Friday, September 20, 2013

This modern world...

I needed a wheelbarrow, hygiene products, beer, deodorant, soda, a memory card, and shotgun shells. In America, this means one thing: A trip to WalMart.

I was dismayed to wander their vast garden department and discover that apparently wheelbarrows are no longer a thing? At least at this Wally World they weren't. Nor were there any nice wagons in the toy department I'd trust for garden cart duty.

Off to Sporting Goods for some ammo. There were a couple boxes of Federal 9x19 and about a case of TulAmmo, and stocks of .40 and .45 were back to normal levels. Deuce-deuce was still completely absent save five boxes of CCI Stingers.

Even though the "3 Box Limit" sign was gone, I decided to ration myself to a box of Federal 9mm, a 50-round value pack of Remington L223R3V to help replenish stocks after the CTC match, and a box of shotgun shells. I looked around for someone in Sporting Goods to help me, but found no one.

Nor did I find anyone in the adjacent departments: Toys, Automotive, Housewares, Lawn & Garden, Hardware... the entire northern fourth of the store was like the Empty Quarter, devoid of blue-shirted life.

I returned to Sporting Goods, where another customer had showed up at the ammo cases. He was calling his buddy about the inventory levels, asking if he wanted the Federal 9x19. I informed him that I was waiting on one of the boxes myself. He was cool with that.

I pulled out my own cell phone, used the portable magic elf box to get the phone number of the 73rd Street Wally World (2.2 out of 5 stars in Google!) and called the front desk, informing them that I was calling them from inside their own store, and could they get somebody in Sporting Goods?

*Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods. Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods.* came over the intercom.

By this time, a third person had showed up, looking for help. We chatted a bit. Still nobody.

I called the front desk again. She explained there was a manager's meeting going on, but she'd try to get somebody back there.

*Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods. Customer needs assistance in Sporting Goods.* again.

Another couple showed up seeking assistance, this time with questions about fishing stuff. There was now a little knot of us, growing increasingly agitated. I checked my watch. I'd been waiting twenty-five minutes at this point.

I pulled out the magic elf box again, and looked something up on the internet. The number I was looking for was 1-800-WAL-MART.

"Hello, yes, I do wish to discuss my shopping experience. The one I'm having now. Yes, right now. I'm standing in the Sporting Goods department of your store at 7325 Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis, and have been standing here for twenty-five minutes despite two calls to the front desk..."

The person on the other end was polite and helpful sounding. Less than five minutes after I hung up...

*Will a salaried member of management pick up the phone? Corporate on line one. Will a salaried member of management pick up the phone? Corporate on line one.*

Two minutes after that somebody showed up with the keys to the case and got us our ammunition with a quickness, as well as a level of obsequious toadying that would please a Whole Foods customer. You'd have thought we were a trade delegation from Dubai and not a handful of J. Random Customers needing shotgun shells.

Five minutes later, as I was pushing my cart through the grocery department, my phone rang. It was Josh or Justin or Dustin or somebody from Bentonville, sincerely asking me if everything had been resolved to my satisfaction and was I having a pleasant shopping experience? Why, yes, Josh or Justin or Dustin, I am now, thanks to you guys at corporate. You need to crack the whip on this store more often.

I'll tell you what, they may have the occasional substandard store, but as a company? WalMart isn't playing around.


Opinionated Grump (Rich in NC) said...

hey 'sqeaky', howz that grease taste?

Good one, Tam

Rich in NC

Shermlock Shomes said...

Due to it's proximity I go to the W. 86th St. WalMart. The Keystone WalMart is a little slice of Heaven in comparison.

Rusty Gunner said...

Damn skippy. I used to be one of the sporting goods guys at our local Wal*Mart, and that department was staffed with gunnies at all times. The store manager might have been a progressive little termite, but he knew his customers.

Joseph said...

Nothing gets stuff done like calling corporate. I had an AT&T phone issue once, somehow they thought all those iPhones they sold IU students wouldn't get used and there was no need to increase infrastructure around campus so I didn't have cell service at work for a week. This is something I depend heavily on for my work, so it was a massive inconvenience.

Anyway, after getting nowhere with the normal customer non-service (they had quite a list of excuses along the lines of the dog ate my homework) I looked up the AT&T executive support number and gave them a ring. I certainly don't know if it was me, but it sure was coincidental that the next day I had service and my account was credited for the disruption. I keep that number in my address book now along with the person who was assigned my case.

sobriant74 said...

Good for you, I rarely have a problem with the sporting goods desk in my local Wally world, but I usually grab a couple of other items around the store first before getting my sporting goods and just check out there, beats waiting in line for the two open registers at the front of the store.

Paul said...

Wal-Mart has had down sales on the last quarter so they reacted by reducing staff hours. That and OCare and Wal-Mart's around the country are having staffing issues.

The government is going to kill wal-mart as they did not toe the line. Damn yuppies anyway.

Anonymous said...

One of my old customers at Big Defense Corporation was getting the run around from the new program manager so he called me at my new job. I gave him the phone number of the Chairman of the Board.

The Chairman's admin assistant took the call, listened, asked him to hold and had a division director get on the phone and clear the mess up in less than a minute.

My understanding is they had a Come to Jesus meeting in that group that afternoon with the PM being reassigned.

BDC has cruddy customer service but the Chairman does not like to be disturbed.

Well played Tam.


Scott J said...

You're more patient than I.

I would have bailed and went to check Academy Sports about the time the third person showed up.

I'm misanthropic enough that I'm already slightly put out that the ammo isn't self serve making me have to do face to face interaction just to get it into my hands.

If it gets to the point I'm having to make phone calls I'm thinking alternatives.

I curse the hazmat fee on powder and primers making it cost prohibitive to have the brown truck just bring them to me and spare me the icky non-text interaction :)

Erich505 said...

Awesome. I'm sending this to my wife, who's going to love it.

Tam said...

Scott J,

"You're more patient than I."

Not normally, but I had some time on my hands and decided to take it personally.

Having worked most of my life in retail, seeing it done badly offends and annoys me.

Alien said...

You have ammunition in your Walmart? Amazing.

I have a Resqme on both the truck and motorcycle keychains. After 25+ minutes without local assistance from multiple in-store attempts to get same I'd really be tempted to test the tempered glass on the ammo case and "free the imprisoned ammo."

A later-day call to the corporate minions to explain why, of course.....

og said...

If you want a wheelbarrow, some Halloween candy, soda, a memory card, some plywood, a pair of flipflops, a welcome mat, some coffee and sugar and a dozen or so drinking glasses- in fact, everything BUT ammo and beer, Menards is your place. Damifino why a lumberyard has all that crap, but it does. I avoid them because I've seen how they treat their employees- but they're not fooling around either.

Scott J said...

Erich505, plan to share it with my wife as well. She gets annoyed with me at times because I loathe talking on the phone so much I'd never have done what Tam did.

Most phone calling duties in the family thus fall to her. Hopefully I make up for it with my auto maintenance at least :)

Additionally, we rarely shop Wal-Mart any more. My wife became an extreme couponer a couple years ago and due to WM's coupon policies we can beat their prices elsewhere. It does negate the one stop nature of the place though.

taylor said...

Woe be to he who underestimates Wal-Mart!

Oh and believe it or not Tam, wheelbarrows are seasonal product. Youll only find them in spring/summer time next to the grills and lawn mowers. Now is the time for rakes, sleds, and snow shovels.

Graybeard said...

Gosh, and I thought it was modern and clever to use my phone to scan the bar codes and check the prices around town.

Never thought of using the "phone" part of the phone to call corporate down on them.

staghounds said...

Hello, corporate?

I want some shotgun shells RIGHT NOW.

Scott J said...

"Having worked most of my life in retail"

I did 2 years at Wal-Mart, 1 at Auto Zone and 4 at a "real parts store" and decided I'd had enough of it.

I think that last 4 is where my misanthropy was born. Probably one of the times I had to trash parts Cletus had destroyed attempting to install after telling me the wrong make, model or year. Somehow it was always MY fault the part didn't fit rather than his an I got sick of that.

I learned to do 4473s and bound books that first year at WM. I sometimes think about using that to work a gun counter or doing the auto parts thing again to earn supplemental income. One visit to a parts store on a pretty Saturday and observing the mass of Cleti crowding the counter cures me of that quickly.

Anonymous said...

Actually, as a corp. they are messing around. "Always the low price" doesn't mean shit if you have to waste an hour begging for service, and it sure as hell shouldn't take a call to corporate to get it. As someone else upthread alluded, cutbacks mean that not only will you (eventually) be served by part-time disinterested parties, but you are delayed to the point of distraction and anger.

F that, I can make three quick stops at Dollar General, Allstar Gun, and ABC Liquors, in the same time, spend the same money, and come away a much happier camper.

And don't even get me started on groceries; gimmee Publix any day, even if that does cost a few bucks more.

Plus, I still blame them for what they did to Rubbermaid and the finish quality of 870's. It's an Evil Empire.

I feel better now.


Tam said...


"And don't even get me started on groceries; gimmee Publix any day, even if that does cost a few bucks more."

I get my groceries at Fresh Market, actually.

Tpa Gunslinger said...

Everyone needs to figure out what their time is worth. Everyone's time is worth a different amount. The CEO of Bass Pro Shops might be worth $500.00/hr while my worth might be $50.00/hr. If you put a monetary amount on your time then you would find that Walmart is not a bargain.
While I do not shop there, some may find it a good way to pass the time. I prefer my Ice cream in a more suspended state

Tam said...

I notice that, like Open Carry or Gay MArriage, WalMart is one of those topics on which everybody seems to have ambivalent, nuanced opinions...


Woodman said...

"Everyone needs to figure out what their time is worth. Everyone's time is worth a different amount. The CEO of Bass Pro Shops might be worth $500.00/hr while my worth might be $50.00/hr."

I just went through this math with my wife on processing some apples from her mother. They were free apples, so cost there is nothing, but they were very hard to process and she had made a mistake that made them even harder to mess with. Tuttle charges $1 a pound for giant u-pick apples, that we could process in a quarter the time and actually enjoy. So, $15 worth of apples that take an hour vs. $0 worth of apples that take three hours... it's easy that way. Even if we only paid ourselves $10 an hour.

OTOH, I have gone shopping just to go, and insisted on getting what I wanted where I wanted to get it from. Dont' ask me why.

Tam said...


"OTOH, I have gone shopping just to go, and insisted on getting what I wanted where I wanted to get it from. Dont' ask me why."

Because you're a human being and not an adding machine? ;)

Scott J said...

I've been asked the "what is your time worth" question about reloading vs. buying off the shelf.

I point out that pulling the press handle is cheaper than professional therapy :)

Anonymous said...

No debarked chihuahuas on your list?


Tam said...

Boy, if that's not an internet gun nerd secret handshake, I don't know what is. ;)

.45ACP+P said...

At my local Walmart, the shotgun chow is accessible as is most of the rifle chow. The pistol chow (when it briefly makes an appearance) is locked up. Rimfire chow is access from the carton on the pallet or not at all. it needs no shelf space, it won't be there long enough to mater.

enjoy the decline said...



Anonymous said...

Tam, good on you!!!
I have had similar experiences at WallyWorld stores across the country. However, I'll admit I've never had your level of patience and persistence in getting resolution. Anymore, it seems like staff levels are much lower than in past years. Particularly aggravating is check-out. Despite having 25++ check out counters, usually only two are three are open and the lines are loooooong. Not unusual that it takes as long to checkout as to shop for the ~weeks groceries. This seems to be common from Indianer to the NW, SW and points in between.

Either WW can't find enough people that will show up for work, put in an honest days work or are partaking in a novel cost cutting exercise.


Anonymous said...

A friend of mine's wife used to work at Lowe's (aka the store with the worst customer service EVER) as a bookkeeper in the back. She said it was a common occurrence for customers to call from inside the store because their employees were nowhere to be found.

Good job calling corporate!

- Drifter

Anonymous said...

"I get my groceries at Fresh Market, actually."

Ain't got one here (Lakeland, FL). And Publix is a locally based very well-run private regional corp., stores are clean as a whistle, always fresh, well-stocked, great customer service, they beat the snot out of Wally's grocery department in areas where they compete, and here they're catty-corner from the E.Empire. Big plus for me, they're CC agnostic.

From what I hear, Fresh Market seems great...but they're about to go posted chain-wide.


Tam said...


Will said...

try Harbor Fright for garden wagons.

Will said...

Target beats W-World pricewise on food.

Tam said...


I'm probably just going to swing by Lowe's; I have to drive past one to get to Target or the big grocery store anyway.

Tam said...

As I mentioned above, I don't really buy food at WalMart or Target. I'm kind of a hipster foodie douchebag when it comes to most foodstuffs. :o

Jeremy Brock said...

WalMart in Franklin made me a customer of Lowe's, Kroger, AutoZone, and Dollar General. Not to mention

Anonymous said...

But why must all the hipster foodie douchebag places succumb to the anti-gun brigade? Don't know if it's to do with the Starbucks kerfuffle, but their corporate says ARK has sign-posted stores now and signs have just been sent out to be posted everywhere. :(

RWC said...

"He was calling his buddy about the inventory levels, asking if he wanted the Federal 9x19. I informed him that I was waiting on one of the boxes myself. He was cool with that."

I thought SOP when two gun owners are present is a shoot out.

Why would they lie to me!

Scott said...

Calling Corporate is brilliant. I never thought that it would be that easy. Typically the Sporting Goods section of Wal-Mart in North MS is almost always occupied, it is the rest of the store where they hide from customers, unless they are moving things around to confuse us.

Tam said...


"I thought SOP when two gun owners are present is a shoot out."

Not only that, but we both decided to observe a courtesy "3 Box Limit" just to be nice to those in line behind us.

All spontaneously!

Joe in PNG said...

One fun thing about stores in Papua New Guinea. You can always find staff, and lots of it.
Otherwise the place will get shoplifted right down to the store shelves, and even those will quickly walk out the doors if there wasn't someone standing at each asile.

Harry said...

Calling Corporate frequently works extremely well. Some years back, we bought a new Frigidaire washer and dryer in Austin TX following a relocation from L.A. The dryer had a defective high temp shutoff and would not dry clothes. After repeated unsuccessful attempts to have the local sales store repair/replace the dryer, my Valkyrie ex sat down with the phone and started climbing the ladder. At that time Frigidaire was owned by General Motors, and she wound up talking with a GM vice-president. In about 30 minutes she got a call from the DISTRIBUTOR in San Antonio, wanting full information on the dryer and our address. The NEXT DAY a truck from the distributor arrived and changed out the dryer! No further problems...

Yes, they who dwell on mahogany row do NOT like having their days interrupted.

Robert Fowler said...

Anonymous Scott J said...
I curse the hazmat fee on powder and primers making it cost prohibitive to have the brown truck just bring them to me and spare me the icky non-text interaction :)

The hazmat fee isn't that much when you consider just how much you can get for one 20.00 fee. Primers, 70,000 of them on one fee. I'm not sure how much ammo you can get, but I would bet somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pounds.

Buzz said...

I prefer the sporting goods prices at Meijer, both in-season and during post-season clearance.
My ammo comes from Rural King.
Everything else is Menards. I'm probably in Menards 3 or more times per week.

For foodstuffs, I tend in Tam's direction, but to Trader Joe's. I love that place. I especially love the conniptions I cause when I wear my fur & leather bomber hat in the winter.

Anonymous said...

Way back when the K-Car was first out they promised corporate rebates to the buyers. After awhile with no response to calls, my Dad wrote to Lee - at his home address - and had a quick call back from the head office and the check was in the mail. Not the first or last time he got results. OldeForce

Anonymous said...

This post should have been titled "Noodle Implements".

Scott J said...

"The hazmat fee isn't that much when you consider just how much you can get for one 20.00 fee. Primers, 70,000 of them on one fee. I'm not sure how much ammo you can get, but I would bet somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 pounds."

Yes, spread out in bulk it's not that bad but I can rarely afford enough to make it worthwhile. I think you can go up to 70 pounds of powder on one hazmat too but can't combine powder and primers in the same shipment.

No hazmat on loaded ammo (except for tracer IIRC) it ships ORM-D or whatever the new standard is that requires the diamond shaped label.

jed said...

There have been many times when I've been tempted to call the store from inside. But, my usual response to that situation is to give some other company my money.

I will note that I seem to broadcast some sort of opposite field vibe in the retail environment, because typically, the only time I can get a floor walker to offer assistance is when I'm a) wandering around trying to remember what the 3rd or 4th thing was that I came in for, or b) know exactly where the thing I want is, and I'm heading right for it. The times when I can't find whatever it is, it's hell's own mission to encounter a floor clerk.

I don't recall debarked chihuahuas, but I assume it's a gunkid thing. Not that it's without precedent. There were some stories a few years back about packs of feral chihuahuas in Mexico.

The Freeholder said...

I avoid our area's Wonderful World of Wallys because the things are downright dangerous. When one of you hobbies is listening to a scanner and you hear the number of calls to the nearest one (conveniently situated next to a public housing development--I expect that genius store locator has found other employment by now), it makes me appreciate Amazon Prime even more. None of the others fairly close by seem to be that much better.

The only reason Walmart sees me now is cat litter. And if I can find a local source that is even close to the Walmart price, they won't see me at all.

Kristophr said...


My wife used to work at Walmart.

You got the entire store's upper management D Day-ed.

Yee Haw!

Jeffro said...

Remind me to call Arkansas when it comes time to check out....

harp1034 said...

Do you still need a wheelbarrow? If so try Sears. If they don't have one then find a masonry supply store.

Brad K. said...

@Robert Fowler,

The last few years the hazmat fee for black powder and caps has been $25 per package. This year it was bumped to $27.50 each.

Hazmat packages can only go by ground, no air links. So the 70 pound limit is the UPS and FedEx limits on ground packages. The tighter bite is that such packages have to be in approved containers. packages are approved for 25 pounds. a 50 pound order includes a double hazmat fee. (I guess if one can were to go off, they only want one or two more to go at the same time. Small reassurance for the driver. . )

@ Tam,

I work at wally world, part time. Last summer they shifted me from lawn and garden to sporting goods (I was hoping for homelines, or maybe hardware. Go figure.)

Tonight when I clocked in the computer told me I had training stuff on the computer, only my manager pulled me off, that I was needed at sporting goods. It seems there was a push, tonight, to keep an eye on sporting goods. That must have been one loud phone call.

Customers here call for service, too. Why, I have been picking up fish hooks scattered on the floor, and heard one customer call that there was no one in sporting goods. I was in the next aisle, and heard him make the call.

@ Paul,

"The government is going to kill wal-mart as they did not toe the line. Damn yuppies anyway. "

Around my area, the rumor is that Walmart has a Pharmacy (that isn't the rumor). So everyone in the store has to pass the same drug test as a pharmacist, and Homeland Security has to process the tests (not a rumor, either). The rumor is that Homeland Security, or maybe just the union techs processing the tests, are deliberately delaying and hoking the test results, to put the squeeze on Walmart.

But then, a lot of the de-staffing and cutting scheduled hours is deliberate, corporate-driven plans.

Julie said...

I've done that in a restaurant where the waiters had developed the ability not to see you (here we don't tip waiters so more often than not it's a challenge to get one to serve you).

In our Wally World equivalent most times I decide that I can live without xyz and I just walk out (but then again we can't buy ammo there either).

Gerry N. said...


Try an ACE hardwear store for a wheelbarrow. The one near me has five from $30 to $90.

perlhaqr said...

Heh. Last month I was up at stupid o'clock and needed some spray paint for a project I was working on later in the day. So I trundled on down to Wally World (because where else are you going to buy Krylon at 0500?) and headed back towards that quadrant of the store. Sporting Goods was the only thing staffed, and I guess I must have looked Wookiieeish, because even before I had opened my mouth, the lady at the counter said "The ammo shipment hasn't come in yet."

I said that I actually just needed access to the paint locker, and she looked half embarrassed, half amused, and said "Oh, ok. Sorry, normally the only people who show up here in Sporting Goods at 0500 are the fellows looking to see what ammo has come in."

So, the drought hasn't lifted here either. ;)

Mike in KY said...

Had the same predicament once. My solution was to lean over the sporting goods customer service desk and feign interest in what was on the shelves on the other side while pretending to not be aware of the camera.

Brought someone almost at a dead run. I do like your method better.

Boomer said...

I had a similar experience in my Wally World in the middle of nowhere Idaho. Took only 10 minutes to get someone to dole out a 100 round box of 38+P ammo for my wife’s Ruger SP-101 and Rossi 38/357 lever action rifle. I also found most of the items I looked for on the grocery side of the store to be out of stock and only three cash registers where open besides the five self-service registers. Not one of our better shopping experiences. If other shopping choices were not over 50 miles one way we would consider going there, but the current price of gas makes it cost prohibitive.

Douglas2 said...

Someone beat me to the observation that Wheelbarrows are seasonal.

As is, apparently, insect repellant. One summer I looked at 4 different pharmacy chains for some "Off". They don't think anyone could possibly need sunscreen or bug spray after the 4th of July, so they send it all back. Or so they told me.

Anonymous said...

I have one shopping mecca 35 mile north; one 32 miles south and another 30 miles west.

On the way to each is a Walmart within 10 miles of me.

Wallie sure knows how to pick locations. It's frustrating as hell waiting 20 minutes for them to wake up, but it beats the extra 1.5 hours round trip in the car to somewhere else.

I use Amazon when I can. The local places kinda suck.

Danny Pifer said...

Back in the evil days when I was in field service
repairing machine tools, I needed a part, and happened
to be in a Radio Shack (back when they used to sell such
things) in Fort Worth. One Tandy Center, to be precise.
The idiots in the flagship store had no idea what they were
So I went to the elevator, and pushed the top button, the one
with the Tandy corporate logo on it. I didn't get to talk to the
president, but did have a nice chat with his secretary.
When I went back down to the ground floor---If looks
could kill....

Anonymous said...

You are more polite than I. I just pick up their phone on the sports counter, dial zero, and explain the problem to the customer service desk. That usually gets results at my store. Calling corporate, now, that was inspired.


Brad K. said...

@ Douglas2,

At my store, the big mosquito repellent section was in the lawn and garden area -- which stopped trying to stay stocked up back in June/July, so they could change over to late-fall stuff and Halloween -- and Xmas -- without having too much leftover stuff to stack out back.

But. We keep some bug repellent in Sporting Goods, with the camping gear.

And there is the year-around household pest area in cleaning supplies, next to the mops and brooms.

This year we had a real run on wasp spray, and ran out -- the whole store -- back in early August. About three weeks ago we got a pallet of some different brand wasp spray, stacked in an Action Alley and in household pests stuff, with the fly swatters, roach spray, and mousetraps.

@ Tam,

On the wheelbarrow -- for next time, you can also check That is a fair place to check for stuff that has been pulled from the shelf, out of stock in your store, or just product lines that your store doesn't get to carry. A while back I was looking for a tablet computer -- the cheapest I saw in the store was $180, and I didn't like it at all. Online there were over a dozen models at $110 and under.

And clothes -- don't get me started. It seems if they run out of one size -- sorry. The store can't order in any more unless they take a bunch at the full range of sizes. But I did find some pants in my size, at a clearance price, online.

Just a thought.