Call me narcissist if you must but this blog is all about ME. I have another blog about my kids, whom I love and adore writing about. But I was Nicole a long time before I was mom and I don't intend to give up being Nicole overnight.

You can read all about my kids at Naptime Optional.
Or you can follow along on our Arizona adventure on my 365 project blog.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Evil Empire

I quit shopping at Walmart quite some time ago for a bunch of reasons that I don't desire to go into at this time. The point is I literally had not been inside their doors for nearly 3 years. (okay, I guess that's a bit of an exaggeration since I shopped at the Walmart in Paige, AZ when we went to Lake Powell a few years ago because it is the only store in Paige.)

But Walmart is tricky. Because you can only stay away for so long until you are lured in again by "low prices" on something you just can't seem t0 live without.

For me it was this and this.

I always like to buy something new for the backyard each summer. Because I really like when the kids go outside and play so I want to keep the backyard fun and exciting. So I had been to Toys R us and shopped Toys R us online and there were other bounce houses and other playhouses but these ones seemed to be the best bang for my buck.

Well, of course neither item were carried in store at Toys R us, and shipping on big items like these is always a pretty I resigned myself to either having to get them at Walmart or choose something different.

And much to my detriment I chose to get them at Walmart-and was reminded why I don't shop at Walmart.

First off, the Walmart website claims that both items are carried in store in limited locations. But OF COURSE you can't check inventory online. (and yes, there are actually stores that will tell you, right from the comfort of your own home, whether or not that product is in stock at a particular location. In fact, some super cool places you can buy the item online and then just go pick it up, for those of us that like the convenience of shopping online but the instant gratification of buying it at brick and mortar.)

If you have ever tried to call Walmart on the phone and get help you will know it is next to impossible. So I determined it would be easier just to go to the store and see if they carried the item at my location. That was my first mistake.

See, I printed off the items from the online site, highlighted the product code and everything, and then took a little trip down to the local Walmart. I take my pretty print outs straight to the Customer Service center thinking they will be able to tell me fairly quickly if they carry the items in the store. Because I am used to shopping at stores that have a localized, computerized, searchable inventory system. Say like, Famous Footwear. Have you ever been shopping at Famous Footwear and needed a particular shoe in a different size? They are sooooooo cool that they just come over with their little scanner/pda device and scan the barcode on the shoe box and viola! They can tell you right away if they have any in back or at what other store in the entire valley they do have that shoe in your size. And if it is in stock at another store they can call them right up for you, because the phone number is right there on their cool scanner, and have them hold it for you. All in about 45 seconds! OR, if by some strange twist of fate they don't have it at any of the stores but they do have it in the warehouse (whose inventory is ALSO on the cool scanner) they will ship it to you for free!!! Now that's how shopping should work!

Apparently Famous Footwear is about a million lightyears ahead of Walmart. Because you want to know the method used for telling if the product I wanted was in stock at Walmart? The customer service gal called somebody in working in the toy section and had them walk up and down the isles. No joke. I had the product name. I had the product number. But the way we could tell if it was in store was to have their high paid employee (okay, the not so high paid employee) walk up and down the isles for me. Brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?

Well I obviously wasn't going to go to every Walmart in the valley looking, so I resigned myself to ordering online and forgoing the instant gratification of having it today!

But I told myself it would be okay. Because the one thing Walmart's website had going for it that Amazon or Toys R Us didn't was the "site to store" ship option. See, if you have the item shipped to the store shipping is free. And since shipping on these large items is nearly as much as the item itself of course I opted for this option. (is it too repetitive to say opted for this option? I kind of liked the ring of it. What do you think?)

I ordered them. And one week later one of my items had arrived. So off I trot to Walmart, again. You have to go to the back of the store and press a button to alert an employee that you are there to pick up your stuff. So, I walk to the back of the store (a chore in and of itself) and there is an employee standing there and our conversation goes something like this.

"Hi, I'm here to pick up something shipped site to store"

"Well, I can't help you because I'm on lunch so go ahead and push that button."

I push the button

"I would really like to help you. But I'm on lunch. But I'm bored so that's why I'm back here working anyway. But I can't scan your paper (my printout that tells the employee what I am there to pick up) unless I'm signed into the system and I can't sign in until I clock back in but I can't clock in for 15 more minutes. But I'm bored, so I'm here working."

I stand there for 3 minutes or so and she gives me her big schpeal again about why she can't help me, adding in that somebody should be there soon to help me.

3 more minutes of standing in akward silence and then she once again tells me all about how she's love to help me but just can't.

And still nobody else has shown up to help me either. So I wait, and wait, and wait.

15 minutes I wait. Well, okay it was only 13 minutes because somebody else showed up to help literally 2 minutes before this other gal could clock back in to help.

And so Walmart my question to you is this....are you really more worried about paying 5 minutes of overtime to somebody who only makes minimum wage anyway than you are about offering good customer service? Because believe me, I don't believe that standing around for 15 minutes waiting for service is good customer service.

Plus it leads me to believe that such incidents are going to, in the end, bring the Evil Empire crashing down to it's knees. You can only survive by being the cheapest for so long. At some point even the most non-discriminating customers start to be jaded by the continually abysmal service and sooner or later we'll all just stop coming back. Because yes Walmart, most sane rational people are, in fact, willing to pay 2 bucks more if they get outstanding customer service. (except my mom....did I say that?)

I don't know about you all but I'm going back to Target.


Ryan said...

In all fairness to Target...their return policy is atrocious. Like I bought something, but I wasn't sure if it was going to work for me or not, so I left it in the package for like 3 days while I decided if I wanted to open it or not, and then I was soooooo careful when I opened it because I didn't know if they'd take it back.

But yeah, Target is a million times better, for the most part.

I am a bit dismayed about some missing details from this story.

When you hit the button at Layaway to get somebody to come help you, you actually "touch" the signature pad/card reader. You know, the thing that you swipe your card through, and sign on, etc. Then their computer system beeps, and somehow it pages somebody. I think that's actually kind of cool, because they were being cheap for sure, but they were able to come up with a nifty software solution to solve a problem (How do we page somebody to layaway) without having to buy additional hardware.

Also, you didn't even mention how we brought the thing home in my truck. Come on!

Karen said...

Amen, Sister!!!!!!!!!!!

orangemily said...

I can't stand Target. Not only is their return/exchange policy annoying, they are also way over priced!
I'm with your mom, I'm not willing to pay more (not even $2).
I have never done site to store shipping at any store so I can't sympathize, but I really do like Walmart. We do 99% of our "everyday" shopping there and haven't had customer service problems.
To each his own I suppose.
The new toys look fun!

Andria said...

I shop at Evilmart, even though I know it is evil. I sometimes wonder who I should confess that sin to.

HeidiPie said...

LOL Andria! WSA (Walmart Shoppers Anon.)
I shop there too, and yes sometimes end up so peeved by the time I finally get home. But hey, I did get what I wanted right. I know the checkout people and I know which ones are slow and talky and won't let a single thing go by without hitting their call button.
I also love target. Mine seems to have pretty much the same prices as Walmart (on some things.) And I will pay the extra buck to not have to go to two places in one day, even though they are next to each other. It's just not worth my time to save a buck. I charge myself that much and more just to take two kids in and out of their carseats once.