This one is almost too easy. Most everyone I know has a Wal-Mart story; some tale of frustration and aggravation. My personal list is long. Very long. My most recent visit to Wal-Mart is not the most offensive, or even the most bothersome, but it is fresh in my mind so I figured it would work.
Here is the setup:
I live about 10 minutes away from our local Wal-Mart. Ten minutes walking. 15 minutes if we walk with the kids. Yesterday, we walked to Wal-Mart as a family. My kids really enjoy it and it is good for all of us. My wife needed to go to buy some diapers for our 1 year old. I wanted to go to print some pictures and to save a bunch of pictures on a CD. After a little searching, I found the photo processing kiosks; there were three of them. I chose the one that looked like it could take care of my needs and proceeded to complete my order. That part of the process took about 6 or 7 minutes. When I pressed the button “Complete Order”, the message on the screen informed that a receipt would print out and I would need to take it to the Photo Center to scan it and retrieve and pay for my order.
Makes sense, right? Up to this point, things were running very smoothly. I was actually enjoying my visit to Wal-Mart, which is saying something because I really do not like to shop there. So, I proceeded to take my receipt to the Photo Center – which is near the kiosk – and I waited for an employee to show up to help me. Finally, two workers arrived and they looked at me as if I was crazy, or just plain annoying. I told them what I needed and they really started to look at me as if I was crazy. They asked me if I had my photos already. I said no. They told me the machine would print them out. I asked why the machine told me to go to the Photo Center to do this. They gave no answer. One of the employees walked me back to the kiosk where he took my receipt and scanned it and it said my order was being processed. We found my photos – they had already printed – and I waited for the CD to finish.
Let me interrupt my own story to say a few things. There is a good chance I simply misread the message on the photo machine. I am human and that is not out of the realm of possibility. Also, it makes sense for the machine where I placed the order to be the machine that actually prints the order, but based on what I thought I read that did not seem to be the case. It really makes little difference though, since that part of the story is not what bothered me. That comes next.
My CD finished printing. I had my order. Obviously, I now had to pay for my order, so I walked back to the Photo Center and once again, waited for an employee. And I waited. Finally, a different employee than the previous two that were there came and asked me if I was being helped. I said no. I told him what I needed and he took my receipt – which had the price total on it as well – and walked back to the kiosk saying something about having to match up the receipt with the machine. The what? I don’t know, and by this point I really didn’t care. Just do what you got to do Wal-Mart guy!
(My wife had finished her shopping about 10 minutes prior to this most recent exchange and was doing her best to entertain a 7 year old, a 5 year old, and a 1 year old.)
More waiting. My wife decided to go ahead and leave with the two youngest boys. The oldest stayed with me for moral support. We waited some more. Finally the employee returns and says that the scanner is not working properly and he is going to try a different approach. Awesome! Wal-Mart ingenuity! I couldn’t wait…but I could. And I did. The new approach seemed to be along the lines of trying the same thing over and over and over and hope that eventually it will work. Finally, after multiple attempts and failures, the Wal-Mart guy told me that I would have to take my order and the receipt to Customer Service because his scanner was not working. I told him that this whole thing wasn’t making any sense to me. The cost of my order was on the receipt, couldn’t he just enter that in to the computer and do it that way? He said no. I said, and I quote, “That doesn’t make any sense.” He replied, and once again I am quoting, “This is Wal-Mart.” Oh snap! Wal-Mart guy throws the whole company under the bus! (I can picture Gerard Butler from the movie 300 as a Wal-Mart employee yelling, “This is Wal-Mart!” anytime a customer has a problem or complaint. As if that sentence explains and excuses everything.)
I thanked him for his time and I walked to the Customer Service desk. Thankfully, this part of the process was quick and painless. The nice CS clerk took my receipt, keyed in the total and rang me up. When I explained what I had been told in the Photo Center she had that look on her face that screamed “I work with a bunch of morons!” but she was too classy and too professional to actually say anything. I respect that. She did her job and took care of my problem. If only more Wal-Mart workers could be like her then shopping there would be a pleasure and not a soul-sucking chore.