The Tampa Bay Times’ retail reporter Susan Thurston writes she has already received several complaints about Florida Walmarts not playing by the new rules, especially when it comes to the use of manufacturers’ coupons on BOGO deals.
See, according to the recent changes at Florida Walmarts, you should be allowed to use two coupons in addition to getting the store to honor a competitor’s BOGO offer.
Say you walk into Walmart with proof of a Publix BOGO deal on soap and you have two coupons from the manufacturer. The sticker price on the soap is $5.00, and the coupons are each for $1.00 off. After you check out, you should be leaving that Walmart with two things of soap for which you only paid $3.00. Thurston explains that this is how Publix deals with the BOGO/coupon combo and it’s how Walmart reps have explained the new Florida policy.
But when she called up the regular customer service number on six different occasions, she received six different explanations. Correction: She received five different explanations, because no one picked up the phone during one attempt.
The first person seemed to think you could only use one coupon, because how can you use a coupon on a free product? (By further reducing the price of the product you pay for, she should have realized.)
Others suggested she talk to store managers, or said that each store was allowed to make its own decision. One customer service rep had Thurston on hold for more than 10 minutes before she came back with inaccurate information.
A good deal of the confusion with the reps on the Walmart 800-number is probably due the fact that Florida is currently the only state where Walmart is trying this BOGO-matching policy. But how hard is it to alert all the reps and make sure they are aware that one of country’s most populous states is the subject of a pilot program that has some new rules?
Thurston contends that this lack of communication — both between Walmart and its customers and between Walmart HQ and its own workers — may cause the BOGO-matching program to backfire on the retailer.
“Infuriate a customer over a 75-cent coupon and they won’t return, plus they’ll tell all their friends,” she writes. “And this business of calling a manager to argue a policy? Does Walmart really want customers waiting longer in checkout lines?”