The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Wal-Mart is the company’s slogan: “always low prices.” I propose a new slogan for the company that accurately describes the quality of customer service I received while shopping in their stores. This new slogan is: Low prices and no service. I set out today to buy a digital camera. I wanted the best deal so I naturally decided to go to Wal-Mart. My past experience with Wal-Mart has purely been grocery shopping with an occasional clothing purchase. Normally, I do not require any real assistance from Wal-Mart’s personnel.
The first Wal-Mart I visited was in Fort Pierce, Florida. It’s my local super center. I walked up to the photo center and looked at the display of digital cameras. Yes, Wal-Mart did have low prices. I decided that the 5.1 mega pixel Vivitar 5100 was the camera I wanted. I looked up at the man behind the counter and said, “Excuse me.” The man gave me a bewildered look and then continued reading a magazine. I repeated my attempt and said, “Excuse me sir, I would like to buy the Vivitar 5100.” The man looked over at younger Wal-Mart employee and shouted to him: “Hey, do we have the Vivitar 5100 in stock?” The younger employee shouted back: “don’t think so.” The man behind the counter looked back at me and said; “We have none in stock.” Before I had a chance to reply, he turned back around to resume reading the magazine.
I once again had to beg for his attention. I said, “Do you know when it will be back in stock?” He looked irritated; I was once again interfering with his down time and he hastily answered: “I don’t know; tomorrow or next week, I guess.” He turned back around and proceeded to ignore me. I honestly could have lived a week more with out a digital camera, but I really didn’t care to buy a camera from that guy. Would it have killed him to check in the glass protected shelves or at least, find out when the camera would be back in stock? I’m use to the cashiers not generally giving a crap, but come on! The photo center is not exactly drawing large crowds of impatient customers demanding instant service.
Please with price of the Vivitar 5100 and discontented with the lack of customer service, I decided to go try the Wal-Mart in Port Saint Lucie about 14 miles away. Everyone I know says the Wal-Mart in Port Saint Lucie is the good Wal-Mart in town. I headed out with high hopes of better service. When I arrived, I looked around and noticed that the employees at this Wal-Mart seemed a little less angry with life then the employees at the Fort Pierce Wal-Mart. I grew a bit hopeful.
I checked the display of digital cameras and was relieved to see this Wal-Mart carried the Vivitar 5100 too. I walk up to the counter where two employees were having a conversation. They both looked at me and then continued talking to each other. I said, “Excuse me; I would like to buy the Vivitar 5100.” The woman said, “I’ll go look and see if we have it.” With hast, she went and pulled out the camera from behind the glass protected shelves. I had a few questions about the camera, so I took a chance and asked her. I said, “Do I need batteries and a SD card for this?” Her face crunch up with a why on earth are you asking me look. She responded, “You have to pay for this here.” We walked back to the counter. As she rang up my camera, I told her about my experience at the Fort Pierce Wal-Mart. She stopped, opened the box and checked to see about the batteries. She then said, “They should have checked to see if it was in stock.”
I guess no service is the exchange Wal-Mart customers’ have to pay for low prices. I wanted a fair price on a digital camera and at the second Wal-Mart I visited, I got it. Wal-Mart really needs to provide a base line of customer service at every location. Even at a discount store, employees should answer questions, check inventory, and be helpful to customers. I don’t expect Wal-Mart employees to gush over me, but I do expect them to actually take the time to provide a bit of information. The employee at the Port Saint Lucie Wal-Mart did make an effort to provide a little customer service. It felt like forced charity but at least I have my camera. The next time I want to make a major purchase, I will remember that low prices mean no service and I will not go to Wal-Mart.