Sam’s Club: a lackluster first impression

Sam’s Club is running a promotion this weekend, where nonmembers can visit and shop with no extra fees. Yoli wanted to check it out, so we loaded the Renaud Empire into the minivan and headed to the Ferguson Sam’s on W. Florissant Ave. after Jadzia was done with preschool.

We didn’t have a shopping list, like we normally would have at a grocery store. We had a few items in mind to find, and we figured we’d just explore the place since it was our first visit.

We first searched for several Mexican cheeses we had heard Sam’s carries. After a while, we figured out that cheeses are kept in at least three different places at this Sam’s Club. While Yoli was taking Josie to the bathroom, she came across the third cheese location. There were the Mexican cheeses we wanted, and at a good price.

As we explored, we came across some unexpected items which we then grabbed: peanut oil, restaurant-type baking sheets, and jasmine rice.

We also loaded up on unbleached flour, comet, and cascade.

We looked at cereals, but Sam’s didn’t have much selection beyond several very popular brand names.

The girls enjoyed the plentiful samples all over the store. But their patience was soon to grow thin.

We got in line to check out. All the lines were long. After about ten minutes, just as we were about to be checked out, an associate approached and told us we couldn’t buy anything without a Sam’s Club member card. Nobody had told us that when we came in. She directed us to the member center.

I got into the back of a long line on the right hand side of the member center. When I finally got to the front, the associate there informed me I was in the wrong line. That was a surprise to me, given that the desks all looked alike and all were under a big “member center” sign.

So, we got in another line off to the left side of the member center. After another 10 minutes or so, we reached the counter and it was time to get the temporary card. I had hoped they would check us out right there — but no, we were directed to go back to the cashiers and wait in line again.

By that point Yoli and I agreed she should take the kids out to the minivan because the wait had been so long.

Credit card and temporary member card in hand, I found the shortest line I could. After I finally checked out, our Cascade box began to leak and got powder everywhere. So I had to wait again for an associate to get a new one.

At last: time to leave. But as I got to the door, the greeter told me I couldn’t go out that door. She said I had to go out some other, farther away door. I looked around for some big, clear signs that might have directed me about this. Nope. Sigh.

All told, I want to like Sam’s; I’m all about deals — and Sam’s deals and selection are good. But the waiting and waiting, the store layout and the lines are bad.

On a day when nonmembers and first-time visitors are coming en masse, I would have expected a much stronger effort to make a great first impression.

About Josh Renaud

I'm the Emperor of the Renaud Empire, which is to say that I'm the husband of a Boliviana and the father of three daughters and one son. When I'm not conquering lands and expanding borders, I'm a newspaper designer for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Find me on Twitter (@Kirkman) or Google+.
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2 Responses to Sam’s Club: a lackluster first impression

  1. john says:

    your observations about sam’s club are spot on! I was a member for a year at one in Seattle, but let it lapse because of the horrible customer service and loooong lines, always!

    I decided to give it another go, and even though the selection is good and prices can’t be beat, I’m beyond frustrated with the long lines! Lines for returns, lines for a slice of pizza, lines for checking out, lines to get out the door as they check each receipt by hand.

    I will not renew again. I save a lot of $$ at sam’s club, but MY time is worth money too, and I think that 10+ minutes to check out, 5+ minutes for a snack, 10+ minutes to speak with customer service or 15+ minutes at the pharmacy is unacceptable.

  2. Josh and John, thank you so much for your candid feedback. Sam’s Club continously monitors and listens to our Member’s feedback regarding our Club environment and inventory. I will personally pass along these conversations to our internal teams so they can make adjusts to our business.

    Josh, thank you for stopping by your local Sam’s Club this weekend. My regrets about the long lines and I encourage you to stop by at another time to experience the Club and give it one more try.

    John, I’m sorry that we have lost you as a Member. Please let me know if there’s anything we can do for you at this time.

    If I can further assist in any way, please feel free to email me at Amie.Throndson@samsclub.com.

    Best regards,
    Amie
    Social Manager

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