BAD IDEA: BUYING SMART TV FROM STUPID VENDORS

E-NIGHTMARE WITH WALMART PURCHASE FOLLOWED BY BAD DREAM WITH COSTCO UNDERSCORED BY SAMSUNG

HUMANS HAVE BECOME SLAVES TO BAD TECHNOLOGY; LARGE COMPANIES FLEECE CONSUMERS WHILE OFFERING POOR SERVICE

Thinking of buying something online from Walmart or Costco? Think again. For me, the old adage applies: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I will not be fooled again into buying anything online from these two companies.

Bob Djurdjevic, Scottsdale, Arizona

This particular e-nightmare started over two months ago when my wife expressed a desire to have a TV set in our bedroom. She thought it might help her back pain. Of course, at the time, we had no idea the buying process would turn into a nightmare. Make that an e-nightmare. Because most of the problems were caused by badly designed computer systems telling hapless humans what to do. Or not to do.

FRIDAY, APR 22

We’ll fast-forward to April 19 when I ordered online a new Samsung smart TV from Walmart. They promised delivery between Apr 22-25. The set eventually arrived late – Apr 26. It was a bulky package but the FedEx guy refused to carry it in even through the front door.

“We’re not allowed to do that,” he said.

SATURDAY, APR 23

I eventually got around to opening the box and trying to set it up the following day. Once upon a time, a set like that would have come with instructions. This one came with one piece of paper which read “Quick Setup Instructions” and consisted only of several pictures.

There was nothing, for example, about how to install the legs. Yet the two legs would not fit in easily. And I wasn’t about to force them in and damage a brand new set. So I called Samsung support.

Long wait. Finally, an agent with a heavy foreign accent answered the call. After a couple of minutes of conversation it was clear that he had no idea what I was talking about. I offered to take a picture or a video. The agent was still of no help.

I hung up and called again hoping to get someone more useful. The second agent had an accent, too but also something other than mush between his ears. Eventually I figured out the problem myself. The two legs were wrongly labeled (left vs. right).

My wife and I carried a heavy TV to the stand. When I turned it on, nothing happened. Upon a closer look I saw vertical colored lines flickering.

“Uh, uh” I muttered. These symptoms reminded me of sick computer screens I had seen before in my 46 years in the IT industry.

I called Samsung again. After much “do this and do that,” I came close to the TV screen intending to photograph the flickering lines.

“Uh, uh” I said again dejectedly. “The screen is cracked.” It looked as if someone had stuck a screwdriver into it. Or some other sharp and pointed object (see above photo).

Back to the phone, first with Samsung then Walmart. About how to arrange for a return of the damaged TV and replacement of a new one.

More than half an hour later, the Walmart agent promised that the damaged TV would be picked up on Tuesday (3 days later) and the new one delivered the same day.

TUESDAY, APR 26

Next I get an email from Walmart telling me I need to take the damaged TV to Fedex. Another phone call. Another conversation with a clueless agent having to explain that this is not a roll of toilet paper I am returning to Walmart. It is a very large and quite heavy TV set. And that I need Fedex to come and pick up. The agent promised to arrange for “instant pickup.”

Later that day, Fedex showed up. I was glad to at least something was happening on time. But when the Fedex guy looked at the shipping label Walmart sent me he said he could not pick it up.

“This is Fedex Ground,” he said. “We are Fedex Freight.”

I nearly blew my top.

“What do I care what you call yourselves. This is the Fedex label Walmart sent me and I want you to pick up this box and get it out of my house.”

“Just a moment, Sir,” the Fedex guy said reaching for the phone to call his supervisor.

A few minutes later, he came back and said, “sorry, can’t do it. You have to wait for Fedex Ground.”

“Don’t move,” I ordered him. “I am going to call Walmart right now and I want you to stand here and listen to the conversation.

After a while, another clueless Walmart agent answered the phone. She said she could not do anything. Their computer decides what kind of a label to send me and whom to dispatch to pick it up.

“Why don’t you override your stupid computer and just send me another label for Fedex Freight?” I asked. “I have the Fedex guy standing right next to me.”

“Sorry, Sir, we can’t do that.”

“Can you tell me then when the Fedex Ground will show up?”

“Tomorrow,” she said after checking her computer.

“And when can I expect my new and undamaged TV set? It was promised for today.”

“We will ship you the new set after we receive the return.”

“What? But your colleague on Saturday said the pick up and delivery will take place the same day – Tuesday. Which is today.”

“Sorry, Sir, but we cannot do that. Our protocol is that we do not ship until we receive a return.”

The Fedex guy next to me was shaking his head in disbelief.

“Just a moment,” I said to the Walmart agent. “I’ll be right back.”

I went to my wife and briefly explained the situation. We both thought we should just cancel the Walmart order and get a refund. And then order the new TV from someone else. Which is what I told the Walmart agent when I got back on the phone.

“When can I expect that refund?” I asked.

“After we receive the return. It will take a few days after that to process the refund.”

The Fedex guy kept shaking his head.

“Two large companies which had lost control of their business,” I said. “You, Fedex, are so compartmentalized that you did not even know how many disparate services your company had” (it turns out there are four – Fedex Ground, Freight, Office and Express). There is even Fedex Logistics though it’s unclear what they do since there is absolutely no logic in the manner in which this $69 billion-company operates.

“As for Walmart,” I continued, “they are even worse as you saw for yourself. They are letting their computer make business decisions which people used to make. And their customer service agents are mere button-pushers who just follow protocols some computer people had devised.”

BTW – Walmart is a $560 billion-company. Talk about something being too large for its own good. As for Samsung, it is a $43 billion-company based in Korea, but with factories all over the world.

TUESDAY EVENING

The same evening I ordered the same TV set from Costco. Another large company, I thought with some trepidation. Their annual revenues are $196 billion.

“Will I also have to wrestle their computer?” I wondered.

Costco online system took my money right away but promised delivery on Thursday, May 5.

“Whatever happened with the good old COD?” I thought.

For those of you who are too young to remember, COD stood for Cash On Delivery. Nowadays, nobody is paying cash anymore. Everybody is paying in advance. And if something goes wrong, large companies hang on to your money for weeks before refunding it.

A nice little scheme they’ve devised to fleece the consumer of a few extra dollars in interest while their agents can hide behind “the computer says so”-excuses.

WEDNESDAY, APR 27

A FedEx Ground guy showed up at our door in late morning on Wednesday. It was a big black guy. I greeted him as if he were a long lost brother.

“Here’s my man,” I shouted smiling as I opened the front door. “I have been waiting for you for 5 days!”

The Fedex guy just smiled looking confused but pleased. Guess he’d never experienced such as welcome when ringing someone’s doorbell. I never bother to explain why I was so happy to see him.

“Have a great day, brother,” he said with a big smile as he hauled away the big TV box

THURSDAY, MAY 5

The morning of the promised Costco delivery I noticed that in the email confirming it, Costco had used our old address. I checked my online order and saw that it had the correct address. Three years ago, we moved three doors on the same street over into a bigger house. The difference was just in the house number. But one of Costco computers must have still retained the old number and chose to stick it in for this delivery instead of the address I had specified on the order.

A phone call to Costco. “Just in case,” I thought, thinking it was a trivial matter to correct the number and text the driver to drop the TV off at our new house.

Not so, I am afraid. The Costco agent kept me on the phone for half an hour. And at the end of it she said it would take them three days to change the address in their system. And that they would have to cancel the delivery.

“What?” I raged on. “That is totally unacceptable. You made a mistake. You need to correct. And I want you to deliver my TV today as promised.”

“Then you are going to have to talk to ‘membership’ to change your address in their system,” the agent said.

A few minuted later, I got a call from the driver. “I am 15 minutes away,” he said.

“That’s a courtesy I never got from Fedex,” I thought (a headsup call). “Must be a small trucking company.”

Which surprised me given the size of Costco. “Birds of a feather flock together,” as they say. Large companies usually do business with likesize enterprises.

Anyway, I used the opportunity to tell the driver to deliver the box to our new house number. He balked. “I have to check with my supervisor,” he said.

“Uh, uh,” I thought to myself. “Here we go again. Another rigamarole even with smaller companies.”

A few minutes later, I got a call from “Fedex Logistics.” Same story as with the first agent, hassle about changing the phone number. This woman also wanted to cancel delivery.

“No way,” I said angrily. “I am standing in front of my old house and I will take delivery of my TV set there.”

“Okay,” she said. “Hang on.”

That’s when I saw a white truck parked on our street some 100 yards from our house. I figured that must be my delivery. I waved them on to come to me. The truck crept slowly and eventually stopped in front of our old house.

I saw that the driver was talking to someone on the phone. I figured it was this woman from the Costco Logistics. He was a big black guy. Another smaller guy was in the passenger seat. When the big guy finished the conversation he got out and opened the back of the truck. I was that they had a dolly there.

“Just unload it here and lend me a dolly,” I said. “I’ll take the TV to our new house myself.”

The driver never said anything. He just grabbed the big TV box as if it were full of feathers and took i to the side of the garage where the house number was showing. Then he took a couple of pictures with his phone of the TV box and the house number. And of myself standing sideways beside the box.

Then he grabbed the big box himself, through it over his shoulder as if it were a backpack, and started walking toward our new house. That’s only about 100 yards. But still, it was a big 70-inch box (175cm) and heavy in my experience.

I opened the front door for him. He carried the box into the front hall and gently put it on the ground.

“Have a beautiful day,” he said with a big smile.

Finally something nice about this awful experience.

About BOB DJURDJEVIC
Bob Djurdjevic is a writer, musician, video maker, geopolitical commentator, IT business analyst, playwright-producer... Bob had also worked as a business consultant and advisor to top executives of large multinational computer companies for 36 years (1978-2014). He had spent 8 years with IBM prior to starting his own business in 1978. You can see the Truth in Media articles prior to 2013 at the old website: http://truthinmedia.org

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: