5 On Your Side

Granville County woman battles Sears over tax credit

Posted June 21, 2010

Meldrina Bernard, of Creedmoor, says Sears talked her into buying a roof she was not ready to purchase.
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— Meldrina Bernard, of Creedmoor, loved her vacuum cleaner so much she went back to Sears at Crabtree Valley Mall to thank the associate who sold it to her.

“I just wanted to go and give her a hug and say, ‘Thank you,’” Bernard said. “I finally got a vacuum cleaner that is working.”

But during her return trip to Sears, she said a different sales representative convinced her to pursue what she calls one of her worst buys from Sears – a roof.

“She walks up to me and she was smiling and she had a piece of paper in her hand and she said, ’How would you like to qualify for a $1,500 tax credit?’” Bernard said.

Soon after, another sales rep came to Bernard’s home.

After agreeing to the $9,200 cost, Bernard called Sears District Manager Jason Stutts about the tax credit.

Bernard said Stutts told her that once the roof was in place she should call Sears, and the retailer, would give her paperwork to take to an accountant.

But when she called to get the paperwork, representative Jennifer Pittman told Bernard the roof did not qualify for the tax credit.

In a follow-up e-mail, Pittman blamed the “marketing people” saying they are "not aware of the nuances of using incorrect verbiage with customers."

“If you're not using correct verbiage to customers in the store then you need to put some warning signs up at your front door saying, ‘Shop at your own risk. Our marketing people are not aware of using correct verbiage to customers in the store,’” Bernard said.

A Sears website included roofs in a list of products that qualify for the credit.

But in a letter to North Carolina's Attorney General, a Sears corporate representative said the only eligible roofing product it carries "is only available in California, and is white."

When 5 On Your Side called about Bernard’s roof, Sears attorney Mark Henrikson apologized for the misunderstanding.

He said no Sears employees "have any recollection whatsoever" that Bernard wanted to buy shingles that qualified for the tax credit.

Henrikson said Sears does sell one type of shingle that qualifies for the tax credit in North Carolina, and Bernard could have bought it.

The tax credit is 30 percent of the cost of the energy-efficient materials only. Labor is not included in the calculation.

Of the more than $9,200 Bernard paid, Sears said she would have only received about $250 in credit had her shingles qualified. Henrikson offered Bernard $500.

Bernard still insists she bought the roof sooner than she planned only to take advantage of the tax credit.

“I never put a sign outside saying, 'Roof Wanted,'” Bernard said. “You came to my house and sold me a roof with the plan that I will get something in return."

When dealing with tax credits, customers should remember that they can’t get them if they didn’t earn enough to pay taxes. Shoppers should check with a tax professional and visit the Internal Revenue Service website before purchasing an item involving a tax credit.

8 Comments

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  • reincarnatedasme Jun 25, 2010

    A few years ago a Sears salesperson anxious to make his commission lied to me too and I refuse to shop at any Sears ever again after they refused to make it right. The old statement "BUYER BEWARE" applies.

  • tarheelbil Jun 24, 2010

    KMart owns them??? Expect better??? If that's the case, she's lucky they didn't over-bill her for the roof, send a second bill to recoup any tax credits she could have gotten, and then send her to stand in the LONG line at customer service to voice her complaint. I love their hand-tools (Craftsman guaranteed for life, but they mislead you on that too if it's a power tool), but I won't walk through their stores. By the way, it's newsworthy BECAUSE it's a warning...caveat emptor...

  • warrcorick Jun 24, 2010

    Only in America!!!

    It's unchecked business practices such as these which have caused us to fall behind all foreign markets in practically all areas. Consumers have learned who to beware of. Trust? Is this really what we've come down to, take your Lawyer with you shopping?

  • FE Jun 24, 2010

    Relying on tax information from a Sears associate, who is likely also paid a sales commission, is likely NOT a path to financial success.

    Why is this even news??????

    FE

  • HappyGirl08 Jun 23, 2010

    Well that's too bad and most likely, she could have gotten the roof work done for less money anyway. OH well, at least they gave her back 500.00. A drop in the bucket of the 9200.00 cost, but better than nothing.

  • Just another Joe Jun 22, 2010

    That it the reason I stopped shopping there many years ago. Now that Kmart owns them I would have expected better...perhaps I should rethink shopping at the big K.

  • rugrat462 Jun 22, 2010

    And you wonder why Sears is closing stores

  • cocker_mom Jun 22, 2010

    Sadly, there are likely many folks touting the tax credit (which can be a GREAT deal for folks installing energy efficient home improvements, etc) but - anyone worth their salt with say that a person should consult their tax professional to see if they qualify, etc.

    It's really not all that hard to determine what qualifies and what does not.

    Sad - it sounds like she may have not even really needed a roof????? (I guess I'll go watch the video)