Some months back, Sam’s Club — the bulk-warehouse-shopping chain owned by Walmart — advertised a new-member promotion where, after paying your $45 first year membership fee, you would receive an instant $45 credit on your first qualifying purchase of $45 or more (not counting special discount items). Basically, you would be getting your first year’s membership for free.
I had been a Sam’s Club member in the past, but dropped it about the time I went into credit management. I’m not sure I’m the ideal Sam’s Club shopper, but this offer intrigued me enough to try signing back up.
I signed up for the offer, then made my first visit to the store, bought just a little more than $45 worth of stuff, pre-tax … and no credit showed up. I had to pay for the whole basket. No problem; it was routine stuff anyway, stuff I might have bought with or without the promotion. Once I got home, though, I e-mailed customer service, and they looked at my receipt and told me that one of the things I had bought had been on sale, and so it was probably one of those special discount items, and excluding it was probably just enough to take my purchase down below the threshhold.
They could not, however, look at my account and tell me definitively that I was or wasn’t properly signed up for the promotion.
I tried again a month or two later. Again, I bought more than $45 worth of stuff; again, no credit. I made another online inquiry but got nothing helpful in return. Again, no one could tell me whether I was signed up for the promotion and had just been thwarted by exclusions when I tried to use it, or whether I’d somehow missed signing up for it in the first place.
I had pretty much given up. I figured that either I had somehow not qualified for the promotion because of my previous Sam’s Club membership, or something else had gone wrong. I had not been cheated out of anything; I paid the regular price for membership, as well as for the goods I’d bought. I just hadn’t gotten the special promotion I was expecting.
Then, today in the mail, I got a little glossy mailer. It turns out that the problems with the $45 new sign-up promotion must not have been limited to me. The mailer said that Sam’s had experienced some problems on its end and that if I bring the mailer, plus a photo ID, to the customer service desk at Sam’s I will be given a $45 gift card. The fact that they had to print up this type of glossy mailer, and the way the mailer itself was worded, indicate that they must have had a large number of people experience this problem.
Kudos to them for doing the right thing. Of course, I now understand that Costco is building in Murfreesboro, and perhaps by this time next year I’ll be signing up for a Costco membership. So many people seem to prefer Costco to Sam’s — and my future sister-in-law works for Costco. But we’ll wait and see how much I use my Sam’s membership in the meantime.