On February 4th , 2022 at approximately 1 pm today during my lunch break I went to Walmart at 3580 Memorial Drive, Decatur GA 30032 to shop for groceries/ essentials before the freeze that was happening to Atlanta that night. I left around 4:30pm. Why? Because of Walmart’s discriminatory practices where I was profiled, illegally detained at the door, considered and treated as a criminal, and when I asked for my money back; upon being told I could not have my refund; I was refused my receipt even though my items had been placed back on the shelf. I was forced to contact police, and was finally given my stapled receipt to return to Walmart the next day to be refunded over $400 dollars all because of a $6.11 case of eggs that did not fit in a bag.
So, to put this in perspective, my partner and I usually shop at Walmart together dressed in our work attire. We purchase big ticket items all the time that I can prove with my Walmart account. We also shop at Sam’s (where you agree to show your receipt with your membership) and just last month purchased two televisions over 65 inches a piece. We were loyal to Walmart. Usually, when accosted at the door to check our receipt we tell the “Greeter” no thank you and carry on with our business with no issue. Today, I was alone, dressed down in green sweatpants, red rain boots and a grey sweatshirt and my hair was teal. I was tacky and not well put together. I had just taken my children to school and visited the doctor’s office with my son who had sprung his ankle before stopping in during my lunch as I worked remotely with my laptop in tow.
Also, just for frame of reference, I had recently received a refund from Walmart where I had placed and online order from this store and the shopper mis-shopped my item. I was given 1 item instead of 2. During that call to Walmart I explained how bad my local store is and how they show no regard for the people they serve. I explained the money I spent regularly there and how I had been inconvenienced on multiple occasions by their lack of care and incompetence. To this, the call center representative assured me that someone would deal with the concern and he was taking notes. This would never happen again. I knew it wasn’t true, but at least he offered me customer service in that moment. I knew that I would eventually be forced to call the store and ask for a manager to open some lanes and assist his customers again while standing in a line there myself as I had done countless times.
Anyways, I completed my shopping and with so much in my cart and having already gone over with my lunch time I went to a register instead of self-checkout because I needed assistance. I was on the phone with my partner via a Bluetooth headset and commented to him that there was only one cashier even though the line was long and there were a number of people in the store. That one cashier was moving extremely slow to ring up people. I at this time told my partner, “It’s a million employees standing around with only 1 register open! They’re forcing people to go through self-checkout. That’s why their moving so slow. Everyone is just standing around the exits. This is trifling.”
Eventually due to the length of the line I assume, another register was opened. I was the first person in that line. I moved quickly to check out my items even grabbing a second cart so that I could load what I would leave with and leave the other buggy at customer service as I had found the second one. I’m always strategic here because I don’t want any problems. I couldn’t help notice however, just how slow both cashiers were ringing the groceries. There was a pace to their scanning where at one point they even appeared to get on the same scheduling with the beeps as they rung up groceries. I reminded my husband of the Dave Chapelle Show skit where Dave Chappelle joked about the poor customer service at a copy store near him. “I am the manager!” I said to him jokingly, making light of the predicament.
Even though I felt my time had been wasted and I was already disgusted at the unjust, unfair, horrible discriminatory practices taking place in my local Walmart; my back yard that I was viewing first hand; my main focus at the time was to get back to work where I attempt to serve the citizens of DeKalb County with respect and understanding without regard to their financial situation , race, color, creed, age, sexual orientation, etc. I use my best customer service tools in my dealings at my job because I recognize the symbiotic relationship between myself and my customers as they allow me to serve them. They get assistance and I get to provide for my family. This is how “All lives/ Black Lives Matter. Because I treat the predominantly black communities I serve with the same consideration that I would give any community I serve. I must start with me. And I needed to get back to work to do my part. I headed for the door.
When the greeter called I did as I have done countless times before and said “no thank you” and proceeded to walk through the door. I was called again and I again said “no thank you” with an attitude. It was at this time that 3 Walmart employees; a “greeter”, someone who later identified herself as a manager, and Officer Powell of loss prevention stepped in front of my cart blocking me from exiting the establishment. I had been stopped and detained like a criminal without justifiable reason after their own employee had rung up my groceries and I had switched carts ensuring nothing was “missed”, and paid for all of my groceries.
It was at this time that I was asked for my receipt once again and I sad “No. You have already wasted enough of my time. I’m not doing this! A greeter cannot stop me!” At this point the woman who later identified herself as a manager said, “Ma’am it’s their job to stop you and ask for a receipt! The eggs are not in a bag” To which I retorted, their title is “Greeter” not “receipt checker”! And your cashier checked me out at a register.” At this time the woman I later found out was Officer Powell asked for my receipt. I pulled it out my pocket and said “Have it, and give me my money back!”
I was noticeably upset and I did rant about how much money I spend at Walmart and Sam’s on the way to customer service to receive my refund. I told them I was a loyal customer and how dare they act as though I was a thief and embarrass me; accosting me over an $8 (later found the eggs were $6.11)box of eggs after I had spent over $400 in their store where they wasted my time and mistreated their customers. The cashier who had just rung me up attempted to let them know she completed my transaction as I passed her. She was sweet even then. I believe that all along she had simply been following the procedure set forth in the store to move slow and inadvertently force people to go to self-checkout. However, I was thrown a barrage of “You sound crazy”, “Ma’am calm down!”, and “You being belligerent” from the supervisor and Officer Powell as they took the stance that I (The woman shopping and paying for my items who knows their “Greeters” have no right or reason to stop me) was the problem and not them and their horrible discriminatory practices and non-customer service to the citizens of DeKalb County.
When we got to customer service I waited for them to process my refund. At this point, the manager and Officer Powell along with a female cashier and the one saving grace: a Department Manager named Terry were all dealing with me and returning my items. As Terry appeared to be customer driven in his attempts to calm me, I spoke with him. I let him know that my computer was in my car and I needed to work while they processed the return because I knew it would take a while. He said “That’s fine. Do what you have to do!” and I went along.
Having at very least done my job I was calmer when I returned although I knew I hadn’t eaten all day and I had taken insulin earlier. I rationalized maybe my blood pressure was high from the interaction so I purposely tried to calm down. At last, It was time for me to swipe my Snap Benefits card. I swiped and put in my pin number. The system stated that I had entered the wrong pin. They all looked to me as if I were sabotaging my own request for a refund. The cashier who had already been rude and defensive having stated “I didn’t do it. You not gone talk to me like that” as if it were my job to show her customer service in her place of business; each time I swiped said “You entered the wrong pin.” I did this 3 times and assured them the pin was correct. As I had been treated like a criminal and perceived as less then to them, to defend my name and my honor which I now realize I should never have had to do; I was already on trial and being judged by these people as if I was guilty until I could prove myself innocent; I volunteered to go make a purchase (and spend money at their establishment once again when I never wanted to spend another dime with them; hence the request for a refund in the first place) and used my pin in front of the manager so she could swipe and enter the pin to process the return proving I was not the issue at this time either. My gum purchase went through. The manager took my Snap Benefits Card and swiped for the return repeatedly to no avail.
I was embarrassed, confused, insulted, and felt robbed; strong arm robbed at that. But I told myself, they would not make me cry. I was out here alone and being harassed in a store I visited of my own free will as if I volunteered to be a prisoner for the time I was there. I came to the realization that even though this was happening to me in this moment, this was not personal to me. This is how this Walmart treats the citizens of South DeKalb County. This was bigger than I could ever be. I simply fit the profile on this day that I was dressed down and I got the full experience. It was at some point during this time that I was 1st given the option to go back through the store and re-shop the items on my receipt… again. To this I replied “No! I shopped the first time.” Horrible!
I heard the Manager say to the cashier and “Officer Powell”, “At this point I just want to say have a nice day!” I said, “Had you have said that in the first place we wouldn’t even be here!” She rolled her eyes and handed me my SNAP Benefits card back and told me to call Walmart via telephone. I said, “So let me get this straight? You can’t give me my SNAP Benefits refund?” To which the cashier chimed in and attempted to “man-splain” how refunds work advising that it’s all one thing and if they can’t process part of the refund they can’t process any of the refund. I told her “I don’t need that, I need my money. So you’re not giving me any of it.” She said “No” I said “OK! Bet!” and proceeded to leave but turned around because I had not been given the receipt for the items I had purchased and they had already restocked.
I returned and asked for the receipt. The manager stated that I could not have the receipt. “Officer” Powell said to her “You can’t do that!” to which the manager then whispered something to Powell. I began saying “Oh so now I’m being held hostage by way of the receipt you’re holding hostage” to bring them to the point where I was initially held hostage at the door. I couldn’t finish my sentence before Officer Powell stated “Ma’am you sound crazy. You just left a few minutes ago!” To which I replied “You all just held up productivity in your store utilizing 3 people like I was a criminal when no crime was committed and had to return over $400 worth of merchandise over a $8 box of eggs. But I sound crazy”? I was done and ready to go home. However, during this time it appeared the cashier remembered her job as a cahier even though in my mind it was too little and too late and said “I’ll do it. I’ll go to the register and itemize all this stuff”. I was thinking, "Are you upset that I did a big shop in your retail store?" It was pure insanity. She took the receipt and went to a register to process my return. At this time around 3:24pm I called the police.
Police arrived on Scene before 3:40pm. They asked for my side of the story and went inside to speak with the Walmart Associates involved. Terry came outside again performing optimal customer service and checking on me. Soon after police returned to ask that I swipe my SNAP Benefits Card for the return. Again, it would not process. The Walmart Representatives were laughing and making jokes while processing the return as if they didn’t care at all about what they had done to me. As if of course… this was a regular day and occurrence at the neighborhood Walmart. At one point the cashier asked Officer Powell a question where she retorted indignantly, “I don’t know. I don’t have a EBT card!” to which they all laughed as if I were lesser for receiving SNAP Benefits which were the P-EBT benefits that the government put in place to help children during CoVID.
The cashier then again advised that I could go and re-shop the items on the receipt. I didn’t respond to the insanity coming out of her mouth that time. The store manager was called. I can’t tell you his name because he never introduced himself. As a matter of fact, he never said two words to me at all. He never asked what was going on, how could he help me, had the representatives before him been helpful… nothing. So I knew that no type of reprimand was going to be given to any of these people. Nothing was going to be done about this horrible situation and at the end of the day I had to at very least appreciate the fact that he didn’t B.S. me like the representative on the phone did a couple weeks back. How twisted?
I was given the option to receive a Walmart Gift Card. To which I replied “No. I don’t shop at Walmart anymore”. They then said, “But you can use it at Sam’s!” and I stated “Same company. I don’t shop at Sam’s after this either Hun!” At this point the tension had softened and the cashier started being helpful and called the EBT Hotline from her own phone for me to figure out what was wrong after I let her know I didn’t know anything about the process and was going to be useless if I had to call SNAP on my own.
Upon reaching someone at SNAP a little after 4:15 pm, we were informed that the return more than likely triggered the lock card procedure of suspicion of fraud since I had just purchased the items and so soon afterwards attempted to process a return. My SNAP Card had been flagged for fraud and would unlock itself at 12pm midnight. I couldn’t even purchase what I believed I would purchase at Aldi’s with a locked card. The government tried to help me and Walmart still forced me to spend cash that could have gone to my electric bill.
At this time the cashier advised that she would process a return in the morning if I returned after stapling my receipt together where I can not scan the bar code to put the receipt in my Walmart App for some reason that I can only associate with their belief that I was in some way a criminal. I guess they had to see it through even though they had no proof of my criminality, and no reason or right to treat me this way. She kindly advised of her work hours the next day and I left the store at 4:23 pm with a headache and my stomach growling having missed my timeframe to eat on my special diet for high blood pressure and diabetes.
The worst part about this is that later on that evening my husband walked out of Walmart with a case of eggs and a pair of house shoes; un-bagged and the greeter let him pass without conflict. She didn't even ask to see his receipt. We have video of it. He was dressed how we are normally dressed when we go to Walmart.
Now it is February 5th , 2022 and I am supposed to walk back into Walmart to get my refund. But I can’t. I never want to see this place again; let alone the inside of this store. The thought of stepping inside that Walmart right now has me in tears. I don’t want to see those people, that place, that prison. I have never been treated so horribly in my entire life. I am in disbelief. There is a sadness inside of me that grows as I remember this and am unable to get it out of my head. People that looked like me; black and brown people; some of them of the GBLTQIA population such as myself used their “perceived” power as “Walmart Associates” to hurt me in my own back yard; in my own neighborhood where I had previously had no issues and had only been helped, assisted, looked after and cared for by the very people who they perceived as criminals and set in place procedure to discriminate against them. The people in my neighborhood did not ever strong arm rob me and force me to travel outside of my neighborhood to reach Publix where I knew I would at very least be treated like a human being regardless of their business practices. And I still had to spend cash because my card was locked. Walmart strong arm robbed me in my neighborhood. They were the criminal and they were the gun. The citizens of South DeKalb deserve so much better. I deserved so much better.