Three weeks ago, I ordered a pair of tires on Walmart.com. When I created the order on January 5th to be shipped to the store, I was surprised when it said it wouldn’t be there until the 16th. A week and a half sounded like a long time for a company that has such efficient logistics.
Apparently, it wasn’t long enough though.
The 16th came and went, and nothing happened. I don’t like to be a high-maintenance customer, so it wasn’t until 6 days later that I sent my first email. The response came the next morning:
We truly apologize for the delay of your order. We have escalated this issue to the proper department…We ask you to please wait 5 business days for a response.
5 business days for a response?! That’s unacceptable. So I took to Twitter, because obviously these companies care more once you start talking to other people.
I got a much quicker response this time, and actually got three phone calls in the next two days, one from the “escalation specialist” letting me know they’d get the tires there ASAP and one from the store manager saying the tires had been delivered. I didn’t understand why it takes me tweeting out to a couple thousand people for them take it seriously, but I was impressed.
That is, until my wife, who is 8 months pregnant, took the car to the store yesterday to have the tires installed.
Be glad my wife isn’t a scary pregnant lady
When she got to the tire center, the lady looked at her like she was an idiot and told her she had to get online orders from the online pickup counter. When my wife asked how she was supposed to get them back over to the tire center (obviously referring to the fact that she’s not really up to lifting two tires into a shopping cart), the lady just looked at her and said, “Um, with a shopping cart.”
So, my wife walked to the online pickup center to pick up the tires. She pressed the button for assistance, and after ten minutes of waiting, she had to walk around the store to find someone who could help her. When that store associate looked up the order to get it from the back, he informed her that the tires weren’t available. She told him the order has been a hassle all month, and explained everything. He couldn’t do much at that point, so he got a manager to come help. When the manager came (who, as it turns out, was not a store manager but the Auto Center Assistant Manager), she helped look for the tires, and (surprise, surprise!) they weren’t there. She then asked my wife why we would order the tires online when we could come into the tire center and they could order them for us and get them the next day.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure why their order would only take one day to get there while a customer’s would take two weeks…I’m also not sure why anyone would instinctively go to the store to order something online when they can do that in their underwear at home. Besides that, earlier this month, after we received a faulty crib mattress that we ordered online, and tried to go to the store to return it and have them do an exchange and place a new order (we had bought it on Black Friday, so the online price was different now), we were informed that they can’t do orders from the store and that we would have to go home and do the replacement request ourselves. But that’s another Walmart customer service story.
What would you do?
So…do we just cancel the order and go with someone else and pay more? Or do we just wait until they have them in the store. At first, I just told my wife to cancel it. We were both at our wit’s end and I felt horrible that my wife had to go through all that stress to add to the discomfort she’s already feeling being pregnant.
After a few minutes, my wife called me back. The tire center actually had that size of tire in stock–which was not the case when I ordered them three weeks ago–and they’d be more than happy to install those ones. How did they get the tires in stock, but they couldn’t get our order shipped there? Good question.
At that point, we had a decision to make. We were both so angry about everything we had to go through when it would have just been simple for a caring associate to look beyond the problem and see a customer who needs a solution to a real problem. Deep down, we both wanted to just tell them we’ll take our business elsewhere, but even a quick search for the same size elsewhere came back showing we’d be paying more–not something we want to deal with right now with a baby on the way.
What we did
Ultimately, after an hour of my wife being directed around and waiting for answers, we decided to pay less. What happened next, though, will likely preclude any further Walmart shopping for us for a while. When my wife got to the tire center in the beginning, there were no other customers. She actually went in early so she wouldn’t have to wait for a long time. During the hour she was getting no help, four other customers showed up to get work done (one of whom, I might add, came in while my wife was finishing up her transaction in the auto center and had made a brief phone call to me to ask if I wanted to pay for the Road Hazard Warranty. During that 10-second conversation, the woman helping her decided to put her transaction on hold and add another customer to the list ahead of her).
Rather than doing what I feel would be the right thing and making my wife a priority, the lady unapologetically told her she was the fifth in line and would just have to wait. It took another hour and a half of waiting to finally get the car back with the new tires.
Update: And on top of everything, we had to buy the tires at the auto center separately from our original order. But when I went online to cancel the original order of over $100 and get a refund, it said I couldn’t cancel it because it’s still in “Shipping” status. Odd since they told me it was delivered to the store. Anyway, my wife posted something on their Facebook page yesterday morning and they told her to contact their Help Desk. She did that, but neither of us has received a response since.
So my question is this. How much would you put up with to pay less? Would you keep shopping somewhere because it’s cheaper, even though they treat you horribly?