Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Walmart is Awesome (sarcasm)

I'm going to tell you an awesome story about Walmart, but first you need the back story.

I'm in the process of converting my mountain bike into an electric bike. Well, I've actually completely finished the conversion, but I've been waiting weeks and weeks for the battery to arrive. It finally got here last week, but it won't charge. At first my supplier thought it was the charger, so he sent me a new one. That one got here yesterday, but it won't charge the battery either. The symptoms (I won't go into them here) point toward it being the chargers. However, two separate chargers being faulty in the exact same way seems to be pushing the odds. It seems more likely that something is wrong with the battery. Occam's Razor dictates that when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. To figure out if I'm dealing with horses (the battery) or the much-less-likely double-defective chargers (zebras), I needed a digital multimeter. The one I have got fried a while back, so I figured I'd get a new one since they're not very expensive.

On my break at work, I decided to give Walmart a call and see if they carry them. I was about 90% sure they'd have them. The phone rang about 20 times, with no message or answering service kicking in. Where I work is only a few minutes' drive from Walmart, so I thought, "Ehh, I'll just head out and if they tell me on my way that they don't have them, I'll just keep going and hit Lowe's up or something."

I was in my car when someone finally answered the phone. The woman's bored monotone crackled in my ear, but the conversation was quick:

"Hello Walmart how may I direct your call?"

"Hi, I just wanted to know if you guys carry digital multimeters."

"Hang on one second, I'll transfer your to Automotive."

"Thanks very much."

The phone rang for several minutes - about as long as it took me to hit the traffic light near Walmart's entrance. The ring pattern abruptly changed, and the same woman as before answered again:

"Hello Walmart how may I direct your call?"

"Hi, you transferred me to Automotive a couple minutes ago, but nobody answered so it must have just kicked me back to you."

"Okay, I'll transfer you again."


The phone kept ringing, and I pulled into Walmart's parking lot. As I entered the building and the cool wash of air conditioning made my skin pebble, the ring pattern changed again. The same woman picked up a third time, answering as before:

"Hello Walmart how may I direct your call?"

"Hi, yeah, this is the third time; I'm still trying to talk to someone about whether or not you carry digital multimeters."

At this point, I was walking toward the Automotive and Do It Yourself sections of the store, thinking "wouldn't it be ironic if I found it before they could even tell me that they carry it? I was also thinking, man, it would really suck if I come all this way only to find out that they don't have them.

To her credit, she was embarrassed and frustrated. After all, it wasn't her fault that the automotive department wasn't answering their phone.

"Hold on, I'm going to just put you on hold and go find someone that can answer your question."

"All right, thanks."

I found the aisle with electronic accessories like cable ties, extension cords and the like. After a little perusing, lo and behold, I found the digital multimeters! They had analogue ones too, but those always break way too easily, and it's worth the extra $5.00 to have the accuracy and dependability of the digital ones. They look like this:

About that time, I was thinking about hanging up the phone, especially now that I had the product I was looking for in my hand. As luck would have it, a couple seconds after pulling the meter off its hook, her voice popped back through my phone:

"Hi, sir? What was it you were looking for again?" (I think she was wanting to confirm that she had picked up the right line. At least, I really hope she hadn't completely forgotten what she was supposed to be asking about...)

"A digital multimeter - you know, the small device that you would use to measure the voltage of a battery or the current through a circuit."

"Okay, right. Yeah, they said that we don't carry those."

Pause. I looked at the product in my hand. Here's the title on the package:

"So, I waited on hold for more than eight minutes for you to tell me that you definitely do not carry any products called a digital multimeter?"

"I'm so sorry sir, but that's correct. I just spoke with them, and we do not carry those."

Now I had a choice. I knew it wasn't her fault; she just answered the phone and passed along questions, so I didn't want to give her a hard time. It was possible that she hadn't asked anyone, and it was possible that whoever she had asked had just blown her off by telling her that Walmart doesn't carry the item. Either way, I figured the best option would be to talk to someone face to face. Either way, someone isn't doing their job well and is just being a nuisance.

I went to the automotive counter and asked to speak to a manager. I wasn't upset at all; I was actually kind of elated. This is the stuff you always hear about happening to someone else, told by someone who heard it third-hand. Ridiculous companies! Ridiculous errors! When the employee at the counter asked why I wanted to speak with a manager, the tale was practically bursting from my lips. They busted out laughing, and gladly called the manager.

The manager's reaction was quite a bit different. Her face went immediately red, she apologized profusely and offered me a 10% discount. I told her I really didn't need a discount; I just thought she might like to know that somewhere along the line, at least one employee was neglecting their job. If I hadn't just happened to find the product before they told me they didn't carry them, I would have taken their word for it and they would have lost the sale. I mean, I had asked for a "digital multimeter" and the product is called "Digital Multimeter." One simple inventory search would have easily found it.

She expressed further regret, offering now a 20% discount, stating how ridiculous and embarrassing it was. I gladly accepted the discount, paid, and went on my merry way. Justin: 1. Walmart: 0.



Nicole said...

"Walmart is always 0."

Joshua said...

First the Hotel, now Wal-mart. You must be like a bad service magnet. I never seem to have this many problems.

Joshua said...

Also, I agree with Nicole. Wal-mart is evil.

Jared Benthem said...

This is too funny Justin. Way to follow through on the customer service training for Wal-mart and nabbing the deep discount.

Curt Gerbers said...

That is pretty awesome. Next time I'm looking for something I'm going to call on my way there to see if they can answer my question before I find the product myself.

Good story.

Susan said...

This is one of the funniest stories ever! Have told quite a few people about it and they all think it's great!

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