I had a guy come in Friday with a toaster that looked like it had seen duty in an industrial lunchroom. It was filthy dirty, although he'd obviously made an effort to clean it up. No box. No receipt. Shockingly, he had the booklet which came with the toaster, on which he'd written, "Purchased Nov. 17, 2005."
He wanted to return the toaster. I wanted to ask him why he had the booklet and not the receipt.
I'm like, "Um, you can return items in stores for 90 days sir. We're looking at 14 months here."
Then he starts leafing through the booklet and finds where the toaster has a two-year warranty. I start reading and tell him — "Sir, it says here that the first step for getting you warranty is 1. Save your receipt. I'm sorry, but we're not going to be able to take this item back."
Then he wants to know if he can get a credit. "Sir, we can't take it back. In any way shape or form. Credit, exchange, nothing. I'm sorry." And he leaves.
Perhaps someone can enlighten me. Is there really an expectation that a toaster (or any merchandise for that matter) purchased at Wal-Mart is actually going to last any appreciable length of time?
There's a particular brand of TV's that we carry, Tilo, that we return more of than the rest all put together. They're complete trash. And they're dirt cheap. People buy them thinking they're getting a steal — a flat screen TV for $698 — and bring it back two days later because it's total junk. We don't return nearly as many Sony TVs — but they cost twice as much and you really do get what you pay for.
The same goes for the Wal-Mart furniture. Two years ago, there was apparently a directive from the regional Loss Prevention director that no more furniture was to be returned. Once you bought it, it was yours. She said that customers were the ones breaking it by trying to put it together wrong and that the stores were losing thousands and thousands of dollars by taking back stuff that people claimed was "missing pieces" or was "broken" when they really were just too stupid to put stuff together.
So for six months we had the job of standing up there and watching people lug in a big cart with a half-put-together desk and cringe inside knowing we were going to have to tell them they couldn't return it. They would blow up, demand a manager, and then we'd have to return it anyway. After so many nasty calls to the corporate 1-800 Wal-Mart number, they gave that up.
If you really want something to last, don't buy it at the Wal-Mart. And don't buy food there either — the only stuff that's safe to buy is canned goods — and you better check the date on those!