Undercover Shopping: Testing Holiday Promises
CNBC General Assignment Reporter
Let's be honest, there's nothing more frustrating than battling holiday traffic, then fighting the crowds inside the store, only to wait in long lines to check out. A number of retailers hope to offer some relief by allowing shoppers purchase online and pick up at the store, cutting down wait times, at least in theory.
This year Sears is making the 5 minute pick-up promise. If you make a purchase online and drive to the store, they'll have the item loaded in your car within a surprisingly short 5 minute window. Even on Black Friday.
Best Buy and Walmart also offer in-store pickup, though with no time guarantee. So who beat the clock?
We went online and ordered the Nintendo Sports Console from each retailer.
(Read More: 10 Must-Have Videogames This Holiday Season.)
The clock started the moment we clicked buy, and stopped when we were notified the console was ready for pick-up.
Wal-Mart sent us a "ready for pick up" email in 41 minutes. Sears shot us an email for pick up in just 8 minutes. But after an hour and 15 minutes, there was still no notification from Best Buy. Though when we checked the order status online it said "ready."
Clear winner in round one: Sears.
Now for round two, the actual store pickup.
The clock started when we handed over the receipt and stopped when we got the console in our hand.
Sears claims it will get you in and out fast, promoting the "5 minute promise."
At the Jersey City location, there's a kiosk inside to scan the confirmation email. The 5 minute clock starts ticking. We're out the door 1 minute and 44 seconds later. The 5 minute promise achieved.
Wal-Mart makes no pick-up time promise, but we started the clock running after presenting the receipt at the store in Secaucus, NJ. We had the console in hand after just 2 minutes and 5 seconds.
There are no guarantees on speed at Best Buy either. But, we handed over the receipt, and we got the console just 1 minute and 48 seconds later
Sears won again, by 4 seconds.
We should point out that we did these tests before Black Friday, and there is a human element involved, so experiences and time will likely vary from store to store, maybe even region to region. But at least so far, retailers are passing our tests.
Now we'll test the return policies … I don't need three Blu Ray players and three Nintendo Sports Consoles!
-By Courtney Reagan, CNBC Reporter