Sunday, January 14, 2007

Elegantly Toasted

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!


ganfer said...

Hello, I love your blog and read every new entry, but I have to know why you insist on slamming the very company that you work for everyday. If it is such a horrible place that sells bad merchandise why don't you quit. I do work for wal-mart and have to say I am offended that you tell people not to buy their food from walmart. If you really want to know the truth wal- mart sells only quality product in its fresh area, I know becouse I deal with it everyday.At least gets the facts before telling people your beliefs.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last comment, I too work in the grocery department an wal mart (dept 92), and we have to go to great lenghts to make sure the food sold is of the highest quality, plus we hire an independant company to randomly audit us, they show up unexpectantly at least once a month, and make sure everything is in date and sanitary. I do agree though, the furniture is pure junk!!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with the saying you made, "you get what you pay for."
People get impatient and would rather spend $700 on a crap TV than save up their money and buy a better quality TV. It's called instant gratification, yet people are surprised when the cheap stuff doesn't last as long.
You'll always have people that want to have their cake and eat it too, unfortunately.
On your other point, I do have to disagree about the food. I buy food from Wal-Mart all the time and find it of good quality.

ex-assman said...


I was a produce manager for Wal-Mart for 2 years, I also worked in the meat and bakery as needed. Any food that comes pre-packaged, like dry grocery, is probably safe for consumption. However, I will never buy fresh produce, baked products or meat from any Wal-Mart. Ever. Rotting produce is the norm in any Wal-Mart, because the associates don't understand cold chain procedures, and the produce is often of a lower quality anyway. I got the warehouse to admit they were sending us trash and was often able to escape the add-on orders that wal-mart gets for rock-bottom prices on second-rate fruits and vegetables.

As for the meat, prepackaged meat, while a time and money saver for the store, does not compare to getting it cut in front of you. Wal-Mart only sells select cuts anyway, which are tasteless and rubbery compared to choice, which at most real grocery stores isn't much more expensive, and you really do get what you pay for.

As for the bakery ... go back and look at the donut icer sometime. It probably hasn't been cleaned since the last Kay Chemical inspection. There is rarely follow up for violations, and just as rare is disciplinary action.

When I was working for the company I told friends, family and even some customers to avoid 'fresh' grocery products at Wal-Mart. When I had an opportunity to escape the company I took it, and I still avoid Wal-Mart grocery at all costs. Wal-Mart is the closest store to where I live, and I still drive 20 minutes to a real grocery store that has excellent produce and great meat, at higher prices. But I don't mind, because I know I'm getting quality.

At any rate, keep up the blogging!

Library Rat said...

I've only gotten meat from Wal-Mart once. That was all it took for me to never buy it from there again. About the only things I get there are cheap notebooks from writing in, and ammunition. There's a particular style of Remington shot shells that I've only found in my local Wal-Mart, and that just happen to work better for me, meaning another bird or two broken in a game of trap.

Echoing ex-assman, please keep this blog up and running.

Red Stapler said...

Ganfer and Anonymous... You two mean to tell me you'd actually DEFEND Wal-Mart just because they're your employer? Dear God. To paraphrase Homer Simpson "Trashing on your employer is the American Dream". Walmart is pure shit, and from what I've read on this blog, they sell pure shit aggressively marketed to people with low incomes. Keep the lower classes with low quality goods and all that. I could go on and on about Wal-Mart's various employment offenses and insipid business practises, but The Consumerist has that base covered.

Needless to say, I don't shop there and thoroughly enjoy reading this Blog.

FARfetched said...

Yeah, I've always felt that buying non-canned chow at Wal-Mart is a bit of a crapshoot. OTOH, I've heard that Wal-Mart is also one of the largest purchasers of organic produce. You never know, huh?

Penalt said...

I work for an HP call center and we trash HP all the time. To answer Ganfer, he works there for the paycheck. Anyone knows the bad points of whatever company they work for all the time. Wal-Mart just happens to try to sell all of its bad points....

Anonymous said...

I disagree that everything Walmart sells is junk. Much of it is the same merchandise you're going to get elsewhere (such as computer parts, etc). However, in regards to meat/produce/etc. it's going to be hit or miss. For example, the Talapia Walmart sells is farm raised in some otehr country. The ponds are extremely small, essentially forcing the fish to swim in their own filth. Something to think about when you feel your fish tastes funny.

Rob the Webkahunah said...

I made the switch from shopping at wal-mart grocery to sav-a-center a few months ago, and have never looked back. It's true that overall, I pay a few dollars more a month, but it's totally worth it. Plus that, I've noticed wal-mart to be a little lax on stocking foods that are region-specific, which is a big deal here in the south.

Kasia said...

Eh - I enjoy your blog, but I'm with ganfer. If you think your company, its merchandise and its clientele are all so awful, perhaps you ought to find somewhere else to work. I have plenty of things that I dislike about my primary employer (I haven't worked at my second job long enough to have found out all of the organization's annoying quirks), but ultimately I represent XYZ Company forty hours per week, and if I don't think they're worth representing, I'll look for another job. Yes, it's a paycheck, but there's more involved than that.

Much as I love The Simpsons, I have difficulty believing that anyone would actually quote Homer Simpson and hold him up as someone to emulate. He's like a morality play: if he says or does something, it's probably the opposite of what one should actually do.

Mind you, I don't work for Wal-Mart and I'm not defending it. I shop there once or twice a year, tops, and every time I do I remember why I don't shop there more often. I just seem to have a different philosophy of what my work means than many of you.

Anonymous said...

good produce at wal-mart? HAHAHAHAHAH

look at this link:

Anonymous said...

Just a few things.

First, if you're blogging and talkin' smack about your employer, be prepared to lose your job if you are identified (even if you're behind the counter).

Second, Kasia, you're full of crap. You expect us smart ones to believe that you'd drop your 5/40 job because you don't like representing: that it's more involved than a paycheck? Not gonna happen.

Third, Tob The Webkahuna, what sort of regional food stuff are you talkng about?


Kasia said...


You 'smart ones' can believe or disbelieve whatever you like. I didn't say I'd DROP my 5/40 job, insinuating I'd walk out on the spot with no way to pay my mortgage. I said if I got to the point where I didn't think the company was worth representing, I'd LOOK FOR ANOTHER JOB. And in that event, yes I would look for another job. Even in a rotten economy like we've got, especially here in Michigan, there ARE other places to work.

There IS more than just a paycheck involved. It's called personal integrity. I'm not sucking down the company Kool-Aid, but I think my organization is basically providing a good service at a fair price, and even when the bureaucracy screws something up (which is pretty common), more or less I like my job and think it's worth doing.

One thing you're right about: if BBCAmerican is identified by Wal-Mart, s/he should be prepared to lose his/her job for talking smack about Wal-Mart online. In the meantime, I'll still enjoy the blog. :-p


Anonymous said...

You're correct. I misunderstood. I should have read more closely.

Let's hear is for personal integrity. Talkin' the talk AND walkin' the walk isn't seen much these days.


Anonymous said...

I used to shop at Wal-Mart. Then I noticed I was spending more money, because while things were cheap there, I would buy more of them because they broke all the damn time. I no longer shop at Wal-Mart.