Walmart / bait and switch
We arrived at Wal-Mart (Los Banos)—11/25/2010 for the Black Friday event at 6:00 PM to get in line for all of the supposedly great sales. We were # 8 to go thru the door. Doors opened at 12:00 AM, you were told to go to the perspective area where the balloon with the letter of your merchandise would be located. Once you arrived there the employee asked you how many items you wanted and circled it on a slip of paper and gave it to you and then proceeded to give you the spiel of: You have to stay in this line until 2:00 AM, you cannot leave the line if you do, and you forfeit your ticket. You can go to the bathroom, but only be gone for 15 minutes. At 2:00 AM you will be given a bracelet for the merchandise you wanted, you are “guaranteed the merchandise” when you come back between 5-6AM. If you do not come back by 6:00 AM your merchandise will be forfeited. We were told that you can roam the store and continue shopping or go home and come back, but make sure you are back between 5-6 AM to get your merchandise.
My husband and I were #1 in the $198 Laptop group (Balloon C). We asked for 3 laptops (you were allowed to buy up to 6). At that time my husband asked how many laptops were available for purchase and he was told 97. As more and more people came to this section another employee came over and asked how many laptops were left and the employee giving out the tickets said “3”. The other employee told her to stop giving out tickets after the three.
We did some more shopping at Wal-Mart and at approximately 5:20 AM, we went and picked up the DS’s that we had a bracelets for and headed over to pick up the laptops. When we arrived in the area and showed our wristband we were told “sorry we don’t have anymore”. I promptly said “but we have our wristbands, and we were #1 in line”.
Needless to say I was very upset and asked an assistant manger that was in the area what was going on. We were told we were “guaranteed” a laptop when were in line. He informs me that they had made a mistake in the calculations of the laptops and actually there were only 34 available and now they are all gone. I asked him how they could have grossly miscalculated between 34 and 97. He curtly told me that he was sorry, and that they had another computer that was $298 if I wanted to purchase that one. I firmly told him no I wanted the one that I was “guaranteed”. All the time that I was speaking to this assistant manger he never looked me in the eye, or even at me, but up at the ceiling or had his head turned away from me. As I continued to question him, he avoided my questions completely. Finally I was so infuriated that I asked for his managers’ name (which he never gave me). He informed me that the manger was up front. I asked him where and he said, “Somewhere by the registers”. I said, "What does he look like?" He said “he has on a brown suit jacket”. I told him that I had seen him when we first were allowed in the store at 12:00 AM---as he actually opened the doors to let people in.
I walked up front and found the manager (Darwin Lara) and explained the situation. He gave me the same lame excuse as the assistant manager and curtly told me that I could buy the other computer for $298. I told him the same thing that I told the assistant manager, that “I wanted the one that I was supposedly guaranteed for $198”, especially since my husband and I were the first ones in line for the laptops.
I informed him that I was not the only one that had not gotten their laptop and didn’t he think that was a little frustrating to people who had sat outside their store for up to 11 and 12 hours in the freezing cold to basically have you say “sorry we made a mistake and do you want to buy a higher priced one”. All of us who sat out there for 11 hours were there for the purpose of getting the $198 laptop, and not being offered a higher priced one because of Wal-Mart’s mistake. At this point I was getting very infuriated with his non-caring demeanor, unprofessional customer service, trying to get rid or me attitude and told him that I thought instead of trying to offer me a higher priced laptop, he should have been saying to me “We are very sorry for this mistake, and what we are willing to do is give you three of the higher priced laptops ($298) for your inconvenience and waiting in line outside in the cold for 11 hours, would that make you happy”. He just looked at me and smirked and said, “I cannot do that, it is not up to me”. After he said that I was really infuriated and told him that I thought this was just a scam get people in here knowing you did not have enough laptops and then conveniently offer them a higher priced one. I continue to tell him how I felt and other people with the same issue started to form behind me, he asked me lower my voice and step aside so he could speak with me and my husband without others hearing him. I told him I didn’t care if other people heard me. I asked to speak with his manager. He then pulled out his business card and gave one to both myself and my husband and told us to call him on Monday and he would take care of the issue. My husband asked him what guarantee do I have that you will do anything, especially after we leave” and he replied “because we value our customers here and I’m a man of my word”. We told him that we had three wristbands for three laptops and expect three laptops. He said, “Well I can only give you one”. I asked why and he said, because I’m already going out on a limb by giving you the one laptop when they are already all gone”. I said ‘favor, are you kidding me, I came here with the intention of buying three, stood outside for 11 hours in the freezing cold and I will not settle for anything less”. He asked me to lower my voice again, and said, call me on Monday and I will take care of the issue, and please, please do not tell anyone else about what I’m going to do for you”. Then he walked away.
When we were standing in line to pay for our other purchases I noticed a few of the folks that were in line with us for the laptops were also standing in line. I asked them if they had gotten their laptops and they said “no”. I pointed the manger out to them and told them to go and speak with him.
One person came back to me and said that the manager was telling a lot of the people that were supposed to receive the $198 laptop that he was willing to drop the price of the $298 laptop (the one he wanted me to buy instead) by 20% if they wanted that one. Of course a lot of the people fell for this spiel and purchased the higher priced laptops---just what Wal-Mart knew they would do. I still stand firmly on my belief it is the principal, especially if you are ‘guaranteed” the merchandise in the first place.
Not only were the folks that had wristbands for laptops not getting the laptops, but people that had wristbands for the 50” Plasma TV went home empty handed as well because they said they ran out.
I honestly believe this was a scam on Wal-Mart’s part to get people in the door and then claim they either miscalculated or didn’t get the shipment and in actuality really wanted you to upgrade to the higher priced items.
I will not fall for this deal and will fight to get those three laptops that I feel are owed to me from Wal-Mart. I have already made calls to the corporate office---and was given the run around from them as well. The corporate office informed me that there will have to be a review of the case and they will let me know the outcome.
This is a typical “bait and switch” scheme on Wal-Mart’s part. Small corporations have been sued for such practices in the past, but because Wal-Mart is a billon dollar corporation they have the means to hush up their illegal practices and circumvent their bait and switch practices. It makes the “little guy” believe they have no choice but to accept what they offer instead. In this climate of economic change this practice is probably the worst thing that could happen. People have limited supplies of funds, they are looking for value. They use to find it at Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart’s slogan is “We Value Our Customers” means nothing to me. Their slogan should be “There is No Honest Value in Wal-Mart”.
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