No Good Deed Goes Unpunished


Like a good neighbor, I won’t be there.

By Lee Ann “Sunny” Brown

I have the best of intentions. I really do! I was just trying to support my local Walmart. My son told me not to use those words—“local Walmart”—because that  isn’t a thing. That Walmart is a huge corporation, there is nothing “local” about it, and I should just order from Amazon. I disagreed. I said they employ people in the community, and that if everyone only shops online, eventually all our stores would be empty. Also, I wanted my 1 percent cash-back offer for shopping Walmart online. So, I was ordering online but picking up at my local Walmart—the best of both worlds!

I can support my local Walmart and my employed neighbors while saving time by not actually having to go into the store to get the same toothpaste, shaving cream, and hairspray that I buy every month—while also getting 1 percent cash back. What could possibly go wrong?

I even used the Walmart app to let them know I was on my way to pick up my deodorant. It was so exciting! At least it was, until I got the first of many emails to let me know which items were being shipped, which were delayed, which were delayed again, which were on back order, and which were discontinued permanently, and that I would never again be able to have large cotton balls.

I like to think of myself as being as well educated as any other Walmart customer. But the experience left me full of questions and anxiety and self-doubt. Why couldn’t I figure out “The Tower”?! Where is it? Does it open? Does it spin? Where are the directions? Why aren’t my items in it? Where are the lockers? Why is my bubble bath the only thing in the locker? Where is someone to ask for help?

Finally, “Jonathan,” the Tower Manager, shows up to inform me that whoever placed my order got it all wrong. Then he asked if I wanted to get all my items off the shelf myself! I told him that I did not not have time. That’s why I ordered online! So, I sat there while he went and got all of my toiletries off the shelf. After waiting for an eternity he finally showed up with my order. But, wait…where was my Burt’s Bees Lip Balm? Vanilla? Two pack! Off he went to find them. It was like I had a Jonathan App. Then he gave me a $15 gift card for having to wait.

At least I would know what to expect when I went back to pick up my items that had been back ordered (except, of course, for the cotton balls.) This time I knew how “The Tower” worked. It should be quick and easy. Famous last words.

When I went back to pick up my remaining five items, a full week had passed. My hands were dry and cracked. I really needed my hand lotion. I went straight to the tower and opened it. I couldn’t wait to see my shampoo come out of it! But, again, my items were not there. Again, an assistant would be there shortly to bring my items.

Again, I waited. Forty minutes later Jonathan showed up and again checked my order, asking if I wanted to get my items from the shelves myself. Again, I said no. Why would I spend all week, and another 50 minutes waiting, just so I could go shopping in the store myself? I could have done that last week and gotten all of my items at the same time! Although I would not receive my 1 percent, which was what prompted this experiment in the first place.

Finally, after I waited another 15 minutes, Jonathan came back. This time, not only did he show up with my items, he showed up with all of my items—my entire order—including the ones that I picked up a few days earlier. I pulled out all the duplicate items and kept the ones I came for. He gave me another gift card for my trouble.

The next day I received an email asking about my experience. I told them how disappointing and mixed up it was. I thought they would want to know.

A week later I received another email telling me that I had not picked up my order, and that I would receive a full refund. I didn’t really know how to correct that. After all, they knew I picked it up because I wrote a whole review about the experience. I guess Jonathan never entered it as picked up.

I really shouldn’t complain. After all, I got all my items for free plus an additional $35 in gift cards. But I hadn’t received my 1 percent back.

UPDATE: Exciting news! I received an email telling me that my 1 percent, a grand total of $.77, would be deposited into my account in 90 days!

It has been a very tiring experience. Instead of helping out my community by supporting my local Walmart I fear that by receiving my items and getting a full refund and $35 in gift cards, and writing a “helpful” review, I might have accidentally gotten Jonathan fired. I feel just terrible.

So, my resolution this year is to stop trying to be a good neighbor. I think we would all be better off for it. I’m going to order my cotton balls from Amazon and none of my neighbors will lose their jobs. It will be a win-win.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous New Year.

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