We had a bad shopping experience with a Spalding Basketball System 88461G from Walmart, 60″ in-ground unit. This story does have a happy ending but it was a bumpy ride.
Shopping around, we got a great deal. It was just under $400. Looking just now they’re selling it for about $25 more. But comparable in-ground basketball systems were hundreds more. And shopping at sporting goods stores, they were quoting an additional $350 to install them.
So I ordered this using Walmart’s Site to Store service. Instead of paying $50 for shipping it to my house, I was able to pick it up at the store with free shipping. We go to Walmart often enough that this made sense.
The Site-to-Store experience was typical Walmart. I waited five minutes for someone to show up at the counter. Then it took another five minutes for them to bring the item out for me. Fortunately no one else was waiting for service at the time. The box looked like it had been abused. There were multiple holes. I took pictures in case I needed evidence.
I asked the Walmart staff for assistance getting it to my car and I think she tried to find someone but whoever it was didn’t get out in time to be helpful. This is a heavy item but I did get it into my car okay. Please note that this is a large item and will not fit in most cars. It did fit easily in my SUV.
I then found a contractor to install it for about $200 (using a neat website, SpendLo.com). Everything went fine with this part of the process. The instructions seemed easy and we got it all done in about three hours. I spent a little extra for fast-drying concrete (we used eleven 50-pound bags at about $5/bag from Lowe’s). We did not test out the hoop yet because we were making sure the concrete set well. I left net off because I didn’t want anyone to use it but left the hoop low (7 feet) so it would be easy for me to put the net on the next day.
I should have known better. We have teenage boys in the neighborhood. One of them decided to try out the hoop. We don’t know exactly what he did, but here’s the result:
Some people would be mad at the kid, but he really did us a favor. He weighs about 100 pounds. If he hadn’t done this, I’d have done it the next day and I weigh 200 pounds. That would have been a lot worse.
He shouldn’t have used the hoop without my permission, and I would have said no that day because of the concrete. But it’s still not his fault (and he’s really a good kid). The problem was with the Spalding system.
We didn’t know why it failed right away but we do now. I called Spalding’s customer service number on the instruction booklet. On their request I e-mailed them a photo of the backboard and a copy of the receipt (forwarding the Walmart transaction e-mail). And they shipped us a new backboard.
During the exchange of e-mails came this from the customer service rep:
Make sure the foam pad and four metal spacers are pre-attached to the backboard before assembly.
Foam pad? Metal spacers? I don’t remember that when we installed it. It is not mentioned in the instructions. Here’s the spot where the rim assembly attaches to the backboard, front and back:
In the first of those two pictures you can see a black foam pad between the rim assembly and the backboard. But from this picture, and even from looking in person if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you can’t really tell if there are spacers in there.
So the new backboard comes and my contractor comes back (no charge and he was doing a couple other projects for us). As we took out the new backboard we found this little guy rolling around in the box:
Looking under the foam pad, the new backboard had two spacers in place (in the top spots) but the bottom spots were empty. One of the spacers was the one rolling around and the fourth was missing.
Taking the shattered backboard down was a significant effort and some of the glass fell on us as we did it, leaving shards of it on the driveway. We did put a tarp down and caught most of it. I looked around and picked up anything I could find that missed, but one bit got into the flesh of the bottom of my foot. Barefoot in sandals may not have been the best choice for this project.
There were two spacers in the top spots on the shattered board. The bottom two were missing, which is probably what caused the backboard to shatter. We used one of those spacers to fill the last spot on the new board and installed it again. It is now up and seems stable. I haven’t dunked on it yet and I put it up at 10 feet so that shouldn’t be a problem for a while.
Despite all the troubles, I am happy with this purchase. Now that it’s installed it seems to be a very good quality system for the money. I’ve seen the exact same item for $700, and other 60″ systems for as much as $1500. It’s very easy to lower the hoop. Raising it is more of an effort due to the weight but it’s not bad.
I’m disappointed, however, in Walmart and Spalding. From that e-mail, they obviously know this is a problem. It was even a problem with the replacement board they sent. Someone could get hurt, and they should do more to make sure anyone who bought the 88461G is warned. I’d recommend anyone buying a Spalding Basketball System from any store, or any hoop from Walmart, check out this specific detail before you begin the installation.