When did Sears.com enter into the outdoor specialty business? That’s what owner and company president Jeff Popp wanted to know when he stumbled on his Mile High Mountaineering packs for sale on the big box retailer’s website.
“I occasionally search our brand on Google and check the shopping links to make sure our packs are being sold in the right places,” Popp wrote us in an email on Sept. 26. “Last week, I noticed that our packs were available on Sears.com. Not only did this make me very upset but the prices were posted as almost double what our listed MSRP is. For example, our Flatiron pack's MSRP is $189 but it was listed on Sears.com for over $300!!”
Popp told us that he contacted Sears immediately and learned that the company allows third-party sellers to operate stores through Sears.com. “I looked into it further and found that our packs were being sold by a company called ‘OnlineSuperSeller,’” Popp told us. “We never authorized Sears or this company to sell our products.”
After poking around some more on Sears.com, Popp told us he discovered OnlineSuperSeller also selling products from Arc'Teryx, Mountain Hardwear, Kelty, Sierra Designs, Osprey, Black Diamond, Gregory and more.
“I have tried calling OnlineSuperSeller multiple times and left several messages but no one has returned my calls,” Popp said. “They did send me several emails, though, and removed our company products from Sears.com after I demanded the removal.”
Popp shared a Sept. 23 email to him from OnlineSuperSeller in which the company confirmed it was removing Mile High Mountaineering product from the Sears website:
I want you to know that I have confirmed that your products have been deleted from the Sears database. It takes 2 to 3 days for them to be removed from the website. I will check again on Monday to make sure that all of your products are not showing up on the site. I also confirmed that we have not sold any of your products. Thanks!!
Digging a bit deeper, SNEWS found that OnlineSuperSeller shares the same physical address with Above & Beyond Advertising Products and GiantAd.com at 16635 Noyes Ave. in Irvine, Calif.
When we contacted Chaklos by email at his GiantAd.com address and inquired about all the outdoor brands OnlineSuperSeller had for sale on Sears.com, he told us “I am stating clearly for your article that we only sell products that are from authorized distributors.”
When we asked about his pricing structure of doubling the MSRP of a product in apparently all products we viewed, he responded in a Sept. 28 email, “We are in the process of fixing this data/pricing error and we expect it to be fully resolved in the next month before the Christmas rush.”
When we asked him to confirm he was attributing the pricing at OnlineSuperSeller to a “data/pricing error” he responded with a follow-up email on Sept. 29 to state, “Last Christmas the Xbox 360 had an MSRP of $199 but it was in such high demand that people paid on Amazon, Sears, Ebay, Nextag, Buy.com and many other websites upwards of $450. There are many companies that make their whole online business by buying from retail giants and selling online… They make their complete living selling name brand items that they are not authorized distributors for.”
SNEWS contacted Sears to learn how the company works with third-party retailers to allow the sale of products on its website, Sears.com. Tom Aiello, division vice president of public relations for Sears, emailed us with the following statement:
“Sears provides the Marketplace as a platform for third parties to negotiate the sale of their merchandise to customers on the web. Sears is not involved in the transaction between the customer and the Marketplace seller, and does not select the merchandise assortment available for sale, or the prices, which are both determined by the seller. Marketplace sellers must comply with all applicable laws, and the proprietary rights of other parties. Sellers that are unable to comply with these requirements are removed from Marketplace.”
We contacted several brands listed for sale via OnlineSuperSellers through Sears.com and each told us the sales were not authorized and they would immediately check with the company to seek removal of the products from the website.
John Pieper, sales and marketing manager for Gregory Packs, told us, “Gregory does not approve web sales through third party or redirection sites.”
Pieper confirmed with us Sept. 30 that he was able to speak with Chaklos and was told that OnlineSuperSeller would immediately remove all Gregory packs currently for sale at Sears.com.
A check of the Sears.com website on Oct. 4 showed that Gregory packs were still listed in a results page following a search of the website with the company name; however, a click onto an individual pack for more information garnered the message “Yikes, we’re sorry but that page is no longer available." Mile High Mountaineering products have disappeared from the site completely.