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Our Best and Worst Wedding Registry Experiences (Hint: Avoid Sears)

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This past year Energi Gal and I finally tied the knot. As part of the process we decided to register at a number of places. We picked three stores:

Macy's - Macy's has a strong national presence, which is great when you live in the San Francisco and your guests are from Boston. It also has a strong Internet website, making it easy for anyone to buy gifts
Amazon.com - This choice surprised many of our family and friends, but each of them thought it was a fantastic idea. The best part is that it's always very easy to add nearly any item imaginable to the registry. The downside is that people couldn't walk into a store and see the item they are buying.
Sears - We really like Craftsman line of tools and this seemed like a natural place, especially considering that Home Depot doesn't much of a nationwide registry.

Grading the Registries

Macy's - Grade A - The selection was good and there were no problems along the way. For everything that people bought off of that registry, we got 5% of that added to a gift card. So if people bought a $1,000 gifts, we'd get a $50 credit card. On top of that, two weeks after our wedding Macy's gave us a coupon for some percentage off (10% or 20%) of anything that wasn't bought on our registry. It turned out that some of the things we wanted were already on sale - so we used the gift card bonus and it went a long way.

Amazon - Grade B - As I previously mentioned, Amazon had the best selection and people found it the most convenient. Many were happy to not pay shipping on several of the items we registered for. Everything was fantastic - until after the wedding. Amazon somehow retained our old Boston address as the shipping address for gifts bought after the wedding date. It seems like we only changed our shipping address, billing address, pre-wedding registry address. In most cases three out of four is not bad. Unfortunately this is not the case.

One person in my wife's family bought a gift, but it was shipped to our old address that we missed updating. Since we don't live there, it was returned to Amazon and their accounts were credited. We tried to explain this to Amazon, but there was nothing they could do. This has lead to a bit of a family feud. My wife had spent $1200 for this person's wedding and this person has seemingly taken this opportunity to escape giving a gift. "Escape giving a gift" may not be the best choice of words, but my wife's family have mentioned this to her a few times. We don't care about the gift, but my wife's family is up in arms about this. Anyway, it could have been avoided if Amazon had one place to update your address.

Sears - Grade F - I'm tempted to invent a few grade levels below F. The website of the registry has been broken for weeks. The e-mail address that we used as our username is no longer accepted. This means that while we can search and find our registry, we can't log in to update our registry. We got a gift, but they neglected to tell us who sent it. My wife has spent all day trying to get this information so that we can send a thank-you card. She's talked to 5 people from Sears - all five of them say the order number on our invoice doesn't exist. My wife was hung up twice and kept on hold for 45 minutes once. She spent a half hour at the store today and no one knows anything about wedding registries. No one at Sears can do anything to help us. They finally suggested that we write the corporate office a letter. It sounds like a fantastic idea, but overall we have little confidence that anything will come of it.

In short no one at Sears corporate cares about registries. It trickles down to every employee with their lack of training. My wife ended her last call by suggesting they cancel their registry program. It's cost them at least two regular costumers.

Posted on December 27, 2007.

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24 Responses to “Our Best and Worst Wedding Registry Experiences (Hint: Avoid Sears)”

  1. We have also had terrible problems with sears and their website. No one seems to know what the heck is going on with that company. How can you be the third largest retailer in the world and suck so bad.

  2. Mrs. Micah says:

    We used MyRegistry.com, which works pretty well. You can select items from any online store. The person can order it from that store or buy it offline and simply tell the registry that they bought it. Disadvantage is that they have to go back online to tell the registry. But we didn’t want to lock people into stores.

  3. Boston Gal says:

    Hi Lazy Man,

    Sorry about your poor registry experience. Thought you might like to read these local news stories in Boston about the problems folks here are experiencing with Sears. Interesting that the problems seem to extend to the registry service as well. To me it looks like the retailer is ripe for failing now that they are doing such a good job of alienating customers.
    Sears Blames ‘Perfect Storm’ For Repair Service Problems

    Sears CEO Apologizes To Boston-Area Customers

    But on the upside – you and Energi Gal have received the best gift of all – each other! Awwwww…..

  4. jim says:

    Macy’s is great, I’m a huge fan of them. As you probably have read, I hate(d) Target.

  5. I don’t know how this post escaped my attention when it first came out. I am tying the knot next year and have been pushing for a Best Buy registry . . . not gonna happen. But Amazon sounds like a great option. I’ve also seen sites that allow people to give gifts like “money towards a down payment” or money towards a honeymoon.

    Like I keep telling people, “I don’t need any more pots and pans, what we have works great. What I need is a nice, big TV to watch the game after dinner.”

  6. Marjorie says:

    Great post! Target’s registry has its problems, too. When hubby and I were married five years ago, our registry at Target didn’t keep up with items purchased from the list by our guests, all of whom had informed their clerk that it was for the registry. That meant getting a few repeat gifts, which led to frequent visits to Target for returns and exchanges. Waste of time and money. I spoke to several other brides and new moms who had the same problems with Target. Apparently, they’re notorious for it.

    Salut,
    Marjorie

  7. Dong says:

    Sears has basically been run into the ground by Ed Lampert in order to cut costs. It’s really a shame. A few years ago Ed was being touted by press as the new Warren Buffet, turning Sears into the new Berkshire Hathaway. Alas he’s not. Warren always brought good companies with good management who served the customers. Ed on the other hand is about cutting costs. Cutting cost is important but at some point you actually need to run the store.

  8. FourPillars says:

    Great story – I think it was pretty lame of your guest to not send another gift.

    Mike

  9. MoneyNing says:

    I just don’t know why Sears is even in business. It’s not like management really wants to run the thing anyway.

  10. silver says:

    We also registered at Sears for the tools. A guest mentioned to me that she went to the store and couldn’t find our registry. Since we had started the registry online, I thought that maybe it wasn’t also be available in store. I called up to find out and/or fix the problem. When I explained the situation, the person just kept telling me that wedding guests aren’t required to purchase of a registry, and that it is just a list of items we may like to receive. It was the most bizarre thing. She kept repeating that, over and over, with the exact same wording, no matter how I tried to rephrase what my issue was. I eventually asked her if she was a computer rather than a live person. She got very mad at me and threatened to hang up if I didn’t apologize to her. What was I supposed to think when she wouldn’t say *anything* except to tell me what a registry was?

  11. Heidi says:

    Thanks for the ideas! I’m getting married next year and we hadn’t considered Amazon – good thought.

  12. kristen says:

    I got married in June 2007 and had the best experience (by far) with Bed, Bath and Beyond. We did the majority of our registry online which was very convenient. After the wedding they were the best at accepting returns without a receipt (no problem!). I highly recommend them. A distant second would be Target – they were good for sheets and towels, but their kitchenware is kind of cheap and they have a lot of items that or only available online. Macy’s was the third place that we registered. I wasn’t crazy about their selection and felt that a lot of their merchandise was way overpriced, in particular the bedding.

  13. tanya says:

    my boyfriend and i tried to purchase a wedding gift for friends from sears and couldn’t find their registry online for the life of us, even though they insisted it was there. we finally gave up and just gave them money.

  14. cfb62 says:

    Sears is THE WORST!
    Their customer service is non-existant.
    They installed a faulty washer/dryer unit in my condo last August. It flooded my first floor. I called Sears 15-20 times and all I’m ever told is, “Someone will contact you in the next few days, Thank you for choosing Sears.”
    10K later, my place is almost back to normal, but I’ll never again even buy vacuum cleaner bags from them.
    They’re the perfect example of what’s wrong with the world today.

  15. Becky says:

    I’m getting married in the fall of this year and we were considering registering at Target and Sears. Glad I read this b/c i will be steering clear now. I’ll def. check out amazon.com. Thanks everyone!

  16. Lissette says:

    I helped my sister in law to create her wedding registry, we looked various websites and she chose myregistry.com, It was a complete disaster, My sister received duplicated items and she was so upset! We had a horrible nightmare! Def no recommend!

  17. Royce! says:

    I used Amazon, target and BBB, all were great except targets return policy.

    One thing that annoyed me was I wanted to display all my gifts in a certin order, so I made a site where my gifts (from 3 registries!) could be sorted and shown together. If that would be useful for you check out http://wedwishlist.com to do the same.

    Also, dont miss amazons universal registry feature, its great!

  18. Nancy says:

    Sears return policy is horrible for bridal registry because they don’t give store credit for returns. They can only credit back the amount to the credit card that the item was bought on. Or they give you cash, if the item was bought with cash. Can you imagine if you got duplicate items? Bleh!

  19. Amazon is becoming more and more popular for wedding registries mainly because of the ability to read reviews of the products you are considering registering for. It is a big advantage to be able to read reviews about the products before you register for an item. This is one thing you can’t do if you have a physical registry in a stores as opposed to an online registry. There are a number of all-in-one registry sites out there (www.myregstry.com http://www.asimplerweddingregisty.com http://www.universalweddingregistry.com) that allow a couple to add gifts from any stores (such as Amazon) into one centralized registry. The advantage here is that you don’t to create multiple bridal registries at several different stores.

  20. Sarah Rigos says:

    Starlight recently did a research post comparing Macys, Target, Bloomingdales, Williams Sonoma, and Pottery Barn which concluded that Bloomingdales were the best option based on what were considered the most important factors (good returns policy, gift selection, customer service etc.)

    http://www.starlightregistry.com/blog_post.asp?title=which-department-store-wedding-registry-is-the-best?

  21. Carolyn says:

    My fiance and I are registered at Sears, and we had trouble first finding someone who knew how to start a registry, then had to find a gun (then had to find one that worked), tried to create an account online in the store with dial-up internet, and then we were able to start scanning. I somehow hit the back button, and we had to get a manager to log us back in, which took 20 minutes. We finally got a good list going, but now a few months later (and a few months until the wedding) half of the items are not on the list. Definitely going to talk to the fiance tonight about maybe taking it down, I don’t want to deal with the returns and credit card/store credit issues. Really a bummer, we were hoping to get some neat tools :(

  22. Tom says:

    My fiancé and I registered at Sears. The worst customer service I have ever experienced. We received triples of some gifts at the shower. The ideas people bought weren’t coming off the registry, the whole point of a registry. We went to Sears to find out why, they couldn’t give us an answer or even apologize. They were saying it was the customers fault because they didn’t enter the right registry meanwhile we had the gift recipe with us to prove it was bought from the registry. It got to the point we asked for the store manager. We had 3 different responses from 3 different people as to why we got so many duplicate gifts. We didn’t feel confident with Sears and decided to switch to The Bay 2 months before our wedding. So glad we made the change. Just sharing our experience so you could potentially avoid all this.

  23. Amanda Milano says:

    I am a hardcore Amazon fan! I have been using prime religiously for everything in my household from clothes, video, and now pantry all on my Amazon cc of course! It just seemed like the right choice to go with Amazon for a wedding registry especially with the universal location (and the price-checking toolbar plug-in). However, that seems to be where the good news stops. I was very disappointed by the whole process now that it’s over and probably wouldn’t recommend… I’ll break down pros and cons so you can make an informed decision:

    PROS
    -can add any item from any online retailer
    -can cross check pricing with toolbar plug-in
    -can easily share the link
    -thank you card option
    -easy notification of purchases and shipments

    CONS
    -apparently it was difficult to locate the registry to some guests without going to the link within the wedding website. There’s nowhere on the Amazon home page to search a registry.
    -I had A LOT more issues with older, less tech-saavy guests than anticipated. I wrongly assumed that nearly anyone knows how to buy online by now. Here’s the disclaimer: you’ll be getting calls from every random relative to walk them through getting to the registry (or even your wedding website!) Because of this, you will get a lot of gifts NOT on the registry, registry gifts but purchased from somewhere else, and duplicate gifts because of guests buying elsewhere. (There is a way that an item on the registry can be marked as purchased elsewhere so you don’t get duplicates, but that’s expecting a lot from someone who didn’t understand how to purchase from the registry) Note: if someone buys something from somewhere else, you now need to find out that retailer’s return policy, a lot will only give in-store credit and must be returned in person. (I got married in mid-November and when I came back from my honeymoon, it was holiday madness, but I only had 30 days to return some items purchased from brick and mortar retailers–mega inconvenience, also only get current HOLIDAY SALES PRICE if you don’t have a gift receipt–which nearly none of the gifts contained).
    -It was a little difficult for me to access the registry as well and I’m very familiar with Amazon. The only way to find it is through your Wish Lists>Wedding Registry or to search on Google, or to have the link
    -Some items may become “unavailable” from the 3rd party seller between you adding it to your registry and when the guests are looking to buy. So you have to keep up with consistently updating the registry so that all items are available. I double checked it about 1 month before and didn’t have time to do it again and when I checked afterward, about 25% of the registry was unavailable.
    -If you find something from another online retailer and add to the registry–this doesn’t’ seamlessly transfer over. It is a link to the item, however, if there are multiple options: (color options, size options, quantity options etc) none of that will translate over. I added in bedding, but the size didn’t come over and several guests said they wanted to purchase it but didn’t know what size so we didn’t get bedding. I also added dinnerware from another retailer and it came in different colors, but my saved option didn’t translate over so we didn’t get that either. Same goes for the Kitchenaid mixer, keurig, etc. So, yes, you can add items from other retailers, but not accurately, and I wouldn’t count on getting those items because guests want to be sure they’re getting you something you want so they’ll choose something else.
    -Now comes the really bad part—the return process. Because I received so many duplicates due to the above issues, there were ALOT of gifts to return (nearly 40). This may not seem super crazy, but it took about an entire day to organize an Excel doc with all the items to be returned, box them, and call customer service and contact each 3rd party retailer. I attempted to return online with the very easy return system. However, there was a glitch in the system that said I was past my 180 return policy (which starts from day of receipt of the item, just FYI because we got several gifts 1+ month before the wedding) just 3 weeks after the wedding so I had to call into Customer Service to return. I spoke to a very helpful representative, but this phone call was nearly 4 HOURS LONG. In the end, I received all of the return labels that amazon could generate. However, there were errors on the shipping labels. It used the name and address of someone I had sent a gift almost 2 years ago to because their information was in my shipping address profile. I had to call again and nearly 1 hour later, I finally had corrected return labels. I wish it didn’t, but it gets worse…. You have to package each item individually (unless it was several items purchased from the same gifter and not from a 3rd party) so it was A LOT to keep up with and organize to avoid mistakes. Not to mention, KEEP YOUR SHIPPING BOXES!!! You will be happy you did when you see how much you have to return! We ended up not having enough boxes and had to purchase some. Note: UPS will only pick up 15 boxes at a time from a requested pickup. So we had to do 4 requested pickups…Next–you must ASK AND INSIST to not pay return shipping when you speak to the customer service rep. If you try to return online, it will immediately prompt you to pay for the shipping label. Some shipping costs are more than the item is worth! When I called on the phone and insisted with the rep that a hefty portion of the value I would be getting back would now be going towards sending it back–basically forfeiting my wedding gifts–I was then offered pre-paid shipping labels. Also, you are only refunded the value that the item is TODAY. So, good old Amazon is always having sales! Getting married near the holidays? Get ready to watch your gift values TANK. I probably got back about 60% of the value of what my guests actually paid. However, the only way to get back the full value (in Amazon credit, mind you) is to ask the purchaser to return the gift for you. Then there’s that awkward conversation (after the initial awkward conversation of asking someone to spend time helping you return their thoughtful gift) of how to approach the refund back to you. This seemed too agonizing for me to imagine asking my guests to give me the cash value of the gift they purchased merely because someone else purchased a duplicate. So I took the 60% value….Lastly, and certainly not least, is the process of returning to the 3rd party sellers. This is a nightmare and a part-time job to keep up with consistent records to get this returned. I still have 2 items that I’ve never heard back from the seller and this is nearly 3 months since initial attempt to return out of the 6 months I get for a return policy. Amazon is unable to help you and advises that you contact the purchaser and have them request a refund (followed by the same step above, awkward convo, inconvenience and offense to your guest, then what happens to the refund once the purchaser has it back? You ask for it?) If you’re going to go this route, it’s almost best to just ask for Amazon gift cards.

    In conclusion, I think that Amazon has AMAZING resources to make this registry process FABULOUS. They’re simply just there yet.

    Registries should be easy to find when you go to Amazon.com, you should be able to search easily like other retailers who rely heavily on the registry market (BBB, Macys etc) who make it very user friendly. Unfortunately, there will never be a brick and mortar to return items, so they should make the return process easy. A purchaser should never have to be contacted, that’s the point of purchasing through the registry. They should give the full purchased value of the items. It’s not fair to the gifter either. They meant to give you a $100 gift, but because of something as simple as getting a duplicate, you only get $60 back. They need to educate customer service on the in’s and out’s of the return process because 5+ hours to get things done correctly is insane. Most people wouldn’t take that time.

    I just spoke to a friend who got married about this and she went to BBB and her experience was so much nicer. She had very little issues and had to return very little. When she did return, it was 1 trip to her local store and it was all done. She also gets 20% off every purchase for 1 year after her wedding date.

    I’m an Amazon addict, but this is the one department I don’t think is ready for recommendation.

  24. hifive says:

    Amazon website has become so user-unfriendly.
    I will be lucky if anyone can even find my registry there, since Amazon.com doesn’t even have a search registry button on it’s main page.

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