Man’s picket against Sears gains attention


When a business treats you wrong, do you just roll over and play dead? Or do you start making some noise until you get satisfaction?

I want to tell you the story of one man that I read about on, the website of a community newspaper serving Prince William County, Virginia.

Ed Hazen and his wife just sold their home in Idaho and were traveling around the country after retirement. They were visiting family and friends across the country when the radiator in their Ford F-350 pickup sprung a leak out West. A replacement radiator at a Sears in Cheyenne, Wyo., set him back $1,300.

After the repair, Ed and his wife set out for Virginia to visit their daughter. But the new radiator sprung another leak, requiring another replacement at a local Sears in Manassas, Va.

Following 4 days of waiting, they get their truck fixed and start driving again, this time to North Carolina. Guess what happened on the road…yet another leak in the brand-new radiator!

Good thing Sears offered a 1-year warranty on that thing, right? Well, Ed makes it back to Manassas only to find Sears won’t honor the 1-year warranty…because he had already driven a total of 800 miles from Manassas to North Carolina and back again.

Seventeen days of waiting for a phone call from management to resolve the issue, Ed and his wife just want to get back on the road seeing America. But the company’s continuing customer no-service meant that Ed decided it was time for America to see him.

Ed has now been picketing in front of the Sears Auto Center in Manassas that did his second radiator repair. As of this writing, Sears is still not doing anything for him. Actually, I stand corrected: At one point, a manager came out of the store to tell him they’d fix the problem free of labor costs…if Ed bought another new radiator.

That was not acceptable to Ed, and so the picketing continues. Historically, I’ve had four pieces of advice for picketers:

  1. Check with local authorities for rules governing a picket line in your town.
  2. Stick strictly to the facts with your complaint when you actually picket; say nothing about the character of the person or business that wronged you.
  3. Pick the busiest day of the week for your protest. For many businesses, that’s typically a Saturday.
  4. Get your children out there picketing—or borrow a friend’s kids! Nothing else has the same impact as a nice family picketing outside of a business.

Read more about ways to use picketing, letter writing, and polite persistence to resolve consumer gripes on pages 293-297 of my new book, Clark Howard’s Living Large for the Long Haul.



On October 8, Team Clark got word from Sears that they had refunded Ed’s money in full. Now he can get a new radiator elsewhere and be on his way sightseeing in America with his wife!

Original Audio: Ed Hazen talks to Clark
Hear the original clip in which Clark discussed this story and listen as Ed calls in from the picket line!
Hour 1:   Listen | Download

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