‘Clearance’ pricing

Well, it looks like Walmart is giving me gibberish, so I’m going to go ahead and give you the story of what  happened yesterday with my webcam.

My prior webcam cost about $5, literally from the checkout line at some dollar store, and, frankly, the video looked like it came from a $5 webcam. A few weeks ago, some stranger left a snarky comment on something I’d posted noting that better webcams are now available.

Last weekend, I wanted to post a video encouraging people to attend the symphony concert, and so instead of using the webcam I held my phone at arm’s length. It worked, but it wasn’t very convenient (and my arm got tired).

I went online to see how much a new webcam would cost. One of the results was from Walmart’s online shopping web site; a Logitech webcam for $13.30. (Remember that price.) A few days later, after payday, I went online and ordered that webcam under Walmart’s “ship-to-store” program, where you save on shipping costs by picking the item up at your local Walmart store. They said that pickup was available as soon as that day, indicating that the store already had the item in stock.

Walmart accepted my order, but then a couple hours later cancelled it, saying that the item wasn’t available at my selected Walmart store.

At lunchtime yesterday, I decided to drop by Walmart and see what they had in terms of webcams. I had been to Walmart a day or two earlier, before payday, and vaguely remembered there being one model on clearance sale.

I found a webcam on a cart with other clearance sale items, marked down from $18 to $15. There were three of them on the cart. It looked like a good little webcam, so I purchased it and brought it home.

It wasn’t until I got the webcam home that I figured out it was the exact same model, the Logitech C110, that I’d attempted to purchase online. My online order was cancelled because the webcam wasn’t in stock for the regular price of $13.30, and yet when I went to the store the item was, in fact, there, for the low, low markdown “clearance” price of $15.

I e-mailed Walmart’s online store, including a scan of my cash register receipt from the brick-and-mortar store, and hoped for an apology or maybe even some credit. This morning, I got an e-mail saying they were reviewing it but basically making the excuse that store pricing and online pricing weren’t necessarily the same. I can understand some variation between the two, but the fact of the matter is that they told me the item was out of stock when it was in stock, and the full retail price online was less than what the store was saying was a marked-down “clearance” price. It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Happily, the webcam itself seems to be working well, and it’s a great improvement over the dollar-store model.

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