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Sears caught raising prices before liquidation sales

As Sears is in the process of closing nonprofitable stores, it may be playing games with fair pricing.

The company is closing stores in across the nation including one in Topeka and two in the St. Louis area. The three remaining Kansas City locations: Independence Center and the Outlet Centers in Lenexa and Kansas City, are off the chopping block–for now. They were not listed as part of a list of 100 that were in trouble.

“We have identified approximately 100 non-profitable stores, 72 of which will begin store closing sales in the near future,” Sears said in a press release. “We continue to evaluate our network of stores, which are a critical component in our transformation, and will make further adjustments as needed and as warranted.”

But it’s not the closing that has customers upset. It’s the price gouging.

A Minnesota TV station has found evidence that prices are being raised before the “liquidation” sales. As those stores close down, liquidation signs are going up and, WCCO TV found, so are the prices.

WCCO compared prices on several items at one store just before liquidation started, and again on the first day.

A Craftsman riding mower was listed as 10 percent off for liquidation, priced at $1,889. But buyers could’ve saved $300 more dollars by purchasing it the week before, when the sale price had it listed for $1,499.

It was a similar story for a Craftsman push mower.

Sears’ current liquidation price: $450. Before liquidation, the same mower was on sale for $399.

And it’s not just the American locations. Sears Canada is fooling around with prices for Canadian shoppers as well.

searsElizabeth MacMillan, of Canada, says she feels misled by the retailer’s liquidation sales, where she found items priced higher than when she last visited the store.

“I was really, really turned off,” MacMillan said. “It’s deceptive.”

She’s one of several customers that the Canadian cable channel CBC News interviewed who uncovered altered prices at Sears liquidation sales. They suspect price prices were marked up to offset the advertised discounts that ranged from 20 to 40 per cent.

Sears Canada told CBC News no re-pricing was done for the liquidation sales, as the discounts are applied at checkout.

MacMillan doesn’t buy it.

She visited the same Stratford location about three weeks earlier to scope out some items. When she returned for the liquidation sale last week, she says she was confused because the same items had gone up in price.

MacMillan pulled off the sticker price on a T-shirt she had eyed previously for her 10-year-old son.

The shirt was priced at $9.97, and underneath was the original, cheaper price she remembered: $7.97.

“It was like, ‘OK, that’s not cool,'” said MacMillan. “I was really, really taken aback.”

As part of the liquidation sale, the T-shirt would be discounted by 20 per cent, which means she would be charged the original sticker price of $7.97. MacMillan didn’t think that was a deal.

“It was very misleading,” she said. “I ended up walking out without buying a thing.”

A Sears spokesperson told WCCO it does not set the liquidation prices — that’s the liquidation company’s job.

Those prices will eventually continue to drop.

A four-burner Kenmore outdoor grill might seem like a can’t-miss deal right now, advertised as 30 percent off of its $400 price tag. But it had almost the same discount before liquidation, when Sears sold that model for $300, only $20 dollars more than that store-closing sale.

–Metrovoicenews.com and wire services