Rage against the Machine
Posted: 2006-08-05. Categories: Texas, Wal-mart

This big box Walmart store in Huntsville has everything, and we’ve defended their enterprising spirit and supported it with 95% of our purchases for food, clothes, sporting goods, small appliances etc. But on July 3, 2006 we had an eye opening experience with this so-called “family friendly,” down home, community oriented, “customer satisfaction guaranteed store.”

My wife Patty recently purchased two ceiling fans from them. When the installer arrived he noted a critical piece of the hanger assembly was missing and the second box had a wide, deep puncture in the box. My wife was at work so I returned the two fans for an “exchange only.” Since the fans had this stores ID tag on them, and there was ‘not’ going to be a cash refund I saw no need to be further inconvenienced by going by her job and getting the receipts. That’s where I was dead wrong.

After the transaction was complete (no advance warning posted or verbally given) the young lady told me that since I had returned them without a receipt and it was the third such transaction in three months. (We buy almost every thing there.) I was put on their banned “return” list for a “YEAR.” So I asked her (to be sure I was hearing correctly) “if I come back in the future with the same circumstances, with a defective product, and with their ID tag for an even exchange (no receipt) would I be refused?”

She said “yes.”

Now I’m getting steamed, not only at the inconvenience I’ve just slogged through, but also the utter mindless arrogance of the management that made this exchange policy and this unapologetic crew. In fact they acted like they were the ones being put upon.

I called my wife at her job; she left work and brought down the receipts. Now — my wife, and the fan installer, and me have burned gasoline, lost work time, only to be told “unapologetically,” now by the store manager, that the exchange ban cannot be removed even with the presentation of this receipt for the fans. The store manager further affirmed that I would not be able to return even a defective product for a period of one year, even for an even exchange, without a receipt.

The store manager said it was for the store’s protection. – I say “bullfeathers.” I told him we accumulate this stores receipts by the sack full and I’m not making a career out of wading through them or making a special trip to get them unless I want cash back. I could understand their thinking if I was asking for cash back, or the product wasn’t theirs. Only a brain-damaged crook would steal something then bring it back and make an even exchange for the same item. Please don’t insult our intelligence, (or at least my wife’s).

I think their real motive is to publicly treat you like a crook in order to make it as intimidating, embarrassing, and inconvenient as possible to return defective merchandise. I have spoken to other customers who feel they have been treated the same way.

I have great admiration for folks who build great companies with integrity and treat the customer with respect. But not for those who abuse the power that comes with a virtual market monopoly. I believe to encourage your patronage with a “satisfaction guarantee” then to intimidate you this way amounts to a deceptive trade practice by a company policy, that I would call “bait and switch.”

It’s seems to me they are, by design, fattening (engorging) their profit margin by publicly embarrassing, thus intimidating many of us, particularly us older folks, into not bringing back defective merchandise. There was never an apology by any of the staff or the manager even after I explained the loss of work time and gasoline of three people because they had sold me
a defective product.

To add insult to injury, in full view of this unresponsive duo, my wife stepped back and slipped in a “large” puddle of blood coming from packages of meat in a return basket, painfully wrenching her back, while (fortunately successfully) trying to regain her balance. Again–no apology was offered. After the 4th, of July holiday I called the main office to “Rage against The Machine” (my policy).

First Contact: As of the above writing I called their home office, spoken to a very nice lady, and am awaiting their response from some lofty throne above her.

Second and Third Contact: The local Walmart Representative left a message on my answering machine saying she would get back to me. I called her back but she was gone. A week lapsed and no call so I called the main Arkansas Walmart. Another nice lady said she would look into it.

Fourth Contact: The local Walmart manager called and said he would see to it that my name was off the “banned for a year” list. I told him I did not object to the cash back without a receipt part, just the part about including even exchanges (and counting it toward the limit of “three returns without receipt”). Also, that I did not want him to exempt just me but everyone who wants to make an exchange of “walmart” merchandise. He said he would take care of it but first had to clear it through his main office in Arkansas and would call me back. Its been almost a week and I’ve not been called back.

This started July 3rd and it’s now August 4th, no answer from Jack the Huntsville Walmart manager. I ain’t happy!

Paul Lebedzinski
105a Gourd Creek Cmt. Rd.
Huntsville, TX, 77340
(936) 344-6503

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