Bait And Switch (Randyjw; August 29, 2019)
What happens when you’re a Walmart customer, and two of the items you were planning to purchase ring up at the wrong price advertised? If you notice it, and you’d prefer to receive the cheaper prices that the proposed items should be, then you notify the cashier, who’s supposed to check the prices and adjust as needed. But, if you’re a homeless person, and, in my case, Jewish, as well, you get banned permanently from the store, law enforcement called (five!), handcuffed, and humiliated.
I hate to be writing about this, at such a time as when Walmart, and it’s customers, have also been innocently targeted, as in the recent incidents that have lately been in the news. I commiserate with the victims and the victims’ families, as well as the corporation, for these recent (and, also, not so recent, come to think of it) tragedies. But, I am upset about the treatment I have received in their store – – not only today, but in the last few months during which time I have been a regular customer.
I selected my purchases and proceeded to the self-checkout lane. Upon finishing my scans, I noticed that two items did not ring up correctly, and notified a cashier. One item was a French Bread, which normally is $1.00 USD. I wrote about the bread in a previous post. And, yes; I have been discriminated against before making that post, and hence to this day. The French Bread, however, was ticketed with a French Bread Twin price tag (both front and back), which makes it $1.98. However, the product was obviously mislabeled, as I know the difference between the two: the French Bread has only one loaf in the bag, and seems to be wider than the French Bread Twin, which, as its name indicates, contains two loaves in the bag, but they are seemingly thinner. I’d rather have more middle than crust, anyways, and being that the other one is cheaper, it works all around for me. But, no. The cashier was insistent that it was French Bread Twin, although she was wrong. The second item was a small Snickers bar (I would have preferred a larger one, but they didn’t seem to have them in the next couple of aisles, so I just left it, as is). The orange and yellow shelf tag indicated that the Snickers bar was .78 cents – – but, it rang up at .88 cents.
Then, a man came over (not the usual manager), a Walmart employee, and told me to never set foot inside the store again. He was going to also take my entire purchase. They hadn’t even gone to check any prices or anything (in fact, a female employee said I should go get another one; all the way at the back corner of the store…). I had picked out the particular loaf I wanted because it was lighter than the others, and would therefore be softer. The man said he was calling the police (law enforcement). He did, and they arrived quickly. First, there were two officers, than three, inside the store. They took the story of the Walmart man first. I had wanted to hear what my accuser was saying, but they would not let me. The employees then fixed their errors of the pricing, and then the officers left the store with me. They wanted my ID, but I didn’t see any reason to provide it, considering that I didn’t feel I had done anything wrong, other than exert my protection under Federal law to receive the pricing advertised on the shelf and items. Then they started giving me a hard time. They said to me that I couldn’t take the cart beyond the area (these things are limited with electronic stopping devices, anyways…), and so I went to get my stuff out of the cart. One officer grabbed and pushed down my backpack, so that I could not remove it from the cart. Then they started trumping up charges, saying I was yelling and disorderly conduct, and trespassing, saying I could be a serial killer, (no, I really wasn’t; I was just being targeted and discriminated against by Walmart (there have been many, many other incidents by them to me, some of which I’ve made reference to and have responded to them in their surveys). They said that they took the ID of the Walmart guy. They asked for my hand (no; not in marriage, but behind my back), and handcuffed me. The officer got my ID from my pocketbook; he said they needed it so that they could put it in the computer. He went into Walmart with it. When he came out, one of the officers asked, Anything? The other indicated no. The free bus picks up at Walmart, and I told them I was going to wait for the bus. Now, I don’t really know what is going on; if it’s just the store, or if I can ever wait for the free bus at the location, or not.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) protects consumers from such practices, known as bait and switch, since it had been a problem in the past, when sellers would advertise items at a certain price and then say they were, or actually be, out of stock on that item, or sell higher-priced items in their place. It’s some of the driving factor between stock numbers on cars being listed in ads, or rain checks for sold out items, etc. Mislabeling, with higher prices charged for the item in the package, or a shelf price which rings up higher at the register, would likely fall under the same parameters.
As they say, Caveat Emptor.
Update (September 23, 2019):
Today, within the past two hours, prior to 3:00 p.m., I waited in the plaza parking lot, the one in which Walmart is located, for the free public bus which picks up and disgorges passengers at this particular location. It is the only location, within quite a distance, to the next stop either before or after it, in this particular city bus route, and I saw no problem with waiting there to catch the bus. During the original incident, the manager who banned me from the Walmart store had only said to never set foot in the store again. He repeated, a second time, the same thing again, when the law enforcement officers showed up. Walmart had, to cover their steps, allowed me to purchase, through EBT, the items I requested, and had changed the prices to the correct ones, while the officers were present (but didn’t want to do so and really didn’t even want me to buy anything before their arrival — he’d snatched the bag away from me…). However, that manager had said, “After this (and with the officer present) … never set foot in this store again,” and I agreed not to, although I think it is severely discriminating against me for no reason. When I had gone outside, escorted by the officers, with my backpacks still in the cart, and my Walmart purchases, one of the officers had said, as I’d previously mentioned, that “this” (the cart), was their (Walmart’s) property. I said I know, and that was why, I said, I was going to remove my things from it. One of the officers pushed down on my backpack, with a few fingers, but he was strong, and I could not get my backpack out of the cart. After trying a bit more, and still being unable to, I just sat there. I now had an audience of five officers. They requested my ID, which I didn’t feel any reason was necessary to supply them with, since I’m sure both Walmart and the officers would recognize me, if I ever was in the store again. I felt that the officers were just there to make sure I exited the store, as requested, and to which I complied, and they escorted me out the door. Incident over. Compliance on my part. But, no… as I said, I felt that they were jacking up charges on me when I didn’t want to procure my ID. They said they had gotten one from the other guy (meaning the manager). I still said that I was complying and didn’t think I was doing anything wrong, and had even mentioned that it had been Walmart who was in the wrong, with their product (being in the wrong bag or mislabeled) pricing (and the Snickers bar), both of which Walmart corrected. They placed me in cuffs and said Yelling, Disorderly Conduct, Trespass… They talked about doing a fingerprint scan. I finally said okay, (being under these trumped-up charges), and the officer went in my purse (since my hands were cuffed) and got out my ID. He then went into Walmart with it. I never received anything in writing, either from Walmart, or from the law enforcement. Law enforcement said they would enter the information in their computer in case Walmart called again. I never received an incident report or a ticket or anything.
Today, while waiting for the free city bus, the same manager who had banned me very quickly from the store and had started this whole thing, came out and saw me. He then reappeared with a female Walmart employee who talked to me and said that they thought they had told me I couldn’t be on the property, and that this was their property (I was outside by the parking lot waiting for the bus). I have walked through the parking lot, since the initial incident, but I have not gone on the walkways (sidewalks) surrounding the Walmart, nor through the next little area where the soda machines outside are located. It is a commercial plaza with other businesses in it, which I do utilize. In fact, once, when I had gone to another store at this location, not too many days since the Walmart incident had happened, a sheriff, who had apparently been parked in the parking lot spot near the establishment, then came in after me, and had asked the manager if they were having any problems with the homeless (people). The manager said no, and then something else, which I didn’t hear.
Anyways, back to the story. Maybe all not quite verbatim, but in the spirit of everything said, just to disclaim myself if I mention something not quite right. Anyways… So, I said to the women that he (the manager standing there) had only said to me not to ever set foot in the store again. And I told her that I had not and was in compliance. She proceeded to tell me that the parking lot was Walmart property and she could “trespass” anybody she wanted, for any reason. She said Remember when you got that information? (I had never received anything…). I said I never was given anything. She said, when they got your information and entered it in the computer? I said that I had never been given anything, and that the manager had never said anything about Walmart property; just only never to set foot in the store again. She continued to insist that the parking lot is Walmart property, saying, as she walked down the ramp and touched her toes onto the parking lot, This is my property. I said, Walmart owns this? I thought it was owned by the plaza owner, and she agreed that was the case. Oh, I said, so Walmart doesn’t own it, but leases it? And she basically agreed. So, I said, well, than it’s not Walmart property. She said she’ll call the law enforcement if they see me there again and they’ll take me to jail. Now, I had been confused, since the law enforcement had trumped up to Yelling, disorderly conduct, and trespass, and there were contradictory “charges” going on, so I didn’t know if I could or couldn’t be on their entire property. I still felt I was in the right, since, at no time, did they warn me not to be on their property. But, now, this time, she is now saying that. I don’t think that is fair to tack onto the original charge, when there was no charge to begin with. I had told her that I wasn’t trespassing when I went into the store, so how was it possible for me to be trespassing, when I left the store, and have not been back into their store since? And she said she didn’t really know what the reason had been. And I told her, briefly, that it was Walmart who had incorrect prices, and that was all they banned me for (which is ALL Walmart’s fault), and they’re discriminating against me. Oh, and here comes the bus….
This ban affects me in many ways. While I do have a free bus pass for the regular county transit busses, the free city buses provide a needed and helpful service to someone like myself, since I commute door-to-door from that location, directly to a library. As stated, there are no other designated bus stops along the city route for quite a distance, either prior to or after the Walmart stop. I feel that I’m entitled to wait for the free bus and take it, just like anybody else. It is not their parking lot, unless the plaza owner also is affiliated in some way to Walmart, which I don’t know about, but doubt. She cannot ban me from a place which is not hers (or Walmart’s), and try to intimidate me or try to prevent me from using a free city bus to get around. I do have bags to carry, and must get around either by foot or by public transportation. By extending this initial charge to now encompass further charges, such a ban from the entire Walmart property, even the public lot, which may not even be theirs, and trying to limiting my access to these publicly-provided facilities goes way beyond the scope of this Walmart fiasco, which they started. I believe they are discriminating against me for being a homeless person with bags, or perhaps, unconsciously biased against my ethnicity as a Jewish person, or possibly even a combination of the two, a discriminated-against minority in society, as a whole, for just being Jewish, but without any minority rights. I have IBS, and taking away the Walmart bathroom, which I could previously use as the short-term regular customer I have been, prior to this incident, deprives me now, even more so, because I am homeless and do not have the same access to a bathroom, as compared to most regular people who have a place to live in do, and I have to hold off using a bathroom for much longer than I would have, given the Walmart option, previously. I try to buy a small thing from the other stores which will let me use their bathroom, just in order to use the bathroom, and not have them hating the homeless for using up their resources with no gain. These other locations are more than nice to my face and always say “Yes,” but still, I don’t want to be a bad stain on “homeless people’s” “name”… There is a county bus I could utilize, but that would involve more walking, a transfer, and is all-around more inconvenient. Still, I don’t think I should be harassed by these employees like this, for absolutely no reason at all. Also, banning me from Walmart takes away my food availability and convenience factors to get other food, even though there is another market not far from there, but I am often too tied to go even that short distance. So, they’ve limited my food choices. EBT allows only cold food to be purchased, unless the loophole places, such like convenience stores offer, such as heated frozen foods, using their microwave, etc., and as such, it limits my food choices, as is, with EBT. Add in the lack of stores from where I can purchase, such as Walmart is doing by banning me from their store, and this is really curtailing my food choices, leading me into a sort of cycle of being too tired to hunt down nourishment, but needing better nutrients to keep going. Yes, there is a soup kitchen; and, it’s the same thing. It’s even further, and I get tired and find it difficult to schlepp with all my bags in weather. Being homeless, the only places you can go are to a park or a library, or you’re otherwise considered loitering and tend to get harassed by the law enforcement. Many get ticketed for this. Even though I coincidentally recently read that Walmart often wins its discrimination cases, I’m thinking perhaps I might sue them. Then, I feel, that the law enforcement will ratchet up anything against me in the interim until the case gets heard and make me look bad. This is the perception of intimidation I feel – – as if we are living in a police state. But, the Walmart employees have been very hostile to me all throughout my shopping experiences there, with the exception of the very first few beginning days, when I told you before, that the nice, Hispanic customer service lady had been an exceptional employee – – but she seems to no longer be there.