Incorrect Shelf Prices at Walmart
Considering my previous work (Get your shit together Walmart), you might think that I'd never set foot in one of their stores again.
But I did, and when I did, my gluesticks were rung up at the wrong price. A higher price. ($5.58 instead of $4.47)
A few days later, it happened AGAIN. I bought a tape measure and was rung up for a higher price ($9.88 instead of $5.88).
What the hell?
The receipts above show a $3 credit. This is Walmart's Price Reliability Guarantee. If you realize the shelf price is wrong, you are entitled to this $3.00 reward. I was not impressed.
Is it possible that I had stumbled across evidence of a corporate-wide scheme to rip-off customers by systematically boosting prices at the register? Maybe it wasn't a scheme, but a mere managerial oversight which creates this problem. Either way, two mistakes in a few days had me on high alert.
The first questions was, how big was the problem?
I made a plan. I needed to check a large number of items. I'd choose 100 items in Walmart, carefully noting the shelf price. Then I'd cart the items to a price scanner and scan the price there. This technique would allow me to test a bunch of items without annoying all of the employees.
On my first trip, I focused on the grocery section (June 24th). I picked up a variety of items and made a note of the price, checking them on a scanner.
I picked out a variety of items. Cheese $2.17, Calzone $4.98, Chips $1.98, Pineapple $2.68, Bacon $2.48, Sausage $1.98, Yoplait $1.80, French onion dip $1.58, Dishwasher detergent $2.97, Oxyclean $7.52.
It was a pain in the ass.
One of the first things I noticed was that sometimes the closest prices on the shelf were for the wrong product. In the photo above, there are two $10 cakes on a shelf clearly marked with a $4.98 price tag. If you look closely, the $4.98 price tag specifies a non-existant package of 12 cupcakes.
The cakes did have price stickers on them, but the shelf price was incorrect.
Here again this cake and pack of cupcakes were placed on a shelf clearly marked $3.24, yet neither was $3.24.
Elsewhere in the store, there were misplaced items, a bottle of cough drops on the wrong shelf. But these cakes weren't misplaced by customers. The Walmart baker put these here.
When I asked her about it, she explained that each item was individually marked with a price, so the shelf prices could be ignored.
Other than the deceptive cakes, all of the items in my cart scanned correctly. Score one for Walmart.
I returned them to their proper places on the shelves. It was time-consuming. Checking just ten items had taken about 30 minutes. I went home.
My next stop was a few days later at the Walmart near Watt Aveune in Sacramento, CA. I decided to focus on healthcare items and garden section. Right away I spotted a few misplaced items, such as the drug tests above.