I have long had a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart and suspect that many of you reading this may feel the same way. On the one hand, it’s hard to ignore the prices, pure and simple. My wife and I discovered that when we bought cat litter and house cleaning items about a month ago and saved a wad of cash. I even applaud their movement to “go green”, relying more and more on solar energy to power their stores. On the other hand, however, there is the old adage that you get what you pay for. Today, I rediscovered that lesson, but also learned that Wal-Mart can go out of it’s way to make sure people get much more than that, and not in a good way.
My story starts this morning. I was driving along I-271, on my way to start the work week, when I noticed a strange rumbling sound coming from my car. After pulling over at a rest area, I found that one of my tires was almost flat. I was close to the Richfield exit, so I figured I could make it to nearby gas station and fill up the tire with air, resulting in only a short delay on my journey. Alas, it was not to be.
I did make it to the gas station. I even filled up the tire with air – at least, to about 20 PSI. That’s when I started hearing the tire popping, followed by a loud BANG! as the tire gave way. My 10 minute stop just turned into a tire changing delay of 45 minutes.
The good news is that I was able to call a local auto service shop which I knew very well, Wheatley Auto Service. They took the car in, gave me a loaner car for the day, and arranged to replace the tire. The bad news is that the tire in question was one I bought at Wal-Mart. In June. It barely lasted 4 months before giving out.
Now, before I continue with my rant, I will admit that the tire IS under warranty. That’s not a lot of help, however, when you’re miles away from the nearest Wal-Mart and you have to be at work to teach a class in about 15 minutes with a 30 minute drive ahead of you, especially when you’re stuck with a spare tire that keeps you at 55 MPH, increasing the travel time. I’ve also had quality issues with other Wal-Mart products, so I wasn’t keen on the idea of replacing one crappy tire with another.
There’s the “you get what you pay for” part of the story. Now for the “Wal-Mart gives you more IN A BAD WAY” part.
I came across this story via a Twitter post a couple days ago. You can find the details in both the South Bend Tribune newspaper and The Consumerist blog. Here’s an excerpt from The Consumerist, however, to give you a taste of what pissed me off about the whole incident:
“Walmart can try to spin itself as being on the side of good all it wants, but if it ever suspects you of shoplifting, you may find that you’re powerless to fight back. In the case of a couple accused of shoplifting some Bic lighters in Niles, Michigan this past August, Walmart detained them, the police came and cuffed one of them, their two kids were taken to a security room, and—after a review of security footage proved the couple’s innocence—they were banned for life from all Walmarts. To top it off, Walmart’s legal team has sent the couple a letter asking to be reimbursed for 10 times the value of the lighters, even though the police determined no shoplifting had taken place.”
Oh, and the kicker to the story? The couple is a gay couple.
While I’m at it, let me add some more fuel to the fire – the children are developmentally disabled Romanian children adopted by the above gay couple.
I am hereby declaring a boycott of all things Wal-Mart. I am asking you to do the same. If you don’t have an option (ironically likely because Wal-Mart stifled competition in your area), I understand, but, in my case, there’s a nice Target down the road, plus many regional and local supermarkets. On top of that, I’ve got TONS of online shopping options. I just can’t see ANY reason to support a company who has shown such a demonic disregard for humanity at so many levels.
Oh, and if you work for Wal-Mart, please update your resume and get it out there. You deserve a better employer.