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Absurdity. (For money.) [Jul. 31st, 2011|12:31 am]
A couple weeks ago, the charger for my laptop died. I didn't want to deal with waiting for however long it would take a replacement to arrive if I ordered it online, and I know that it would be overpriced at Best Buy, so I checked Walmart's website to see if they had one for a halfway decent price. Which they did: $49.

So I zipped off to the nearest store that had one in stock and discovered that Walmart's online prices don't necessarily have anything at all to do with the prices on the shelves. $69!

But, as mentioned previously, I didn't want to be sans laptop for any length of time, so I bought it anyway.

In the course of doing so, I had asked a Walmart helper-tron-type person what the deal was with the prices (Me: "What's the deal with the prices?" Him: "Yeah, the prices online don't necessarily have anything to do with the prices on the shelves.") and found out that they have a thing called "site-to-store" or some such, where you buy an item online, and they ship it to the nearest store, for free, and you pick it up. And that way you get the online price.

So after checking the return policy carefully, when I got home, I ordered another charger through their website, this time for $49.

And thus it was that on my way home from work on Friday, having received my email notification of availability, I popped in to Walmart, made my way to the back of the store, and picked up a second charger for my laptop.

I then took it out to my car, removed it from the cardboard box in which it had been shipped, made sure I had the older, more expensive receipt, walked back into the store (via the other door), made sure to obtain a little sticker for my returned item, went to the customer service counter at the front of the store, and returned it.

(Her: "Reason for return?" Me: "I found the same thing cheaper online." Her: "Anything wrong with it?" Me: "Nope. It's not even opened.")

Which is all a very long and roundabout way of explaining that, in effect, on Friday, Wal-Mart corporation paid me $21.69 to carry a piece of merchandise from the back of the store to the front of the store.

[User Picture]From: dcseain
2011-07-31 12:50 pm (UTC)
Walmart.com is a separate company from Walmart, hence the bizarro divorce in pricing between the two entities.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2011-07-31 02:34 pm (UTC)
On one level, that would explain things perfectly.

On another... how can walmart.com be a separate entity from Walmart proper??? That's equally absurd in a new and different way.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2011-07-31 04:23 pm (UTC)
The "about" page on the site says they're a subsidiary of Walmart proper. (Which doesn't preclude them from being totally decoupled the way dcseain describes.)

And really, no matter what the explanation, that degree of disparity seems absurd to me.
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[User Picture]From: dcseain
2011-08-01 02:18 am (UTC)
Their marketing and pricing were completely and totally decoupled. For many years, their distribution was too, but that was reintegrated when they started in-store pick-up, and the marketing has become more, but not fully, integrated in that that the stores promote walmart.com now..
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[User Picture]From: k8cre8
2011-07-31 04:39 pm (UTC)
I suspect that the online store is competing for a completely different crowd than their stores. That is, the typical customer in the physical stores is very different from the customer online. They have lower prices on tech stuff online to attract the online customer that normally wouldn't really be a Walmart customer. I've noticed it on some DVDs and other stuff I've priced online, only to run into a similar sticker shock at the store. I don't shop at Walmart unless there is absolutely no choice, and this sort of thing is annoying to me.
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