Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 40 seconds


I recently had a dubious experience at a retail outlet. As everyone who knows me will attest, you can rest assured good story will result. Here is my tale of woe.

I use my tools often, and take good care of them because I have respect for what they can do. I suppose most would consider me a collector. I have no use for homeowner grade tools. In other words, I plan to hand my tools down to my kids when I am gone.

I bought my Craftsman Mechanic Tool Set many years ago with the knowledge that it was an investment in a great product. “Lifetime guarantee” is the term that resonates in my mind. I recall how proud I felt to this day.

One day while tightening up some lug nuts on a vehicle, I noticed that a plastic ring that locks in the torque setting on my Craftsman Torque wrench was broken. I had finally gotten around to taking it back to the store to swap it out, have it repaired, or at the least have some parts sent to me.

I walked in to my local Sears store with my broken torque wrench in hand, anticipating a great customer service interaction. Making a “B” line to the tool department, I wondered how things would work out. The worst thing imaginable was having to wait if they had to send it off to be repaired. Sadly this is what really happened.

Torque Wrench

The clerk who saw me heading to the customer service area cradling the poor broken torque wrench started in an intercepting course. At about 20′ away he blurted out over the din of shoppers, “We only guarantee torque wrenches for a year, do you have your receipt?” “No, It is much older than a year,” I said as I slowed my pace and then stood there stunned, “I thought that craftsman tools were guaranteed for life” as we met at the counter. “Nope” he assured me quietly, reciting the company line. “but I only need a small part” I said sadly, “it still sort of works.” I uttered with the emotion of a pet owner being told that their pet had a terminal illness. “Would you like to look at the new ones?” he cheerily asked. “Hell no!,” I yelled back as I placed it firmly on the counter with a thunk.

“Torque wrenches are not a consumable commodity like a saw blade or sandpaper,” I shouted as I left. Oh well, The truth is that I was in no mood to discus the big picture with the clerk.

I wonder if mister Sears (if there is such a fellow) has a clue what had happened? I had heard recently that Sears and the Craftsman brand were having financial problems, and I now have no doubt why. What would it have cost them to replace my tool and retain my loyalty? What are the odds that I would have bought other tools while the guy was doing the paper work? What are the odds that we would have had a great conversation about my passion for great tools, and that this blog would have been about how everyone ought to go out and invest in Craftsman tools?  “lifetime guarantee” my ass.

Snap On Tools

Wounded, but not defeated, I went off and bought a used Snap On torque wrench from Nipa at A 2 Z Tools, anyone who can afford a snap on tool would no doubt take good care of it I thought. To be sure I had the calibration checked.

Turns out that at 190 ft lbs. (Which is more than I will ever need) it was within 2 ft Lbs, so that is close enough for me.

In the end, I now have a great tool and a better understanding of how a company that I used to respect operates. Trust me, my shadow will not be crossing the Sears threshold again.

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