Item Is Right On The Walmart Shelf, But Site-To-Store Will Take A Few Days

Retailers generally don’t price-match their own websites. Walmart, Sears, Best Buy, Gap, Home Depot… they’re separate operations. Lee didn’t know that, though, and tried to get Walmart to match its online price for the router he wanted. They refused. That’s not worthy of publication on Consumerist, but what happened next is. He whipped out a smartphone and ordered the router sitting on the shelf in front of him for in-store pickup. Hurray! He beat the system! Until an e-mail from Walmart arrived telling him that he could expect to pick up his new router sometime next week.

My wireless router had been flaky for a few days, and I finally realized it was time for a new router. I read a few reviews and settled on a Netgear N750. A quick search showed both the Best Buy stores near me were sold out, as was my local Target. However, my local Wal-Mart (store #[redacted]) had the router in stock. Even better, it was $10 cheaper than everyone else. I had the option to buy and pick it up in the store the same day, but decided to just go by the store on my way and get a few other needed items as well.

The router was on the shelf, but at the higher price. No problem — took it to the cashier, told her the price I’d seen, and she said “Oh, do you have someone else’s ad?”. Nope, even better, I thought. I showed her WalMart.com’s website and was told “Sorry, we only match competitors; we don’t price match our own website.” That sounded odd, so I asked for the department manager to confirm. (FYI: I did a little research today on the price-matching policy: Yep, WalMart doesn’t match their own website prices. Ludicrous but true.)

Fine. I pulled out my phone, went online, and ordered the router to “pick up in the store today”. Minutes later, I had an email telling me to expect the router next week! What? I had seen very clearly I could order and pick up in that store today.

I immediately followed the directions to cancel the online order. No problem, the order was still “In processing”, and let me cancel with the caveat that “sometimes” orders placed online couldn’t be cancelled if too much time had elapsed. Instead of giving in to disgust (I really needed that router) I told the cashier to ring up the router at the higher price.

Somehow, though, the combination of the two back-to-back transactions triggered a fraud alert on my credit card. Fine. I paid with a different card, took my router home, all the while thinking that what should have taken me 5 minutes in the store had taken me over 30 minutes. I really don’t want to think about how disinterested the cashier and manager were either.

So… Today, I received an automated email from Walmart.com letting me they had shipped the router — yes, the one I’d cancelled 3 minutes after ordering — and I verified that my credit card had been charged. I can hardly wait to see just what sort of fun I’m going to have when I go BACK to Walmart to pick up and immediately return the other router.

And that is how Wal-Mart lost my business forever.

Maybe it’s not such a big loss. If you’re an old-school Consumerist fan and that sounds familiar, it’s because we ran a very similar story about a TV back in 2009. So maybe the takeaway here should be, if you see that great online price and ordering for in-store pickup is an option, go with that.