The Age of Wal-Mart

So CNBC is airing a 2004 documentary on Walmart this evening, providing various watered down drivel. I enjoyed laughing at this “documentary”, which did at least get me thinking about why I’ve never shopped in a real Walmart store (ASDA in the UK doesn’t count, because UK laws protect consumers and employees to a far greater degree), and never plan to shop there in the future.

They (CNBC) mention how managers are expected to turn up to work at 4:30am, how meetings start by 7:00, and how employees are trained to cut fabric to avoid giving the customer even “a thumb” worth of additional material. And they even (briefly) mention the healthcare situation. But what they don’t mention is that a succesful company shouldn’t be defined by how many hours you can force your worker bees to sandwich into a day, or how much you can shave off healthcare benefits, or even how little you can pay your suppliers for the goods that you sell. These are not good metrics.

I don’t shop in Walmart because I’m not convinced that the employees working there are working in conditions that I would be comfortable with, nor do I believe that it’s acceptable to motivate your entire life around price. A focus on Pricing is helping to damage the fabric of society in US and elsewhere – slowly, over a period of many years – as people become obsessed solely with the best “deal” (that being defined in terms of the lowest dollar amount only). It no longer matters to the average person if a given product is cheaper because the employee selling it has no healthcare, or because the supplier who produced the product employs non-unionised workers in China working in appalling conditions. Just so long as it’s cheap, everything is “good”.

Personally, although I love the US in many ways, I am deeply and personally offended by many business practices here that encourage consumers to forever focus solely on how much they’re paying and not why they’re paying whatever they are. The lack of legislation protecting consumers and employees shocks me on a daily basis, and I genuinely believe society would be much happier and far less stressful with just a few tweaks to the value system. There’s that word, “value”. I dearly wish people would start considering the “value” of goods and services they buy, rather than solely focus on cost. Think about it next time you’re buying your groceries, I know that I do.


One Response to “The Age of Wal-Mart”

  1. Alex says:

    Walmart is the last place in the world I would shop.
    It just sends good manufacturing jobs to third world countries because of Walmart pressure to cut costs.
    It is discusting that this company nickle and dimes its workers from factory floor to sales floor, yet rewards company president Lee Scott with almost 60 million in two years.
    The Walton family of Walmart fame are the richest in the world.
    They are worth over 18 billion American dollars each. All done on the backs of the worlds working poor.
    Walmart will never get a dime from me.
    In conclusion, Walmart will forever have a legacy as a selfish and irresponsible employer. It will never be a great business in the eyes of the world.

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