Everyone knows that unless you're in the market for a .22 long rifle in the $74-$79 price range, or a children's life jacket, one should never purchase sporting goods from WalMart. I mean really, have you seen those elliptical trainers? They should come with a life insurance policy. Honestly, I think I'd rather ride a rickshaw through the streets of HoChiMin City than spend 30 seconds on one of those machines. Seriously, stick me on a rusted out 1970's carnival ride any day of the week. WalMart exercise equipment? I don't think so.
And that's precisely where Jared and I went astray.
We were strolling through the sporting goods section of WalMart, enjoying the views of NASCAR paraphernalia and novelties designed for ultimate fans of Ultimate Fighting, when we happened across a handheld GPS that was marked 40% off. It was name brand, it took AA batteries (just like we'd been looking for), and the weekend before, we had seen the exact same model at LL Bean in Freeport.
There was one GPS left, so it's needless to say that we went for it.
Now if you're not exactly sure what a handheld GPS is, don't sweat it--the Sporting Goods Manager had no idea either.
JARED: Is this thing all set to go?
SPORTING GOODS MANAGER: Uhhhhhh...(looks at the back of the box).....uhhhhh.....yup.
JARED: So all we have to do is pop in the batteries and we're ready to start using it?
SPORTING GOODS MANAGER: Ummmm....(looks at the back of the box again)....that's right.
And we bought it.
As soon as we got into the parking lot, we knew we were in trouble. According the the GPS, we were standing in the middle of a field in Los Angeles. Since we were clearly standing in the middle of the WalMart parking lot, and as far as I know there aren't any fields in LA, we decided to take the GPS home and read the instruction manual.
And that's when we found out that you need to buy a $200 software upgrade before you can even use the damn thing to find your mailbox.
Man, I love it when managers know their products so well!
So, the receipt was tucked back into the box, and the GPS proceeded to sit on the desk in our den for the next 21 days--until Jared's next trip to WalMart.
Jared went to WalMart three weeks later in search of a bike for James's fifth birthday. He planned to return the GPS and use the cash to buy the bike. You know--the Spiderman bike, that had no price tag, and no one to tell him the price, and no one to get it from the back, so now James has an orange bike from Target.
Anyhoo...Jared went to the service desk with the GPS and his receipt in hand.
JARED: Hi, I'd like to return this handheld GPS.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: [looks at receipt, point over her shoulder to a sign] Can't. There's a 15 day return policy on GPS units.
JARED: Really? My receipt says 90 days. I thought WalMart has a 90 day return policy. Isn't that what your commercials say?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: [points to sign again] 15 days for a GPS.
JARED: How was I supposed to know that?
CUSTOMER SERVICE: [points to sign again] Next!
JARED: Can I speak with the manager?
...15 minutes later the Assistant Manager comes out.
ASSISTANT MANAGER: What.
JARED: How was I supposed to know there was a 15 day return policy on this GPS?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: [points to sign]
JARED: But no one told me when I checked out, or at the sporting goods counter.
ASSISTANT MANAGER: You need to walk by the service desk on your way out and make sure there aren't any signs pertaining to the items you just bought.
ASSISTANT MANAGER: Next!
So Jared called me from WalMart and relayed the whole story--and to use WalMart speak, I was some angry. I said, "Jared, wait right there. I'm gonna call. We'll get 'em from both ends."
CUSTOMER SERVICE: This is WalMart.
ME: I'd like to speak with the store manager, please.
...15 minutes later the Assistant Manager picks up.
ME: Hi, my husband's standing at the service desk right now, and he's having trouble returning a GPS unit.
ASSISTANT MANAGER: [audible sigh mixed with an unbelievably beastly tone] He can't, it's been longer than 15 days. And he told me that he bought it so he could use it and return it.
ME: That's what he said?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: Yup.
ME: Well that's not true, but anyway, how were we supposed to know that the GPS had a 15 day return policy?
ME: Kathy? Are you pointing to the sign right now?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: Yup.
ME: How else?
Okay, I won't torture you with the drawn out back and forth dialogue. According to Kathy, there was a sticker on the box (nope), it should have said it on the receipt (nope again), and there was a sign indicating the return policy in the electronics sections (well sorry Kath, that's another nope, we bought it in the sporting goods section not electronics).
So, after the third nope, it went like this...
ME: So will you let him return it?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: Nope.
And this is where it really heats up.
ME: Kathy, can I get the name and number of your boss?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: I don't have a boss.
ME: You're in charge of the whole store?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: I am.
ME: Do yo have a regional boss?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: No.
ME: So you're in charge of all WalMarts everywhere in the world?
ASSISTANT MANAGER: I am.
ME: Well then, we're gonna be on the phone with each other for a while.
And that's when Kathy hung up on me, scoffed the GPS out of Jared's hands, inspected every square inch of it (including each page of the instruction manual, one by one by one) for signs of foul play, and begrudgingly gave Jared his cash.
As for me? I will never step foot into my local WalMart for as long as I shall live.
As for you? Next time you shop at WalMart, please be sure to swing by the customer service desk on your way out of the store and ask about the return policy on every single item you purchased. And for my sake, do it on a day when you buy 30 bags of groceries.
They say: Satisfaction Guaranteed.
I say: I'm having a super hot, secret affair with Curtis Stone, the Take Home Chef.
Well look at that! We're both liars!
P.S. I still hate WalMart.