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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #1
Dear Sears:

I've purchased and used thousands of dollars' in tools from your Craftsman brand. I know that over the years you've experimented and tinkered with your lines, but for the most part things have been fairly consistent, and despite a chorus of negativity surrounding Craftsman, I've stepped up to defend your products. Of late, I've been forced to reconsider this.

It started out innocently enough. I had a missing flare-nut wrench from my Model 42013 Craftsman Professional metric flare nut wrench set, the 10-12mm wrench part number 42096. I've had another flare-nut wrench set from a different brand to supplement the missing sizes, but I decided to spend the money to buy toolbox drawer liners, and seeing as how I had four wrenches with one in the middle missing, I wanted to get the correct wrench before I started cutting the drawer liners to fit the tools. So, after searching and stopping by various stores to never find any in the open stock area I ordered it online. Surprisingly, the Fiesta Mall store in Mesa, AZ supposedly had stock, so I placed a will-call order and got my wrench.

When I got home I was disappointed. I pulled out the rest of my wrenches and found that you've completely changed the wrench. It's now not only 5° angle-headed instead of straight as the rest, but longer than the packaging for the set will fit, and wider too. This is very disappointing, as I could have bought a Proto, or a Mac, or a Snap On, or even a Harbor Freight 10-12mm flare nut wrench if I wanted one that didn't match the rest in the set, especially as I plan to cut all of those neat little formed holes to hold these tools. Very disappointing. It also no longer bears "Made in USA" on it, or "Professional", and come to think of it, lacked any sort of country-of-origin information at all, as I believe is required by law.

As I said in my opening, I've been very consistent about using Sears and the Craftsman brand for my tools for many years. That time has now come to an end. I no longer plan to seek out Sears first for my tools. You no longer maintain the consistency or quality I demand in tools of this price point, and if I can't get the balance of quality and price that you used to deliver, then I may as well spend more for better quality with a vendor like Cornwell or Proto, or spend considerably less and get tools made as good as your current line from Harbor Freight, who coincidentally now offers a lifetime warranty on them. There's absolutely no reason to get bad tools for good money, and that's what you now offer.

I've looked in your stores, and more and more of your handtools are made in China. You would do well to reverse this trend. At this point the only thing that I probably must buy in Craftsman would be toolboxes as I like to key them all the same, and since you offer replacement locks, I can buy all the used toolboxes I want from back in the day when they were made well, and I only have to give you the paltry sum needed to change their locks.

I'm sorry that it's come to this, but the changes leading to this are entirely your company's decisions, not my own. Hopefully you'll take the opportunity to listen to consumers like me and to remedy this.

Mods/Admin, if this is in the wrong place please feel free to move it. I just needed to vent a little.
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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14,672 Posts
I pretty much ditched Sears years ago due to the incompetence in the automotive department. I do have a Craftsman wrench set I received as a gift many years ago. And my tool box is a Craftsman that my wife gave to me as a Christmas gift the first or 2nd year of our marriage. It was the only tool box my wife could find that had a steel tray and not plastic like many of the others. Somewhere along the line I had mentioned I didn't like the plastic trays and wanted a tool box with a steel tray. I never could find one. Low and behold she listened and actually found one. I guess I didn't look hard enough - LOL! I still have the tool box and we're still married having celebrated our 26th anniversary last year.
 

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I still have quite a few Craftsman tools in all 3 of my tool boxes, but in the past 5 years, I've had to replace two different 3/8 drive ratchets and a half-dozen sockets. I don't think their tools are that great any more either. I may start buying Blackhawks again when I need something new.
 

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I have had 2 torque wrench failures from Sears. The first time, I had an argument about the lifetime warranty, but got a replacement. They didn't document the transaction, just told me sneeringly that the replacement only has a 6 month warranty. I found that Stanley has a more durable wrench with better feel.

I bought a set of Great Neck torx bits, and two different size bits twisted 45 degrees, like putty. I wrote to their VP of quality, and in his reply, he defensively claimed that they were an OEM for some Sears Craftsman tools. At that point I decided not to focus on Craftsman again. They used to be a great value, not in the last 15 years or so.

And don't get me started on their horrible and scary automotive service.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #5
I figured out another sneaky thing they've done...

http://www.craftsman.com/ue/home/Mechanics_Tool_Sets_ProductGuide_Form_No_10420412_v2.pdf

Craftsman Industrial.

Looks like the same tools we used to get, American Made, now branded as "Industrial", while the regular-line stuff is now made overseas.

I'd bet that they won't give us "Craftsman Industrial" when we bring in our regular Craftsman stuff for exchange either.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #6
I figured out what they did.

Sears doesn't manufacture their own tools, they contract it. I've known this for a long time, but generally they've done a good job of maintaining consistency when they've changed manufacturer.

SK made the set that I have. Not only are they made by SK, apparently they were SK's actual design, but where the SK badging was omitted in favor of Craftsman badging in the forging. For whatever reason, Craftsman's open stock are not the same now, though the Sears website makes it look like the regular five-piece set is still the one sourced from SK, rather than this different design that I just received.

I'm now in the process of comparing current SK-badged ones to see if the four that I have that are correct actually match or not. If they do then I can order the single SK that I need.
 

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Does anyone make a decent line of corrosion resistant end-wrenches? Doesn't seem to make a difference, Snap-On or Serene Butterfly, working around salt water just destroys any tool.
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #8
Does anyone make a decent line of corrosion resistant end-wrenches? Doesn't seem to make a difference, Snap-On or Serene Butterfly, working around salt water just destroys any tool.
Several companies are now selling black oxide versions of their tools. Heavy use can wear through the finish though, so while it'll probably last longer than chrome buildup my guess is that they'll still succumb if not re-treated.

It took a long time, but I've come to see the value in very light colored tools. Working under the car, even in a shop with a lot of light, is more difficult with a dark tool on a piece of dark metal that's covered in dark grime. I've since painted my jackstands, floor jack pedestal, and several other heavy duty tools to make them easier to see in such shadow.

If I worked somewhere that needed black oxide tools in order for them to survive use that'd be different, but so far I don't need that kind of thing at home.
 

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I always used to buy Craftsman for the lifetime warranty. Snap-ons were far more expensive and I didn't care for the shiny, slippery finish, especially with slippery, greasy hands. The satin finish of Craftsman and most other sensible tools were better suited for mechanics.
I was furnished with a tool box full of Protos that was part of the tuition at MoTech vocational school in the '70's. They were OK tools and I have tried to keep the Proto sets complete.
Watch out for the cheap 'made in China' Challenger and other names among the Craftsmans in the display cases as they do not carry more than a 90 day warranty.
When I tried to make a purchase with cash, the Sears clerk told me that I could get a discount by using my Craftsman credit card. Since when is anything better than cash? Unless they are banking on me defaulting on my debt.
Harbor Freight is mid-quality, sometimes the extended service contract is worth it and I have been going there more and more lately.
K-mart sells Craftsman, which has 'cheapened' the brand's legacy. Sears isn't what they used to be.
 

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I pretty much try to purchase Crescent® adjustable wrenches, Irwin® pliers and cutting tools, Channel Loc® water pump pliers and Vise Grip® as the innovator of the design seems to produce dependable results.

A tool company just cannot pay thirty dollars an hour to workers, tens of millions in salary and bonuses to top management, offer investment funds managers hefty returns and expect to stay price competitive. I would guess Snap-On® may have 10% of the customers they had 30-years ago. Today a trip to the Snap-On truck risks thousands of dollars.

An offshore company can make great stuff if they are managed from raw materials to packaging by an experienced Korean, Taiwanese, or Japanese team. I purchased Gold Star (now LG -"Lucky Goldstar") appliances that just outlast anything else on the market. Harbor Freight's "Professional" line of hand tools is of far better quality that their regular hand tools. I do remember well the days of "Harbor Freight Salvage" and $2.95 socket sets. They were so bad that even thirty years ago Mexican mechanics* scorned them and brother that's saying something.

But the Germans still manufacture the finest diagonal cutting pliers and needle nose pliers on the face of the earth. Dykes that are induction hardened to Rockwell 64 level do not dull as easy as lesser pliers.

*Mechanics deep down in Mexico
 

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DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!
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Discussion Starter #11
We went pawnshopping yesterday, I found a Kennedy (faded) red top chest that'll fit the stack that currently lacks a top chest for a great price. I've been cleaning it up and was nicely surprised to find that the extra Craftsman top box lock fits the Kennedy chest no problem. I'll have to do some more research to see if the same applies to the mid/bottom chests.

I also did some research and found part numbers to solve my original problem. It appears that SK 8810 is their 10/12mm flat flare nut wrench, and to expand my set beyond 18mm, SK 8819 is their 19/21mm.
 

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I think that somewhere lost in this discussion was the fact that K-Mart took over Sears and then sold off some assets, like Craftsman, to help pay for that purchase. If you liked the old K-Mart, then you will like the new Sears. It is a new company now.
 

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Hi I agree with all the above and I to was a Craftsman user for years untill I noticed there replacement tools were off shore, I waited 6 months for a replacement 1/4" drive ratchet and when it showed up it was very different looking and obvoisly off shore, I am in Canada here we have Canadian Tire and for years they offered good quality North American made tools but slowly I have noticed some of there line of tools changeing over as well. You have been mentioning "SK" tools we used to be able to get those here but they also have been unavailable for about 5 years I heard the company was no longer around? maybe just not in Canada any more?, lastly no one had mentioned "Hazet Tools", I have some off these in my box that I purchaced off a tool truck years ago, they are made in Germany and supream quality, but again I have not seen a dealer for years.
 

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I think that somewhere lost in this discussion was the fact that K-Mart took over Sears and then sold off some assets, like Craftsman, to help pay for that purchase. If you liked the old K-Mart, then you will like the new Sears. It is a new company now.
It was Sears that took over the bankrupted K-Mart. I never could understand that. Sears had a reputation for being a pretty good unscale retailer. K-Mart was a rather medium to lower quality operation (mostly destroyed by Walmart and their lack of effort to upgrade their merchandising technology) . By merging, Sears just lowered their standard overall and it appears the Craftsman tools followed this same road. I always felt that Sears hand tools were among the best back in the day. Unfortunately, their power tools were not and I considered many of their later power tools total junk.

I can really appreciate the OP's leter to Sears, but I have my doubts that anyone is listening. The CFO, if he even saw this, would basically say that there is no way we can afford to bring back the quality and customer service. IMHO.. it is a piece of history, never to return.
 

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I believe you are mistaken. K-Mart had come out of bankrupcy and did take over (called a merger) that closed in March of 2005

http://en.wikipedia....nd_Sears_merger
There is a piece of history I missed. Sears was a retail giant and the larger of the 2 retailers. They had started buying some of the unprofitable K-Mart Stores, but the original K-Mart went bankrupt. My wife used to work there in her younger years and lost all her money in the K-Mart Savings retirement plan because it was all in K-Mart stock. After the original stock holders were wiped out in bankrupcy court procedings, venture capitalists made a proposal to buy the assets and re-structure the debt (pennies on the dollar, as I understood it). The new Company was called K-Mart holdings. They were cash rich and almost debt free.

I knew that Sears officers provided part of the upfront money to create K-Mart Holdings, so I'm guessing that they basically sold the farm to KM holdings.

After skimming the link you provided, I can see how this happened... but yes I had no idea that is finally how it shook out.
 

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Virginia Gentleman
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I can really appreciate the OP's leter to Sears, but I have my doubts that anyone is listening. The CFO, if he even saw this, would basically say that there is no way we can afford to bring back the quality and customer service. IMHO.. it is a piece of history, never to return.
It's pretty sad. Sears was at one time, known for quality merchandise across the board, not just Craftsman Tools. But as noted, they have cheapened their goods while trying to ride the quality "Sears" name. Gee, where have we seen that? Oh yeah, Chrysler's current handling of Jeep - just ask Norm.

When Sears merged with K-Mart and I began to see Craftsman Tools in K-Mart, I knew then the downhill slide was on. It was then I decided it wasn't worth patronizing Sears (or K-Mart for that matter) any more.

But, yes John, you are correct. If Sears were to go back to the quality goods they once sold, they probably would fail. Most consumers just watch the price they pay with very little eye towards the quality of the goods they are purchasing. Hence the success of Walmart.
 

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I use my tools on a daily basis. I used to buy Craftsman exclusively but over the years they have gotten cheaper and cheaper. I now use Snap on because thier tools are far and away more durable than the rest. As much as I would like to trash them their tools last period. If y'all don't use your tools every day then the options are wide open but if your like me then you get what you pay for in terms of quality.
 

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I have a set of Craftsman impact sockets and combination wrenches gotta be 30 years old---the good made in USA stuff and these have survived without any breakage over the years. There was a family selling out all their stuff and going overseas on a mission, they sold me a big box of tools for $5 and I got more Craftsman stuff for cheap that time. Was a dyed in the wool Craftsman loyalist, but since they started to sell made-in-china-crapola I have bought my tools elsewhere when I needed a specific tool to complete a repair.

An elderly wheezing air compressor from the 70s had to be replaced, I went to the local Sears and took home a 20 gal on sale, When I got it out of the box, says made in china, I took it back and got the big for my needs 35 gal made in USA compressor instead. I am loyal to made in USA and not to Craftsman these days. The job you save may be your own.

Made in china auto parts: I am NOT a buyer of these. I bought a bottle of motor oil and filter that was a package deal on sale, and when I took it home and looked at the fine print, the freekin no name filter was made in china. I was not about to risk an engine on a cheap no name filter, who knowes what drecky cardboard it contains, and who knows if it will fall apart under load. All this to save one buck over the cost of a Purelator. That filter went back and there is a Purelator on my engine.
 
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