Review: Be Prepared for Problems

by Odysseas Papadimitriou on November 28, 2011

While the tradition of stores being veritable zoos on Black Friday continued this year – news reports describe consumers getting pepper sprayed, trampled, and even shot – many people turned to the Web for their Thanksgiving purchasing, hoping to score the same deals without the lines, bodily harm, and overall hassle. Unfortunately, this approach did not help customers save money or live better, as we all learned the hard way. You see, before learning of the technical problems that plagued the retailer’s website on Black Friday, forcing shoppers to look elsewhere to complete their purchases, I had quite the adventure when trying to purchase a digital gift card.

My ordeal began on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving when I placed my Wal-Mart electronic gift card order. It’s important to note from the start that I opted to get a digital gift card precisely because the person I was buying it for wanted to purchase a TV from on Black Friday. In order words, time was a factor. After providing my payment information and completing the transaction, I received an e-mail confirmation, saying that the gift card would be delivered to the recipient’s inbox within a few hours. Everything was going according to plan.

But hours came and went, with no gift card to be found in the recipient’s inbox or spam folder. On Wednesday afternoon, I sent a message to technical support asking for an update. Not only did the response come in the form of an automated message, but it was an automated message that did nothing to answer my primary question: Where is the gift card that I paid for?

I therefore had to send a message to inquire about my message, which finally resulted in me getting a call from a real live person looking to verify some basic information a few hours later. This is when the real fun began.

When I returned the call less than an hour later, I found that their verification department had closed for the day and would not reopen until Black Friday. Are you kidding me? During one of the busiest retail periods of the year, there was no customer service? When did Black Friday turn into April Fools Day?

With no one from the verification department to be found, I called’s main customer service department, at which point I started receiving random excuses for why the gift card had yet to be delivered, including the contention that my credit card was to blame. A quick call to my credit card company proved this idea false, however.

After calling customer service yet again, I was told that it would take 1-2 business days to process my order. Not only did this stand to prevent the recipient of my gift from taking advantage of a Black Friday deal and defeat the purpose of getting a digital gift card to begin with, but it also completely contradicted the original confirmation e-mail I received which promised delivery in hours, rather than processing in days. In addition, the idea that it takes 1-2 days to process a digital gift card order is completely out of whack with the policies of every other major online retailer.

So, to make a long, long story short, I had talked to four different Wal-Mart customer service reps by this point, including a supervisor named Marie (the rudest and least informed of the bunch, by the way) and was no closer to getting my gift card.

Eventually, on my final Hail Mary phone call on Wednesday night, a nice representative who knew what to look for confirmed that the card had been e-mailed. Finally, my ordeal was over. Guess what I received two days later though? An e-mail saying to allow 24-48 hours for delivery of the card. Though the recipient had already received the card, this communication simply serves to underscore the issues has been having and the need for significant changes to be made.

Ultimately, it’s clear that’s customer service and e-commerce departments are significantly flawed, with the biggest issues being the following:

  • Multiple systems/departments that don’t communicate with one another: In the course of trying to buy a single e-gift card, I received a number of contradictory e-mails and statements from employees, clearly displaying how disjointed different Wal-Mart departments are. The fact that this continued even after the recipient had received the gift card is certainly not a good sign either.
  • Lack of experience with digital goods: A company with a deep e-commerce background does not experience widespread server failures and website issues on an expectedly busy shopping holiday, nor does it need 1-2 days to process an e-gift card (basically sending an e-mail).
  • Horrendous customer service: Not only were Wal-Mart’s customer service representatives poorly trained, but some of them were even rude and completely unable to resolve a simple issue.

I think it’s fair to say that unless significantly overhauls its e-commerce operations, this aspect of the company’s business will shrink rather than grow moving forward. They better produce some quick results too or more and more consumers will have negative experiences trying to do their holiday shopping and, like me, will decide not to shop with again.


Yolana Isham
DON'T DO IT!!! I always read reviews before I make an online purchase, and I saw that the Walmart egift card had bad feedback but I thought I would try it anyway. Their website says that the gift card will be emailed within 4 hours but that is so untrue. I ordered an eGift Card for my granddaughter who lives in another state so she can go school shopping for her school uniforms yesterday at 1 p.m. it is now 7:45 p.m. the next day and she still has not received the gift card. When I called Walmart customer service, they told me that the gift cards are issued through a third party company and they have no way to call them. Now they're asking me to wait 48 hours to receive the card. It is false advertisement and they have no remedies in place to resolve issues when the car to not sent out. My granddaughter start school on Wednesday and now I either have to send extra money and try to get a refund which will take 7 days for Walmart to process or just continue to wait.
August 18 at 02:50 am
Chuck Smith
I got my 100.00 E Card from Walmart late in Jan of 2014 after all kinds of phone calls to Walmart (Thanksgiving 2013 purchase of I Pad) then in late March 2014 I went to use the card it had no balance nothing 000.00 I was shocked Walmart said I forgot I used it (YA RIGHT I SLEEP WALKED AND USED IT YA) I made so many calls had rude customer service reps etc finally one helped me and said my card was used to purchase 2 T Mobile gift cards in early March 50,00 each and were sent to an address in PA.(I live in FL.) so with address in hand I filed a complaint with guess what never got my 100.00 back they said I purchased the cards sent them to a PA. address and now I want credit they did nothing and until this day in 2015 now I never got anything and when I call they just ignore me and say I used the card and that is final !!! now just last week I had a return to Walmart (30+ dollars )to site to store I did return and now I have not had it go back to my PP account and Walmart has no record I returned the item and my paper work I got says nothing of the fact I gave them the item or a credit was given
March 8 at 22:09 pm
Patricia LaRose
HA HA HA I got you beat. I've been trying to get a $50 e gift card since mid December. Got all kinds of excuses. Lots of blank e gift card emails. Mine was suppose to be part of an online purchase as a reward for buying the item.
February 7 at 04:34 am
i'm still waiting for an e-card. i wondered how it would work so i ordered a $5 e-card and it arrived in my email a few minutes later. simple, i thought, "cool" so this morning i ordered a $150 e-card and i am still waiting! the whole reason i was doing this is because i thought it was quick. not today, processing takes a while. n
January 3 at 23:19 pm
I had a similar result when I tried ordering a Top-up PIN for my cel phone from Their website claimed that the PIN number had been e-mailed to my account. My credit card was charged. After 2 days of calling, the issue was escalated to their e-deliverygroup (an outside vendor who provides electronic delivery of gift cards and PINs) who manually e-mailed the PIN to me. This happened on 3 separate occasions, each with the same problem. When I changed my e-mail address to a different provider, the e-delivery began working within minutes of my order. nnIt appears that Walmart's e-Deliverygroup has been blacklisted by some mail providers. So, even though I turned off all local spam filtering on my e-mail account, my e-mail provider was still not accepting any e-mails from the e-Deliverygroup, and I was not able to receive the PINs.
December 29 at 16:15 pm

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