PEORIA -- If you buy a defective product at Wal-Mart that has a warranty beyond Wal-Mart’s 90-day return policy, you’re on your own.
Despite what it claims, Wal-Mart won’t help you.
Even if it would cost more to mail the product back for repair than it cost originally.
Case No. 1: In late July 2007 I bought a $79 Coleman PowerChill Cooler at the Peoria Wal-Mart, 3315 N. University. It takes the place of a messy ice cooler in the car, and plugs into the auxiliary outlet to keep its contents cool.
Since then I have used it three times. On the first two times it worked fine. But last week it failed. The connector apparently melted (is that a fire hazard?) and it won’t run in the car, and it also won’t run when plugged into the power supply cord that plugs into the electric outlet in the wall. I did not abuse this product in any way, and am mystified as to why it suddenly failed.
There’s no way to replace the plug and cord – it’s attached to the unit, an obvious design flaw that I didn’t realize until I had taken it home and unpacked it from the box. Oh yeah -- it's also made in China.
It carries a one-year warranty, plainly written on its box, which I had saved. I also found the receipt.
Today I took it back to Wal-Mart and was told to forget it, I’m on my own. Wal-Mart won’t swap it for another, take it back and sell me an even more expensive version, or pay to mail it back for repair. Tough luck!
That’s in spite of a sign on the store wall saying Wal-Mart will assist customers with defective products that have warranties longer than the 90-day return policy.
That’s a lie.
A clerk checked in the company computer – no results. So Wal-Mart sold a product that may have started a fire, but they have no information on it, not even a contact with Coleman.
(I plan to complain to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, but if it lets children be exposed to lead, I doubt it cares about this.)
There’s an 800-number for Coleman on the box – I’ll call that after the holidays but I’m not optimistic
Case No. 2: The other day, before the Cooler meltdown, I bought an inexpensive DVD player at another Wal-Mart, planning to hook it up to an old TV set in a bedroom.
Here’s what Wal-Mart doesn’t tell you: these won’t work with old TV sets. Also needed: a device called an RF Modulator that costs nearly as much as the DVD player.
I wasted at least an hour trying to get the DVD player to work, even running it through a VCR. That didn’t work, as the article explains, thanks to the greed of the entertainment industry..
It’s going back to Wal-Mart ASAP.
I’ve read about how Wal-Mart abuses its employees, drives small retailers out of town, exploits third and fourth world workers and all the rest. I figured there’s no point in totally boycotting Wal-Mart, just as you don’t boycott the zoo because tigers attack and kill people. That’s what tigers do.
Wal-Mart is the capitalist tiger, playing by the rules that the government sets, presumably based on informed consent of the majority (though that’s not a given, when you consider the way the Bush administration got into power).
But when a retailer sells products to consumers in a deceptive manner, doesn’t disclose important facts, doesn’t back up its own, posted warranty rules – it’s not just a tiger, it’s a rabid tiger. Consumers, beware!
-- Elaine Hopkins