Weekly Content Critique: The Sears Sceptre

This page for a Sceptre 32-inch HDTV on Sears.com manages to capture everything I hate about retail. While browsing it, I had flashbacks to earlier years when I ran from sales associates who said more than three or four unsolicited words to me. Shopping became an exercise in kleptomaniac-like stealth (without the stealing part).

Hey, did you hear that lingerie shops in Saudi Arabia will now be staffed completely by women? Good move, King Abdullah. If only King Obama–excuse me, President Obama–would consider requiring that managers of pompous retail stores across the country stop forcing their employees to act like imperious heralds of the One True Brand. I’d join the dark side that is political campaigning in a flash. However, I’m dangerously close to implying that this product page tries to wow with excessive information, which is not quite right. It’s more insipid than that.

The introduction: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)

Strictly speaking, the closest representation of a product introduction is a box listing special offers, which is the initial landing page display. Tabbing over to “At a Glance” yields this:

Sears HDTV page_at a glance

Boy, that’s useful. I’m relatively sure I am reading about a TV, but maybe it’s a computer monitor. Didn’t anyone tell Sears about the enduring power of first impressions?

Informative copy: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)Okay, it’s recovery time. When I click “Read full description” below that jumbled list of letters and numbers, the page jumps down to a “Product Description” consisting of two error-riddled sentences and a bulleted list of technical features with no explanations follow the above. But there is a worse offense yet to come.

That being, if I simply scroll down the page to find more product info without their prompts, I encounter an “Overview” tab. Great. But wait, what’s this? The “overview” section is just an excuse for meretricious product-pushing. There’s no avoiding it: This is a snapshot of what serves as the primary product description on the Sears Sceptre page.

 Effective images: 3 pings

3-pings (wide)
Remember what I said earlier about first impressions? It’s possible this category would have received a 4-ping rating. How likely that was, I can’t estimate. But by this point in my evaluation, I so loathe this sad imitation of a fully matured product page that 3 pings feels generous. Sears got this one thing right: they provided zoomable, high-quality images from multiple angles.

Here’s a pretty picture.

What I’m buying: 1 ping

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The only reason I know that this HDTV comes with a stand and remote control is my dedication to reading the entire list of specifications in the left toolbar. More on that list in a minute. As for cords, instructions, hardware, models, lifetime subscriptions to Hulu–who knows.

Design: 1 ping

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In defense of Sears (I like to play devil’s advocate), I have no trouble at all figuring out how to buy this TV, nor what to expect with shipping. In defense of respectable content creators and informed consumers everywhere, the only situation in which I would purchase this product from Sears is one that included comprehensive product research elsewhere and a lower price tag on the Sears website. A much lower price tag, since it’d have to be worth taking on the risk of interacting with the company if something went wrong. I have little faith in a website that can’t publish a proper sentence succeeding in the customer service department.

In order to justify my statements and share my experience with you, I’ve included at the end of this critique a screenshot of the list of specifications that accounts for a good 1/3 of the entire Sceptre page.

Final score: 1 ping

1-pings (wide)Sears, you might want to get crafty with your whiteout and doctor your report card before you bring it home to Mr. Lampert. Although, word on the newswire is he’s an archetypal absent father figure, so maybe you needn’t bother.

My advanced rounding system masks the fact that the true final score is actually 1.4 pings (we don’t have a suitable graphic for that yet). But first impressions are forever.

See the full page

(P.S. Don’t bother. Just scroll down.)

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