I tried Wal-Mart's in-store pickup and and it created more problems than it solved

I recently tried Wal-Mart’s in-store pickup option for an online order, and I was shocked by how inconvenient it was.

I was in the market for a Fitbit, so I compared prices online and found the lowest price at Walmart.com.

At $US78.52, the Walmart.com price was $US1 cheaper than Amazon’s and more than $US20 cheaper than Best Buy’s.

So I decided to go with Wal-Mart.

I wanted the Fitbit that same day, but I was afraid that the price would be higher in the stores. (I was right — when I went to pick up my purchase, I walked by the electronics department and saw that it was listed for $US99).

FitbitBusiness InsiderThe Fitbit Flex was listed as $US78.52 on Walmart.com and $US99 on the store shelf.

So I made the purchase on Wal-Mart.com last Thursday, and selected the option for in-store pickup.

Wal-Mart sent me an order confirmation immediately that said I would receive another email when my Fitbit was ready for pickup.

I expected it to be ready within minutes. How long could it take for someone to pull the item from shelves?

But more than three hours passed before I got the email saying my order was ready. It was close to 9 p.m. at that point, so I decided to wait until the following day to pick it up.

When I arrived at Wal-Mart on Friday, I was expecting to pick up the Fitbit at the front of the store and be on my way home within minutes.

Instead, I was directed to a department labelled Walmart.com that was located all the way in the back of the store. (This isn’t unusual — according to Wal-Mart’s website, the Walmart.com pickup areas are typically located towards the back of stores).

This surprised me. I thought the purpose of the in-store pickup option was convenience.

As I walked through the store, I passed the electronics department and spotted the Fitbit. I decided last minute that I wanted a blue Fitbit instead of the black one I picked out online, so I grabbed the gadget from the shelf and continued walking toward the Walmart.com department, hoping for an easy exchange.

Once there, I stood in line for about 15 minutes. There was only one associate at the register and a customer ahead of me had a problem with his order.

When it was finally my turn, I pulled up the confirmation email on my phone and displayed a bar code for the associate to scan.

She told me the scanner didn’t work, so I read the 13-digit confirmation code aloud to her.

Once she found my order, I asked her if I could exchange it with the Fitbit I pulled from the shelf. It was the same exact product, just in a different colour.

She said that the store inventory and Walmart.com inventory are separate, so I would have to get refunded for my online purchase and then go to the front of the store to buy the Fitbit I grabbed from the shelf.

“They are the exact same product,” I said. “Why can’t I just go home with the one from the shelf?”

She advised me to talk to customer service.

The colour wasn’t important enough to me to spend any more time waiting in line in the store, so I decided to just go home — 30 minutes later — with the original Fitbit I had ordered online.

The whole experience was only mildly annoying, but it was enough of an inconvenience to persuade me never to use Wal-Mart’s in-store pickup again. And after some research, I discovered that other customers have had similar experiences with Wal-Mart’s in-store pickup.

In retrospect, I should have paid the extra $US1 to purchase the Fitbit at Amazon and waited an extra day to get it delivered for free to my doorstep.

We reached out to Wal-Mart for this story and will update when we hear back.

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