Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Walmart Experience

So, a number of years ago my husband and I were visiting his family, and my mother-in-law took me with her on one of her shopping trips. At the checkout, she began to haggle with the clerk over the price of an item. It's advertised for cheaper at another local competitor, and look, it's sort of damaged, and yada yada. The cashier, obviously flustered and frustrated, tried to fend her off for a while, but finally had to resort to calling the manager over. The line behind us had gotten longer and clearly restless, there was no specifically stated store policy that you could use another competitor's prices to bargain with, and the social pressures both in front of and behind us were such that I was totally embarrassed. I'm sure I stood away from her and tried to look nonchalant.

But, you know what, if you hold up the line long enough to get a manager over there, you'll likely get the price you want -- she did. It wasn't a large item, if I recall it was a houseplant of some kind. Despite her success, I've never wanted to be that person; I'd rather have a more comfortable shopping trip than feel that self-conscious.

Well, yesterday I ate my words. I ad-matched at Walmart for the very first time. Extremely uncomfortable, but certainly successful.

 I'm still pondering the episode.

A few factors led to this watershed decision, that I was willing to be 'that person' in line. Obviously, trying to stretch our new budget. Plus I already shop regularly at Walmart, which means that I'm familiar with what they stock and which items are worthwhile or not, and also that I'm patently willing to endure some inconvenience, discomfort, and frustration to get a better deal. (An aside: I live in a pretty posh area, and I don't personally know anyone else in my peer group locally that legs it down to Walmart. It certainly is its own adventure, and you mingle with a unique clientele...)

Lastly, I ran across a budgeting website that listed Walmart price-matching as a useful strategy. I recalled my sister telling me at one point that she had been doing that at her SuperCenter for produce, but since I only have a 'regular' Walmart, I hadn't mentally filed it away as useful. And certainly it's never come up with anyone local. So I picked up that idea and researched it pretty thoroughly, tried to find online experiences to compare it to, and hoped for the best when I went.

Well, I had to get a pretty grumpy face on to get a lot of my items, and the manager (who was indeed called over) wasn't happy with me either. She very reluctantly did let them ring up my most extreme deals, though, so I guess in the end I got what I set out for. My savings ended up being about 10% of my whole purchase (depending on how you count things exactly) without having to spend the time and gas in visiting all those other stores, but pushing my cart out the door, I had to consciously pull myself out from under the cloud of that slightly grueling interaction.

Was it worth it? Phew, I don't know. Despite the existence of a corporate ad-matching policy, I was aware going into it that the training and willingness of each store varies, and I certainly seemed to hit a rougher location than my sister or the online ladies. I'll probably keep doing it when it's something I really would have bought anyway; I definitely far prefer it to coupons, and I'm guessing I'll get a little better at it.

The slightly amusing human-interest part of it was the lady in line behind me. She was dressed fairly professionally and struck up a friendly conversation at the outset, but it quickly became apparent that there were some, ah, social deficits there. I kept trying to respond to her for a fair while before needing to turn my attention to my shopping order being rung up, but I needn't have bothered, because she didn't seem to notice or mind that the conversation became entirely one-sided, or that the manager was called and I was busy with that. Heck, better that she stand and ramble on, than that she's impatient with me holding up the line; it was all just part of the 'Walmart experience'!

No comments:

Post a Comment