This is going to be long and ranty, so buckle up, children.
I had a lovely stay with the Bree half of Moira Rogers, and I did get to meet the Donna half more than once. She’s fabulous, as is her counterpart. Both their husbands are charming. I enjoyed myself immensely; that part of my trip to Alabama was fantastic. But I needed some alone time to really dig into this book. If interesting people are around, I want to chat, not work, so I removed myself to a hotel for the last few days I’m in town. At this point, you’re thinking it’s all roses, right?
Well, I was writing away today when I got an email from my husband. He tells me there’s a problem with the Peru trip; they require passports to be six months from expiration before they can book the trip. Do I want to miss a company-paid trip to Peru? HELL NO. Plus, I should / need to go to add detail to Shady Lady when I get copyedits back. This is not just a fun trip, though it will surely be that. Assuming I survive the hoop-jumping. So my passport only has four months left on it; it expires in December.
So I immediately use my Google-fu to find an agency that can expedite the order and get me a new passport next week. I find one that is recommended by Forbes magazine. (We leave on August 26th.) Don’t do this if you have any other choice, by the way. It costs an insane amount, on top of the governmental fees. But I am between the proverbial rock and a hard place today, so I start getting things together.
I should’ve known it was not gonna be like a hot knife through butter when it took me half an hour to print all the required forms and documents in the Holiday Inn business center. That was due to computer mess. Note to Holiday Inn, you should NOT buy E-Machines, seriously. These are the jankiest machines on the market.
So I finally get this stuff ready to go. It’s 4:30pm now, but I still need to get a passport photo taken. The agent at the front desk tells me that she thinks Wal-Mart does them, and there’s one right up the road. So I call the Wal-Mart to confirm. The woman on the phone assures me, “Yes, we do passport photos.” I ask, “Is there a certain cut-off time? Like before five or six?” Because I’m not sure how long it will take me to get there. She replies, “No, they do them until 9pm.”
I’m pleased. The cabbie is quick and prompt (later Randy will save my bacon). The Wal-Mart is, indeed, right up the road, so he drops me off, and I promise to call when I’m done. Thus, begins my descent into hell. It started slow. I went into the money center and got a money order. The line was long, but I did get the money order. (I have a checking account, but I literally have no printed checks. I use my debit card for everything or I just use Bank of America’s BillPayer to cut a check for me. So an agency that requires this form of payment, well, it has to be a money order.) I got the $200 MO, government fees for the passport, rush, and the passport card.
This taken care of, I go back to the photo center. Dear Mercy. Nobody was there. I waited 5-10 minutes before she came back and I asked to have a passport photo done. The clerk replied, “I don’t know how to do that.”
Utterly nonplussed, because I CALLED to confirm beforehand, I ask, “Well, can you call someone who does know?”
I wait another 10-15 minutes. The supervisor comes to the back, where I am waiting, once more alone. She says, “What’s wrong wit’ you?” (Awesome customer service by the way. I think she thought it was a complaint.)
I said, “I just need a passport photo taken and I was assured on the phone you could do it at this location until 9pm. Surely someone in the store has been trained. A manager?”
She then gets on the phone to call a manager. I wait another 10 minutes. The manager comes. “Nobody knows how to do this, ma’am, but the girl who is supposed to be working called in to say she’s running late and will be in at 6.”
It’s now 5:30 btw. So I’ve already been waiting close to 45 minutes. I say okay, what’s half an hour more at this point, and I go buy the blue pen I need to sign all the forms and eat supper at Subway. I read some of THE KNIFE OF NEVER LETTING GO on my Kindle. At 6:10, I reckon Ebony ought to be at work by now, so I go back to the photo center. Sadly, there is nobody there. Again. I wait until 6:45. She never comes. The manager never checks back on me. Nobody apologizes for my time or inconvenience. Shame on you, Wal-Mart! This is the one at 1600 Montclair Rd, Irondale, AL, btw. Feel free to boycott them. If they couldn’t serve me as promised, they should’ve done something to make up for the trouble I went to.
At this point, I give up. I look for other alternatives, because I must get these photos done today. I speak to a woman at Kinkos and she promises they can help me. I am not feeling hopeful. I call Randy, who comes to get me. We go to Kinkos but it’s almost 14 miles away. In a cab. So, yeah. You can imagine what that cost, there and back.
I do get the photos made. But I lost two hours of my work day, plus all that cabfare, because Wal-Mart is the devil. There are no words for how much I hate them right now.
Yeah, that’s some crappy customer service all right. You oughta put this in a complaint form on their website. When I did it, they had an option to pinpoint the particular store.
Hope you have fun in Peru once you get there.
That is just bad for business, what were they thinking?! I totally boycott them, of course that is easy for me since I have never seen a wallmart, but still, boycott
Ann Aguirre says
I took your advice, MaryK. Dunno if it will do any good, but I said my piece at least. And if it doesn’t, well, I’m still telling the world.
Ann, I am so glad you talked back to the company. Please let us know how they respond. They have a store near me that has always been helpful to this fluffy little old lady.
O, from someone who has worked as a customer support rep, if someone does a good job, let the boss know.
I have a Wal-Mart up the street from me and I frequent it quite often. That is to say, I go in, get the products that I need, use self-check out and leave – all without dealing with one Wal-Mart employee. I think it’s been years since I’ve even tried to get customer service out anyone at a Wal-Mart. If I can’t do it all myself, I go to Target.
Sorry to hear about your walmart experiance. I shop at that one alot but have never needed passport pictures made. It is extremely frustration when they lie to you on the phone about their services and you hold them to their word.
Sorry to hear about that! What an unpleasant experience. But I hope you have a great time in Peru!
I know it’s too late now, but for future reference in case you didn’t know, CVS also does passport photos.
Oh Ann, that so sucks–all around, from the expense to the wasted time to the frustration!
Personally, I do what J-me does, to the letter. Trying to get customer service from them is… well, hell.
Ann Aguirre says
So far, nothing but silence from Wal-Mart. There might have been a CVS closer, but honestly, at that point, I was ready to drive 14 miles for someone who knew what was what. And the guy at Kinkos took five minutes from picture snap to paying at the front. (It’s not a bad shot, either, for a passport photo.)
Sorry to hear about your aweful experience! It seems like someone should be able to call them on the carpet for false advertising, every time I see one of their commercials I snort and go yeah right. But yeah, when I shop there, I don’t hold my breath for help. But upside! at least you have a wonderful trip planned to wipe that bad experience away!
BTW: I am chomping at the bit for Killbox! Just 21 more days! I also can’t wait for Razorland… i shouldn’t have read that 1st chapter! Can’t wait 🙂
Carolyn Jewel says
Oh, Ann, I’m so sorry to hear about this experience!
This is the downside of paying employees crap money and no benefits. They don’t care. They’re not being paid enough to care. Shame on companies for doing this.
Fingers crossed for your Peru trip and I’m looking forward to some great stories and pictures!
I have to agree with the other posters about Walmart, but some times you get lucky and the employee you deal with hasn’t had their soul sucked out by a crappy job yet.
Have fun in Peru.
Yep. That is some bad customer service. :\ 2 hour wait = not acceptable at all.
I have used CVS for the passport photos. They were OK. People at least knew how to do it, and there was a do-it-yourself option if you had a digital camera and had taken your picture against a white wall already.
Sadly, that kind of customer service is mostly par for the Walmart course. The one nearest me has improved in the last month or so because it had nowhere to go but up. Before that, HA! No one would have even come back to check on you.
Sorry your visit ended on an icky note. 🙁 We’re supposed to be hospitable here in the sunny South.
Alana Abbott says
Kudos to Kinkos for solving your problem quickly. 🙂 I always go to AAA if I need passport photos done, thus avoiding the retail sphere all together. I hope there weren’t further problems with the passport app!
Jeff Hess says
You’re wrong about the devil bit. Walmart is a symptom, not the disease. For that you need to look to the people who brought you our Great Recession.
The Writing On The Wal
I personally do not shop at Walmart because I know that their employees are untrained and doing the job of 3 different people because the actual store manager does not want to hire enough people (to keep payroll down).
I would rather pay an extra dollar for an item and shop at Target or Publix for groceries.
So while I totally empathize with your situation and feel your frustration, your flippant line “At 6:10, I reckon Ebony ought to be at work by now, so I go back to the photo center ” really rubbed me the wrong way.
Really ‘Ebony’? Why Ebony? Why not “At 6:10, I reckon Jenny ought to be at work by now, so I go back to the photo center ”
Food for thought.
P.S The above poster says it correctly, Walmart is a symptom of a great disease in our society.
Ann Aguirre says
“Really ‘Ebony’? Why Ebony? Why not “At 6:10, I reckon Jenny ought to be at work by now, so I go back to the photo center'”
Why not Jenny, ma’am? Her name was Ebony, according to coworkers and her boss. So that would be why. They advised me, “Ebony called to say she’d be late, but that she’ll be here by six.”
Your judgment of my recounting of the facts is also, as you put it, food for thought.
Not judgement, just rather put off by your tone in your original post and reconciling it with the author of 2 books that I love.
I see in another part of your blog you also made reference to ‘white trash’ so I am guessing this is just how you communicate.
Maybe it is my advanced age, however it just seems what passes for sarcasm and humor is just tactless and not ladylike.
But all in all, this is your blogsite, so of course you can type what you want.
I will stick to amazon.com in looking for upcoming release dates on your paranormal romance series.
Generally if I love a book, I try to research the author to see what other books/genres they’ve written in, and what books they like so I can get ideas on what to read next.
I see that won’t be the case here! All in all, Skin Game and Skin Heat were wonderfully written books with great characters. Keep up the good work, and I am awaiting the new title.