WalMart: Save A Few Pennies, Waste A Lot Of Time

The night before a recent camping trip, there were a couple of last minute things I wanted to get.  You’ll find out in an upcoming post, but one of the things that jumped out that I really wanted was an awning stabilizer kit.

I knew that Wal Mart had these, so I set off to the store right after the kids went to bed.

I figured it’d be a quick trip.

Man, I forgot all about what Wal Mart stands for.

Yes, you might pay less.  But, it WILL take you twice as long.

For some reason, the WalMart by our house prides itself on long lines.  I’m not sure why, but you can never get to a register without waiting at least 15 minutes.  No matter what time of day, that’s the story.

That’s precisely why we rarely shop there.  We could probably save money on groceries and household goods, but especially if we were to have kids in tow, there’s no way I would subject them to ridiculously long lines of 30 minutes or more (which is probably more common during grocery shopping times).  I mean, if I’m getting impatient by myself, I can’t imagine it would be very good for a 3 year old and a 1 year old, neither of whom have exactly exhibited skills relating to patience thus far.

They have a ‘Speedy’ checkout area with six registers.

Two problems:

  1. They are limited to 20 items or less.  Twenty items in a shopping cart, for those who even bother respecting the rules, isn’t exactly a quick ring.  Most stores have 10 or 15 item limits.
  2. Out of the six lanes they have dedicated to this purpose, exactly one was open.  Still, it was slower waiting in the ten person line here versus one of the six or seven people lines that were open in the no-limit registers.

After waiting and waiting and finally getting to the front of the line, it became apparent that WalMart just doesn’t get it.  Someone (maybe a manager, but presumably just a runner) sauntered over and asked the poor cashier (who in his credit was actually working very quickly) if he needed change.

The cashier looked at him incredulously and said something along the lines of ‘No, but I could use some help here.’

The other guy looked around like he was seeing it for the first time.  And I’m pretty sure, given his ‘go-getter’ attitude, his message back was probably ‘No, didn’t need any change’ never even mentioning that reinforcements had been asked for.

How does WalMart stay in business when their customer service is awful and most of their stores look dirty two days after they’re brand new? 

5 Examples Of When A Good Deal Isn’t Worth The Bother

I’m all about getting a good deal on stuff, but price isn’t everything. There are other factors that come into play when it comes to deciding where to get your ‘stuff’.  Sometimes, a deal is too good to pass up.  I know people that detest Best Buy, but will sit outside all night to score a good deal there for Black Friday.  Chances are they don’t go back for another 364 days!

Here are a few real world examples of decisions we’ve made that go above and beyond price:

  • Long Lines – There’s a Wal-Mart and a Meijer practically side by side in a location near our house.  For those who aren’t familiar, Meijer is a midwest chain of stores that sells grocery and household items all under one roof.  They’re pretty similar to Wal-Mart.  The Wal-Mart has better everyday prices, probably by 2-3% overall, but my wife flat out refuses to shop there except for occasionally.  The reason being is that Wal-Mart always has long lines.  Doesn’t matter what day or time it is, my wife has had to wait in long lines so much that she won’t do it.
  • Location – We buy baby formula from Target (their Up and Up brand) even though the Kirkland brand sold at Costco is slightly cheaper (by about 3-5%).  Why?  Because we have a Target half a mile from our house, where the closest Costco is about eight miles away.  If we run low, we can have a new can in hand within 20 minutes using Target.  Not so much with Costco.
  • Return policy – When looking for kids clothing, my wife will always check at Carter’s first.  She’ll check around on price, but unless it’s drastically different, she’ll buy from Carter’s almost every time.  Why?  Because, with a receipt, you can return items at Carter’s forever.  Not so much at other kids stores.  This lets her take advantage of sales up to a year in advance because she knows that even if the kids don’t fit into it, she can return it.  That’s huge.
  • Bad experience – I don’t care if Quizno’s were to give us subs, chips, and drinks for free, I probably wouldn’t bother going there.  Why?  Because we had such a negative experience there that they lost my loyalty.
  • Outrageous shipping prices– Everybody who’s shopped online semi-regularly has surely at one point or another abandoned their purchase once they saw how much shipping costs added to their order during the checkout process.  I have no proof, but I truly believe many stores sell items with no profit margin on the actual item, but try to make all of their profits by sticking it to you on shipping costs.

Do you ever willingly pay more for an item based on the items above?  What other triggers will exist that will make it justifiable to you to pay more?

Image: B&H Photo Video store checkout line an hour before passover starts by MichaelTapp on Flickr