Is Walmart’s Mobile Express Returns Service Really Working?
In early October, Walmart unveiled a new service called Mobile Express Returns. It was designed to speed up the refund process for online orders returned in store. I had a chance to use Mobile Express Returns after my first shipment of holiday gifts arrived, and the results were less than ideal.
Setting up a Mobile Express Return
In order to use Walmart’s Mobile Express Returns, you must have a Walmart.com account and the Walmart app downloaded to your smartphone. You must be signed into the app using the same login information you used to place the original order. You can click on the dropdown menu on the app and scroll down to select “Purchase History.” Then, you can find the order and select the item you want to return.
In theory, mobile returns should take just a few steps: start the return on the Walmart app, take the item to the store, use the Express Lane in store, scan the QR code at the register, and hand the item over to the associate. However, the actual process was not that easy.
Issues and Inefficiencies at Walmart
Going through the steps on the app is fast and straightforward. The problem happened once I actually arrived in store. The Express Lane did not have a dedicated associate. I had to select an option on the keypad to call over an associate. This upset the other customers who had been waiting in line, and even the associates looked inconvenienced by the matter.
The associate asked if I was sending or receiving. Confused, I said, “Sending or receiving what? I have a return started on the app I need to finish in store.” It turns out the Express Lane is also used for Walmart’s new Express Money Services, where users can transfer money to one another through a combination of in-app and in-store steps. Having both services in the same line could certainly cause delays in the future, assuming both programs increase in popularity.
The associate pulled up the QR code for me to scan, but when I re-opened the Walmart app, there was nothing to scan it with. I had to click out of the original screen and then select a different option to pull up a scanner. The app then asked me to verify several pieces of information, and it made me sign into my account again. Finally, it pulled up a QR scanner that I used to complete the transaction.
Is It Really an “Express” Service?
The whole process took about as long as a standard return with a receipt. Granted, I may not have to go through the verification steps every time, and I didn’t have to wait in what could have been a long return line. If the associates have to be pulled from their registers to accommodate the express lane though, speeding-up one area would only cause a delay in another.
On the financial side, I’m still waiting for money to be returned to my credit card. I made the return over Black Friday weekend, so I expected some delays to occur. Nevertheless, I did hope that the anticipated speed of the express return would extend to refund processing, or the app would at least give me a status on how long the refund would take. The current status is “returned,” but there is no information about funds going back on my card.
Would I Use Walmart Mobile Express Returns Again?
Despite the issues, I would use Walmart Mobile Express Returns again because I could see it being a time-saver. If you have to make a return during a busy time of day, such as 5-6 PM, using the Express Lane could certainly make your trip less stressful. If Walmart had a dedicated Express associate during those times, the customers in the regular line may not feel as upset seeing someone blitz through their return.
For now, I will give Walmart the benefit of the doubt that they are still working out the kinks in their new returns system. It is far from foolproof, but it could become a norm once the holiday returns season reaches its peak.