Its Black Friday sale has given Walmart a black eye with many of its customers who showed up before the crack of dawn Friday, only to find the sale items they wanted already sold out. Other stores also had their share of problems.
"On November 27, I arrived Walmart in Iron Mountain, MI at 4:30am. I was there to purchase a 32" emerson tv and a laptop computer," said Stacey of Goodman, Wis. "What I found interesting is that there were customers inside shopping. I heard many complaints from these customers that all the electronics were sold out at 3:30am. How can this be when the ad did not say anything about pre-sales? When I asked an associate, they told me that there were special purchase tickets given out starting at midnight!"
Kenya of Harrisburg, Pa., had a similar experience: "In every advertisment that Walmart displayed for Black Friday stated that prices and items would be available at 5:00 am. However the laptops that they had in their advertisement for 199.00 were all sold out by 2:30 am," she said in her complaint to ConsumerAffairs.com.
In a Nov. 23 news release, Walmart said it would "help shoppers get a jumpstart on Christmas shopping by offering unbeatable prices1 on hundreds of items via a string of Thanksgiving-weekend-savings events."
"Beginning at 5 a.m. on Nov. 27, store items from electronics to toys to apparel will feature prices that are sure to be at the top of gift lists this holiday season. Starting today, all of these special values can be viewed online at Walmart.com," the news release stated. Similar claims were made in advertisements published and broadcast nationwide.
The news release and ads left shoppers with the impression that the sale prices would not go into effect until 5 a.m. Friday: "Hit the Stores Friday Morning: $3 sleepwear for the family, a $298 laptop and more, Walmarts day-after-Thanksgiving event from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. highlights the gifts moms want for their family. All items are available in limited quantities. Sorry, no rainchecks."
But in numerous complaints, consumers said that the "no rainchecks" provision was the only part of the promotion that stuck.
"I arrived at 2:30 in the morning to find out that management of the store had handed out all the tickets for the sale items already. I called and complained and they said the tickets weren't to be handed out till 5:00 and when I explained what the situation was all they could say was there was nothing that they could do," said Mark of Kosciusko, Miss.
"Walmart has managed to put alot of stores out of business to only go to hell farther down the road by hiring incompetent employees," Mark said.
Other Black Friday complaints included:
Best Buy Maureen of Aiken, S.C., said she went to her local Best Buy at 5 a.m. Friday to snap up a Samsung washer-dryer combination that was on sale.
"There were two different sales associates located in appliances to handle the sales. Both of their computers were down for approx. 30 minutes. We were told to make things faster for when the computers came back up to fill out the sales forms for what we wanted. We were also told there was 300 sets," Maureen wrote. She said a sales associate assured her they would get their order.
"When the computers came back up we gave all our information, paid for the set and was told someone would call us for delivery directions. About 7 that night we got a call saying they wanted to refund our money because they don't have any left. Had we been told at 5:45 AM we could have gone to Sears (which was 45 minutes closer to our home) and gotten their special," she said.
In Phoenix, Joseph rushed to Best Buy to buy a Sony laptop advertised for $399.
"After I went home and looked at the receipt, the was an additional charge of $49.99 from the Geek Squad for Standard Security and Performance. I talked to the manager at the location. He said there are a couple of laptop has been modified by the Geek Squad. If I receive the laptop, I have to pay for it. If I do not want to pay for it, I need to bring it back to the store and the Geek Squad will remove it. After that, they will remove or refund the $50.
That explanation didn't satisfy Joseph. "I felt cheated," he said.
Sears "I decided to go to Black Friday at Sears," said Jo of Memphhis. "We arrived at 3:50a.m. I went to the back to get the ripster stick that was 34.99 and was told that it was not going to be at that store. I showed them the ad and it wasn't anything that they could do."
"If it was only at certain stores that should have been in the ad. I missed out on other store who carried this item because I wanted to get the item at Sears," Jo said.
Target "A few hundred customers waited for hours for the Target store to open so we could purchase the heavily advertised $249 Westinghouse TV," said Frederick of Rockland, Mass. "They had FOUR available for sale but managed to have the area full with the $500 TV's. Classic Bait and Switch. I have been a long term customer but you won't find me at Target again."
Radio Shack Jose of New York, NY, said salespeople at his local Radio Shack told him to wait until Black Friday to buy the flat-screen TV he wanted. But when he went to the store Friday morning, "the cheaper name brand was on sale but not in stock! ... Not in stock? They never had it in the first place," Jose charged.