September 14, 2010

Mom “Breaks Up” with Walmart

(Photo from the link)

I found this link on this morning, and I had to pass it on for you to read. 

I’ve posted a few times on this blog that I’m not a fan of Walmart.  Want to hear something funny?  I won a $25 Walmart gift card recently.  I did nothing to sign up for it, and when I was contacted, I thought it was a scam at first.  I read further on the blog and discovered that because I had left a comment on a post, I was automatically entered for the drawing.  When Walmart gift card arrived in the mail just a few weeks later, I wondered what I would buy with it. 

We go to Walmart about 1 or 2 times per year.  The main things that we buy there are hunting licenses, ammo, dog food, and motor oil.  Doesn’t that sound Southern?!  I like their tire rotation program where you can pay a one time fee and have your tires rotated for the lifetime of the tire for free, yet I so often don’t want to venture into Walmart that I don’t fully take advantage of this service. 

Almost every visit I enter and leave the same way.  As I’m walking to the door to enter, “Maybe this time I’ll be surprised.  Maybe it will be different.”  As I leave, “That was time from my life that I’ll never get back!  ARGH!”  Let me illustrate this point with my visit to Walmart yesterday to use the $25 gift card. 

Hubby and I dropped by the store thinking that we would buy dog food with the gift card.  Almost immediately we were tempted by tons of goodies—that’s not much different from any store.  There were large signs marketing major discounts in prices, but as I thought more about the prices as compared to elsewhere, the deals really weren’t that good.  In some cases, the “deals” were higher prices than I would find elsewhere.  The store had been remodeled since I was there last, and it looked beautiful.  The aisles were wider, which was definitely an improvement from my previous trip.  As we walked by kitchen supplies, my weakness, I honed in on a cupcake taker.  Upon inspection, I noticed that it was a piece of junk.  Poorly made, I could see that it would easily scratch and potentially break soon after I started to use it. 

The dog food wasn’t where I remembered it to be. We actually found a Walmart employee to help us, and she pointed the way to the dog food on the complete opposite side of the store.  As we walked by the video section, Hubby decided to look for a movie that a friend produced and was recently released.  After 15 minutes of looking, we didn’t find it.  Again, we found a Walmart employee, and I was amazed when she actually took the time to help us.  They didn’t have the movie, but I was a little hopeful that Walmart was improving.  Things were looking up.

Then we get to the dog food section.  The brand that we usually buy was a better price per pound for the larger size.  There weren’t any on the shelf.  Hey, at least the shelf was marked with the price, which per my experience is not always the case.  Still hopeful, I went to the end of the aisle to find an employee to help us.  I looked all around and no one was in sight.  I went back to the video section and finally found an employee.  I asked him to page someone to help us in pet food.  The page was heard, and we waited and we waited and we waited.  Frustration building now, I walked to the end of the aisle again.  I saw a blue shirt way on the other side of the aisle and flagged her down to again page for help.  The page went through, and we waited and waited.  

Me: “This would never happen at Target!”

Hubby: “Do you want to just leave?”

Me: “No, it is free money, free dog food….This is why we don’t shop here!”

I again go searching for a store employee to help us.  I found a lady walking out of a back room.  I start talking to her, and she can clearly see that I’m asking her a question, and she continues to walk off.  Ooooh, I’m boiling now.  “Could you please stop so that I can ask you a question?”  She stops and gives me a look.  I said that I had paged twice for help and now I wanted her to page the store manager to help us.  She asked what she could do to help us, and she looked in the back for the dog food.  No dog food in the size we want.  We opted for a different brand.  We paid $5 out of pocket after the free gift card was deducted. 

So, if you want to know why I shop at Target or Kmart or just about anywhere else but Walmart regularly, this is the reason—customer service, prices clearly marked on store aisles, prices overall aren’t that much better than Target and it is worth the extra little bit to me to shop somewhere else!, the coupon policies elsewhere are much better for couponers than at Walmart, and quality of products.  I also am not keen on their business practices and the way that they treat their employees.

Will I return to Walmart?  I’m sure we’ll go back eventually.  Luckily we live in a town where we have an option.  I grew up in rural areas where Walmarts moved in, drove others out of business, and then they were the only show in town.  If we wanted to shop and not drive all the way into Memphis, we shopped at Walmart.  Here in Knoxville there are a plethora of stores from which to choose.

I also write this aware that Walmart is vilified, just like McDonald’s is vilified and really not that much better than other fast food joints.  If I were a purist, I would only shop locally and make every effort to buy locally made products.  I’m not that good, though.  Take away the other resistances that I have to Walmart—the business stuff—and I still don’t want to go there.  Customer service, pricing, and coupon policies are biggies for me when I shop. 

What about you? 


  1. I have no qualms whatsoever with Wal-Mart...but...I go to the one in Jefferson City. I really do believe that there's a difference since it's located in a "small town". I rarely make it to Knoxville, even though we only live 15 miles away. I don't like to go to K-town, for lots of different reasons...especially when I can head in the other direction and find just the stores that I frequent...and where the clerks know you!! I've never had a problem with the JC Wal-Mart taking coupons that I print off from the computer...or returning an item without a receipt. Again...I think it's the difference in locations!!!

  2. I’ve been Wal-Mart free* for over 8 years.
    (*free with two exceptions; three years ago when my parents basement flooded and I needed a shop-vac at 2:00 in the morning (interesting crowd shopping at 2:00 a.m.!) and the second, just two weeks ago when I wanted some extra coupons found in All You magazine. Unfortunately the magazine is only carried at Wal-Mart.)
    Both times, as I dashed in and dashed out, I recalled how thankful I am that I “gave-up” Wal-Mart! Heck, the elimination of frustration and stress far surpasses what I may have potentially saved by shopping there. I quit giving my business to companies who don’t make an effort to care, fail to carry the items they advertise, make me feel as if they’re doing me a favor by letting me shop there, aren't coupon friendly, and continue to provide poor customer service. I'm a much happier person without Wal-Mart in my life!

  3. We moved from Knoxville a year ago. We now live in Portland, Oregon, where Wal-Marts are scarce. I thought I would miss the "lower prices." But, I must admit, I don't. We have a very convenient Target. And, the grocery stores and drug stores here have great sales, especially when combined with coupons.

    So, now there's a new Wal-Mart that's "just" 16 miles away--about 30 minutes. I'm going to try it out tomorrow. We'll see. I may be a once or twice a year person myself.

  4. Very good point, Deb! I do think that the customer service aspect matters if it is a smaller town rather than a large town. When I was in Athens, TN, I didn't have nearly as many problems as I have had in Knoxville, Memphis, or other larger cities.

    When I've handed clerks coupons, I get the feeling that they think that I'm trying to rob the place. A new couponer friend lives in Maryville and said that there she doesn't have as many problems as when she shops in K-ville with the coupon stuff.

    Next time I go to Walmart, granted it will probably be next year at this point, I'll make a run to a more rural store to see if I find any differences there. Does anyone have any thoughts on better service at the smaller stores vs the Super Centers? Or, are they all Super Centers now and I just am not aware?

  5. The one in Jeff City is scheduled to be remodeled next August...2011...and I do dread that...but as long as they keep the same staff/clerks, I'll be happy. It's not that we all know each other by name...but we at least recognize each other's faces. I shop there and Dollar Tree and Big Lots...and it's the same at all those stores...they know me!!!