Why Never to Work for Walmart
I'm 23 and I've worked for Walmart on three separate occasions, doing many different jobs in the course of five years:
- Overnight Stocker (8 Months)
- Overnight Inventory Management (7 months)
- Cart Pusher (2 years)
- Electronics Associate/ Cell Phone Salesman (3 months)
- Optician / Vision Center Associate (7 months)
So yeah, I've worked a range of jobs and seen a startling and baffling amount of Walmart in my years. Luckily I never have to go back to that dreaded land of awfulness, and I'm hoping this article can save some innocent folks from making the same mistakes I did. Some of this can apply to all retail jobs, but I'm speaking only of Walmart, as that's where my experience lies.
They offer some of the worst healthcare plans I've ever seen. Some would say that they're better than nothing, but I disagree. I paid for the best plan and had 71 dollars come out of every check, but when I went to the doctor, I still had a mountain of a deductible to conquer. No co-pay plans to be found, and the co-insurance was always 80/20 after deductible, which made hitting your out-of-pocket maximum like climbing Mount Everest.
I had their insurance on two separate occasions. One was on the "low deductible, high premium" plan, and the other was on the "high deductible, low premium" plan. My claims were denied for no apparent reason by the insurance under-writer, who was incredibly hard to get in-contact with.
So, I just dropped Walmart's goofy plans and got a personal plan from United Healthcare and voila! I have a $25 copay for all doctor and therapy visits, and a deductible that is manageable. Oh, and they pay 100% after the deductible. Oh, and for less than I was paying for my Walmart plans. Yes, yes indeed.
And yes, the plans have gone up every year in price, and gone down in quality. And don't even think about blaming Obamacare for that, since other companies haven't responded this way.
There's More; Oh, So Much More
They've begun to impede new hires with a waiting period of one year before they can even get Walmart insurance. Actually, that may be a good thing. There's so much more that's wrong with the healthcare offered by Walmart, that I genuinely feel sorry for any employee that is stuck in a one-year commitment with them. The way their "open enrollment" works, is that you have a one-month window each year (new hires almost always are hired to miss this window) to plan out your next year's healthcare needs. You can't change these choices once the window passes, and you're locked in for an entire year. Only massive life-changes (like dying) can get them to change your benefits when it's not "open enrollment" time. Super bogus.
Back when I first started, I was full-time, and got my 40 hours a week, and while it was third-shift menial labor (stocking) it was a solid paycheck. I was cool with that. But as the years rolled on, Walmart that hiring two part-time workers instead of one full-time worker is much more profitable because they can deny benefits to any part-time worker and cut that person's hours to zero if they feel like it. They have and will do that to you if you work for them.
If you are one of those few people who have full-time status, watch your back. They're gunning for you. They're looking for ways to get you to either step down to part-time or quit entirely, since you're not only reaping the benefits of having been there for a long time (oh my, a few more dollars an hour!) but you're steadily getting about twice the hours of anyone else.
I've talked with the Loss Prevention associates, and have friends in places that have access to information that I clearly am not supposed to know, so I know crap like this was happening. They were keeping cameras dedicated on full-time associates, and watching their clock-in, clock-out habits and for any possible reason to trip them up. Sometimes word made its way to that particular employee and they fussed and fumed, and yep, they get a coaching for poor performance in return.
Another way they try to "smoke out" the veterans of the company is by dropping their hours below the designated minimum that was established way back when, just to annoy them. The minimum hours a full-time employee is supposed to receive is 35, and the maximum amount a part-time employee may receive is 33. And so, I've seen it happen where a manager will give the full-time associate 28 hours, and the part-time associate 32 hours, just to send a passive-aggressive message that while there are "rules" at Walmart, decisions are made based on conspiracy and gossip, instead of it being a "family" or "team" like their propaganda would have you believe.
How Do They Mess With the Consumer?
This is straight from the mouth of my most recent store manager, Tom.
You know why we sell everything for cheap? You know why we say: 'Save money. Live better.'? It's because we want them to take their savings that they made here, and buy more of our shit. Simple as that. The more we sell, the higher the volume. Even if we make razor-thin profits, the more money we make, and the more repeat customers we make, and the more we rule the market. Notice, our stock doesn't rise by dollars, it's by a trickle of cents over years. Slowly creeping up toward oblivion. That's how we do things, and when you make the customers buy more stuff, fill their cart up, that's how you secure your job, and how you secure your company's future for years to come.
I wasn't surprised at the content of his message, because I'd known all this before; I was just astounded that he was so flippant about it. Yeah, we're perpetuating a cycle of tricking consumers into buying substandard crap with substandard service because our prices are lower than everyone else.
That's Not All
It's the little things. When they have greeters offer you a cart, it's supposed to make you feel like "Oh wow, I feel welcome here. Thank you!" but the true intention is to give you the conditions for your own downfall. Providing the gun for a suicidal man. That's what a shopping cart is to a consumer. If they don't have a cart, they can't buy as much. When they have a cart, they feel indebted somehow to themselves and the store to at least fill it up before leaving. It's a psychological trick that is not only underhanded, but one that I participated in for years unknowingly. As a cart-pusher, I gave customers carts constantly. I didn't realize I was participating in the consumerism cycle.
They put things in certain places for a reason. That's why they remodel the stores every few years, because new statistics give them new data that proves how to make the most revenue, and therefore the most profit by layout of the store.
Essential items are located in the back of the store, always. Stuff you don't need is off to the side and there for you whenever feel like splurging, but the real stuff, like food, milk, toilet paper, pharmacy, and the rest of the essentials are in the back of the store. Okay, so what, it's only a matter of a hundred feet, right? Wrong. There's what they call "features" in the middle of the aisles that are usually in accordance with whatever is seasonal. Football season has soda, chips, beer, junk food. Valentine's Day has flowers, chocolates, etc. These features are all throughout the store, and are meant to entice you into dropping them into your baskets.
The "Oh, Shiny!" Effect
Whenever you walk into the general merchandise entrance of the store, the first thing you see is not the random seasonal purchase features around you, but the very back of the store, straight ahead. The 70-inch LED televisions on the wall playing whatever random loop they have set up.
And the consumer's buying urge is set off like a drug addict when he or she sees fresh product laying on the table. They know they don't need it. They know they already have a good TV. But look how SHINY it is. They must go and investigate. So they do, and while they're back there, they end up buying a new Blu-ray player, and an HDMI cable, and a lesser, but still shiny television that the associate working back there talked them into (I worked that job, so I know how that goes.).
The electronics department is the most profitable place in the store, and yet it is in the back. Why? Because by the time you make it to the electronics department, you've already picked up several things you don't need, several things you do need, and you're already exasperated by your trip to Walmart, and this refreshing land of movies, games, and everything you love sounds like a good idea. Yeah....until you walk down into the lion's den named Credit Card Land. Which brings me to a point that needs to be made.
Walmart Credit Cards
Yes, every retail store is required to push their retail Credit Cards. But what gimmicks does Walmart use to sell these? Wordplay. In the Vision Center, we were the best at selling credit cards because we had more time with the customer than any of the other cashiers in the store. So, we had more time to mess with the customer's mind. I told my manager (who hated me) that i would not partake in such fraudulent activities. She said I had no choice, and it was a command. Yes, I received a "coaching" which like a demerit, which stacks up, and if you get three of them, you're fired. I received this coaching for not wanting to disillusion the customers that we're supposed to be serving. I was incredulous!
So, how do they try to deceive customers into getting the Card?
- The less information on what the card is, the better
- Tell them they're "pre-qualified" which they will take to mean "pre-approved."
- Tell them that everyone they've seen gets approved and it only takes a minute
- Tell them that they can spend their new card today to make even more and better purchases (like better eyeglass lenses) since they have a new source of credit
Every time one of these drug-deals went down, I cringed and held back my fury. My manager loved it. She was a sociopath, but to me it seemed like casting out a pole into fresh waters and when you catch the biggest bass in the waters, you talk it into buying a credit card. Makes no sense. They're already screwed by being there in the first place, don't screw them anymore. It makes me angry just thinking about it.
Walmart messes with you in many many more ways. Another is the "site to store" option. It's free shipping since it goes to the store. Where do you pick it up? No, there's no drive-thru or load-up option. You have to walk to the very back of the store and hunt for someone to get the product you ordered. It's usually the photo lab associate who is currently dealing with a line of customers, so you have to wait, and wait, and Oh look, you're in the Electronics section. How did you get there?! Well....might as well look around...
Are you getting the picture?
How Do They Screw Over Their Employees?
Besides the healthcare, part-time/full-time, and management conspiracies....let's see....
They set goals that are unreachable so that they only have to give out the bare minimum raises each year, and they can choose to not give a raise at all. To receive the full raise (which I have), you have to literally sell your soul to Walmart, work every day like it's your last day (which I did), lie to every manager (play the game), and work in as many different areas of the store as possible, and pick up extra shifts from other people in the store that are ill or otherwise. Keeping up this lifestyle is not only taxing, but it's not feasible. Eventually you're going to burn out, and I did. Then they ask "Why has your performance dropped?" I had to tell them that I'm not a superhero and I DO get tired now and again, and well, living at Walmart all week takes its toll on your sanity over the years.
They hold the right to use any possible reasons in their playbook to fire you. Example: You are top salesman, and get along with your coworkers, but had to miss a month of work due to a mental illness, so your boss uses a mistake you made out of human error to not only fire you, after you were on unpaid leave for a month, but write up the termination so you won't receive any unemployment benefits.
They shuffle you like a drunken man's deck. If you work within the store, you are subject to being thrown wherever the managers see fit, regardless of whether you have proficiency in that area, or training in the processes needed to successfully succeed. And when you fail, or get a customer complaint, the manager says, "Why didn't you handle that better?"
I could go on forever.
First thing I will say is that these are the people you should pity the most. They are the ones who have had their souls ground into dust, and then sucked up into the vacuum of the Evil Empire. They no longer have souls and therefore can manage new-hires and veterans alike.
Oftentimes the managers come from nowhere. Literally, they pop up one day and now they're your boss. I asked one of these managers (he was a Co-Manager who appeared out of thin air, Antwan was his name) I said, "Who are you? You just show up out of nowhere and expect people to listen to you?"
"He said. I'm Antwan, and I'm your boss, and I need you to do this, this, and that, and report back to me in an hour. Got it?"
I just stood there. "We're both humans, that much I can deem. But it seems like you think you've become a God or something. What is that?"
He got angry and walked off. He didn't approach me for a few weeks after that, and in the meantime just watched me do my work from afar. He saw that I was a highly motivated worker who did things the most efficient way. He gained respect for me, despite my blasphemous statements before. And then he started ordering me around again.
I said, "Look, Antwan, right? I know you want to be top-dog, alpha-male, and that's cool, but can you do it elsewhere?"
He wrote me up. I don't blame him. I was sick of new faces popping out of thin air and ordering me around like I'm some meat-puppet. That's how the managers learn to treat everyone. Like they're just warm bodies incapable of doing anything on their own. That's why the management position exists in the first place, I suppose.
Not all managers are evil, but all managers are stressed. And a stressed manager is cranky. And a cranky manager is hard to live with. They make your life suck because their life sucks. It's just a trickle-down effect that people looking to apply at Walmart just don't know. They just don't know....
Walmart Does Do Some Things Right
Like, they give to various charities, oftentimes run and funded by employees. And they do a lot of recycling, even though not following perfect protocol on recycling leads to further coaching from the managers. Where Walmart does one good thing, it's always at the expense of something or someone else. That's how they thrive. Lower prices are a good thing, at the expense of the suppliers, and all other shops in the community.
They do give pretty high yearly raises to those who are willing to sell their soul to achieve them.
What else....oh, a consistent paycheck. It may vary in hours, but they do offer money for pretty mindless labor. If your sanity can handle all of what I've detailed above, then have at it. For me, I'd rather be homeless and eating out of a dumpster than work there again. Just personal preference. Actually, I'm pretty close to that eventuality, but I digress...
So Is Walmart Evil and the Worst?
Absolutely. Shop at Aldis, or at a wonderful site called Amazon.com. It has pretty much everything under the sun, and they um, deliver. "Amazing" and "Amazon" share some letters in common.
Anyways, judge for yourself. But I pray for you folks that have applied at Walmart and wish to work there. You will not find any happiness, fulfillment, or success there. It is a pathway that ends in frustration, disappointment, and feeling stupid. Not great feelings. So um. Don't do it! Do some good for the world. Work for a reputable company who treats its employees right! Such places DO exist! You can do this!