I’ve had a Craftsman 3/8″ torque wrench for about a year and a half, maybe two years. It’s one of my favorite tools in the garage. In fact, take a look at the photo on the left and you’ll see me using it on my bike with a great big smile. Every semi-serious shade-tree mechanic needs a good torque wrench, and generally they last forever. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll rarely find a good one for less than $100.
I buy Craftsman tools because Sears stands behind its products (well, usually). Craftsman hand tools have a lifetime warranty, and I’ve personally returned more than a few. Suspension work frequently results in broken sockets and ratchets and Sears has always been great about returning them. But not all tools are created equally, and some of them, like torque wrenches, are only covered for a limited time.
Last week, I lent the wrench to a friend who managed (somehow) to break it. The grip became loose and the wrench’s torque set was stuck somewhere around 15 ft lbs. Now, I know that Sears only guarantees wrenches like this one for a year, but I figured what the hell and brought it down to my local store. I’ve read mixed reviews lately about returns, but my experience was nothing short of awesome. While standing in line, a sales associate and a guy in plain clothes approached me and asked if they could help.
When I explained the situation, the sales associate told me that the wrench was no longer covered. It was clear he recognized the older model and knew its age. I thanked them and said, “well, see if you can find a trash can to throw this into, then?” and handed over the wrench. That’s when the plain clothes guy stepped in and said “let’s see if we can figure out when you bought this wrench” and smiled at me. We walked to the nearest computer and he looked up the part number, and then asked me if I was a Craftsman Club member, which I am.
He never asked for my name, phone number, address or any other identifying information. He said to me, “so you bought this no more than a year ago”, without even waiting for my reply he looked at the sales associate and said, “swap him out, and make sure this one gets labeled as a return”. On my way out of the store, I stopped and shook the hand of the plain clothes man (it was clear now that he was a manager or supervisor of some kind). He smiled at me and said, “thanks for coming in, it was my pleasure”.
The price tag on the wrench was $69.99, and for a one-time investment, Craftsman has created a customer for life. I’ve spent thousands on tools, boxes, and benches over the years, and when Sears had the opportunity to do customer service right, they nailed it. Someone from Sears seriously needs to call someone at Kay’s.