Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I don't shop at Walmart

     Since I am so money conscious, sometimes people ask me why I don't take my coupons and money saving knowledge to Walmart where prices are generally lower. I wanted to address why, for me, Walmart doesn't work. First, I would like to say that my experience does not apply to all Walmart stores and I have heard of other people enjoying hundreds of dollars in savings there so I know it is possible. I am only addressing my local Walmart.
    When I first realized I needed to make major adjustments in my family's outgoing money, we did shop at Walmart and I bought the lowest costing brand of everything. I have never had a problem buying generic and I have never had a certain brand I had to buy for anything. Our average weekly grocery bill was $120 for a family of 3 (and then 4) including all toiletries, cleaning supplies, and diapers.
     Around January, I learned that Walmart price matches. I spent two hours pursuing the ads and finding corresponding coupons. I would have saved about $80. Before I started shopping, I consulted with the customer service desk to make sure I had all the right ads and understood their price matching policy. They approved my ads and even looked at what I had circled and said I was correct. So, I spent two hours shopping because I made sure I had the right items and quantities. Keep in mind, I had two small children with me who were incredibly patient that day. When I got to the register, I told the cashier what I was doing and she helped me sort my groceries according to the ads. Then she said she needed to make sure with her manager that she knew how to do the price adjustments on the register. The front end manager came over, looked at my ads, and said, "Do you honestly think we will price match the buy one, get one items?" I said, "I checked with customer service and they said it was no problem." She then laughed at me and said, "Boy, you really are ignorant." I was completely taken aback and in shock. I told her I had spent two hours shopping and that the manager told me ahead of time I was doing the right thing. She said, "Well, they were wrong. I will not allow my cashier to do this." I started to cry and left my $200 worth of groceries on the conveyor. The cashier asked me what she was supposed to do with all that stuff. I said, "I don't care what you do with it. Put it back." The front end manager told me I had to put it back. I promptly left the store.
    When I got home, I called the corporate office with names and the store number. They apologized and said they would have the store manager call me. The "interim store manager" called me and said, "Wow, yeah, that wasn't cool. I'll definitely leave a note for the manager when she gets back in town." I called back two days later when the actual store manager was back in town and she apologized saying she reprimanded the woman who called me ignorant. The store manager also said that "technically" Walmart doesn't accept buy one, get one price matching but that she was ok with it "due to the economy" but didn't make it known among the cashiers or front end managers. I never felt much remorse from anyone. In fact, they all acted like this kind of thing happened often. It left a very bad taste in my mouth.

    All in all, Walmart has a very ambiguous coupon policy that differs from store to store. I do not work well without set rules, especially if I am putting in time doing the legwork. My local store will accept many ads and coupons but it absolutely depends on the cashier. I am not ok with that. I do not want to fight for the ability to save money.

    Another reason I do not like Walmart is that everyone who works there is either in a rush or acts bothered by customers questions. They seem like their jobs would be much more pleasant if all the people would leave the store. I have never left Walmart feeling happy or with a positive attitude because the staff doesn't smile or make me feel glad to have chosen to shop there. That negativity spills over into everything. The bathrooms are never clean, the shelves are sloppy, and the store even smells bad most of the time.

   Again, I could not and would not say if this is true of all Walmart stores but it is true of the store closest to me. I suppose I could drive 10-15 miles and test my theories but the added time and gas would take away from my total savings. I'll stick with where I know I can save money regardless of the cashier I choose and where I will be greeted with a joyful hello.

I'd love to hear positive stories about good shopping trips to Walmart!