secretshameI am about to come out of the shopper shame closet. I hope you're sitting down. My name is Angie and I am a secret Wal-Mart shopper.

A secret Wal-Mart shopper is not to be confused with a Wal-Mart secret shopper, mind you.

A secret shopper is a person who offers his employer a glimpse at what a real customer would experience, and generally the employees never even know they have been "shopped."

But as a secret Wal-Mart shopper, I do not hide my identity to the people at the store (though I feel a little dirty, shopping there, not gonna lie--but seriously? Sometimes my inner cheapskate comes out and drags me there, reminding me that there is no reason to pay more money for the exact same item I can buy elsewhere just because I have Wal-Mart shame. Don't judge me. I just don't see any logic to it.

However, it's safe to say that there is a certain lack of concern for customer service, at least in some Wal-Mart stores in my area.

Goodbye, forever?

walmart5Well, one evening a couple weeks ago, I thought I was finally ready to end my secret Wal-Mart affair. I'd spent more than an hour gathering up $500 worth of groceries, household items, toiletries and school uniforms for my kids (all under one roof, and that was enough food to feed my family for literally three weeks!)

Again. I just can't help myself. I'd have spent at least twice that if I'd bought all of that locally.

And then, I waited in a single line with 16, 17, 18 other customers, a line that over the course of ten minutes kept me in the same spot but continued to get longer.

If I didn't need all that stuff, I swear I'd have walked right out of there!

Proof of the power of social media: I am writing this post in which I am publicly admitting my secret and tawdry affair with Wal-Mart.

A man next to me in the line who was really sweet and totally reminded me of some awesome outdoorsy dad type offered me his place in line, even though my cart was formidable and would clearly cost him an extra 30 minutes in line, if this checker was really moving as slowly as she appeared to be.

She seemed to be in slow motion. It was making me a little testy. Ha, that might be an understatement.

I thanked him and politely refused the offer, pointing out the whole cart thing.

The Tweet of Defiance: My Pseudo-Dramatic Social Media Moment

Anyhoo, that was about the time I decided to tweet my displeasure about this situation with a bold shout out to @WalMart. I was feeling all kinds of bold and justified.

After my tweet of defiance, I noticed that within 3 or 4 minutes, like three new lines opened right up.

I am not saying it was the tweet. I am just saying it was a super fun coincidence if not.

I looked around at the relieved congestion and the people feeling less stuck and the mood lightening and smiled. (Meanwhile inside my head, I'm feeling like I am some kind of Wal-Mart shopper super hero, like my mad social media skills totally saved the freaking day. Like, I reached out and told on them via Twitter, and Mama Wal-Mart made them play nice...ahh....)

But really--I know, it could be a coincidence.

Well, then what should've and almost did permanently end my secret Wal-Mart affair happened...I came face to face with the checkout girl, who, by the way was an absolutely gorgeous teenager.

Unfortunately, her mother nor her employer had taught her how to talk to people. The first thing she said to me, after announcing "there's no waiting on 10," was, "uh ma'am, I'm closed."

That was about the time I almost cried and started a public scene at Wal-Mart, totally blowing my secret cover. This was so unlike me, but damned if I didn't just give up my spot in that other line that had refilled my spot and gone four big carts deeper.

It was a hard day, y'all, and it was nearly 10 p.m. at this point. I just wanted to go home.

walmartI guess the beautiful checkout girl sensed my desperation, because she took pity on me and allowed me to stay.

I got this impression she was trying to leave, because she then informed me that she had seen me in the aisle earlier and she felt sorry for the checkout person who "got me."

You know, because I was buying so much stuff...from the store...that she works at...ahem.

No seriously, she really said that. At least the part about feeling sorry for the checker (herself, as it turned out--karma's a bitch, ain't she?).

My #1 Customer Service Tip to Anyone Who Gets Paid by a Store, Shop or Other Business That Depends on My Money: Don't make me feel guilty for spending it there!

That was about the time I told her that if I worked at Wal-Mart, I'd love customers who come in and spend that kind of cheddar on a semi regular basis (don't judge me! It's usually once quote month or less and I totally support my local businesses, too...but please note that I personally know a few people who have worked at Wal-Mart over the years, and that, in my opinion, counts as supporting locals.
 
Heck, I worked for American Studios, the company that previously subcontracted as Wal-Mart's portrait studios, in my college and slightly post college years. I personally never worked for Wal-Mart but I suppose I would've never had those opportunities (and back then, top notch training) were it not for uncle Sam (Walton).

Plus, I am interested in this whole mother's day campaign that is featuring products from woman owned companies, but I am saving that for another post.

(Which reminds me, tune in all week to find out what I'll be revealing about myself at Queenbeeing.com - it's related...sorta. But it's definitely huge.)
 
So, the checker sort of redeemed herself by getting all the groceries in bags and helping me load them into the cart. That was cool...except that she also made me feel like I should have apologized for buying stuff from her employer...but I think if I were her employer, I would want to, I don't know, teach these people to stop acting like they hate their customers.
 
But here is why, at present, I haven't broken up with Wal-Mart yet!
 
Wal-Mart's Social Media Geniuses: I can't quit you!
 
Like I said, maybe it was just a coincidence that directly after I tweeted, the floodgates (aka checkout stands) miraculously opened up. But then again, maybe not. See, once I got home, I noticed that Wal-Mart had tweeted me back!

After thanking the Wal-Mart tweeter, I got this:


As a total social media geek, I just can't quit a company that has that kind of sharp customer service on its side--despite the fact that it sells its products for "irresponsibly low" prices, according to Daniel Tosh. (And come on, that's a whole lot of the reason I can't stop, let's be honest!)

With all of this being said, I'm fully prepared to have the Wal-Mart hating-party rain down its disdain on me--I can take it. Let me have it--I deserve it. I hate myself for loving Walmart.

How do you feel about Wal-Mart? Let me hear it in the comments section, below!

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