Walmart’s Online Glitches..What’s The Moral(ity) Of The Story?

There have been a few shopping-related “glitches” lately that have made me stop and think.  The first was back in early October.  Social media started blowing up with posts about a $125.00 10 piece Rachel Ray cookware set being offered on for $28.  People went nuts and ordered 4 and 5 sets at a time, raced to their Walmarts and picked them up immediately.  Stock was depleted in two hours all over the country. Pictures went up all over Twitter, FB, Instagram of people showing off their “deals”.  Well, it wasn’t a deal or a sale,  it was a glitch in Walmart’s system that erroneously dropped the price down to a fraction of it’s worth.

Then the bomb dropped.  Walmart fixed the glitch and started cancelling orders before people could pick them up and refunding payments to bank cards and you guys?  People Lost.  Their.  Minds.  You should have heard the internet whining and shrieking. What do you mean I can’t have them??  What do you mean there are no rain checks??  There was finger pointing, crying, LOTS OF ALL CAPS DEMANDS THAT WALMART “BETTER GIMME MY POTS OR ELSE”.  Oh brother.  There were posts from people who said they went in to their Walmart store, demanded the cookware set at the now discontinued price of $28 and when denied,  “cussed that manager out good”.  Gimme a break, lady.  Do you really think he hadn’t heard it 20 times already that day?  People posted pictures of themselves posing with a dozen sets on Instagram.   A woman saying she got 10 and was giving them to all of her bridesmaids as thank you gifts.   People drove 100 miles to the next Walmart to get the deal since their local store was sold out.

Now then.  Moving on to a week or so later.  The Walmart EBT (food stamp) card debacle in Louisiana.  Oh man..this one was a mess.  Another glitch, this time in the EBT system.   Spending limits were accidentally removed from cards in a couple of Louisiana towns when the EBT system suffered a power outage.  Word got out and it was every man, woman and child for themselves.  Shelves were stripped bare in at least 2 stores in 2 hours, entire grocery sections emptied.  People dragging two and three carts overflowing with food items.  Walmart honored the purchases.  When word got out at 9pm that night that the glitch was fixed and spending limits were back in place, hundreds of loaded buggies were left where they stood as shoppers walked out of the stores.  Workers were still cleaning the stores and reshelving items 48 hours later.

Now.  The internet backlash over this was swift and predictable.  Those “welfare” folks were thieves who should be shot. Lowlifes.  Scum.  Trash, etc. (Their words, not mine)  And yet Walmart approved the card usage and reported no material loss from that day, and no charges were pressed against anyone.

So riddle me this.  What’s the difference?  The woman in the Ann Taylor twinset and pearls loading 4 Rachel Ray sets into the trunk of her Mercedes versus the mother of 5 loading two carts full of food into the back of her minivan.  Both got the deals because of a glitch.  So did one take an opportunity while the other took advantage?  According to the internet, yes.  Now remember, Walmart corporate gave the go ahead to accept the shoppers purchases, even though they knew the limits were gone off EBT cards.   The very people who loaded up on Rachel Ray cookware were some of the same people calling the EBT shoppers thieves for taking advantage of the situation.  Pot, meet Kettle.

This all came to mind to me today because Walmart had another glitch in their online system this morning, but this time in just about every store department.  $2,000 TV’s for $300.  Toys for 90% off or more.  Baby highchairs for $7, kids ride-on toys for $29.

The same thing happened a la Rachel Ray.  Walmart is saying the glitch is fixed, cancelling orders and refunding payments and once again, people have flipped their wigs.

So what do you guys think?  Here are my questions…

  •  If you get a deal during a glitch like these, are you taking advantage of the situation?
  • Are you taking what’s rightfully yours because the store advertised it and now has to honor it?
  •  Why did Walmart allow the EBT users in Louisiana to spend with no limit?  Was it because they wanted people to buy as much as possible knowing they would get the money back from the state/federal EBT program?  Or were they just allowing shoppers to feed their families on the honor system and got taken advantage of?

So what did these all of these shoppers really take?  Opportunity or advantage?

Allyson Sorenson

About Allyson Sorenson

Bangor mom. BDN blogger. Volvo lover. Coffee drinker.