Like nearly 2,000 other Southern Mainers, I spent my Thanksgiving midnight standing a dark Walmart parking lot in the frigid air only to be nearly crushed to death getting through the front doors and then rammed in the back, butt and ankles by shoppers pushing oversized carts to the aisle where I expected to get my 32" TV (the only gift my son asked for).From about 40 feet away, I watched the last one being hoisted over the head of a man I did not know, but instantly hated until I heard they were handing out 1-hour guarantee vouchers.
It was another 15 minutes before I had my flier and instructions clenched tightly in my fist but I was finally moving toward the registers at the front of the store. In a bizzare mixture of emotion that vacilated between relief, exhaustion and frustration I reached the check out just before 1 AM. The cashier at the register was attempting to ring up the man in front of me (I think he had two ipad mini vouchers). After several attempts and with beads of perspiration breaking out on his forehead and uppper lip, he finally called for a front end manager to help with the transaction and within 5 minutes the customer walked out with 2 gift cards and a verbal reminder to register online.
In 20/20 hindsight, this was probably the first hint of the trouble that was to come and what will from this point forward will be known as My Worst Thanksgiving Weekend Ever (and that is saying something). After getting to bed sometime around 2:30 AM, I awakened at 7 Friday morning, booted up my laptop and entered the web address as instructed in the flier only to discover I had no access code printed on my receipt. A call to the store informed me that I would have to return to the store and another receipt would be issued. By 9:30 Friday morning I was back at Walmart standing in line at customer service where a very nice girl listened patiently and reissued my purchase.
I ran a couple of errands, returned home, enjoyed a pleasant meal and visited with family. Being an early riser, I was once again at my laptop this morning (Saturday) at 6 AM trying to access the website only to be repeatedly informed that I had an invalid access code. WHAT!!!!! my inner voice screamed, you've got to be SH***ing me.
I read the rest of the instructions noting that I also didn't have the requisite gift card or pin number. Since it was still at least an hour before the store opened up, I busied myself with other demands of the morning, like feeding and walking the dog, doing laundry, showering, updating my Christmas list etc. 7AM finally rolled around and I placed my call...I knew I would not be satisfied talking with a customer service rep and when my call went through, I recounted my experience (and feelings about it) telling her that I wanted to speak with a manager and she informed me that Linda was in charge of handling this situation. For about 30 seconds, I felt some relief knowing that at least Walmart was aware that there is a SITUATION and had the good sense to put someone in charge of it but the relief was over before it could really get started.
Linda told me that I would have to return to the store to get the gift card and with PIN number before I could register online. Linda went on to say that corporate doesn't know what is going on, only that millions of these vouchers were given out and that the website is overloaded. She attempted to reassure me that the website is working because she talked with a co-worker who was finally able to register her access code after trying for almost 8 hours yesterday. WHAT!!!, my outer voice screamed, you've got to be F*&king kidding me...Believe it or not I had other plans for my weekend, but devotion to my son (and a very tight budget) placed me back in the car to spend another hour in Walmart's customer service line (at least 10 others were there for the same reason) to get the access code, gift card number and pin.
I've been at it (on the Walmart website) now for close to 10 hours, not to mention the additional expense and time I've spent waiting for & talking with store managers , traveling to and from Walmart in Scarboro, Maine, standing in their customer service lines, gas, tolls....and there is still no guarantee that I will be able to get through.
What I have done, is spent a good portion of each day of my 4 day holiday trying to get the Christmas gift my son wants more than anything and unless I wake up tomorrow and find that the website is fully operational and I can get through to register my codes, I fear I will ultimately let him down anyway.Walmart stole my Thanksgiving and my Christmas spirit.
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