Thursday, May 22, 2008

Voting with both wallet and feet

We have entered into a social contract, you and I and those from whom we acquire goods and services. I pay you for foodstuffs, you pay me for fundraising services. I pay you for home repairs and you pay me for semi-professional photography. We trade in the free market according to established, but often unspoken, guidelines.

Lately, though, it has seemed that the bigger the provider of goods or services, the less likely these guidelines are to be upheld. Tonight, as I upheld my end of the bargain, WalMart failed to uphold its end. And so, after standing in line for more than 10 minutes without any visible progress toward the cash register, I violated our shared contract for the first time ever.

Some background: I had stopped by the new WalMart on Lafayette Road near I-65 to pick up some greens for my rabbit, Milo. (He’s awesome. You should totally get a rabbit.) Along the way, I also picked up PopTarts (frosted strawberry flavor, naturally, because I am not a savage*), trash bags, a couple things from frozen foods, and a few other items.

As I proceeded to the check out, I saw that there were at least six customers in each of five open lines. (Five check-out lines – not including any Express lines – were staffed, out of more than 20 lines in the store.) Naively, I assumed that the cashiers would be at the top of their game and move me out of the store quickly. But, as I said, I stood there for ten minutes without taking even a courtesy step forward.

And then…it happened.

I did it! I pushed my cart a few steps, left it off to the side in front of one of the unoccupied aisles, and walked calmly out to shop elsewhere.

I did not return my items to the place they belonged. I did not make any effort to register a complaint with management. I did not act as a responsible citizen, but I’m pretty sure I acted as a responsible consumer, asserting myself by managing my resources within the market.

My time is worth a lot. Standing in line would have cost me not only time and money, but also added stress and anxiety. Over a mere $20 worth of groceries? I think not.

So I proceeded to the nearby Meijer (at Pike Plaza Road and Moller Road) and within ten minutes, I was home with the greens for Milo, dinner for me, and time left over to blog about it.

Now, then – was I wrong for leaving WalMart? Was I right for leaving, but wrong for not putting my stuff back or talking to management?

What say you?

* I'm not really sure what that means, either, but it makes me laugh to think of myself as someone who pronounces people as "savages" if they eat PopTarts of any other flavor besides frosted strawberry.


jss said...

Haha! You absolutely did the right thing. If they wanted your money bad enough, they should have opened another lane. Or as the case may be, two or three more lanes. As for leaving "your" stuff where it was, I applaud you! Make them realize that you were dissatisfied. If you had put the stuff back, they wouldn't have had a clue that you were even there.

As a side note, I did this very thing at a Marsh store last week. However, I felt bad about leaving the frozen items (ice cream) in the cart, so I put that stuff back. But I did leave the rest of the stuff in the cart in the frozen food section. I was mad because of their lack of selection and poor products. I, too, ended up the Meijer. I found their produce section kicks Marsh's a$$. I saved about $50 off of my regular bill by going there too. I'm headed to Meijer the next time I go shopping. They seem to care about their customers.

Good job Bro!

Meana said...

Totally within your rights! I might cut and paste parts of your blog entry into a complaint and email to Wal-Mart (can you even do that?), but only because people can't solve a problem they don't know exists.

julmille said...

I have done the same thing at WalMart, the new one in Bloomington. My rage was exacerbated by the 5-6 WalMart employees standing around the little pulpit at the registers. Have I mentiond that I hate WalMart?

Sarah said...

Let me tell you a story. (I'm taking over your blog)
Last year? Two years ago? I went to the brand new JCPenny's in the brand new mall. There I experienced the same old crappy Yuma service. I was ignored, got an eye rolling, and was completely unsatisfied. I dropped my selected items on the nearest counter and walked out.
When I got home I wrote a detailed account of what I experiences (times, departments, a few names I could recall), included that I had been a customer since I was a kid doing my school clothes shopping and had never experienced such lacking service.
That letter was forwarded to the store manager who e-mailed me requesting that I come in and give him a chance to make amend$. He explained the steps he had taken to improve service since taking over, asked me to do my shopping that day and then have the cashier call him when I checked out.
Long story longer, he charged me $1 for each of my items. My bill was less than $15 for a trip that was going to cost me well over $100.

Moral- don't just complain, show disappointment and a willingness to give them another chance. Except WalMart... they are an evil corporation.