If you’ve ever bought any Craftsman hand tools, you’re probably well aware of their famous Craftsman warranty. It states:
If this Craftsman (or Craftsman Industrial) hand tool ever fails to provide complete satisfaction, it will be repaired or replaced free of charge. Source
Millions of people (including me) have invested in Craftsman tools for years in part because of this incredible, lifetime warranty and never worried about whether or not the guarantee would be honored by Craftsman — a brand once owned by Sears.
If your Craftsman tool ever broke, you’d just take it back to Sears and they’d replace it — either with a new equivalent product or with a rebuilt one of the same type.
Power tools had different warranties, and most didn’t have the Craftsman lifetime warranty. Neither did most consumable products — like saw blades — which normally wear down with use anyway.
But if you were a Craftsman hand tool owner, you really couldn’t go wrong with your purchase. You had invested in a tool you’d never need to buy another of again!
Personally, none of my Craftsman hand tools have failed so far. But it was nice knowing that if any did, they would be replaced without charge and with no questions asked.
There are still a lot of folks (myself included) who are scratching their heads over this deal and what it means to us.
And what about those Craftsman lifetime warranties?
I own a tool shed full of Craftsman tools that my parents and I bought brand new from Sears over the years since the 1990s. So, I’ve been wanting to find out the answer to this question ever since finding out about the Craftsman sale.
I’ve done some digging, and here’s what I found…
What’s Happening With The Craftsman Tool Warranty?
So far, here’s the good news…
Sears Holdings will still sell Craftsman products at Sears, Kmart, and Sears Appliance & Hardware stores for at least 15 years.
Essentially, there will be Craftsman tools made by both Stanley Black & Decker and Sears Holdings. So, for the foreseeable future, you can still buy Craftsman tools at Sears.
Does that mean the Craftsman tool warranty is safe?
At this point, the existing Craftsman warranty polices are upheld and will continue to be honored for as long as Sears Holding is still operating.
As of this writing in April 2017, Craftsman warranties can still be redeemed as they always have. You can call the Craftsman warranty hotline at 888-331-4569 for current warranty info.
But what if Sears goes under, as many financial analysts predict?
According to a statement by Stanley Black & Decker Spokesman Tim Perra, Craftsman warranties (including the lifetime warranties) are roughly similar to those offered on many Stanley Black & Decker products.
Even if Sears Holdings goes belly up, some marketing analysts believe Stanley Black & Decker may continue to uphold existing warranties on Craftsman tools sold by Sears — as a goodwill gesture to help protect the brand’s reputation.
That could cost about $5 million each year — probably not a bad investment for Stanley Black & Decker. It would surely cost less to the company than having to fend off a backlash from angry customers who can’t trade in their broken Craftsman hand tools anymore!
Other analysts think a change to the Craftsman tool warranty will be coming in one form or another.
Why Did Sears Sell Craftsman?
Sears has been experiencing some tough times lately.
The evolving retail market changed more quickly than Sears kept up.
Online shopping and the dominance of discount-friendly big box stores has done a number on stores like Sears, which are mainly found anchoring traditional shopping malls.
In more recent years, changes in the way Sears operates, its merger with Kmart, and other factors have been theorized to all contribute to the situation that caused Sears to lose money for several years.
For stock investors, the news may come as a mixed blessing. Sure, Sears is losing one of its most valuable assets, but it also gained an estimated $900 million in the sale — helping to shore up the company’s pension fund and pay off some debts.
Here’s how the Craftsman sale breaks down:
- Sears makes $525 million right off the bat for the Craftsman sale.
- Stanley Black & Decker will pay Sears another $250 million around 2020.
- Stanley Black & Decker owes Sears a roughly 3% royalty on all Stanley Black & Decker Craftsman sales until 2032.
- Until 2032, Sears can continue using the Craftsman tool brand with a royalty-free license — which means Craftsman tools sold through Sears or its subsidiaries will pretty much carry on as it has.
Notably, the terms seem to presume Sears will carry on for several years to come.
Who knows? Even though things look dire for the company now, maybe Sears will somehow live on. Stranger things have happened.
Still, for Sears fans such as myself, watching the decline of this once-great American company has been sad.
Sears: The Rise & Fall
Sears, Roebuck & Company was founded in 1886 and became a very successful, iconic retail brand that became one of the most famous name brands in the world during the 20th century.
In 1974, the company moved its headquarters to the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago — which became the world’s tallest building for more than 20 years after it stole the title from the former World Trade Center in New York City.
Meanwhile, the Sears catalog was a mainstay in American homes from the 1880s through the 1990s. (At one time, you could even buy homes from the Sears catalog!) It was around for a century, and it reflected the changing times.
For just a single issue in the summer of 1981, the Sears catalog was even available on the then-revolutionary LaserDisc format. Here’s basically what multimedia shopping looked like before the World Wide Web:
Retail cycles change throughout the generations, and by the 1990s Sears was losing its stride to brands like Walmart.
The Sears catalog was one of the first highly visible casualties of this. The longtime tradition came to an end with the 1993 Sears catalog — which quickly became a collector’s item.
In that 1993 Sears catalog are dozens of Craftsman tools unequivocally backed by then-unquestionable lifetime warranties… Those were the days, my friend.
More About The Craftsman Tool Warranty & Sears
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other resources to help you find out more about Craftsman tools and Sears:
- Will Craftsman Famous Lifetime Warranty Still Apply After $900 Million Sale?
- Consumer Reports: The Sale Of The Craftsman Tool Brand
- Craftsman Brand History
- Who Killed Sears? 50 Years On The Road To Ruin
- 11 Dangerous & Bizarre Items Sold In The 1902 Sears Catalog