Rolling Back Honesty

Monday, March 23, 2009 4:00
Posted in category Shopping
<div class=\"postavatar\">Rolling Back Honesty</div>

Post written by Rick and Tanya Doyle

Rolling Back Honesty

The stories you are about to read are true.  The store names are actual names and have not been made fictitious in order to protect the guilty regarding their bad customer service.  The guilty will just keep doing what they can get by with until enough of us confront them and force a change or at least get their attention.  The attention of anyone at WalMart who cares enough to fire those who don’t!  Prices are NOT falling but quality of service in my experience sure is.

Our local store, which is a Super Center, is Super sucky at everything, particularly redeeming coupons and saving us wasted time and money.  My wife, AKA The Coupon Queen, has occasionally saved so much with coupons that they’ve had to call a manager to approve the transaction. Once, she had some manufacturer coupons for a free box of diapers and the cashier turned her back and stuffed them in her pocket. When my wife pointed out that the coupons hadn’t been applied to the total she was told that she had to go to Customer Service since the transaction had already been completed.  Another time, her cashier covertly threw her Buy One Get One Free coupon in the garbage because he was too lazy to search for the price of the item to write on the coupon.  Each and every trip she makes to this bad store provides a new story of dishonesty, bad customer care, mismarked products and higer pricing where “rolling back prices” should be replaced with “rolling over the customer”.  Here’s another recent example. WalMart went to all the trouble and expense to team up with GE and mail coupons redeemable only at WalMart for fluorescent light bulbs.  Great idea, right?  Well, one of the coupons was for $3 off a 3 pack of 26 watt bulbs.  Only one problem.  WalMart doesn’t carry a 3 pack of GE 26 watt fluorescent bulbs.  They only carry a 2 pack and 6 pack, yet fervently and incorrectly insisting that they do carry them, and refuse to honor their own coupon towards the 2 and 6 packs that they do stock.  Un-freaking-believable.  

A couple of weeks ago my wife went to get some tangerines but the ones that were left in the bin were beginning to wrinkle and collapse and some were even molding.  Just then she noticed a couple of stock ladies headed that way with tangerines to refill the bin.  She started for a bag on top and noticed that the “fresh” ones were just as nasty as the old ones! She asked the ladies if they had any fresh ones and was told that these were the fresh ones and offered her a different bag with a few decent ones still in it.  Okay, let’s pay full price for a few semi-edible fruits.  Good marketing plan.  I’m saving money not buying your rotten produce! Bad taste leftover!

And the online experience isn’t much better.  Take a look at the “clearance” prices on WalMart’s website.  Sometimes they really roll back the prices!  I have seen examples of extreme blowout pricing where they cut between .05 cents and .12 cents off a $200 item. Really good buys sometimes come down to 1-5% below full suggested retail.  With a search or two on Amazon or a few other specialized retailers you can almost always beat WalMart online pricing by 10% or more and in a few cases a lot more.  Online search on their website is an exercise in futility.  Basically they list a gazillion items where you can spend half your day searching thru the results but finally you find what you’re looking for!  Then you see in fine print to the right where it says NOT IN STOCK in-store or online.  Once in a while they do blow a few things out in the store but unless you’re camped out like a buzzard waiting for something to die you have to be in the right place at the right time. When you live 20 miles out in the boonies like we do, good luck.    One of my favorites is the mislabeled price.  A 16 oz bag of Twizzlers is clearly marked $1.19 and a 32 oz bag is $2.89.  Makes sense to buy 2 of the 16 oz bags, right?  Wrong!  Because when you get home and check your receipt they rang up at $1.68 each.  So the next visit you either wait in line for 20 minutes at Customer Service so they can refund you the difference or you just eat the difference if you aren’t in the mood to wait.  More bad taste? Another little sneaky trick of theirs is to charge more for most of their store brand items than name brands.  I think most people automatically assume that store or generic brands are cheaper than big name brands.  I was shocked to notice one day that some items are actually quite a bit more expensive!  

Last, but certainly not least, is the pharmacy.  This is similar to attempting to make a toddler do something that they REALLY don’t want to do.   Between being closed for an hour and a half for lunch and an incredibly large and rude staff, 70% of the time our allergy prescription is out of stock and I’m always informed “You need to come back in 3 days or call us a week in advance.”  The prices are very inexpensive so the penny pincher side of you agrees to wait. The seriously annoyed side of you wonders why on earth WalMart hired the Pharmacy School rejects and why don’t they know how to manage inventory?  No matter how much you save at WalMart there’s always a price, whether it’s your time or your sanity.  Do you know why they have those sweet old folks greeting you at every door?  Because they tick you off so bad while you’re in the store that they have to butter you up both coming in and going out just to get you to come back. It feels like honesty or care or any shread of pride with regard to the Walmart customer experience is absent with prejudice.  

I recently saw an announcement in the paper that they are downsizing their 220,000 square foot Super Centers to a more profitable (dollar to price per square foot earned) 94,000 square foot store. Great! Make more and provide even less!  If enough people stop letting WalMart and other big retailers treat them like an annoyance rather than a customer maybe they will stop taking us for granted and get back to real deals and real service. Call the regional manager when things go wrong. Take some money away from them and tell them why you don’t shop there anymore. Sooner or later the squeaky wheel will get the grease.  Make them EARN our business, after all, the customer is always right! This has been our recent experience, what’s yours?

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