General

How can Walmart be this stupid?

Seriously Walmart?  How can you be this stupid?  Ok look, I’m the first to admit that I’m a neurotic, information technology engineer with, at the very least, some degree of an antisocial personality disorder.  BUT… I’m still pretty sure I’m spot on here…

So, I went to Walmart to pick up a few items.  Deodorant, toothpaste, some Benedryl.  Uh oh…  great.  So, my local Walmart has now put the Benedryl behind locked glass.  This pisses me off.  And not simply because it’s an inconvenience.  Putting the razors behind locked glass is also an inconvenience, and that annoys me.  But it’s at least logically consistent.

I can only imagine two general scenarios that would motivate putting items behind glass at Walmart:

  • You need to keep secure control of who gets a product in their hands (e.g. you need to ID people before letting them purchase alcohol or cigarettes).
  • You need to ensure that items are not stolen and therefore you require they be purchased before leaving the area when they’re retrieved from behind the glass.

In this instance though, neither is the case.  The items on the Benedryl isle were behind locked glass that only some Walmart employees had keys to.  I had to flag down half a dozen before finding one who had keys to retrieve my items.  Once I finally did though, I was incensed when it was simply handed to me.  No ID, and no checkout.  I waited around briefly out of curiosity and witnessed the same thing happen several times.  Different employees, and different customers.  This is absolute idiocy.

Walmart, the seeming paragon of operational logistics and efficiency is failing hard here.  You’re either failing to properly ensure these items are paid for, failing to properly ensure these items are only provided to identified adults, or, you’re massively inconveniencing your customers, and creating additional labor for your employees with absolutely no achieved benefit!

Normally I wouldn’t be so upset by this, but this Walmart already has me on edge.  When I first moved to the bay area from the southeast, I found it crazy that the more temperate climate here has the consistent tendency to sell melted and partially at least re-frozen ice cream.  The same reason I sweated like crazy in my apartment for the first few weeks.  When it’s not that hot, you don’t think you need that good of a freezer for your ice cream.  In Tennessee/Georgia/Florida you have rock solid high powered freezers because it’s that or you can’t sell ice cream.

That’s not it though.  Ice cream was just the start.

When I check out, the shorter line is always at the self-checkout area.  So, I self-checkout.  Except, as I’m scanning my items, I can’t bag them, because there are no bags.  I have to scan them all, and then tell the computer how many bags I want, so it can charge me the $0.10 each for them.  Then I take the receipt to an employee if I can find one, and they give me the super valuable grocery bags.  This, of course, is one of the many unintended consequences of government regulation…  if you mandate that your bags must be special bio-degradable whatevers… they’ll cost more… and if they cost more, the crazy company will hide them so people don’t go buck-wild stealing massive amounts of eco-grocery bags… because… I’m sure that happens… right?

But that’s not the worst of it (this is where that antisocial personality disorder may come into play)!  After you’ve personally scanned your groceries, paid for your bags, begged an employee for the bags you need to carry your groceries in, and then bagged up your items, they have employees posted at the door checking your items to your receipt.

Nope.  This is an intelligence test, and everyone fails.

Seventy-five percent of the time I walk right out the door without hesitation and my body language is interpreted as “I must know what I’m doing”, combined with the strong societal aversion to conflict, results in my walking out the door without even being noticed.  Another twenty percent of the time, I’ll get a meek “excuse me sir”, which I do not even so much as acknowledge as I walk out the door without the slightest of hesitation or slowing.  Then there’s that last five percent.  I love that five percent.  If I’m being honest, I’m always hoping it’ll actually be a five percent moment every single time I walk out of Walmart.

Five percent of the time I get someone who notices and says “Hey!  Wait a minute!”  “Stop right there!”.

To which I reply with some version of:  “No.”  “No thanks.”  Or, “Why?”

At first, they’re taken aback… why is this guy not doing what he’s supposed to?  I pause briefly, getting them to move toward me, engaging them, giving them a deliberate glimmer of compliance… and then starting to walk away again as I explain to them the complete idiocy of their belief that I need to follow their “rules”.

I’ve actually gotten into amazingly amusing arguments with managers who get completely irate and announce that they’re calling the police, and can’t understand why I absolutely encourage them to do so.  I cannot wrap my head around why the public tolerates this ridiculous practice.

It’s very simple.  You go to a store.  You find an item you want.  So you decide to buy it.  However, rather than bringing it to a cashier, this company has decided that you work for them, and you can just check yourself out.  This is annoying, but, what choice do you have?  You want the item, and you can’t just steal it.  So you scan your items, and you pay for them, and you bring your receipt to an employee and ask for a bag to carry your items in… and then you bag your items.  And now it’s time to leave.  So you walk out… right?

Well, you should.  You see, the company that already insulted you by making you scan all your items, pay for them, and then go begging for bags that you already paid for, thinks “what if people don’t scan everything and wanna just leave with something”, so they decide that they’ll check people at the door.  Seems reasonable.  Right?  No, WRONG.

You see, if you’re worried that people may not scan all of their items, maybe you should have an employee ring them up then.  It’s your choice.  You can do that, or you can trust that I did.  But you have absolutely no ability to check me on the way out.  You see, I’m simply choosing to leave your property, with my property.  It became that when I paid for it.  So you can force me to choose between bagging my own groceries, or not doing business with you because it’s not ok to just walk out with things/steal them.  But, you can’t have it both ways.  At any time before I pay for my items you can make me abide by your rules, or leave your store.  In fact, even after I’ve paid you can make me abide by your rules or leave your store (and now with my property).  I know this is dumb.  I know I’m being an asshole to people who are just trying to do their jobs.  I get that it’s easier to just go along and get along, but sometimes, you shouldn’t.  Sometimes you have to push back against the herd of lemmings walking off a cliff.  This is one of those times. Walmart is in the wrong here.  Fight the good fight!

Damn the man.  Save the Empire.

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