I Hate WalMart – Part 4

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You would think after so many bad experiences with WalMart, I would stay away, right? But much like a bad romance that keeps magnetically pulling at me to return, WalMart beckons. The low prices. The convenience. All the stuff I don’t need but might like to look at and maybe buy…because the prices are so low. I digress…

I got this wonderful idea to make a photo album for my mom for this Christmas. Mom is hardly ever online, and doesn’t visit my website, so I think I can safely publish this before Christmas without risk of her discovering the surprise. . . if I even complete the surprise album.

I also picked out a really neat photo frame that has little circles for each month of the baby’s first year. Which means I needed small pictures to put in the little circles. And, I chose about 200 of Zoey’s best pictures for the beautiful album I bought. Some of the pictures I ordered from CVS, but I noticed that their printing looked a little smoky and decided to order from my old friend…WalMart.

I ordered 9 wallet size prints, 118 standard 4×6 prints, and one 5×7. When I went to pick up my pictures, I noticed right away that the 5×7 wasn’t there, since it would have to be in a different sized envelope. The photo clerk printed out the 5×7  for me from my order on his screen while I waited.  It didn’t occur to me that the envelope I was given only held about 50 prints in it, and I had paid online for over 100. I looked at the prints. The color was bold, but there is a STREAKING across the fronts of all the pictures. In the store, I really just wanted to buy my things and get out. The pictures I looked at weren’t too bad with the streaking, although I mentioned it to the photo clerk and he just replied with, “Yeaahhh…” He was a nice guy, but since I didn’t act angry and crazy, I didn’t get any service. That seems to be the way WalMart works. If you want any service at all, you must go ALL the way with your angry-crazy act. If you are just a little disappointed, they are willing to accept that. If you are CRAZY ANGRY, they start to take notice. A little.

So, here I sit at my computer desk…looking through pictures of newborn baby Zoey with strong streaks across her face because the rollers in the machine need to be cleaned or replaced. Only 3 of the 9 wallets I paid for were included in my envelope, so my “Baby’s First Year” picture frame only has pictures for 4 of the slots. And those pictures, even small, are streaky. I was only given 53 standard 4×6 prints, and I have no idea which ones are missing, but half of them are. How could I stupidly think that WalMart would get my photo order right this time? I paid for 118 prints and got half my order! And they are all horribly streaked!

Here’s the real kicker…because I hate the WalMart near my home so much, I actually drove to the next town to use THEIR WalMart, thinking it would be better. What a huge mistake. Ugh. And these streaky pictures are just awful. This is far below “average” quality printing and dipping into the “unacceptable” area.

How many times must I go through this and keep going back for more? Am I really that daft to return yet again to try to resolve the situation? It’s starting to feel a bit hopeless and not worth the effort. Kodak.com, here I come.

Categories: Random Stuff Blogs

I Hate WalMart – Part 3

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It was October 6th of 2011, and I had decided that the perfect birthday gift for my husband would be pictures of our baby in her Halloween costume. Since my husband always shops for my birthday gift the day OF my birthday, I got to do the same for his, and he doesn’t expect a gift until that evening, sometime before midnight, which is the unofficial “deadline” for spousal birthday gifts to not be technically late.

So, it was the day OF my husband’s birthday, and I was busy during the day dressing up little Zoey as a butterfly and finding well-lit places to take photographs of her for the birthday surprise. I managed to get 60 prints ordered by 5pm, and slipped out of the house around 7 claiming that I was going to get hubby his favorite cheeseburger. Just enough time to get the pictures and come back before baby wakes. Perfect.

The only imperfect part of this equation is that I have once again entrusted WalMart with something important. They seem to be able to detect urgency and importance and stomp on it when it comes up to the photo counter.

When I went to get the pictures, the girl working the machine told me that I must not have completed the ordering process “or something”, because the machine had my name up and said processing, but nothing was printing from it. I explained my situation, but as we outlined before, WalMart associates do not care about special circumstance. If anything, they enjoy squelching hopes and dreams. It’s what they live for. Then she went on break.

A new kid who had never worked in photo before that day came up and called the 1800 number for the machine. The people on the other end were able to tell him to push the “continue” button, because the first girl had hit “pause” accidentally. He remarked that she had said, “Today has been a really easy day! Hardly nothing has come through! But why do all these people keep showing up asking for pictures?”

After New Kid got the machine running again, I was told that my order would print in about 30 minutes. No problem. I wandered around WalMart talking to my mom on the phone. In 30 minutes, I came back to the counter with a picture frame, gift bag, card, etc…but the pictures were still not done. The first girl was back from her break, and told me, “Yeah, the machine was jammed or paused or something.” (Basically she decided NOT to be honest OR apologize.) Then, the new kid says that he thinks my pictures are done, but he can’t price them because he doesn’t have that ability. Some other kid who was off the clock but actually knows how to run photo was standing off to the side trying to explain the whole situation in his 18 year old hipster dialect. I was still pretty willing to accept this kind of poor service in exchange for the pictures until another 20 minutes ticked by.  After waiting at the counter for 50 minutes, I set the items I was going to purchase on the counter and said, “Ok, this is enough. I think it’s time for me to go. I am disappointed.”

But…instead of leaving…I went to Customer Service in the front of the store and approached a Manager who was chatting with an associate. The Manager rudely told me that he had other things to take care of first – – and quickly scurried off to the cash registers…where I followed him. I was polite, quiet, and reserved. But I was going to follow him until I got to speak to someone who could do something about the extremely poor service of the One Hour Photo. Yes, I have sunk pretty low to allow myself to follow a manager like a dog until he will listen to me speak, but keep in mind that I want to have something besides just a cheeseburger to offer my husband for his birthday. Finally, the Manager addressed me with “May I ask what you would like to discuss?” (As if he might say “no” to discussing something he deemed unreasonable…) I said, “Yes you may. I have been waiting 3 hours for my 1 hour photos, one hour of which has been in the store. The pictures are for my husband’s birthday…which is tonight.” Saying that last part made me feel like a bit of a heel, especially since the evil spirits of WalMart seem to prey on people’s weaknesses and situational neediness.

He led me back to the One hour photo, and said that he would give me the photos for 50% off. I’m thinking this really is not a reasonable discount for the extremely poor service, but I go along with it. Another 20 minutes passes as 1. The first girl (pause pusher) is very slowly sorting my pictures with some wedding pictures that became mixed in, 2. The New Kid pulled my 8×10 from the trash, with slight crumples on it now, 3. The kid who is off the clock is trying to handle the plethora of photos pouring from the unpaused printer 4. I am looking through my pictures and seeing that some were printed on the wrong size paper and have white bars on the sides.

None of the pictures were printed TrueDigital, as I ordered…I let that slide. At least I had some pictures at this point. They told me that this is normal and I would have to cut my pictures with scissors at home. Then, to delay my departure more, Rude Manager doesn’t know how to make the pictures 50% off. The girl suggests keeping them at full price. Then, Rude Manager calls another manager on his phone….and I hear Manager #2 say through the phone…“Is that the same order that you called me about a half hour ago?” “Yes,” replies Rude Manager…”Make the whole order $5 under code ***.” Simple.

The Girl and Rude Manager stand there and chuckle and talk about me as I stand quietly in front of them. I am shocked and totally pissed off as they are “surprised they made them this cheap”. I finally spoke up with, “I would not have paid full One Hour price for photos that I waited 3 hours for. Thank you for finishing them. I’m sorry I had to get a manager here to get my photos, but your service is horrible and I won’t be back.” They continue to talk quietly (but not quietly enough) in front of me as the pause-pushing Girl says, “Yeah, I used to work in that Customer Service sh**…I know how it is.” Which basically means…he probably isn’t a manager. Just a supervisor with a lighter colored shirt than the other Wal Mart workers.

So, now I am hoping to stay permanently detached from WalMart. I’m looking forward to shopping at Wegmans, Genuardi’s, Target, Whole Foods, and other places that offer better quality items. It’s too bad that WalMart turned out to be such a bad seed, but luckily for me there are more fish in the sea.

Categories: Random Stuff Blogs

I Hate WalMart – Part 2

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WalMart and I were only together because it enjoyed my money and I enjoyed their low prices.

And then, WalMart finally screwed me over in enough of a personal way that I thought I had dumped them for good.

It was winter of 2011, and I was very pregnant, and very uncomfortable. I was near to completing the album “Red”, and had a radio interview with Mona Rodriguez. It’s commonplace to bring the radio station an autographed head shot along with a bio and a demo or pre-release CD. I placed my photo order for the head shots in their 1 hour service, then went to pick them up at the photo lab a few hours before the radio interview. I had used a program to add my name and web address to the front of the picture in my typical extra-big font, all caps. When I went to pick up the pictures, I was told I could not have them because they were professional pictures, and the photographer’s name is right on the front. I pulled out my driver’s license and showed them that it was myname on the front. Not good enough. Apparently, I needed to fill out a form stating that I own the copyright for the pictures, they couldn’t find the form at the store, and I would need the person behind the camera to sign the form, regardless if they are a friend or family member. Swell. Just wonderful. I explained my situation to them – that I needed to leave for a radio interview, that the pictures really were not copyrighted by a professional photographer, and that I really really just wanted to purchase them….please? Pretty please? No. I couldn’t have them. They look professional. There’s a name on the front. “Yes, it’s MY name!” I was told that I didn’t need to get upset, as if I were a kindergartener. I wanted to say, “This isn’t me upset. You want to see me get UPSET?” Somehow, being very pregnant and standing there for a long time with Zoey’s head pressed against my uterus didn’t make matters much better. I secretly hoped I would go into labor and gush amniotic fluid all over their floor…then they would HAVE to give me my pictures, right? “Sell me my pictures, or I will have this baby right HERE! Right NOW!” OK, so even though I spoke with several associates, and one rather mean female manager who clearly needed dental insurance, I left without any pictures, swearing I would never return. I had my pictures printed at “emergency” speed at the nearest CVS, where they didn’t give me guff about my name being on the front, but charged me a little more.

Like a boyfriend who had done me wrong, I thought I was leaving the enticingly bright lights and deceptively low prices of WalMart for good.

I complained on their online customer service, exchanging emails with them for about 2 weeks, during which time I shopped at Giant for groceries and Target for housewares. After 2 weeks of complaining and getting automated responses, someone actually read what I wrote in an email, and WalMart’s customer service support gave me a $10 giftcard for walmart . com. We were back in business. And that easily, WalMart had NOT won back my trust or confidence, but they had my business, and that was all that mattered.

The Epic Battle with Sleep

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When I’m helping our newborn get to sleep, the routine is pretty much the same each time. After pooping, eating, and bobbling her head around for a bit while people talk and sing words to her that she doesn’t understand, she gets quite sleepy. But she doesn’t want to admit she’s sleepy.

The first stage along her routine for sleeping is denial. She tries to keep her eyes open wide, even though they are obviously looking heavier.

Then comes the stage of “Mommy I am HUNGRY! You will feed me again!” FEED ME!

This stage only results in her sucking on a breast or a bottle for a few moments and then spitting it out to bobble her head about a bit more, looking around as if she has been re-charged with her secret super-fuel.

 

But this super-fuel only lasts for a little while and then begins to wear off…

The next part of her sleep routine involves crying and moving her legs around a lot as if to say, “Mommy, I am in pain! It’s GAS! My diaper is uncomfortable! Bugs are crawling all over my skin! I’m being attacked by the cat and she has eaten one of my feet!”

But none of these things are usually ever happening. So, mommy straps baby into the baby-carrier in hopes of gently coaxing her to sleep with movement and “shhhh”ing. Baby seems to fully believe that being strapped into this contraption will help her stay awake.

It isn’t until she gets inside of it that she realizes that mommy’s seemingly evil “stay awake” device is actually a comfortable “fall asleep” device. Ah, mommy is sneaky, isn’t she little one?

 

It is at this stage in the fall-asleep routine that baby goes through all of the other stages in rapid succession, trying anything she can to make mommy believe that she is NOT sleepy and that some other issue is happening. She cries intensely, kicking her feet and screaming as if she is in pain of at least an 8 on the hospital pain scale. Then, her pain vanishes – and suddenly, she makes signs like she is ravishingly hungry, regardless of how much she has eaten- or spit up.  This stage is a lot like watching the movie “Underworld” during the points in the film where the humans turn into Werewolves.  It looks disturbingly uncomfortable and freakishly scary.

I’m just glad we’ve never had to go through this sleep routine in public. People would think I am starving the poor child.

She holds her head up, trying to keep her eyes open while mommy rocks her. Oh, evil, wicked mommy! Ignoring the cries of her little one! After about 5-10 minutes of baby giving every last effort to stay awake, she falls asleep. Of course, if mommy removes baby from the carrier, she will wake up…so in some way, baby still wins.

For some reason, people that are under a certain age do not like to sleep. When we were children, we would beg our parents to let us stay up later, even if we were exhausted. I remember the glorious day when my parents changed my bedtime from 9 to 10. It was like heaven opened up and showered me with an extra hour in the day. That’s right. Taking an hour of sleep-time and changing it to awake-time makes it seem like the day has more time! Brilliant! If we could only figure out a way to eliminate sleep altogether, we could have 24 full hours of productivity! Or watching TV, which is what I spent that extra hour from 9-10 doing during my entire childhood.

Occasionally, I would get permission to stay up much later than 10 because it was a holiday or a weekend. I remember mustering every bit of strength to stay awake as late as possible to relish in my small victory. But no matter how I tried, sleep always found me. I would try to keep my eyes open while watching the late night shows, but they would eventually become so heavy that I could no longer hold them.

This phenomenon seems to continue into our teenage years, where we want to stay out late and PARTY! Partying to me consisted of going to Wal-mart with my best friend and shopping for sexy underwear, roller skates, twinkies, and other dangerous things that our mothers didn’t want us to have. After all, Wal-mart is open 24 hours, and we needed a place that could stay awake as long as us. And we intended to be awake for a VERY long time. The description of a great night out was dragging ourselves to school the next morning and proudly declaring that we hadn’t slept at all.

We had cars, part time jobs, and the willpower needed to stay up forever. Our parents had to find us in order to make us go to sleep! Yay! Unfortunately, we soon learned that our super-fuel of cheeseburgers and Doritos would only keep us awake for so long. And though we would fight sleep with our late night runs to Wal-mart, K-mart, and any other 24-hour “mart” that wouldn’t throw us out, we always found ourselves in our beds sleeping occasionally. It was a tragedy. Sleep had won, even then, in the prime of our power against it.

It’s possible that college was created in order to make us want to sleep. It’s a huge underground conspiracy between parents. Why do you think parents want their children to go to college so badly? BUT, they make it look like they are helping us in the quest to stay awake.  They remove the obstacle of sleep-enforcing parents. They colonize us with other people that just turned 21 so that we can go out to all of the places that are open really late and are likely to keep us more awake than the flickering fluorescent lights of Wal-mart. They give us LOTS of homework, so that even if we thought about sleeping, we would stay awake to finish all of this WORK. Yay! Finally we win, right? We can stay awake forever!


Unfortunately, this whole situation is only a trick. At first, having a few adult beverages with friends seemed like a power-food that would help us to dance better, have more fun, be more confident, and stay awake all night. But after this initial burst of energy wore off, we soon discovered that we had ingested something similar to Superman’s Kryptonite.

Some students feel so sleepy that they can’t even stay awake long enough to get themselves back home. That’s why so many college students wake up in strange places after having a night out.

The idea that being around people your age all day will keep you awake is only a façade. Because in front of the rows and rows of fun people that might help you in your quest for ultimate sleeplessness is an old person. An old person that wants to teach you things. An old person that wants to teach you boring things.

They stagger these old, boring people with slightly less old, less boring people occasionally so that students don’t catch on to the underlying conspiracy to make them sleep.

example: “No, school isn’t boring! I have this awesome foreign language teacher.”

OK, so there is one teacher that doesn’t bore you to tears….

But most of the teachers are quite boring for a person who hasn’t slept. We were able to stay up for 48+ hours to party, finish our homework in the wee hours before class in the morning, gossip with a friend about another friend, and now, in less than an hour, this teacher is sending us into a state of grogginess that cannot be fought? It seems so unfair! The odd part of all of this is that in class, we are NOT ALLOWED to sleep.

The college classroom…It is the sleepiest place on earth. The opposite of Disneyland, which is the happiest place on earth – I suppose because there is plenty of bright, whirring, spinning stuff to keep us awake. But the college classroom, with it’s plain beige paint and boringly droning professor, is a place where you are NOT allowed to sleep. We try to stay awake by rapidly opening and closing our eyes. We excuse ourselves to go to the bathroom where we can splash water on our faces. Must stay awake! We make interesting doodles all over the sides of our notebooks in an effort to entertain ourselves into wakefulness again.

But in the end, we find ourselves thinking the worst and darkest thoughts…

After all those years of wanting to stay awake, we finally reach a point where we would rather sleep than endure the torture of academic boring-ness. We find ourselves thinking of our crappy little college dorm room cots, and how comfortable they look. I would compare this to how someone must feel when being tortured and death begins to look like a viable means to an end. It is then, in the torturous caverns of the college classroom, where we start making plans to sleep. But most of this sleeping happens during the day.

In our little pre-adulthood brains, we believe that if we are awake at night we will get more accomplished. If we sleep during the day, we won’t sleep for as long, but will be equally refreshed. (We think.) So, we live the life of vampires for a bit, taking naps during the brightest times of the day and going out at night to feast our little fangs on 24 hour drive thru foods.

After 4 years of torture from the academic system, this odd theory of “day-sleeping doesn’t count”, and the growing desire to sleep, we gradually begin to shift over to sleeping at night, and by the time we graduate from college, we are seemingly normal adults who recognize the need for nighttime sleep.

But until my baby has surpassed her own 25-year epic battle with sleep, she will be sleeping in the carrier…strapped to my body.

I Hate WalMart

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I still remember the feelings of excitement when I found out that we, the citizens of Willow Grove, PA, would soon have a WalMart. And not just a regular WalMart, but a SUPER WalMart. That means that 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we would be able to shop for stuff.

I was like a kid waiting for Christmas to come. I remember calling my mom and telling her the awesome news…

 

If I had known then what kind of a place WalMart would turn out to be, I wouldn’t have been so excited, but blinded by the promise of a dependable and familiar shopping experience, I was naïve to the truths of the mega-retailer and the kind of service that would be offered. At the time, a friend even tried to tell me about the evils of the WalMart corporate super giant, and how they destroy local family businesses and don’t fairly pay the people who make their products. I was too hyped to listen to the voice of reason, citing this as a killjoy opinion, and continuing in my joyous anticipation for the arrival of WalMart.

 

I even changed the lyrics of “Downtown” to “WalMart”, and frequently sang it as an anthem to express my happiness that WalMart was coming.

 

Fast forward to 2010. WalMart has been our faithfully low-priced (though not always fresh, courteous, or high in quality) food and housewares store for about 3 years. By this time, we’ve had our share of excessively rude cashiers (and I add excessivelybecause cashiers in our area are often rude), items that have not rung up as marked, paint mixing staff that made us wait an hour for their arrival and were not well trained, night stockers that make shopping past 9pm a dangerous and unfriendly event, running out of turkeys the day before Thanksgiving, running out of bottled water often, and the ever-declining quality of the clothing brands combined with rapidly increasing prices for such.

 

But,but, but…the low prices. All of the fireworks that I felt for the new WalMart had faded from my memory by 2010, and I was left with feelings of disappointment. However, I was still attached to their low prices. And I knew where everything was in the store. I had become accustomed to shopping there, like in My Fair Lady when Henry Higgins sings “I’ve grown accustomed to her face…” He’s just used to seeing her every day, and for that reason, he is willing to put up with her crap.

 

For me, WalMart had become the good-for-nothing “jerk” boyfriend that I just couldn’t seem to disconnect myself from. I knew the service was crappy. I knew the products weren’t top notch across the board, but they were “good enough”, and the PRICES seemed to make it all worthwhile.

Categories: Random Stuff Blogs