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Angela Gunn Tech_Space, USA Today.

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

Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio).


November 16th, 2015
Filed under: Black Friday
Seven years after Walmart employee Jdimytai Damour was trampled to death by the stampede of shoppers in the blitz line busting through the doors, Walmart has decided that Doorbusters were simply too literal. Bill Blare, reporting in No more doorbusters at Walmart at Junior College, writes:
Wal-Mart said that stock will include more than a million televisions, 15 million movies and 10 million sets of pajamas---all items including in its Black Friday bargains.
Yea bargains! Buried at the bottom, however, is this bit:
Perhaps an even bigger change, though, is that nearly all of Walmart’s sales will be available online first, starting at 3 a.m. EST Thanksgiving day. Walmart is again offering a mobile check-in service that lets you buy online and pick up your items in the store. In recent years, the crowds at Walmart stores during Black Friday have been intense.
So, shoppers on the right side of the digital divide not only get to avoid the crush, they get to shop a full 15 hours before the hoi polloi. In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at WALMART SUPPLIERS ROAR NO MAS…! from 15 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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November 15th, 2015
Filed under: Black Friday
Braving hypothermia huddling in line on a long cold night them fighting to avoid being trampled in the mad rush to wrap your arms around a really cheap flat screen television are declasse. Forget Cyber Monday, Walmart is not waiting to snare those on the other side of the digital divide to boost Black Friday. Ahiza Garcia, reporting for CNN Money in Walmart reveals Black Friday deals, writes:
The discount chain unveiled several Black Friday discounts on TVs, electronics, small home appliances and toys that will be available in store and online during the major shopping day. Walmart.com will kick off its sale at 3 am ET (12:01 am PT) on Thanksgiving Day and sales at Walmart stores will begin at 6 pm.
In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at WALMART VS. THE HORSEMEAT STORE…? from 14 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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November 14th, 2015
Filed under: Employees,Employment,OURWalmart
thanksgiving 131120 One of the strongest weapons in the protest arsenal is the hunger strike. Gandhi used the tactic several times to great effect. British suffragettes attempted to starve themselves in their quest for the vote, but brutal force feeding thwarted their efforts. Irish freedom fighters, lead by Bobby Sands, did starve themselves to death protesting England's occupation of their homeland. In recent years detainees held in Guantanamo Prison have attempted several hunger strikes. Now, 100 members of OURWalmart, protesting the poverty pay of their employer, have committed themselves to a hunger strike. Writing in 'Poverty pay' leads Walmart employees to skip lunch---or steal it from coworkers for The Guardian, Jana Kasperkevic ledes:
Walmart employees are so poor that they are skipping lunch, sharing it or, in some cases, stealing it from their coworkers, some of the company’s workers claimed on Thursday while announcing a fast in protest of the company’s wages. Starting Friday morning, over 100 Walmart associates who are members of Our Walmart, a workers organization, and about a 1,000 supporters will begin a fast to shine light on what they describe as Walmart’s “poverty pay”. The protest comes in the run-up to Thanksgiving and the Black Friday shopping bonanza, one of Walmart’s busiest periods. Some of the workers will take their fast to the doorstep of Walmart heiress Alice Walton’s apartment in New York City.
The one line that everyone remembers from the very bloody French Revolution is Queen Marie Antoinette's slightly misquoted "Let them eat cake." The Waltons may need to pay a little more attention to history. In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at ALICE DOESN’T LIVE THERE ANYMORE… from 13 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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October 27th, 2015
Filed under: Employees,Technology
As if working for Walmart didn't suck hard enough, the company is looking to replace human drones with actual robotic drones. Writing in Walmart applies to test drones for home delivery for The Guardian, Reuters reports:
Walmart Stores Inc applied Monday to US regulators for permission to test drones for home delivery, curbside pickup and checking warehouse inventories, a sign it plans to go head-to-head with Amazon in using drones to fill and deliver online orders. The world’s largest retailer by revenue has for several months been conducting indoor tests of small unmanned aircraft systems – the term regulators use for drones – and is now seeking for the first time to test the machines outdoors. It plans to use drones manufactured by China’s SZ DJI Technology Co Ltd. [Of course. Walmart can't ship actual Chinese nationals here to replace American workers so the company takes the next best route: Chinese made robots. JH] In addition to having drones take inventory of trailers outside its warehouses and perform other tasks aimed at making its distribution system more efficient, Walmart is asking the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to research drone use in “deliveries to customers at Walmart facilities, as well as to consumer homes”, according to a copy of the application reviewed by Reuters.
Military aviation began in the First World War with observers who occasionally threw bricks or took pot shots at each other with pistols. At what point do Amazon, Walmart and gawd knows who else, start taking out each other's drones? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write. In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at WHAT NOT TO BUY AT WALMART… from 11 September.
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October 26th, 2015
Filed under: Employees,Employment
More than eight years ago we wrote about the evils of Wal-Mart's on-call scheduling system for workers. The system may have changed---I certainly hope so---but one of my favorite writers on all-topics-productive, Oliver Burkeman, wrote this week about two studies demonstrating the high levels of unhealthy stressed induced by uncertainty in work demands. Writing in Put Your Life In Flight Mode for The Guardian, Burkeman ledes:
It wasn’t overly surprising, really, to learn from two recent psychology studies that being “on call” is stressful, exhausting and dampens your mood. The tribulations of sleep-deprived junior doctors are legendary, while zero-hours contracts and unpredictable work schedules are subjects of controversy on both sides of the Atlantic. But there are plenty of things wrong with those kinds of jobs: the sleep disruption of shift work; the family disruption of irregular hours; low pay. These studies---one German, one Dutch---sought to pinpoint the specific psychological costs of knowing you could be called upon, so that you can’t entirely relax. Compared with genuine time off, on-call days left workers tired and unhappy, and with higher levels of cortisol in their bloodstreams, regardless of whether they ended up working or not. It also didn’t much matter if they had only a few on-call hours per week; those hours were tense and miserable all the same.
Tense and miserable. Sound right Walmart workers? In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at WAIT, WALMART HIRED RANDOMLY…? from 10 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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October 25th, 2015
Filed under: Humor,Video
I don't always appreciate Bill Maher's humor, but he hits enough home runs to make me ignore the foul tips and infield pop-ups. Especially when he points out how clueless businesses can be when they listen to their own flackery. (Note: I mentioned the Gun Oil story back on 23 September.) In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at CAN WALMART BRING TONKA BACK TO THE U.S....? from 9 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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October 19th, 2015
Filed under: Wall Street
Oh those poor, poor Waltons. Writing in In biggest ever drop, Walmart loses over $20 bn for Dispatch Times, Newsmedia laments:
[Walmart] slid further on Thursday. €82 is the highest target while €57 is the lowest. The blue-chip heavyweight closed with a 10.0 percent loss. South Korea’s Kospi index of shares rose by the most in a month and government bonds added to early gains. won appreciated 1.5 percent, the most since November 2011, to close at 1,130.30 a dollar in Seoul, data compiled by Bloomberg show. “(Wal-Mart) is an influential stock that has moved up and down with the Dow and when we break through a major support level like that’s significant”, said John Kosar, chief market strategist at research firm Asbury Research. They have a TP of $62.00 on WMT or 4.47% more upside. That drop was bad for anyone who owns shares of Walmart.
The Wal-Mart heirs lost big time. The company has a market cap of $192.45 billion and a P/E ratio of 12.41. One thing that surprised Grom and his team was that Wal-Mart’s guidance includes about $20 billion in share repurchases over the next two years. The four shareholders, three children of Sam and Christy, the surviving spouse of a fourth sibling, are among the year’s worst-performing billionaires, losing a total of $41 billion since 1 January. Oh, the humanity. In my ongoing quest to back fill stories, take a look at WILL WALL STREET STAY WALMART'S COURSE...? from 8 September. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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September 23rd, 2015
Filed under: Humor
walmart gun oil This has to be one of the most hilarious product-placement mistakes of all time. Writing in Man Uncovers ‘Epic, Hysterical Fail on Walmart’s Part’ After Checking Out ‘Gun Oil’ Product at the Gun Counter Dave Urbanski sets coffee to spewing from noses.
Jamie Lee Bracey said he was in a Walmart in Florence, Alabama, last week at the gun counter and happened upon a product that piqued his interest — “Gun Oil H2O.” But it turns out the item wasn’t what Bracey thought it was, so he grabbed his cellphone camera apparently on the spot and recounted for us all his stunned reaction, holding one of the bottles he grabbed. “Oh wow,” he said. “It says water-based lubricant for your gun.” Bracey figures the water in the product would cause rust, so he reads further. “Let’s see here. ‘Long-lasting lubrication with easy cleanup. Glycerin and paraben free. Wetter, lighter feel than silicone,’” he recited. “Oh that sounds good. That sounds really good. I think my gun would work really good, wetter and lighter.” But of course, there’s more.
Caution: remove all liquids from near your computer before reading the rest. I can understand how an average Walmart clerk might have been too harried to check the order sending Gun Oil to the firearms department, but I'd think the person behind the counter might have read the label and corrected the mistake.
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September 15th, 2015
Filed under: Vendors
Walmart has squeezed and squeezed and squeezed. Literally strangling American companies until they withered away or fled the country making every effort to please the Beast of Bentonvile. The retail world no longer revolves around Bentonville, Arkansas, however, and vendor no longer roll over and bare their throats line defeated curs. Shannon Pettypiece and Matthew Townsend, reporting in Wal-Mart's Suppliers Are Finally Fighting Back for Bloomberg Business write:
After years of meeting demands for ever cheaper prices, many Wal-Mart Stores Inc. suppliers are saying no to new margin-squeezing storage fees and a payment schedule that could delay for months how quickly some are paid. Saying the new fees will hurt their own bottom lines, several vendors are hiring lawyers, and a top executive from at least one supplier visited Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, in hopes of reversing all or some of the new terms. Two large suppliers with well-known brands that asked not to be identified for fear of hurting their relationship with Wal-Mart have refused to accept the terms and plan to use their size as leverage to negotiate a better deal. ‘Fees Sting’ “Any established supplier doing business with Wal-Mart is already offering by all means the lowest price possible,” said Carol Spieckerman, a consultant who works with several Wal-Mart vendors. “So these fees certainly sting.” Wal-Mart began sending letters to 10,000 U.S. suppliers in June asking them to pay to use its distribution centers, warehouses and for shelf space in new stores, according to letters obtained by Bloomberg News and interviews with eight suppliers and industry consultants. Under the new rules, the frequency of payments depends on how quickly a supplier’s inventory moves.
Walmart enjoyed a nice run as the only game in town. Such run's however, are fleeting. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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September 14th, 2015
Filed under: Competitors,Groceries,Meat
We've written endlessly here about Walmart's meat department, but the news this morning that Walmart is facing a crisis from the German food chain Aldi, infamous for packaging horsemeat as beef, is ironic. Hayley Peterson, reporting for Business Insider in 'The worst storm in retail history' is heading straight for Walmart... writes:
Two highly competitive German grocery stores, Aldi and Lidl, are plotting to take over the US — and that's terrible news for Walmart, Kroger, and Whole Foods. Aldi and Lidl have upended the UK grocery market over the past several years by sending the nation's largest supermarkets into a crippling price war that has dented profits, triggered layoffs, and sent the companies' share prices tumbling, The Wall Street Journal reports. The CEO of Asda, the UK's second-largest grocery chain, has called the new competitive environment created by Aldi and Lidl "the worst storm in retail history."
The full-pages ads just write themselves: Walmart: At Least Our Meat Doesn't Whinny. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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September 13th, 2015
Filed under: Alice Walton
What can you get for $19,750,000 these days? Well, Alice Walton's 1,435 acre ranch in Texas would be one suggestion. Carol Christian, writing in Alice Walton of famed Walmart family selling $19.75 million Texas horse ranch for The Houston Chronicle reports:
The 1,435-acre property is among the largest cutting-horse ranches in Texas and includes a 4,000-square-foot main residence overlooking the Brazos Valley, according to a statement from Williams Trew. Rocking W Ranch has hundreds of acres capable of producing Coastal Bermuda hay and a diverse hunting terrain as well as additional residences for staff and guests, according to the company. About 45 minutes west of Fort Worth on Interstate 20, the ranch also includes three-quarters of a mile of Brazos River frontage with "significant" water rights and mineral rights with current production, the statement said. With the ranch sale, Walton is turning her attention to other priorities, including the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., where she is the board chairwoman. "I have loved this business and this way of life," Walton said in a prepared statement. "But it is time for me to pull back and focus on other things that really matter to me."
Can there be any doubt what really matters to Sam Walton's daughter? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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September 12th, 2015
Filed under: Employees,Employment,Five closed stores,Litigation,Organized Labor
The stores are reopening, but the labor battle over Walmart's union-busting ruse is far from over. Reuter's reports in Unions file new Wal-Mart labor complaint related to store closure that:
Unions filed a second labor board complaint against Wal-Mart Stores Inc related to its temporary closure of a California store, claiming the retailer discriminated against activist workers by not transferring them to nearby stores. The retailer says the closure of the California store - and four others at the center of the first complaint - was justified by the need for extensive repairs. It says it has offered 75 percent of employees who sought a transfer an opportunity to do so. The United Food & Commercial Workers International Union, the AFL-CIO and an organization of Wal-Mart workers submitted the latest complaint to the National Labor Relations Board on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the UFCW said. The ongoing dispute dates back to April, when Wal-Mart closed five stores in Texas, Oklahoma, Florida and California citing the need for extensive plumbing and other repairs, affecting some 2,200 workers.
Sometimes I wonder if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing at Walmart. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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September 11th, 2015
Filed under: Customer Satisfaction
If you must shop at Walmart, and there are a lot of people who have little or no choice in the matter, Daniel B. Kline recommends a short list of items that you are better off buying elsewhere.
Wal-Mart has a well-deserved reputation for offering low prices. The company pushes value as its calling card, and in most cases it delivers. Being sometimes the cheapest isn't the same as being always the cheapest, and Wal-Mart can be beaten on a pure price basis. Dollar General has even beaten the retail giant on Kantar Retail's annual study, which assesses the lowest price available on 21 categories across the edible grocery, non-edible grocery, and health and beauty aids segments, CNBC reported. In that case, both companies offer excellent value, but in a few areas Wal-Mart can be consistently beaten by select competitors. You'll never go broke shopping at Wal-Mart compared with other retailers, but being selective can help you multiply your savings.
What items does Kline recommend buying elsewhere:
  • Toys and games (with Black Friday looming that has to hurt, JH.),
  • Organic milk (Walmart shoppers buy organic milk? JH.),
  • Gift cards,
  • Batteries and
  • Gift wrap.
  • Buying toothpaste is still encouraged, however. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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    September 10th, 2015
    Filed under: Employees,Employment
    I love the lede on this piece from down under. Kalyan Kumar, writing for International Business Times in Walmart changes labour model: shifts focus to retaining highly productive employees with more investment tells readers:
    American retail giant Walmart is changing its labour model by ditching its tested model of hiring randomly. It is now trying to move into a more investment-oriented model where new recruits will be given more training, paid more and offered rewards to ensure high productivity. Analysts say, Walmart is actually emulating the Costco model and is moving out of its traditional models. But the focus is the same – getting high productivity without excessive cost. The economists who have studied the retail sector point to "low-road” and “high-road” employers in the sector. In the first group, the emphasis is on keeping labour costs down, while the other group invests more in workers and reaps big benefits from enhanced productivity. By seeking the new transformation, cost-conscious Walmart is aiming to take the high road.
    That is, of course, assuming that there is any high-road to take. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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    September 9th, 2015
    Filed under: International,Outsourcing,Toys
    My brothers and I had more than a few Tonka trucks when I we were still in single-digit. Their sturdy metal construction stood up to serious earth moving in our back yard and many of the vehicles got passed down over the years and are still in good, if battered, shape. Like most toys today, Tonka trucks are made in the Far East. Funrise, which licensed the sales rights Tonka from Hasbro, wants to change that sad reality.
    Originally made from steel at a Minnesota factory, Tonka trucks have been imported from Asia for the last couple of decades. But there’s a surprising twist to the story: Now the new Chinese chief executive of Funrise is exploring how to make at least a few Tonka trucks in the United States. “Toy manufacturing in the U.S. has dwindled to almost zero,” says CEO King C. Cheng, 23, who is too young to remember when toys were made anywhere but Asia. But with a nudge from Walmart, which has vowed to buy $250 billion worth of American-made products over the next decade, Funrise is giving its manufacturing footprint a second look. Says Cheng: “We’re trying very hard to bring a Tonka vehicle back to the U.S.–something that’s simple, probably not steel, but fits the heritage of the brand.” He’s got a milestone to shoot for: In 2017 Tonka will mark its 70th anniversary.
    Maybe Christmas will be more solid next year? Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.
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