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My Wal-Mart, My Ass!

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(no subject) [Dec. 15th, 2006|02:27 am]

wizardofaus
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So -that's- where chatspeak comes from... [Nov. 14th, 2006|06:57 pm]

wizardofaus

Wal-Mart: Doing its part to keep people stupid.
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...while I'm on the subject... [Oct. 18th, 2006|12:29 am]

wizardofaus
Here's something that's really bothering me. It's not going into effect until Thursday, but I figure I'm very likely to get screwed here anyhow, because of some statements made by management... well, here goes.

Our state enforced a higher minimum wage rate (from $6.15 to $7.15) starting on October 1st, 2006. Before then, our store's starting wages were $7.00. As a result of the minimum wage increase, Wal-Mart agreed to increase its store base pay rate from $7.00 to $8.25. Of course, any Wal-Mart associate can guess what comes next...

... not everyone is getting the wage increase. Or any wage increase. Specifically, new associates (those who have not been with the company for about a year) will see the $1.25 increase. However, everyone else can expect 'from a quarter to $1.25, unless they've been with the company for a while, in which case they get nothing'. I recently received my performance review for six years of company service -- and when I asked about it, I was cheerfully informed that 'since it's not in the system, you're probably not getting it', and that the store manager would be 'explaining to everyone who didn't get it why not'. So I'm expecting Thursday is going to be grim. Nobody's made it clear exactly who gets a raise or not, except 'those who've been here a long time probably won't get anything'.

The cost of living has been steadily rising in the area (more so than my meager paycheck), and frankly, I'm angry about this whole thing. It's bad enough that they've imposed maximum wage limits on associates -- in short, you can't earn more than $14.80 or so if you're a 'pay class 1' associate. This might have increased with the starting pay increase (they claimed it would, but conveniently didn't mention this bit of wallet rape), but anyhow, the point is, it basically boils down to 'once you hit 15 years of service -- sooner if you were an excellent worker -- you no longer receive raises except via promotion wtihin the company, which is very reasonable because look at all the benefits there are of working here'.

So, yeah. I've been trying to tamp this down, but seeing the article set me off again. It pisses me off that basically, I stand a very real chance of losing two and a half years' worth of my career in raises, and although I'm encouraged to smile and be happy about it, I'm getting very, very tired of being screwed over by the company. Their benefits package is almost nonexistent, and much of their benefits don't even take effect until you've been with the company for several years (3 years is the minimum for getting any of that profit sharing they tout so heavily, for example).

-=sigh=- There's always one or two people at a meeting to seed the crowd of these announcements with 'oh, that's good' mentality ... but more telling is the fact that they're always the only people saying anything positive at all. Most Wal-Mart associates (at my store, anyhow) are aware they're getting screwed, and just aren't sure how much they're getting screwed by or what they can do about it.
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Wal-Mart suffering from walk-outs... [Oct. 17th, 2006|11:54 pm]

wizardofaus
http://www.businessweek.com/bwdaily/dnflash/content/oct2006/db20061017_601244.htm?chan=rss_topStories_ssi_5

Is your job safe?

(Oh, and for people wondering about the problems with getting sick time -- I have a thirty-step list right here. Are there steps missing from this list? Let me know!
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"Things are better over here, because quitting is too much effort." [Aug. 16th, 2006|08:22 pm]

wizardofaus


Even in retail, companies spend most of their time focusing on telling you this. Well, that, and 'you're already overpaid'.
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Wal-Mart fails Anthropology 101 [Aug. 10th, 2006|12:08 pm]

anthrogrrl
[mood |giddygiddy]

JULY 28, 2006

Europe

By Kate Norton


Wal-Mart's German Retreat

The U.S. price-cutting retailer made a series of bad moves and has now sold its stores to the competition. Was a lesson learned?


Want to know how not to do business in Germany? Just ask Wal-Mart. After nine years of trying to make a go of it, the Bentonville (Ark.)-based retailer said July 28 that it will sell its 85 stores to German rival Metro.

Wal-Mart (WMT ) will pay dearly for its about-face, which comes amid declining market share at its Asda stores in Britain and follows its retreat from South Korea two months ago. The company is taking a $1 billion hit to quit the market, while a source familiar with the deal said Metro paid as much as $100 million less for the Wal-Mart stores than the value of the real estate, unsold merchandise, and other physical assets.

The retreat is hardly surprising given Wal-Mart's numerous missteps in Germany. Perhaps its most glaring was misjudging the German consumer and business culture. For instance, German Wal-Marts adopted the U.S. custom of bagging groceries, which many German consumers find distasteful because they tend not to like strangers handling their food.

OUTNUMBERED.  It also imported its U.S.-style company ethic, which includes strongly discouraging interoffice romances. Many employees found the code intrusive. The company also had repeated clashes with unions. "Wal-Mart was not very humble when they went in," says Bryan Roberts, an analyst at Planet Retail, an industry research firm. "They wanted to impose their own culture."

Just as important was Wal-Mart's apparent underestimation of the competition and its miscalculation of the market. Wal-Mart may be the king of low prices in the U.S., but it was often undercut in Germany by local rivals such as Aldi and Lidl. One reason for that may have been that Wal-Mart never had enough stores in Germany to effectively compete. Aldi has some 4,000 stores, giving it a big advantage in logistics and advertising.

CHANGE OF PLANS.  Wal-Mart also spent many years renovating the few stores it did have and adjusting its business model to Germany, though the company declined to say how much it spent. In the end, to work efficiently, Wal-Mart would have had to invest massively to acquire more sites.

In the end, it chose to pull out. Wal-Mart, which has 2,700 stores in 14 countries outside the U.S., and global sales of $312 billion last year, says it now plans to concentrate on markets such as Latin America, Asia, and new markets where it can get a higher return.

Has the retailer learned from the German fiasco? Analysts expect to see it taking a more arm's length approach to management of international operations in the future and to be increasingly open to working with local partners. That should help Wal-Mart better tailor its stores to local tastes and avoid stocking goods that are common in the U.S., but with little appeal to shoppers outside the U.S.

Wal-Mart's not about to beat a retreat on its global ambitions. But its success means it has got to be more careful about how it addresses cultural differences—across the board.

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Wal-Mart: Telling Game Companies What To Make For You [Aug. 9th, 2006|12:48 am]

wizardofaus
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/issue/40/11

It's fun what you can find wandering around on the Internet.
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Wage caps [Aug. 7th, 2006|07:50 pm]

wizardofaus
[mood |working]

I'm really ticked off about this, even though it doesn't directly affect me.

In short, management just explained today that the company is putting an upper cap on earnable wages, determined by the person's current pay class. At this store, for pay class 2 (most associates), the wage cap is about $15. Given that the base rate of the store is $7, this means that it would take 20 okay yearly evaluations (at +40 cent raise per eval) or 14 excellent yearly evaluations (at +60 cent raise per eval) to actually attain that amount. Once you reach that amount, though, you cannot receive any raise (unless you are promoted/transfer to a higher position.)

This doesn't directly affect me. After being with the company for over five years, I'm at pay class 1 and earning slightly under $10. Assuming normal evaluations, it would take me over ten years to reach $14 (I think that the cap for pay class 1 is $14.something, so $14 is a reasonable approximation.) In short, unless the company actually gives me raises, it'll take me over ten years to reach my pay cap.

Of course, merit raises are no longer allowed for the company, so evaluations (and promotion -- except that I have a weight restriction, so there's practically no other job in the company that I can achieve) are the only way to go here. So in about 11 years, I'll no longer receive yearly raises.

Anyone who happens to be paid more than the cap (say, someone who actually did very well and gave 25 years of service) will not have their pay cut (though apparently there's some sort of 'let's sit down and chat' thing that might be just 'you don't get raises anymore' or might be 'get the fuck out, you old biddy, or go to part-time, you make too much money.' I saw one woman who'd been called in for a chat with two assistant managers shortly after the announcement leaving in tears.)

Why does this worry me?

Wal-Mart has a history of changing things 'to improve value to the customer' -- shorthand for 'to screw the associate sideways'. Vacation time used to be a guaranteed number of weeks. Now it's a complex mathematical formula (if you don't work 40 hours a week for 52 weeks -- say, if you miss a day for being sick, or if you get sent home early one day because they need to cut back on their budget -- you get less vacation time), and so is sick and personal time earned. The time clock has been changed so that if you're not scheduled for a given day (and time), you have to get a member of management to clock you in (which means, depending on the manager's mood, they may get you in right away, or you might have to spend fifteen minutes proving that it's the schedule that's wrong, not you). If they have to raise the starting pay rate for a store (say, by a dollar), instead of upgrading associates each a dollar, they have a process to determine whether that associate is already making enough money that they don't have to give them the dollar or not.

When Wal-Mart makes changes to its policies on matters of wages, it's generally a bad sign. Wal-Mart's internal "Daily News" publication is full of complaint-oriented articles about cities trying to raise the minimum wage for 'big box' stores like them, forcing them to pay health care, etc.

It really didn't help that at the announcement meeting, they had one manager on call to (as she loudly professed) be the 'devil's advocate' and ask such hard-hitting questions as 'What does it mean that there is a wage cap?' Once associates started asking actual questions about just how badly this would affect their futures, she rapidly switched to pointing out how many great things Wal-Mart was doing in other areas (like, we aren't laying off tons of people yet! Yay!)

In trying to reply to the associates (most of whom were quietly, or not so quietly, depressed or alarmed at the bad omens this ensued), they tried to convince them that Wal-Mart isn't so evil by emphasizing how 'competitive' this was. (As Dilbert would say, 'competitive' means not best. Does that mean we could get a better job elsewhere?)

Further, Wal-Mart offers great health benefits (nevermind that they throw such a STINK when asked to offer these benefits in certain states, or that these 'great benefits' are sometimes really not all they're cracked up to be), and 'other companies would just fire associates who are making too much money and hire two associates that make half as much, so you should feel lucky'.

Oh, and what happens when you hit the wage cap? What motivation is there for you to keep working? 'Well, you still have a job, right? You're here to perform an obligation, and you get paid for that obligation.' Of course, since there's no additional bonus for those overacheivers, there's no longer any motivation to work so darn hard, is there? 'And if you were to go somewhere else, you'd have to start all over at $7 an hour again.'

I dunno. Frankly, I know I have little excuse to be directly annoyed at this -- it's not going to immediately affect me. But considering Wal-Mart's tendencies, it does set an ominous precedent. And the sheer condescending tone of it as expressed by my management staff... bah.
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Migraines and sick time [May. 7th, 2006|02:16 am]

wizardofaus
Ever wake up in the middle of the night with a feeling like someone is stabbing your brain? Yes, migraines aren't very fun things to have. But in case you were wondering, Wal-Mart has a policy when it comes to calling out for having a migraine.

First, as with any time you are sick, you're required to call in to call out, and to specifically catch a member of management in order to do so. Makes a certain amount of sense... excepting that the point of the manager is to attempt to badger you into coming in regardless of whether you're bleeding, vomiting, or otherwise incapable of rational thought. If you call in more than thirty minutes before your shift is scheduled to begin, they are required to instruct you to call back then, in the event that you should suffer some sort of miraculous recovery. Most amusingly, in the case of 'migraines and severe neck pain', it is apparently also regulation to instruct the associate to 'take a Tylenol and see if that helps'. Even if that person has spinal problems and has explained that this is a problem that medication is not helping.) And almost invariably, they require you to bring in a doctor's note for your ailment in order for you to use your sick time (and you never get sick time for your first day absent, either). Oh, what fun it is to be sick at Wal-Mart!
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(no subject) [Mar. 1st, 2006|01:39 am]

wizardofaus
Paved Paradise - A Wal-Mart negligence photo essay

Sorry I've been quiet for a while, guys -- real life came down on me rather hard, and basically put me away from Wal-Mart for a while. (Spending two months with no income at all trying to negotiate a new job to perform within the company with my new disabilities didn't help my mood, either.) So the above is a small thing to start things off with again.
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