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By Jeremy Schiffres, Daily and Sunday Freeman, Kingston, N.Y.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Against the Wal? Not me!

Wal-Mart often gets a bad rap: too big, plenty of volume but not enough selection, long checkout lines, overcrowded parking lots and, of course, harmful to locally run small businesses.

But the retail behemoth helped Rhona and me avoid a major headache this week, and it deserves credit and our thanks.

Our home phone rang about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday. It was the infirmary at the summer camp that our son, Marc, attends in central Massachusetts, informing us he had broken his glasses. (He somehow managed to sever the connection between the bridge and the left lens holder.) He has a backup pair at camp for just such an emergency, but the damaged glasses had the “transition” lenses, which darken in sunlight, and we prefer him to wear those.

I told the camp to sit tight - that I’d figure out a solution and get back to them.

A quick call to Rhona on her cell phone confirmed what I believed to be true: that we had bought the glasses in the Vision Center at Wal-Mart in the town of Ulster. This, I knew, would make things much easier for us because, despite being in the middle of nowhere, Marc’s camp is less than 2 miles from a Wal-Mart. (Isn’t everything?)

My next call was to information to get the phone number of the Vision Center at the Wal-Mart in Ware, Mass., and, within minutes, I had a Wal-Mart employee named Brenda on the phone. She was familiar with Marc’s camp, having dealt with such crises before, and told me she probably would be able to help. She asked for Marc’s name and date of birth, and the location of the Wal-Mart where we bought the glasses, and, almost immediately, was able to tell me her store had the same frames in stock and that, because we purchased Marc’s glasses within the past year, the replacement cost would be fully covered. All we had to do was have someone from the camp bring the damaged glasses to the store so they could put the lenses from the broken pair into the replacement frames.

I called the camp infirmary back shortly after 10 a.m., told a woman there what I had learned and gave her the name and phone number of the Wal-Mart employee, and she told me the matter would be taken care of.

Shortly after 3 p.m. the same day, there was a message on our home answering machine that the glasses were fixed and back at the camp.

Say what you will about Wal-Mart, but this much is certain: Had we not bought Marc’s glasses there, and had there not been a Wal-Mart near his camp, getting his glasses fixed would have been an arduous process that probably would have involved the camp mailing us the lenses so that we could get them placed in new frames here before mailing them back to the camp - a process that surely would have taken more than a week.

Of course, none if this would have happened if Marc had just taken better care of his glasses, but that’s fodder for another day.



Blogger sherijberi said...

I read your blog as often as you post. Check it... like every other day.

July 27, 2008 at 6:43 AM 

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