WalMart’s online ordering system is atrocious!

Just to warn my friends: WalMart’s online ordering system is atrocious! Avoid at all costs.

I recently had occasion to order a couple of things from WalMart online, via their “ship to store” system. It was a disaster.

I placed an order on Monday September 7 for a couple of bicycle helmets at the Morse Road store in Columbus. The inventory (mis)management system assured me that they were in stock and could be held for pickup, and that I would soon get notification.

Hours passed. I attributed this to thinking that it was altogether reasonable that someone actually had to pull the merchandise before I could be alerted. OK, so it takes a while …

Then about 5 hours later, I received an email, telling me the order had been cancelled, and:

We’re sorry to tell you that the item(s) below isn’t currently available at the Columbus Walmart. However, for your convenience we’ve reserved your item(s) at a nearby Walmart.
You don’t need to take any further action, and your order is now ready for pickup. The new order number is #xxxxxxx-xxxx.
FREE pickup today at Whitehall Walmart
3657 E Main St, Whitehall OH
If you are unable to pick up your item(s) at this store, please initiate a cancellation by 4:44 a.m. on 09/08/2015.

I promptly went online, using the “Request Cancellation” link in their email. Only the “old” order number shoed up — not the “new” one. I found what seemed to indicate that I should be able to choose a different store more convenient to me for pickup. I then ordered the items sent to the Sawmill Road store, where I could easily stop and pick them up the next day. (Another story! pickup took over 15 minutes! on a Tuesday morning when one could shoot a cannonball through the store and not hit anyone.)

Soon after completing my order(s?), I checked my credit card transactions online, I noticed that TWO charges were listed as “pending” for the amount of the purchase. I figured that the one for the transaction WalMart had labelled as “cancelled” would be deleted when it became obvious that I was going to pick up the items a different location. …. NO WAY!!

The next morning was the first I heard (via email at 6 a.m. )that the Whitehall pickup had NOT been cancelled … and I could not cancel it online!

After I succeeded in actually getting the bicycle helmets, I sent a message to WalMart via their (hard to access) web system. The reply (with quoted message) is below:

Recently you requested personal assistance from Customer Care.
Below is our response and a summary of your request.

Reference#: 150908-005671
Response email (09/08/2015 10:10 AM)
Hi Richard,
The order XXXXXXXXXXXXXX that we placed is ready for you to pick up at the store you selected. I totally understand that you do not longer need these items. Unfortunately there are system limitations that will not allow us to make any adjustment on Pick Up Today orders. In this case, to amend this situation I will kindly recommend you to contact the store you selected directly at (614)239-7509 and they will be able to better assist you with the refund, or you can wait for this order to expire, any item that isn’t picked up within 14 days of arrival will be canceled and refunded, your order should expire by September 22.
Emma C. Customer Care
Customer email (09/08/2015 09:49 AM)
This was **automatically entered by your system** after **you cancelled**
I re-ordered YYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY and finally succeeded in getting satisfaction
I DO NOT WANT to visit Whitehall for

I eventually broke down and called the Whitehall store, figuring it would be “due diligence” before attempting to deal with the WalMart problem through the credit card “dispute resolution” procedure. I was passed through several parties, all the while attempting not to take it out on the workers. When I finally got the “manager,” I was advised that the person who would need to cancel an order was gone at 7:30 p.m. (even though the department was open until 9:00 p.m?).

After experience shopping at a number of online merchants, I must say that WalMart has provided me with an exemplarily BAD experience. A few thoughts:

  1. With WalMart’s vaunted inventory management system, why can’t they more quickly know what is actually in stock? Is “shrink” that bad that they could not come up with two helmets, when their system seemed to indicate several in stock?
  2. Why can’t the same system facilitate easily cancelling my duplicate order, then notifying the store to return items to shelf?
  3. Why are they charging customer’s credit cards promptly, before any merchandise is actually taken possession of? Companies like Amazon don’t charge until an item is actually shipped! I could understand running the preliminary “pending” transaction system to verify that a card is active and valid. … Perhaps it’s all about the “float?”
  4. Why are they charging customer’s credit cards promptly, and then making it so awfully hard to get credit? (Though one has never taken possession of merchandise, it is handled more like a return than an order.) It seems that in this case my options are:
    1. Wait several weeks until they actually “time out” the transaction
    2. Make a pilgrimage to Whitehall (first suggestion when I called that store!), and hope that someone could actually help me.
    3. Call the credit card company, and start a “dispute resolution” procedure, which could take a while to resolve.

I have yet to resove this. I’m so mad at WalMart I’m ready to spit! Perhaps I should just call the credit card company, wait for them to reolve it, … and then studiously avoid WalMart?

You too have been warned.

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