Last year when I lived in South Dakota we got hit with 4 huge storms that dumped probably 8 inches each for nearly 3ft of snow in a matter of days. Halfway through the second storm the 6-7 yr old 26' Ranch King (MTD) blew and after being used on a rock surface driveway for it's life, looked like it was due to be replaced. However there were no replacement snow blowers to be found. I did the research and prepared myself to buy one the next time it snowed. In the meantime I begged and borrowed blowers for that series of storms. Over the summer we moved to Nebraska and assumed snow would not be that bad here. Needless to say we were wrong. I went out last week after the first day of a 3 day storm and decided I would not be without a blower. I went around looking at Cub Cadet, MTD, etc and settled for a craftsman 26' 208cc Model 88691. Though I was a bit unsure as the previous year I had been wanting a 28' 277cc that they no longer built. Anyway, I got the blower home and started to use it. Before I got half of a 20x40 stretch done, it began to lope, so I set it in the garage and let it sit awhile. Second attept I ran through some light snow that the plow trucks had just pushed into the driveway. Again it loped and then at full throttle would barely even idle. Parked it in the garage again and the next morning it was fine. I did not like this and called the sears store and asked about fin ding a 357cc 30' Model 88830 and they simply told me I would be subject to 15% restocking fee. I hung up with them and called Sears Cares, the corporate customer service and asked for help. They said they would cut a check for the restocking if the store tries to charge me and also send me something for my trouble. I had been online trying to buy a model 88830 and was trying to buy it but in between selecting the store and putting the payment info in, someone bought it. I then was able to catch the local Ariens dealer open and stopped in on my way to Sears to return the blower. It was then that I learned that Sears no longer uses Tecuseh, Murray or rebadged Briggs motors. I was able to take it back to the store and get a full refund once they found out I had mechanical issues and not just wanting an upgrade. The Ariens dealer had nothing in a 28 or 30 width but said they would call me back, I a advised them I needed to get something soon or ordered by noon. I did not hear back from them by then so I went to Sears and ordered a Snapper 27' 249cc blower and I really wasn't crazy about the electronic chute control. I really wasn't crazy about the 14 day wait since more snow was predicted in the near future. That evening the Ariens dealer called and said they found a deluxe 28 and 30. Told them I would take the 28 and they called back 30min later and said the distributor they called sold it and only have a couple 30 left and he can have it in 48hrs. I'm in, grab it. Meanwhile I had wrote a check to sears on the snapper. When I stopped and canceled the next morning they tell me they have to hold the payment 10 days before they can issue payment out in the form of a mailed check. Great, so they tie up $1065, at least I still had enough to buy the Ariens too. Still not happy about holding my money but I understand why. Anyway, the Ariens shows up a day later and they call me and tell me that the chute control handle was missing and they ordered on to be overnighted. Fine, least of my problems. So it finally shows up yesterday and boy was it worth it. Feels way more solid, starts easier and runs smoother than that Craftsman, and acutally throws snow 50ft where the craftsman wouldn't clear 20ft with the same light snow. Yeah, it's bigger and cost twice as much as the 26 I started out with but it is more than 3 times the blower. At least Sears is sending me a $75 gift card for my troubles. I'll probably use it to buy tools or ariens parts from their website.