FACT CHECK Is Sam's Club offering free memberships to new (and soon-to-be) moms?
Claim: Sam's Club is offering free memberships to new (and soon-to-be) moms.
Example: [Collected via e-mail, Twitter, and Facebook, September 2015]
Are you a Mom with kids under 2 years old or still pregnant? Now through September 29th, HURRY to score a free 1 year Sam's Club Membership! All you gotta do is call 1-888-746-7726, press #2 then press #4 to speak to a customer service rep and tell them you are calling about the FREE Annual Membership for New Moms. You should be given a code or membership number. If you have any issues, call back and speak to another rep. They are being slammed so wait times may increase rapidly as word spreads about this offer. Spread the word!
@SamsClub is this true? What can I do? I renewed recently. And I am a new mom. pic.twitter.com/qXdOMYqzJk
— トミ ( Tomi ) (@tmc1215) September 22, 2015
Is the free membership for new moms legit or is it not? The number went to busy so wasn't sure and wanted to check. Thanks!
Origins: On 21 September 2015, social media coupon groups and mommy blogs were awash in a tsunami of posts promising free memberships in Sam's Club (a chain of membership-only retail warehouse clubs owned and operated by Walmart) to new moms. The catch? A whole bunch, as it turns out.
The scope of the free membership for new moms at Sam's Club offer was persistently murky. No official announcement post appeared on either the retailer's Facebook or Twitter pages (although legions of angry messages did). While responses on both social media sites acknowledged that the chain had extended an offer of some related description at some point, information about eligibility for the offer was nowhere to be found on their official social media pages (and at least one circulated link led to an error page). Social media users who phoned Sam's Club overwhelmingly reported waiting hours, getting busy signals, and being disconnected after long waits:
I'm trying to reach customer service from the 800 number, it just gives me a busy signal instead of putting me on hold to wait for the next customer service rep. Is this normal?
Some users reported success through calling Sam's Club (but often only after being placed on hold for long periods). Others stated that the offer was never meant to be open to everyone: many mentioned a "mailer" sent to selected candidates that had purportedly been shared on social media (causing the confusion and long caller wait times):
Sam's didn't advertise this free membership offer. Someone who received the offer in the mail shared it, now it's all over social media. This has to be one of the worst fiascos they've encountered recently. Those poor call center employees. Smh at all these angry moms looking for something free.
A good deal of the confusion apparently stemmed from the fact that Sam's Club initially had information about the program posted on their web site, but the company inexplicably removed the link well before the enrollment deadline:
Must be a new mom (kid 1 yr old or younger) or a mom-to-be. Through September 29th, call 1-888-746-7726, choose option #2 and then tell the representative you are calling for the New Mom Membership offer. Provide your full name and mailing address, and then you will be given a membership number. Take this number to the customer service desk at your local Sam’s Club to get a physical membership card.
Reports also circulated claiming that people encouraged fellow users to request the Sam's Club membership offer despite their not meeting its "new mom" criteria:
@mollychance Thanks Molly! We hope to reach out those new moms who can benefit from this offer and not the latter.
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) September 21, 2015
In a tweet Sam's Club advised interested parties to call about the free membership offer, but provided no useful information to users who might not have hours to spare on the phone only to learn they aren't eligible:
@SAHDfool For more information on the new mom's membership offer, please contact our sales department at 888-746-7726. Thank You!
— Sam's Club (@SamsClub) September 21, 2015
In short, it appeared Sam's Club indeed initiated some type of promotion involving free memberships for new moms in August 2015. Whether that offer was extended to a small group or to all new moms remains unclear, as Sam's Club has done little to address the confusion on Facebook and Twitter. No comprehensive direction has been issued by the company about the popular discount, and interested Sam's Club customers have been advised to call a phone number (at which they may or may not be subjected to holds lasting several hours).
A number of readers have reported to us that, whatever the origins of the program (and regardless of whether it was intended to be offered to the public at large), it is available to pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of one, and they were successful in signing up for it. Some of them suggested that contacting Sam's Club about it via e-mail was an effective method for avoiding sitting on the telephone through interminable wait times.
Last updated: 27 September 2015
First published: 22 September 2015