Dealers compare Walmart pricing experiences

Jan. 6, 2015

Modern Tire Dealer Editor Bob Ulrich’s blog on Wal-Mart Stores Inc’s advertised sales prices generated many comments, including one reader who says: “Our position is that our service, before, during and after the sale is worth a small premium, and we simply don't chase customers chasing the lowest price.”

Several readers pointed out that Walmart stores drive customers to their shops. Here are a few comments:

* “We all get into this price thing! Provide great service! And they will be back after a two-hour wait for a flat repair, and then they won't fix their flat! They send us more business than they take, that’s my perspective!”

* “What I find is the name brand tires, if not on sale, we’re close on price out the door. It's the brand x tire they hammer us on, when they sell their entry level tire below our entry level cost. The good thing is we are their problem solvers, which is good for us. Any time you can solve a problem you have the chance to earn their business.”

* “I had a customer come in who bought two new tires at Walmart. She had been back three times because they were never balanced properly. Each time, the sales people refused to even look at her car, telling her the vibration wouldn't cease unless she purchased two more tires for the rear of her car. We put her on the rack, did a four-wheel balance, and off she went.” 

Other readers noted that consumers fail to compare the total out-the-door price until it’s too late.

* “You know they have never sold the what you call the actual price. NEVER. That type of advertising is illegal. Problem is there is no one to police the laws on advertising. Plus you can't compare just the tire price. You must compare the out-the-door price. TOTAL.”

* “Unfortunately all the big chain stores do it and get away with it. I had a customer/shopper tell me I was $40 higher on a set of tires he could get at Walmart. I explained to him to get the total out-the-door price before he bought. Later on the same day he came back to me and said by the time he got the final out the door Walmart price that I was $40 less. I enjoy telling that story to my Walmart wanna-be shoppers/hopefully customers.”

* “The bigger problem with Wal-Mart is the quality of staff. Their P.O.S. shows products they often cannot get (older discontinued products, for example). It is very common for me to have a customer say, 'Wal-Mart has a tire in this size for X price,' and after calling find out the product has been discontinued, isn't in any store and their OPP price is the same or higher than yours. Unfortunately, the person behind the phone often has little experience and simply doesn’t know that the product isn’t available. In all I would say they aren't much of a player and I know that, in this area, they are no longer building TLE (Tire Lube Express) in their new stores.”

Is Walmart driving business to your shop? Do you agree with the reader who says Walmart is not much of a player? Read “The ‘secret’ behind Walmart’s tire pricing,” look over the comments and add yours.