes it is difficult to exchange single items. For example the store might require you to exchange the whole set of wrenches on the shelf even if only one is broken. Some stores will order the item for you if they can or break open a set and others will say sorry go to Sears.
This comes mostly from poor brand management by Sears. Now that Stanley owns the brand and is introducing it in other retailers (Lowes) there will probably be some clarity brought to the lifetime warranty for everyone since from the beginning Stanley has said they will cover all existing lifetime warranties on Craftsman.
Woodworkers, mechanics and crafts people have loved Craftsman tools for years, because of their lifetime warranty. If one broke, you could just return it and get a new one free
But one Campbell County, Kentucky man says it's not so easy anymore.
Gary Galloway loves working on old cars, like the 1967 Plymouth with a 440 V8 under the hood he was tinkering with this sunny afternoon.
His tool of choice: Craftsman, because of its lifetime replacement warranty if they ever fail.
"You could walk into Sears, and pretty much lay it on the counter and they would give you a tool comparable or just exactly like that," he said.
So when his socket wrench recently broke, he didn't worry about his local sears in Florence, Kentucky, having recently closed.
He knew that his nearby Lowe's now sells Craftsman.
"With Lowe's coming on board with Craftsman, I felt relief that I could get a tool replaced if they were to break," Galloway said.
But he says he got some bad news at the nearby Maysville, Kentucky Lowe's store.
"I said these are tools I got at Sears, and he told me that Lowe's could not replace any tool that was not sold at the Lowe's store."
Different tools, different part numbers
Problem is, Galloway discovered, that the old tools sold by Sears and the new craftsman tools sold by Lowe's are different and have different part numbers.
So they are not interchangeable.
Craftsman's warranty page still lists a full lifetimewarranty.
However it says you must return it to a "stocking retail partner," which is confusing since Lowe's' does not stock identical Sears tools.
So we called the Lowe's store manager, who told us if they don't have the same model, they are telling people to call Craftsman customer service.
Galloway's going to try that that now, because the other option is not something he has time to do, even in a fast old Plymouth GTX.
"You have a drive an hour to get a tool replaced," he said.
A Lowe's Corporate Communications spokeswoman, Maureen Wallace, told us Lowe's stores should honor the Craftsman Lifetime warranty "if we have the product." But due to differences between Sears and Lowe's tools that may not always be possible. (See full statement below)
But the bottom line is if your tool breaks, you may want to call Craftsman customer service first at 888-331-4569, if you don't have a Sears nearby, because you may not always be able to get a replacement at Lowe's.
As always don't waste your money.
FULL STATEMENT FROM LOWE'S CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS:
"we will honor all lifetime warranties no matter where the CRAFTSMAN hand tool was purchased. We ask that customers bring in the item, and we’ll replace it if we have the product. If we do not have the product, customers can call the Customer Care Hotline (883-331-4569)."
Maureen Wallace, Lowe's
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My name is Brian and I have been an avid proponent of Craftsman tools Craftsman has a lifetime warranty on their hand tools, or so I thought.
since ACE stores will have craftsman stuff now, are they gonna be they said as long as they have it in stock they would warranty it for me.
TozilNovember 25, 2018 6:47 AM
And how in that case to act?
MikreeNovember 21, 2018 5:34 PM
It is delightful