- Report: #450428
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart5730 West Amarillo Blvd Amarillo, Texas U.S.A.
Wal-Mart, Regarding Wal-Mart scanning different prices at the check out vs the advertised or shelf price. Amarillo Texas
*Consumer Comment: K Mart
*Consumer Comment: Walmart
*Consumer Comment: THIS IS WHY YOU DO NOT USE THE DO IT YOURSELF CHECK-OUTS. INSIST ON A REAL PERSON TO CHECK YOU OUT!
Those were the good old days.
Price accuracy was a concern raised by unions when grocery and general merchandise chains first decided to go with the UPC bar code and eliminate marking the price on individual shelf items back in the late 1970's. The stores saved a bundle eliminating the labor required to mark and change prices, and promised to pass these savings on to the consumer.
But the result of the technology is that it allows the changing of prices so quickly that price stability has gone by the wayside. With some chains there seems to be little coordination between the person who changes the shelf tag and the person who programs the price in the computer.
Some stores used to back up their claims of price accuracy by allowing any item in which the scanned price differed with the shelf tag to be either sold at the lesser price if the scanned price was less than the shelf tag, or the item was free or at the very least a discount was provided if it scanned at more than the shelf price. These policies created good will with the consumer who was compensated for the error and time it took for the price to be checked and the manager to make the override. After all, honest mistakes can and do happen. And when the store or company has to reach into their pocket to pay for an error, it is financial incentive for them to make sure that such errors occur less often.
However, it appears that dishonest mistakes occur far more frequently these days. And such chains as Wal-Mart rank very high on the side of consumers being charged more at the check-out than they should be.
The Associated Press, among others, has reported several studies where shoppers have been overcharged by Wal-Mart stores at a rate that exceeds the federal guidelines of what is an acceptable norm for error. This is not just a particular store, mind you; the problem appears to be pandemic within the entire Wal-Mart chain. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal called the problem a culture of inaccuracy.
To personally avoid being a victim, I try to always shop with a pen in hand. I make very sure that what I pick up matches the shelf tag description and then I mark the shelf tag or advertised price somewhere on the label of the item. On produce with out a UPC code tag, I either mark the item itself or the bag that I place the item in. At check out, I request that the scanned price display be facing me and experience has taught me to not leave the store until I have analyzed the receipt for accuracy. All this takes time, but it saves me an expensive and even more time consuming return trip, by finding an error after I've already reached home.
What annoys me with chains like Wal-Mart, and Wal-Mart in particular, is that when an error has been discovered at the check out, that it is not immediately corrected throughout the store. Yes, I will get the item for the shelf price, but unless another shopper is as savvy as I have learned to become, they will not. I have been told this by both the check out clerks and even a few assistant floor managers, interestingly, after they have told me that the cashier shouldn't have told me.
The Wal-Mart system is set up where only a few select individuals within the store are qualified to make the computerized correction, and more often than not, they are not around to fix the error at that time. I'm always apologetically told that the problem will be corrected, but when I've performed my own informal surveys, I've discovered that these "errors" may continue for literally a month or more on an item, without being corrected, even though each time I bring the issue up to a cashier or floor manager. So there is seldom any follow up to the lip service.
When traveling in different states at different Wal-Marts the story is unfortunately the same. I have come to the conclusion that Wal-Mart literally banks upon these errors and has made the inefficiency of correction a model of corporate policy. As an individual I have not conducted a price check of every item Wal-Mart sells, but I can practically guarantee on a diverse purchase of 20 or more items there will be at least one or more pricing errors.
A not infrequent annoyance is when there is not even be a descriptive price tag for an item on the shelf and one must either locate assistance or find out what the price is at the check-out stand. .
Wal-Mart has the purchasing clout to dictate to manufacturers the packaging specs of what they sell. For example, if one shops exclusively at Wal-Mart, one may think that the Iams dog food company now only produces a 17 pound bag of dry dog food, when it used to be packaged in 20 pound bags. Not so. A call to Procter & Gamble (the corporate parent of Iams) will inform the consumer that Wal-Mart corporate headquarters specifically requested the lesser weight packaging, and because chains such as Wal-Mart are such large purchasers, they comply. You can still find the 20 pound bags at competing stores at competitive prices. This practice was not done to save shelf space as the two bags are the same size, only the weight is less.
A number 303 size can used to hold 16 oz, but today on Wal-Mart shelves you will find this to be 14 oz or even less weight in a can that looks very close to the same size as it used to be. The shelving space is still the same so that is obviously not the rationale. So why is this occurring?
I may be wrong, but I strongly believe that this is corporate strategy where the consumer thinks he or she may be paying the same or less for an equivalent item at Wal-Mart when in reality the consumer is receiving less for the same price or paying more for less.
American Airlines reportedly saved $40,000 in 1987 by merely eliminating 1 olive from each salad it served its patrons. So how much money does Wal-Mart shareholders and CEO's gain by shaving off 2 pounds from a bag of dog food, or a couple of ounces off a can?
If Wal-Mart really wants to give consumers more for their money they could do so by charging less for the same 20 pound package or offer a 22 pound bag for the same price, but instead they've opted to charge the same or more for less.
Is shopping at Wal-Mart really a good deal for consumers? Wal-Mart has made it corporate practice to deceive us into believing so, but my sound advice is to do your own comparative shopping.
Read the labels, compare weights along with prices. And make sure you write those prices on the item when you shop. Unfortunately Wal-Mart is not the Lone Ranger when it comes to these kinds of practices, but it is the largest trend setter.
You may find that the local store is more competitive than you thought it was and you won't be rewarding unethical practices by feeding the giant international import Wal-Mart machine with your hard earned American dollars just to save a little money. Be a wise consumer and remember the wisdom of the old adage buyer beware.
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This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 05/10/2009 12:33 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Wal-Mart/Amarillo-Texas-79106/Wal-Mart-Regarding-Wal-Mart-scanning-different-prices-at-the-check-out-vs-the-advertised-450428. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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