Walmart.com Story

So, I need a book for a course I’m taking for this Spring 2014 semester. Fortunately, Amazon has the book and I can get it with my 2-day shipping as a Prime member. It’s paperback, but I’ll deal with it.

Well, after placing the order with Amazon, I search online for help with a problem in the book using the book’s title and come across Walmart.com’s listing for the same book at the same price in hardback edition. I think anyone would make the same decision that hardback is better than paperback, especially for a decent-sized textbook on technical university study material, so I go add the book to my cart, check out of the Walmart website and cancel my Amazon order. This was done on evening January 19th. Walmart says the book will be delivered by January 24th. I can deal with that.

Throughout the week, I periodically check the order status on the book and see it constantly saying ProcessingYour order is being processed. Once I get to the night of January 23rd, I’m a little concerned. After all, I can’t just wait forever to get the book, because I need it for assignments. So, I click the Contact us about this order link on my order information page and write out a small paragraph message stating the issue and my concern.

Here’s my response from the Walmart.com representative, who doesn’t even have the professionalism to give even their first name in the signature:

Hi Jerry,
We apologize for the delay in shipping your order number *************. Unfortunately, you order is in backordered it is means that the item will show in stock on website, but out of stock at closest fulfillment center to you. So you have two options: wait for the order to be filled or cancel the order and reorder when item is back in stock.
If you have additional questions, please reply to this email or call us at 1-800-966-6546.
Sincerely,
Walmart.com Customer Care
So, the website will list an item as in-stock even when it isn’t? Of course, after receiving this response, I go to the item on the site and see it is now $20 more expensive and actually listed as Out of stock online. As of writing this post, I have gone back to Amazon and re-ordered the original paperback edition of the book, which will now take waiting another two business days to get via their usual UPS shipping – making the additional wait from when I would have originally had the book over a week. I know, as I’m sure Walmart does, that my experience will do little to dent their business. Walmart isn’t going to be hurt by anything I say, but if you find yourself needing something promptly, such as a textbook for a university course, I’d recommend not relying on them to fulfil your order any more promptly than they have done for me, especially if you are considering cancelling an order somewhere else to do it.
A final word on this: even though Amazon no longer offers all items at a tax-free cost, and even though they no longer have considerably lower prices in comparison to other online merchants, Amazon has never allowed me to process a transaction for an item listed as in-stock that was actually out of stock – and, in this case, discontinued. The worst part about it is that Walmart.com didn’t even notify me of the situation – not even four days later. They simply left my order hanging in the Processing status, and I would know nothing if not for taking the time to write to their customer support.