Sam's Click 'n' Pull Is Lame 'n' Broken

Will in Georgia thought he’d try to take advantage of the Click ‘n’ Pull program offered by Sam’s Club—you make your shopping list ahead of time (the “click” part) and the store pulls it all for you and calls you when it’s ready to pick up. Based on Will’s experiences so far, the program isn’t quite ready for Georgians.

My first experience was about a month ago when my order contained some freezer items which had to be collected when I arrived. The associate rang me up and then told me to wait at the exit for my freezer items. I waited there for 20 minutes. I then approached the Customer Service desk and after some searching around one of CS agents found my freezer items just sitting alone by the registers. Needless to say a 20 minute wait defeats the purpose of Click N’ Pull. Not to mention the rudeness of just leaving frozen product around for someone to ‘find’.

Then today (May 29th) I noticed that my most recent Click N Pull order was wrong. I hadn’t received the ‘order is ready email’ so I thought I would call and make sure it was fixed. I was on hold for 15 minutes before I eventually hung up.

I then tried the SamsClub Online number and spoke with an extremely helpful man (Darnell I think) who wrote down the SKUs of the items I needed removed and the items I needed added. He even offered to call my local store and get the changes made. After ten minutes on hold the system hung up on me.

Then five minutes later I get an email saying my order is ready for pickup. Of course I now have no idea if it’s right and will have to deal with it at the store.

It sort of ruins the goal of greater efficiency if you have to double- and triple-check the order and call customer service to remove items—or if your $36 “tiny-quart” of ice cream is melted by the time an employee tracks it down.

(Photo: Getty)

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  1. ffmariners says:

    Would you rather they leave your freezer items out? 3 hours later I am sure you would be glad to pick up all of your pre-defrosted items…

  2. Kishi says:

    Okay, wait a second- you think the system is supposed to make it so we don’t have to double check our list? You mean their system is supposed to somehow protect you from mistakes you make yourself?

  3. JMB says:

    @ffmariners: No, I’m sure he wouldn’t. Which was why he was a little upset when they told him to wait for his freezer products, and it turns out they were sitting in customer service.

    Either they need to pull the freezer items when the customer checks out, or have a separate freezer near the checkout area for “click and pull” items. Or not include freezer items in the “click and pull” option.

  4. Whenever I think of any of Sam Walton’s enterprises, “click, click, pull” comes to mind.

  5. ffmariners says:

    @JMB: “Needless to say a 20 minute wait defeats the purpose of Click N’ Pull. Not to mention the rudeness of just leaving frozen product around for someone to ‘find’.”

    Based on the quoted statement… he was upset about the wait primarily (because it defeats the purpose of Click N’ Pull), but then upset about the fact that they let it sit around @ customer service.

    I think the freezer @ checkout would be a decent idea, though.

  6. savvy9999 says:

    +1 for the awesome post title, Chris.

  7. dragonfire81 says:

    Unless he was REALLY pressed for time, why couldn’t he just pick up the items himself and save the hassle? (at least the second time).

    Also I love the picture that’s with this article.

  8. mtaylor924 says:

    @dragonfire81: @dragonfire81: Have you ever been to a Sam’s or Costco? Unless you happen to get lucky or go right when they open, the checkout lines are horrendous! If Costco offered something like this, I would definitely use it just to avoid the checkout line.

  9. octoSink says:

    Isn’t Sam’s Club owned by Walmart? I always thought it was, and this is making me think that it is.

  10. hmbddd says:

    I have used Sams’s Click N Pull service in Brandon, FL for about six years now. I use it both for large orders for my business and for my personal purchases.

    It has worked flawlessly every time I have used it.

    I submit my order online, typically within a few hours I have an email stating that my order is ready for pickup. When I arrive at the store I do have to wait 5-10 minutes for my cold items to be retrieved from the refrigerator/freezer. But this is nothing compared to the time I save.

    The real time saver with Click N Pull is that all your items have already been scanned into the checkout system and the entire order placed on “hold.” I walk up to the customer service desk or the checkout line (whichever is shortest), scan my membership card, the entire order is pulled up, I pay for it, and leave. It the flexibility of being able to go to customer service if the line is shorter, and not having to wait for them to scan every item that saves you time.

    I guess my Sams’s club is just ahead of the amazingness curve.

  11. LikwidFlux says:

    @octoSink: yes Sam’s Club and Walmart are the same company.

  12. Ugh, I’d never do anything like this or Peapod. They’ll never know what kind of produce I like or that I don’t want the dented cereal box. Plus you lose a lot of the comparison shopping, like price per unit and nutrition facts.

  13. JMB says:

    @ffmariners: It seems like it was a no win situation for the store. Either he waits for them to pull the frozen items, or he gets frozen items pulled ahead of time that have started to thaw.

    I’m not trying to blame the OP here – it sure seems like the store needs a better system for handling this type of situation. In about five minutes I figured that having a freezer at the front of the store would solve this problem. Kind of makes you wonder why the store can’t figure the same thing out?

  14. DHT says:

    My one experience with click-n-pull didn’t go so well either.

    I placed an order for some office furniture a few months ago. Total of 4 items (desk, file cabinet, two bookshelves) on a Saturday morning. Web page said if you order by 3pm (5pm?) it’ll be ready first thing tomorrow. It didn’t say anything about only on business days, etc. And I didn’t see any mention that they would send an email when it was ready for pickup.

    I went there the next day (Sunday) and they had no record of my order, so the manager had to be called. After showing my printout, the manager had someone pull the items from the back while I paid. An entirely reasonable resolution so far, but not exactly how it’s supposed to work. After a few minutes of waiting, we decided to eat lunch. When we were done, two pallets worth of boxes were waiting for us.

    The day after that (Monday) I got an email saying my order was ready to be picked up. And on Tuesday or Wednesday I got a phone call on an unused phone line (they obviously tracked me down through the white pages) asking if I had already picked up my order and saying that if I hadn’t, I should call them before close of business the next day to let them know I still wanted it or else it would be returned to store stock.

    So all in all, it worked out, but not quite as advertised.

  15. TechnoDestructo says:

    Was it really the best idea to make a grocery service’s name so similar to that of an auto salvage yard?

  16. nbibler says:

    Wow. Well timed post. I actually just attempted a Click ‘n Pull for the first time ever last week trying to get a hold of a Nintendo Wii Fit.

    The Sam’s website showed all of my local stores had them in stock (this is the morning of release), so I selected 1 for store pickup. The closest store is only a 5 mile drive, but getting there while at work isn’t always a good thing.

    I immediately got an order notification (and order number) saying they’d received my order and that I should receive a further notice when the items were ready the following day. It also noted that I wouldn’t pay for the item until I picked it up. So, in my mind, I’m probably not guaranteed the hot new item, which of course, sells out hours later, both online and off.

    Surprisingly, I get an email the next morning, “Your order is ready to pick up!” Great! I actually got a hold of one! So, I drive over to Sam’s that evening, only to wait around for 30 minutes while they hunt for my order, and finally find out that no, no I didn’t get one. They were entirely out of stock and they couldn’t explain why I’d gotten an email stating that it was ready for pick up.

    The odd part, I thought, was that they didn’t appear to have any way to track the order (even though I had all the information on hand).

    On the plus side, however, one of the three employees that that helped me out gave me a $20 gift card, “for my trouble.”

  17. Mjolnir427 says:

    We use click and pull and it works fine. They put the frozen itmes in a freezer at the front of the store and we check our list before paying.

    Once or twice they’ve missed something, but you just point it out and they go get it.

    Spending 20 minutes to make sure the order is correct and then paying for it beats shopping and then waiting in line to pay.

    Maybe it’s not for everybody, but it saves us time and hassle.

  18. DeeJayQueue says:

    @JMB: it isn’t that the freezer items were already out as part of the click’n’pull order when he got there… they went and pulled them while he was in the store. The problem was that they just left the stuff at customer service and didn’t tell him they’d pulled it, and he sat around waiting for 20 minutes. Only after he’d gotten fed up did he find out that they pulled the stuff when he got there and left it at c-serv.

  19. Jenng says:

    SAMCLUB = WALMART = FAIL

  20. boss_lady says:

    @Jenng: Click’n’Fail. Sorry, had to. :)

  21. ThinkerTDM says:

    At first glance, I thought this article was about a chicken place. Then I thought it might be something that might appear on fleshbot.
    “Click and Pull”?
    Maybe “Drive and Jerk”.

  22. bohemian says:

    I used it once during the holiday carnage. The stores are packed with people wandering aimlessly and the check out lines on a Friday afternoon will back up half way through the store. I did the click and pull thing online at home. I made sure I read ALL of the fine print first so I knew what the limits and process was.

    I showed up, went in to the customer service desk that happened to not have a line. The clerk scanned my card, had me pay and walked me over to the cart with my pull ticket on it beside the customer service desk. She radio’d someone to bring the freezer stuff up. Someone brought the cart with the freezer items up in a few minutes. The entire trip from getting out of my car to loading it and leaving the parking lot took 10 minutes. I will be doing this again next winter, it is SO worth avoiding all the holiday shoppers. Plus we usually buy the same group of things every trip so not browsing keeps me from buying crap we don’t need.

    I think our Sams Club is maybe out of the usual level, most of the people that work there actually have a clue and they don’t seem to have employee turn over.

  23. Jenng says:

    @ThinkjerTDM

    naw the chicken place you are thinking of is called Cluck-U located next to major universities and seller of waaaayyyy cheap beer. :)

  24. eben56 says:

    It’s a new service, and we know how thoroughly employees are trained when new services are offered. I’d say, give them a few weeks to get the bugs and training issues ironed out, and then decide if the service is worth it or if it sucks.
    Not going to blame the OP. I would be pissed if someone pulled my frozen food and then left it somewhere.
    Just like I would never buy the first version of software or the first year a new vehicle is introduced, I would wait a few weeks before trying the new “innovative” service.

  25. Thorny says:

    I tried this service three years ago (it’s not a new service in Hawaii). It is much easier to shop online due to a disability. However, a similar thing happened when I went to pick up the items — the order hadn’t even been started yet. I waited and waited and waited and should have just gone and done the shopping myself — even though they gave me a vehicle emergency kit for free for my wait.

  26. I don’t want to sound whiny, but why would you put in the text that the system “isn’t ready for Georgians?” It sounds like it’s not just one state’s problem by the looks of the comments, and it has a tone of “oh, those slack-jawed yokels can’t do anything right, can they?” I might not be a native Georgian, but I do call Atlanta my home, and I’d like to think I’m somewhat intelligent. :)

    (For the record, I am actually a Yankee, from the great state of Illinois.)

  27. But kudos are in need for the article title. :)

  28. allstarecho says:

    I’ve used it here in Mississippi numerous times without any issues. So Sam’s Click ‘n’ Pull Is NOT Lame ‘n’ Broken.

  29. Propaniac says:

    @JMB: Or, as many people have said, the Sam’s Club guy could say “Hello, here are the freezer items you ordered that I have collected for you, have a nice day” instead of dumping them on the counter without telling anyone and wandering off.

  30. m1k3g says:

    Sam’s has really gone downhill over the past year or so. We recently switched to Costco and there is definitely a difference! A couple of months back, we were trying to buy Wii for our daughters birthday, Sam’s told us to call them weekly and they would let us know when they got them in. Since they have a ‘one per customer’ policy we thought we could have a pretty good chance of getting one as they supposedly got 30 at a time. One day my wife called and they had just got them in, we rushed to get there barely an hour later. We went to the service desk and told the cashier what we wanted, she pointed to a guy walking out the door with a flatbed cart and said “Ah’m sorry, but that there man just bought the last 15 we had…” Boy was I pissed. And that was the end of our Sam’s membership.

  31. nycaviation says:

    From my experience, none of the retailers’ online order/store pickup programs work very well. Unless you’re getting an item that has to be retrieved from the back room, it is almost always faster to pick your own items and take them to the checkout.

    On that note, I’m a bit dumbfounded that Sam’s would offer this service in the first place. A cursory glance at any of the wisdom out of the very successful Costco camp over the past few years reveals that much of their success comes from impulse buys of high ticket items. If you enable the customer to get in and out without walking past the bargain priced massage chairs and 50in plasmas, they’re not going to buy them.

  32. Kajj says:

    @HRHKingFriday: Actually, Peapod allows you to sort items by per-unit price, so it’s even easier to comparison shop than it is in the store. It’s one of the reasons I use it. I just buy my produce somewhere local – I like having an excuse to go to the farmer’s market anyway.

    It’s a shame this click ‘n’ pull thing doesn’t work, because it sounds like a pretty great idea. They should get their act together and then add a drive-thru lane.

  33. parrotuya says:

    Sam’s Club sucks. Their customer service is some of the worst in the industry. I don’t what they are thinking in believing that they could pull this off. Cancel your Sam’s Club membership and join Costco instead. Oh, and avoid Wal-Mart, too.

  34. satoru says:

    Seems like they took a great internet concept, but didn’t think of the workflow through to the store level. I suspect some upper management thought that they should take the local pickup that regular electronics store have, and extend it to their warehouses, and just yelled at people to make it hapen. Maybe the best way to do this would be to remove perishable items from the click and pull workflow until they can find a way to make it more efficient. As one commenter indicated, they would probably need to install a cooler/freezer near the exit in order to more quickly process perishable items once the customer arrives. Until they do that at all their locations, they should either scale back the type of items, or try to improve the workflow at the local level.

  35. Ben Clayton says:

    You know, I work for Sam’s Club, and I have to say, we have some really fucking dumb employees, but I know at least at my club, most of our employees are willing to go out of their way for a member. I’m not sure why, but I’ve been a pretty good witness, and I could certainly say that in our Electronics dept, we have some of the most knowledgeable and experienced people in town, plus, we don’t work on commission, so it really doesn’t bother me if I explain a piece of technology to you and you buy it on Amazon for 50 bucks less. Hell, sometimes, I encourage it.

    I don’t know if its the whole Anti-Walmart vibe here at Consumerist, but I can assure you, walk into a Sam’s Club after walking into a Wal-mart and tell me you don’t see a difference.

    And don’t think I’m justifying anything the company does wrong, because I have plenty of juicy stories to tell if need be. Ill leave that for the next Sam’s Club article though.

  36. GOOR says:

    @UnifiedStringCheeseTheory: Best pun of the comments.

  37. LUV2CattleCall says:

    @eben56:

    Actually, it’s been around for 2+ years. I’ve personally had great luck with it…not only is it a time saver, but it helps keep me from buying a ton of things that weren’t on the list…

  38. PlutoRocks says:

    I tried this system with Lowe’s store at “The Shops at Tanforan” in San Bruno CA. First order worked like a charm – I ordered on line, they sent me an e-mail telling me the order was ready for pick up, I go to store, complete order is waiting for me at customer service desk. I show receipt to really pleasant customer service agent, she gives me the stuff, I’m in and out in five minutes.

    Second time I tried this – total freaking disaster: I order and pay on line, get e-mail telling me that the order is ready for pick up. I go to store and find order has not been pulled from shelves and I have to wait 30 minutes for some moron (i.e., employee) to (a) print order, (b) go find stuff on shelf, (c) bring stuff to front desk. Aforementioned moron pulled wrong stuff from shelf, I had to go find correct stuff on shelf myself and take to front desk. This time, alleged customer service agent was a brat kid (name tag == Karen) who took no responsibility for store’s screwup. My time in store approx 40 minutes – I could have done the whole transaction myself in about 10.

  39. RetailGuy83 says:

    @PlutoRocks: Do you find yourself dealing with moron employees who move slowly in the service industry alot? I know that I’m usually not forthcomming with inventive ways to solve problems or dashing around to fix the problems of people who act as entitled as you sound.

    God, I really should write a 10 confessions…

  40. packetsniffer says:

    “or if your $36 “tiny-quart” of ice cream is melted by the time an employee tracks it down.”
    Wouldn’t the ice cream have been in the freezer while the employee was looking for it? *a-hem* Just ignore me.

  41. @mtaylor924: costco does have something similar, called Fax and Pull, but your orders have to be $500 or greater

  42. PinUp says:

    @RetailGuy83: I’ll admit–same here.