If Something Looks Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is

I use Google Reader to subscribe to most of my RSS feeds.  One of the feeds I have set up is the up and coming deals listed on Slickdeals.net.  There’s usually a couple hundred per day, so for the most part, I glance at them just to see what’s going on (though this is really fun to watch on Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

A couple of weeks ago, I saw one pop in right around the time I was checking for a TV deal.  It was a 42″ Vizio TV (good brand), refurbished, at Walmart, for $199.99.  You could buy a 4-year warranty for an extra $32.  Add in $12 in sales tax, and that would be a TV to use for four years for $243.99.  Sounded pretty slick to me!

I rarely buy on impulse but I figured, what the heck.  We put our cash back rewards into a fund for new TVs or other electronic purchases, and I knew I could find a spot for this.

But I also knew the likelihood of actually getting one of these TVs was pretty low.

Because it was just a bit too good to be true.

It was so good that I didn’t even tell Mrs. Beagle about ordering it.  She would definitely not mind if we did replace one of the old TVs, and she’d definitely be impressed by the price, so I knew it would be an OK purchase by her.  But, common sense told me that this would likely not happen.  The deal was available for purchase for a couple of hours.  Over a hundred people posted that they had made the purchase, meaning that there were probably thousands (like me) that made the purchase and didn’t post anything about it.  Last, I figured that there’d be no way there could be that many refurbs of one particular model of TV available.

So, I immediately set the expectation that this would likely not happen, but if it did, sweet.

Sure enough, within 24 hours, I got an e-mail note saying that the item was ‘backordered’ and if it was not back in stock in 10 days, the order would be automatically cancelled.  In 10 days, I got the inevitable follow-up saying that the order had been cancelled.  I wasn’t too upset, but you should have seen some of these other people on the Slickdeals site.

They acted as if WalMart had not only failed to come through on this TV but had gone in and stolen all their other TVs.

Some started trying to get a viral message going via Twitter and other social media.  Some started bombarding the online chat feature for WalMart with complaints, trying to get them to honor the deal on a comparable TV (this did not happen).  They started complaining to the Better Business Bureau.  They started taking all their WalMart business elsewhere.

I get it.  WalMart advertised the TV and then didn’t come through.  It was most likely either a price error or someone fat fingered how many of these TVs were actually available.  It was a mistake.  It happens.

Get over it.

Sometimes companies will honor price mistakes.  I’ve heard of instances where airlines sold tickets for $1 instead of $1,000 and ended up honoring it.  But, that’s the exception and I would think that shareholders are not going to be too happy if every company that posts a price error fulfills it if it means cutting into their bottom line.

I guess I take the approach that if it looks too good to be true and if the end result is that I’m out nothing more than a couple of minutes of my time for having placed the original order, is it really a big loss if it doesn’t happen? Obviously there are a whole lot of angry SlickDeal members who think otherwise, but my answer is no.  It’s not a big loss.

What do you think?  Am I too easy on WalMart or if there is a deal that’s too good to be true, should you set your expectations accordingly?

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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? 

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