Poor Customer Service Experiences Drain Our Time - Walmart Example

It makes me crazy: A company makes an error, and I have to spend up to several hours of my time on the phone with the company, trying to fix the error. Typically, I end up not dealing with such administrative hassles, because the amount of money I’ll get reimbursed is often significantly less than the amount of money I’ll lose in work hours, by attempting the resolve the matter. I think that, in the case of a company error, the company should not just reimburse the amount of that error, but also offer additional financial compensation - such as through deducting the cost of a month of services, or offering a gift card.

A variation on the theme is that as I write this article, I am on hold with Walmart, where I have been trying to resolve an issue, unsuccessfully, for the past 20 minutes - this after a previous round of attempting to circumvent their involved voicemail system, and getting hung up on. I appreciate those companies (unlike Walmart apparently), where I can press “0” at any time and get straight to a human being - in particular, when I am dealing with a complex issue that I know voicemail prompts and automated systems cannot help me out with. When I repeatedly get an automated response of “not a valid option,” then get hung up on, it just mounts my frustration.

In this Walmart case, the agent was offering options that did not make sense to me. It seemed that he was trying to check my Walmart account, but I don’t have one. The whole reason I was calling was to see if two charges were mine or if they were fraudulent, being that I do not as a habit purchase from Walmart.com, never mind have an account. It was entirely possible that I made these purchases then forgot, but I needed to verify whether or not that was the case. Maybe the agent just wasn’t doing a stellar job explaining the logic behind the questions he was asking, and maybe I a bit hasty in feeling grouchy about it all (I hate wasting my time on customer service calls!), but either way, I attempted on two different occasions to get transferred to a supervisor, and the agent refused, saying he didn’t have enough information to transfer me to the agent (ie, he needed my non-existent Walmart account information). That just irritated me further.

The agent then directed me to a section of Walmart.com where I would have to fill out an involved three page document for each of the charges that I was questioning - going straight to reporting them as fraudulent, instead of getting effective help in figuring out whether they were or were not valid purchases. I told him that their process is highly inconvenient and does not make any sense, and I asked for a third time to speak with a supervisor - this time, to complain about their process. Finally I got transferred.

The supervisor was helpful - asking for clearly pertinent information and otherwise working collaboratively with me to resolve the matter. Within 12 minutes, we clarified that I did in fact make the purchases, following which I thanked her and ended the call. Had the original agent either been more effective in his customer service, or transferred me to the supervisor either of the two previous times I requested, I could have saved 20 minutes. I would appreciate it if, in the future, Walmart instructed their employees to allow customers to be transferred to a supervisor upon request, to avoid unnecessary hassle.

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