I recently moved to Richmond and found myself in need of a new, larger TV. The 13 feet between my couch and 26" TV was too small for my already poor vision so I decided to do go online and find an appropriately sized TV for my living space. I'm a big fan of Vizio TVs having already owned one so after some research I came to conclusion that a 65" Vizio would work well in my apartment. I searched through various retailers and found that Wal-Mart had a 65" Vizio that was about $100 cheaper than the typical model that was in my price point. I noticed at the bottom of the page that there was some text that said "Only at Wal-Mart" which I assumed meant I was only going to be able to find this deal at Wal-Mart and later was confirmed by several searches of other retailer websites.
August 16th- I decide to head into the closest Wal-Mart in Richmond that had my TV. I checked the stores inventory online before leaving my apartment and again once I arrived in the store to confirm it was there. Upon reaching the displays I noticed I didn't see my model but instead the $100 more expensive one. I decided to ask one of the store employees if he could find it in the back to which he happily obliged. After a few minutes he came back saying it wasn't there. I considered saying something about how walmart.com said it was in fact in stock at this store but decided against it knowing full well that the inventory was only valid as of 12am that morning. I left the store empty handed.
August 23rd 9:30PM- I had seen Wal-Mart's advertisements for its site-to-store feature on walmart.com so I decided this would be a great opportunity to use it. I hopped online, quickly found the TV and ordered it. I also decided to sign up for text alerts, which would send me a text when the TV arrived in my selected store. The wait time was reported as 7-10 days which seemed about right to me. I received an email confirming order and it reported my expected pickup date was August 28th. I was impressed! That's a few days under the estimated 7-10. I did have trouble selecting my store initially because it was not appearing in the store search results.
August 27th 10:30AM- I receive an email saying my order had shipped! Wait, where was this TV shipping from? It shipped today and is supposed to arrive by tomorrow? Seems unlikely to me but even if it arrived next week I wouldn't be too upset as long as it would be in the 7-10 day window. The email also gave me the option to track my shipment. I decided to immediately try this mostly out of curiosity of where the TV is coming from and how it'll be here so soon. The link "Track Shipment" immediately takes me to a screen where I have to enter my email and order number. I type it in several times, no dice. My first assumption was user error, which was quickly confirmed to be the case. I had been entering the tracking number, which was very promptly displayed by the track shipment button in the email. I enter the information this time using the order number and am taken to a summary of my order. Not quite what I was looking for but I soon found the button that said "track order" which took me to a page that said I would have to wait 24-48 hours for tracking information to become available. I'm now becoming increasingly annoyed; it took way too many clicks to get here and here doesn't even show me anything. If the item has shipped why can't I see where it is?
August 29th 8:30AM- Email from Wal-Mart! My TV must have arrived! Let me just open this email real quick and see when I can go…….. My order was delayed. Well not surprised since it shipped two days ago. The email doesn't give an estimated delivery date and going through the arduous process of getting to the track my order page again results in no information. I decide that if I can't track my order by the beginning of next week I'll make the dreaded call to customer service.
September 1st 3:00PM- I decide to make the call. I got a very polite customer service rep who informed me that he wasn't sure what the issue was and would submit a "ticket" to the warehouse. If the order didn't arrive by the end of the week he suggested that I call back. Great, no one knows what's going on and its looking like I won't get my TV this week. I'm pretty annoyed and starting to tell myself I will never do this again.
September 2nd – I notice my tracking information has become available and the TV is at the delivery center in Sutherland, VA, which is about 40 minutes south of Richmond. Still no updated delivery date but the TV is only 40 minutes away, how long could it take? A diagram at the bottom of the page indicates that the delivery center is the last step before the package goes to the store. Not sure why the 3rd step in the process is the first one I get to see but whatever, the TV is close.
September 8th 11:30AM- Alright. I'm pissed. We are now outside of the window and the tv hasn't even left the delivery center. I'm starting to wonder if Wal-Mart will let me drive down there and just get it myself. Time to make another call to customer service. I call and the customer service rep tells me the TV was scheduled to be picked up and delivered but wasn't. I ask her why, she says she doesn't know. I ask her if she can find out, she says no she's in Denver. I ask her if she can call them or email them or something, anything. She says no but that she can cancel the order. What? Does she not want me to buy the TV? As angry as I am I want this $100 cheaper TV because, well I'm cheap to a degree. So I tell her to reorder it. Now I have to go through this whole process again. First comes an email that says I have to sign a return agreement. Next comes the email saying they will now begin processing my replacement order. Cool. I guess. All I want to do is watch Football and Soccer on a TV without squinting and straining my eyes.
September 10th 6:17PM- Email that my order has shipped arrives. Again no tracking info available yet but the expected delivery date is September 23rd. That's two more weeks of waiting. I'm fuming at this point. My original order is 40 minutes away and now I have wait to two additional weeks for another tv to be shipped from God knows where.
September 19th 8:30AM- My order has arrived. I received the email confirming my orders arrival at my store. Remember those text alerts I signed up for? Yea that never happened. The TV is here and I'm going to pick it up the moment I get off work.
September 19th 6:00PM- I walk into Wal-Mart, go to the Customer Service and retrieve my TV after a 15 minute wait in line. The cashier informs me that there were two TVs with my name on them in the back but I can only have one. I try to get her to give me both but no luck there either. At this point I don't really believe her that there are any TVs in the back for me but she rolls it out and my worries are finally put to rest. The TV is mine and I'm heading home, never to try site-to-store again.
While a lot of the issues I had were most likely failures in the business process a large portion of them originated from the failures of the store inventory feature and the incorrect arrival date estimation. Had the store inventory been correct I could have picked up the TV right then and there, end of story. Next the incorrect arrival date and subsequent notification of a "delay" caused me to worry and give them a call. My guess, in retrospect, was that when I called and they submitted a "ticket" it caused the item to stop at the delivery center and wait for someone to look at the ticket and resolve it before it would venture on to the store.