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Buffett vs. Lampert: Battle of the Shareholder Letters


BargainValueHunter
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http://jeffmatthewsisnotmakingthisup.blogspot.com/2011/02/buffett-vs-lampert-tale-of-two-letters.html

 

And while it is certainly easier, and a lot more fun, to write about good news—as Buffett has been accustomed to doing over the years at Berkshire, in contrast to the kind of bad news that has issued forth from Lampert’s fading retail giant of late—there is, even so, a remarkable difference in both the substance and style of letters by two men who actually have a great deal in common.
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That is funny!  I was also quite amused at the talk of Whole Foods in a Sears store!  I mean Whole Foods?  really?  I guess it makes sense in that it's SHLD's answer to Target and Walmart's "supermarket in a store"?  Kind of reminds me of was it la Quinta hotels? The famous Peter Lynch investment that decided to drop their hotel restaurant (hotel restaurants are almost always money losing parts of the business) in favor of providing space for a Dennys (I think it was Dennys).  Definitely an interesting move.  Lampert rarely talks about focus on giving customers the cheapest goods, always about delivering customer service, which makes me think Whole foods kind of fits into that strategy?  Will be interesting to see how it plays out...

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That is funny!  I was also quite amused at the talk of Whole Foods in a Sears store!  I mean Whole Foods?  really?  I guess it makes sense in that it's SHLD's answer to Target and Walmart's "supermarket in a store"?  Kind of reminds me of was it la Quinta hotels? The famous Peter Lynch investment that decided to drop their hotel restaurant (hotel restaurants are almost always money losing parts of the business) in favor of providing space for a Dennys (I think it was Dennys).  Definitely an interesting move.  Lampert rarely talks about focus on giving customers the cheapest goods, always about delivering customer service, which makes me think Whole foods kind of fits into that strategy?  Will be interesting to see how it plays out...

 

I don't think Whole Foods will be willing to colocate in Sears stores which are depressing, grimy experiences.  So that would require a ton of capital investment, which Lampert seems to be shying away from at this point.

 

That said, if they did make the investment I think it would be huge for both companies.  Sadly, I don't have a Sears or K-Mart any closer than the existing whole foods, but...

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Sears customer service?

 

Buy a Kenmore dishwasher, call them just a few years later because it broke and your experience with them will provide far more insight on the company then reading Lampert words in it's shareholders letters.

 

 

Hi Partner,

 

Could you elaborate? I'm not planning on buying any appliances in the near future, but I would definitely like to hear more about your experience.

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I would definitely like to hear more about your experience.

 

A dishwasher pump broke just few years after service. I had water on my floor.

 

Called the customer department. They first said false legal things (it's not under warranty anymore and there is no general warranty that can extend it...this is false at least here in Quebec). Then they said this was not their problem since their warranty was expired.

 

I sent a written legal letter claming to repair the dishwasher.

 

A representative (probably cheap labor from abroad wich had an accent and was sometimes difficult to understand) called me. Instead of sending me a technician for free, she tried everything to let me say something that would be a nuisance to my request. Things like "Sir, you bought a Kenmore dishwasher that costed xxx$. Didn't you expect that it would last? ANSWER: Mam, I bought a Kenmore dishwasher just approximately 3 years ago and I did expect that it was a quality brand it would last longer than approximately 3 years, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it. Furthermore, your chairman looked like he did care about customer experiences at Sears.

 

She did say false things about the applicable law here in Quebec and tried to convince me to pay for the fix.

 

Frankly, I didn't want to go in court even if I had a good case. I did want to wash as soon as possible so I called a friend and he repaired the dishwasher. He told me that most appliances today are made to last shortly. 

 

I went to the Sears website and tried to write a negative review on the dishwasher just like you can see on Amazon or Canadian Tire websites. People should know that this diswwasher is cheap and not build to last. They refused to publish it. When I asked them what in my review was making them refuse to publish it or how could I write it so it would be published, they didn't want to answer.

 

I told my wife that if she see me again in a Sears store, it's because I may have lost my mind.

 

That's the kind of behavior from a retailor that will add to the bottom line in the short term at the expense of the long term profitability.

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I would definitely like to hear more about your experience.

 

A dishwasher pump broke just few years after service. I had water on my floor.

 

Called the customer department. They first said false legal things (it's not under warranty anymore and there is no general warranty that can extend it...this is false at least here in Quebec). Then they said this was not their problem since their warranty was expired.

 

I sent a written legal letter claming to repair the dishwasher.

 

A representative (probably cheap labor from abroad wich had an accent and was sometimes difficult to understand) called me. Instead of sending me a technician for free, she tried everything to let me say something that would be a nuisance to my request. Things like "Sir, you bought a Kenmore dishwasher that costed xxx$. Didn't you expect that it would last? ANSWER: Mam, I bought a Kenmore dishwasher just approximately 3 years ago and I did expect that it was a quality brand it would last longer than approximately 3 years, otherwise I wouldn't have bought it. Furthermore, your chairman looked like he did care about customer experiences at Sears.

 

She did say false things about the applicable law here in Quebec and tried to convince me to pay for the fix.

 

Frankly, I didn't want to go in court even if I had a good case. I did want to wash as soon as possible so I called a friend and he repaired the dishwasher. He told me that most appliances today are made to last shortly.  

 

I went to the Sears website and tried to write a negative review on the dishwasher just like you can see on Amazon or Canadian Tire websites. People should know that this diswwasher is cheap and not build to last. They refused to publish it. When I asked them what in my review was making them refuse to publish it or how could I write it so it would be published, they didn't want to answer.

 

I told my wife that if she see me again in a Sears store, it's because I may have lost my mind.

 

That's the kind of behavior from a retailor that will add to the bottom line in the short term at the expense of the long term profitability.

 

Here's my experience.  Had a Kenmore pop up vent on my stove that stopped working a week before the one year warranty expired. Called their toll free CS number and was put on hold 20 minutes. Voice mail message told me I had to call another number, contrary to the instructions on my warranty card.  Did so, and was immediately disconnected.  Repeated the same steps, another disconnect.  Tried other techniques to no avail; more than one hour wasted.  Started calling local Sears stores.  Finally got a live person.  She knew the ropes and she was able to give the secret CS number that would actually get through to a live CS operator.  After that my problem was successfully resolved by a contract serviceman who came to the house and was able to make the fix after I figured out what was necessary to do as I asked questions.

 

After the fix, I was asked to fill out a short customer satisfaction form.  I gave the man a high rating in all respects.  I'm sure that my response will show up in Sears statistics that prove that their customer service is the best there is.  :P

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