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.