Have you tried buying an external hard drive, a wireless mouse or most anything smaller than a TV from your local Walmart’s Electronics department lately?
If so, you probably had to track down an employee and ask them to open a locked case and hand the item to you.
Like some other major chain retailers, Walmart has made the decision to place virtually everything worth buying inside a locked cabinet, practically eliminating any opportunity to comparison shop.
For years I’ve been purchasing most of my computer and electronics gear from Amazon for the reasons mentioned in this post.
But in times past when I needed something right away I would head to Walmart since I could usually walk in, spend a few minutes comparison shopping and then walk our with the gadget I needed. But that has now changed.
After their recent changes, an electronics purchase at Walmart can go something like this:
1 – I search through the rows of locked cabinets till I find the category of items I’m looking for.
2 – I go find a Walmart employee and ask him to open the display case for me.
Note: This can be problematic because there’s usually only one employee working the Electronics department and he’s busy helping a line of other customers. Of course this is assuming that someone is even working the Electronics department at the moment.
3 – I listen as the employee tells me he’ll have to go find someone else because he doesn’t have a key that will open the case.
4 – I watch as an employee in possession of a massive ring of keys tries in vain to find one that will open the particular case in question.
5 – I listen as that employee gets on the P.A. system and calls for a manager to come to Electronics.
6 – I watch as the person who eventually shows up with the right key opens the case and asks me which item I want.
7 – I watch the employee roll his eyes when I ask to read the backs of the packages containing several different variations of the item I need.
8 – I watch the employee fidget and become visibly irritated while I actually take the time to read the backs of several packages (i.e comparison shop).
9 – I hear the employee ask if I’d prefer to pay for the item I just selected at the Electronics register or follow him to a front register while he carries it up there and hands it to a cashier.
I know all of the above sounds a bit like a gross exaggeration, but that’s exactly how my last electronics purchase (for a $30 item) at Walmart went down. I kid you not.
After that experience I will never purchase another item from a Walmart Electronics department unless I simply have to have the item that day. If I can possibly wait a day or two for an Amazon delivery, I will.
If you’re wondering why I don’t just order the item from Walmart.com instead of Amazon if I can afford to wait for delivery, there are two reasons:
1 – I refuse to reward Walmart by buying from their website just to avoid the hassle of buying from one of their local stores.
2 – Compared to Amazon’s sales pages, Walmart’s sales pages are incredibly short on details. If I can’t hold the box and read what’s written on it without jumping through a millions hoops I want the website I buy from to give me plenty of info so I can make the best buying decision possible.
Bottom line: I certainly understand the importance of a company taking all necessary measures to protect their merchandise from theft, but there’s a point where the cure becomes worse than the disease.
I’m no expert in the ways of big business, but I have a feeling Walmart is now losing a lot more revenue and profit to lost sales than they would ever lose to theft. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.
How do you feel about this? Do you agree, or am I way off base? I’d love to hear your opinion.