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Angela Gunn Tech_Space, USA Today.

"[Wal-Mart] demonstrates a clear pattern of deception."

Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio).


January 31st, 2015
Filed under: Employees,Organized Labor,OURWalmart
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Low wages, no benefits, irregular schedules, and unreliable hours are just some of the horrible working conditions most Walmart workers have to endure. Yet when I asked some of the workers what they consider the worst part about working for the corporation, they didn’t mention any of these wretched labor practices. Instead, they all gave the same answer: disrespectful managers. These managers have committed offenses big and small. Some have refused to return a “hello” from their workers. Others have forced workers to do heavy-duty work despite medical conditions and pregnancies. And worse, one manager even told an African-American worker that “he’d like to put [a] rope around his neck.” When workers try to better their working conditions through OUR Walmart, a community of current and former workers, managers’ behavior often gets worse. A manager was even recorded telling workers he “wanted to shoot everyone” organizing for change. This leads to one of two conclusions. Either Walmart is eerily talented at hiring the meanest bullies on earth, or there is something about the corporation’s culture that manipulates its managers into treating workers in a subhuman fashion. [My vote is for the later, JH] After reading leaked documents that exposed the way Walmart trains its managers on how to deal with OUR Walmart workers (hint: by misinforming and tattling on them), I developed a hunch it was the latter. Then "Dan," an assistant manager for a Walmart store in the Midwest, confirmed my intuition. Alyssa Figueroa writing in The Ugly Wal-Mart Truth: Managers Treat the Workers Like Dirt for Alternet.
Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 30th, 2015
Filed under: Banking,Customer Satisfaction
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player This report from Houston sure seems to make the case:
It's tax season and many of us are looking forward to the day we get our tax refund. "I got my income tax this morning," said Amber Calzada who had her refund deposited into her Walmart Money Card account. But she said when she went to the gas station later that day, her card was declined. To clear things up, Calzada said she called the phone number on the back of her card. "I get ahold of a supervisor and she tells me basically there's nothing they can do," Calzada said. "I have to wait 10 business days to access my money." KPRC2 also called Walmart to ask about the hold up. But a spokesperson said Walmart has "nothing to do with" the Walmart Money Card available at their stores. We were referred to Green Dot, the bank that issues the card. Calzada said the company told her she needed to fax them her driver's license, social security number and other forms of identification before the money could become available. A process we were told can usually take a couple of days to complete once the tax refund appears in an account." A Green Dot spokesperson apologized for the confusion but said the company needed additional verification for deposits that are "larger than usual." "But income tax returns are larger than (my usual deposits)," Calzada said when told about the delay. "They should have had something implemented already stating there's gonna be abnormal amounts placed into accounts. All (the card's) advertisement is simply and clear: Direct deposit with us and have it whenever it's ready. That wasn't the case for me."
A 10-day wait? A requirement to fax over photocopies of identification? I've never purchased or used a Green Dot money card, but I have yet to read a positive report about the experience. Instead, what I've learned is the cards are a convenient way to lose control of your money. Connecticut Commissioner of Revenue Services Kevin Sullivan has seriously criticized the program in recent days as an attempt to ensure refund recipients spend their money, once Green Dot releases the funds to the cards, at Walmart. Could Sullivan have only touched the surface? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 29th, 2015
Filed under: Citizen Groups,Despoilment,Legislation,Local
[Update @ 1100: More detail... Update @ 0300 on 30 January: Well, the vote went as I expected. The Louisville Metro Planning Council voted 7-1 with one abstention to give Walmart what the Bentonvile Behemoth wanted: yet another cookie-cutter Supercenter at 18th and Broadway. Walmart earns another Vonnegutian asshole and a so it goes.] I noted this story on Sunday and predicted that tonight's vote will not go well for the people of Louisville. This vote is about the heart and soul of a community that wants to promote walkability and a neighborly atmosphere. Walmart has never been about either and I seriously doubt that the Bentonvile Behemoth is about to change anytime soon.
After months of discussion, controversy, public hearings and even prayer, the Louisville Metro Planning Commission faces a key vote Thursday on whether to approve plans for a Wal-Mart superstore in West Louisville at 18th Street and Broadway. Its decision comes down to this single question: Will Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, get a pass on planning and zoning rules that apply to everyone else? Or, put another way, will the 10 members of the commission stick to the rules they routinely require other developers to meet? Both sides make cases for and against Wal-Mart plan for West Broadway. The stakes are high: Wal-Mart could simply pull out of the project and leave an area desperately in need of investment and jobs with a still vacant lot.The question: Is that a compelling reason for the commission to change just for Wal-Mart the rules spelled out in Louisville's Land Development Code? Wal-Mart is seeking special permission to build a suburban, big box store 154,000 square feet in size, some 400 feet off the road, and fronted by a parking lot of more than 600 spaces. It has made a few concessions but has refused to consider building an "urban Wal-Mart" — less boxy and closer to the street — even though it has done so in other cities to comply with planning rules. Louisville's planning code requires new buildings in downtown areas and in traditional, urban neighborhoods to be built on the sidewalk with downsized parking to promote walking and cycling and improve pedestrian access. Corner sites are especially critical for enhancing the appearance and accessibility of developments.
Years ago I used to attend an annual writer's conference in Louisville organized by the Green River Writers. One year I did a coffee-shop tour of the city and loved the way the shops and the streets felt. Building this Walmart will be like taking a huge shit on the city and any hope of Keeping Louisville Weird. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 29th, 2015
Filed under: Employees,Jobs,Sam's Club,Walmart
When any issue or event involves Walmart, scale must be considered. What might seem insignificant in one case becomes a headline when stretched across the Bentonvile Behemoth's empire. Such is this story about Walmart deciding to layoff, in a manner---60 days notice and a severance check---might be considered un-Walmartish.
Walmart announced on Friday that about 2,300 Sam’s Club employees would be laid off, the latest in a drumbeat of retail job cuts to start off the new year. Bill Durling, a Sam’s Club spokesman, said the layoffs would target a combination of salaried assistant managers and hourly employees. Certain positions, like telephone attendants, will be eliminated. “We realized we had pretty much the same club structure whether a club had $50 million in revenue or $100 million in revenue,” Mr. Durling said of the distribution of assistant managers. “What we’re trying to do is balance our resources.” Sam’s Club has about 116,000 employees, Mr. Durling said, and the job cuts will affect about four employees a store. Employees will have 60 paid days to find another job at the company. If they are not successful, they will be eligible for severance.
Meanwhile, back in Bentonville, Arkansas:
It’s time to start the new year at Wal-Mart Stores and that typically signals the end of road for some corporate employees. The retail giant said it eliminated 75 positions at its corporate headquarters in Bentonville on Wednesday. "February is the start of Walmart’s fiscal year, and it’s common for individual departments at the home office to make adjustments at this time of year to better support their and the company’s goals for the upcoming year. As part of these changes, a small number of departments did eliminate some positions. These decisions are never easy, and we are committed to doing the right thing for those affected. We believe these changes will help the company quickly adapt to meet the changing needs of our customers," Wal-Mart noted in the corporate statement.?? Wal-Mart is one of the largest corporate employers in the state with an estimated 12,000 employees at its headquarters. The 75 pink slips issued this week pale in comparison to the 2,300 issued by Sam’s Club last year as it streamlined it management teams and the 300 corporate layoffs Wal-Mart reported in 2011.
Those getting pink slips account for nearly 2 percent of Sam's Club employees. Each matters deeply to the individuals and their families, and may even be felt by co-workers in the individual stores, but in the grand scale of Walmart and the corporate bottom line? Not so much. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 28th, 2015
Filed under: Customer Satisfaction,Groceries
derf walmart 150128 Of course Walmart is not solely responsible for the obesity epidemic, but as the 800 1,600-pound gorilla in the room, Walmart has to accept leadership in what may be the most controllable of health crises.
Our collective waistline has been expanding for decades. The adult obesity rate in the United States surged from 13 percent in 1960 to a whopping 35 percent in 2012---with the most pounds added during the ’80s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, the first Wal-Mart store opened in 1962. The first Sam’s Club debuted in 1983. The first Wal-Mart Supercenter came in 1988. And today, thousands of warehouse-style grocery destinations offer bargains in bulk to shoppers across the country. Coincidence? Maybe not. A new paper argues that food distribution methods have contributed to America’s obesity crisis. “We live in an environment with increasingly cheap and readily available junk food,” said Charles Courtemanche, assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University. “We buy in bulk. We tend to have more food around. It takes more and more discipline and self-control to not let that influence your weight.” Courtemanche co-authored a paper with researchers from the University of Iowa, University of Virginia and University of Louisville that was released this week and that examines how different economic factors drive obesity in America. One of the biggest culprits: more cheap goods sold in bulk. “Greater availability of these stores reduces travel time to obtain food, presumably increasing weight,” researchers wrote.
Perhaps the time has come for a change to the Walmart slogan. How about Walmart, the universe's source of cheap empty calories from China? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 27th, 2015
Filed under: Crime
I have said before that Walmart is not responsible for the crimes committed by others inside the stores or in the parking lots. As the ubiquity and banality of Walmart increases, however, the logic of those who gravitate to Walmarts to do wrong is without blemish. Take the extreme case of Angie Lawson.
Owen County [Indiana] Council member Angie Lawson, suspected of bilking the county of hundreds of thousands of dollars by using county credit cards to purchase everything from liquor to panties to $500 Visa gift cards, touts her experience, credibility and dedication to public service in a biography asking voters to choose her in November’s county clerk election. “She believes that as a community we must all work together and as elected officials we must remain accountable to the community and taxpayers,” it reads. “She is a proven leader, and has proven her ability to effectively administer an elected position and to communicate effectively for the good of the community and the office she has served.” Lawson, 56, is being investigated on suspicion of illegal use of county-issued Walmart credit cards. Preliminary Indiana State Police reports indicate Lawson went on shopping sprees often, sometimes spending more than $2,000 in one transaction. In court documents unsealed last week by Monroe Circuit Judge Marc Kellams, an ISP detective alleges Lawson diverted the Walmart bills to a post office box she shared with her husband and daughter, then issued online check payments using electronic signatures without sending the bills through her office and on to the county commissioners for review.
Hundreds of thousands? In a Walmart? Yep.
A southern Indiana county is suing its former auditor, seeking nearly $1.2 million stemming from what the suit calls "acts of malfeasance." Former Owen County Auditor Angie Lawson has not been charged, but her attorney tells The Herald-Times Lawson is the subject of an FBI investigation. The suit names Lawson, her husband, Larry Lawson, along with her 15 aliases, as defendants. It's seeking the recovery of $1.18 million in public funds, or three times the $400,000 found missing from county coffers so far by an ongoing State Board of Accounts audit.
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January 26th, 2015
Filed under: Despoilment
Ever since we began The Writing On The Wal, nee No Cleveland Walmart, back in 2005, we have gotten pleas from people across the country asking one question: how do we stop Walmart from building in our community? Early on I used to offer hope and ideas, but now I just say that there is not yet a proven strategy and maybe, just maybe, they'll be the community to figure out how to stop the Bentonvile Behemoth from filling their community with cheap plastic crap from China. The story of Lockport, New York, is particularly disheartening, after a 10-year-long battle, as, a headline proclaims, Town officials rejoice as Lockport Walmart supercenter opens. Rejoice? Really?
Wednesday was a memorable day for the Town of Lockport, as the new Walmart supercenter finally opened after 10 years of lawsuits, environmental problems and wrangles over design. “It was a great day for the Town of Lockport to finally have that supercenter open,” Supervisor Marc R. Smith said at Wednesday’s Town Board work session. “I wasn’t kidding when I said it was like Christmas morning.” The 185,209-square-foot store, on the site of the former Lockport Mall, replaces an existing Walmart a quarter-mile away. The new one includes a full supermarket.
Chirstmas in Lockport must warm the heart of Grinches everywhere. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 25th, 2015
Filed under: Despoilment,Legislation,Local,Video
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The original plans did not match city guidelines, and the company was given until Friday to submit revisions. When Walmart officials came before the Metro Louisville Planning Commission in December, the commission asked the company to consider design changes. Walmart said Friday that instead of making those changes, the company will ask the city to make some exceptions to its design standards. "The people in the area have to travel so far to be able to get the benefits that Walmart offers, so it would be right here in their community," business owner Terryl McCray said. McCray owns a business across the street from the proposed Walmart site at 18th Street and Broadway and said she is looking forward to having the store close by. Walmart's traditional layout, with a parking lot in front and a store in the back, doesn't meet the city code, which calls for buildings to be closer to Broadway. "It's their money. They should do it how they want to do it. And they've always done well with all the other Walmarts, so I don't see why they should make this one any different," business owner Amer Almussudi said.
I suspect that McCray and Almussuidi want the parking lot in front for two reasons, first, there own customers will take advantage of the vacant parking just across the street from their stores, and, the further away from their stores the Walmart is set back, the less imposing the store will be. Don't expect Louisville politicians to put up more than a token opposition, if that, after all, if laws aren't rewritten or simply ignored to benefit the Bentonvile Behemoth, what good are they? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 24th, 2015
Filed under: Costco,Customer Satisfaction
Two weeks ago I posted a tongue in cheek jab at Walmart for being selected as one of the four worst business reputations with consumes by The Motley Fool. This week Timothy Green throws a life line to the Bentonvile Behemoth by comparing the world's largest purveyor of cheap plastic crap from China to Costco. Yes. Costco. According to Green, Walmart and Costco are both great retailers, in part, because they both:
keep customers coming back, over and over again, without having to resort to rampant promotions and advertising.
Huh? Green continues:
Wal-Mart is actually one of the world's largest advertisers, spending a whopping $2.4 billion on advertising in 2013. But as a percentage of its revenue, Wal-Mart spends far less than nearly every other major retailer. The exception is Costco, which spends essentially nothing on advertising. Costco does occasionally send out mailers to existing and prospective members, but it doesn't participate in the type of advertising that most retailers rely on.
I don't doubt Green's figures, I just think he dug way to deep to find a kind word to say about Walmart and missed the obvious: Walmart shoppers don't come back again and again because, in Sam Walton's words:
The associates treat the customers well, the customers will return again and again, and that is where the real profit in this business lies, not in trying to drag strangers into your stores for one-time purchases based on splashy sales or expensive advertising.
No. Walmart shoppers come back again and again because often Walmart is not only the only store they can afford to shop in, Walmart is the only store they can get to in a reasonable amount of time. That is very different from Costo shoppers who often drive considerable distances to stock up on large, case-lot quantities of staples at near wholesale prices. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.Walmart,Wal-Mart MAKE IMAGES 447 WIDE
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January 23rd, 2015
Filed under: Food Deserts,Groceries
Walmart seems to be on a philanthropy tear directed at food banks. If I were an enterprising young journalist living in Greeley---famous for the Greeley cattle feed lots---I would ride along for a week or two with the Weld Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry Program and see how many current recipients are also drawing a paycheck from Walmart. A Walflack writes:
Weld Food Bank announced Thursday, January 15, 2015 its recent grant of $25,000 from the Walmart Foundation’s State Giving Program to assist with their Mobile Food Pantry Program. This grant will positively impact the local community by providing funding to ensure that the Mobile Food Pantry can distribute fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the year to hungry individuals living in food deserts throughout Weld County. “Last year, Weld Food Bank distributed 1.4 million pounds of fresh, perishable foods from the Mobile Food Pantry alone,” said Bob O’Connor, Executive Director of Weld Food Bank. “The mobile pantry allows us to take food directly to Weld County communities with the highest need. And thanks to great community partners like Walmart, we are able to serve wholesome foods to families throughout Weld County.” 2014 was the first full year the Weld Food Bank operated its Mobile Food Pantry. The vehicle is on the road serving communities Weld Food Bank has been unable to serve in the past due to location. With help from corporate partners like Walmart, the Mobile Food Pantry was able to provide 61 distribution stops to provide food to the 1 in 6 adults and 1 in 4 children in Weld County who will be hungry this year. “Through organizations like Weld Food Bank, together we are making real progress toward relieving hunger,” said Jeffrey Plumb, Greeley Walmart store manager. “We’re proud to partner with Weld Food Bank and support their Mobile Food Pantry to continue to ensure adults and children in Weld County have immediate access to fresh food.”
Perhaps Bridgett Weaver could interview Plumb as well.
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January 22nd, 2015
Filed under: Meat
No single topic has elicited as many comments here at The Writing On The Wal as the meat Walmart sells. So, when I read the headline Walmart ups the ante on food safety from Meat & Poultry, I knew readers would be ready to pounce. Why? Because food safety has not been the concern of Walmart shoppers. The intensely foul eating experience has.
Retail giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. got the full attention of its beef suppliers by enhancing its food-safety requirements with additional testing and verifications. The new safety measures include prevention-based certification by one of the Global Food Safety Initiative's recognized standards.
Watch the video and tell us if you're feeling much better now. There, well, nothing more to say, move along. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 22nd, 2015
Filed under: Citizen Groups,Despoilment,Video
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A new Walmart opened its doors in Northwest Harris County Wednesday morning, but not everyone is happy about it. Neighbors in the Copper Lakes subdivision say the Walmart Neighborhood Market in the 8700 block of Barker Cypress is too close for comfort. "It has just really robbed the peace and joy of being in our own home," said Ashley Hughes. Neighbors in the Copper Lakes subdivision say the Walmart Neighborhood Market in the 8700 block of Barker Cypress is too close for comfort. They're concerned about property values, privacy and noise and want the store to pay for and build a privacy wall. "They've built this parking lot so that all these parking spaces are facing directly into our back windows and into our yards," said homeowner Justin Tubb. Several neighbors put up signs on their fence facing Walmart expressing their frustration. Even using quotes from founder Sam Walton to get the store's attention. "He said he wants to have satisfaction guaranteed that was the most important thing when he came up with Walmart we won't be satisfied unless we have a wall built," Hughes said. The Copper Lakes Homeowner's Association president Marc Jones told Local 2 it is the responsibility of individual owners to maintain their fence, however he says he has been in talks with Walmart for several months on the residents' behalf. In a statement late Wednesday, a Walmart spokesperson Ann Hatfield said, "We continue the process of working closely with them to address neighbors' questions and concerns." HOA president Jones said he has a meeting scheduled with Walmart on Thursday. Syan Rhodes reporting in New Walmart in NW Harris County too close for comfort for some neighbors for KPRC.
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January 21st, 2015
Filed under: Cleveland,Taxes
Different communities levy different taxes and if, while visiting out of town say, I but a $10 item at a Walmart where the sales tax is 8 percent and return that same item the next day to my local Walmart where the sales tax is 6 percent, Walmart keeps the 20-cent difference. If, on the other hand I reverse the process, Walmart does not add 20-cents to my refund. A federal judge thinks that that is enough of a problem to allow a class action lawsuit against Walmart to go forward.
A federal judge in Cleveland has allowed a class-action suit to move forward in a case that calls Walmart's return policies into question. The federal lawsuit filed in May names Ohio residents Shaun Brandewie and John Newbrough as plaintiffs. It accuses the mega-retailer of not issuing full refunds for products purchased in one county and returned in another. Brandewie bought products at Walmarts and Sam's Club stores in Cuyahoga County but returned them in Summit County. Newbrough purchased items at the Walmart on Steelyard Drive in Cleveland [The store that gave birth to No Cleveland Walmart/The Writing On The Wal, JH] and returned them in Portage County. Both plaintiffs did not receive the full refunds because the sales tax was higher in Cuyahoga County, and the stores in Summit and Portage counties used the local sales tax rates to calculate the refund, according to the lawsuit. Brandewie lost $0.84 after returning three products, while Newbrough lost $0.99. Through this practice, Brandewie and Newbrough allege that Walmart owes more than $5 million in claims to people who have similar experiences — a hurdle for a class-action lawsuit to be filed.
This is not the first time the issue has been raised. I've written about this before in WALMART POCKETING SALES TAX… and WALMART COLLECTS EXCESSIVE SALES TAX…. Critics might argue that Walmart simply breaks even when the reverse happens, but do you think Walmart is likely to add 20 cents to the refund when the return is from a community with a lower sales tax? Me neither. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 20th, 2015
Filed under: Capitalism,Economics,Employment,Organized Labor
Remember Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark./Walmart)? I do. She left the Senate in 2011---she was replaced by John Boozman (R-Ark./Walmart)---after a 58 percent-to-37 percent general election. A year later Elizabeth Warren won election to the Senate and she has been a polar opposite to Walmart's pet senator.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has it out for Walmart. On Tuesday, the freshman senator will hold an event on Capitol Hill calling out the retail giant for its low wages and terrible employment practices. The briefing will be held a week ahead of the nationwide anti-Walmart protests planned for Black Friday. Erika Eichelberger writing in Elizabeth Warren's Next Target: Walmart for Mother Jones.
Warren launched 2015 indicating that her anti-Walmart stance is no passing fad.
Warren kicked off her address by noting that the current economic recovery, while real, hasn't helped most Americans. The stock market's up, but half the country doesn't own any stocks. Inflation is low, but that doesn't matter for millennials burdened by overwhelming student debt. Corporate profits have risen, but that hardly matters to people who work at Walmart and are paid so little that they still need food stamps, Warren said. Patrick Caldwell writing in Elizabeth Warren Fights Back Against the "Magical Accounting" of Trickle-Down Economics for Mother Jones.
I expect that 2015 will be a good year for Warren and an equally harried one for Walmart. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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January 19th, 2015
Filed under: Internet
walmart porn 150118 I run several Google alerts to stay on top of specific interests. For The Writing On The Wal I run a simple search for the tags Walmart and Wal-Mart. Since the first of the year, when I returned to more serious blogging about the Bentonvile Behemoth, I've noticed a heavy concentration---about 30 percent---of the alerts contain one or more links to stories that appear to be about Walmart, but redirect to pornography. After the first couple of such hits I started checking the links before I clicked on them so as to avoid hitting a site that might contain malware. When I spot one, see the three links above (Kala King Patisserie, expressdivorce.ca and ig-glass.ru), I flag the alert as irrelevant and move on. That hackers have figured out the banality of Walmart on the web is a further sign that all the world looks to Wally World. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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