Jason Wert.jpg

Branson Tri-Lakes News Reporter Jason Wert

Greetings fellow Walmart employees!

I know most of you right now are saying to yourself that you don’t work at Walmart, and given the chaos you see most Saturday afternoons at Sam’s old stomping ground, you’re likely thinking you’re glad you don’t work there.

I didn’t think I worked there. I thought I worked at the Branson Tri-Lakes News. I thought I did some odds and ends jobs to pick up a little additional money.

I was wrong.

I realized during a trip to Walmart on 76 Country Boulevard that I had unwillingly been made a part of the Walmart workforce. It’s a job where I get exactly zero pay, no benefits, and certainly no employee discount. I don’t even get one of those lively blue vests that proudly tell me they were made out of recycled plastic.

I realized that I was now a cashier for the mighty Walmart.

The reason? There were absolutely no lanes for someone to get in line, put the items they wished to purchase onto a conveyor belt covered in stains of things you didn’t want to think about, and have a person pretending they were glad to be working scan and bag the items.

No, I get to do all of that myself now.

Walmart wants you to believe it’s for a host of reasons other than they don’t want to pay for employees to stand there and run a cash register and bag your impulse purchase of a 48 pack of Banjo Boy Beef Jerky.  

In a June 2020 posting to their corporate website, Walmart Corporate Affairs staffer Matt Smith said their “new checkout experience seeks to eliminate the wait” and aims to “add options at the register.”

Add options at the register? I always thought Walmart had a wide variety of options at their regular checkout lines. You can pick between a dozen various publications that will tell you everything from the shoe size of the Dutchess of Kent to which members of the U.S. military have had their bodies overtaken by aliens from planet Glubglub.  

You also have the option of 4,297,527 products that have “AS SEEN ON TV!” stamped somewhere on the packaging.  

These options also don’t take into account the candy, chips, soda, gum, breath mints, peanuts, cashews  and dried meat of some animal.

These new checkouts don’t seem to have those handy choices, so in reality, Walmart is giving us even less options at the register, and they’re making us work for them for that honor!

Walmart’s explanation kept spinning things harder than a nuclear powered carnival Tilt-A-Whirl.  

They call it a “full-service checkout experience.”

Full service? When I’m the one scanning and bagging my own groceries? It’s like they’re banking on the idea that people are so stupid that they can’t remember “full service” means “we do it all for the customer.” At least gas stations have the decency to put “self service” on the pumps.  

Now, for those of you whose knowledge of world history ends around the time Keeping Up With The Kardashians went on TV, at one time you could pull into a gas station and get what was called “full service.” An employee would fill your car with gas, sometimes check your car’s oil levels, refill the wiper fluid, and handle your payment. You didn’t have to leave the car or break a sweat!

THAT is “full service.”  Not “we have someone standing behind a kiosk that points at a self service station that’s not being used and grunts a sound that almost sounds like ‘there’.”

One of the craziest parts of Walmart’s comic attempt at justifying making all of us do the work of employees for no pay was when they attempted to downplay the complaint that “there aren’t enough [checkout] lanes open.”

Walmart’s excuses were that people couldn’t see which lanes were open because of “physical walls between them.” Lanes were “slow to adapt to sudden changes in customer flow.”   They even claimed that “getting another cashier isn’t always easy.”

Note to Walmart corporate: I have the answer for you. I can tell you exactly why your customers were saying most of the time there weren’t enough lanes open. Are you ready? Are you sitting down? Is your tray table in its upright and locked position?

It’s because you didn’t have enough lanes open.

That’s not on the customer. That’s on YOU. You’re supposed to be the retail experts who know how to manage your personnel and when you have 12 checkout lanes, you darn well better be ready to have all 12 of them running if the demand meets it. That’s just Business 101.  

The most insane part of Walmart’s explanation about why they were forcing customers to do the work of their employees? When they said...

“Running a register in the lane-driven layout is a fairly complicated job. On average, it takes 40 hours of cashier training to operate a register. With the new layout, the training takes less than a day, so Hosts can start helping customers much faster.”

Do you realize what they’re saying here? “Hey, this is a complicated job, so we’re going to let completely untrained people do this difficult task. And with this new layout, since we don’t really have to train our staff to do the job, we can not pay employees for those training hours and just like we’re not paying customers to check themselves out!”

Walmart ends their Don Quixote attempt at justifying making all of us do their work for them by quoting a manager of a store that says “There’s no doubt in my mind we will win the customer over as long as they give us a chance.”

It’s not about winning us over. It’s about forcing us to do their job long enough that we don’t feel we have a choice but to do it. It’s about banking on our going to Walmart for everything being such a habit that we won’t realize our friendly neighborhood locally owned grocery still has checkout lines where they will provide us with true full service when we check out.

In reality, you, me, and all our fellow new Walmart employees were the LAST thing on their minds.

Why do I say we were the last thing on their minds?

If we weren’t last in the priority order, we would be treated as valued customers who are treated with respect and have our items scanned, packed, and placed in carts instead of making us pay money to work for Walmart doing that very job.

The 48 pack of beef jerky that I have to pay for just isn’t worth it.

(12) comments

sheens

Keeping w/the Don Quixote theme, it truly is an epic (and mythical) journey of courage and valor that you went through when you not only had to scan your own groceries, but then also bag them too. I mean, King Arthur, eat your heart out.

I agree with you. Take me back to the days where my only options are one of the two whole lanes that are open, where I'll inevitably be stuck for half an hour behind the person who decided to buy one of everything in the store, where I'll have to unload all of my groceries myself onto a stained conveyor belt, where I'll have to myself use the card reader to pay for everything, where I'll have to by myself load all of the groceries back into my cart, but, as is my right as the almighty customer, the cashier will at least handle the two tasks I couldn't be bothered with doing, scanning and bagging the groceries for me. I'm owed at least those two minor, meager things.

I mean, by your own logic, those two things are what make up the definition of "full service", correct? Wouldn't it maybe make more sense to consider "full service" meaning you have everything delivered to your car w/out you even having to step foot outside, which is coincidentally a service that's totally offered, for FREE, to anyone who wants to take advantage of it.

What I'm saying is, you have zero reason to complain here, especially considering how much of your article is complaining about all of the things we all hate about the traditional checkout experience! The stained conveyer belt, the cashier pretending to enjoy their job, the thousands of magazines, gums, snacks, etc. We all hate that stuff too, and this new method allows you to skip it, as long as you're willing to do two very simple, very easy, very not-worth-complaining-about things. You are literally complaining about the solution to the other thing you're complaining about. How do you not see this?

I mean, you have no issue w/gas stations forcing us to do literally all of their work for them, and it's simply because they put "self service" on their pumps?

That's it?

So, by your own logic, if Walmart came out and said "Hey, we're all self service now," you'd have to be suddenly cool with them asking you to bag your own groceries. That's all it would take.

You know, if an issue in your life can be solved with something as simple as a corporation redefining a policy or practice that mildly inconvenienced you even though you chose to participate in and allow it, then maybe you really don't have much to be complaining about.

rd13coydog

I totally agree with all of his points. If I want to scan or bag my own items I will go to save-a-lot, or Sam's club. If you didn't want to pay cashiers to take care of checking, & bagging your customers purchases why did you ever install so many check out lanes. Furthermore if I have to do all the damn work you need to lower some prices since you have lowered your overhead, & find machines that will allow customers to pay by check without waiting on an attendant that is so board by standing around that they aren't even paying attention.

destiny

If you want cheap prices, get used to it, if you want customer service, try a full service grocery store, just be ready to pay for it.🤷🏼‍♀️

destiny

Your full service has station analogy is spot on! Another would be ATM’s and virtual banking versus banks having tellers and waiting in line to deposit or cash your check each payday. No one is complaining about those conveniences, but banks now employ fewer tellers because of them.

savemecheezus

Welcome to late stage capitalism. Yeah, waiting in checkout lines sucks. I prefer the self checkout because I hate talking to people. But there's something far more sinister going on here. These machines are replacing actual workers. Making sure that that many more people can't provide for their families and have to go on welfare and food stamps. The ones that do still work there have to do that already, because they don't get full time hours so Walmart can avoid paying out benefits. And then they get out of paying $1 billion in taxes anually, because of corporate subsidies we the taxpayers pay for. If you wanna be mad at Walmart , there's plenty to be mad about.

destiny

If your unhappy with capitalism can I assume you preferred 2020, when selection was totally limited and you were limited as to how many of certain items you could purchase, only one adult per family was allowed to shop and you couldn’t take your children into the stores, you got to stand in line outside and were counted as you went in and came out to limit the number of customers inside? That was just a tiny taste of what citizens in Socialist or Communist countries deal with.

toby2b2

Seems the obvious solution would be for the customer to miss scanning a few items at every visit, since they have not been trained to do this job, nor are they being paid to do it. Some might consider this stealing, but is it really? You are not working for Walmart, but they are forcing you to do a job for them for free, while they are eliminating jobs for others at your expense. They are the criminals here, and the customers should make a stand before it is too late. But my personal solution to this will be to start shopping at Target, where they still care about the customer. Will this be enough? Not unless everyone makes a stand against this corporate giant, as they are arrogant enough to believe that our nation is full of lemmings who will just go with the flow, and do whatever they ask of them....are they right in this assumption? Time will tell!

toby2b2

Seems the obvious solution would be for the customer to miss scanning a few items at every visit, since they have not been trained to do this job, nor are they being paid to do it. Some might consider this stealing, but is it really? You are not working for Walmart, but they are forcing you to do a job for them for free, while they are eliminating jobs for others at your expense. They are the criminals here, and the customers should make a stand before it is too late. But my personal solution to this will be to start shopping at Target, where they still care about the customer. Will this be enough? Not unless everyone makes a stand against this corporate giant, as they are arrogant enough to believe that our nation is full of lemmings who will just go with the flow, and do whatever they ask of them....are they right in this assumption? Time will tell!

destiny

Your suggestion is appalling!! You are suggesting people steal from a store? Seriously? You think that scanning your own items means the store is stealing from you? If I were a store owner, I’d just as soon not have you for a customer! You should be ashamed to even have those thoughts, let alone put them in writing!!

Hmmm?

I can’t believe it but I actually created an account to respond to this article.

1. If you are all for the other local grocery stores and can so easily flip to one of those now because you don’t want to scan your rather large numbers of beef jerky, shame on you for not shopping local sooner.

2. As you said, most people shop there for the cheaper groceries. If they open all 12 lines, at all stores, it will drive up the cost of groceries to cover the employees now working those lines. Obviously Walmart is going to do anything possible to keep it cheap for them, so I’m not saying I agree with it, but I think we all know their game by now and we have pretty much accepted it so we can get all that beef jerky at deliciously low prices.

3. I am truly shocked you wrote not a single thing about local Walmart employees losing their jobs to the machines. All I really heard was these cashiers were miserable and now I have to be miserable doing it. At least you still seemingly have a job at this paper.

4. From most things I have read and experienced around this area, companies are having a hard time staying staffed because “no one wants to work” (debate for another time) so good old Walfart likely couldn’t open more than two lines present day if they would like to. Certainly, no one who already “doesn’t want to work” wouldn’t want to come in and work the miserable job you described. In all actuality this was probably a genius move by Walmart so they could keep that side of the house leaner to keep things running in other parts of the store based on fewer people working post Covid.

Anywho, just had to say my peace on that. Be well.

JR

The thing with this Walmart in Branson is - there were ALREADY self checkout lanes along with the 10 cashier lanes (that never had more than 2 staffed at once). The writing was on the wall, and it flat out stinks.

I like having the option of the self checkout when it's packed, but I do miss the interaction with the cashiers on the slow late-weekday evenings. Especially for a supposedly family-friendly town where quite a lot of seniors frequent, it seems an odd choice to take out all of the human element.

destiny

I’m going to assume you’ve not been shopping in the past 10 years. Target, Dollar General, grocery stores, even some convenience stores have all installed self check outs. Advantages are plentiful. More checkouts, therefore shorter waits that’s if the store has to have an employee at each register regardless of actual need. You can separate your purchases so your toilet cleaner and fresh fruit aren’t in the same bag. Double charging only happens through your own carelessness. You’re able to see the price rung up for each item rather than having the cashier running those items while you’re unloading the cart. This has come about as stores have caved to the pressure of raising hourly pay for a job that can be done by an untrained customer. You fail to recognize that this is a natural result of such demands. The same reason you see food places installing order kiosks or having people seat themselves and order on their phone app rather than stand in line at a counter. I’ll be waiting for your complaint article when you discover this.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.