Cheap

My recent Walmart experience made me think of something important that my sons and talked about a lot. They needed a new mountain bike. They had one to share. My Mom had it and gave it to their sister and she gave it to them after it sat in the storage shed for a couple years. It fell apart. Parts were just expensive as a new bike so we decided to get one. The bike at Walmart was $135 out the door. Seems reasonable for a mountain bike. They offered us the “insurance” and as usual I declined. It’s a scam to buy those things. If the bike is actually defective, any decent store will take it back out of good customer service. So we left with the spiffy new bike.

After three weeks of riding it around our neighborhood the bike fell apart, quite literally. The shocks were leaking something and very soft and then the chain fell off and the piece that held it on broke off. It was disappointing. So we took it back to the store.

Here’s where I got irritated though. We walk in with out receipt and the boy at the counter (with his hair so much in his face, I could only see his mouth) asked what he can do for us. I tell him, “I’m here to return this broken bike.” and hand him the receipt. He takes it, asks me to hand him the bike over the counter. What? He scans it, marks the receipt, hands me my money, and moves on to the next customer. What just happened? No, “Sorry! What happened to it?” No apology for defective merchandise. No, “Can we replace it for you?” Nothing. Just a shrug and my money back.

This experience leads me to believe that so much merchandise comes back to them defective that they don’t even care to replace it, or feel bad that they sold it. The employees have no pride in their work or place of business. There is not trying to keep customers.

I understand having a store that sells inexpensive stuff. It’s great that there is a place for people with lower income to buy things they need. Maybe it’s not the best stuff but it works. And scratchy ill-fitting socks are better than no socks at all. But what is the point of having things to sell that are so cheaply made that they don’t last more than a couple weeks? I don’t think it does anyone any good. Does it? It doesn’t really help the store owner. He buys the stuff cheap and then sells it for a profit, but if half your customers return the stuff broken doesn’t that eat up the profits a bit? And how long are people going to continue to shop there?

I used to be a big Walmart fan, especially when I was on the road. But it’s gotten worse. I’ve stopped buying things there that I can get elsewhere. I live in a rural town, so I don’t have many other choices but when I do, I shop elsewhere, even if it costs me a little more in time and money. It makes me sad though because I know the store didn’t get as big as it did by being this crappy. We aren’t that stupid as a whole, are we?

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