Here’s proof Walmart isn’t trying to save you money

Company continues selling $41 travel-sized mouthwash after price questioned

After killing off its price-match program, Walmart Canada has the nerve to still claim the company is committed to saving customers money. Never more has that been needed than during a pandemic.

Over the past few weeks, I approached Walmart, whose Better Business Bureau rating sits at an F, with customer concerns about product pricing. They ignored the messages and failed to clarify outrageous pricing of their products.

Throughout this post, I’m including recent tweets from the past few days where people have publicly contacted Walmart regarding concerns about their shopping experience. You’ll see they voice frustration with how the company responds — or doesn’t. Let’s set the tone with this one:

Being known as Winnipeg Cheapskate, thanks to my syndicated radio shows and bestselling book, I’m frequently contacted by readers and viewers of my Free Press video series. In September, Global News and CJOB in Winnipeg reached out regarding a story about grocery prices during the pandemic. I offered tips for saving money and was asked if apps are a good way to cut costs. Spoiler: They’re not.

Reason being, it’s easier to get discounts when you speak to someone at a store. Having an interaction where you can say, “Hey, this lettuce is a bit wilted, can you mark it down?” is the way to score half-price produce (at least at Superstore and No Frills locations).

When placing an order through an app, you’re not the one doing the shopping. You’re not on the front lines to be able to inspect the quality of the product and negotiate a deal.

I suppose if your shopper, who’s largely working for tips and therefore wants your bill total to be higher, wanted to go the extra mile, they could negotiate discounts on your behalf. Though it might make them look inconsiderate if they sent you a message saying, “Dude, brown lettuce here. Want that instead if they mark it down?” I can appreciate them not bringing that to your attention.

A Global News viewer contacted me about grocery pricing at Walmart. She pointed out contradictory pricing between Walmart’s flyer on Flipp and Instacart. Flipp is an app that displays local flyers. Instacart is a shopping app for grocery delivery.

In the screenshots I was provided, a box of crackers was advertised in the Walmart flyer (posted on Flipp) for $1.99, yet while browsing Instacart, the same item wasn’t on sale, instead regularly priced at $2.99.

There are instances where Instacart notes that pricing on the app can vary from what is in a retail location. For this Walmart location, no such disclaimer was listed, nor was there mention about sale prices differing for app orders.

Armed with this information, I tweeted Walmart Canada to inquire about the discrepancy. I submitted the logical question of, Who’s right and who’s wrong? Did Walmart publish the incorrect sale price in its flyer? Did Flipp have the wrong flyer uploaded? Did Instacart have the incorrect price? Is it a combination of two or more of these questions?

I went to Walmart because ultimately it’s their product for sale.

To its credit, Walmart Canada’s Twitter account replied almost immediately but didn’t address the actual question, instead saying to visit the Walmart website for up-to-date pricing. Pushing back, I re-asked the question only to get no further. Seemingly getting snarky with its responses (as much as you can read tone in a tweet), Walmart’s social media team stopped responding so I reached out to the corporate communications team.

On Oct. 20 and Oct. 22, Walmart Canada’s media relations team failed to acknowledge my request for information. It wasn’t until Oct. 23, when I fired back with the threat of sharing with my audiences the story about sketchy pricing, that Walmart’s communications team replied. (Convenient, hey? I’ve been in the PR game long enough to have picked up some tricks along the way.)

“My apologies,” said Adam Grachnik, Walmart Canada’s director of corporate affairs. “We should have let you know that we are looking into your questions. We didn’t and that’s on us. We are looking into it. I know you weren’t satisfied with the answers you received from our customer service team on Twitter.”

From that point, it went nowhere.

After Grachnik’s initial email, I replied back within an hour and a half, piling on more information I had received about Walmart pricing.

Walmart was selling “Crest Travel Size Scope Outlast Rinse Mouthwash” for $41.20. Yes, that tiny little travel-sized bottle — barely the amount of a shot glass — was listed for $41.20 at Walmart through Instacart. There is some good news, however, because the larger 1,000-ml-sized Scope was a steal at only $24.79.

(I should add that the 1,000 ml pricing mysteriously changed without Walmart getting back to me, however the travel-sized product was still outrageously priced as of this posting two weeks later.)

By being made aware of unfair pricing and not correcting it, this is a clear indication that Walmart has no desire to save you money be it in store or through a third-party app.

True, the items are for sale through Instacart but as the big guy on the block, Walmart can step in and say, “Don’t take advantage of our customers. Change the price to something reasonable.”

Alas, we don’t know how the chain of command works because Walmart went MIA and showed no interest in satisfying the concern. The company is evading the question of pricing across its multiple platforms.

While Grachnik probed to inquire about which app showed the ridiculous pricing, he provided no followup or explanation regarding the inquiries put forth: Who’s wrong in the contradictory flyer pricing? And what’s up with the ridiculous Scope pricing?

So, with the company going silent and unwilling to defend its pricing, it leaves the customer — in my case, a media personality with platforms to share the story — no choice but to alert others.

Many people go on social media rants, that’s nothing new. Most of them editorialize and don’t allow their followers to get the full story by including the offending company’s side. I did.

In the interest of giving a fair and balanced account, I extended that offer to Walmart multiple times and they hid. I didn’t plan to go public but the social media rudeness made me escalate the concern. And when that went nowhere, I draw my own conclusions and relay the experience to my audiences.

Though, in all honesty, I shouldn’t take personally the neglect from the company. It only took me a few minutes of scrolling replies from Walmart Canada’s Twitter account to see many customers have issues with the company. The frustrations ranged from receiving incorrect items to not getting requested refunds. And yes, there were plenty of concerns about Walmart not responding to messages.

It appears that Walmart Canada suffers from selective responding. Case in point: My emails to media relations. If I hadn’t turned up the heat, would the inquiry have gone anywhere? Knowing what I know about Walmart interactions on social media, I can conclude it likely wouldn’t have. And to suggest they’re “looking into it” (I imagine only to save face at this point) yet not provide followup despite multiple requests thereafter, it feels like the same experience voiced by frustrated tweeters. Coincidence? Unlikely.

In the end, Walmart’s corporate talking heads went silent and offered no clarity to customer concerns. And, as illustrated throughout this post, including beneath this paragraph, you’ll see the company has work to do with its communication and customer experience. (Remember, it’s not called customer service anymore, it’s an experience.) This is a shame, really, as people consider online shopping for the holiday season. It’s likely worth supporting local small businesses that go the extra mile and appreciate your patronage.

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