Sunday, April 19, 2009

Definitely Not Free

I do most of my grocery shopping at Walmart. I detest Walmart. It’s overwhelming, noisy, and thinks it’s the king of the discount stores. Which it is, but it doesn’t have to act like it. It’s a harsh white box, and while I would prefer to shop in a cozy little food boutique, Walmart has one thing I just can’t ignore. Their prices are the best in town.

This is news to exactly no one, and is Walmart’s claim to fame. Because of their sheer size and consumer reach, they can basically dictate to manufacturers what they will pay and how they will market their products. You don’t cross Walmart.

Add that to love of Free. Which is closely followed by its cousin, Cheap. I love a deal, and I cannot abide paying for something if I can get it for less somewhere else. So consequently, I shop at Walmart.

Saturday night was the time of my latest big shopping. In my family, that’s what we call filling up the cart with the majority of things needed for the next X period of time (for me, that’s 2 weeks). Little drop ins for things I run out of and highly perishable items like milk and bananas happen on an as-needed basis. I was operating on the plus side, having left the house with exactly zero kids in tow. I’ll tell you right now, it still took and hour and a half, and that did not make me happy.

Variety is not a core value of Walmart. Neither is availability. I lost a lot of time trying to find items that should have been there, but were not only out of stock, but other items had been stocked in their places (as evident by the original bar codes on the shelves). Of course, these were the lower priced items, and the nearest related substitute was at least double in cost. Grrrrrr.

I finally make my way to the checkout, for once not getting the slowest checker on Earth (but close). I had a handful of coupons I had carefully selected before heading out (accidentally leaving the one coupon I had specifically sought out on the internet sitting on the counter, contributing to my irritation level), including one for a free Kashi entrée. These are not inexpensive items, and I don’t even look at them, much less buy them, so I was excited to have the opportunity to try something new (and you know, get it for free). I finished putting the bags in my cart and paid, having watched the checker as closely as I could (not easy when you’re your own bag girl). I ran out to the parking lot to load up the car, since a huge thundercloud was just rolling in and starting to spit rain (a sign I think). But something was niggling the back of my mind.

Once I got home and we got everything put away without dropping anything or killing each other, I checked over the receipt again. I found the Kashi meal, but no sign of the coupon amount credited. The checker had, in essence, stolen my coupon.

This is bugging me 24 hours later. My Free was taken from me, and that just ain’t right. I can hear my father right now telling me to just let it go and eat my food, but I just can’t do that. It would taste like dirt. So after all this, I’ll be heading back to Walmart for another, unscheduled visit (in all likelihood with 2 kids this time), to return a grocery item that they’d better take back or give me free of charge after hearing my story. All the while telling Walmart, in my mind, that they can eat Sabrina’s diaper. I know I’ll be back, but I’ll like it even that much less.

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