Wal-Mart lowers fee for holiday layaway program

Associated Press Modified: September 4, 2012 at 3:00 pm •  Published: September 4, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is lowering its fee that shoppers pay for its interest-free pay-over-time program for the winter holidays.

The fee to open up a layaway account will now be $5 instead of $15, the world's largest retailer said Tuesday.

The announcement comes a day after Toys R US announced it was waiving the upfront service fee for layaway orders created in store from Sept. 4 through Oct. 31. After Oct 31, a $5 service fee will apply. Also, there will be no minimum purchase price. Customers have until Dec. 16 to pick up their orders.

Wal-Mart says the move wasn't in response to the Toys R Us announcement, but rather in reaction to customer feedback on its Facebook page since announcing last month its plans to bring back its layaway program for the Christmas season. The new program, which starts Sept. 16 and runs through Dec. 14, will last a month longer than last year's and will include more items than the toys and electronics featured last year.

"When our customers speak up, we listen," said Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer at Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake division, in a statement. "We believe this rollback strengthens our layaway offering. It's even more attractive to our customers and makes Wal-Mart more competitive in the marketplace."

The discounter, based in Bentonville, Ark., reiterated that shoppers who make their final layaway payment will get a full refund of the fee in a form of a Wal-Mart gift card.

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