It matters even less
than Kim's lost diamond earring
I know the world is on fire right now. I can’t even begin to express the compounded grief from yet another mass shooting and the way our country is attacking trans people and drag queens and banning books rather than dealing with our gun crisis. This entire entry is a frustrating exercise in navel gazing rage. It’s dumb and meaningless which makes me feel even worse about it, but if I can’t scream into the void I might combust.
I was going to write about the second half of our spring break trip, driving and hiking through gorgeous and unfathomable redwood trees, and the insanely long drive home through a desolate place in Oregon called Christmas Valley wherein I toppled from my precarious crouch over a horrific pee-covered toilet and ended up coated in a lot of urine, but I’m going to shout a lot about Walmart and Chase instead.
One pretty picture from our trip since the rest of this post contains ugly screenshots and sadness.
I’d also like to preface this with the disclaimer that I know gigantic corporations/monopolies like Walmart and Amazon are terrible and awful and shouldn’t exist. I try to avoid ordering from them, but in a pretty rural area it is sometimes difficult to avoid.
After Eric died, I spent quite a chunk of his small life insurance policy on finishing his projects and desperately trying to make this house feel like a secure and stable home. I didn’t know what else to do. My world had exploded and all I wanted to do was try and make my kids feel like we had some roots here. I hired people (a strange and terrifying experience after living with a handyman) to finish the yard, put in sprinklers, plant trees, install a fence, finish the driveway, pour a concrete patio, and finish a basement bathroom.
It was a harried, stressful time in which I got treated like an idiot b/c I have lady parts, got taken advantage of, and got left out to dry repeatedly. But when the dust settled, we had a decent backyard we wanted to hang out in. So I tried to find some kind of patio set on which we could sit around a little camp fire and tell stories about dad.
I had never owned a patio set before. I didn’t know where to start. I read reviews and looked at floor models; I tested out sets at local shops that weren’t the right size, I placed orders that were cancelled due to supply chain issues and temporarily used a set we found on Facebook marketplace that ended up fading and falling apart because it was made for a sun room and not the outdoors. I finally settled on ordering a set that was decently reviewed on Walmart, though it had some bad reviews about the items being delivered damaged. Exhausted, I thought I’d risk it, feeling like I’d had generally good experiences ordering from them in the past and surely they’d work with me on a replacement or return if the item arrived in broken shards. (Spoiler, this was a VERY bad decision.)
On June 5, 2022, I ordered a set called the Better Homes & Gardens Brookbury 5-Piece Outdoor Patio Wicker Dining Sectional Set. I refuse to link to it, but if you google it, it should turn up. I also ordered some other patio things at the same time, and the whole transaction came to a throat-constricting $1916.65, but showed up on my Amazon Prime Chase card as two transactions for $1853.75 and $62.90. This matters later. I have alllll the receipts.
Ten days later, I got a call from a freight company in Salt Lake City, Utah. The patio set had arrived at their shipping dock horribly damaged and they were not going to deliver it. They suggested I call Walmart for a replacement.
I called Walmart support, spoke with a customer service representative, and explained the situation. She said they would send a replacement right out. The original patio set was updated in my Walmart account to show as “cancelled” and a replacement shipment appeared with a new order number showing a total of $950.82 including tax.
Okay, so far so good.
Toward the end of the month, a large box was delivered on my driveway, but the patio furniture inside was badly damaged. It looked as though it had been dropped from a great height; the thick metal frame of the main sofa piece was bent and most of the visible wicker was torn straight through. It was beyond repair.
I called Walmart again and was told to re-package the item in its original box and leave it on the driveway for pickup. There was a lot of run around here, but I am trying to give you the short version. I was told I did not have to be present for pick up, but as soon as the item was received, they would issue a refund.
The box was picked up two days later. I never saw the freight company, nor did I get any confirmation or paperwork or tracking number from Walmart. This worried me, especially since my Walmart account was not updated and a refund did not come through. I called Walmart to follow up and was reassured, saying it would take some time for the delivery to be received and processed and to look for a refund in 3-4 weeks. Despite arranging the pick up for me, they had no tracking number either.
Please insert several months of calling, long wait times on hold, getting disconnected, and having to explain and re-explain my situation over and over. The fact that a replacement order was created with a different order number was a huge source of confusion for all the customer service reps. Everyone wanted a tracking number for the return which Walmart never gave me.
Unable to get anywhere, I called my credit card company, Chase, on December 3, 2022, and asked to speak to the dispute and fraud department. I was told I could not dispute the charge because too much time had passed since the order was placed. 😭😡
This was extraordinarily frustrating; I’d had such good experiences with American Express on situations like this; I couldn’t believe Chase wouldn’t help me. I sincerely regretted making the purchase with that particular card.
Chase suggested I continue working with the merchant. Great, awesome, that’s been so easy breezy thus far, I’ll continue banging my head against a brick wall.
I eventually Karen-ed my way into the billing department (Can I please speak to a supervisor?) and spoke to a lovely lady named Tisha on December 13, 2022. She was the first to take detailed notes and promised she would take my situation to a supervisor. She told me I’d get a call back after their review.
Surprise! I never got a call back.
January 9, 2023, I spoke to a male customer service rep with Walmart who seemed to understand my situation and sounded eager to help. But after a long hold, I was disconnected. Upon calling back, I got someone else who told me they couldn’t do anything and said I would need to take up the issue with Chase. I asked to speak to a supervisor who read dead-end lines from a script, stating that he couldn’t do anything without a tracking number. I begged him to give me the shipping company info so I could call them myself, but he had no information for me.
That same day, January 9, 2023, I called Chase again and spoke with someone in the dispute department. She listened to the whole story and put me on hold, but then said because I’d already spoken with someone in the fraud department, my dispute was considered closed. She said I would have to make an appeal.
Okay super. I could not find a lot of information about how to make an appeal. The helpful “dispute” links on charges in my account disappeared after the three-month mark. So I used the messaging system and uploaded a detailed explanatory letter along with scans of the Chase charges, receipts from Walmart, and my detailed call history. I had scans of the transaction for $1853.75 and requested a refund of $950.82, a portion of that total charge, making clear that I had received the other items in the order, but had not received a refund for the returned patio set.
On January 19, they sent me a letter saying my dispute for $62.90 had been denied.
WHAT THE ACTUAL.
I opened a new message thread with an updated letter, all the previous documents, plus the denial letter, and pointed out that the wrong amount had been looked at and asked them to please review my case more carefully.
On February 7, I got another letter stating that my dispute for $1853.75 had also been denied. This was ALSO the incorrect amount.
I updated another detailed letter, compiled all the receipts and attachments and decided to snail mail the packet to the Chase dispute department. But first, I thought I’d try with Walmart again.
I remembered that the call about the original damaged shipment had come from Pilot, so I called them in case they had also handled the replacement shipment. They had! They were able to find the tracking number and proof of return to Walmart. The lady was so helpful and emailed me scans of everything.
Their paperwork did not show which freight company picked up from my house and delivered to them though, but I remembered I had a call from them when they were en route. I went through my call history, but my phone hadn’t kept the call history that far back. I kept at it and found a voicemail the driver had left when he was en route to my house. Huzzah! I called him and found out the company info: Diamond Line Delivery Systems. He was also happy to send me scans of his pick up and delivery forms.
Badly beaten down, but hopeful, I called Walmart again. It was still February. I had to go over everything again, but as I now had receipts and tracking numbers, it sounded like we were going to get somewhere. The gal gave me a direct line to the billing department with the proper extensions and said everything would be reviewed and that I’d get a call back in a few weeks.
LOL. No call back.
After we got home from spring break, I girded my loins, but felt sick. I always get this weird wave of depression after trying to do a fun thing without Eric. I guess it’s not weird. I just wasn’t prepared for it this time and ended up crying a lot and not unpacking for several days. I just wanted my husband there with us, and failing that, I wanted to sit on the edge of the bed and tell him about our trip and show him all the photos. I hate his empty spot in bed. Hate it, hate it.
I will also FOREVER wonder if he would have been able to make more headway with this STUPID Walmart/Chase issue because he was a MAN with a MAN voice and didn’t get labeled as petulant or whiny when frustrated and sad.
Finally, today, I had the spoons and made the call.
I was on hold for an hour before I finally spoke to Santos in the accounts review department. He was pretty terse, saying that my case had already been closed. He told me I needed to take it up with Chase. I fell apart at this point, choking up but not outright sobbing (go me). I asked him to please make it make sense: Walmart sent me a damaged item. I followed all their instructions and sent it back. Walmart failed to get me a tracking number or update my account or refund me. After nine months of back and forth I finally sleuthed out the tracking information with proof of delivery with zero help from them—my returned item was received at Walmart Returns on Mitchell Street in North Las Vegas on July 12, 2022 and signed for by someone named Martinez at 16:10, and they still couldn’t refund me.
He just kept reading the script.
“I’m sorry ma’am, you’ll need to take it up with your bank.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, I can’t comment on this personally.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, there’s nothing I can do.”
And I know it’s not his fault specifically, but I wanted to scream. And did after I hung up. I screamed and snot cried and tried to punch Ben’s punching bag and hurt my hand.
I know it’s not the largest amount of money in the world, but $950 is not exactly chump change. Definitely not for me. And it’s intrinsically tied with the overwhelming pressure I felt to FIX ALL THE THINGS after Eric died. Look, children! A nice patio with stuff to sit on and watch the sun set! Daddy would have bought a better one from a better company, or he would have built us one, but I tried my best and I FAILED HORRIBLY AND NOW WANT TO CRAWL INTO A HOLE AND DIE.
So anyway, it FEELS very high stakes and dramatic, even if it’s not in the big scheme of things.
I have written a whole new letter to Chase and I’ve got alllll the receipts with detailed notes on each. I have copies of their stupid denials with the wrong amounts, my call history with Walmart, and now the paperwork from both Pilot Freight and Diamond Line Delivery Systems. I’m going to snail mail the whole thing and await my next denial letter so I can set my face on fire immediately.
My oldest, Jake, thinks I should make a TikTok video and make it go viral in the hopes that Walmart and Chase will want to do damage control. But I am old and TikTok is overwhelming and congress is trying to ban it and the world has bigger problems like BABIES DYING IN SCHOOLS. Also, it’s not like you can just make something go viral—chances are high I’d put a bunch of work into a video series that would sit on my tiny account and get five views. I can shame spiral about wanting a patio set in the first place. I mean this meme has never been more true. 💔
I do have a lovely lawyer who patiently helps me when idiots tries to charge me twice the amount they quoted for a fence installation, but I try not to bother him too much. However, I will maybe send over my big fat dumb Chase letter and ask if he has any advice.
Meanwhile, no refund. No patio set. So, I will cry some more, pledge some dollars to the Sandy Hook Promise folks, and finish watching Love is Blind for some much needed escapism. (Can you even with this season?)
p.s. Premium newsletter coming this weekend after I find out if Bliss is down for second chances.