Reporter finds Walmart fails to execute on BOGO match policy

As reported yesterday the Tampa Bay Times, Walmart’s promise to match competitors’ buy-one-get-one-free offers in Florida has created confusion and delays on checkout lines – and on the company’s customer service hotline.

According to Times staff reporter Susan Thurston, customer are finding that cashiers have not been trained on how to deal with manufacturers’ coupons on BOGO items. So when a customer shows up with one of those, lines inevitably backup while the cashier seeks guidance on how to ring up the sale.

Even more surprising, even customer service reps on the corporate hotline don’t understand the program. When Thurston called Walmart’s toll-free customer service number (1-800-WALMART or 925-6278) six days in a row she received conflicting and incomplete information about the policy. On several occasions she was advised to ask for a salaried manager in order to determine the policy at a particular store. One day she got no information at all because the customer service line was down (another day she waited on hold for more than 10 minutes).

Thurston reports that the associates who handled her calls were all courteous, but the experience was nonetheless very off-putting, and she thinks Walmart has blown an opportunity to boost customer loyalty.

As savvy as it might be, Walmart hasn’t learned you get only one chance, sometimes two if you’re lucky. Infuriate a customer over a 75-cent coupon and they won’t return, plus they’ll tell all their friends. And this business of calling a manager to argue a policy? Does Walmart really want customers waiting longer in checkout lines? That’s already a chief complaint.

Inconsistency will never win over customers, especially ones leery about shopping at Walmart in the first place. It just gives them another reason not to like Walmart and spend their money somewhere else.

What do you think?