Walmart = Complete Waste of Time & Money
“Save money. Live better.”
If I recall it correctly, that’s the current Walmart advertising slogan. The company tries to show how they are compassionate and honestly care about its customers.
The sad truth is that it’s the complete opposite the moment you walk into a Walmart store.
My recent experience today is concrete proof about how the company as a whole makes idiotic decisions and cannot handle the most simple of requests, and it ended up costing me time (I was there to supervise) and my dad his time and money.
Here’s the story:
A few weeks ago my great-uncle competed for the spot and had the honor of throwing out the ceremonial pitch for a Detroit Tigers home game. He and my great-aunt have been lifelong Tigers fans and this was a great honor for them. I live down here in Atlanta and couldn’t make another trip up to Detroit for this event as I was just there a week earlier.
Anyway, one of the newspapers and an independent organization took pictures of the event, both the trial and actual ceremonial pitch, and we wrote to them and got copies of the original photos. That part was great and we ended up getting some pretty neat and high quality pictures in an e-mail. Our plan was to print out a few of them and present them as part of a gift package for my aunt and uncle.
We don’t have any photo printing experience even though my family takes thousands of digital pictures on family trips. We save them on our computers and don’t print them.
So in other words, we were going to use an outside company to print our pictures.
The problem with printing digital pictures is that depending on the size of the image will depend on the final picture’s aspect ratio. These companies automatically crop the picture and you won’t get the true picture in the end unless you plan ahead and edit your picture before you send it to a place to get printed.
That process sucks and I bet a lot of people aren’t even aware of it, but this was a memorable occasion and we wanted everything to look right in the end. We got the pictures to look correct in small, 3×5 images, so now it was time to do a few test pictures on the 8×10 level before committing to doing a batch of them.
That’s where Walmart comes into play. Their 8×10 prices weren’t bad and we were going to tolerate it for doing a larger batch in the future.
So while we were in the store and picking up a test batch of 3×5 photos (the final test batch), we picked up a free photo CD that had some software. Also included was a promotion about how easy it was to just submit your pictures online and then just pick them up in the store when they’re ready. It even included a coupon for essentially a buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) 8×10 photo. We were getting large, glossy pictures, and they don’t process them in the store. Our options were to waste time and money by taking the photos to the store on some kind of media and having the workers place the order for us, or by using the online ordering system that was recommended by the software provided by the store.
This was a no-brainer. It’s significantly easier, faster and more convenient to order things online myself rather than going to a store and having a senior citizen, a non-English speaking person, or even a complete moron to do it for me.
Okay. We’ll give it a shot and do the online ordering.
When doing the online photo ordering through Walmart, you of course have to pre-pay for the photos and then just pick them up in the store when they were ready. There was no way to indicate that we were trying to use the BOGOF coupon. This was something that we were going to have to take up with the store when the photos arrived. Back then I had a feeling that, knowing Walmart, there was going to be some kind of problem with this simple plan.
Ordering through the Walmart.com website and picking it up in the store uses their “ship to store” feature. This feature itself is more of a time-wasting nuisance for the customer rather than something that would actually benefit the customer.
We’ve twice used this feature, and neither time had we ever received an e-mail notice saying that the pictures actually arrived in the store. The website didn’t give any useful information (in this case it only said “SHIPPED – SHOULD HAVE ARRIVED IN STORE 10-22 through 10/26″). Yeah, that helps. With bar codes everywhere and all of today’s technology, how hard would it be for the great, almighty Walmart to let us know that something has been confirmed as arriving at a specific destination? We ordered something a year ago and had the same crap happen and ended up waiting a couple of weeks for an e-mail that never arrived and an item that was just sitting on a shelf behind a customer service desk, so this isn’t exactly a new problem. The e-mail address was correct as other e-mails from the store had arrived, just nothing ever telling us about the actual orders.
So sure enough, when we got to the photo center our pictures were in the store.
Just for fun, we asked the Walmart worker (a man from southern Asia who was also the photo manager) when the photos arrived. He didn’t know. He didn’t even bother looking at a computer to try to find any records of it arriving. He instead showed us the printout that we brought with us and said that they arrived yesterday (10/26).
“Okay, how did you determine that?”
“It says right here.” (pointed to the SHOULD HAVE ARRIVED information on the printout). “It arrived on the 26th.”
“How do you know that? It doesn’t say that anywhere!”
“It says right here.” (pointed again to the SHOULD HAVE ARRIVED information) “Between the 22nd and 26th.”
“That says SHOULD HAVE. It never said that they DID arrive. Earlier the website said that it SHOULD HAVE SHIPPED between the 22nd and 26th.”
Seeing how this guy had no idea when they arrived and didn’t care when we said that the Walmart.com website didn’t ever send us an e-mail letting us know that they did arrive, we focused on trying to use the BOGOF coupon.
The photo manager from southern Asia would not give us a refund for part of our photo purchase and honor the coupon that way. We tried to explain that our intent was to only get these two photos and that we wanted to use the coupon, but the guy kept insisting that he would only give us our next 8×10 photo for free. He wouldn’t do a damn thing about our current purchase and it was quite obvious that we were very disappointed with the Walmart service. The photo manager could care less about customer service and was passing all of the blame on Walmart.com and wasn’t going to do a thing about the problem.
Okay, screw that guy. We’ll take it up with customer service up front.
By now we were crossing the line of just getting a couple of bucks back on a promotion and doing a lot of work just for the principle. We were also ready to request a full refund for the photo order if they weren’t willing to honor the Walmart coupon.
I’ll give the customer service department a little bit of credit here. Not that they’re incredible slow and often wait too long before calling over additional workers when the refund line gets exceptionally long, but that for the most part, a lot of the workers just don’t care. Myself, I’d rather not get harassed by workers when I try to get a refund, especially for something like an unopened product. Fry’s in particular is one of the worst stores when it comes to trying to get a refund for a brand new item. I’d rather take the Walmart slacker attitude when it comes to refunds.
We explained the coupon situation to the worker, and she immediately saw that what we wanted to do made sense. There wasn’t a way to use the coupon when making the initial order, so we wanted to use it now before walking out of the store with our product. That was a good sign to us.
Doing refunds like this was a notch above the worker’s experience, so she called for a customer service manager to come and do it.
Okay, no problem there. So far, so good.
We waited to the side as the worker helped the next person in line. A few moments later the CSM arrived to help us with the problem. We told her the story, and she also immediately agreed with us.
The problem came when she punched the order into the computer, and since this was something ordered through Walmart.com and that it involved photos and wasn’t something that they stocked on the shelves, the order was locked and she couldn’t do a partial or full refund.
Our only option was to take it up with the people at Walmart.com.
We’re talking about an order just under $10. This had now moved far beyond just saving a couple of bucks. Now we were on a mission. We also had a little bit of time to kill as we were waiting for my dad’s prescription (we normally go to Rite-Aid for his medications as the prices are cheaper gasp! and the customer service is normally far superior gasp!).
My dad used his cell phone to call the fine customer support people at Walmart.com. After waiting for a while he got a live person, and after telling this story again the worker put him on hold to speak with a manager. She finally came back and, after verifying that we were still in the store and that the workers couldn’t have just given us a refund then, she asked to speak with one of the Walmart workers in the customer service department.
The only worker that could help us was the one who did before (the training to work there is minimal), so we had to wait ten minutes for her to finally make it back to the front of the small store (this wasn’t one of the full-size Walmart Supercenters). She used my dad’s cell phone and talked to the CSM at Walmart.com and they reviewed the entire situation yet again. The in-store worker physically verified that all three pictures were there and that everything on our end checked out as being correct.
Walmart itself is doing a lot of work here to solve something their way.
So the in-store worker told us that the entire order was going to be fully refunded as we requested and that we should be receiving an e-mail confirming it. She then said that the three pictures that we were returning were going to have to be destroyed in the process.
That’s where we left.
After jumping through too many hoops and wasting a lot of time (including waiting for Walmart.com after placing the order over a week ago), my dad finally got word that his order was going to be refunded.
By this time his medication was ready, so we paid for that in the pharmacy department and left the store.
He checked his e-mail a few minutes ago, and sure enough, there was an e-mail from Walmart confirming his return and refund. But there was just a little problem . . . THEY SCREWED UP AND DIDN’T REFUND THE ENTIRE AMOUNT!
One more phone call to Walmart.com was made, and after speaking with a couple different workers, the correct amount of money was refunded to his credit card.
So what’s the bottom line here?
First of all, this could have been solved with the photo manager. That guy didn’t even try to help us. His only answer was to just come in another time and he’ll give us a future picture for free. He never touched the computer to check on the order or anything.
In any real company there is no way that a person like that could ever be a customer service manager.
Second, having to have us call and deal with the people at Walmart.com was inappropriate. That’s not customer service. There were several Walmart workers standing behind the counter at that point in time with nothing to do (the previous line of customers was gone), and any one of them could have easily picked up a company phone and solved the problem.
Did they care or even lift a finger? Hell no!
It was up to us to solve the problem, and that’s exactly what we did.
I remember hearing not too long ago that if you were caught shoplifting in Walmart for something less than $25, then you wouldn’t be prosecuted by the store. They’d bar you from shopping there again in the future, but you wouldn’t be sent to jail or have to deal with the cops. The store determined that it wasn’t worth it for them to deal with “trivial” issues like that.
If that’s their attitude for shoplifters, why was it so hard for the store and online department to honor the store’s own coupon, especially when our entire order was less than $10? It’s not like we ordered a hundred of them and were trying to scam the store. I mean, we’re only taking about $2.50 or so for the glossy 8×10. Besides, this was an internal problem with the store. It wasn’t our fault.
Did the workers at Walmart give us anything for the inconvenience we went through?
Would it have killed them to have let us keep the three pictures as a courtesy, hoping to win us back as customers?
After all, the worker made it a point to make sure that she had the pictures and they would be destroyed.
As far as getting our batch of photos printed, we’ll be testing out Costco and their photo printing service. Word has it they’re cheaper than Walmart anyway and offer a quality product in the end. Plus, they supposedly print large glossy pictures in the store and don’t have to send away for them, so right now everything looks good as far as that’s concerned.
In the end, we wasted a lot of time dealing with the usual Walmart crap that supposedly doesn’t happen in the stores. According to the propaganda, err, commercials, shopping at Walmart is like being in paradise. After all, they’re not going to waste your money like those “other” stores do. Walmart cares and looks out for your best interests. It’s going to hold your hand in the store and give you a hug before you leave.
That’s complete bullshit!
Every store that wants to survive is going to monitor its competitors and keep its own prices in range, and most retail stores offer significantly better quality of products and much better customer service than what you receive at Walmart. Going to grocery stores like Publix and Kroger is paradise after dealing with the local Walmarts. Plus, using coupons at real grocery stores and shopping smart will help you save money and live better through quality products without spending a dime in one of those infernal Walmart stores.
We’ve had many bad experiences at Walmart over the years, whether it was receiving poor quality food items (you really have to check those expiration dates and avoid cold food that typically gets left in aisles and not properly stored in the containers) or dealing with slacker workers. The usual Walmart customers are nothing to write home about, either. Several stores around here feel like third world countries on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Others tend to have that ghetto feeling to them no matter when you visit.
It’s hard not to put an axe through the TV each time one of those idiotic Walmart commercials is played.