Thomson ReutersIn a bid to compete with Amazon, Wal-Mart has been investing more in in-store pickup programs, which allow customers to shop online and pick up their purchases at stores.
pickup is supposed to make shopping easier, by allowing customers to
skip lines and get their items right away without having to pay higher
rates for shipping.
But I recently tried Wal-Mart's in-store pickup, and I was shocked by how inconvenient it was.
I was in the market for a Fitbit, so I compared prices online and found the lowest price at Walmart.com.
At $78.52, the Walmart.com price was $1 cheaper than Amazon's and more than $20 cheaper than Best Buy's.
So I decided to go with Wal-Mart.
wanted the Fitbit that same day, but I was afraid that the price would
be higher in the stores. (I was right - when I went to pick up my
purchase, I walked by the electronics department and saw that it was
listed for $99).
Business InsiderThe Fitbit Flex was listed as $78.52
on Walmart.com and $99 on the store shelf.So I made the purchase on
Wal-Mart.com last Thursday, and selected the option for in-store pickup.
Wal-Mart sent me an order confirmation immediately that said I would receive another email when my Fitbit was ready for pickup.
I expected it to be ready within minutes. How long could it take for someone to pull the item from shelves?
more than three hours passed before I got the email saying my order was
ready. It was close to 9 p.m. at that point, so I decided to wait until
the following day to pick it up.
When I arrived at Wal-Mart on
Friday, I was expecting to pick up the Fitbit at the front of the store
and be on my way home within minutes.
Instead, I was directed to a
department labeled Walmart.com that was located all the way in the back
of the store. (This isn't unusual - according to Wal-Mart's website,
the Walmart.com pickup areas are typically located towards the back of
This surprised me. I thought the purpose of the in-store pickup option was convenience.
I walked through the store, I passed the electronics department and
spotted the Fitbit. I decided last minute that I wanted a blue Fitbit
instead of the black one I picked out online, so I grabbed the gadget
from the shelf and continued walking toward the Walmart.com department,
hoping for an easy exchange.
Once there, I stood in line for
about 15 minutes. There was only one associate at the register and a
customer ahead of me had a problem with his order.
When it was finally my turn, I pulled up the confirmation email on my phone and displayed a bar code for the associate to scan.
She told me the scanner didn't work, so I read the 13-digit confirmation code aloud to her.
she found my order, I asked her if I could exchange it with the Fitbit I
pulled from the shelf. It was the same exact product, just in a
She said that the store inventory and
Walmart.com inventory are separate, so I would have to get refunded for
my online purchase and then go to the front of the store to buy the
Fitbit I grabbed from the shelf.
"They are the exact same product," I said. "Why can't I just go home with the one from the shelf?"
She advised me to talk to customer service.
color wasn't important enough to me to spend any more time waiting in
line in the store, so I decided to just go home - 30 minutes later -
with the original Fitbit I had ordered online.
experience was only mildly annoying, but it was enough of an
inconvenience to persuade me never to use Wal-Mart's in-store pickup
again. And after some research, I discovered that other customers have
had similar experiences with Wal-Mart's in-store pickup.
retrospect, I should have paid the extra $1 to purchase the Fitbit at
Amazon and waited an extra day to get it delivered for free to my
We reached out to Wal-Mart for this story and will update when we hear back.
SEE ALSO: Wal-Mart's core business is getting crushed
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