Thursday, December 16, 2010

The People Of Walmart - Again

This time there will be no photos as I'm not ranting about the customers but the employees. Well a few specific employees. Yeah I know, soft targets !

Last Saturday I got a new Vizio LCD 47" HDTV from Walmart and having lugged it home and set it up, everything was great, apart from the colour and sound. These are kind of important features for the enjoyment of any tv, I think you'd agree.

The colours were an awful blend of pink/red and yellow and the sound was, well, not there most of the time. I tried every setting possible, and believe me this tv has more settings than at a Bar Mitzvah table.


As Vizio have an online chat facility as part of their web site, last Sunday I spoke with Randal in N. Dakota. Of course it might have been Bharadwaj from New Delhi but I do think it was Randal as for one thing, he understood me !

We did a few things and the colour problem was soon sorted. But still no sound. When he asked me to remove the power cord, hold in the power button for 30 seconds and then connect the cord again, I began to suspect the worst. If he'd asked me to stand on one leg while doing this and then rub my head counter clockwise, we'd have had a serious falling out and I'd have been looking for the hidden camera.

But after this the sound returned and having bade Randal a fond farewell, I enjoyed the tv for the rest of the day.

Monday morning dawned cold, sunny and, once the tv was powered on, soundless. I tried everything Randal had suggested the day before and again, the sound came back. This annoying problem went on for a few days but once the sound came on, it would stay on the rest of the day. It obviously just didn't like nights !

By this morning I'd had enough and went onto the Vizio chat option again and......there was Randal. Now I know that N. Dakota is sparsely populated but surely Vizio has more techs at their call centre than just good ol' Randal ! Anyway he was obviously having a stressful morning as he didn't want to deal with me and just said they'd send an engineer out to fix the sound problem...but it would be over a week. I said no thanks and said I'd just take it back to Walmart for a new tv.

So I rang Walmart, Sebring to make sure they had one in stock. After being passed to the Electronics Dept, I waited. A good 3 mins later someone answered with a grunted "hello." I asked if they had my model tv in stock as I needed to return mine.

"Hang on," she said.

Another 4 mins passed........

"Right, what tv was it ?"

All that time just to find a pen and paper ???

I gave her the information.

"Hang on," she said again.

7 mins passed.

"No, we don't have any," she said.

"Oh, and I don't suppose you can tell me when you are likely to get any more in," I said more to myself than her as I somehow knew the answer.

"Hang on," she said.

3 minutes passed.

"I've found one," she said.

"WHAT ? Really ? You've found one ?" I spluttered, wondering just where she'd found it !

"Yes," she said, with little enthusiasm.

"Could you please put it to one side for me as it may take me a couple of hours to get this mostly silent tv back to you," I asked.

"Oh no we can't do that," she said sweetly. "We're not allowed to put tvs aside for customers as they move so fast," she added helpfully.

"It's a pity the same can't be said about you," I thought to myself but tactfully also kept to myself.

"But I can't go to all the effort of boxing up this tv, loading it up and taking it to the store only to find you've sold the only one you have in stock. Why can't you just put a 'do not sell' sign on it or put it to one side or anything," I pleaded.

"We can't do that," she repeated, and I realised I was losing this particular battle with common sense and basic customer relations.

I asked to speak to a manager.

"Hello, I'm the Electronics Manager, can I help you," said a man with a distinct 'south of the border' accent, if you follow my drift.

I told him the story and he repeated what the sales assistant had told me.

"We can't do that," he said, but in a more important management sort of way.

"Can I speak with the store manager please ?"

"The store manager isn't in today."

"Can I speak with the assistant store manager, please ?"

"Hang on."

12 minutes later someone picked up the phone and asked who I was waiting for ? I was tempted to say "Santa, but I'm not holding out much hope" but said the assistant store manager. The phone was dropped back onto the desk.

Although by then I knew that they had no intention of putting me in touch with the ASM, I didn't want to give in - but it was another battle I wasn't going to win and so I finally hung up. I rang the store again and asked for the ASM right away. A few mins later we were discussing the situation and she told me of course the tv could be put to one side for me and all I had to do was take the silent tv to the customer services desk and swap it over.

Ok where was this woman 30 minutes earlier ???!!! Oh no I had to get totally stressed out by the incompetent Sinitta and Jose who clearly moved at a snails pace and who could've learned a thing or two about decision making from Paul, the World Cup octopus. Where do they find/train these people ?

The nice ASM then said she'd find out if the tv was still in stock and I heard her using a walkie talkie or some such device to speak with the Electronics Dept.

"Jose (I've changed his name to protect his privacy and to make this post funnier)....have we a Vizio 47" LCD HDTV in stock" ?

A few seconds passed.

"We have ? Grrr-eat."

"How many ? Two ! Grrr-eat."

"Well put one aside at Customer Services will you ? Grrr-eat."

My flabber was well gasted by now. TWO ? What the hell ??? Have they a bunch of Vizio elves back there churning out these things ? In the space of 30 minutes the stock went from none to one to two so those freakin' elves are obviously much more efficient than the Walmart staff !!

I thanked the ASM and set about boxing up my silent tv.

Anyway, touch wood, all's well that ends well and I'm now watching AND LISTENING to my new Vizio 47" LCD HDTV as nature intended. It's taken a missed breakfast, a fair bit of heavy lifting and a good deal of stress to get to this point so thanks a bunch, Walmart. Your company mission statement (Save Money, Live Better), like your Sebring Electronics Dept staff, leaves a lot to be desired.


Milo said...

Ugh, sounds like crappy customer service.

On the upside, the TV sounds good! Bet blu-rays would look good on it.

Daphne said...

I'm sure just reading this took my blood pressure up a dozen or so points (even though it made me laugh too). I'm so glad you got it sorted and have a new telly complete with sound. Though, of course, you could have invested the time they kept you on the phone in learning the basics of sign language, just in case they didn't have one in stock.

Juanita said...

Incredible...almost as bad as my dealings with Directv yesterday...they put my Florida street address on my account with my Delaware town, state....and I wondered why I couldn't get Florida local channels. Makes one wonder where people's brains are.................

rhymeswithplague said...

If you're going to spend half the year here, then expect to be subjected to the same sort of no-service customer service as the rest of us!

Jennyta said...

Lol. I always thought that customer service in USA was second to none; all that 'Have a nice day' stuff. Never having been there, I have not been able to check it out for myself but, look on the bright side, at least you were speaking to a customer services person in the same country and with the same mother tongue - sort of. ;)

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