Stop the Bullying, Wal-Mart

The retailer needs a new business model. It should stop squeezing employees and suppliers, and charge customers a little more. Pro or con?

Pro: Something Registers Wrong

When it comes to price, it’s hard to beat Wal-Mart (WMT). But the "everyday low prices" come at a high cost to its employees. A recent report from consumer group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy found that Wal-Mart employees earn 20% less than the average U.S. retail worker, and some $10,000 less than what the average two-person family requires to meet its basic needs.

Also, the company has fewer than half of its employees enrolled in its health insurance plan, compared with 67% for the average large employer. As a result, taxpayers end up subsidizing the company’s workers. "In California alone, taxpayers pay $32 million annually in medical care for Wal-Mart employees," the report finds.

No wonder the world’s largest retailer has become the target of activist groups around the country, and a punching bag for Presidential candidates Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and former Senator John Edwards.

Its status as a political and social target is costing Wal-Mart millions. To clean up its image, it launched a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign in January, telling viewers about the positive characteristics of the company and its workers. It has also hired the powerful public-relations firm Edelman and several political consultants to help polish its image.

One of the consultants, Leslie Dach, a former media adviser to President Bill Clinton, was hired for $3 million in stock, as well as options on 168,805 shares that vest over the next five years.

At the same time, the political attacks on Wal-Mart seem to have unleashed paranoia within the company, which has beefed up its security operations, hiring former senior FBI and CIA officials to watch workers and those who maintain contact with the company. All this usurps funds that could go to workers’ salaries or benefits instead.

These new developments have come at a time when "everyday low prices" isn’t the growth model that Wal-Mart necessarily wants to pursue long term. In recent years, many of its competitors have grown just as efficient in upping profits, and there’s nothing unusual about low prices anymore. No wonder that in the past year Wal-Mart has tried luring upscale customers with a hip fashion line called Metro 7 and has upped the organic food offerings in its stores.

Wal-Mart says it wants to offer more choices to customers at affordable prices. However, its motivation to sell more organic food and fashionable apparel is the desire for the higher margins these goods bring. Since it’s already charging customers more, isn’t it about time that Wal-Mart stopped squeezing its employees?

Con: Don’t Mess with Success

Although it has become the popular symbol of capitalism’s ills, Wal-Mart (WMT) has a business model that works quite well. Its fanatical focus on eradicating costs aids the largest number of people—the world’s shoppers—while allowing a simple redress for others, who can take their business or labor elsewhere.

Moreover, it is supremely haughty to suggest Wal-Mart’s customers could all just pony up a little extra cash so the lives of others could suddenly improve. Many people cannot afford an extra few bucks here or there, especially when it comes to buying staples.

Last fall, BusinessWeek.com quoted a spokesman for WakeupWalMart.com, a group harshly critical of the company, who said the retailer "has the responsibility to improve the lives of its workers." Actually, in the U.S., most would likely agree that we as individuals are tasked with improving our own lives, if their current state displeases us.

Make no mistake, the company’s business model mandates adherence to a lean cost structure. Wal-Mart has been known to hector manufacturers and distributors in hopes of paying less, and, undeniably, doesn’t always sell the highest-premium product in a particular merchandising category.

But is that such a bad thing? If Wal-Mart drives out costs, it forces suppliers to also narrow costs. Isn’t battling cost bloat one of the hallmarks of running a successful business? Who is to say that Wal-Mart isn’t improving the management of those companies with which it does business?

Also, it is true, no Wal-Mart clerk has ever gotten wealthy from his or her salary. Does anyone expect to do so? Still, company defenders have an extensive litany of persuasive stats: Wal-Mart’s average wage amounts to nearly $10 per hour, its workers pay roughly $1 per day for medical insurance, and the company employs more than 1.3 million Americans.

And the retailer has just begun boosting hourly compensation through bonuses—last month it gave $530 million to nearly 80% of its 1.04 million hourly workers.

Finally, let’s take a look from a different perspective: In a society geared toward hyper-consumption and greed, perhaps the real issue isn’t Wal-Mart’s business plan. Maybe it’s us.

Opinions expressed in the above Debate Room essays are for the sake of argument and do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.

Reader Comments

Rich

If Wal-Mart doesn't care about the people who work for them, why does anyone believe they care about their responsibility to shoppers? Wages that employees cannot live on breed resentment and poor service. Pay a wage that exceeds the proverty level, provide some heath care, and be a responsible corporation. They talk the talk but they don't walk the walk. Americans as a whole expect more than third-world wages from U.S.-based companies. Sam is rolling over in his grave -- goods from Communist China sold by people who don't make enough to feed their kids. He sold American-made goods while employing Americans who were paid enough to live on. How things have changed! Sad but true.

san johan

No, prices and pricing should stay the same. If you don't like the wages, get out.

DJ Potts

Keep the lowest prices at any costs! I always shop Wal-Mart first for all things I need and then seek out other retailers only if I can't find it at Wal-Mart. My entire extended family and all my relatives love shopping at Wal-Mart and we all save hundreds of dollars per year doing so. Unions are killing many industries, such as auto, steel, long shoremen, airlines, and many more, with unrealistic pay scales, bloated retirement pensions, and health care costs that are bankrupting their companies. I have had several family members employed by Wal-Mart and all have worked their way up through the ranks starting from minimum wage postitions. Wal-Mart needs to fight the unions tooth and nail and should never give up an inch of ground!

Mark

I worked for Wal-Mart and they preach about cutting costs, but trust me the employee is the first cost that gets cut. The benefits offered are a joke. With prior retail experience they offered me $7.15 an hour. They spend millions on PR to look good, but why don't they just pass those millions on down as generous salaries to their employees and actually do good. It would actually be cheaper because the employees would be their mouthpiece spouting their greatness and there wouldn't be nearly as much bad PR to fight. With Wal-Mart's high profit margins, they can afford to keep their consumer prices down and be generous to their employees. I've worked for successful companies that do this and they're successful because they realize that their most valuable asset is their employees, not their shareholders and that the employee is second only to their customers. Wal-Mart is geared toward hyper-consumption and greed. After all if you're able to give back and help others, shouldn't you?

Tom Hughes

"No wonder the world’s largest retailer has become the target of activist groups around the country" Translated, it means unions.

Rich

I want to tell Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott that denial is not a river in Egypt!

Liz Letzler

WMT's business model must change, or WMT will not survive as the existing business model of price driven growth is self-limiting. Each unit decrease in price requires a proportionately larger increase in volume to generate the same amount of revenue, as a decrease from $5 to $4 is proportionately larger than a decrease from $10 to $9. At the extreme, what do you do when the price gets to zero? This model also requires the market to absorb larger and larger quantities of product at the same time as it is becoming saturated. At some point WMT must change its definition of "value" from low absolute price ($10 jeans)to low relative price ($20 jeans for $15).

Rob

After reading both sides, the pro side wins hands down by dealing with facts. The con side seems wrapped in rhetoric. His facts don't include the realities, such as the high number of workers on state and federal health care, which speaks volumes of the adequacy of its workers health plan.
He lightly speaks of hectoring suppliers to cut their costs, but neglects to mention they have actively encouraged U.S. manufacturers to cut costs by closing their factories and moving to China as, stated by the CEO of Kentucky Derby Socks on national television.
Between such bullying, entering lawyers to side with China on an anti-dumping suit, and actively lobbying Congress not to increase port security, I am coming to believe Wal-Mart is not only a hazard to small business, but a danger to the country.

Nick

Sure. It sounds nice: Stop squeezing the employees and just charge the customers more. If that's how workers actually feel, how come a large part of Wal-Mart's customers are union members? Typical hypocrites, shout and march about one thing and than turn around and do another. The Wal-Mart model works because the people want it. Stop bashing Wal-Mart (the symptom) and bash the cause, the disease -the people/shoppers.

Nancy F. Drew

Wal-Mart would like you to think they give you a better deal, but it's just a big lie. They are the ones running up the prices in better stores with more durable products and competitive prices, which then has to raise them up when big-bully Wal-Mart moves into town. They are anti-competitive and therefore, anti-American. The American economy would once again grow and thrive spreading equality and quality throughout our land, if we were ever to eliminate completely con-artists like Wal-mart in our time.

Therese Gallagher

I think the greatest issue I have with Wal-Mart is the fact that the Walton family is worth $54 billion, and yet employees of Wal-Mart must use WIC, food stamps, and Medicaid.

My husband was self-employed with a staff of 10, and he did everything he could to provide a decent wage, and benefits for his employees.

Free Market

This is a market economy. I'm not sure there has been a single other company that has done more to raise the standard of living for as many people as Wal-Mart has. Twenty years ago, people of the lower economic classes could not enjoy the same types of comforts they do today. I believe that Wal-Mart has had something to do with this. Their competition provides the necessary incentive for consumer-goods companies to lower their prices. On the other hand, I feel like they might be shooting themselves in the foot by overworking employees and giving them meager benefits and pay. Maybe their turnover rates might get to the point to where they'll need to take cost-cutting measures, not so much with suppliers, but by making their pay more equitable. I'm sure they'll figure out a solution to this -- they're pretty smart guys.

John B.

The last line hits the greatest point. For one, Americans have decided they want everything, and they want it all now. Something has to give and that something is price. I do not completely blame the consumer's mindset, as wages in the U.S. have also been declining for years. Even people making what was once "good money" are on tight budgets and need to be frugal with their purchases.
Lastly, it is a shame that this economy has gone primarily to providing service. A service job should be a job one holds briefly in high school or college. But now people rely on those jobs to feed their families. People work at Wal-Mart and Home Depot because there is nowhere else to go, not because they wish to become skilled professional salespeople. Will our manufacturing economy ever return? Will anything better replace these services? Those are the questions to ask.

Joe

Wal-Mart is just a manifestation of a greedy society with a social Darwinist mindset that pretends to be Christian. America is the most religious western country, but the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus' time were also religious, and the Lord, in a fury, overturned the tables of the Wal-Mart of His time. At least the Iranian Ayatollahs are transparent with their agenda.

Gladys Bansah

I think the criticism levelled against Wal-Mart is unwarranted. After all, they only seek to help out those who cannot afford more. As for the employees, they have the right to quit if they want to. I wish we had Wal-Marts in Africa, especially in Ghana where Wal-Mart's business model is most needed due to generally low income levels. Maybe, they should consider investing in Africa.

jim

"...it forces suppliers to also narrow costs. Isn’t battling cost bloat one of the hallmarks of running a successful business?"
Yeah, let's outsource it all to China; costs are lowest there, and who cares about the working and living conditions in these Chinese sweat shops anyway? How short-sighted you can get?

Vernon Thiede

Wal-Mart employees do not have to work there. They are free to pursue employment elsewhere. If they lack the necessary skills for better positions in other companies they are also free to pursue schooling. America has a chronic shortage of Engineers, Nurses, and Accountants. It only takes 4 year degrees in these fields to obtain these positions. Anyone who is under 50 and works at Wal-Mart can go to school and earn one of these degrees and be set for life just like I chose to do when I was 20. It's not an insurmountable problem. It can be done and is accomplished by tens of thousands of Americans each year.

ray maur

The biggest problem for Wal-Mart is its crybaby critics, especially the socialist-leaning, union-backed Wake Up Wal-Mart. It's not the job of Wal-Mart or any company to make its employees rich and to provide them with all of life's necessities. That's what you do for yourself. I would suggest that the wealthy critics of Wal-Mart put their money where it would benefit the people they care about so much and to find another hobby. I'm a very happy seven-year truck driver for Wal-Mart. Doesn't it seem more credible to get info from an independent employee?

AL NELSON

Bad examples can serve a purpose as well as good ones. I think Wal-Mart serves the young and uneducated well by being a fine example of a predatory employer. It is likely after working at a Wal-Mart for a while many might acquire the wisdom to seek further education/skills so they can move on to more rewarding employment.

Naveen

Wal-Mart needs to listen to this piece of advice from M.K.Gandhi.

"Seven blunders of the world that lead to violence:

Wealth without work,
Pleasure without conscience,
Knowledge without character,
Commerce without morality,
Science without humanity,
Worship without sacrifice,
Politics without principle." -Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

I think "commerce without morality" is particularly poignant.

What Wal-Mart is doing is not just morally wrong but it's just bad labor relations. I dont think it's hard to figure out ways to pass on some of the benefits of their business model to the employees to.

Devon Manelski

Operational efficiency and smart negotiating tactics are the prime drivers for Wal-Mart's success. Keeping employee wages low contributes to reducing operational costs, but Wal-Mart needs to use its negotiating power to offer affordable health insurance plans to its employees.

guillone

Hope someday they go out of business. Monopoly-based business models never serve anyone's interests well. Only a handful get rich while thousands of independent businesses are destroyed. It's the same thing MSFT did to the software industry. Now they serve no one's interests but their own. Wal-Mart doesn't provide quality service or products or good jobs; they only serve themselves by ripping off the consumer. People pay $10 for something Wal-Mart buys from child slave labor in China for 25 cents. How does that serve anyone? I thought we abolished slave labor. Why should I do business with someone who gets away with using slave labor just because it is outside the U.S.? That is why the world hates us. You would, too, if it was your kid working 16-hour days under threat of his life in a Chinese sweat shop. This injustice will not stand. Martin Luther King talked about this type of "sin of omission" many times. You call it whatever you want, effective marketing, blah,blah,blah, but it's just wrong.

There is no amount of profit ever worth being made via someone else's suffering. I know that means nothing in America today, though. "Me first," that's all we're about now. Soon, we'll move the sweatshops here, and people won't even notice or care--especially if it is some illegal aliens we can make slaves out of. The spirit of Meridian, Mississippi, is alive and well.
We have learned nothing.

Michael

So Ray Maur is a happy truck driver; no wonder! There is an extreme shortage of truck drivers in this country. Thus, Wal-Mart panders to its drivers. Recently, signs were posted in the receiving areas proclaiming driver appreciation week. The employee handbook has numerous exceptions for drivers. Try working in the store itself, Mr. Maur. I work there; I know. And I am no fan of Wake-up Wal-Mart, either. Also, in Ohio, switching to another job is next to impossible. In this area, Wal-Mart is the only game in town. I was downsized twice. I will say I have never seen as much turnover in personnel as I have here. But the truck drivers are happy! How can you call yourself credible when you don't work in the store?

Jimmy

Why are most of the people in this debate fools? You don't have to unionize to treat employees well. I could careless about low prices, but I do care that one of the largest corporations in the world has employees whose health care is paid for by the taxpayers. You pay more for the "low cost" than you realize, but then again, Americans are generally fools when it comes to thinking of others. Just read the responses, and you will see what I mean. I laugh when these fools say "they don't have to work there." Most Wal-Marts put the mom and pop stores on main street out of business, and they are the major employer in that area. Get a clue.

Pete

The same people complaining Wal-Mart is forcing taxpayers to pay for its employees' health care are the same people wanting to foist Canadian-style health care on us so that the taxpayers will pay for everyone's health care. I believe it is only the elitist liberals who bash Wal-Mart, while the poor love to shop there; they need to save on their groceries and can't afford to shop at the organic food salons where the elitists shop. The statistics ignore the fact that many households have two head-of-household employees, and the other spouse/partner often has health insurance, allowing one to consciously choose an employer who doesn't offer it at the entry level. Nobody is forced to work at Wal-Mart.

Mike M.

Everyone has an opinion, but the bottom line is that Wal-Mart is successful, so whatever it's doing, it's the right thing for its purposes. Why should Wal-Mart, or anyone for that matter, care about what people preach about its business practices, when it continues to be most successful at what it does? I don't mean to say that the ends justify the means, but when a majority of consumers obviously support the "ends" provided by Wal-Mart, there is no logical reason for it to change.

So quit crying, quit your Wal-Mart job, train, educate, and develop yourself into a better one, and stop shopping at Wal-Mart if you don't approve of it. You can be sure that if enough people stop approving of Wal-Mart, it will change soon enough.

Jim H

Those who think you are getting a good deal at Wal-Mart: Think again. They not only treat their employees badly but also do the same to you the customer. If you do not believe this, read why Snapper Mowers took their merchandise out of Wal-Mart. I think you will be surprised to learn what you are actually buying at the Wal-Mart price. http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html

dave m

I shop Wal-Mart on a weekly basis, because I receive solid value for my money. This is a well-run company that sells at the lowest price. What's not to like?

Mant

Corporations are always more powerful than individuals. It is only when people are greatly oppressed that they take matters into their own hands and there is a mutiny. What type of losers are the heirs of Sam Walton? They are worth more than $80 billion and they don't even pay a living wage to their employees? One answer to this problem is a boycott of WMT stores. I personally don't buy anything at WMT unless it's absolutely necessary to do so. I don't mind paying a slightly higher price at Target; at least I know that my money is going to a responsible corporation. Now, do you wonder why sales at TGT are soaring, whereas they're lagging at WMT?

Michelle

Divide and conquer. That's the rich and powerful's mantra. It's working famously.

I loathe Wal-Mart. I am not for the unions. I am against doing business with China. The pet scandal, if true, is just the tip of the iceberg, I'm afraid.

People deserve to be able to afford the necessities of life. Rob Peter to pay Paul--that's not the way to go. How do you track the true costs? It gets complicated so fast. As an MBA student with an accounting emphasis, I find it staggering how complex this can get. Who is reaping the benefits of Wal-Mart's money? The rich and influential.

It is false that we all can become rich. That's the biggest lie. Once more and more people see it, then we should start to see some real improvements for all.

ps

"Low" prices aren't free. And Wal-Mart's business model is hitting a brick wall. They are now desperately trying to win over the "next level" of shopper. The fact is, the stores that have successfully catered to that "next level" do so with creative inventory and staff treated with a degree of dignity and respect. All of the hotshot marketing consultants in the world are not going to make Wal-Mart a destination for cheap chic. Staff the stores with motivated people (as in pay them a living wage and give them decent working conditions) and give incentives for good customer service, and maybe they will make inroads. In the meantime, most of the demographic they are trying to attract would not be caught dead in their stores, me included. The perception change will take years to crystallize, not a quarter or a fiscal year.

jane van saun

I shop at Wal-Mart for the prices, because I am unemployed, and not by choice. Let the rich people who criticize Wal-Mart direct their attention to other issues, i.e. the environment, or campaign for B. Obama.

ski

I especially look forward to grocery shopping at Wal-Mart, great values. The biggest complaint I have is that older stores aren't as clean as I would expect, and many aisles are too close together.

Tim

I will not buy from Wal-Mart. Period. I have children. The world according to Wal-Mart is not the future I want to leave them.

Dman

Wal-Mart does not sell for less. They sell substandard-quality items for less. Shop and compare. What ever happened to "Made in the USA" from Wal-Mart? I hope they drowned in their billions of dollars. They will spend millions for lawyers, PR, and consultants but can't afford a raise or benefits for employees. Some business model.

Oteka

Of the Wal-Mart's I've been in, 99% are like pig sties. They are rundown inside and out. I avoid them. The only one I will shop in is the new one, at I17 and Happy Valley Road in Phoenix, Ariz. I wonder how long it will take until it looks like the one at Tatum and Bell Road. They are planning on opening one on East Cactus in E. Phoenix in early 2008. I know why the neighbors fought it. They don't want a large trash bin in their neighborhood.

Pete

Referring to the comment about preferring Target, this is another elitist position. Target does not cater to the lowest income group and does not offer the groceries and other basics that low-income Americans flock to Wal-Mart for. Besides, Target is owned by a French corporation and, politics aside, do you really believe those owners are living in a 6th-floor walk-up in Paris? They donate their money in the U.S. to decidedly ultra-liberal causes and will not, for example, donate to American veterans groups. That is their stated policy.

Leah

I believe Wal-Mart's first mistake was going from selling "Made in the USA" products to selling cheap overseas products. Then they take away the only way most Americans can afford to buy big items for Christmas for their kids--layaway. Now they have so many associates that do not speak English, when you are trying to find an item and ask an associate, you end up having to hunt for another that speaks English. Taking positions from full-time to part-time wasn't too smart either. Poor leadership with poor management skill is Wal-Mart's biggest problem.

Bob

John Fleming screwed up marketing at Wal-Mart, and he will screw up merchandising. He's a Target wannabe and is basically embarrassed to be working at Wal-Mart.

sam

Wake up time for Wal-Mart! The good old days of selling cheaply made items, singing fake songs like "Buy American," poor treatment of the employees whose hard labor earned it billions of dollars, cruel attitude toward manufacturers and suppliers--to the point where quality manufacturers like Huffy Bike had to close down as Huffy could not afford to sell at the prices Wal-Mart was willing to pay for Huffy quality bikes as compared to inferior Chinese-made bikes. Well, we all have our childhood, youth, and then old age. Wal-Mart has just plain grown old. Time for younger players now. Every up has its down.

Widia

I cannot believe that Pete thinks Target is owned by a French corporation!

Barb

I don't know why these lengthy analyses of the reasons for Wal-Mart's declining profits are necessary. Anyone who wants to know why Wal-Mart's profits are declining while competitor profits are increasing need only shop in the store (or try to).

They can't or won't restock the store. At one time, Wal-Mart offered convenient one-stop shopping. No more. You can never count on them to have anything. And when an item is out of stock, it stays out of stock for weeks. You always have to go to another store to get the things Wal-Mart doesn't have (Wal-Mart employees suggest this to complaining customers). Interestingly, those other stores (with the mysterious increasing profits) manage to keep their stores stocked. At some point, many shoppers just go to the other store in the first place and skip Wal-Mart.

How could you expect any big-box store to be successful if it only stocks 14 cartons of Diet Coke at any one time. And of course, most times they're out of stock.

They need to revive Sam or hire someone else who knows how to run a store.

Marcia

If society is to care about Darfur or North Korea's poor or how pitiful the slave labor working conditions are in China, then why wouldn't we care how U.S. workers are treated by a corporate giant capable of providing dignity and respect to its employees? The millions given to charities across the U.S. by Wal-Mart are simply not enough damage control to compensate for the way it treats its own employees.

An Observer

This "debate" is ridiculous. If you don't like WMT, don't shop there and don't work there.

In fact, WMT's prices are lower. In fact, the vast majority of WMT jobs require no special skills or education. How is it that WMT is being judged by different standards than similar employers with low- or no-skill jobs in construction, retail, industrial sectors generally. This is inherent capitalism. Get over it. Now, WMT should and must have additional think-tank/general corporate centers/HQs outside Bentonville. Human beings adjust to silos, and a silo in a small community in a corner of the world far removed from the cultural centers even of our own country is not helpful in attracting real talent. Moreover, instead of corporate top-down sub-silos at WMT HQ, there needs to be a focus on listening to new ideas using a cross-silo, interdisciplinary approach. There is much too much "do it my way or the highway." The public affairs group makes comments in the press that might be understood within the silo's walls but are way off the mark for public acceptance. And so on. Is this unique to WMT? No. These issues plague any group of two or more humans gathered together. So, get new idea leaders, be willing to think and listen to new ideas, and at least put windows on the silo walls and open them up to let the fresh air in. Finally, WMT's most self-destructive trait is judging others harshly—suppliers of any and all types of services—yet never, never looking in the mirror and judging its own foul-ups using the same execution-style penalties. The point here is twofold: Judge others as you judge yourself and judge intelligently without using the nuclear option as the first and only option.

Fitz

Wal-Mart is making the same mistake it did when it tried to expand in Europe. Their arrogance caused them to assume that whatever they do will work. They did not do any studies into the customer base and how the changes would be viewed. There was very little research done to figure out the best process for the changes; instead, they tried to deliver a higher-priced goods without properly paving the way. Target tries to understand customers' emotional desires while Wal-Mart throws low prices around like a flea market. You can't throw in designer quality goods at a flea market without proper presentation and expect to attract that crowd overnight. To lure or hunt that sort of market, you have to provide the environment suitable it attract it. They need to study their target customer habits more.

Informed Consumer

There are many different opinions out there about Wal-Mart. How about a rational one? Wal-Mart fits a purpose; they offer stuff at a cheap price. This causes people to flock to their stores and buy a lot of stuff that they might not be able to purchase if it was not at Wal-Mart. In addition, their supercenters cater to busy people. Why else would you be able to get your hair cut, oil changed, groceries purchased, and banking all done at the same time? It's to simplify your life.

However, Wal-Mart is also a killer of businesses due to their pricing models. Wal-Mart is just using business theory that other businesses around the country have not been able to master, or are just now mastering. In addition, I agree that shoppers like a clean store, and Wal-Mart is feeling the effects of not keeping their stores up to par. In addition, because of their aggressive growth strategy, they are basically killing themselves. Think about how many Wal-Mart supercenters you have in your area or how many Wal-Marts closed in the shopping center to open a supercenter down the street. Do you think that new store is going to generate that much more business? Probably not

I am afraid that the future of business will be the Wal-Mart model, except smarter. It is time for Wal-Mart to use their intuition to expand smart and use a smart growth model instead of aggressive growth. Whenever a business starts to lose money, it's time to start downsizing costs to continue, not increase growth and sales. There are only so many people on the country, and with Wal-Mart, Target, Sams, Costco, K mart, Sears, JC Penney, all of the grocery stores , etc., how are you going to continue to steal those customers? At some point, there becomes something other than cost that drives people to shop at Wal-Mart or any of these other stores.

Also, if they keep to what made them big and don't try to change, they will continue to make money. There are a lot of people who cannot afford to shop at other stores, so why should Wal-Mart upscale to meet a market for which they were not intended?

Go back to your original business model. Smart growth, calculated moves, comparative advantages in supply-chain management, etc. This is what makes Wal-Mart a better business than these other companies. Because without Wal-Mart, these other businesses would not be smarter, and you would be paying more for everything.

tgill

Wal-Mart gave $530 million to 80% of its 1.04 million employees? Do the math, and tell me if you can believe that number. It's total bull.

Beaugrand

It would be interesting to see how Wal-Mart's fortunes might change if they were to offer profit sharing to hourly employees. It's amazing how a little recognition can change attitudes, and of course, the sincerest form of recognition comes in the form of a fatter paycheck.

Rafer

Wal-Mart will continue to dominate retailing, and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. In retailing, they are the largest consumer of products from China. This no doubt gives them phenomenal political clout with the Communist government in China. This likely enables them special access to this region, which has the fastest growing and potentially largest middle-class market in the world.

Weston

In all the discussions in the press regarding Wal-Mart's allegedly poor treatment of employees, I have yet to see an analysis of why Wal-Mart is swamped with job applicants whenever they open a new store. If they are employed elsewhere, why would they leave their current position for a job at Wal-Mart if the pay and benefits are as meager as some suggest? And if Wal-Mart's compensation is high enough to appear attractive to these workers, why should Wal-Mart be singled out for criticism of its wage policy? No company is big enough to control the entire labor market. And if most Wal-Mart job applicants are coming from the ranks of the unemployed. Why is it a bad thing that Wal-Mart offers them a chance for steady employment?

Some observers point to the relatively high turnover rate as evidence that many Wal-Mart employees are dissatisfied. This strikes me as plausible. But if Wal-Mart could save money by paying higher wages to reduce turnover, it seems odd that such a notoriously cost-conscious organization hasn't figured this out yet. An alternative explanation is that Wal-Mart is an attractive option for those with few skills and little work experience, and many employees use the opportunity at Wal-Mart to build a record of steady employment before moving on to to a better-paying position, perhaps at Target or Costco. In the absence of the Wal-Mart experience, they might still be collecting unemployment.

To the extent Wal-Mart critics are eager to snuff out employment opportunities for those struggling to get on the first rung of the American economic ladder, they are no friend of the disadvantaged.

Matthew

Just a helpful fact: Wal-Mart's profit margin stays at around 3% every year. If you think they can raise the wages and benefits of employees and still keep the low prices, you are wrong. In 2006, Wal-Mart had revenues of more than $315 billion; net income, however, was only $11 billion. I know $11 billion in profits is a lot, but just keep in mind that Wal-Mart has very low margins and cannot really afford to raise wages. If Wal-Mart gave half of its profits to employees, each employee would only get around a $4,000 pay increase. Wal-Mart also has to pay shareholders.

Matthew

tgill
April 21, 2007 07:33 PM

"Wal-Mart gave $530 million to 80% of its 1.04 million employees? Do the math, and tell me if you can believe that number. It's total bull.?"
-------------------------------------------

This does seem like total bull—since WMT only makes $11 billion in profit annually, I don't think they will be giving away more than half of that to low-skilled workers.

A.D. Wynn

Wal-Mart needs a new business model? If you don't like working there, seek other employment. If you don't think being their supplier is profitable, terminate your agreement and find other clients. If you despise paying less for your items, go splurge elsewhere. No one is forcing you to do anything. But don't try to limit the options of the average middle class/blue collar workers. Back in the 1980s, the effort was to demonize Microsoft. In the 1990s, it was Starbuck's that bore the brunt of corporate criticism. Now it's Wal-Mart. What's next, Google?

R. Serpkenci

The article by Bianco seems to follow, and in some places cover, nearly identical themes to the one we had authored entitled, "Wal-Mart's New Normal Is Here: Is Everyone Ready to Accept the Future?" that appeared in Babson College and College of William and Mary's Retailing newsletter in the summer of 2005, and subsequently in the International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management in 2006 (see Vol. 34, No: 1, pp. 85 to 100).

In this article, we argued that the greatest danger to Wal-Mart in the future will come from a potential loss of confidence by its nearly 2 million associates worldwide. (The phrase found on the backs of every Wal-Mart store associate, “Our people make the difference,” is really true in more ways than one.)

Wal-Mart has a very simple "contract" with its associates where it is understood that hard work will be rewarded through an ever-rising Wal-Mart stock, which has always been the only assurance of a "safe retirement" in this vast human enterprise. If there is no more comp sales growth or a very meek one and/or no more stock appreciation, or a very weak one, the Wal-Mart contract cannot, and very likely will not, be sustained.

Regardless of the international expansion, the true engine of Wal-Mart has and will always be their U.S. business. If the domestic growth stalls or becomes very labored, and if the stock market lowers their earnings multiple and keeps it low, then Wal-Mart's contract with its associates is essentially broken, and all bets are off for Wal-Mart going forward.

Jim Deblack

The critics of Wal-Mart cannot come up with a legitimate argument to counter Wal-Mart's strategy of lowering prices for consumers. They resort to smoke screens about Wal-Mart not treating their employees right and driving competition out of business. Wal-Mart has raised the standard of living for the working class and those of the middle class who are smart enough to think for themselves. The campaign against Wal-Mart is the brew of those who would like to drag Wal-Mart down to their own level of anti-competitive practices.

Bill

If Wal-Mart raises its prices to compensate for a wage increase for its dozens of employees, who is going to increase the pay of the thousands of Wal-Mart shoppers? So, great, we help a few dozen poor, single mothers who work at Wal-Mart. What about the thousands of poor, single mothers that shop at Wal-Mart?

Mike Branstetter

I wonder if the people who are always criticizing Wal-Mart ever listen to themselves. The very people who claim to be politically progressive and have the plight of the impoverished near the top of their political agendas are often the same people who complain about the way Wal-Mart does business. They're all hypocrites.

Wal-Mart offers lower prices on a regular basis so that those impoverished among us can enjoy in a higher quality of life. I shop at Wal-Mart regularly. I use Wal-Mart prices as my benchmark for the amount I'm willing to pay for an item. Without Wal-Mart, my standard of living would be much lower.

So, let's give some kudos where they are deserved. Lower prices mean that more people can have a better lifestyle. Why does that bother so many
people?

Wayne

Could someone please explain to me how paying $5 a paycheck for my health insurance is too high? Compared to my last job that charged me $135 a check, this is great. I have worked for Wal-Mart for 3 years, and I can promise you that in my 22 years of retail experience I have never been treated better. In my store, our average associate earns $11 an hour and enjoys a wide range of benefits. If you want to compare benefits and wages, make sure you are comparing apples to apples. Sure, a cashier at Wal-Mart doesn't make as much as a nurse at the local hospital, but remember, that nurse went to school for many years to earn that degree and get that job. Wal-Mart encourages continuing education with scholarships for its associates and their families. There are many associates in our store who are working their way through school, and we are always more than willing to work around their school schedules to help them out. More than 60% of the management at Wal-Mart has been promoted from within the company. As for me, I know that if I want it, there is a place for me higher up in the ranks of the company. Are there things that Wal-Mart could be doing better? Of course there are, and you would be hard-pressed to find a company that embraces change as quickly as Wal-Mart does.

C. Wertz

Some people on this list need to revisit their elementary school math texts.

First, $530 million is not more than half of the net income of $11 billion. That would be $11B/2 = $5.5B. $530M/$11B = 4.82% of net income.

Second, 1.04M x 80% = 832,000 employees. $530M in bonuses divided among 832K employees = $637.02/employee.

Third, a simple $2/hr wage increase for WMT employees translates to more than a third of their net income. $2/hr x 40 hrs/wk * 50 wks/yr * 1.04M employees = $4.16B.

Fourth, Wakeupwalmart.com states that sales associates averaged $13,861 or $8.23/hr in 2001, and cashiers averaged $11,948 or $7.92/hr in working 29 hours a week in 2003. Both groups averaged more than the $10,300 they would garner working the current federal minimum wage 40 hrs/wk, 50 wks/yr: $5.15 * 40 * 50 = $10,300.

The reality is that WMT provides a huge benefit to its shoppers (low prices), and there must be a need. Consumers vote with their dollars, and WMT is simply at the intersection of supply and demand.

Ross Plank

Since price seems to be the only strategy Wal-Mart seems to have, they will be facing serious problems to come. So many people think that profit is the only motive that justifies a business.

Profit is the natural result of providing a valuable service. Wal-Mart will lose in the end due to pricing itself out of the market with its myopic view that price is the only tool in their box.

Any organization (whether it be a for-profit or nonprofit) should follow ethical standards. Wal-Mart puts price before people. I would be ashamed to work for a company that treats people with such low regard. Wal-Mart may have hired a strong PR firm to fix its image, but it would not have to fix its image if it had not ignored business ethics and corporate responsibility.

Wal-Mart's prices will come up sooner than you may think, and the consumer will have more to complain about by then. In the end, it's nice to think that Wal-Mart will be able to maintain ultralow prices, but it's short-sighted to think you can get something for nothing.

fab

Just give Wal-Mart enought rope, and they will hang themselves. Has anyone noticed how badly they're doing in many overseas markets or the growing problems for them on the home front?

Dave

If Wal-Mart can afford to offer products at a lower cost, then so can the other retailers. Companies like Circuit City have based their profit margins on huge markups on big ticket items, and Wal-Mart knocked them for a loop. I say good for them, and don't stop there.

Also, if you work in retail and not in management, you're technically unskilled labor. Many of you don't even work full time. If you expect to retire from retail, then you need to have a reality check. If you want better pay, go to a community college or learn a trade. Retail should be a stepping stone, not a career.

Armando

If the workers are not happy, they should find other jobs. It's ridiculous the sense of entitlement that American workers have, when 2.5 billion people live on less than one dollar a day. I'm sure that Wal-Mart pays way more than that.

M

America is based on capitalism. If you can't compete with your business model, then go home.

Bob M.

What is wrong with everybody? No one was born with a guarantee that any employer was responsible for providing anything more than a competitive wage. Each person is then responsible to determine whether he or she can live on it and if not, then do something else. That is what colleges are for. If you can't live on what Wal-Mart pays, learn something else. The American automobile companies are an example of what happens when you pay the workers too much.

Roz

We can shop at Wal-Mart and still find ourselves paying for health care for its employees. There is no balance to this situation in this country. Yes, I would shop there for lower prices, but this does not mean that as a taxpayer, I would be exempt from paying for the health care of the workers. We all are complaining, talking about being responsible. Truth is, we show no responsibility to one another. The way this world is set up is crazy. Billionaires make more money than they can ever spend and pay lower taxes. We the working class barely make anything and pay taxes everywhere we go: Wal-Mart, grocery stores, for the health care of others, gas prices, and on and on.

Fact is, Wal-Mart billionaires never want to end up like the people who make them rich. I am sure that these people do not even have products from their own stores in their homes.

The U.S. is notorious for making an already easy life easier for some with its tax breaks, freebies, and political connects.

We can whine all day about who needs to go back to school to earn more, find a new job, or just stay at the one they have. It's all about personal choice, the one thing we as Americans still have.

I believe it will all work out in the end for the greater good. What now doesn't seem right will soon be justified as needed. Wal-Mart may never go out of business or pay for health care. As you can see, this is not necessary for their success now. So what would be their incentive for wanting to make the changes?

Matt

Many of the above points, going one way or the other, are right depending on the way you look at it. I think the final line on the "con" side was the single most important point. If the American consumers no longer want to save up for something good, settling for poor quality products and poor selection, then let them. More power to Wal-Mart. Stupid, greedy consumers need their matching supplier.

Check out JibJab's: "Big Box Mart."
It's dead-on.

A. Lackman

I love how people think shopping at Target solves the problem. They pay comparable wages and benefits as Wal-Mart. Target merchandise is of similar quality with higher prices. The merchandise all comes from the same places (i.e., China). They share some of the same vendors and their products are made in the same factories and sweatshops and just repackaged with the Target brand on them. They do a better job at marketing and advertising than Wal-Mart. The fact that they aren't as big as Wal-Mart shelters them from the Wal-Mart critics. Also, their profit margins are at around 4.6% rather than Wal-Mart's 3%. If Wal-Mart made 4.6% profit, that would be an extra $5 billion, but they pass that on to us as the consumers. So if Target's profit margins are larger, then why do they not pay their employees more or give them better benefits because they sure can afford to do that? Instead of protesting against Wal-Mart by shopping at Target, you can shop at local markets and support your local economy and the mom-and-pop stores (if you can afford to do so).

Joe M

A significant percentage of those I see employed by Wal-Mart would not have been accepted by other employers. Wal-Mart has given these individuals the opportunity to earn their way rather than become a social burden on welfare. This is particularly true of the elderly, who after years of working in the private sector, have had their pensions ripped off through mergers and other schemes to enrich top-level executives. Wal-Mart, more so than any other major retailer, provides much-needed part- and full-time employment for the handicapped and elderly.

Also, it is not only the low prices that drive customers to Wal-Mart for electronics items. Their very generous, hassle-free return policies give them a huge advantage over their high-priced competitors who insist on tight return periods, high restocking fees, and frustrating rebate discount schemes.

Eduardo

Wal-Mart is a great store, with good products at good prices. What's wrong with that? Price wars are good for the consumer, and they also spur innovation as companies need to differentiate and add value to their offerings.

Steve

I love Wal-Mart! Their selection is super, and the employees are friendly and helpful. But, most of all, Wal-Mart has a company-wide commitment to lowering costs that they then pass on to the consumer in the form of lower prices. You don't have to be a Wal-Mart shopper to benefit from Wal-Mart's commitment to lower prices; anyone who has purchased a television recently at Best Buy or Circuit City got a better price because of Wal-Mart. I highly recommend a book entitled The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman. It clearly explains the Wal-Mart commitment to lower prices. By the way, I am not associated with Wal-Mart in any way; I do not own any Wal-Mart stock.

Seth

I've worked for Wal-Mart for nearly 4 years now. Is there a downside to this? Sure, there is. I've done a hell of a lot for this company, and I am still earning under $10 an hour. A $1.85 more is all I am worth to this company, even though I have saved them hundreds of dollars doing the technical work myself (I work in the photo lab). Let my clarify: If a machine goes down, you can bet that at least 90% of all labs will call a Fuji tech in to actually fix it. That costs a fortune. You're talking at least a $700 to $900 service, just for the tech, not including the actual parts. If I had done that every time we had an issue, we would be wasting thousands of dollars just to have a tech come out. My co-workers and I went the extra mile, though, and we fixed those machines. We did the dirty work and saved the cash. I have virtually nothing to show for it. The company didn't care that we did this, so why the hell should I do it? It's because I believe that being a reliable, dependable, knowledgeable person on these things is important—for the customers' sake and for the sake of a satisfying job. I take pride in being able to learn something new, and it happens nearly every day. But this company doesn't care; all they want is someone that can talk and make change. Stupid people sell stupid crap to stupid morons that don't know any better. I refuse to do that, because good customer service—being able to actually tell someone something they didn't know—broadens minds. I've had people thank me for taking the time to explain something to them that other stores had no clue about. I take personal pride in this, and I don't give any credit to Wal-Mart for it, because they don't care, period.

Martha Nichols

I'm on a fixed income. I shop at Wal-Mart often and love it. The store is huge, neat, and clean, and prices are great and the employees friendly and helpful. What is not to like? The employees seem happy to be working there. Leave Wal-Mart alone. If you don't like it, don't shop there. Give me and Wal-Mart a break, and bug off!

Chester E.

Wal-Mart is the convenient target in America today. Millions of people shop there because of the prices. Wal-Mart provides jobs to more than a million people who choose to work there. People can choose to leave at any time if they find something better, but people stay and more people continue to apply for work. Go picket at Whole Foods. Their employees are paid very well, but can the average person afford to sustain himself or herself with their high-end products? Is Whole Foods discriminating against lower income families?

Business is about making money. People also have the final say in their lives about providing for themselves and their families. Take away Wal-Mart, and millions of other people will be standing in line taking our tax money home for "support."

MA

The pay Wal-Mart is giving to its employees is more than the minimum wage set by the government. If people feel this pay is too low, they should demand the government raise the minimum wage.

Wal-Mart Shopper

I am a divorced teacher with 4 children. I wouldn't be able to get everything I need to support my family every week if it weren't for Wal-Mart. I save valuable time and money shopping there. Finding everything I need in one store and not having to drive all over town is truly economical. As for the employees, $10/hr sounds good for someone who doesn't have a college education. So, if you want a good job with good benefits, go to school and listen to your mommy and daddy.

A11smart

I'm reading these comments with great pleasure, because the BW community never fails to deliver in terms of insightful and less irrationally inflammatory responses.

As a Wal-Mart manager, though, and a veteran of retail for more than 10 years, I have no doubt about something: Part of the reason most employees eschew the health-care plans is pure value-assessment. In a company whose workforce is dominated by those of the modern-day proletariat class, even with the best level of care, the majority of people on free government health care are not going to voluntarily take paycheck deductions for something they believe is a right from their government.

If car insurance were offered by the government and the working class could get it based on socioeconomic status, of course most would opt to pay nothing, even for basic care (much like Medicaid). This same kind of value-assessment enters the health-care decisions.

Update: Tgill

The best bonuses were more than a $1,000 for the year. My last bonus from my former store (in Fairfax, Va.) was $1,029. My current store (Tampa Bay, Fla) didn't hit its sales expectations, leaving [employees] with a $230 bonus. Now that we're on target for our quarterly bonus, I'm expecting a minimum of $250 for the WMT Q1 at my store alone; $530 million to 1 million employees amounts to roughly $500 per associate on average (as noted above, an associate's personal bonus will fluctuate greatly based on the store's performance).

The bonus system, in any retail outlet, works. It's an effective method of distributing ownership while tying it to measurable results that all associates, from store managers to stock clerks, can understand and participate in.

If anyone read the latest Wal-Mart article in BW's print edition, you might find it interesting that in our new quarterly bonus system, inventory-reduction accounts for 10% of the total store score now, besides sales and profits. One learns more about WMT from BW than as an employee, indeed.

MD Bunton

In respond to tgill: $530 million is not over half of $11 billion. I work at Wal-Mart at $9.91 per hour, and I received a bonus of $1,179.55 and a contribution to my 401k of $798. Everyone in my store that had been employed a year as of Jan. 31, 2007 and worked 35 to 40 hours per week received the same bonus. The contribution to the 401k depends on what your hourly pay is. If you're unhappy with Wal-Mart, leave it. Dee

Dinesh Chaudhari

If even half of all the criticism regarding Wal-Mart's human resource policies are true, then Wal-Mart's business model cannot be sustainable, especially if the only competitive advantage is its cheap labor. The fact that it has been successful for so many years and continues to be so implies that there is more to its success than just underpaid workers. On the other hand, if what the critics say is true and Wal-Mart continues to succeed in spite of poor human resource policies, management books and theories will have to be re-written.

Also, in the last few years, the US has enjoyed some of the lowest rates of unemployment (between 4.5% to 5.5%), so it is difficult to understand why workers keep on working for Wal-Mart at wages lower than what other retailers are paying.

When Wal-Mart sells products at low prices, it forces other retailers to polish up their act too and lower prices, which lowers the overall cost of living for everybody, effectively raising the buying power of everyone's dollars (read wages) and therefore Wal-Mart has a very positive impact on the whole country i.e. making everybody richer.

Wal-Mart has a business model that cuts out waste and inefficiencies in the supply chain to reduce costs; we could all learn from it to add real value to the economy.

Myers

Nobody forces you to work at Wal-Mart. If you don't like the pay or benefits, get out. All the people in America want all the corporations to pay big wages, and the worker just tags along hoping for a big pension. Wake up, people.

joe

The numbers speak for themself. The top dogs make seven- and six-figure incomes with benefits and ask the grunts to take one for the team. Sixty percent employees turn over, and if they pay benefits, there is no profit to pay dividends to the stockholders. The model is complex and only workable when it is not the dominant player.

We are a consumer-based economy. Consumerism comes from having in excess of your basic needs. No consumerism, no economy—even a hard-headed no-nonsense owner like Henry Ford eventually realized that and paid his employees five times the going rate and made Ford the largest company in the world.

John Hanks

I work for Wal-Mart in Massachusetts as an assistant manager. The problem with them is that the #1 belief of Sam about "respect for the individual" is not adhered to or believed in by upper management. Assistants are treated like garbage, work long hours, held accountable for everything that is wrong, and not rewarded with much praise. We get coached for not having our associate evaluations done on time, but market managers can take their time doing ours. Last year, there was no raise, without an explanation as to why—although co-managers and store managers got healthy raises. That treatment carries down to full- and part-time associates. This year, evals were finally done in April, with no raise or mention of it yet, but the form dated February said "Respect for the Individual."

To top it all off, they are now hiring developmental co-managers outside of the company at $10,000 to $20,000 more than what I'm making, and when a position opens up for a co-manager, they get it. No raise and no hope for promotions. That increases the helpless feelings that carry down to associates. They see it, don't care, and carry it over to customers.

Finally, Wal-Mart hires anyone that can breathe and walk. If you can't walk, we'll make you a people greeter. "Welcome to Wal-Mart."

Todd Williams

Wal-Mart is nothing more than a whipping boy for liberal politicians who would turn our country into Canada with 50% tax rates. Wal-Mart, and any other employer, posts a job. Skills get or don't get the job. If someone wants benefits with a job, they should take that into consideration before applying for a job. If someone wants a better job than available at Wal-Mart, they should do like the rest of us: Get an education, work hard, believe in yourself, and have faith in capitalism. We're the richest country on earth, because plenty of people throughout the history of our country have done just these things. To compare Wal-Mart to capitalism run amok (i.e., U.S. Steel, slaughterhouses, sweatshops) is nothing more than the libs being demagogues.

Nancy

The whole time Sam was waving the American flag, he was setting up the business deals with China that are affecting all of America's middle and lower class. Wal-Mart is creating its biggest customer base—the working poor—by underpaying and overworking.

Vicki

If I did not work at Wal-Mart, who would you fuss at? If someone does not work at McDonald's, what would you eat? Just because I do not own one of these businesses does not mean that I do not have the skills for anything else. As a military spouse, sometimes you take what you can get. Why are people not up in arms about the fast-food industry not paying better wages or giving better benefits? I get great benefits working with Wal-Mart. I have profit sharing, 401K, and medical and dental insurance (if I choose—I currently don't, because I have insurance through my spouse), and I am also a shareholder in the company because I buy stock through my payroll deduction. I love the people I work with. I have an awesome management team. I get discounts on almost everything, including produce (that means fresh fruits and veggies for my family). If my smiling face was not there, then you would not have anyone to help you. If I did not work there, then everything would be more broken and more trashed than usual. If you want to keep prices low and help the workers get better wages, do some of the following things:
1. Keep up with your own kids; we are not babysitters.
2. Make sure that others are not stealing because that is the biggest reason for price hikes.
3. If you don't want it, don't pick it up.
4. If you break it, don't just leave it for someone else to trip or slip on. Take responsibility for your own actions.
5. If you bought it at Target, don't bring it back to us because you know that we will take it back and they won't.
6. Remember that the associates are people, too. We do not need you to treat us like something you scrape off the bottom of your shoe.

You may think we are uneducated goofs, but if we were not there, you would not have any place to shop.

Tiffany

I worked at Wal-Mart, and I enjoyed it very much. At the time I worked there, I had a high school education and was happy with the $7.75 per hour wage, 10% discount, and other benefits offered to all employees. When you, and I repeat you, decide to only get a high school education or less, I would like to know what you expect to make. I credit Wal-Mart for helping me make it through college by working around my schedule and paying me a fair wage for my education level at the time. If you plan to win this crusade against Wal-Mart, what do you think will happen? I'll tell you: Prices will rise and employees' salaries will go up, but then those same employees will have to spend more on groceries and essentials. So it is a losing battle. Give it up. Wal-Mart has created good jobs for students and people who choose to work there. I know for a fact that most of the mom-and-pop stores pay less than Wal-Mart and often don't even provide the option of any benefits. I have finished college and now moved on in my career, but I am happy to see Wal-Mart flourishing. I feel Wal-Mart is a well-run company and really wants to make sure its employees are happy. I have been in Wal-Marts all over the U.S. and have always had good customer service. Having sufficient retail experience, I know that can only mean one thing—those employees work for a good employer: Wal-Mart.

Ramospk

I have the duty and obligation to my children to stretch the value of my purchasing income as much as possible. As much as I'd like to pay boutique prices elsewhere to protect small shops, I simply cannot afford to. Whoever comes to me with good quality, convenience, and prices will get my business. I sympathize with overworked, underpaid employees at Wal-Mart, as well as in other places, but Economics 101 does not lie: If you have the qualifications to work for better conditions, then, by all means, do so. If you don't, then maybe you should be taking a hard look at yourself, not at your employer.

frank

It's called a free-enterprise system!

J Boyle

Well, BusinessWeek got what it wanted, a Wal-Mart hate-love blizzard of e-mail responses.

Just two points: A significant percentage of Wal-Mart older female employees are not enrolled in its health plan, because they are covered by their husband's health plan.

Second, Target is not owned by a French company. A French company owns about 3% of Target.

Rob

We used to make and sell products to Wal-Mart made in the good ol' US of A by American workers, but they found a similar product (not of our quality) in China. Now we don't sell to Wal-Mart anymore. They wanted to beat us down on pricing to the point where we wouldn't be able to give our employees the wages and benefits they deserve. No thanks. Keep shipping the manufacturing jobs overseas, and pretty soon there won't be anyone shopping at Wal-Mart, even with their "low" prices. How can a store that was built on "Buying American" operate this way?

Ryan

Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy found that Wal-Mart employees earn 20% less than the average U.S. retail worker. However, I suspect that the study only considered hourly wages and not other benefits. Wal-Mart does provide a 10% discount to employees, which makes the real wage greater for Wal-Mart employees when they buy goods at Wal-Mart. Second, the study probably does not factor into the savings that Wal-Mart stores provide to low income workers. Without Wal-Mart, low income workers would be forced to pay higher costs for goods at other retailers. Therefore, Wal-Mart gives low-income employees another benefit by saving the employees money.

I suspect that the 10% discount added to at least a 10% savings compared to other, higher-priced retailers more than offsets the lower actual take-home income.

ROB

I worked for Wal-Mart 7 years. I just got my money right but ended up quitting because of poor management. They overwork their employees. You have to tend to your customers and 5 other departments. The only reason they gave us big bonuses that one time is the the storms that hit in the South. They did not give us anything we earned after the emotional stress from dealing with our own disaster and crying with our customers. If the shelf was out, we would go in the receiving area and take it off the truck to help our customers. Management was nowhere to be found. We earned our bonuses. The following year, we only got $300, before taxes. So the problem stands. No respect for the associates is all about Wal-Mart.

Spence A.

Ok, first of all, Wal-Mart is a greedy company that likes to reap the benefits that could instead be passed on to the associates or even the consumers. I worked at Target during the holiday reason, and I got paid $7.25 an hour and optical and medical benefits. Sure prices are a bit higher than Wal-Mart's, but damn straight, we had the better customer service, and we sure took home more cash than Wal-Mart did this season. I live in the south in Houston, and Wal-Mart is a ghetto.

Brian

Wal-Mart has the right to charge customers what they want to charge them. I would suggest you go out and develop a successful business, and then you, too, can charge whatever you like. You can also pay your employees what you like. As it is, you do not have anything anywhere near what Wal-Mart has, and you have no right to tell Wal-Mart how to do business.

Also, in case you haven't noticed, many of the employees at WMT are not exactly employable at too many places. There are many sharp people, but then there are many other people as well. I am sure they are nice people, but they have limited employability, and WMT helps them. How many stores have 2 and 3 greeters working each entrance? This is basically a giveaway job. I hate to say it guys, but your job difficulty is directly reflected by your check. There aren't very many jobs that are difficult at WMT. If you need more money, go get some skills and a different job.

THOMAS JACOB

A common man looking at the Wal-Mart model is least bothered by the labor practices, and most concerned about the price. Because of that, this types of model is successful in most places. Look at your neighborhood grocery shops: Are they paying their staffs well? What about working hours?

W O

I studied through most of the comments and saw that most pro Wal-Mart comments were couched in "I like, I need, etc." It easy to see they have no or little thought of others and/or the long-term consequences of their consumption habits.

I am a firm believer in the conservative position, and of free enterprise with self (not government) restraint. (Government should be by the people for the people and stay out of the way of the pursuit of happiness and equality.) What Wal-Mart is doing is reminiscent of the big oil companies in the past when they began supplanting the small independent corner service station.

Government regulation had to be imposed in order to keep the big oil company from lowering prices to unsustainable levels in order to force smaller independent and regional players out of business in order to take their market share. Wal-Mart uses similar tactics as their mantra. The recent Black Friday events with large flat-screen televisions are a perfect example, showing devastating results. Wal-Mart had a small inventory in flat screens, Panasonic They waited till everyone who was a big player had lots of inventory and was prepared to do a brisk business with a hot product. Then, they cut the price to a level where they will lose money in the long run with returns and back-side service in order to destroy the market to gain future market share by making the competitors lose their shirt on their inventories.

By the way, Wal-Mart sold out very quickly, and instead of staying upset with Wal-Mart for understocking a sale item, the consumer rushed down to the stores that had invested in inventory (their main business) and demanded the price guarantee from those vendors. Wal-Mart set the price ridiculously low in order to remove hundreds of stores from Circuit City, Tweeter, and many smaller independents (good old mom-and-pop American pie stores), in order to gain market share. I say build your own market; stop taking it from others by selling out to Communist China for which you (Wal-Mart) at one time were 10% of their total production as a country. Price is not everything.

Think about this, "I" people, what would you do if Wal-Mart started these tactics within your industry—Wal-Mart low-cost nursing, low-cost cars, low-cost education, low-cost garbage pickup, etc. And now you work for Wal-Mart and live at poverty-level wages. Sound like socialism?

Next we look at what happens when China has taught everyone to depend on these lower prices and outsourced labor from China, and Wal-Mart goes under.

All I am asking you to do is think for yourselves. Those who choose not to think for themselves are willing slaves.

kevin

My issues with Walmart are simpler:
The stores are dirty.
The stores are poorly stocked
The lines are excessively long.
The Hot Wings are quite good.
As a result, we do a lot more of our shopping at Target, Best Buy, etc. I realize we are paying a few pennies more. However, we can usually find what we are looking for, and we do not feel like we have to be fumigated after leaving the store.

jared

Negative externalities have costs, too—costs that may not be immediately perceivable, but they are there for sure, beyond the comprehension of the typical Wal-Mart shopper. As long as these fat, greedy sheeple keep living in an economic fantasy land where "price" is the only thing that matters and the "invisible hand" will fix everything, we are only guaranteeing that future generations will deal with the consequences of our actions. How irresponsible. Why is America even doing business with China? You'll get thrown in in jail for even mentioning Tiananmen Square, and we're building them up to be the next world power?

Graham Shevlin

Ultimately, Wal-Mart's performance will be mostly determined by its customers. I no longer shop at Wal-Mart because of its policy of underpaying and overworking employees. Clearly, many other people do not share my concern. If enough people dislike Wal-Mart and do not shop there, then Wal-Mart either changes or suffers as a corporation. The best weapon against corporate malfeasance is to stop buying the corporation's products. As a rule, I'm not in favour of tying up businesses with legislation. It's up to consumers to use their economic power to reward or punish corporations, as long as there are choices (which is where government does have a role, in preventing monopolies in the supply of essential goods).

Matt

Wal-Mart is everything that is wrong with America. I understand that members of the ever-diminishing middle-class must stretch their spending dollars as far as they can by shopping at places like Wal-Mart. What they don't realize is that by spending less now, they are getting lower-quality products likely to need replacing sooner rather than later, and the fact is that once Wal-Mart is the only game left in town, it will gradually begin to increase costs to consumers, reduce the number of choices consumers have, and increase its own bottom line even further.

All this on the backs of their meagerly paid employees.

If you can avoid a Wal-Mart, something that is becoming increasingly more difficult, please do.

AJ

How Wal-Mart treats employees is only one side of the coin. One could argue that Wal-Mart is killing the U.S. economy by forcing price cuts where there are none to be made. The result is manufacturing being moved abroad and products of lower quality. Once you're unemployed it doesn't matter how cheap Wal-Mart is; you'll have a hard time affording it anyway.

If the last pet food recall didn't open your eyes to why squeezing that last cent out of everything is bad, nothing will.

Cindia

I speak from experience. Thirty managers in one state alone quit because of wages, etc. Most do not know that Wal-Mart caps the employees. You can only make so much, and your career comes to a standstill. The insurance is so bad that most employees able to get it don't because it's not worth the money they take out of their wages.

Unfortunately, it's the families and other retailers in the area that lose and get screwed. It is as though Wal-Mart is a huge Trojan horse or virus and no one can see it for what it really is.

Tony

If you don't like it: "Don't shop or work there" is my adage. I've written a rebuttal to the recent anti-Wal-Mart rhetoric:

http://www.maro.net/ossramblings.php?itemid=292

Gene Strong

I love Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has allowed a substantial portion of the world's population to raise their standard of living by 15% to 20% above what their income would normally provide.

Landi

I think from what I have read, it must come from the individual consumer. While people are willing to accept W prices, they must also accept that W will lead to destruction of the middle class by slowly forcing vendors to relocate overseas for lower costs to continuing selling to W, costing those people their jobs.

When your biggest customer tells you that the price is X, then you will attempt to keep the business going. It takes a person of extreme fortitude to tell them to F-off, and we need more vendors to tell them if they want to continue supporting American companies who hire American workers. Then the consumers can pony up just a little more, and consumers should be aware of the reliance we have on each other.

Yes, it's not your problem how much somebody gets paid or whether that person can get another job, but it will be your problem or your children's when the individual resorts to crime to furnish some need that the insufficient wage could not fulfill.

W is also extremely predatory in dealing with competition and uses dictatorship-type tactics when it enters a market. Most smaller towns (fewer than 20,000) die after a supercenter comes. The jobs become relocated to the center, but not usually at the same wages or with the same satisfaction the previous job may have allowed.

mark

I don't have a lot of sympathy as I have been personally touched by Wal-Mart's relentless pursuit of lowest cost. Two former employers of mine no longer exist after failing to meet the ever-increasing demands of their largest customer. Unfortunately, the landscape is littered with failed domestic companies that got caught in the Wal-Mart trap.

Mar

Target, Home Depot, etc. also get most of their goods from China. They are doing exactly the same thing Wal-Mart is, but get less PR. Wal-Mart is the lightning rod, because it is the biggest

S. R0x0r

"The critics of Wal-Mart cannot come up with a legitimate argument to counter Wal-Mart's strategy of lowering prices for consumers."
----------
Maybe that is because you are misstating the argument. Some of the arguments center on Wal-Mart's sweatshop labor through third parties in Asia—keeping workers just under full-time hours and having the state pay for their medical bills, etc.

The low prices can only exist as long as there is competition. There is no reason to maintain low prices if all of the competition is destroyed. The free market only operates inside the bounds of having multiple sellers.

H Jazz

Does anyone realize many large retailers apply the same tactics Wal-Mart does when it comes to promotions such as Black Friday? How come I woke up at 5:00 a.m. to stand in line in front of a Best Buy to buy a flat-screen TV and came out with only a few DVDs because there weren't any by the time I got in? Yet I was able to buy a similar flat-screen TV weeks later at a Wal-Mart for just $50 more.

What I did realize on Black Friday was Wal-Mart actually had a large stock of their advertised Black Friday deals, although most of them might have been smaller items such as vacuum cleaners and microwaves. Even so, I could go into a Wal-Mart store and pick out what I wanted that I saw in the ads without waiting in line when they opened. At other stores, it was every man for himself as soon as the store opened. When Wal-Mart is actually selling things at these prices and people are actually buying them, that is when places like Circuit City go out of business

Gayle

God, please, no more Wal-Marts. They are a blight on the land, leaving a trail of empty husks of buildings in abandoned shopping centers as regular stores turn into supercenters. Please, no more! Why is no one addressing this aspect of the issue? Wal-Mart should be made to replace every empty husk with a community park/green space. The goal of adding 4,000 more Wal-Mart supercenters in the U.S. is ridiculous and utterly tragic.

Chicky

The supporters of Wal-Mart all seem to have a common theme, which is that they are somehow "deserving of a higher living standard through Wal-Mart's (supposed) low prices."

Why should a Wal-Mart employee pay for your little want-bumps? As it stands, those of us who do not shop at Wal-Mart seem to get stuck paying the bill anyway, be it in health care for Wal-Mart workers, food stamps, etc. But the last straw has got to be knowing how this company operates, stealing time from its already low-wage workers; therefore your bargain Wal-Mart price is, once again, subsidized through someone else's earnings. It's back-door welfare, and I'm sorry if I seem cold, but maybe you Wal-Mart fans should try to live within your means like the rest of us.

Wal-Mart seems to bring out the worst in people, either that or the very worst people.

X - LONG TERM W/M

The business model is fine. It is disappointing, however, how Wal-Mart has grown. The divisional senior VPs are all very new and green. They have no idea what they are doing—don't even know what department numbers correspond with what departments. The company's diversity goals have caused it to ignore some of the most talented white males in the organization.

Jean Biri

The only people who can stop WMT are the people who made it successful in the first place: the shoppers.

If shoppers decide to give up low prices in favour of higher prices offered by WMT's competitors, then WMT will be out of business.

The question now is: What sane people would pay $500 extra for a similary priced item in another store (such as those flat-panel TV screens)?

Answer: not many.

Humans all over would rather pay less than pay more. That's in our nature. WMT picked up on this human trait and became huge.

Unless the shopper's mind changes, WMT will still be up there shutting down all competitors, which in marketing means more market share and less competition, hence more power to do business as the company pleases.

Ron

Wal-Mart rocks! I'm sure some here would rather pay higher prices somewhere else so they can support some "deserving" retail employee. Bull! I want reasonable quality at a reasonable price. Wal-Mart has a return policy beaten by none. They will take items back with a smile, even if they know you broke them. The other big retailers have had to follow Wal-Mart to stay alive. Friends, that's called competition
Ron

chevy32

Let's get real; there are a lot of compaines out there that pay their employees' below minimum wage and don't give their workers good health care. And apparently Wal-Mart workers are doing just fine. Why don't we talk about the real problem? High gas prices.

tm85255

"Low prices" at the cost of standard of living is a short-term strategy. Those small-minded people who shop at Wal-Mart and laugh all the way to the bank are kidding themselves, and we all will pay the piper in the end.

Cheryl

Wal-Mart is a business machine with a very focused brand promise: lowest price. With so much debate about the meager pay and benefits, however, I am sure Wal-Mart has done its research into hiring targeted workers at wages that would ensure optimum performance and minimal turnover. However, as CSR plays a more important role in businesses, Wal-Mart definitely has issues ahead to tackle.

bs

I'm surprised that no other vendors are writing in about the treatment they receive at Wal-Mart. My job requires me to order and fill the shelves for Wal-Mart and to pitch displays. The management, when approached, treats me like dirt. I asked one in Spring Hill, Fla., if he had a minute, and his comment was, "Does it look like it?" Well, he was doing nothing at the time. I would take this personally, but I've spoken to other vendors, and almost all get treated the same way.

Vendors are customers, too. We shop, and we also tell a lot of people how we are treated. I used to get up on my Saturday to service this store and then afterward spend $100 to $150 at the store. Guess what: I'll go 10 miles out of my way not to shop at Wal-Mart. Hey, Lee, you are really building your business!

eli

People need to stop worrying about other people's wages and medical crap and be happy there is a place you can buy a plasma TV for under $800, when down the road (at Best Buy), it's $1,000. My aunt works at Wal-Mart, and she's always bragging about the stuff Wal-Mart does; she said that they have five different medical insurance plans to choose from.

Lark

We have three Super Wal-Marts in a 45-mile range here. They have forced the closing of most of our family-owned stores in the area. My daughter worked for WMT briefly. Where'd you get that $10 an hour wage idea? She got approximately $6.25, never enough hours, and paid through the nose for her WMT insurance.

I like to save money as much as the next person, but here, you'd be hard-pressed to spend your dollar elsewhere. There's nothing left except Dollar Generals. Don't get me started there.

thomas brown

Wal-Mart is many things to many people. I work and shop there. I enjoy my job, and I help everyone who seems to need help. I offer advice and show them products that fit their needs. They thank me, and some buy what I showed them, and some do not. The main reason you have high prices in all stores is that people steal, about $2,000 dollars a day, and that is just one store. When we try to stop the people from stealing, we are treated like the bad guy.

But most people are nice, and we enjoy their coming in and shopping at our store. I have had worse jobs, and Wal-Mart is not so bad. My mother once told me, "If you only look for the bad things, that is all you will find." So look for the good things next time you shop at Wallyworld. Peace out.

Pam Humphries

All the negative comments about Wal-Mart and yet, you continue to shop here.

I work in a store that is more than 15 years old. In my little Division 1 store, almost half of my co-workers have been here 6 or more years. Many have worked for Wal-Mart 10-20 years.

If Wal-Mart was so bad to work for, why are so many of us long-timers here?

If Wal-Mart was so bad to work for, why are the unions unable to get a toe-hold in our stores?

If you believe Wal-Mart is so evil, why do you continue to shop with them?

I have watched Wal-Mart families handle personal crises, and I have watched us, the Wal-Mart family, help them emtionally, physically, and financially. I have experienced this in my life as well.

Is Wal-Mart perfect? No. It is, however, the best company I have worked for in my 51 years of life.

Sunny

I gave up on boycotting Wal-Mart. That's mostly because I live in an extremely small town where retailers may or may not have my brand of diapers on hand and charge a lot more because they can get away with it. Still I try to limit my purchases there. If I can get it elsewhere for the same price, why pay for it at Wal-Mart? A Wal-Mart is scheduled to go up here in a year or so. It would have been this summer, but there are not enough people willing to work here. I have to be honest, I look forward to that a little, because it is a 2-hour drive to the nearest Wal-Mart here.

I have a hard time forming an opinion on this one. Wal-Mart has done nothing illegal. They have simply taken advantage of the economic system that our nation prides itself on - that every man for himself, make as much as you can, and monetary success is good for everyone theory. I believe we call it Capitalism.

Anyhow, part of me also thinks that Wal-Mart is a great employer for our teenage population, and perhaps a jumping off point for many. The whole mess to me emphasises the importance of having a highly marketable degree and/or job skills, which I am currently working on, and thanks to the internet this is a much less time consuming task than it once used to be - provided one knows how to learn.

I am less likely to criticize Wal-Mart than some individuals who never aspire to anything better than food stamps and low income housing.

My concern is not how many people are on Medicaid and foodstamps necessarily, but how many will never come off because there is simply no incentive. It's quite simple. For every dollar these people make, more food stamps are taken away, and if they are in low income housing their rent goes up. If they have Medicare/Medicaid and are often in the hospital or are on expensive medications, they don't want to make so much that they get bumped off. For these people it would take a serious jump in income to make it worth their while. A little psychology will tell you that some people just do not think they can do that.

Wal-Mart has been a problem, but not the whole problem. I think if we want to thwart them we should make importing from China illegal, but that seems all but impossible since we have free trade agreements with them.

I think everyone should read this article:

http://www.jri.co.jp/english/RIM/2006/12/china.html

I think we are learning that if money 'makes the world go round', perhaps it can stop it too.

Joe

Pete,
Target is an American company based in Minnesota. You have probably read and believed a viral e-mail from well over a year ago. I bet you shop at Wal-Mart—and you like sending your money to China?

Regarding food prices, here in Texas, Wal-Mart is no cheaper than the HEB chain. It offers less choice and food of what appears to be lesser quality, e.g. old corn and cheap cuts of beef, but not at lower prices.

Moving onto other products again, it's really not any cheaper than Target, and the quality of product just doesn't compare. I for one would rather spend $10 than waste $5. You get what you pay for.

Robert

I worked for Wal-Mart in tire and lube. We were told over and over the reason we were 3 techs short was that there was a hiring freeze because sales were down. Then an article in the paper stated that Wal-Mart had posted a $2.2 billion net (not gross) for the quarter. So the 2-3 hour wait for an oil change went to a 3-4 because we were not going to work ourselves like that just so Wal-Mart could up that profit even more.

Margaret

I do not like WMT nor will I buy anything from them. I have gone into their store, but I just put stuff back regardless of the price. I do not like their policies. My sister loves WMT, but everyone must decide for themselves. I grew up without money, so when I had children, we did not have lots of money. I shopped at Kmart, TJ Max, and lots of retail stores. I still support any other store but Wal-Mart. I have seen stores going out of business. Michigan has enough problems. My family needs mom/pop and corporate stores just to eat and buy decent things. So as far as I am concerned, Wal-Mart can go somewhere else, and we will keep what we have.

Lou Therrien

How can one retail company destroy every other retail company? Wal-Mart puts thousands of people out of jobs by beating their competition and thus driving them out of business. The American public needs to wake up and stop shopping there. Wal-Mart alone makes billions upon billions of dollars and doesn't pass it down to their employees, How selfish and greedy can you be? Meanwhile, the rest of the world will live in poverty because Wal-Mart put them out of business. Wal-Mart is getting fat and has no regard for anyone else. I say ban Wal-Mart, boycott them, don't shop there.

dreamrequest

The heirs of Sam Walton have taken profiteering to a new extreme:
- It's easy to pay employees less when you've knocked out the other employers within a walking/public transport distance.
- 60 tons of trash per year per person means we've got too much stuff in too many theft-proof packages.

The richest people in the world (heirs) need to:
- Take a bit less profit
- Raise prices a bit (might cut out a few of our unnecessary impulse buys)
- Pay a better wage
- Sell Made in the USA to help our economy

I agree that, as consumers, the people who shop at the big box stores are the ones supporting this type of business model. I pay a bit more for quality goods (they last longer, taste better, come with less packaging). I look for mom and pop businesses (that aren't large corporations dressed up to look like family owned):
- I get to give my money to someone who knows me as a customer.
- They get to build a reputation for quality and service.

I don't shop Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, or Costco.

Larry Williams

Wal-Mart employees may get paid less in some socialist states like New York or California, but here in the heartland, they pay better than any other retailers and have by far the best benefits. Ran Win Dixie out of business! Any grocery that cannot compete with the quality and prices of groceries at Wal-Mart needs to be sent packing. Boo hoo. They offered me $7.15 an hour to start. What is the minimum wage that the unions said Wal-Mart was against? My wife has been with Wal-Mart for 13 years, and we see new employees come, learn their job (at the expense of Wal-Mart), and then go on down the road. Can't support your family at Wal-Mart? Get an education and get a real job. Wal-Mart can not use deficit spending like the government to pay you more than you are worth to support your family, but neither can anyone else. People at McDonald's, Burger King, Dollar Stores, Taco Bell,etc.—what do they pay? Do they have better 401k, medical, and insurance than Wal-Mart? The unions are spreading propaganda by using the liberal news media outlets that think all the USA should be as socialist as New York and California. (That is kept going by getting 90 cents of every federal dollar spent). There are Help Wanted signs up in every fast food restaurant and retail store in Ardmore, Oklahoma, except Wal-Mart (I wonder why). I am tired of crap from the big unions that is being spoon-fed straight through our liberal news media. Never have so many had so much and complained so loudly.

Len C.

I have not shopped Wal-Mart for some time, and I can only urge my friends and those I associate with to do the same.

Having said that, I do realize that by turning another retailer into my "normal" place to shop, I may create another monster.

As humans, it is our unfortunate nature to destroy all that starts out good. The need for power wins over all.

Dan R.

As a former employee of five years, I feel that Wal-Mart has gone too far. As someone stated earlier, Sam Walton is turning over in his grave. The Wal-Mart we see today was not his dream. I understand that as times change, business should change to meet the needs, but the underlying values of the company shouldn't change. Wal-Mart in my eyes is no different from the monopolized Microsoft that had to be confronted. Some may argue that this is what happens in a capitalist-driven society, and I argue that this is what's allowed.

We allow big business to dictate what we should support, where we should shop, and what products are worth the blood, sweat, and tears that we give every day to make the life that we have. So many people and businesses suffer because Wal-Mart is not concerned with the overall health of the local economies they reside in. Let's face the fact that people will always shop at Wal-Mart, but why should that come at the cost of the livelihood of other businesses? Wal-Mart is the picture-perfect example of the greed of this nation and lack of concern for others.

They promote themselves to be this great community supporter, but they don't support the family they have, their associates. I remember countless grassroots meetings that accomplished nothing. Nothing ever changes, and I would, along with other associates and former associates, argue that they have gotten worse. Pay is not competitive, and benefits are barely worth paying for, but they argue that is a great place for everyone. For everyone except those who are not at the top.

The picture that they are painting now only makes me wonder what you are really hiding. I have always believed that your actions speak louder than your words. So if Wal-Mart actually did what they are paying millions for someone to say they do, the community and associates would be their mouthpiece of support. I understand that we live in a society that is driven by big business, but let's hold them responsible the same way we hold everyone else in society responsible.

We don't allow parents to offer subpar care for their children; we shouldn't allow big business to do the same on the backs of those who make them run. Everybody seeks after and praises the best CEO, CFO, president, vice-president and any other title, but the truth of the matter is that without a good team for them to lead, you can have the best coach/leader, but you'll never leave your mark. What mark is Wal-Mart leaving by not giving its team the best possible life within reason of still being profitable? Not a very good one, I would argue.

P.S. Don't look at prices; look at the quality of good that they provide. Wal-Mart strives to make you feel like you are getting this great deal, but when you have to replace an item a few times and you could have gotten a better quality product somewhere else, are you really getting a better deal? This is why I try to avoid Wal-Mart at all costs, because I know firsthand, it's really not the best you can find, and surprising to some, not always the lowest priced. Pay more attention, and you will begin to notice.

Serena Couture

I would like to share my personal experience with Wal-Mart. My mother has been an employee there for 6 years. She is 60 years old and was diagnosed with lung cancer. She is now unable to work and is on sick leave (paid for by Wal-Mart benefits); she still gets to keep her store discount. The workers in her store decided to try and raise money to help her and my stepfather, by having a luncheon. Wal-Mart matched dollar for dollar all the money raised. As for me, being a mother of 3 kids, I couldn't do without the low prices at Wal-Mart. I love Wal-Mart.

Harold

You can hate Wal-Mart all you want. I work in the grocery retail industry, and I can tell you Wal-Mart does not use any abusive practice that hasn't been in use for 100 years in mom-and-pop grocery stores. It seems that Wal-Mart's success at capitalism is the root of the problem for the haters. Everything else is industry standard.

tom

I work at a Wal-Mart distribution center. Can't say anything good except that I get paid on time. Unaffordable insurance, incentive checks every 3 months barely there, and prices that can be matched or beat if people bother to look and compare. And better quality. We more than earn our money while working there. Even getting in 32 hours a week is hard to do there.

Doctor B

I cannot believe some of the comments that I hear about Wal-Mart supporting Chinese sweatshops. Anybody who has done research into Wal-Mart's buying practices knows that they make overseas suppliers sign a code of conduct like Disney does, and audits the companies on a yearly basis. That is more than a lot of other retailers do to make sure that working conditions are good for the workers. And as far as the wages paid at Chinese companies, there is a reason only the young are on the assembly lines in China; they save up enough money during their time at the factories to be able to invest in a farm later in life; there, the pace is slower and the government subsidizes them. Their benefits are also better than U.S. benefits in many cases. Actually, if more U.S. companies treated their workers the way WMT-certified Chinese companies treated their employees, you would probably have the death of unions in the U.S. and return to profitability in U.S.-based operations again.

David

Wal-Mart is a monster company. I worked there for awhile. It was a horrible experience in my life.

Veronica

I live in Idaho, and we had Wal-Mart move in in the last few years. In that time, Albertson's (which started in Boise) had to close down. I am not a Wal-Mart shopper, because the little man suffers. Someone should also teach Wal-Mart exactly what customer service is if they are trying to put other retailers out of business. Thank you to our Albertson's employees for being the very best.

Todd Moon

The consumer market as a whole is changing. People are making online purchases more and more each year. Even those who make a purchase in a store often have researched the price and features on the Internet before ever setting foot inside. There are some items that will always be purchased in a storefront, but the traditional model of box retailer will have less and less importance in the years to come.

Companies that can manufacture and sell direct to the consumer via the Internet will have learned the Wal-Mart model of minimizing costs and maximizing profit.

Market conditions always change, and so will Wal-Mart as its market shares are affected by consumer choices.

Rob

I live in a small town in rural Mississippi. I have seen a phenomenon time after time here in the last few years—the big retailers like Wal-Mart putting out of business all of the small retailers in small towns. In the past 6 months, we have had four local retailers close due to the "monster stores" such as Wal-Mart. Sure, they're creating jobs, but they are taking away more jobs than they're creating in the process. For a person in retail sales, it's hard to see your entire customer base spending money in a larger town's tax district. It takes away not only from the local merchants and employees but also from local schools, etc.

Mark

It is amazing that the people who oppose Wal-Mart rarely ever present facts. They say things such as: Wal-Mart is immoral. They are evil. They are hurting their employees. And so on. These are accusations without facts and are oh-so-annoying. But the people who are for Wal-Mart are using facts: Read them.

Mark

I wonder—with the money that people make in other countries, would they be able to survive here making that amount, which is small by our standards? No, and is that the reasoning people use to say that they need to earn more? Or does the small amount of money, compared to ours, actually pay for what they need to live? If the price for things over where they are is lower, then of course they can be paid less.

John

I worked in Wal-Mart for a few years. It was biggest mistake in my life. I am in different company, which is 1,000 times better than Wal-Mart. I feel good about it. I even stopped shopping at Wal-Mart.

They are not selling at low prices. They are selling low-quality material, so people get the feeling they are getting low prices.

Mark

Another thing worth considering is the experience people get working for places like Wal-Mart or McDonalds's, another stereotypical dead-end job. The experience is a long-term benefit, and you people seem to be looking for mostly short-term benefits.

Henry Smith

Wal-Mart has the lowest prices. Wal-Mart forces no one to work for them. Wal-Mart is one of the most generous companies out there when it comes to making donations to charitable organizations, schools, and a whole lot of other folks.

Wal-Mart is doing everything the American way. They are an equal opportunity employer, and I am glad they are as successful as they are!
H.J. Smith Lake Wales Fla.

Bianca Brown

Wal-Mart as a company is going down in the years to come, because they have bad management and are doing devilish things to their workers. Someday it's going to hit the fan. When it does, John Fleming is going look stupid, I mean really stupid.

Bill Morris

"How may I help you?"
"Get Out!"

Thomas

I worked for Wal-Mart for 20 years. I started in the stores and worked up to management at the home office. Because of Wal-Mart profit-sharing, I was able to retire early and not worry about my future. Today, however, due to lackluster stock performance, associates will not have that same opportunity. Most of the old-timers have either left or were forced out by the new, younger, multi-degreed management. Wal-Mart does not practice the 3 basic beliefs that Sam built the company around. No longer is Sam's program "Made in America" the norm. Instead, "get the lowest cost overseas or else" seems to be the strategy. The only way I see for Wal-Mart to prosper again is to get back to the core business and practice and apply Sam's 3 basic beliefs to every aspect of the business.

Sunshine Araw

I worked for Wal-Mart for 5 years. They weren't perfect, but who is? If other retailers are concerned about their performance, let them drop their prices, which are jacked up too high anyway. Most young people couldn't make it if it weren't for Wal-Mart. I know firsthand; I chatted with many of them.

Kate

Putting Wal-Mart out of business will only lead to more problems. For instance: 1.3 million Americans in the unemployment line. The 60% who are not currently getting medical and welfare assistance from the federal government will be doing so. I work for Wal-Mart, and I can't say by any means that I am rich, but I'm surviving (paycheck to paycheck for now) and at least the 1.3 million of us are working!

Dave

I could write pages on the study I did about Wal-Mart, but it is useless; the problem is ourselves, not the company. America is failing fast and will soon lose its place in the world because of greed. It's the beginning of the end. Our country is set up to feed on itself, and like a cancer it will self-destruct in a matter of time. It worked well for a few hundred years, but all things must come to a end. When you see companies buy and sell each other till there are only a few left, competition will be no more. It's now "get it while you can," because there won't be any left in a few short years, and those of you who think your money will protect you are in for a rude wake-up. Can it be fixed? The only way I can see is to let it all fall apart, and then start over. America is no more than a word, which used to stand for a high calling. Now it means nothing.

S

"America is based on capitalism." Not anymore. Sounds like Communism; there will be one place to left to shop. No one cares about the consumer. The bottom line is about the ones who are making the profits. Greed. How much more do they need to make?

Adam

Wal-Mart is a monopoly, and the government needs to do something about it. I live in a small community, and 4 small stores were forced to close because of Wal-Mart driving their customers away.

Berkhmann

Wal-Mart generally carries cheaper products at cheaper prices; to get quality name brand tools, electronics, etc. you have to go somewhere else and spend some money. Most people don't realize that by making a larger initial investment they will save money (by not having to replace whatever subpar product they may have bought).

Anyway, we do pay for these low prices, whether it be in tax dollars (for their benefits since they don't like to employ people full time) or time spent in the store (time truly is money, perhaps even more valuable).

I can't get in and out of Wal-Mart in a timely fashion, because they won't allow the appropriate number of cashiers on the clock at the same time.

I may be a hypocrite, because I do some of my shopping there, but honestly sometimes I don't really have an option. Some of their employees don't really have options either.

Lynne

As an associate of Wal-Mart, I don't get why you say Wal-Mart has low wages and takes advantage of sales associates as it is simply not true. As a five-year associate, I make more than $10 an hour and on Sundays they add an additional $1 an hour. The stores cater to the working American family 24/7. It offers one-stop shopping and a variety of services. They will never go out of business as they are the retail giant, and all of you that want to bash them or make assumptions know nothing about it and should be ashamed of yourselves. Wal-Mart does a lot for community, environment, etc. So guess what: Wal-Mart is here to stay!

Alice

There are so many uninformed people here. One poster above said "You can only make so much, and your career comes to a standstill."

No!

Your particular job will no longer get you a raise. But you can make more by taking more responsibility, doing more. A cashier will max out at about 30k a year, more than the job is worth.

There have been some posts from employees here, both good and bad. You can bet the ones that posted positive comments are the ones that got good reviews and appropriate raises. The current or former employees that complain are the ones that did not do a good overall job and didn't get good reviews. (So you "fixed" a photo lab machine? How many times were you late to work, took too long for a break, called off, etc?)

And yes, I do work there part time. I am maxed out on pay, but I still get paid more than I really should.

Stormi

As a former Wal-Mart department manager, I can say that Wal-Mart's policy of low prices always is a huge lie. In my department, every item was marked-up at least 100%. Most were 200% or better. That's not passing savings on to consumers. I understand that every business needs mark-up to survive. But 200%? Lee Scott is nothing more than a con man. The last con man of his caliber was P.T. Barnum. At least Mr. Barnum admitted to being a con man and entertained us.

Jeremy

I have been working for Wal-Mart for almost 7 years, and I have to tell you that from where I sit, it is not the best place to work. I live in a small town, so there isn't much choice; nearly everyone that I work for with the exception of salaried management has a hard time living off the wages provided by the company. I would figure that they would pay more considering that every floor employee has made them millions over the years at the individual level and contributes to those billions they profit from every year. They have cut programs in recent years, adding to the less-than-positive morale for its associates. Those were programs like good job buttons that associates received for accomplishments and could redeem for a share of stock when they had enough of them. Another thing out the window is the merit raise. I'm sorry, but Wal-Mart has strayed far from the ideals of its founder, and for that, the company should crumble.

Saving $

This is the glory of America. No one has to do anything. If you want higher wages, go somewhere else. If you want upscale, go upscale. If you want better benefits, go where they are offered. I prefer to shop at Wal-Mart for the low prices, and I think they have a good business plan. Again, if you work for Wal-Mart and hate it, leave. No one is forcing you to stay and make below average wages. That is completely your choice.

DPM

I do not like the way Wal-Mart conducts business now that Sam is gone. The Walton family behaves like a bunch of greedy vultures willing to do whatever they must in order to get their way and their huge profits. I would rather go to a store that sells quality than buy the imported junk that is typically found in Wal-Mart stores. Yes, I suppose many folks are willing to sacrifice quality for cost, but I'm not one of them. The comment that has been repeatedly made, "If you don't like it don't go there" suits me just fine.

Count me in as one who prefers to take my business elsewhere until Wal-Mart learns to stop its bullying. I've seen too many instances in my part of the country where Wal-Mart has bulldozed their way into towns where protests against them were strong. And as predicted, they buried all the small businesses. As a country, do we really need this sort of big business role model? I think not.

Mike

I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart. I find the corporate greed at the company appalling and refuse to spend my money there. If you look around, you can almost always find what you want elsewhere at the same or a slightly higher price. The family who owns Wal-Mart are all billionaires many times over and could afford to supply their workers with health insurance. Corporate greed will eventually make the USA a two-class country consisting of the very rich and the very poor.

JODY

I like the way that Kate put it: Imagine another 1.3 million people in the unemployment line. I live in southern Louisiana and when Katrina shut down several Wal-Marts in my area, that alone was a disaster.

pam

Within ten miles of my home, there is only a Wal-Mart and a Winn Dixie; so that is where we shop. What I hate most about the experience is the dirty bathrooms. They are filthy. They recently repainted and laid new tile at the store near my home, because they obviously do not know how to clean them. :(

A Miller

I don't think anybody honestly expects to get rich working at a checkout line. This isn't a socialist country. People are not paid to live; they are paid do perform.

Edward Green

Wal-Mart makes you feel dirty just walking into their stores. I go to Target because it's trendy, nice, and clean. Here in NJ, people fight when they want to build Wal-Marts, and lots of them have been declined, because here in NJ, we have good jobs.

Zack

I've worked for Wal-Mart for almost 8 years. I started in the shoe department, making $6.50 an hour when I was in high school. After transitioning through a few departments and then into management last summer, my pay has increased dramatically. Now I'm a salaried asset protection manager in a supercenter that does more than $100 million a year. I've only ever considered leaving Wal-Mart one time, and found that local retail employers were paying only minimum wage. At that time I was making more than $8 an hour. Now I make more than $40,000 a year, and get my health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, and accidental death and dismemberment insurance for a tidy sum of $32 a month. I work with several associates who are hourly associates and make more than I do, but they have been around for much longer as well. I can tell you for a fact that Wal-Mart does pay out big bonuses. The full-time hourly associates at my store received a bonus of nearly $1200 with part-time associates receiving half of that. Also, how many other employers provide health insurance for part-time employees, or vacation benefits, or profit sharing for that matter?

And as far as products go, is it not the consumers who have told Wal-Mart they want lower prices, effectively forcing Wal-Mart to sell goods manufactured in developing nations?

Mary

Keep shopping Wal-Mart.

The only choice you will have is Wal-Mart.

Then it will raise its prices when it has no competitors.

Greg Phillips

You can't blame Wal-Mart for making the most of the American system (maximizing profits and minimizing costs). It's just sad that they are not a responsible corporate citizen when doing so.

Kenneth

Let's look at the big picture here. The enemy in this senario is the U.S., the consumer, and the American CEOs who are rewarded with outrageous bonuses at the expense of the worker. Nothing wrong with unions here. They fight for decent wages and have allowed for the growth of a strong middle class. However, we want to have our cake and eat it, too. We want higher wages to purchase things at lower prices. The rest of the world is trying to catch up and join the world economy, but at our expense. Until they do, we'll continue to take giant steps backward and wait while our economy continues to decline. The question is, when will the rest of the world catch up? I don't shop Wal-Mart for the sake of saving a few dollars at the expense of the workers there. If all retailers joined the likes of Wal-Mart and wages were even across the board, then I might reconsider.

Missy

I have read all the articles and replies with great interest. Basically I have determined that the only people who really hate Wal-Mart and want everyone to quit shopping there are Wal-Mart employees.

Think about it: What sane person is going to pay more for a product somewhere else because the WMT employees are unhappy with their pay and benefits?

MA

I was an employee at Wal-Mart and can say what they do to their employees is unfair. Yeah, we got bonuses. We were supposed to get two checks, one not taxed and then our regular paycheck. When it's time to get our checks, both our paycheck and the bonus were together. We got taxed so badly that some didn't get paid the right amount and only got some bonus and no regular paycheck.

J

I believe that the problem with Wal-Mart is their service. Yes, they have low prices, yes people want to shop there (including me), but who wants to stand in line for 20 minutes for a few items? They don't seem to realize that if you cut employees' hours to "save money," you are hurting the customers.

against walmart

People say that they are donating to charitable causes. Shouldn't they be? That's the least they can do. They donated pennies. They are a multibillion-dollar company. The prices are low, because they pay their employees nothing. More than 80% of their employees are on welfare and WIC programs.

Brandy

The next time I hear or read "You don't have to work or shop there" or "If you want better pay, go to school, get a better job," I'm going to throw up. Apparently the people making these comments don't live in a small town or have kids to feed or bills to pay. You try completing a four-year program at a community college with 3 kids and a wife. My husband would love to go back to school and come out with a starting pay of $60,000+ a year. But how do you take care of a family and pay for school on $7.70 an hour at Wal-Mart?

Susan

I worked at WMT for 4 years and found out that women got paid a lot less then men. I trained a man who had just retired from the army, and he started at more money than I was making after 4 years. The reason at the time was that he was the "breadwinner" and needed the money to support his family. Please, what do they think I was doing there?

I now own my own business and found out more about the workings of WMT. When there is a hot new item that comes on the market, WMT will go to the manufacturer and buy up all the stock of that item. The manufacturer is bullied into selling it exclusively to them with the threat of not buying any more product from them (take it or leave it deal). This leaves the small business without the product, because we can't get any of the stock.

I also found out that the pressures from WMT on some of the manufacturers to lower the quality of their product to fit the WMT price is extreme. This has been going on for years, but what is the person to do? Either you deal with the WMT plan or they run you out of business.

When people say WMT employees should just leave WMT if they're unhappy working there, I want to scream. They probably would go elsewhere, but WMT has run most of the smaller retailers out of business in town. Just look around some of the small towns they have moved into. Most of the downtown business has closed up.

a

Carrie

JIMMY: Kudos to you for recognizing that some people don't have many employment (or shopping) choices in the small towns WMT has infiltrated.

MARK: Here are your facts.

DAVE: I could also write pages about the studies I've done on WMT and couldn't agree with Dave less! Similarly Sam Walton's "wonderful" values were stated, but his actions and his pricing plan are a different story... to go into small towns and undercut local businesses (while operating in the red to do so) so that those previous $50K a year business owners could be out of work while WMT is shouting, "Look how great we are, we create (poverty level) jobs for the community." Meanwhile, they are creating ghosttowns because the competition can't stay in business

Paul

I worked for a WMT distribution center for 13 years in Texas. My time there was not so great. But as the years went by and WMT got bigger, they hired more people, young people. In 2005, 13 managers and 65 associates including me that had worked there 10+ years were fired or forced to quit for stupid (and I mean stupid) reasons. I went back to farming and our family lives a lot better and happier without the WMT stress.

Chris

Grow up. McDonald's and every other fast-food restaurant has made vast fortunes on the backs of teenage kids for decades. Wal-Mart pays more than minimum, gives regular raises, and offers benefits. This is a much better deal than I received working for the world's largest private security provider. I have numerous members of my extended family who have worked for Wal-Mart with no complaints. When they were ready to try some other type of employment, they left. I think Wal-Mart's detractors should realize that a salesperson with limited ability to assist me should not be compensated more than the market demands.

Nichole

I live in a small typical American town. We used to have 4 grocery stores; now we have two. My huge issue with WMT is that they come into town, put other places out of business, and refuse to provide or keep in stock the essentials we need to survive. As any mother with teething babies knows, Baby Oragel is a must. I have been told by two WMT employees that if they don't have it in stock, then I don't need it.

reggie herndon

Wonder how far Wal-Mart prices will drop when all competition is driven into oblivian? Maybe there will be an increase on the horizon. I am also flustered that I must help furnish health care in the form of tax dollars for Wal-Mart employees.

Eric

First, Dave if you truly believe America is in its death throes and is so evil, do us all a favor and go someplace else as soon as you can. America is more resilient than you believe. Go live someplace else for a few years, and then put her down. Second, for all who believe Wal-Mart should provide them with dignity and respect by paying them more: The last time I looked, you earn both with hard work and personal ethics. Neither can be given to you. If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't work there and don't shop there! If they are that bad, they will go the way of whale oil and steam-powered locomotives.

Sheldon

Right on, Dave. It's all about the greed, and you're right that loyalty means nothing in our society. It's all about "give me mine now."

Annonymous

I am not saying this about all Wal-Marts, but the one near me appears to hire people who are probably desperate for income and happy they have a job at all. I think Wal-Mart takes advantage of these people's situations by paying low and not offering insurance. It's just one step up from Third World sweat shops.

ONTIME

Where is it written that a decent-paying job with opportunity equals cradle-to-grave medical and dental coverage? Why is it that the unions—that would be broke if it were not for the pandering politicians and the fact that they now have a stranglehold on government employees—keeps on sticking their costly noses into the lives of thousands of Wal-Mart employees even when the union has been voted down more than once?

Darin

Between companies like Wal-Mart who want all the business and politicians in our government who want all our money, this country is going to hell in a handbasket fast.

Kat

My boyfriend worked for Sam's Club, a part of the Wal-Mart corporation. He and many of his colleagues were treated badly, and fired because they weren't white. I was witness to what happens on the employee side of WMT, and it's absolutely ridiculous. When you walk into a WMT, tell me, how many white managers do you see? All of them.

peter walker

Peter,
Yes, Wal-Mart has lower prices but at a cost. More than 80% of the things they sell comes form China.

john

One question: Of all the people submitting comments on here, how many, customers and employees alike, shop at Wal-Mart? 'nuff said. If you're all so critical of how they do business, don't shop there.

Mo

Everyone keeps saying Wal-Mart would be better if they paid their employees more, because it would encourage them to work harder and rise up out of poverty. Does anyone really believe that the only thing standing between these employees and riches is Wal-Mart? They work at Wal-Mart because they have little skill, not the other way around. And their skills won't improve just because Wal-Mart pays them another couple bucks an hour. The only thing that will do that is education. The poor, uneducated, and unskilled have always existed like this and will continue to—until they decide to change themselves.

Frank G

I don't know about you, but I have bills to pay, and if Wal-Mart's low prices helps pay them, I'm all for low prices.

Jeff

If they raised the pay scale slightly, they wouldn't have a 102% turnover rate.

Sean Franco

The bottom line is Wal-Mart is a business. They can and should be able to run their business any way they see fit.

Craig

The popularity of Wal-Mart perfectly illustrates the short-term thinking of the typical American: So what if Wal-Mart treats workers (at all levels) poorly and discriminates, drives local businesses out, and destroys communities, and creates a false perception of "saving" by importing cheap goods from China that will wear out far faster than quality goods? None of this matters because Joe or Jane American would rather pay $2 less for a six pack of flimsy tube socks than to consider the bigger picture, which just might mean thinking about someone other than him or herself.

Dearson

Defenders of Wal-Mart/China fail to understand that they are growing off of small childern, many of whom work 15 hours a day.

Christina

It is sad that union workers feel entitled and privileged to my hard-earned cash. A union at Wal-Mart would only serve to allow employees to gouge their own neighbors and communities in order to line their own pockets and improve their own lives.

Garry

What I don't understand—and this is just one thing of many—at holidays, why do Wal-Mart egg prices go up? Do the chickens want holiday pay?

JUST THINK ABOUT IT

Wal-Mart needs to learn the law of the jungle, which is everything feeds off another. If Wal-Mart keeps shutting down other stores, the people who work for those stores will have no money to shop at Wal-Mart.

Don

How can you have 1.3 million associates if you treat them badly? Wal-Mart cannot afford to treat their folks poorly. When you have 3,000 stores to run, you need the people more than they need the company. They are retail paying retail wages, and the people working there should know that.

Lee

Problems at Wal-Mart? Try either working or shopping at Meijer's. Meijer's is the worst. I've been there.

Todd

If you keep going to Wal-Mart, don't blame the government for all the jobs going overseas.

NEGRON

As I learned on Wall Street, you must have a diversified portfolio to hedge against bad stocks; in another words, do not put all your eggs in one basket. In shopping the same applies; sooner or later the only game in town will be giants manipulating your pockets and lifestyle.

Keith

Quite a few of you have said that Wal-Mart has increased the standard of living and has contributed greatly to our GDP. Yes, it has contributed to the GDP. What I find faulty in your argument is you neglect to think about the future. Outsourcing production jobs to other countries does cut costs, but they would do wonders for our economy if they were kept here. Low wages for the workers have a greater effect on our economy than most of you realize. The largest cost in our nation's budget is programs like Medicare, Medicaid, welfare, and Social Security. The low wages and encouragement associates get from management to seek out these programs for help only increases our budget deficit.

There are quite a few people out there who call out Bill Gates and Microsoft on their "monopoly." What these people fail to realize is that Gates donates 56% of his yearly earnings to charities in many different areas. The Walton family donates less than 0.5%. Gates realizes one thing about this nation that the Walton family and Wal-Mart need to figure out. He sees that the children of today run the world tomorrow, and that they need certain programs to help the economy and the world of tomorrow. Take a basic macroeconomics class and you will learn about the three basic pillars of productivity growth. These are capital stock, technology, and labor force. Gates sees that by making a well-educated labor force, productivity will increase and thus positively stimulating the economy.

I ask others to consider these facts before standing up for Wal-Mart or being critical of other successful companies such as Microsoft or Starbucks.

Tibor H.

Well Dear Berkhmann,
Cheaper products? No. Cheaper prices. Earlier in this forum someone asked why everything is made in China in Wal-Mart. Hey, wake up. Everything is made in China in the whole USA. Soon even your big traditional GM Chevy or any GM car you will buy will be from China. Are you complaining about them, too? No. Why? Because as anyone on this planet (except the millionaires), you, too, are looking for better deals. And you are shopping in Wal-Mart. Why? Because you found a better deal there. Oh, and about quality name brands: Sony is not good for you? Or Sanyo, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, Hitachi, Siemens, Logitech, etc.? Could you name what other brand are you looking for in electronics that other stores have? As far as I see, the No. 1 problem people are complaining about with Wal-Mart is greed. People are greedy, because they are making good money. Do you know why some people can afford to buy TVs, VCRs, and DVD players? Because of Wal-Mart. Because competitors are trying to keep up, but they can't sometimes. Could any of you tell me what would all those people do who shop at Wal-Mart because of the low prices, if Wal-Mart wouldn't be there? Many of them could not afford to buy from other stores, because of their outrageous prices. And guess what: Just for an example, if a supplier sells a TV for $500, then you can probably buy it in Wal-Mart for $540, but from other stores for $650. See my point? Wal-Mart takes less from the customer's pocket than the others, so that just figures that the competitors are just out there trying to get rich and not serve the customer. Oh, yeah, you would say now that I am probably working for Wal-Mart. Yes, I do. But guess what? I came from a country in Europe where Wal-Mart lost the fight with its competitor, and I still say that if it wasn't for Wal-Mart I wouldn't be where I am now. Because I tried to get a job everywhere, but since 9-11 people look at foreigners in this country like we did something wrong. So Wal-Mart was the only one that gave me a job. Before that, I was on state help with my wife. Now we both work there, and we lead a very good life. I can tell you that from what we make, we can buy anything we want, and my wife has 3 kids, too. We have everything we need, even insurance. And still on top of that, I started in maintenance and cleaned floor and bathrooms. You would think that is why I didn't get a job anywhere. Well, I have 3 college degrees and 11 other certificates and proudly can say there is nothing out there that would be an impossible challenge for me. I am up for every challenge. And if you work at Wal-Mart and they see that you work well, you can get promoted faster than you think. Starting from maintenance after 10-11 months, I was a department manager in electronics, and that is where I am right now. And believe me, by end of this year, they'll probably give me the opportunity to go to management training. So what is the problem really with Wal-Mart then?

Silver

Wal-Mart's management team is missing the mark. Instead of playing "what if in the woods" with special advisers, marketing specialists, etc., ask the people that shop at Wal-Mart about the stores. I live in an area that has 5 Super Wal-Marts within 6 miles of my home. Two of them I will not shop at. Why, you ask? They are dirty, understaffed, and poorly managed. In fact, some of the new Super Wal-Mart's in the area are some of poorest.

jay

Wal-Mart has to be stoped. All this low-priced China Communist crap is not what this country needs. All we are doing is shooting ourselves in the foot.

Cactusrose

So, Widia, who owns Target? And yes, Peter is correct, it is a French owned company.

You want Wal-Mart to pay a living wage; what about the restaurants you eat in? Think their employees make So, Widia, who owns Target? And yes, Peter is correct, it is a French owned company.

You want Wal-Mart to pay a living wage; what about the restaurants you eat in? Think their employees make a living a wage?

Keep fighting for that, and then you won't be able to complain when your standard of living declines as you won't be able to eat out as often, shop for necessities on a budget, or afford any extras.

Gary, where do eggs come from? At Easter when eggs are in high demand, farmers will raise their prices.
a living a wage?

Keep fighting for that, and then you won't be able to complain when your standard of living declines as you won't be able to eat out as often, shop for necessities on a budget, or afford any extras.

Gary, where do eggs come from? At Easter when eggs are in high demand, farmers will raise their prices.

Dingo

I despise Wal-mart. When Sam was alive, I appreciated and supported his "made in America" philosophy. This has all gone out the door. Manufacture of products overseas takes American jobs plain and simple.

john

Hey, in my opinion, a job is a job.

Bernadette

How do you get rid of a Wal-Mart? Force a union. When unions begin to make ground in a Wal-Mart, the management closes that big box.

Dave D.

Wal-Mart did not drive Eagles out of business, HyVee did that (HyVee also charged higher prices than Eagles did). Eagles sank because even selling for less than HyVee was not enough of a reason for shoppers to prefer buying from them.

It's fairly easy to stay in business even if you're charging more than Wal-Mart does for the same items. What can't be done, however, is to charge more and give even less customer service than Wal-Mart and still expect customers to buy from you. This is why Target is gaining some ground, and Kmart went bankrupt.

Alex

It's a vicious cycle.
You enter the marketplace somewhere is the U.S.
You drive out competition in that area.
You force the people of that area who have to work somewhere to work for you.
You pay them low wages and no health benefits.
They are trapped, too poor to even explore other options (like schooling. I put myself through school with loans, not easy; Ramen noodles were often a staple food).
You don't give them any benefits
They get sick, don't go to the doctor, or if they go it's at a late stage or they use the overcrowded emergency rooms (I know. I'm a doctor).
They don't follow up, because they can't afford it (resulting in repeated visits to the emergency room).
The overcrowded emergency room can't take care of those who happen to have an emergency, because they are packed with people whose only choice for health care is the ER.
The hospital runs into problems; somehow state aid has to pitch in a tiny bit so the hospital doesn't go under
The next year, the state doesn't have enough money, so it cuts other programs or figures out a new tax to get more money out of the regular Joe to pay the hospital so it doesn't go out of business.
Meanwhile Wal-mart manufactures or imports everything from poverty-stricken sweat shops in the Far East or Middle East, further decreasing jobs from the U.S. sector.
Thus forcing more people to only be able to work and shop at Wal-Mart, because that's the most they can afford and the only job they can get.

On the other hand, unions with their unrealistic wage expectations and high "dues" combined with the unscrupulous workers who overutilize the workers comp. system (which by the way is as crooked as it gets), have also created an impossible situation for employers.

The answer lies somewhere in the middle. I'm sorry, but I can't imagine any one person or family actually needing like $54 billion dollars in their coffers. The answer to Wal-Mart's problem should not come from raising prices or further abusing employees. It should come from the pockets of the gluttonous family that owns that corporation. Their inability to see the plight of their fellow man and woman and their lack of insight as members of this earth is a sad statement of what human beings can become when they allow greed to take over. I hope that Sam's great-great-great grandchildren will have the benevolence to see past the tip of their noses and lend a helping hand to the world they live in.

Mike Dee

Wal-Mart's quest for low prices has led to a lot of folks who no longer have jobs, who now can't make purchases at any price. Remember the "Made in America" that was proudly displayed. Not any more. Lower prices were more important.

I have personally spoken with vendors who told me after meeting with Wal-Mart, "I just wrote $4 million in business; I'll see if we made any money when we get home." God Bless Mrs. Helen Walton. She was the company's last tie to class.
Mike D
Bentonville, Ark.

Russell

I have seen the reality of Wal-Mart. These people are the greatest cons in the history of the world. My family lives in a small city in Ohio, a very depressed city, with unemployment very high and most of the people on fixed incomes. When Wal-Mart announced they planned to open a supercenter, they boasted how they would bring more than 200 new jobs and "economic growth." The truth is, yes they brought 200+ jobs, but 4 other retailers closed down within 2 years of the Wal-Mart store opening; nearly 400 people lost their jobs and ended up on unemployment (subsidized by us the tax payers). The other thing that happened was Wal-Mart somehow got the state to pay more than $2.5 million for road improvements that lead into its supercenter, so once again the taxpayer subsidized the "world's largest retailer," and that is not fair to me or anyone else who pays tax. I would also like to add that Wal-Mart has also been getting loans from the Small Business Administration. Why? A bank would charge them more interest. As taxpayers, we should all be angry about Wal-Mart's behavior. Personally, I have not spent a cent in Wal-Mart in more than 10 years, and I will not shop there. And for those of you who don't know, Rubbermaid closed down its U.S. plant (laying off around 300 employees, who were paid a decent wage, had benefits, paid taxes, and paid into Social Security) and moved its production to China. Why? Because of the demands placed on the company by Wal-Mart. How long will we as Americans continue to subsidize the world's largest retailer?

Larry

I think Wal-Mart is too big, and should be controlled by the government. After all, when other companies threaten to monopolize markets, our government steps in. Wal-Mart is basically doing this with their tactics. Not only that, but Wal-Mart would do better to go back to honoring their "Satisfaction Guarantee." The only persons guaranteed to be satisfied now by Wal-Mart are the owners when you spend your money. I have in fact had many problems with something I bought at Wal-Mart, and they simply refused to make it right, basically saying, you bought it; it is your problem.
Also with them doing away with their layaway department, many consumers are going to shop elsewhere for stuff they simply cannot afford to pay cash for. My overall opinion is Wal-Mart should be "Bware Mart" as it is not the store it used to be. Wal-Mart has my best wishes that they help Kmart, known as Big K, to quickly become the world's new leader in retail sales. I have had many very pleasant experiences in buying from Big K, and the product is the same if not better quality than Wal-Mart's products. Sometimes service more than makes up for a few pennies difference in price. My best wishes for success and continued growth to Big K—may you turn Wal-Mart to Wee-Mart.
Thanks.

JUST THINK ABOUT IT

Wal-Mart is like a big flee market, full of cheap junk. But it's the time we live in today where everyone wants something for nothing, which makes Wal-Mart grow. Don't get me wrong. It's not all junk—more like 80% junk

Bhind8ball

Wal-Mart offers cheaper products by bullying suppliers. They have single-handedly run many companies out of business. I can name 20. They have dishonest sales practices, and the word of mouth is catching up to them. Frankly, it couldn't happen to a nicer company. I am a firm believer that you reap what you sow. That seems to be what is now happening.

As a contractor who built Wal-Marts, I was subjected to their brand of business. That being, when Wal-Mart didn't want to pay, they simply said, "Sue me. We'll have you in court for 10 years." We did sue them and won. However, it bled our company dry. I overheard a Wal-Mart rep. laugh at the demise of our company and state that if the bank wanted the money owed, they could come get it in court.

If you don't think we as consumers are paying for this, you are wrong. Wal-Mart is a company with no values other than making money from anywhere it can.

Doug

Anyone who blames Wal-Mart for anything is just being stupid. If the working conditions are so bad, work somewhere else. I don't have a degree. I'm 25, Hispanic, and I'm a successful financial advisor at JPMorgan. My point being that other jobs are out there. Buck up, work hard, and stop blaming Wal-Mart for people's quality of life. If it's so terrible for their workers, why do they never seem to have any trouble with filling their open positions? Wal-Mart has taken the idea of capitalism and done with it exactly what anyone can potentially do with it. I know what you're thinking: "It's not that easy or else everyone with a business would be that successful." Not true. The Walton family is very smart and found a method that works. So all this "I hate Wal-Mart" talk is garbage. Let's hate them and want to shut them down just because they were smarter than other businesses before them. Stop crying, and go shopping.

Cindy

A few short years ago, my sister and I both worked for Wal-Mart. They are always expressing how it's important to use the "discount cards" the employees get after they are hired. Well, we were both making a little over $7 an hour, but the cost of insurance (medical, short term disability,and long term disability) hit us both hard. My sister used her "discount card," not thinking when she brought a girl that was living with her to buy diapers for the baby while they went through my line to check out. We were both fired, told it was against their company policy. The big dog got over on one more little puppy then and will keep doing the same.

Ray

To Mark, who thinks Wal-Mart is so great:
You asked for people to use facts as to Wal-Mart's poor partnerships with its employees, community, ect. I suggest you read The Bully of Bentonville. It will answer a lot of your misconceptions.

Houston Texas employee

I have been working part time for Wal-Mart for over one year and a half and let me tell you, for $10 an hour, I don't complain about the fact that when I went to look around for a part time job no one was even close to paying what they pay. Fast food restaurants start you off at minimum wage and don't offer you health insurance if you are part time. I am making good money to be a cashier and simply check out customers who go to shop at my store. The insurance is about $40 out of every pay check, which is better than spending triple that if I didn't have insurance and ended up having to go to a hospital. At my full time job, we don't get bonuses, but working part time for Wal-Mart just this year I earned a bonus of over $1,000, which I was not complaining about; that money came in handy and I felt proud to be recognized as an employee of Wal-Mart. My full time job has never given me a bonus. And we also get a discount card for all our shopping just for being an employee, which is also good for relatives I don't have any complaints about Wal-Mart. in fact I won't shop at any other grocery store because it's ridiculous and Wal-Mart always has the lowest prices. For those that say their local stores are dirty and not clean, just call home office, and it should be taken care of. Our home office doesn't tolerate dirty and poorly managed stores. In fact, they don't take complaints lightly from any customer or any employee. This sets us apart from the rest.

Canongate

Is it true that Wal-Mart carries a $50,000 group-term life insurance policy on their elderly "greeters" and, while taking the tax deduction allowed for these policies, makes Wal-Mart Corporation the beneficiary on the policy rather than the family of the deceased?

Charlotte

I think it's a shame the way Wal-Mart has come in and taken over. But it's the people's fault. Cheap is not always the best way to go.

ralph

Have you ever stopped to think that the low number enrolled in health benefits is because they choose not to enroll? Many may have insurance through other means—such as their spouse's employer.

Patrick

Bottom line. If an employee is not satisfied with the benefits, salary, or the way he/she is treated, then he/she needs to go find another job. There is a little thing in this country called free choice. If you do not like the way Wal-Mart conducts business, then take your business elsewhere. There is a need in this country for a business like this that keeps the prices low. Many people cannot pay the prices at stores where there are unions, because unions force companies to overpay for unskilled jobs and in many cases you cannot get rid of an unproductive employee because of union rules. That is what's killing American businesses. Not companies like Wal-Mart.

Amanda H.

I'd like to address how everyone thinks Wal-Mart sells inferior products. Does Kraft make different grades of stuff to sell Wal-Mart, Target, and Kroger? Then, why does Kroger charge double the amount that Wal-Mart does? And another thing, who says that Wal-Mart marks stuff up 200%? That does not make any sense unless you start from the raw materials and labor, not the wholesale price (FYI, Nike shoes cost $5 in materials and labor, but the department stores are not buying them for that much, now are they?). If Wal-Mart is marking things up 200%, then that means every other store is marking up even more. Has anyone bought anything made in the USA (and I'm talking mostly about apparel and textiles)? The quality is much worse than what is made in China, because the overhead and costs of production are much more in the U.S., and they must use cheaper fabrics and go through less-intense inspections to stay competitive on pricing.

Sue

When Wal-Mart first came to my area years ago, the theme of the store was "buy American." The store was small, clean, and staffed with knowledgeable salespeople. I enjoyed shopping there, knowing that my purchases were supporting the American worker. Corporate greed, and nothing else, caused Wal-Mart's change in strategy. Have consumers become so ignorant that they think gobbling-up inferior, foreign-made goods will not affect them in the long term? Go ahead and save that ten cents on toothpaste, Wal-Mart shopper. It's definitely worth the risk of displacing American workers.

Rose

What about Wal-Mart paying men more then women for the same job? They do, because I was one who got payed less, $1 an hour less for the same job.

Joyce

OK, I wasn't going to do this. However, well, just couldn't help myself. Think about the what we started off with, small hometown department stores, closing many 5 and 10 stores. Then they went to supercenters, closing many grocery stores. Started selling auto parts, closing many stores. Pets, closing many pet stores. Do you see where I'm headed here? I wish someone could come up with a figure as to exactly how many businesses have been closed by Wal-Mart. I'm not for or against Wal-Mart. What scares the heck out of me is that in 20 years, I'm going to drive into downtown Chicago and there's going to be nothing except Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart boutiques, eateries, doctors, service stations, florists, bakeries, home improvement centers, furniture stores, appliance stores, dentists, real estate offices, banks—you name it, and everything you can possibly imagine will be owned and run by Wal-Mart. Their pricing, cheap labor, and low pay will put everything else in the whole of the United States out of business, and we the people will have lost our biggest asset: choice.

David

If Wal-mart doesn't have it, I don't really need it. We need more stores like Wal-Mart. Competition is what businesses need the most. I was in sales for many years, and had to compete to keep going.
This is what makes this country great.

Dbat

I am going to start a business and pay minimum wage to anyone that wants to work for me. If you do not agree with my pay rate, don't work for me. If no one hires on, I may raise the rate. But, as long as someone is willing to work for minimum, that is what I will pay. What do I owe you to work for me? What the market will bare and nothing more. I am not responsible for raising your kids, sending them to school, paying their medical costs, etc. I run a business to make money. If you don't like it, don't work for me. Go where they pay you $25 an hour, and quit crying to me.

JBOLan

I think a person having bad credit is a poor excuse for Wal-Mart not to hire him or her. That is why people want a second job, so they can try and be honest and pay those bills.

Jim E.

In the long run, the issue is complex. Wal-Mart has done a great deal to wring costs out of business models. That is a good thing. To be sure, they have at times been poor corporate neighbors, especially when retail choice is lost and employees are paid below community standards.

However, the larger picture is: What happens to Wal-Mart's prices when they have buried the local retailers? Waiting for a new competitor to enter a local area is not very efficient and is too costly in human terms. Also, after Wal-Mart eliminates the local retailers, and the store is not profitable enough, suppose they close that store. The community is now really hurt.

Josh

I believe that service is what is going to be the upcoming thing for Americans in the years to come. I have stopped shopping at Wal-Mart due to the poor service. I have always had to search high and low to find someone to assist me on the sales floor, only to have them call someone else to come help me. When I finally get what I want, it is most likely going to be a 20-minute wait in the checkout line. I would rather go somewhere where the employees are treated better, which turns into better service. The one thing that Wal-Mart is good at is teaching their employees that there are greener pastures elsewhere. Since I work for a university, I see a lot of people who are fed up with the dead-end jobs they have at Wal-Mart.

Bianca

I think Wal-Mart is doing what the government is letting them do. If the government had more control over the business, there would be no problem, because they could decide about the wages and benefits. Wal-Mart is like the Rockefeller oil company so many years ago. It will be all-powerful in the future and the government will have no choice but to break it all up. I think they should act now, so that Wal-Mart does not continue taking advantage of its employees as well as costumers.

On the other hand, if the government does decide to make prices go higher, they should raise the salaries. Because, like gasoline in this country, it will have prices going up, yet the wages staying still. The only reason that there are people still shopping at Wal-Mart is their economic situation. For if they did have the money to spend elsewhere, they would.

Hillary for Pres.

I'm frankly tired of Wal-mart. I avoid it at all costs. They just make me sick. They make so much money, and I just have to walk two blocks to get a gallon of milk. I would rather pay 25 cents more at the local store than go through all of the bull at the checkout. Of course, if I'm forced to shop there, I wait until the dinner hour, when there are fewer people to deal with. Too crowded. They don't get very much of my money and never will.

Nico

Ah, if you don't like Wal-Mart's low cost model, fine—then shop somewhere else. I'm tired of people saying that it is the business's responsibility to be a parent to their employees. Obviously, business must take care of its workers to a certain extent. But here in America no one is forcing people to work at Wal-Mart. If you don't like what they pay, leave; get an education and do something. Wal-Mart has been extremely effective as a retailer. I'm not in any way sorry for its competitors' plight. They should just be low-cost like Wal-Mart, but they can't because they're not as innovative.

discouraged

For many years I have advocated that Wal-Mart take care of the stores they have instead of continually building more stores. The store I work in is 7 years old, I am a 20-year associate, we have a 10-year-old telephone system, and telxons that we use for ordering and pricing that are so slow. They cost each of us at least one hour a day in lost productivity. Our building is either too hot or too cold because of corporate skimps on building materials; walls made of brick with no insulation and giant cracks, metal roofs that leak, cement floors that are hard to stand on all day with long rows of bulges and trip hazards. These are only a very few of the problems in my store alone; and having traveled to other stores, I know this is company-wide.

We have times when customers stand in checkout lines for 25 minutes or more, with the added emphasis to hire more part-time help and reduce hours for the staff and move the help to late in the evening hours. We have little customer service help in most areas. More part-timers are being hired to replace the full-timers—fewer benefits, you know.

Yes, we have medical insurance, but the doctors in our town won't accept it. We have managers who come in every day and threaten subordinates to perform or start looking for work elsewhere. Market managers have unreasonable expectations and time tables; they call and bully and threaten, with rude remarks like "I would never have hired you in the first place" and "if your husband worked in the oil field you wouldn't have to work here." The profits, the bottom line, and need to cut costs are so dramatic that managers are continually intimidated. And the stores are no longer allowed to make any decisions on their own—all comes from the next-higher-up manager.

Happy workers make happy customers that make more profits, because the customers get the help they want for the products that they need from associates who come in ever day and want to be at the store serving the customer. This is how it was before Lee Scott made so many changes; this is how it was with Sam. Now we hate the store, the company, and the management, and we are demoralized. Lee Scott, listen to us. When you alienate us, you lose.

Livedlongenoughtolikeunions

It's sad that so many don't know their history. If it weren't for unions, workers wouldn't even expect health care or pensions or safe working conditions or a 40-hour work week or a living wage. I guess Wal-Mart has been around long enough for people to forget what a decent blue-collar job is. I have never been in a Wal-Mart. I don't buy junk. I spend thriftily, and quality lasts and ends up being cheaper in the long run. If I don't need it to last, dollar stores are cheaper. Don't think you are getting the same quality product from Wal-Mart as from a quality store just because it has the same manufacturer's name on it. Comparison pricing also seems to point to Wal-Mart's not being less expensive than other stores for comparable items anyway. I vote with my dollars and shop Costco, Sears, and the local grocery chain.

Wal-Mart Mom

I think people dislike Wal-Mart because they did not think of it first. The goverment hates everything it can't control. I am a mom and a wife who shops at Wal-Mart almost daily, and there is a big difference between grocery shopping there and Winn-Dixie or Publix. If you are a Wal-Mart employee and you don't make enough, that problem can easily be solved; get another job. I'm sorry if I sound heartless, but times are hard for everybody, not just Wal-Mart employees, and I plan on keeping every penny I can in my pocket.

david

KAT: With what you said about supervisors, I have yet to see more than 1 or 2 supervisors of color. What happened to EEO?

MATTHEW: About the profits of 3%. Call any stockbrokers and get their financials—3%, I don't think so; 3% plus what?

David S

Companies that grow rich off the dollars of the public owe a debt to the society that supports them. Surely, higher wages and medical insurance are normal to expect, especially when profits are so large. Let us also consider the extraordinary loss of jobs Wal-Mart provokes in other sectors. Americans |(and Canadians and Mexicans) deserve to have good jobs in their own countries. This must be part of any equation.

David Skinner

Doesn't anybody remember the robber barons? They built up great wealth on the backs of the public early in the 20th century and it took government intervention and public opinion to restore a balance. I am from another country, so I think I can safely ask: Where is the political will in America to strive for social justice and a strong, decent middle class anymore? This made your democracy the envy of all, and you seem to have lost that dream. The world's greatest nation scrambling for the lowest price at Wal-Mart with no thought for the consequences?

Please, we have the big W here, too, and same result: Closing of family businesses and loss of jobs, reduction in choice, destruction of the town centre, a miserable no-frills barn for the dazed shopper. Well, if the consumer cannot make socially responsible choices in this day and age, who can?

Seymore B.

I've been reading a lot of the comments, and there's a theme of "pay the employees more" and "the service is crappy." So why does anyone want to reward these employees with more pay if they are not skilled? I guess you could say that by paying more, Wal-Mart will attract better people for these positions, but then isn't that taking jobs away from these people who lack skills and depriving them of an opportunity to make some money? You can't have it both ways. If Wal-Mart starts paying more, you can bet they will be looking for more-qualified employees, and the same people whose pay you are trying to help increase will be out of jobs. As a corporation, they expect a lot out of their employees and why shouldn't they? If they expect you to give 110% and you give 50%, of course you are not getting a raise.

Tim

Some 80% to 90% of the goods in Wal-Mart are from Communist China. A place with no standards, be they labor, environmental, or ethical. Also, don't give me that changing China through commerce argument. For an idea of conditions in China, see the below documentary on the "elitist" PBS.

http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/chinablue/

There is no way any manufacturer in the civilized world can compete with China under these conditions.

graham

I have watched time and time again while Wal-Mart comes into a town and destroys whole local economies. I will not shop there, and sold my few shares of stock. As usual, a large corp. doesn't pay enough to survive on, and they know it.

Bill

I am anything but a Wal-Mart fan, but I have to disagree with all of the debate about pay. Every company has the right to set its own starting pay as long as it meets the federal minimum wage. If employees are not making enough money, then maybe they need to look at their individual performance.

When was the last time you were in a Wal-Mart and thought to yourself (after waiting in line an hour), wow, this cashier that is smacking his or her gum and carrying on a personal conversation that would make a sailor blush should be getting paid more money?

Higgs

You get what you pay for. Buying at Wal-Mart is kind of like taxing yourself.

We all pay for the low cost of goods and low wages at Wal-Mart. Wally World encourages its minions to get on state welfare programs (there used to be handy little booklets from Wally World to help you with the process) and helps employees qualify with wage caps, high premiums, and high deductibles coupled with strict eligibility criteria (not to mention unaffordable coverage). Welfare is part of the Wally World business strategy. As employers go, Wal-Mart is No. 1—for having the most employees on Medicaid (or TennCare for Tennesseans).

cranker

Well, Wal-Mart is what I can afford. Their products for the most part are substandard, and I am sorry they changed their return policies due to this. "Buy American," ole Sam said. Now it's "America, buy here." Wal-Mart knows and pressures sweat shops overseas, who by the way, as Wal-Mart knows, have at lest two set of books for the inspectors for wages paid. Once again I am sorry for the child labor and hours worked for free or no overtime pay for Wal-Mart's employees. Low pay and terrible benefits conspire to keep the prices down, yet Mr. Bush welcomed China into the trade agreement, which has brought a lot of this about. Companies were heading down into Mexico, Canada, and Japan before then, which is why I say of Bush I would not have given into a Communist country myself. Ronald Reagan started the breaking of the unions years ago; now watch the unions come along in China one day. Then Wal-Mart will have to raise its prices or make less profit, and anyone should know that things will change so this does not happen to soon. One day maybe, if I live that long, I will have to find a new place to shop, one that I can afford. If folks think by going to another chain of stores and paying higher prices they are getting a better product, flip it over and read the stamp. I am just sorry they don't sell lumber and automotive parts. If people care about America, why are they letting Ford, GM, and Dodge go down the tubes. Don't blame Wal-Mart or any other company for making as much money as our government passes laws for them to do. Rome closed its doors and stood still and crumbled, so what is the cure? A lot smarter folks than the ones who read this blog can't figure it out. So until some one does, I say go where you can afford to.

Tony

Nobody is forcing anyone to work there. If people are unhappy with the pay and/or benefits, they should find another job. Most people who work at Wal-Mart are uneducated and unskilled. Why do they think think they deserve more than they get? Hey Wal-Mart employees, want better pay? Get an education. I earn $28 an hour. Do you think that happened by accident or by complaining?

Tim C

If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there. If enough people stop shopping there, they will change or be replaced. That's how free market economies work.

Joyce

Wal-Mart does not provide a good health-care plan for its employees and does not care for its loyal workers. They changed to this new thing on how they pay their workers. It was supposed to heip; instead it made things worse. Some of the workers that had been there for a long time got the shaft. They had a choice of taking worse hours for less money to do the job they had been doing for a long time or taking another job for about the same amount of money. Now where is the fairness in that? If only Sam Walton were still alive.

Garnet

Well, if you start making yourselves aware that when Wal-Mart gets started in your sweet, friendly neighborhood, they basically check to see who their competition is—and they open their store by immediately cutting their prices to drive the competition out and then they start increasing their prices because they can. They do not have enough cashiers to service the customers in a small amount of time. I do not shop there anymore, because it is not customer friendly.

Carroll Thibault

Lots of comments about Wal-Mart selling lots of stuff made in China. Yeah, they do. Maybe it is because of cheap labor, but one would think that some of that advantage would diminish in light of transportation costs. About $2.20 for a gallon of fuel oil now. But that is what we hear about.

Yes, Chinese goods cost less and some of the stuff is pretty good. I am a vanishing breed, an American manufacturer. Don't faint; we still know how to make stuff. It is just that it "ain't easy or profitable as it ustabe."

Recently got an opportunity to make a product out of metal. We would design, then build a prototype, get it approved/sold, then fill orders. Couldn't get started because of the enormous investments, environmental impact, OSHA regulations, workman's comp., etc. Wonder how much an abandoned textile mill costs in China? Well, now I hand-make a prototype, my daughter paints them, we send them to China to be made out of Chinese steel bought from America for less money than I can buy it, send it back to the states and it is sold by somebody else.

You want Wal-Mart to sell more American-made products? Show up on time at your job, gripe at your local, state, and federal representatives about making the government as an assistant to manufacturers instead of an impediment, don't think of the folks with enough gumption to risk everything that have or ever will have to make a place for you to work as money-grubbing gluttons, and go home knowing you put in a good day.

We could run a lot faster and harder to keep up with and beat the Chinese if we weren't carrying this load of mostly useless stuff. That having been said, we choose to tote this load, and we're going to keep toting it and loving this place I put my life on the line for long ago.

scott

Wal-Mart is an embarrassment to America. Some call their business plan "brilliant," yet if we paralleled their practices to other contexts, we would also have to call the playground bully "brilliant." Like the bully who preys on the poor and weak, many people could make money by exploiting people. However, the person with integrity doesn't. Some say, "If you don't like Wal-Mart, shop somewhere else." Well, I live in Mexico City, where Wal-Mex (Wal-Mart of Mexico) has purchased 3 of the top supermarket chains. Therefore, I can walk 5 minutes to a Wal-Mart supermarket or take the subway for 30 minutes to get to a non-Sam store. Brilliant, or bully? You be the judge.

Been There Done That

One of the posts relates: "If they lack the necessary skills for better positions in other companies they are also free to pursue schooling. America has a chronic shortage of Engineers, Nurses, and Accountants. It only takes 4 year degrees in these fields to obtain these positions. Anyone who is under 50 and works at Wal-Mart can go to school and earn one of these degrees and be set for life just like I chose to do when I was 20."

Nice of you to also mention the cost of that education. It runs into the tens of thousands of dollars. Some folks don't have the luxury of even the few hundred dollars to pay for the books, the parking, or the additional miscellaneous fees that are required up front. Then let's mention how fair you were in covering how easy it is to work full time to support yourself (and a family) while trying to get that education, if they were lucky enough to get any funding to help pay for it.

There is a glut of people out there who have gotten that education but can't find a decent-paying job in those industries. Pay scales everywhere have fallen. The supply and demand rule applies here as well.

Apparently not everyone is as fortunate as you were. To that, I say I'm glad you were successful. However, that doesn't mean the rest of us are lazy whiners who want stuff handed to us. Answers to serious problems are not easy to come by. Economics is a tricky beast. Finding and keeping balance is an extremely difficult task, at best. Thankfully there are many sharp people out there who are constantly working on those issues. We'll never find a solution if we stop trying or spend all our time bickering about those who are"perceived or depicted as lazy.

Roger

I am a vendor at Wal-Mart and let me tell you, they treat all vendors poorly. We are free labor to them and give them nothing but good service, but they still crap on us. The sad part is as a vendor, I started out making more then what a district manager at Wal-Mart makes who has been there for 20 years. Why you would want to work for that company is still a mystery to me. I personally support our local grocery stores I won't support a company worth billions that won't even treat their employees right. Also as a vendor, I know just about all the employees and let me tell you there isn't a Wal-Mart employee that likes that store, but there is nowhere else to go, so I guess my hard-earned taxes will keep paying for Wal-Mart health bills since they can't pay for them themselves.

chad j

Wal-Mart wants American dollars but doesn't support Americans. Wal-Mart will contact someone who has a product they want to sell, take the product apart and give the vendor a list of parts that are made in China so they can get a cheaper cost. I want my American-made TV so my American family can survive. I shop at Wal-Mart. I have even hauled Wal-Mart's garbage. I wish they had an American-made section.

China is using Wal-Mart dollars to build an army. Yet you save 700 bucks over the course of a year. That's nice. Next time you are at Wal-Mart and you are so happy about saving, think about what you are not saving—a higher paying job for your child in the future. Chad Johnson for president

susan

Amanda H.,
I can tell you how Wal-Mart can sell products at a much lower price than smaller stores in your area. First they will go to the supplier and say they want their business but will only pay $5 for each $5.50 unit. The supplier says that they can't sell it to them at that cost. Wal-Mart says OK, we can't do business with you then. Supplier then refigures their price to the $5 Wal-Mart price. Deal done. To make up the $.50 loss, the supplier will charge the other accounts they have $6. Now the small accounts will have to charge $6.50 to make a profit where Wal-Mart will only have to sell the same thing at $5.50 for the $.50 profit. (But to make the bottom line look even better, Wal-Mart will probably still undersell the competition at $5.75.) They do this all the time, and how is the smaller business supposed to keep up? So don't say the little guy is trying to fleece you. He is just trying to make a reasonable profit to stay in business. Wal-Mart will up the price to $6.49 once he has you hooked buying at their great low-price store. They just made another $1.49. Chad-ching..

Andy

Yay, we got a presidential candidate. Vote for Chad. He wants American-made TV for $5,000 and American-made jeans for $99.99. Wal-Mart made it possible for poor people to buy 42-inch flat screens for under $1,000, and it's not just any brand; it's Panasonic. By the way, is there an American brand flat screen made 100 % here?

Ivy

Okay, I am not one to watch the stock market or follow up on all the economic debates. But I am a consumer, and I was raised to know right from wrong. And in my opinion, Wal-Mart is not for the American economy. Yes, they might provide jobs, but tell me, when was the last time you shopped at Wal-Mart and had good customer service? Or any service at all? At most of the Wal-Marts in the Midwest, you check yourself out at the register. Tell me that a multimillion corporation cannot afford to care for their customers. "Everyday low prices"—no thanks. I'd rather settle for a customer driven store. And I want to stand for something that's right. Wal-Mart is not.

Larry Lamb

I've been in retailing all my life and have retired. Wal-Mart is a blight on society. How low is low for something? They must do the same thing to their Chinese suppliers, exploiting them for a buck also. They are masters at exploitation. They exploit Third World countries for stuff to sell to Third World countries—and us.

Greg S.

Wal-Mart's savings =
A demand for suppliers to cut cost =
Overseas labor and supplies =
Fewer American manufacturing jobs =
Lower wages for all Americans =
More people that have to shop at Wal-Mart =
More demand for low-cost goods =
More overseas labor and supplies =
Even fewer American manufacturing jobs =
More job applications and shoppers at Wal-Mart =
The ability to offer only part-time jobs with fewer benefits (when you need a job, you need a job) =
More families on government health care =
Higher taxes for all =
Tighter family budgets =
More shoppers at Wal-Mart.

We have created a perpetual need to shop at Wal-Mart by cutting the throat of our own economy and allowing Wal-Mart to get by with legal yet immoral business practices. I believe larger companies (not just Wal-Mart) should have larger responsibilities; they are the ones that have the greatest effect on our economy, environment, and quality of life. They should be made to invest more in their employees, have a cap on overseas purchases, and be held to a higher standard on environmental issues. The people of this country made them what they are. Now they can give back instead of take, take, take.

BamaBill

Many people I know would not go to Wal-Mart if they gave away their China-made wares. As the pressure increases, Wal-Mart will continue to resort to supporting politicians opposing raising the minimum wage and health insurance responsibility and will continue its anti-employee course. In Alabama, the Wal-Mart growth has destroyed thousands of other businesses, many of which had been good public citizens, providing employment and tax revenues without extorting millions in corporate welfare to bring supercenters to town.

m dosch

I will never shop at Wal-Mart. All you do is support the Chinese when you shop there.

deanna

I've read several comments, but the whole thing in a nutshell is that their tactics are within the limits of the law, and they will always stay one step ahead to build more capital at anyone's expense with a smile and a pat on the back. They think they have a more motivated worker when the worker they have is a poor, uneducated person with no other choice. I'm seeing a lot of older people working at Wal-Mart. What's with that?

I would like to say that we have a choice to not walk in. I go there for the price of things, but always check around first, and if I can find that item somewhere else for less, that's where I'll go.

Dena Roberson

It is nice to say that if you don't like the way Wal-Mart treats its employees, don't work there, but in real life it isn't that simple. In many cases Wal-Mart is one of the few places that has jobs available. Wal-Mart takes advantage of the fact many of their employees have few options in the job world.

I see no reason why a multibillion dollar company can't "afford" to treat its employees right. Maybe they wouldn't have to hire FBI and CIA people to run their security if they spent a little of that money on buying employee loyalty through decent wages and benefits.

And aside from everything else, as an industry giant and a huge influence on modern society, Wal-Mart simply has a higher duty to be an example of what industry should be about. They force suppliers to be more honest in their prices, and in some ways, can hold the industry accountable for their profit margins. Why don't they live up to their potential and be a true leader in the world instead of showing themselves to be what they really are, money-grubbing profit mongers who don't give a rat's *** about the people who are helping them be an industry leader?

Nylene Kelchner

If Wal-Mart is such a great company, why won't they just pay up on the Pa. lawsuit they lost in a U.S. courtroom over abused labor laws?

Mr. Wal-Mart. Made in America. Indeed. I appeal to a high authority also. The U.S. public.

Summer Bautista

I currently work at Wal-Mart, and I was hired in at $3 more an hour than I had been making at my previous job—in retail, and as a supervisor, no less!

Wal-Mart has shown me nothing but courtesy, and I expect to show them the same in return.

If you haven't worked at Wal-Mart, stop bashing them for their pay. Trust me, they pay better than what some would think. Not only that, but the opportunity to advance in great. If you dress as nicely as you can and take care of your personal hygiene, then you should be fine to continue a career with them.

Keep that in mind before you continue bullying, Businessweek.

Former Employee

I find it funny—all the "bashing" that's coming from people who have never worked for this company. You talk about wages. This is a retail store, where people aren't going to start out making $15 an hour. Do Target or Kmart start out that high? I find it funny to read things like "I'd rather pay $20 for a pair of jeans, instead of $10 if it helps the employees." That's easy to say, but you apparently haven't thought about the average Wal-Mart customer. To a lot of them, $10 is a big deal. The government sets the minimum wage, not Wal-Mart. Healthcare: I had full medical, dental, prescription, and life insurance coverage for four people, and I paid around $60 a week. I think that's fairly reasonable. Not all employees are eligible for insurance. Part-time, temps, and holiday help are given different options. A lot of companies do that. As far as taxpayers "keeping" up some of the employees: We don't seem to have a problem in this country with keeping up millions of illegal aliens, so why not help people who actually pay taxes?

Ray S.

A few years ago, I started my first job working for low wages at a small corner grocery store providing no benefits. I learned a lot from the small merchant about how he managed and survived against the big supermarkets a few blocks away. Now as a "multi-millionaire next door," I shop at Wal-Mart, because I realize it's just a bigger model of the small corner grocery store that offered my first job.

J.Kougar

Currently a Wal-Mart in Smyrna, Tenn., is paying its employees roughly $7 an hour, even after years of service, and they run the store on less than half staff, forcing the employees to do the work of several people, and still being constantly reprimanded for not doing enough, and denied raises and bonuses based on petty, bull excuses. It's one of the worst Wal-Marts out there, and the management people are abusive and greedy, getting themselves better bonuses, because they keep the payroll cost down by abusing people who can't afford to quit because they have nowhere else to go, no other education, or just not enough jobs in the area. I worked there, too, and was fired in January, because I dared to stand up to the management about their abuse and favoritism (allowing some employees to stay on the clock when not working if they were "friends" of theirs), and I refused to do my job as well as the jobs of several employees in other departments each day, simply because they refuse to hire more help. From the inside, I can tell you Wal-Mart is more than a greedy, heartless company, with some stores far worse than others, and the store manager at the above-mentioned store being one of the worst store managers as far as abusing and mistreating his employees.

Amy Chan Ka Yan

Wal-Mart is good for America. According to economist Brink Lindsey of the Cato Institute: "Wal-Mart is doing what the American economy is all about, which is producing things consumers want to buy…offering consumers a wide range of goods at rock-bottom prices." Because of Wal-Mart, consumer products are cheaper for everyone. Consumers can have higher purchasing power with the same amount of money and improve their lifestyle. No one could even imagine paying less than $1,000 for a plasma TV back home. Only Wal-Mart can do this.

Wal-Mart's "everyday low price" is a lifesaver for millions of Americans given what they want at prices they can afford. Wal-Mart helps to make a positive and instantaneous difference in the lives of the poor, which is much more effective than charities and government policy. The poor can buy more and raise their standard of living through shopping in Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart can shorten the gap between the poor and wealthy.

Amy Chan Ka Yan

There is a high cost behind Wal-Mart's ridiculously low prices. The cost is the low-paid American employees of Wal-Mart. They pay their people a poverty-level wage. For example, Costco Wholesale pays its workers $17 an hour on average, while its competitor, Wal-Mart's Sam's Club, pays only $10 an hour on average. At Costco, 85% of employees enjoy company-provided health insurance, compared to less than half of the workers at Sam's Club. They also squeeze the suppliers to provide the same goods at a lower price than in the previous year—or threaten not to carry their products.

That's the point. It is the reason behind Wal-Mart's low price. Wal-Mart employs millions of workers at below-average payment; the suppliers also have millions of workers. To lower the cost, the suppliers have to lower wages. So we will have less to spend and will be able to turn to Wal-Mart for cheap and lower-quality products. People may have an illusion that they can buy more, but actually their living standard is falling. Wal-Mart is bad for America's economic growth.

Aleta Jervis

It's amusing that an LA group is keeping score on Wal-Mart's employment practices. In California, firemen and policemen cost taxpayers $200,000 a year, each. No wonder ordinary citizens have to shop at Wal-Mart.

Laura Nguyen

Critics have already pointed out many of Wal-Mart's policies and particularly its deep aversion to unions. In North America, the unionization rate is about 13%, and Wal-Mart has helped a lot in keeping it low. It all started in 1970, when Sam Walton established lectures for workers on the negative aspects of unions. And now managerial surveillance and pressure on employees have been used. Wal-Mart even closed stores that chose to unionize; the most famous cases are the elimination of the meat-cutting department in Jacksonville and the close of the store in Jonquière (Canada).

Because Wal-Mart is the most powerful retailing business in the world, does it mean it can deliberately destroy thousands of families just to threaten its other workers? All those tactics are simply unacceptable and often illegal.

Wal-Mart's policies also extend overseas but with less success. In 2006, reasons why Wal-Mart pulled out of Germany include conflicts with the German Ver.di union that claimed Wal-Mart repeatedly ignored German co-determination rules, which give employees a say in decisions affecting working conditions and that Wal-Mart didn't inform it about store closings. Results: a nearly $3 billion (USD) loss. So Wal-Mart had better play by the rules, particularly in countries with strong and centralized unions.

Katherine Kristie

There is a general notion that Wal-Mart is a monstrous organization that seeks to maximize profit to the detriment of society. However, intended or not, the efficient supply chain management and cost saving measures Wal-Mart employs ultimately benefit the consumer and society. For example, before the 1990s, deodorant came in small boxes and Wal-Mart realized boxed items were a waste and did not add any value to the product. Using its supply chain dominance, the retailer forced producers to eliminate the useless packaging. Packaging turned out to cost a nickel per item, and Wal-Mart ultimately split the cost savings with retailers while lowering the price for consumers. Along with cost benefits to society, Wal-Mart has promoted waste reduction, saving millions of trees. With cost cutting as its main policy driver, Wal-Mart creates an environment where waste cutting is a by-product of efficiency. Wal-Mart is the epitome of efficient economics, allowing for more have-nots to gain access to more necessities.

GARO

I think retailers must learn the lesson with the automotive industry. Asian companies now have better cost, offer better quality, and offer good after-sale service. Maybe it's time to rewrite business models. Think about it: GM and Ford are struggling with medical care, unions, and so on. I'm not on the side of Wal-Mart, but I believe there must exist a balance between good practices.

Gayle Johnsen

I worked for Wal-Mart for 8 years, and just when times were bad for me they let me go.They have a way of disposing of their associates so that they look squeaky clean. They think of nothing but themselves and their jobs. Wal-Mart will eat you up and spit you out. They feel like there is always someone to take your place, even though you may be valuable to the company. What Wal-Mart giveth Wal-Mart taketh away. I know I may sound bitter, but I am honestly not. I think there are a lot of wonderful people doing what they are told, and then there are people who love to make themselves feel better by taking the life out of others. I was born in the South, and I was not raised the way Bentonville created Wal-Mart. Sam Walton was the creator, his wife was the lady who polished it up and put on the finishing touches, and if Sam new how his family carried on with Wal-Mart, he would kick them all. I'd work for him anytime.

Winnie Tsui Kit Ting

The cost leadership strategy of Wal-Mart brings together low-cost products and competitive quality, and forces a drop in overall city-level pricing of various consumer goods.

From the Journal of Urban Economics, Emek Basker has analyzed the price dynamics in 165 U.S. cities before and after Wal-Mart's entry. It was found that there were price declines of 1.5% to 3% for many products in the short run, with the largest price effects occurring in aspirin, laundry detergent, toothpaste, and shampoo. Long-run price declines tend to be much larger, and in some specifications range from 7% to 13%.

The people who benefit most should be the consumers. They can buy cheaper products in Wal-Mart. Even if they don't buy from Wal-Mart, they can also enjoy buying products at lower prices, because the price of all customer goods in the country are declining. Therefore, they save money, which could be used for other purposes like entertainment and investing. In order to survive, the retail stores develop different strategies such as striving for selling unique and differentiated products or products of higher quality. Customers are offered a greater variety of products for their satisfaction and needs.

[Source: Emek Basker, "Selling a Cheaper Mousetrap: Wal-Mart's Effect on Retail Prices," Journal of Urban Economics, Volume 58, Issue 2, September 2005, Pages 203-229]

Laura Nguyen

The anti-Wal-Mart groups loudly make their statements against the giant retailer; however, Wal-Mart is not all evil and is capable of providing benefits to the public. There is one indisputable fact that any single critic cannot deny—the positive effect of lower prices on the low-income families.

The economic consulting firm Global Insight's study on Wal-Mart in 2005 shows Wal-Mart is responsible for an annual cost savings of $263 billion in the USA, or roughly $895 per person. The study also projected that if Wal-Mart's store penetration rate found in Dallas/Fort Worth was applied to markets such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City, annual savings per person would be $763, $1,000, and $1,307, respectively. (Global Insight is one of the world's most respected economic consulting firms, and insisted that the retailer had no control over the study.)

So Wal-Mart's lower prices cause an increase to the real incomes of all its customers. It allows them to acquire more with the money they have, and the greatest beneficiaries of this increase are those with the lowest incomes. Those people can then afford to live a more comfortable life or at least much better than they otherwise could have.

RON, Cheung Wai Kei

As the world's most profitable company, Wal-Mart should treat its employees better. Low wages and poor working conditions are two main bad consequences of Wal-Mart’s low-price strategy. A study finds that Wal-Mart employees earn less than those performing similar jobs at other stores. For example, in 2001, the average supermarket employee earned $10.35 per hour, while stock clerks at Wal-Mart earn an average of $8.23 per hour. Besides, there was a class action lawsuit in Missouri, alleging that around 200,000 employees of Wal-Mart were forced to work overtime without compensation, and were not allowed to take rest and lunch breaks. The situation is even worse in China. In China, the factory workers are also forced to work for long hours without extra compensation, and their wages are unbelievably low. Research shows the cost of assembling a product is $0.18, while Wal-Mart sells the product at around $14.5. We can imagine how bad Wal-Mart treats its employees, and I think Wal-Mart should improve this as soon as possible.

Kennis

I hate Wal-Mart. I have suffered a lot from working there.

Dorothy Chu

Wal-Mart has been given a lot of criticism; however, Wal-Mart is a manifestation of the ideal company in a free-market economy. Albeit, there is no such thing as a truly free-market economy, but the American economy approximates the next closest thing. The American ideals of "anything is possible" and the "American dream" have allowed Wal-Mart to grow into the biggest company in the world. Wal-Mart is merely growing in accordance with the law of supply and demand, and passing down its economies of scale savings to consumers. This is one of the biggest benefits of Wal-Mart to not only Americans but also customers all over the world who shop at Wal-Mart.

Katherine Kristie

Many economists may argue that Wal-Mart provides a sound driver for economic improvement. Some would believe that the cost savings ultimately benefit all consumers. However, there are two major sacrifices the world will make sustaining Wal-Mart's dominance.

First, as Wal-Mart occupies a relatively large portion of local employment, the company's efficiency puts local retailers into bankruptcy. In turn, Wal-Mart offers minimum wage jobs with no benefits and union suppression, which leads to the question of whether or not Wal-Mart actually increases the living quality of consumers. Since the introduction of the grocery departments into Wal-Mart stores, 31 supermarket chains have filed for bankruptcy, not to mention the traditional small family-owned stores.

Second, cost-cutting at the top of the supply chain affects the well-being of those who produce the goods. Lower production costs translate into poor wages and working conditions for sweatshop workers in developing countries. Some may argue that the consumer makes a conscious choice to purchase these questionable products. However, because of the low prices and poor transparency due to marketing ploys, consumers cannot make an educated decision regarding the social responsibility of products. With the inherent exploitation of other humans when cutting production costs, Wal-Mart lowers the quality of life in the aggregate scheme of the human race.

Richard Anthony Chou

Wal-Mart seriously lacks gender equality in all forms possible. Of Wal-Mart's hourly workforce, 70% are women, while only 33% of management consists of women. The culture of male dominance is strong—as exhibited when Wal-Mart dismantled its diversification task force, interestingly enough, at around the same time reports were produced suggesting promotion of women at the company was lacking.

To make matters worse, remember Drogin's study on discrimination at Wal-Mart that statistically revealed hourly wage women earned $0.40 less per hour than men did for the same work, which would amount to $5,000 a year less. Also from the class-action proceedings, it was further revealed that the income gap between men and women becomes exponentially large as you move up the ranks. Consider this: Male regional managers gross $419,000 in annual salary while women earn $279,772.

Granted, Wal-Mart has made steps in attempting to improve its discriminatory environment—for example, the addition of three women to its board of directors. Still, Wal-Mart still has a long way to go. Compensation and career opportunities must be tied directly to highly transparent goals and objectives that are equally attainable to men and women alike.

Ho Ming Conrad Chau (Hong Kong)

A two-side argument is discussed below:

Executives of Wal-Mart may seem as though they only care about lowering costs (ranging from making employee salaries dead-low to making the lowest cost by compressing the margins of suppliers), yet they have secured a lot of people with jobs through their sophisticated supply chain system, their truck fleet, and their status as the largest consumer of electricity. Imagine Wal-Mart closing down tonight; the 1.3 million workers worldwide would certainly be doomed. A vicious cycle will result when the government has no money to support the public and then people will certainly suffer. Recent problems have been costing the United States too much, and people have to pay taxes to allow the government to continue running. Big taxpayers like Wal-Mart will surely accelerate society's development, and let's hope the government will be able to spend money on developing facilities of all sorts to benefit the citizens.

Although Wal-Mart has been employing people of diverse background to its executive positions, it has to improve its relationship with its employees and reward them with marginally accepted incentives. Of course, cost is a concern, but paying the U.S. minimum wage will not bring wealth to their associates. Worse still, it will give a burden to the state because of increased family problems and health issues related to work, and finally lead Wal-Mart to have fewer people working because of the psychological grief of their employees and the physical weakness because of overwork. A vicious cycle results again. Moreover, they should remain open to the public about their associates' criticism of the company. Not only should they have a thorough communication channel allowing employees to lodge complaints but also an evaluation system to criticize themselves. Only when this is done will associates be happy to work for the company. Hiding their wrongdoing or firing people who report problems in the company is not the solution nowadays. Facing the issue is how a corporation gains trust from the employees and customers.

Debbie, Wong Yuen Ting

Wal-Mart has a strong competitive bargaining power with its suppliers. From consumers' side, they can enjoy lower prices. Like the online download movie services, Wal-Mart beat other service providers to launch this service so that consumers can have more choices of service providers. This somehow also helps stop a monopoly in the market. Since Wal-Mart becomes larger and larger in expanding its retail stores, more and more consumers will benefit from it by way of one-stop shopping, low prices, etc. In addition, supercenters like Wal-Mart created a unique American consumption pattern, one-stop shopping as mentioned. Is it possible to bring this consumption pattern to other, developing countries? Wal-Mart generates a desirable profit and contributes much tax to the government.

But Wal-Mart imposes threats to our lives. As we know, it operates as a big retail store enabling consumers to have one-stop shopping. Most of its locations are easily found in suburban areas and surely provide convenient shopping for suburban residents. But it also means that a huge amount of landscape in those areas disappears in order to open the big-box stores. For example, many trees are logged for building parking lots. The act equals deforestation. Trees play an important role for the planet—absorbing CO2 and protecting the land from soil erosion. Although Wal-Mart doesn't emit much CO2, it does induce consumers driving there to buy daily goods such as milk and bread. Wal-Mart is their only choice to buy these goods as many small grocery shops are closed. No matter how far they are from the Wal-Mart, they have to drive a distance to get there. Therefore, huge amount of CO2 emits during the long journeys. One car alone produces a significant amount of CO2 and other emissions, let alone the aggregate number of cars. I can't imagine the consequences.

Chan Lok Ming

The existence of Wal-Mart provides numerous employment opportunities to diversified group of individuals.

Wal-Mart is currently the largest private employer in the world. It hires 1.3 million associates in the U.S., while employing 1.9 million people worldwide. In the U.S., Wal-Mart is committed to providing a multi-cultural working environment. It has more than 150,000 Hispanics, 225,000 African-Americans, 36,000 Asians, and 16,000 Native Americans. It also hires more than 815,000 women. Moreover, there are more than 235,000 seniors working there. Among its 14-member board of directors, there are three women, two African-Americans, and two Hispanics. Wal-Mart is truly a diverse employer. To achieve this aim, Wal-Mart set up the Office of Diversity in 2003 and appointed a chief diversity officer. It also provides diversity training to all levels of management and hourly associates. The officer compensation is directly linked to its diversity goals. If any company officers do not meet the goals, a 15% reduction of bonuses is applied. In 2006, all 297 officers and managers achieved this diversity goal.

Besides those associates directly employed by Wal-Mart, the numerous suppliers of Wal-Mart employ even more workers than Wal-Mart in total. These suppliers provide jobs to huge population in the world.

Sam Wong

"They are on top of the Fortune 500, and I can't get health insurance for my kid." As one 22-year-old Wal-Mart worker puts it. Some days she works in the garden center and some days in the toy department. The pace is so fast, and there simply aren't enough people around to get the job done. On a given shift, the worker mentioned above might man a register, hop on a mechanical lift to retrieve something from a high shelf, catch fish from a tank, run over to another department to help locate an item, restock the shelves, etc. Workers are pushed to the limit; however, hard work does not mean high pay. She earns only $16,800 a year, Wal-Mart's insurance plan will deduct $85 from her biweekly $550 paycheck. Therefore she has to rely on Medicaid to cover her son. (WMT pocketed $6.6 billion in profits in 2002).

Wal-Mart in China contributes to the deterioration of human rights; it owns or uses factories that deceive employees in regard to labor contracts, wages, work hours, etc. Workers do not possess a copy of the contract; most of them do not know the precise stipulations regarding their work hours or wage and benefits. Most workers' base salary is U.S. $1.80 per day, with an increase to US.$2.90 with seniority. Wal-Mart is hurting the people of my country and the people and reputation of their country. Be ashamed, Wal-Mart.

Elmer

Whine, whine, whine. The new mantra in America is don't be too successful, because if you are, we will take it away from you. The reason we're well down the slippery slope to Third World status is not because Wal-Mart pays too little and asks too much. The real reason is that the average American now has his hand out and wants to give absolutely nothing in return.

Winnie Chan Yin Ting

We have to admit that Wal-Mart attributes some of its production cost to the public, such as the health care insurance provided for its employees. And there's also bullying, you may say, of its employees to work at rather low salaries. However, I have a different point of view on this issue.

First of all, Wal-Mart attracts customers with its "everyday low prices" maxim. If Wal-Mart did not adopt such an approach to save its production costs, how could it maintain its everyday low prices? People who do not like this can simply stop buying from Wal-Mart.

Moreover, while many of you think Wal-Mart is bullying its employees, I can still see lots of their employees show up here and telling us that they have never been treated any better before working for Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart does help a lot of students who are working their way through school. What more can they ask for with a high school qualification? Also, many Wal-Mart products are imported from China, where thousands of cheap laborers work overnight for the T-shirt you are wearing. You may say Wal-Mart is bullying Chinese laborers, but many of those workers treasure their jobs so much because some of these uneducated workers are the bread-winners of the family. If Wal-Mart stops importing goods from them, they may not be able to find jobs elsewhere. If they can find better jobs in China, why would they stay there? It is just a fair trade, so I think Wal-Mart is actually reasonable in doing so.

Melody, Sui Sui SIN

A recent article from BusinessWeek pointed out the hard time organic farmers have supplying their organic fruits to Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is always driving costs as low as possible and regularly switching suppliers to get the best price. After placing large orders for organic apples and juices from one farmer [I know of] in the fall of 2006, Wal-Mart never ordered from him again. Indeed, the sales to Wal-Mart are not enough to justify the costs of packing and shipping. Besides that, he has decided to pare back his organic apple farm, from 150 acres, to 120 acres. As you can see, Wal-Mart is using its power to force its suppliers into self-defeating practices.

It is time for Wal-Mart to address the issue; otherwise, it will have no suppliers that want to cooperate. No supplier means no profit. This could cost millions of dollars in revenue. If Wal-Mart has less profit, they then will start to lay off employees to pay the higher prices of buying products from suppliers. Wal-Mart, indeed, should treat their suppliers as well as their employees in order to gain more competitive advantages.

Karin Holzknecht

I think Wal-Mart is doing positive things—for example, Walmart saves people from poverty.

"…considering the $263 billion in consumer savings that Wal-Mart provides for low-income Americans …" Wal-Mart increases the purchasing power of consumers through their "everyday low price" policy. Customers are able to buy more goods in Wal-Mart; thus increasing their standard of living.

"… or the millions lifted out of poverty by Wal-Mart in other developing nations, it is unlikely that there is any single organization on the planet that alleviates poverty so effectively for so many people." (http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=082206D).

With reference to the above statement, China produces around 70% of all Wal-Mart products. Without Wal-Mart, there would be around half a million people stuck in rural poverty, which is, for most of them, even worse than working in sweatshops.

Last but not least: Wal-Mart offers around 1.6 million jobs around the world in their stores (http://walmartstores.com/GlobalWMStoresWeb/navigate.do?catg=6&contId=1800). A huge number of these jobs are for people with little education. We should be glad Wal-Mart exists. Is Wal-Mart really doing only bad things?

Cactus Li

I am not a supporter of Wal-mart, but I think the critics are somewhat unfair to Wal-mart. Wal-mart tries its best to lower the cost in order to achieve "everyday low price," and benefits its customers so the poor can afford to buy more in terms of quantity and variety. Hence it improves their living standard.

At the same time, it has to maintain or acquire more profits for the sake of the stockholders. Also, the number of competitors is growing, and Wal-Mart needs to survive. Although Wal-Mart is the world's largest supermarket chain, it's just a company that wants to obtain its competitive advantages through lowering the cost. It may not offer the best to its employees, but it is forgivable. It would need to raise prices if it paid employees more.

Melody SIN Sui Sui

Wal-Mart has faced several accusations involving poor working conditions of its employees. Most of them involve forcing them to work off the clock, denying overtime pay, and not allowing rest and lunching breaks. However, Wal-Mart is trying to improve the situation. They are starting to use scheduling-optimization systems, whereby employee work schedules are changed from predictable shifts to a system based on the number of customers in stores at any given time.

Not only Wal-Mart is using this system. Payless Shoe Source, Radio Shack, and Mervyns are, too. They believe the new schedules will result in better customer service.

Crystal CHIU Ka Man

There are numerous complaints about Wal-Mart's "everyday low price" policy's causing many small existing businesses to close. I believe this is often a vital and misunderstood point: Wal-Mart has never—not once—put another company out of business. It is the consumers who should bear total and complete responsibility. It is the consumers who choose to buy at Wal-Mart because they can enjoy the savings, and this is the reason many small businesses close their doors. There is no doubt that no one has an inherent right to remain in business, and if the small retailer were supporting its customers and focusing on what was best for them, they would definitely be able to compete.

An article published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute suggests that Wal-Mart has "no statistically significant impact on the overall size of the small business sector in the United States." In addition to that, it suggests that "the economic effects of Wal-Mart are overwhelmingly positive" and "all of the fundamental complaints of Wal-Mart's critics are based on profound ignorance of Wal-Mart's actual economic significance."

Indeed, it is the huge size of Wal-Mart that makes it an easy target for enemies, which is just like the case of Nike and Shell.

Crystal CHIU Ka Man

Wal-Mart does deserve credits for its "everyday low prices," but as the world's biggest retailer and America's largest single employer, Wal-Mart is notorious for its discrimination against women in promotions, compensation, and job assignments.

Despite the fact that 72% of Wal-Mart's employee base consists of women, a very small percentage is represented in the supervisory and managerial ranks.

For example, men hold 90% of Wal-Mart store manager positions and on average it takes longer for women to advance to managerial positions. A study examining Wal-Mart employment data reveals that it takes women 4.38 years on average to advance to assistant manager while men reach the position in 2.86 years. Moreover, less than one third of store management is female, a percentage far lower than the number of female managers employed by Wal-Mart's major competitors(56%).

Even internal Wal-Mart documents acknowledge that it is "behind the rest of the world" in the promotion of women to management ranks. Furthermore, women in every major job category have been paid less than men with the same seniority (female managers on average earned $14,500 less than their male counterparts, and female hourly workers earned on average $1,100 less than male counterparts), even though women on average have higher performance ratings and less turnover than men.

Sam Wong

What is wrong with Wal-Mart? Guys, we should stop concentrating on the negative side. Have you ever shopped at Wal-Mart? Have you ever benefited from the low prices they offer? Are you going to stop shopping in Wal-Mart because they do not treat their employees the way you see as the most ideal?

Wal-Mart has helped and keeps on helping thousands of working families and communities by offering the lowest price; inevitably there are trade-offs, e.g. they request (not force) a huge tax break in different states.

Think: Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the U.S. Without it, where will all the people work? Remember most of them are not highly educated. According to Ron Galloway, the producer-director of the second Wal-Mart film, "If you don't have a college degree and you're unskilled labor, you have a much better chance of moving up in Wal-Mart than you do in most other companies."

Different organizations have their own ways of working. Do we ever hear people complaining about the low prices Wal-Mart offers? Think positive, people.

Janice Chung Siu Ting

Although there are lots of critics of Wal-Mart, it is trying to be good, ethical, and green. In 2003 and 2004, Wal-Mart was actually named as the most admired company in the United States by Fortune magazine. Also, in 2007, by introducing its own green label in Wal-Mart Canada, Wal-Mart is showing that "Wal-Mart is not just about cost, it is about delivering value to our customers so they can live better lives." They have three sustainable goals: 1. To produce zero waste; 2. To be powered 100% by renewable energy; and 3. To make more environmentally preferable products available to customers.

On top of that, Wal-Mart has also set up the Wal-Mart Good Works community involvement program, whose mission is "operating globally and giving back locally." For example, it is involved in supporting hurricane relief after New Orleans' devastation.

Most important, apart from operating in China, Wal-Mart stressed the importance of corporate social responsibility and trying to improve the community by focusing on environmental protection, educational support, child welfare, and disaster relief. It has already contributed more then RMB 23 million to various projects and charitable organizations.

All in all, Wal-Mart is realizing its problems and trying to make improvements. From the contributions it has made to improve the conditions in China, it shows that Wal-Mart's pledges are not totally hollow.

Damon LEUNG Chun Him

Wal-Mart is one of the largest and most successful companies in the world. Its "everyday low prices" strategy does really drive its success. However, as the company grows larger, it attracts more and more critics. Some people claim Wal-Mart keeps its product prices low by exploiting its suppliers and employees. This sounds interesting. Obviously, people want to buy stuff at a price that is as low as possible. Wal-Mart does a good job of selling stuff very cheaply. Therefore, people in low-income groups can enjoy a lower cost of living. This is good to the society as a whole.

Wal-Mart can sell products at a very low price because of its bargaining power and business model. If it does not use its power to keep its costs low, then obviously it can no longer sell at such a low price. It's impossible to make every party better off. When a party gets more, another will get less. So why are people criticizing Wal-Mart for exploiting suppliers? It is just transferring benefits from its suppliers to its consumers. Wal-Mart does not do anything wrong. It does not deserve the blame.

Lam Tsz Ho Enoch

Wal-Mart is good for the economy.

If Wal-Mart's stores were not in tune with the concerns of shoppers in small communities, the stores wouldn't make a profit and would eventually shut down. The concerns that Wal- Mart rightly disregards are those of local businesses that would prefer not to have to deal with new competition. The absence of rigorous competition leads to high prices in many small communities. While this may be good for the profit margins of established businesses, it is not necessarily a condition to be preferred over the benefits for the majority of the inhabitants of the community that result from robust competition.

Wal-Mart runs the largest corporate cash-giving foundation in America. In 2004, Wal-Mart donated more than $170 million. More than 90% of these donations went to charities in the communities served by Wal- Mart stores.

We all know that consumers like bargains. Getting something for less money is considered savvy shopping. Wal-Mart has opted to ensure that its prices are as low as can be. Low prices benefit both the consumers and the overall economy.

From an economic perspective, Wal-Mart actually promotes prosperity.

William Hensley

"Everyday low prices" are great only on toothpaste and soap. I will buy other stuff only from professionals who can answer my queries. In Wal-Mart, how can I ask employees about electronics if they are not familiar with the merchandise? Associates are paid less for that reason. They don't need to know anything. And if they don't know what you are talking about, then the first reaction is to be rude; that is where bad customer service comes. Unfortunately, managers and co-managers are paid well even if they don't know anything either. The reason they are paid well is they are good bullies.

Looking around the store, it makes me so uneasy seeing unhappy employees. The only happy employees are the older immigrants who like to work just to have extra cash while living with their children. Happy employees + happy customers = successful business.

Mary

If you cannot afford to raise a family working at Wal-Mart, then work somewhere else. Wal-Mart is no different from McDonald's or Kmart. I have a family to support, so I went to college. I worked while I went to college, and no one paid for it but me. Wal-Mart stays in business because of its low prices. Business is good when consumers are happy, and that is the nature of a good, profitable business.

Steven K H PANG

Absentee landlordism and illegal labor in Wal-Mart:

Among all the sins of Wal-Mart, absentee landlordism caught my attention. It describes a common commercial practice when a person or corporation "controls and derives income from land in a region where he [or it] does not reside."

In this case, stores of various sorts drain local wealth by capturing business from tiny stores and distorting the local economy. Potential assets in the community are displaced to Wal-Mart’s headquarters. Together with predatory pricing policy, also known as the everyday low price by Wal-Mart, the gigantic firm drives fragile grocery outlets out of business.

Another significant problem is the use of illegitimate workers, both child labor and illegal immigrants. It is an absolute no-no to any firm, let alone a giant firm in the States where forms are monitored from time to time by mass media and politicians. No matter how well Wal-Mart does in the future, the issue is forever a scar, leaving the company vulnerable to repeated attack by the public.

cameron

It's very simple. If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there! If you are not happy with your job at Wal-Mart, don't work there! No one is putting a gun to your head to make you shop or work at Wal-Mart. The South Park episode on Wal-Mart hits this point right on the nose. Quit being such whining cry babies.

ALICE chiu siu ling

Wal-Mart gave out massive donations to the societies perhaps to make up for the wrongdoing that the monopoly had been imposing against the family businesses.

They are able to stay in the community with the support of the state government where the subsidy could actually be used for building another swimming pool or to improve the healthcare...whatever.

Wal-Mart's CEO argues that he has "no choice" but to pay low wages to meet his customers' demand for low prices. Although offering minimal wages and benefits is the most common way companies try to lower their costs, a recent study of American management practices reveals that such bottom-feeding may not be the most effective strategy. Is the CEO still happy about the 50% turnover rate? How could the CEO possibly live under a barrage of criticism?

ALICE chiu siu ling

Mexico's leading retailer, Wal-Mart de Mexico, or Walmex, has launched a line of 150 cheap generic drugs, selling for no more than $3.50, in a new bid to boost its appeal as a one-stop shop for customers looking for low prices.

Some of the medicines, which are being manufactured by different laboratories, will cost 90% less than the leading over-the-counter brands, according to an industry source.

Wal-Mart's operating rationale is all about providing a wide assortment of good quality merchandise, the lowest possible prices, and guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy. Without Wal-Mart, a Mexican consumer might have to pay 9 times the price for the same drug.

Suki Law Pui Na

This giant retailer's low prices often come with a high cost. It deprives its employees rights by paying low wages and providing inadequate health insurance and abominably taking advantage of that.

The company has paid low wages to its employees since its beginning. Wal-Mart employees earn less than those doing similar jobs at other retail/discount stores. For example, the gap ranges from about 12%-25% lower wages at Wal-Mart relative to the retail average in 2005. Although it announced that it would roll out an average pay increase of 6% for all new hires at 1,200 U.S Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations in August of 2006, what Wal-Mart is really doing is imposing salary caps on long-term workers and shifting huge numbers of full-time workers to low-paying part-time jobs.

Wal-Mart’s business/labor practice not only destroys employee morale but also hurts Wal-Mart workers' families, and may force many long-term associates to leave the company and thus adversely affect its performance. Besides, it has had an adverse impact on consumer perceptions of the company and their tendency to shop at Wal-Mart’s stores.

Therefore, Wal-Mart should stop squeezing its employees.

Suki Law Pui Na

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer; it is the largest corporation and private employer in the United States (with more than 1.3 million workers). It increases workers' standards of living by providing jobs that they would have not otherwise had. These workers would not be working at Wal-Mart if it was not the best option available to them. Although people may claim that it only pays low wages to its workers when compared to other retail store, it has just begun boosting hourly compensation through bonuses to 80% of its hourly workers (mentioned above). It has made some improvement.
Also, we need to take Wal-Mart’s business model into consideration when we compared it with other companies. For example, we cannot compare Wal-Mart’s business model with that of Costco as they adopt completely different models with a totally different customer base (Costco targets higher income group while Wal-Mart generally targets those low income group). Thus, you can’t expect Wal-Mart to target lower income customers by offering low price products on the one hand and yet in the other hand demand the company to pay higher wages to workers. The only way to pay higher wages is increasing the price but those low income groups will suffer from it.
Source:
http://liberalorder.typepad.com/the_liberal_order/2005/07/costco_vs_walma.html

Janice Chung Siu Ting

Wal-Mart is well known for its “everyday-low-price” practice, but the problem is how can they get their prices low? The solution is to outsource the production of their products to countries where employment standards are seriously low. For example, in Shenzhen, China, the workers' payment is only $0.25 per hour and about $100 per month, which means they can't even afford the products they produce. The China Labor Watch report in 2005 mentioned that there were serious labor rights violation problems against labors in Lungcheong factory, including "systematic denial of maternity leave, work-related injuries leading to termination." It also mentioned that Wal-Mart required mandatory overtime without providing health insurance. What the company provided was a single bathroom for 2,000 employees.

Even the 2005 Report on Ethical Sourcing, which is Wal-Mart's own audit, revealed Wal-Mart’s violations in labor and environmental standards in more than 60 countries. At factory level, Wal-Mart’s moderate to severe violations rose from 79% in 2004 to 89% in 2005. The root of the problem was so clear: Wal-Mart was paying their suppliers too little to meet the minimum standard. Wal-Mart's pledges to use inspections to improve conditions at foreign factories were hollow. It is not ethical for Wal-Mart just to enhance its “everyday-low-price” mission without paying attention on workers’ working conditions, especially those in Asia and Central America. Wal-Mart should work for the well-being of its workers in order gain back its goodwill.

Perrine Duval

Wal-Mart has recently been accused of sexual discrimination by six female employees. One of them reported that she had been paid $8,44 an hour for nine years while male less-experienced employees were paid $9 an hour. The investigation has led a federal judge to conclude that these pay disparities existed in most job categories and were increased over time in all Wal-Mart’s stores throughout the country. Moreover, women have to wait longer to enter higher positions, which are rarely given to women. It seems that Wal-Mart has been leading a real internal discriminating policy against women, ever since the setting-up of the firm. With this federal ruling, Wal-Mart is now about to face a class action. After this first victory, plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph M. Sellers, declared the case “demonstrates that big companies like Wal-Mart can be held to the same standards as everyone else.” This class action could include all the 1.5 million current and former female employees, with billions of dollars in damage claims if a jury finds it guilty.

However, Wal-Mart is now the world’s largest retailer and the world’s biggest firm. Obviously, part of Wal-Mart's power lies in its sheer size. Since they are the largest grocer and the largest toy seller (they surpassed Toys’ R Us at the end of the 90s), they control a huge part of sales of many products. Wal-Mart has the power to require from the manufacturers very low prices and then offers to its costumers very low prices, too. That’s why Wal-Mart is very important for millions of people from popular classes, who cannot afford to go shopping somewhere else and and can buy food, toys for their children or even medicines of good quality (no fakes) that are still cheap.

Damon LEUNG Chun Him

Wal-Mart is undoubtedly one of most successful companies in the world. But it does not mean that it does not need any improvement. For example, Wal-Mart has long been criticized as being unethical. As mentioned in the articles, "Wal-Mart employees earn less than the average U.S. retail workers, and some less than what the average two-person family requires to meet its basic needs." Also, female employees of Wal-Mart generally earn less than male employees, no matter whether they are vice-presidents or managers or trainees. Besides, female employees have less chance for promotion. Thus, Wal-Mart is criticized and sued as discriminating against female employees.

According to an article from San Francisco Chronicle, there is "significant proof of a corporate policy of discrimination and support plaintiffs' contention that female employees nationwide were subjected to a common pattern and practice of discrimination."
As the largest private employer in the U.S., Wal-Mart should try to improve the situation and be a role model in the market. It should start establish norms that are not discriminatory. For example, it can start providing equal employment and promotion opportunities. It can start promoting more females and people from minority ethnic groups.

Samantha Ip

People are just jealous. I think this whole thing is just a matter of balance: If people are not willing to be paid low, if they are not happy with not getting their kids insured, they can stop working for Wal-Mart and find some other company. Likewise, if people feel that Wal-Mart is unethical and it's damaging to the environment, they can stop buying from Wal-Mart

The reasons that people are not doing that is because in all the cases, Wal-Mart is their best solution: Employees cannot find a better job as yet.

The late founder of Wal-Mart, Sam Walton, said: “We'll lower the cost of living for everyone, not just in America, but we'll give the world an opportunity to see what it's like to save and have a better lifestyle, a better life for all.” This shows that they are not just there to make a profit for themselves, but ultimately the costs saved go back to the customers.

Their effective logistic is beneficial to all those families in need who will literally starve without Wal-Mart’s low prices. It is also the largest employer in the U.S.: Without Wal-Mart, those employees will have no salary. At least you can try to move up the organization ladder with Wal-Mart, a great opportunity that nowhere else can offer.

Maxim Gelmann

Wal-Mart's competitive actions don’t seem like mere business strategy and good business practice anymore, and by “violating human rights” (Boston Globe) Wal-Mart seems to have gone too far.

Thus, in a very recent report (May 1) by Human Rights Watch, an independent nongovernment organization, Wal-mart was accused of using illegal anti-union tactics that violate the human rights of its 1.3 million employees and create a climate of fear for its workers. Doing so, Wal-Mart is exploiting weak U.S. labor laws that in contrast to international laws don’t guarantee the right of workers to organize. Rights abuses identified range from restricting access to union information to firing pro-union workers and "packing" proposed bargaining units against the union ahead of an NLRB vote (Financial Times).

To make matters worse, instead of confronting negative publicity openly, like in the case of Tylenol and Johnson and Johnson, Wal-Mart refused to discuss the findings with HRW at this point in time.

For a company with the size and influence of Wal-Mart, this is not the example it should be setting. Let's hope Wal-Mart wakes up before it's too late.

Ming-Hwei Chew

Having big corporations around is a good thing. Wal-Mart shows how a corporation can affect communities through its environmental commitment. According to Businessweek, CEO Lee Scott Jr. has vowed to use 100% renewable energy, increase recycling efforts, and sell products that are environmentally friendly. According to their Web site, Wal-Mart mandates all stores must have the heat, ventilation, air-conditioning system to increase energy efficiency. Energy-efficient lighting is also installed in many stores. Besides these two environmentally-friendly steps, Wal-Mart has prototypes of other technologies that are tested in their three environmentally forward stores. In the California store, Wal-Mart installed car-charging stations and high-performance skylights with photo sensors that adjust the lighting in the store according to how much sunlight is coming in. Wal-Mart also has taken upon itself to educate children about the importance of recycling by founding the "Kids Recycling Challenge!" Children bring plastic bags to their schools in exchange for money. This shows children that everyone can contribute to save the planet. Although there might be underlying motivations to this sudden change, by taking the initiative to become more environmentally friendly, Wal-Mart will motivate others to do the same.

Sources:
Walmartfoundation.org
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_05/b4019005.htm
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/08/07/8382593/

Samantha Ip

"Lower costs, lower price," we are so familiar with this excuse. Imagine yourself as a worker in China with U.S. $1.80 per day; imagine yourself being on 24 hour shifts for at least 2 weeks; imagine not getting paid for all the overtime work you have done. How would you feel?

It is not a matter of "then leave for a better job," but as a huge company, they set an example to lots of other growing businesses. A lot of other businesses use Wal-Mart as their benchmark, and they are trying to copy them for success, which is very worrisome. As a global leader in this industry they really should self-reflect and be ashamed of what they are doing.

It's basic human rights, people! It's not that hard paying your employees a day's worth. They are not robbing you; they deserve it.

Ming-Hwei Chew

However, Wal-Mart does have its bad sides. By principle, corporations are supposed to enhance people's lives. This point is debatable, especially when looking at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart cannot even take care of their own employees, let alone enhance the quality of lives in a community. According to BusinessWeek, in 2001, a Wal-Mart employee made about $8.23 an hour, about $13,861 a year. The federal poverty rate for a family of three in 2001 was about $14,630. Wal-Mart claims that its wages are very competitive, but how can a family live on so little? The corporation is also fraught with lawsuits ranging from making employees work overtime without pay to sexual discrimination. According to Wal-Mart Watch, Wal-Mart is a repeated offender in off-the-clock work without pay with cases in 2000 in Colorado and 2002 in Oregon. In 2005, Wal-Mart was caught refusing the federally required 30-minute lunch break for people working over a 6-hour shift. Wal-Mart was also fined in 2005 for refusing to reinstate a woman on maternity leave, a direct violation of the Family Leave Laws. These numerous violations confirm what everyone thinks of big corporations: that they're always chasing profits and will do anything to get there. With a track record like this, how could anyone believe that Wal-Mart is truly good for communities when they do not even take care of their employees?

Sources:
http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/03_40/b3852001_mz001.htm
walmartwatch.com

Yip Ho Yee, Hermia

Wal-Mart’s approach toward labor unions is one of contempt. Wal-Mart takes aggressive action against any worker trying to organize a labor union. A simple example of unfairness toward the potential workers is they have to sign forms agreeing that they would not support any effort to unionize the store during the hiring process.

There is no Wal-Mart store in the United States represented by a union. Wal-Mart has issued a “Manager’s Toolbox to Remaining Union Free,” providing managers with lists of signs that workers might be organizing, including “frequent meetings at associates’ homes.” The “Toolbox” also gives managers a hotline to call so that company specialists can respond and stop attempts to unionize.

Wong Ka Yee Janet

Source: http://www.walmartfacts.com/articles/4776.aspx.

In the past, Wal-Mart failed to include periodic bonuses in determining some associates’ overtime payment. The company also calculated the regular rate on a biweekly rather than weekly basis and did not properly account for overtime involving some managers in training and other associates. The settlement includes no fines or penalties as well. Wal-Mart determined that approximately 87,000 current and former hourly associates were underpaid by at least $20 during the last five years.

Wal-Mart must make corrections in calculating the overtime payment.

Sue Oliver, senior vice president of the People Division at Wal-Mart apologized for the situation and suggested adding safeguards to the payroll process. This ensures the payment error will never happen again. This is not enough.

It can work closely with the U.S. Department of Labor to figure out the long-term calculation method and compensation schemes. Wal-Mart should volunteer to go back five years, instead of the two normally required by the Labor Department, and go beyond the requirements of the settlement and address underpayments regardless of the amount.

This helps boost the employee’s trust. They will believe they are fairly treated and get what they deserve. Wal-Mart must adopt a bi-directional communication channel and encourage true sharing of constructive opinions.

A win-win situation can be achieved.

Chan Wai Shan, Catherine

Offering a great variety of products at a low price to customers is definitely a major contribution of Wal-Mart.

The pace of life is getting faster and faster nowadays. People will usually seek to spend less time buying their daily products. Wal-Mart is definitely the best choice for them. Wal-Mart has a very innovative system for tracking the inventory level. Customers can usually buy what they want in Wal-Mart.

Also, the products' quality in Wal-Mart is guaranteed. For example, in China, people will often find fake products or expired products in some small stores, which may not only waste their money but also do harm to their health. However, now the citizens in China can access a wide range of safe and international products from Wal-Mart at a reasonable price. This can also force the local small stores to improve their services and products' quality, and subsequently to improve the whole business environment.

Chan Wai Shan,Catherine

There is no doubt that Wal-Mart should take credit for its "Everyday low price." But can we think about why they can offer such low prices?

The answers are low wages and poor working conditions for their employees. The turnover rate at Wal-Mart is very high when compared to the market average. Many former employees of Wal-Mart complain that their practices are "inhuman."

This will not only harm the reputation of Wal-Mart but also increase the social and government responsibility. People will usually ask for more financial support from the government when they can't earn enough money to support their families.

People are the most important assets of the company. They help the company make a profit. As the most profitable company in the world, Wal-Mart has no reason to treat their employees in such a way and put the burden on society.

may

yes

Chris Young

While Wal-Mart is often criticized, the world should thank its largest corporation for two main reasons. The first being the 1.9 million people worldwide that Wal-Mart employs, as well as the enormous number of jobs Wal-Mart supports through its suppliers. Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in the U.S. and often provides jobs to people who would otherwise have a difficult time finding work, such as senior citizens. Also, all wages are above the minimum wage, and in fact, Wal-Mart supports raising the minimum wage. While the pay might not be extremely high, Wal-Mart jobs are in high demand. This was evident when 11,000 people recently applied for 400 positions at a soon-to-be opened store in the Bay Area. Second, Wal-Mart provides affordable products to low-income individuals and families. There are millions of people in the U.S. who depend on Wal-Mart's low prices to get by. The quality of life for these people would surely be lower if Wal-Mart was not a part of their community or if it raised prices to reduce pressure on its suppliers.

Chris Young

For every good deed Wal-Mart does to the world there seems to be an opposite and equal (if not more devastating) bad deed to offset it. Sure, Wal-Mart provides jobs and affordable products, but it does this at the expense of millions of workers worldwide, including its own. It doesn't make sense that the most profitable company in the world hasn't been able to provide affordable health care to its employees. And that it can't figure out how to remove the glass ceiling that causes unequal opportunities for women in upper management. And that it has routinely cheated its employees out of overtime pay. The worst deed of all, however, involves the working conditions and hours its suppliers provide for their employees as a result of the low price pressure Wal-Mart puts on them. The supplier inspection program Wal-Mart uses is in the right spirit, but many suppliers have figured out how to fool the inspectors, because it is simply not possible to keep prices low enough without cutting corners. It's true that without Wal-Mart these jobs may not exist, but it may be in Wal-Mart's long-term best interest to start focusing on social returns as much as it does on financial returns.

Ji Hyun Kim

Although big companies like Wal-Mart are more likely to be criticized, there are still positive views on the huge-scaled multinational supermarket chain.

The most prominent benefit Wal-Mart provides derives from its contributions to working class people whose consumption behavior is tremendously affected by price rather than brand royalty. The slogan “Everyday Low Price” in fact enabled each American household to save $2,329 on average in 2004 and approximately a .9% increase in real wages, according to a global research firm, Global Insight. Moreover, such a low pricing system has even more crucial impact on people in underdeveloped countries like Argentina and El Salvador, where affordability is significantly lower than in developed countries. Such a low pricing scheme would help people not only meet basic needs but also benefit from increased numbers of purchases, thus more product usage experience, which will ultimately lead to a higher standard of living at lower cost.

Also, the enormous number of jobs created is another positive influence of Wal-Mart, where 10% of 2,077,000 jobs created in the U.S. in 2004 followed its emergence.

Therefore, the existence of Wal-Mart seemingly supports positive development in society.

Marie Devouge

Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer, with $220 billion in sales. In the United States, it is the nation's largest private employer, with 3,372 stores and more than 1 million hourly workers. Its annual revenues account for 2% of America's entire domestic product. Even as the economy has slowed, the company has continued to metastasize, with plans to add 800,000 more jobs worldwide by 2007. Moreover, Wal-Mart has 1.9 million employees in the world.

Furthermore Wal-Mart plans to adopt business practices that are better for the environment. It has unveiled an environmental plan to boost energy efficiency, cut down on waste, and reduce greenhouse gases tied to global warming. According to Fortune, Wal-Mart expects to increase the efficiency of its vehicle fleet by 25% over the next three years, double efficiency in ten years, eliminate 30% of the energy used in stores, and reduce solid waste from U.S. stores by 25% in three years. They will invest $500 million in sustainability projects.

Wal-Mart offers an enormous variety of high-quality and low-cost products available to virtually everyone throughout the United States. This low prices help millions of Americans make ends meet.

Ji Hyun Kim

Despite Wal-Mart's positive influences on society such as job creation and pricing system supporting the necessities of the poor, issues regarding its working conditions are still debatable.

According to Wakeupwalmart.com, the company provides a wage that is way below the national standard. Although Wal-Mart claims the average associates' annual wages are $17,114 ($9.68 per hour), they are still much lower than the minimum amounts to meet basic needs in U.S., known to be $27,948 in 2005. In such cases, the "Everyday Low Price, leaves detrimental impact on its employees, for whom a half-penny-per-dollar discount on its prices would decrease a dollar per hour in their wages. Its employees, who are sometimes forced to work even without meal times, ultimately, become the victims of Wal-Mart's success through lower pricing enchantment.

Moreover, Wal-Mart's health-care coverage of 43% on its employees is far below the industry standard of 66%, despite that its number of employees reaches up to 1.39 million only in U.S. It is well predictable how the company would behave in underdeveloped countries like China, where it outsources a significant volume of its products.

As such, poor working conditions completely offset only a few benefits that Wal-Mart provides to society.

William Chan Tik Wai

When a grocery store says "Everyday low prices," its neighborhood community must be cheering for the bargain products that they can enjoy. Human beings are greedy; they always want to pay less to get more. There is a company that can fulfill this desire, and its name is Wal-Mart. In a price comparison campaign conducted by www.cockeye.com, 20 items were selected from Wal-Mart and the sixth-largest grocery store, Target, ranging from toothpaste to batteries. Wal-Mart won by a difference of $4.89, giving us an idea on the price differences between Wal-Mart and other discount retail stores.

Wal-Mart's low-price strategy benefits the community in the following ways. First of all, people can buy the product at a lower cost. They can spend the differences in other ways, and the low-income families can have better use of the limited budget. Moreover, the low-price strategy induces competitions, which can improve the service quality and keep the price low in the industry. After all, the ultimate winner is the consumer.

Leung Ho Ching Crystal

WMT did a bad job in dealing with its employees.

The female workers are paid generally less than men, and their promotions are delayed, although the company claimed that the pay and promotion system was determined by the individual store managers. In addition, the overworked and low-paid Chinese manufacturing labor operated by WMT further proves that the company will sooner or later lose its reputation due to the "mistreatment" of its employees. The employees are the essential stakeholders of every business corporation, there is no excuse for WMT not to reward or pay what the employees deserve to get, considering the fact that the company is making a profit. More important, WMT is acting immorally, from my perspective, by putting their workers under surveillance; that could totally lose the trust of the employees and destroy the harmonious employer-employee relationship.

Christy, Leung Ka Wai

"Many people take issue with the labor and employment practices of Wal-Mart stores, the nation's largest retail chain, but you'd have to look hard to find criticism from Oakland residents who live near its new store off Hegenberger Road." ("Sometimes, Wal-Mart Can Be a Good Thing," Chip Johnson, Monday, September 19, 2005)

There is a lack of retail in that part of the city. People there do not have enough choice of retailers and products. Wal-Mart is good for them. It provides people who live or work there thousands of goods with low prices that improve their lives. And more important, as new Wal-Mart stores open in the area, they employ more people to satisfy the demand.

So Pui Yee Queenie

Source: "Wal-Mart Says Health Plan Is Covering More Workers"
New York Times. (Late Edition, East Coast). New York, N.Y., Jan 11, 2007. pg. C.13

How a company treats employees can be clearly seen by looking at the welfare it provides. After looking at the figures, no wonder Wal-Mart's health benefits are always under sharp criticism. In 2006, Wal-Mart claimed that 90% of its employees have insurance. Ironically, only 47.4% of employees receive insurance from Wal-Mart. Worse still, 10% (approximately 130,000) of employees have no coverage at all. Employees could not afford health plans in an everyday-low-price company, thanks to the low hourly wages offered. It is unfair to the employees when customers are enjoying shopping at low prices, and they are working so decently but not getting fair wages, and even have to pay a premium (maybe $11 per month means a lot at the grass root level) for a basic health-care plan, which can be considered a component of human rights. There is still a lot of room for improvement regarding health care and Wal-Mart. I believe the situation could be improved if Wal-Mart realizes contributions from healthy workers are worth far more than the from savings from not having health-care plans.

Anais Carpentier

"The bigger you are, the most people attack you," said Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott. Indeed the biggest company in the world is a target of many critics. Yet Wal-Mart is behind numerous social improvements.

Wal-Mart provides its consumers with low-price products. Nowadays we estimate Wal-Mart prices to be, on average, 14% cheaper. According to Wal-Mart, it permits the families to save $2,329 per year and to increase the purchasing power of each American by $401.

Wal-Mart is blamed for threatening family businesses and regional economies. However, its obstinate search for return has enhanced the national productivity and driven companies to innovate.

Wal-Mart is considered a company sparing with social protections, but it has increased health-care benefits. Its dental and drug insurance policy is among the best in the industry, pension funds are paid by the employer, Wal-Mart's employees get 10% discount for the products in Wal-Mart's stores, and for a day get 20%.

Finally, Wal-Mart is the first private employer in the world with 1,900,000 employees. It creates jobs and employs seniors. These employees know the policies of Wal-Mart and the work conditions. If Wal-Mart is so bad an employer, why are they still working for it?

Jose Luis Rodriguez

It is easy for people to think of low prices every time they hear the word "Wal-Mart." And it also is easy to look for information on the Web and use it to battle against this company.

But I will base this argument on my personal experience.

In the mid 1990s, my family was running a gift shop located in an important business center near Mexico City. The sales were increasing each year due to direct relationships with the customers. Every day, we tried to give the best price to our loyal buyers; we were a low-cost company, trying to keep the latest products in stock.

Suddenly a giant in brands and "low costs" settled just a few blocks away from our business. Our loyal customers realized that this company could satisfy their needs. And not only that—they could enjoy a Big Mac while they did their shopping, and they could pay their debts in a "2-year" no-interest special offer.

So everyone can imagine the result. We closed our store after a few months, due to low sales and market share.

Who is the offender? The relationship is clear: Most of time, enterprising companies have a bad time with these "every day low prices" stores.

Bryan Phillips

Wal-Mart is a great addition to the shopping industry. The average Wal-Mart shopper saves more than $490 per year. Now this might not seem like that much, but for several people in the U.S. working low-paying, minimum-wage jobs, this is a big savings for the small wallet. And for those unemployed who are having trouble finding jobs, Wal-Mart is always hiring--they are the single largest employer in the United States. So you have to look at the entire picture: Although they do pay low wages, they are employing people who otherwise might not be able to find jobs, and pass on the low wages of their products to their customers and their employees. In many communities, Wal-Mart is able to bring in new merchandise that other stores do not carry, major brands that consumers can then purchase. In addition, Wal-Mart is a one-stop store, where people can get all sorts of shopping done, groceries, clothing, and hard goods as well. While some people claim Wal-Mart is an evil to society, it is instead an excellent benefit, and every town that is able to bring one in should embrace it with open arms. Wal-Mart is my favorite store.

Li Kit Man Candy

When we think of Wal-Mart, cheap price with a large variety of goods may come to our mind. However, what makes them able to set a much lower price? Besides setting the salaries of their employees to the minimum, cutting the input price is also another way to cut cost. Wal-Mart gives high pressure to its suppliers and squeezes the price to a level lower than market value. With the decrease in profits of these suppliers, it will badly affect the living standard of the suppliers and their employees.

A very good example is the organic farmers' case. The production cost of the organic farmers is 20%-30% higher than those who produce generic vegetables. But Wal-Mart forced the organic farmers to accept a price just 10% higher than that of generic vegetables. And it means that these farmers suffer from 10%-20% lost by selling their vegetables to Wal-Mart. However, as Wal-Mart is the market leader of the perishables industry, the farmers have no other choice but to sell their organic vegetables to Wal-Mart. When we enjoy the low price of Wal-Mart, we should not forget that the whole economy might be seriously hurt by it. Because the suppliers and its employees earn less money, they also spend less in the economy. In macroeconomic sense, the national income may decrease, and we are the ones who suffer from it finally.

Ngan Fong Ting

Wal-Mart has been criticized for underpaying employees, yet everyone has the right to set their own pay as long as it meets the legal requirement. Wal-Mart pays above the requirement. I don't think such a large corporation would pay below the industry average. Yet people blame it for not paying enough. What is enough? Every business has its own business strategy. They may pay more to retain better staff, or they may cut down costs by not paying that much.

Besides, if the staff members really dislike Wal-Mart, they may find another job. Yes, some may argue that there are not many job opportunities around and they have no choice but stay. But if Wal-Mart does not employ them, does not open its store in this town, those people do not even get a job. There is a case of 600 job openings for a new store, and tens of thousands of job applicants just flood in. If Wal-Mart is really that bad, why are there still so many applicants? Perhaps they really need the job, and Wal-Mart gives them what they need.

IVY, CHEUNG Hiu Yin

"Wal-Mart put my store out of business, so I had to get a job at Wal-Mart, I can now only afford to shop in Wal-Mart. Enjoy shopping in Wal-Mart." It is from Bizarro comics, which has a very vivid description of the impact of Wal-Mart on the local small stores and also the criticism of Wal-Mart's low wages.

Wal-Mart has been criticized for forcing smaller, locally owned stores out of business with its "everyday low price" policy and huge size. In small towns, almost half of the retail trade can be lost within 10 years of Wal-Mart's opening, says a 1997 study from Iowa State University. That, in turn, increases the number of people becoming unemployed.

Although Wal-Mart claims that they are providing lots of job opportunities for the local people and its low prices also provide advantages in the marketplace, it displaces workers from higher-paid jobs in the retailers that are driven out of the market. Its low wages also increase the burden on taxpayers For example, Wal-Mart's inadequate health-care benefits to their employees lead their employees to seek health care in public health-care centers, which increases the burden of the taxpayers.

Should taxpayers--but not Wal-Mart itself--be responsible for Wal-Mart's low-cost practice?

Cecile de Poulpiquet

Operating 31 retail stores across China, from Shenzhen to Kunming, Wal-Mart China Co. Ltd. is expanding across China as fast as possible. First, Wal-Mart needed to face the problem of protectionism that China imposed. Provinces have their autonomies, they are self sufficient, and they didn't seem to modernize its country. Wal-Mart overcame these challenges through innovative and flexible supply-chain management and logistics strategies that are vital to its success in China.

One of Wal-Mart's successes in China is the “everyday low price” policy and providing the widest choice to its customers. The company provides the efficiency, the flexibility, and a centralized distribution, which is one of the key successes of Wal-Mart. Moreover, Wal-Mart offers back-haul services from their local marketplaces so suppliers won't have difficulties making long journeys to the the distribution center. As such, the company helps its suppliers access markets that they would not be able to reach, and Wal-Mart can maintain control all over its distribution chain.

But as Lindsay Robinson, a journalist, said: "Wal-Mart is the world's largest retailer and the second largest employer in the United States, behind the federal government. Wal-Mart is huge, and the problems it is associated with are even larger" and now in addition to the discrimination against women they were accused of, Wal-Mart has to face environmental problems. Indeed, according to associations, Wal-Mart didn't clean their construction site properly, so when it rains, tons of silt invades rivers, threatening life all around the company. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) made investigations, but it was too late.

Walt-Mart doesn't mind polluting lakes and rivers and runs an environmental campaign to show how they care about nature. The company prefers paying fines, and keeps on polluting.

Dorothy Chu

Wal-Mart is the world's largest private employer, and because it employs so many people it needs to take more of its employees' concerns to heart. One of the big problems with Wal-Mart is the wage discrimination against women, in addition to its low wages. Currently there is a class-action lawsuit against Wal-Mart for sexual discrimination against women. This is interesting especially because Wal-Mart is an American company, and sexual discrimination has been considered unlawful in the US since 1964 (Civil Rights Act).

The alleged discrimination is strongly supported by statistical evidence as well as personal testimonies. There are more than 2 million current and former women employees involved in the lawsuit, and they even have an up-to-date Web site (www.walmartclass.com) to provide information to all the women involved. Supporting evidence includes data on how fewer than one-third of women employed by Wal-Mart are in managerial positions even though women make up two-thirds of total employees. There is also evidence that female managers on average earned $14,500 less than their male counterpoints, and on the hourly basis the inequality is $1,110. There are no rational explanations for these discrepancies between male and female employees, and Wal-Mart now faces the consequences for its actions.

Kristel Trotet

Con :
The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that today, 250 million children (from 5 to 14) are working in the world. This phenomenon does not touch only Asia, as we might think but all continents including the U.S., the consumption paradise. In 1993, Wal-Mart was accused of using child labor in Bangladesh. Wal-Mart is not in the only one using child labor (directly or not)—Puma, Hanes, J.C. Penney, and many others used it or still use it.

As soon as Wal-Mart knew about it, the Ethical Trading Action Group (ETAG) asked them to check the situation in Bangladesh. Wal-Mart confirmed that their factories were using child labor. They straight away cancelled all the back orders. I think they took the right decision, but it was not enough. I really think that it would have been more ethical to guarantee that those factories will never employ children in the future and try to find a sustainable alternative for those kids.

I think the ignorance and a low level of social conscience of Western consumers will perpetuate this situation if the competition for lowest price keeps on being the biggest deal in the market.

Kristel Trotet

Pro:
"The opening price point is clearly a foundation of who we are and how we interact with our customers.--Ray Bracy, Wal-Mart's vice president of international corporate affairs.

Good or bad thing? It depends who you are (competitors or consumers) especially when Wal-Mart does pretty well. The focus on low cost also had the effect of forcing Wal-Mart to look inward and find innovative ways to take costs out of the supply chain.

I read so many articles saying that many people (maybe most of them) think Wal-Mart is a bad thing for their town, state, or even country (e.g. the referendum in Inglewood-California). People and associations criticize Wal-Mart about low wages and treatment of employees. Wal-Mart employs 1.3 million people in Canada. Yes, their wages are low, by and large. But if they could find better jobs, why are these people working at Wal-Mart? If Wal-Mart didn't exist, why do you think they'd be paid higher wages? If Wal-Mart is so bad, why do 100 million Americans shop there every week?

I think that the anti-Wal-Mart activists should admit the truth: The debate over Wal-Mart is really a debate about aesthetics and social class.

Maxim Gelmann

"If Wal Mart were a country, it would be China's sixth largest export market and its eighth largest trade partner."

Even critics agree that while Wal-Mart’s rigid price, quality, and performance demands are changing the way business is conducted in China, these developments simultaneously allow for the boosting of China’s economy by means of the “Wal-Mart effect."

Thus Chinese suppliers confirm the existence of a transformative effect on everything from supply chains, to distribution networks, to customer service. By raising efficiency standards for a growing number of Chinese suppliers, Wal-Mart gradually inceases work standards and simultaneously teaches companies to sustain rigid international competition; then only "Chinese companies who supply to the toughest U.S. companies will […] win."

Considering increasing inflation and wage rates, generally speaking, the “Wal-Mart effect," which refers to rising labor productivity and lower inflation, seems to be exactly what China’s economy needs. And according to Chinese government officials, Wal-Mart is a good way to accelerate China's transition from state planning to free markets.

With such a striking impact on China through only 77 stores in 40 cities, the new mystery is: What dimensions will and can Wal-Mart’s impact have with the projected "thousands" of stores over the next 20 years?

Sources:
Elliot, D. and Powell, B., "Wal-Mart Nation," Time International. (Asia ed.). New York: Jun 27, 2005. Vol.165, Iss. 25; pg. 36

Schafer, S., and Wang Zhenru, W., "A Welcome to Wal-Mart," [Pacific Edition], Newsweek. (International ed.). New York: Dec 20, 2004.pg. 30.

Jeong,GoEun

"If Wal-Mart were a country, it would be China's sixth-largest export market and its eighth-largest trade partner."

Even critics agree that while Wal-Mart’s rigid price, quality, and performance demands are changing the way business is conducted in China, these developments simultaneously allow for the boosting of China’s economy by means of the “Wal-Mart effect."

Thus Chinese suppliers confirm the existence of a transformative effect on everything from supply chains to distribution networks to customer service. By raising efficiency standards for a growing number of Chinese suppliers, Wal-Mart gradually increases work standards and simultaneously teaches companies to sustain rigid international competition; then only "Chinese companies who supply to the toughest U.S. companies will […] win."

Considering increasing inflation and wage rates, generally speaking, the “Wal-Mart effect," which refers to rising labor productivity and lower inflation, seems to be exactly what China’s economy needs. And according to Chinese government officials, Wal-Mart is a good way to accelerate China's transition from state planning to free markets.

With such a striking impact on China through only 77 stores in 40 cities, the new mystery is: What dimensions will and can Wal-Mart’s impact have with the projected "thousands" of stores over the next 20 years?

Sources:
Elliot, D. and Powell, B., "Wal-Mart Nation," Time International. (Asia ed.). New York: June 27, 2005. Vol.165, Iss. 25; pg. 36

Schafer, S., and Wang Zhenru, W., "A Welcome to Wal-Mart," [Pacific Edition], Newsweek. (International ed.). New York: Dec 20, 2004.pg. 30.

Janice, Mak Fong Ki

I have watched a movie about Wal-Mart in class. I do agree that Wal-Mart is bullying in some aspects. First of all, everyone knows that Wal-Mart is a global company with stores all over the world, and it makes a big profit every year. But do you know that Wal-Mart is also receiving a lot of subsidies from the government? It makes Wal-Mart even bigger and bigger; as a result, it causes many family businesses to close. The ultimate result is that Wal-Mart becomes a monopoly in the grocery industry.

Customers should have the right to choose. However, the giant-size Wal-Mart drives away many small and medium grocery stores, so now customers can only buy grocery products in Wal-Mart. They have no choice at all. Wal-Mart gains at the expense of customers and family-businesses founders and owners.

On the other hand, although Wal-Mart provides lots of job opportunities to the country, the wages it paid is below the industry’s average. From the movie, it showed that many Wal-Mart’s employees have to apply for social assistances from the government. Wal-Mart, because of its huge size and the monopoly position, it chooses to pay a low wages, it does not concern about the needs of its employees and does not maintain the external equity of the job market.

Because of these, I think that Wal-Mart is bullying the small and weak.

Sue Leung Man Yee

The article "Is Wal-Mart the Right Target?" clearly illustrates that Wal-Mart might not deserve such widespread scrutiny. Wal-Mart is just like another Coca Cola: Its competitors are operating on the same principles but have never been accused. Although Wal-Mart might be wrong in certain circumstances, sometimes we might need to look at the evidence more objectively. We might find much of the published evidence was one-sided, e.g. some campaigns target only one of its subsidiaries like the Sam’s Club, but not the overall picture. It might be unfair if it is only an exceptional case. In addition, Wal-Mart has suffered a lot and had its brand name heavily attacked in stories, which is very important for a company's long-term assets. In addition, Wal-Mart is the first-ever successful company to utilize the concept of discount retailing and generate the “everyday low price” strategy that may have helped a lot of poor families. Also, they deserve a success in business, because they really develop an excellent supply chain. If there isn’t price competition from Wal-Mart, people might suffer more from buying expensive products.

I am also thinking, why don’t people just stop shopping and working there? It is ridiculous to criticize the one who is paying you or where you enjoy shopping--when you have a choice.
Source:http://reclaimdemocracy.org/Wal-Mart/target_movie.php

Leung Ho Ching Crystal

WMT, the largest grocery retailer in the United States, has its merit in dealing with products. Although the products are cheap in price, the CEO, Lee Scott, claimed that their products have begun to improve in quality due to the competition of other retailers. The following two examples indicate WMT took the initiative to stop selling health-threatening products--for example, recalling all baby bibs containing lead and providing full refunds and free replacements for consumers. These attempts show WMT has a great concern about its consumers.

Lorraine Delmas-Guichenné

Don’t forget that Wal-Mart is one of the biggest private employers in the US. Moreover, the policy of the group is to offer very cheap price with a lot of choice. That means that people can consume more without spending more. In other word, they give some purchasing power to people. On a higher scale, they contribute to the growth and the health of the United State. With a higher purchasing power, people can consume better, so there is more money in circulation and it permits growth.

I think that the choice to give lower prices is the best thing that a company can do. I think that it can touch everybody, without discrimination. It is one of the all-too-scarce measures that put everybody on equal footing.

Nadja Gillvall

In 2004 Wal-Mart sold a yoga outfit made from organic cotton; it was a big success and became the stepping stone to introducing organic clothing into their product line. Since then Wal-Mart has become the world's largest buyer of organic cotton. This year they’ve bought seven million metric tons from suppliers mainly in Turkey and India. Compared to the total amount of organic cotton produced five years ago, which was only 6.4 million metric tons, you understand the importance of Wal-Mart becoming more environmentally friendly. Not only are they giving the whole market a chance to grow but also they’ve promised to keep on buying organic cotton for at least five more years. This makes it safer for the producers to expand their businesses, which can result in more jobs and tax incomes in poor, rural regions.

Another big advantage to Wal-Mart getting into selling clothing made from organic materials is that it allows the larger public to shop for environmentally friendly clothes, products that usually are quite expensive. This will hopefully get a lot of people to open their eyes to green products, which in return will generate bigger sales and allow the market to grow even further with the subsequent positive benefits to the environment.

Sue Leung Man Yee

It has been common for large international corporations to be attacked globally, accused of unethical acts in areas like environmental damage, sex discrimination, tax evasion, etc. Wal-Mart been accused of all of the above, and there's no clear justification for the U.S. government's heavily subsidizing its operation, thereby harming local communities. Under the free market rule, Wal-Mart has not done anything wrong by outsourcing its production to a cheaper country and maintaining a low-cost, low-price strategy. However, even though they have the legal right, they have the moral and ethical responsibility to at least not pay too-low wages. Sam Walton, the founder said, “I pay low wages. I can take advantage of that. We're going to be successful, but the basis is a very low-wage, low-benefit model of employment." His attitude is not desirable at all.

There is a law to prevent unfair sex discrimination, which Wal-Mart clearly violates. It doesn’t provide health insurance, and many of the statistics show that the company sometimes denies employees breaks. Although these allegations might be wrong, but Wal-Mart doesn’t explain or undertake a clear investigation into such charges. Their attitude clearly shows that, with money and power, they are not going to change.

Sandy Ngai Siu Yin

Against Wal-Mart

Wal-Mart across North America has a reputation as a downtown-killer.The perception is that when a big Wal-Mart locates on the outskirts of a little town, it offers prices so low that traditional small businesses simply cannot compete.

Wal-Mart offers low-price products to its customers but ignores its employee. It has been accused of sex discrimination against female employees. A Los Angeles group released a report on the impact of Wal-Mart on communities, stating that employees earn 20% less than the average retail worker earns and more than $10,000 less than what the average two-person family needs to meet its basic needs. The company enrolls fewer than half of its employees in its costly health insurance plan, compared to 67% for the average large employer.

Frank Lotrian

Pros

First and foremost, let’s remember that before it turned into the biggest company in the world (2.5% of the U.S.’s GDP), WM started from nothing. Besides making money, its purpose was to conduct business in remote and formerly ignored markets and thus give communities a chance to both have access to, and afford, a new range of products.

WM provides its suppliers with a huge and efficient distribution channel that is also a way for them to keep on doing well with their business and their related employees. A study by Global Insight claims that in 2004, its presence saved working families more than $2,329 per year, while creating more than 210,000 part-time minimum-wage jobs in the U.S.

EDLP [everyday low price] is indeed WM's core business practice, with prices an average of 14% cheaper, which customers struggling to do well on a narrow budget appreciate.

Despite all the criticism it has to cope with nowadays, WM is a free market success story most American people strive for, and thus, might be jealous of.

Fion Ma Wai Yan

When you consumers buy stuff from Wal-Mart, do you ever wait a second and think about those workers who paid for part of your goods so that you can get such a cheap price?

Workers who work for Wal-Mart in China and the Philippines are suffering. An article from Wal-Mart Watch discussed the Chong Won factory in the Philippines, which manufactures cloth for Wal-Mart. Its workers work overtime even when they are ill and should not work such a long hours. Someone even died after working an overtime shift because she had asthma problems and was not supposed to work overtime. They are paid below minimum wage in the Philippines and cannot reject overtime work requests or they may get themselves suspended from work for weeks.

Next time when you buy clothes from Wal-Mart, stop and think about it: Are these products really that cheap?

Brad Scott

Wal-Mart has been repeatedly scrutinized in the media for the way it treats its employees. The accusations often involve low wages, overtime without compensation, discrimination in the workplace, or denying employees the right to assemble and join unions. In most instances, employees who are victimized by these situations need the jobs that Wal-Mart provides them and therefore do what they are told.

One of the most important rights Wal-Mart tries to deprive its workers of is joining unions. Human Rights Watch, a non-government organization responsible for keeping an eye out for human rights violations, viewed a Wal-Mart orientation tape recently with a Wal-Mart employee. A portion of the tape was designated to discussing why Wal-Mart employees should not join unions. One of the unifying themes among many of the reasons was the loss of money if one were to join a union. The video discussed a few examples, such as unions collect dues from a workers' hard-earned pay check, unions can inhibit productivity, which causes stores to shut down, and strikes prevent workers from collecting anywhere from one to many days' worth of income. Wal-Mart knows that its employees need this money every payment period, use that against them to make sure they don’t join unions. Perhaps if the employees were to join unions, their wages would be increased, but these workers are not in the position to gamble with the steady income they are receiving.

Sara Sundholm

The clear problem in my opinion with Wal-Mart is the sheer volume of examples where Wal-Mart has twisted the rules or exhibited what quite clearly would be labeled as unethical behavior. It is not just once or twice that the company has been caught for malpractice, but numerous times. Its well-documented anti-union stance has popped up in numerous countries, in the U.S, Canada, and even China. Furthermore, their exploitation of workers, as can be seen in documentaries and other real-life accounts of employee experiences, has given the company a bad image. Wage law violations should also be unacceptable, and employees should never have to work through their unpaid lunch hour. The question is, of course, who exactly is to blame, and at what level in the organization things are going wrong. The bottom line is that a successful and large company such as Wal-Mart that has also been known for its amazing price-cutting and innovative business simply cannot afford to make so many mistakes. With power comes (social) responsibility. Wal-Mart should have learned that by now.

Ana Lam

Con
Wal-Mart has been indirectly responsible for mass unemployment. Wal-Mart has pushed many of their suppliers into restructuring their company in order to meet Wal-Mart’s pricing demands. Suppliers that derive most of their sales from Wal-Mart are dependent on the company.

Wal-Mart sells the largest volume of Rubbermaid products. Between the period of 1999 and 2001, Rubbermaid shares dropped from $50, to $20, after Wal-Mart took them off prime eye-level shelf space due to unmet price demands. Since January of 2001, Rubbermaid restructured their business models in order to deliver cut-throat prices. So far they’ve shut down 69 out of 400 facilities and fired 11,000 workers. It is expected that 50% of their production will be shifted to low-cost countries-- adding an additional closing of 131 facilities and loss of 20,000 jobs.

Wal-Mart is General Electric's biggest outlet. GE, America’s largest producer of appliances, in the recent years decided to outsource to other countries such as Mexico and China. They fired 100,000 of their employees. Wal-Mart is Levis Straus' biggest retailer. Levis Straus, one of the largest manufacturers of jeans and denims, announced after meetings with Wal-Mart the shutdown of four remaining production facilities in America. They will be shifting them to Ibero-America and Asia.

Fawzi Omari

Pro
Wal-Mart is the biggest company in the world; it employs 1.9 million people worldwide. Therefore, obviously the most visible benefit is that it reduces unemployment levels. A source stated that at the grand opening of a new Wal-Mart superstore in California, there were 400 job openings and 11,000 applicants. This shows a desire and willingness to work for Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart also is the only household name that offers the most affordable prices hence "Everyday Low Prices." The second defense is that on average it saves the consumer U.S. $490 per year. This is a very substantial amount of money considering other industry leaders such as Geico car insurance only saves the average consumer U.S. $200 per year. The third defense point is that Wal-Mart aids in community events and charities; they have a very large presence on the social scene. Moving away from the USA and into China, the defense is that all the products on sale are authentic. China is synonymous with fake goods, and the fact that Wal-Mart offers none of the sort shows a willingness to keep up the high-quality and low-prices model, which has been so successful globally.

Con
The main problem facing Wal-Mart currently is that its employees are complaining about the low wages and long hours. Wal-Mart can reduce the amount of hours or shifts worked per employee or raise the wages in order to act as an incentive for the employees. On the other hand, Wal-Mart can offer medical and welfare benefits as part of improving employee morale. Like a share option scheme offered by large banking corporations; these schemes will make employees strive for the best. Wal-Mart can also remove the glass ceiling above female employees. Sexual discrimination is taken very seriously and because of not allowing the successful females to move up the corporate ladder, Wal-Mart is subject to many lawsuits. Finally, Wal-Mart has an overpowering presence in many parts of America; they are taking over smaller family businesses such as Esry’s. This is very important, because these are companies that have supported generations of families. And then by showing up, Wal-Mart is forcing them to close down by stealing their market. In one area in America, a school was closed down in order to make way for the giant to set up shop. Is that fair? No, Wal-Mart must not threaten the existence of such companies and corporations. In order to improve, they need to rethink where they place their superstores in the light of Lee Scott's intention of erecting 4,000 more supercenters.

KIm, Joon Hyung

Wal-Mart should do better.

For critics of Wal-Mart, its catch phrase “Everyday Low Price” is usually translates into “Low Wages, Low Morals Always." Also, you can see here, that there are many former Wal-Mart employees arguing that they are badly treated. When many people think something is going wrong, in most cases, there is really something wrong with the situation.

Wal-Mart offers products with cheap prices. How are these cheap prices possible? Surely it is coming from squeezing employees and suppliers. Short term, it will work, but long term, I’m not sure of its success. Low morale among employees would be likely to lead to low productivity. What good is there with low wage if it lowers productivity? Even in the cases in which they fire nonproductive workers and hire those who are productive, they still have to pay money for newcomers’ training. In economic view, it is cheaper to retain experienced workers.

I can see many cases that there are some wrong things going with their employee situation--such as sex discrimination and miscounting of working hours. It seems ironic to me that Wal-Mart is spending a lot of money just to polish its image. Instead of that, I think that Wal-Mart should improve their employees’ welfare with the money they spend on their image-making. They can make enthusiastic and loyal workers with an improved welfare system. I think these workers can be really big synergy factors for their positive image.

Now we can see some evidence that Wal-Mart is changing. Some surveys show that job satisfaction is rising up. I think they have to go further than that.

Chris McLaughlin

Wal-Mart is killing small businesses everywhere and ruining the potential for new businesses to grow and individual people to experience entrepreneurial success. With Wal-Mart selling everything a customer could possibly need and buying their goods on unimaginable economies of scale, it is becoming impossible for brick and mortar businesses to flourish anywhere near the Supercenters. At the rate that Wal-Mart is growing, it will eventually have a monopoly over all shopping, and villages will exist within a single Wal-Mart. The store might even have street names and trolleys, maybe even a school with everyday low prices on textbooks. We need to stop Wal-Mart from taking over our the world and obtaining even higher economies of scale, making the competitive landscape impossible to enter. Unique businesses are a part of our world and our economy; they allow for competition and fair pricing. If Wal-Mart gets more power, it will have a bargaining power over its buyers and will have the ability to charge everyday high prices, leaving its customers with no competitors to turn to. Although Wal-Mart’s economies of scale do, in fact, allow for customers to save money, we should not allow it to have a monopoly over the entire shopping experience, because there are only few beneficiaries of its financial success, as opposed to the millions of beneficiaries who would otherwise be serving the needs of the public; it’s not as if its employees are benefiting from their everyday low wages [Jim Hightower, Alternet, April 26, 2006; The Hightower Lowdown].

Sandrine HOEUR

Unfortunately, even if Wal-Mart is performing very well and has an impressive annual turnover, this company is often the target of criticism for its policies or business practices.

Grassroots political efforts have denounced the company’s foreign product sourcing and the treatment of employees and product suppliers, as did many environmental or labor advocates.

In my mind, the documentary from the filmmaker Robert Greewald entitle The High Cost Of Low Price is the perfect illustration of the criticism Wal-Mart has to face. Everything is highlighted in this film: the antilabor-union practices of the company, the unacceptable working conditions in Asia and also in America, and the acts of discrimination based on the sex and the race of employees.

By the way, according to an article from the French daily paper Le Monde, 30th of October, 2006, the development of Wal-Mart has huge consequences on the American economy. Indeed, by always cutting price and importing cheap products from Asia, Wal-Mart has disordered the American way of life. Every time a Wal-Mart store open means the death of the local commerce; in other words, we need to wonder if what it is good for Wal-Mart could be good for America?

Maybe Wal-Mart should start acting and doing useful things for America instead of pretending.

Katrina Wong Man Shan

“The high cost of Wal-Mart’s low price is its low-paid employees.” Do you really think the low price enjoyed by consumers should be or can only be made possible by low-paid employees? Can Wal-Mart do it in this way: offering consumers low prices and paying its employees with high wages? The answer is yes, according to a study released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) in 2006.

“Wal-Mart could raise its wages and benefits for its staff by 13% and still maintain a profit margin nearly 50% greater than its top competitor.” This is what the EPI economist Jared Bernstein and Josh Bivens found.

Looking at this data, we can see that Wal-Mart does not have to underpay their employees. Their profit was about $11 billion in 2005 and $12.18 billion in 2006. Their profit margin is 3.6%, compared to 2% at its key competitor Costco.

I think we have reasons to believe that Wal-Mart is able to increase the wages of its employees without increasing its price, as well as keep its competitiveness in the industry. The only problem is that it is going to earn less profit. But if Wal-Mart wants to behave in accordance with what their CEO Lee Scott said, “We do right things and we do things right,” it should treat their employees better. Low price is no longer an excuse for its low-paid employees.

Lois

Wal-Mart stores are terrible, but they have a very inexpensive RV park. Just check out the big rigs parked in their parking lots.

Jeremy Lam

Fortune's No. 1 most admired company in the United States is Wal-Mart. Nothing beats its "everyday low price" strategies. It has created suppliers that produce goods more cheaply than they ever could before. Wal-Mart is offering consumers a wide range of goods at rock-bottom prices. From the consumers' point view, they have definitely passed the test. As far as workers are concerned, I think none of the workers working there were drafted. They chose to be there, because obviously Wal-Mart provides better opportunities for them. What if Wal-Mart vanishes tomorrow? That means people will go for the next best option, and they will be worse off relative to where they are today. Wal-Mart is like a good pill to the economy. It promotes efficiency like nobody does. It is insane how people did not see the big picture of how Wal-Mart actually contributed to the global economy.

Miranda

I just recently put my two week notice in at my local Wal-Mart store. I was employed there for six full years. The first four were wonderful. Associates and management were great, and even customers were fulfilling. In the last two years the store went south. The clientele of the store stayed the same and the higher managers started treating the associates like crap. I knew I would be out of the company soon, finishing college and moving on. I did, however, want to stay with the company part time, but my store manager and I made an agreement that he did not follow through on. Which was not a surprise.

He took my two-week notice and threw it in his office. I was an exceptional employee with many raises, etc. At this point now I knew I'd been used over the last few years, time to move on. Overall, Wal-Mart has great people working for them, but when they go into management programs they change and cannot be two people. I would never go into that program or advise anyone to. Benefits are terrible, and the open door policy is nice to have, but do they really care?

Also, yes, it is nice to have many cultures working there, but I wonder sometimes, do they have a quota they have to fill? I’m starting to wonder about that cheap labor issue. As far as business goes, I personally think it is unfair to local stores to have a giant move in, but they say Wal-Mart contributes to communities. Yeah right. Money-hungry contributors.

To end my comment, Wal-Mart was a wonderful place to help me get through college and move on. I met wonderful people, and it was very emotional to leave them, but there was no future there. Overall, it was a wonderful company to work for in the beginning, but that was only because of certain exceptional staff and managers and customers. I believe they make and break a store. Thank you.
Miranda, MN

Mary

I shop at WalMart very seldom. Why should I, when I can wait for a sale at Macy's, Penney's, or Sears, and buy my clothes for much less and get much better quality? As an example, I bought a blouse marked $52, for $6.50 on sale. I do no impulse buying, and wait for a sale to do my shopping, and beat WalMart's prices by a lot.

If I can draw $467 a month on Social Security after working more than 50 years and raising 6 children with no Walmart, I can continue to do it.

Jane

I am so tired of hearing "If they don't like it, they can go work somewhere else." Where I live there is nowhere else. Did any of you read the acticle where it said 25,000 people applied for 640 jobs? There is nowhere else to work. Wal-Mart has put everyone out of business. They hire mostly part time, with no benefits, and treat people like dirt. I couldn't live with myself, buying something for one dollar less while allowing a company to treat an employee as badly as they do. I will buy less and sure not shop at Wal-Mart.

Bookworm

The Wal-Mart issues go way back--15 years or so. Do you really want to fatten the profits of a company that is busy vacuuming up your tax dollars by forcing its employees onto public assistance? I, personally, vote with my feet--haven't patronized Wal-Mart or Sam's for 10 years.

The Truth

Consumers who purchase from Wal-Mart are responsible for assisting in lowering the standard of living for all Americans. I refuse to buy anything at Wal-Mart as long as there's an alternative. People who shop at Wal-Mart and don't care about keeping competition alive are cutting the throats of many other working Americans and destroying the fabric of American life. As prices keep being forced down, more and more Americans will have to choose whether to work for much less or lose their jobs entirely as the work is moved overseas to lower paid workers and highly subsidized corporations. As people make less, they pay less in tax, purchase less with real money, and drive up their credit debt. Wal-Mart gradually downgrades the quality of every product they carry. They demand that the price be lowered and analyze the business of their vendors to tell them how to lower prices: Cut quality, offshore your manufacturing, etc. People make less, they want to pay less, they buy at "the low price leader," and increase the speed of the downward spiral. Wal-Mart creates its customers by driving the companies they work for to cut costs ever lower. Keep buying at Wal-Mart; the next job lost may be yours.

Martina Webley

A company as rich as Wal-Mart can afford to pay its employees well, and they should take pride in taking good care of the people that work for them.

And Wal-Mart can do it without having to raise prices. To pay their associates minimum wage and have the taxpayer pick up the tab is ludicrous.

I no longer support Wal-Mart with my business. As a friend of mine said when asked whether he shopped at Wal-Mart: "My truck can't turn in that direction."
MW

Paige

One thing many are not considering is that we all pay for Wal-Mart employees' health insurance through our taxes, as a large percentage of them have access to health care through federal and/or state programs. In my state, 70% of recipients of PeachCare, a program for the working poor, are employees of Wal-Mart. Don't kid yourselves--we all pay for this; it's just a matter of how we pay.

Furthermore, someone stated that the poor now have access to more comforts than ever before because of Wal-Mart's low prices. True, but which is better, having a plasma TV or having health insurance? Maybe we all need to question our priorities a little...the shoppers, the company, and the shareholders.

Sharad Khandelwal

Economy of scale monopoly is here to stay and will threaten the small-scale distribution business in retailing and manufacturing. Let the new order emerge, based on respect and skilled jobs so that a long-term solution is found for economic survival of all.

Joe Clark

I decided to stop supporting the giants a couple of years ago and actually enjoy my shopping trips to the small grocers and hardware stores. I may pay a little more, but I'm recognized and get great service.

Buddy Lee

Wal-Mart is not a place to work for primary bread winners. It is ideally for young people starting out in the world. Housewives and/or house husbands turn there, because the kids have all started school or a little extra income is needed. It is for older people who have retired and want something to do to save them from being bored; the low salary and part-time work is just right for people like this.

If you are going to make retail a career, then you'd better be prepared for a medium to long haul (couple to a few years). They promote from within and train you to boot.

If the wages do not suit you, then go work at Target.

Where I live, if I want to go to the store to communicate with someone in my language, I will go to another retailer and pay the higher price.

Bottom line: Wal-Mart employs people . Take them down, and then the price fixing comes back. The employees laid off will not all find jobs. The economy will head south in certain parts of the country.

I don't see anyone complaining about Kragen or Kroger's. Both very large corporations that own many smaller companies; it lets them keep their name so the Wal-Mart bashers will leave them alone.

I guess they couldn't bring down Microsoft, so they try to hit Wal-Mart. It is amazing how such small numbers can scream so loudly that people actually listen. This is how America was built. Lead, follow, or get out of the way.

Buddy Lee

Paige,

You either have never worked for Wal-Mart or known someone who does or gone to a store and asked to see the benefits.

Wal-Mart has benefits; they have several levels. It might cost more per month than other companies charge, but at least it is offered and comparable to what many other companies are giving.

You want the mom-and-pop stores back—OK, let's lay off half the people indefinitely, because mom and pop won't hire that many.

Mom and Pop will not have any benefits whatsoever. There will only be supervisory positions as Mom and Pop are the managers. The wages might be 50 cents more per hour, but a smart mom and pop will offer only the wages Wal-Mart is paying, perhaps less because now there is an excess of people fighting for work.

I have worked for mom and pops for years, and although my living wage is higher, I still cannot afford 700 per month in health care.

My wife's best friend works at Wal-Mart. She is happy with them, and she has moved up to management despite not wanting to, and still works there. It's ben going on 4 years now, and she stands up for them with a vengeance.

Get out of your chair and go out into the real world, and see what is actually going on before you make comments.

The media is twisting things for those people who do not know better. Why? Who knows?

Buddy

Since when does the private sector dictate what a businessowner has to provide in the way of benefits or wages (not less than minimum wage)? I am sure if you owned a business you would not stand for people telling you how to run it.

Sam

Open the windows cuz it's too murky in here.

Anyone who doesn't like Wal-Mart should not shop there.

The Wal-Mart stores I've been to are not dirty or untidy, but a dirty store has nothing to do with the Wal-Mart brand; it has to do with the management in that store.

Maybe not in other states, but in Texas, Wal-Mart has one of the highest wages for unskilled workers, and most of them speak good English.

Speaking of pay, has anyone ever bothered to ask how much McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and other burger joints pay their unskilled workers? Just a little above minimum wage. And don't forget to ask if they have health insurance, too.

Martha

The company I work with services Wal-Marts only, and I truly feel they are letting Wal-Mart dictate to them how to work us twice as hard for nothing.

We are allowed to work only 1,550 hours in a year, because we are considered part-time. When you receive your vacation check for 2 weeks, and let's say it's for 60 hours, my company takes those 60 hours off your 1,550 hours. It's insane that they do this. They do not want to pay benefits at all. They will make sure that you never even get close to your allowed hours. We have so many programs going on sometimes that it can be overwhelming. The Wal-Mart buyer approves all these programs that you have to put up with plus maintain your department. It's a joke. This wonderful company that I work with is Hallmark.

Brenda

I have shopped at Wal-Mart for years because of the reasonable prices, and we all have a budget and limited supply of money. I have debated for months as to whether I should continue to shop at this box store giant. I live in a small town where supplies are limited but people have been encouraged to "shop local" and support the community. After my most recent visit to Wal-Mart..I think I'll do just that. Poor customer service at the checkout, cluttered appearance of the aisles, and less-than-friendly faces throughout the store made me wish I was home. I might pay less at the checkout, but I leave feeling like I've just inconvenienced Grandma, because she has to work at this "crappy place" to supplement her income. I still have my dignity and self-respect. I may pay a little more by shopping local, but at least when I check out, the person behind the counter truly appreciates my business. Good-bye, Wal-Mart.

Small Mindedness

My problem with Wal-Mart isn't how much they pay or the benefits you get or don't. It's about the damage worldwide companies like this do by taking advantage of Third World countries and China (which happens to be the world's largest sweatshop), which will have almost no natural resources in 10 to 20 years and be all but uninhabitable for humans. Today we see growth and industry, but in 10 to 20 years, what will be left? A wasteland, and companies like this fuel the fire by shutting down mom-and-pops and aren't as accountable, because they have the financial leverage of a company like Wal-Mart to fuel the greed of today. Look past your noses, people. What's gonna be left after everything is sucked dry? I'm not being an alarmist—it's happening now.

Marvin

Has anyone over 50 ever tried to get a job? Wal-Mart works with AARP to provide jobs for the seniors. While the kids (under 20) leave for other jobs at normally the same pay, the seniors stay where they are because Wal-Mart treats them well. I started in Dec. 2006 and was setting up a new store. All of the kids who started with me are gone; all the seniors are still there.

Cassie

If you think what Wal-Mart is doing is wrong, the only way to stop it is to stop spending money at Wal-Mart. I do not shop at Wal-Mart for any reason.

I believe the huge discounts cost their employees plenty. I would rather spend my money at a store that gives employees good benefits. We complain about Wal-Mart—but then shop there. I don't care what I will save out of my own pocket; it isn't worth lower pay to someone else. I don't care how much more it is elsewhere, it isn't worth someone else's standard of living. The only way to send a message to Wal-Mart is to stop spending money there, because that is all they care about, the bottom line. I will not spend my money at a place where the consumer's cost is put above employee benefits. I encourage everyone to send a message to Wal-Mart. Make it very loud and very clear

Just think if we the consumers picked one day to boycott the store like the day after Thanksgiving. What message would that send? I encourage all consumers to spend their money elsewhere the day after Thanksgiving. Who is with me?

Come on people, send a message. After all, it is just one day. We as consumers can keep the little guys in business. We as consumers can ensure that every employee has good benefits. We as consumers can ensure that every employee receives a fair wage.

Gus

The next time you go shopping at Wal-Mart, and the line at the deli is 12 customers long, try to count the two workers behind the counter cutting up lunch meat as the timer for the chicken, which is getting cooked, rings. Someone has to stop and get that chicken out of that fry oil. Laugh at the woman customer who wants a half pound of cole slaw and pitches a fit when the little worker girl—who knows that her work performance means nothing because she has maxed out of her job class pay range and gets no more "evaluation pay raises"—gets called dirty names, because she has to run and get that chicken out of the cooker.

Wal-Mart has hit a wall and can't increase profits anymore. They lose staff at my neighborhood store at a rate of 75%. To cut costs, the positions do not get filled, which does not matter, because the job application kiosk computers sit empty.

That cashier you were just rude to is getting $6 an hour. The strawberry display is empty, because both of the produce guys working today got pulled into the parking lot to bring back in all those shopping carts. The high school kid getting paid $5.50 an hour to bake in the hot sun, getting run over by cars, just quit. So stand in line with 150 other people who are ready to "check out" and try not to think about the fact that out of 47 cash registers, only 12 of them are open.

Keep thinking about that bag of 10 tube socks that is only going to cost $7.

Scotty

To all those people who say WMT must change: Had you people been willing to pay 10% more for everything, those competitors wiped out by WMT would still be around.

Andre

People like to point the finger. The way I see it, Wal-Mart has done nothing to break the law here. If people care so much about wages, get the government to hike up the minimum wage instead of blaming Wal-Mart. You think Best Buy, Target, and other giant retailers pay their employees high wages? If that was the case, we all would be fighting for those jobs.

vicki

Thank you, Vicki (April 23). I, too, work at Wal-Mart and am so glad to see another employee address some of the issues we have to deal with every day. I've been hearing so much about complaints regarding our customer service, yet the people who do the complaining rarely stop to think about how their actions contribute to the problem. One afternoon I was alone in our department (electronics) with a line of customers at the register and more waiting for me to open the game cases, when a family with a small child was looking at the DVDs. The child started pulling the DVDs out of the rack and tossing them on the floor. The mother started to pick them up when her husband stopped her. He pointed to me and said, "That's her job." Since I could not leave the DVDs on the floor (a safety hazard), I had to leave the register and spend valuable time picking up the DVDs, leaving customers waiting. Another pet peeve is customers who will remove DVDs and CDs and put them somewhere else. So much of our time that could be spent on customer service is instead spent picking up after the customers. Just the other day, a customer asked me where to find a certain country artist, and I explained that they were all in alphabetical order. He made the comment that they are never in order anyway. Well, I had just spent several hours putting them back in alphabetical order, but I couldn't help thinking how it is not employees who cause this problem. When customers stick George Strait in front of Trace Adkins, or AC/DC in the country section, what do you expect? Then we have to spend hours straightening up the mess. Of course all of this has an effect on customer service. And of course there are the customers who treat us employees as some sort of sub-species not worthy of their respect. They assume that because we work at Wal-Mart we must be stupid or white trash. (This leads me to wonder, if Wal-Mart and its employees are so despicable, why are they shopping there in the first place?)

I was a Wal-Mart customer long before I became an employee. Between my husband's and my incomes we make more than $50,000 a year, a respectable income, but one that hardly allows the buying power it did 10 years ago. Wal-Mart allows us to enjoy a standard of living (which has increased another 10% since my employment there, thanks to the employee discount) we would find difficult otherwise . For the first time in my life, I own stocks, which I buy through payroll deductions. Even though I had been a Wal-Mart for only 7 months when the bonuses came out, I received more than $700 (before taxes). I started at more than $10 an hour (hardly minimum wage, folks) and have already received one raise that was more than I've ever received at one time in any previous job. Thanks to both the money we save by shopping at Wal-Mart and the extra income my employment has provided, my husband and I have finally been able to maintain and add to a savings account, and we recently bought me my first new car. Would I want to have to support a family on what I make alone? Certainly not. But Wal-Mart has made a difference in our lives, through both my working and shopping there. I know I will never become rich working at Wal-Mart, but my husband and I live comfortably. We can pay our bills without robbing Peter to pay Paul and can even afford some of the luxuries that for so long we could only dream of. We are both in our fifties and have finally reached the point where we have some security in our lives.

As far as the treatment of employees, I can't speak for other stores, but as for ours, I have no complaints. We have good managers who go out of their way to work with us to meet our needs and treat us with respect. (If only the customers would do the same!) Sure there are problems, but there are problems with any job anywhere. If Wal-Mart is not God, it isn't the devil either.

guo

The low wages of workers and poor working conditions in Chinese factories concern me. But workers from remote areas don't have other, better choices. The only solution is to develop China's economy and offer more choices for youths from poor areas.

Marty

Slavery was abolished more than a couple years ago. No one works at Wal-Mart against their will. Those who want to work somewhere else will quit. For every new store opening with 300 positions to fill, 5,000 job applications are received.

About health benefits: Wal-Mart offers considerably more in 2007 than they did in 2005. Those of you who complain about Wal-Mart's health benefits don't know what's going on today. They still could stand improvement, but it's not as bad as is claimed. Those Wal-Mart workers who also receive welfare assistance do so because they were on welfare before Wal-Mart hired them. Also included in the statistics about Wal-Mart employees receiving government-sponsored medical benefits are retirees who were eligible for Medicare or Medicaid before they ever started working for Wal-Mart.

Look behind the numbers. Did anyone quit a better job in order to work for Wal-Mart? I think not.

vicki

Another thought or two...
While I don't yet have medical insurance through Wal-Mart, I become eligible this year (yes, eligible, though I'm only part-time employee), and I intend on getting it because we cannot afford the medical offered through my husband's employer.

As for many of the complainers on this board, why do I have the sneaking suspicion that their complaints are based more on elitism than any true moral judgement? Is it the fact that Wal-Mart levels the playing field for low- and middle-income families and allows us to have some of the toys once reserved for the rich? For those of you who can afford to write out a check of $2,000 for a flat panel TV, more power to you. The majority of us can't.

Is it the fact that thanks to Wal-Mart, many more of us now have such items in our home that bothers you? I think you would prefer to keep us "in our place" working hard all our lives with little to show for it in the way of creature comforts.

As for the quality of Wal-Mart products, is the Sanyo TV I buy at Wal-Mart of less quality than the exact same TV bought at say, Circuit City, for $50 more? And quite frankly, for a woman my age (fifty something), I prefer the White stag and George lines of clothes that Wal-Mart offers than the clothes available at Target for women of my age group. If I were 30 years younger, I would prefer Target clothes for their style, but they have little to offer a middle-aged woman. Wal-Mart does. (By the way, I get quite a lot of compliments on my clothes, and people always seem very surprised when I say I bought them at Wal-Mart.) I have had no more problems with the quality of Wal-Mart goods than I have had with good purchased elsewhere. In fact I have an ILO brand MP3 player I bought 3 years ago that still works as well as the day I bought it, while friends have gone through several iPods during the same stretch of time. so tell me, which is the better quality?

Mike Dee

I don't want all the anti-Wal-Mart crowd to speak for me. I started at an entry level position 15 months ago. This year, I will earn 30K-35K. This may sound strange, but I chose to work for Wal-Mart for the benefits. I'm 50 years old, and my private health insurance policy for my wife and me was more than $1,000 a month. The Wal-Mart insurance covers more, has higher maximum benefits, and includes accidental death and short- and long-term disability coverage. The cost for my family policy is only $230 a month. I will say that in the facility I work, only 20%-25% of my co-workers elect to pay the low insurance premiums for insurance coverage. That is not Wal-Mart's fault. Unfortunately, these are the same people who talk about how poor our insurance coverage is. They are ignorant, and like most critics, they don't know what they are talking about.

vicki

After re-reading some of the above comments, I find myself yet again forced to speak out to correct many of the inaccuracies I have been reading.

I have never worked a moment of overtime that I have not been given overtime pay for. I have never been asked to work off the clock. In fact, Wal-Mart policies strictly forbid this, to the point that if we are off the clock and a customer asks for help and we help them, we are required to put in a time adjustment. If we are called at home on our days off about something work-related, we are required to put in a time adjustment for it, even if the conversation lasted only a moment or so. We are paid for any meetings we have to attend, and if you go six hours without punching out for a lunch break, you are locked out of the registers and can receive a coaching. For a six-hour shift, you get a 30-minute lunch and for an eight hour shift, you get an hour.

I have never had to sign anything anti-union in order to work there, and in fact, there is no need to. We don't need a union at Wal-Mart. And as for one claim in these messages that Wal-Mart gives out booklets teaching its employees how to get government benefits such as free medical care, where on earth did that come from? I for one have never seen such a booklet there. Yes, we do have some employees who collect government benefits, such as low-income housing, food stamps, Medicare, etc. All of the ones at our stores were receiving such benefits before coming there to work, or some family situations forced them into having to take such a step, but this is hardly Wal-Mart's fault. For the majority of Americans, a single income family is going to have a rough time no matter where they work. So if Wal-Mart is to be criticized so severely for their wages, let's also come down on McDonald's, Hardee's, Kmart, etc.—all of which pay wages far lower than Wal-Mart does.

Yes, Wal-Mart makes an effort to hire people who would otherwise be unemployable, but is this a bad thing? I don't think so at all. It gives such people the dignity of being able to work and earn money and better their lives, an opportunity far too few employers are willing to offer. And the vast majority of us are far from unemployable, far from ignorant and unintelligent. In the electronics department at our store, we are a pretty knowledgeable bunch. Of course, none of us knows everything about every product, but as a team, we pretty well have it all covered. I know a good deal about computers, but very little about video games, so when a customer wants to know something about the games or game systems I refer them to the employees who are more versed in that area. Others in our department will often refer customers to me when it comes to computer questions. And if something comes up that I do not know, you can bet that I'm going to do my darndest to learn so that the next time I am asked that question, I will have the answer. I personally love it when I run into a customer who knows more about computers than I do, because that is an opportunity for me to learn something new, both for myself and to pass on to future customers.

In general, it's just the customers preconceptions of us as Wal-Mart associates that lead people to believe we are uneducated and stupid. I have had people walk up to me and ask, "Is there anyone around here who knows anything about computers?"—assuming that because I am a middle-aged woman, working at Wal-Mart, I couldn't possibly know anything. It always shocks them to discover I am quite knowledgeable on the subject, and 99% of the time I can field their questions without hesitation and help them with their needs.

It might interest you all to know that in the lunchroom today I was telling fellow associates about the things I have been reading in this blog, and it was met with laughter and hoots of derision (along with quite a bit of outrage over such falsehoods).

Another issue is the claim that Wal-Mart drives other businesses out of business, yet wherever a new one goes up, satellite businesses quickly spring up. A local shopping strip here was all but closed down until a new super Wal-Mart went up last year; now new businesses are moving in and even new buildings are being built for even more businesses. The new Wal-Mart has revitalized that end of town and offered those who live on that side new options where before we had to go across town to do most of our shopping. And I know of no small businesses in this town that have been put out of business by of Wal-Mart.

The bottom line is, Wal-Mart is a great place to work, and a great place to shop, and is an asset to the communities it serves, offering not only low prices but also decent wages and benefits for the people employed there. (I'd love to know where you people live that being paid more than $10 an hour is considered minimum wage.) As for the assertion that a family can't survive on a Wal-Mart salary, how many people can honestly live on one salary these days anyway? Unless you are a single parent or rich, it is likely that you are a two-income family anyway, no matter where you work. And if you're a single parent, likewise will you probably be collecting some kind of government benefits, be it food stamps, rent assistance, whatever, no matter where you are working. If you fall into that sector of the population, you are far better off working at Wal-Mart than someplace like McDonald's. Give it up, folks. Most of the negative comments I have read here prove nothing more than that you are feeding into the hyperbole, are personally ignorant of the realities of Wal-Mart, and too lazy to do the research yourself.

Winnie Tsui Kit Ting

Wal-Mart should improve the working condition and welfare of its employees. In the last few years, Wal-Mart has been criticized for mistreatment of employees—for underpaying and overworking them. It is absolutely true.

According to the Miller Report, Wal-Mart salaries are on average below the American federal poverty line. As a result, workers must rely on public welfare and health provisions, allowing Wal-Mart to shift social costs to the taxpayer. Also, Wal-Mart recently built its manufacturing plant in China and hired Chinese labors. But, in 2005, the Chinese government and the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) threatened to bring legal action against Wal-Mart for its practice of harassing and firing workers and for violations of wage and overtime laws.

Wal-Mart is paying workers low wages--but with long working hours in order to sustain its cost leadership strategy. There are more and more complaints against Wal-Mart. The reputation of Wal-Mart has been harmed, and customers have started shifting, buying from other stores. Besides, with the poor treatment of the workers, there is little to motivate them. So, their productivity must be lower and produce products of poor quality. In the long run, if Wal-Mart keeps using this practice on employees, its profitability and market shares will be decreased.

[Sources: Miller Report. (2004). "Everyday Low Wages: The Hidden Price We All Pay for Wal-Mart."]
Orly Lobel. "Sustainable Capitalism or Ethical Transnationalism: Offshore Production And Economic Development," Journal of Asian Economics, Volume 17, Issue 1, February 2006, Pages 56-62]

Jon

Wal-Mart has managed to break every monopoly and unfair-business law on the books. But it also contributes a huge sum to PACs and lobbies (so do you really need to wonder why federal rulings are always in its favor?). It is using the same tactics favored by Toyota in the 1980s to undercut competition's prices to gain market share (usually by destroying those smaller businesses) and follow it up by raising prices once there isn't anyone left competing. Toyota got away with it mostly because it is a foreign company (though I still remember the talks over it during the Reagan administration).

"Don't shop there," I've heard a lot, and I certainly live by that. But I live in a fairly large metropolitan area where Wal-Mart cannot completely destroy all of its competitors. In smaller towns, that's all that's left.

"Don't work there" is the other argument and again, I refer you to my previous statement.

"The low prices help those in need." Would there be so many in need if it weren't for Wal-Mart's violations of U.S. monopoly and fair business laws? I'll need to do some research, but I'm willing to venture that every Wal-Mart employee possibly replaces 1.3 employees who had been employed elsewhere. So instead of 1.3 million employed, it actually created 400,000 unemployed as a direct result of its business tactics.

What will be morbidly fascinating is what will happen should this monstrosity collapse (1.3 million employees).

james

It is easy to say Target is cleaner and nicer. When one compares the traffic between a Target and a Wal-Mart, one will see an overwhelming amount of traffic going into a Wal-Mart. Why? Because the Wal-Mart customers desire low prices. Since there are more customers going to Wal-Mart, there may be lines at registers, as all Wal-Mart can do is schedule the help it thinks will be enough and hope it meets the demand. However, the cashiers also have to get a lunch and breaks in; after all, we want Wal-Mart to comply with the law. Complying with the law means that sometimes the company will be short on cashiers and thus have longer lines. So while it is easy to say Target is better than Wal-Mart, the daily traffic between the two is such that Target is not even in Wal-Mart's league.

Sarah

I'm curious how anyone thinks that "a large part" of Wal-Mart's workers are in unions--and how anyone thinks unions are a bad thing. Facts:

- Wal-Mart may pay an average of $10/hr, but to the workers who make this much--and remember that a small number who make a lot skew the average higher--they do not give raises. They would rather fire a worker they've had for a long time, and hire a new one at $7/hr.
- Wal-Mart will and does fire workers for attempting to unionize.
- Many of the lower-prices products at Wal-Mart are not necessarily worth it, because the quality is basically horrid, and the products do not last. I would rather pay $50 for a pair of shoes that will last 5 years than $10 for a new pair of shoes three times a year.
- People who work at Target and similar places are statistically happier than people who work at Wal-Mart.
- Anything made in China, Thailand, etc. will be made by someone making $1/hr or less.

- Wal-Mart does cause smaller stores to close. This particular point has less to do with economics and more to do with culture and history. Sure, the advent of supermarkets did the same thing in the 1950s and 1960s--so what? No one said that was good either.

Finally, the con side does not present facts to back up its argument. It is based in rhetoric, assumptions, and clever (but not clever enough) "glittering generalities." This is a basic college class in debate, logic, rhetoric, or propaganda, folks.

michael rose

Wal-Mart's strategy regarding suppliers (squeeze them until they give in) is the same predicament that other retailers are finding themselves in. When large companies use their monetary muscle to artificially lower prices for themselves, the entire industry suffers. I have been in the retail market all my career and have seen this effect firsthand. What they strive to do (and effectively so) is to destroy competition, which takes any number of players out of the business. What we are going to end up with is a national retail company that has everything and controls what we buy and think.

manasi nair

Wal-Mart is probably happy to get all the publicity from this forum. Wal-Mart has done nothing to its employees. It is the management it hires in most (but not all) stores that makes Wal-Mart look unhealthy. Hiring good managers and co-managers is where Wal-Mart should start. There are lots of good and conscientious workers in the forum defending Wal-Mart. They deserve much better pay than they are aware of. Employees buying their own Wal-Mart brand should be the managers. They are true, loyal, and seem to care more. Employees in this forum are people persons with dignity, integrity, and values. All I can say to Wal-Mart workers who buy Wal-Mart brand is to check your manager's shirt and tie to see if they belong to Wal-Mart. That should be a good lunch-break topic.

Kathy Wing

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Corporations have been abusing employees forever--only Wal-Mart tops the cake. It has cost millions of jobs nationwide and contributes to suppliers' abusive behavior toward their workers. China is No. 1 when it comes to employee abuse, and Wal-Mart is showing China how to get away with it. Greed is deadly, yet we allow it when we shop at Wal-Mart. I hate Wal-Mart, and hope I never have to go there again. I will gladly pay the higher price, knowing that employees aren't also on the welfare line. I lost my job to China because of Wal-Mart (Newell-Rubbermaid, 2003) and it pains me to see the manufacturing industry closings year after year because of the same reason.

Frederick Rossi

Cheers for Wal-Mart fighting the unions. Unions have ruined the country; higher wage demands mean higher prices. Do you think the corporations that have unions have lower prices? Heck, no. Why do cars cost as much as homes did in the early 1960s? Oh surely it's not the unions--no-o-o-o-o.

Jeers to Wal-Mart on low wages. Pay appropriately (not union demands), and advertise fairness. Employees' word of mouth will increase sales to obliterate the wage increase.

john gomeau

Wal-Mart blows. Jethro and his family park the gas-consuming supersize wheels at Wal-Mart just to go in and buy $200's worth of junk, but no one stops to think Jethro and his people are the ones taking the hit.

Jenny

Wal-Mart sucks. They don't care about their employees. They have put a cap on the hourly wages. I have worked for Wal-Mart for 4 1/2 years. Everyone is classified into groups. They are all paid according to the group. If you work with someone who is a slacker, that person will get paid the same as you. The slacker's chances of holding on to his or her job is better then yours, especially if you complain about the slacker's not helping out. So who's the loser?

When it comes to injuries, Wal-Mart will try to screw you over in a heartbeat. I was injured falling off a ladder, and the moment I came back to work, Wal-Mart had me up on a ladder, knowing I was terrified. The fact was that when I was injured a month later, I was sent to one of its doctors and given X-rays. The X-rays showed I had fractured my back and right shoulder--work-related, and should have been paid by workmen's comp. About 6 months later, I received a bill for $484. I had Wal-Mart insurance, and no one told me who would be paying for the bill. Little did I know it would be coming out of my pocket. I was lied to, so I got a lawyer to handle all of it.

Angela

Wal-Mart put into perspective by my financial planner: "Going broke saving money." Essentially that's what everyone who loves shopping at Wal-Mart is doing. So it is the last place I go to find an item.
My mom works at Wal-Mart currently, and I used to. Long hours, little pay, benefits to laugh at; it is a glorified sweat shop.

BlondeFreeSpirit

About 25 years ago, I told my husband that big business was going to be the ruination of this country, and guess what? Globalization is now doing it. Corporations go overseas and send products back to be sold to us, and guess what? With all the layoffs and companies moving to foreign countries, there won't be anyone left here who can afford to buy those products. I agree that Sam Walton must be spinning in his grave, as he was so proud to put only U.S.A.-made products in his store!

Jim

Wal-Mart's primary evil has been the abandonment of its founder's principle of supporting American small business. When the old man died, the evil relatives came in and started dealing with the Chinese government for everything, to the extent that now, if an American small business wants to deal with Wal-Mart, it is forced to sell its wares at the "China price," which is the price Wal-Mart could get from China if the product were made there. The only people in favor of Wal-Mart's unethical business practices are those who know nothing about macroeconomics.

lori

This August, I will have worked at Wal-Mart for eight years. It hasn't always been an easy job, but it has been the best job I've had in this area. I live in a rural area that has economic problems. Sure, this company has problems, many of them from within. If the problems come from within, why can't the solutions? Mr. Sam once said,"Let your workers' ideas bubble up from within." Too bad no one seems to be listening to that advice. At least, not at my store.

don jenkins

Directors and vice-presidents should go to Wal-Mart incognito to see the conditions. A good environment well speak for itself. Employees who enjoy having their jobs at Wal-Mart should look up to their store managers and be happy to see them around as leaders, and motivators. Good managers are inspirational to employees. When store employees would rather have their manager go on vacation or take a day off, something is wrong with that manager.

Brad

I work as the overnight support manager at Wal-Mart. During the last three years, I have worked my way up through the various hourly positions available, and I must say I am very proud of what I have accomplished. Hard work, loyalty, and Sam's three basic beliefs have been the building blocks of a fulfilling and satisfying start to what I hope will be a long and successful career. Whenever I hear people describing my workplace in a negative light, I have to wonder what type of paradise their workplace must be. I supervise a great bunch of workers, I meet and greet all types of people every day, and I have a great working relationship with all salaried members of management. Our store was named Regional Store of the Year for 2005, and we were all very proud of that title. My salary is enough so that between my wife and me, all our bills get paid (including two new car loans), and we take a nice vacation each year. I am very happy with my life and with Wal-Mart, and I hope all you people who bad-mouth us can say the same thing.

kathy

I have worked all of my life, starting at age 12 when I could at least baby sit. I was very upset when I learned last year that if you needed to lay away something at Wal-Mart, you pretty much were not good enough--and neither was your money--to shop there. In the newspaper, it said they were trying to deal with a different type of clientele. So, a group of us who love to shop decided not to shop there anymore. Never purchased one thing at Christmas time there, and thereafter. And you know what else? No other store that we shop at now thinks our money isn't good enough.

The [Wal-Mart] prices are no better than shopping anywhere else. I know plenty of people who work at Wal-Mart, and they say if it wasn't for needing a job, they wouldn't work there. Ever since the kids took over the business, they have become nothing but greedy little brats. Nothing like their father.

Chuck in Alaska

The vast majority of complainers with firsthand experience working at Wal-Mart "used to work there." Hmm, the only people I know who "used to work there" got fired for being lazy and not showing up on time. The manager of our store back in the Midwest, where we used to live, started as a stocker and is now managing a SuperCenter and making more than $100,000 per year. Unusual, except at Wal-Mart. When they build one here, I'll be first in line to get a job and be happy to leave the company I'm currently working for.

Johnathan LeMons

The Wal-Mart Effect is more an issue of capitalism than the company itself. When big business holds god-like power in a society, the middle and working classes suffer, because their best interest is not the bottom line of business but rather keeping their families fed. We are in hyper-consume mode, and as long as the income gap widens, so will the "evils" of WMT.

Vance Ayres

Wal-Mart was once good for people and the U.S., but it has become a drain on the economy. For all you economists out there: For every $1 you save at Wal-Mart, it costs you $2 in taxes to provide the employees with their health-care needs. So, simply add a nickel to each item sold, which works out to $1 for every 20 items sold to each customer, and this step would produce fair wages and health care if the money went back into the employees' pay packages instead of into Wal-Mart's pockets. It's the pay packages at the top that keep the employees at poverty levels. Also, not all people are capable of extending their education, because of cost, logistics and learning abilities, among other reasons. Wal-Mart should go back to the way it once was, and charge that nickel more per item and treat its employees a little better while keeping prices lower.

P.S. My family and many other working families won't patronize Wal-Mart because of the substandard treatment of its employees.

CeeCee

I have worked at Wal-Mart for 5 years, and I am happy here. Is my job perfect? No. But is anyone's? No.

I get good insurance. If I went on my husband's insurance, it would cost me almost $100 a month more. I make decent money. No one forces you to work here. No one is happy at their job all the time anywhere.

Tammy Snyder

I vote pro. Wal-Mart was the demise of Vlasic Pickle and many other American manufacturers. I also agree that the unions and old production mentality have contributed to the demise of many American manufacturers.

That said, I also can speak from experience that an American manufacturer that pays most of its employees just over minimum wage, is progressive in automation and process improvements, and has extremely low overhead is barely able to compete with the import market that Wal-Mart has built its business and marketing plans around.

It seems ironic that each one of us can probably name a handful of relatives, friends, or acquaintances who lost their jobs, benefits, or in some shape or manner have been affected by Wal-Mart's business philosophy and the China rush. I personally hate that little guy "rollin back the price," when it should read "rollin back the jobs," because the reason people are forced to shop at Wal-Mart is that the American employee is bringing home less money, receiving fewer employer-paid benefits, and getting salary increases that barely keep up with inflation.

You might ask yourself why. Is because the American manufacturer is cutting the fat out of manufacturing in order to supply product to Wal-Mart and the Wal-Marts of the world?

However, is it Wal-Mart's fault, or is it each one of us who makes the decision to shop at Wal-Mart? What if we all took the stand that we are going to shop at Kmart until Wal-Mart starts supporting American manufacturers? This would show Kmart and Wal-Mart that we as Americans are going to support our own, and we are taking responsibility for our financial fate.

I personally have made the choice not to support Wal-Mart, and I have taught my children the same. You, too, can make a difference.

CRASH

The same people who have WIC and food stamps are going to have this no matter where they work. Why does Wal-Mart have to pay you enough money when no one else does? I've been on my job for 30+ years, and the people at Wal-Mart who have been there 10 years make almost as much as I do. Where are the high paying jobs that you are talking about? How much should someone be paid to make enough? The guy who said he worked for Wal-Mart, and the wages sucked at $7.15 per hour--why was he working there? You don't have to stay where you don't want to work; someone else will be on that job like white on rice. If you get unions in, the extra money you make will go to them, so it's a lose-lose situation. Instead of the government giving all our tax dollars away, they should put it in medical care and schooling for us.

Clever

This is scary. So many people with so little understanding of basic economics or the global economy.

Free enterprise is just that: the freedom to work where you want, shop where you want, and compete where there is an opportunity. It is a slippery slope when the well-intentioned want to make decisions for others.

Dont shop there

We still live under Horatio Alger's illusion of the American Dream...that's how Wal-Mart makes it work. In poorer countries where Wal-Mart sets up shop, it's not the bargain price mecca as it is in the U.S. Let's stop comparing the opportunities Wal-Mart offers for the shopper and worker to the Third World. Let's compare ourselves to industrial First World nations that refuse to allow Wal-Mart to set up shop. They recognize the ills Wal-Mart's business practices breed into the economy and society. And, no, their economies aren't falling apart! Free enterprise is not really free enterprise, we just want to believe it's so in the U.S. And what is sad is that the Wal-Mart shopper doesn't see how expensive it is to shop there in the long run.

Julia

Let me just say that my friends and I ran a little experiment. We took the exact same shopping list to Wal-Mart and to Target. Let it be known that our totals varied by only a few pennies. So, then, can someone please explain to me why it would be so bad to just start shopping at Target? When I walk into Wal-Mart, I just want to throw up. There is no real uniform in place. People are wearing boots, sandals (even in areas near food), skirts, capris, pants, and this list goes on. I personally think the sleeveless shirts are the worst. The last thing I need to see is a nasty tattoo quickly approaching 20 years in age on one of the employee's arms from what I am sure is a failed marriage. When you go to Target, all of the employees, including managers, are wearing red shirts and khaki pants. They are all clean-shaven and well spoken. It is easy to find help. Just push the button, and someone shows up. They are willing to check back-stock if there is nothing on the shelf in what you are looking for. This list goes on as well.

In short, please explain to me why it's so hard to contemplate that Wal-Mart is going downhill with increasing speed. Just go to Target. Oh, and many towns and cities have local grocery stores that are friendly and courteous for those times when Target doesn't have the exact food you want. Try it. I bet you will feel better about yourself for supporting your local businesses while telling Wal-Mart exactly where to stick it.

jm

My opinion is that if you are not happy with what you make at Wal-Mart, you should quit and go somewhere else. Wal-Mart should not have to beckon to your every whim and want. There are people out there willing to work for anything at half the salary we make in a month. Just be lucky you get anything at all.

neocaptain

We all talk to companies with our pocketbooks. Give your money to companies that provide the products and value you want. If we only give our money to responsible companies, more companies will become responsible to get our business.

katie

You go, Julia. It has been two years since I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart, and it feels good. Just remember that the people (you and me) have the power to make or break any company.

Mike Grandty

It's so easy for someone to say, "If you don't like Wal-Mart's wages or lack of health care, go work somewhere else." The reality is, in many many places where Wal-Mart decides to open a big-box store, it has a negative effect on the local economy. Take, for instance, the small town of Othello, Washington, where it's been in operation for a few years. Wal-Mart is the only grocery store, the only clothing store, the only florist shop, and in fact the only source for the majority of goods needed by the residents of that small farming community. All the stores that used to line the main street of Othello have closed their doors or have switched their business lines to cater to an increasingly large Hispanic population in the area. Another small town not far from Othello, a place called Chelan, Washington, is just now experiencing the initial effects of a new Wal-Mart. Businesses that have been in that isolated community for generations are on the brink of failure after less than two years of Wal-Mart's opening. This scenario has played out again and again across the U.S., especially in rural areas where long established family businesses just can't compete with Wal-Mart's monopolistic business model. I, for one, refuse to shop in Wal-Mart, even when I visit relatives in Othello; instead, I drive the 30 miles to Moses Lake.

James

I believe Wal-Mart is getting a little too big for it pants. It gets a tax kickback from the government for every hour it stays open. Do you think that the employees see any of that? No, they don't. What we the true Americans should do is for two days in a row, not shop at Wal-Mart. This should be done on a holiday weekend, so it makes a point to Wal-Mart.

bob kruszka

You ask what is wrong with Wal-Mart. Well, let's say this: When you go down to an area like Simpsonville, S.C., it's like going into a whole new country, with so much help from those people who live there and work there. They treat you as a customer, not a jerk like here in the Northeast stores.

Jeremiah

Pricing is good, but you don't feel good about going there. I started shopping at Wal-Mart only a few months ago because of the deals. You can tell from interacting with the employees that they do not like it there, though they understand your need to shop there. You can also tell that the customers don't like shopping there. They have become the symbol of corporate American greed, which is not easily shaken off. Maybe they need some cute cartoon characters like McDonald's. The similarities to fast food are obvious, but who hates the Hamburglar?

Lisa

Wal-Mart sucks. I used to work for a major manufacturing company that had Wal-Mart as its customer. Wal-Mart forced us as a manufacturer to sell them goods at such cut-rate costs that our company could not afford to keep them as a customer. They were taking any profit we made and turning it into a major loss for us. So, being a smart company, we cut Wal-Mart loose.

Ever since then, I will shop anywhere but Wal-Mart, even if I have to pay more money. Wal-Mart sucks the cash out of the manufacturing companies just so they can sell cheap. I oppose.

Alicia

I've been hearing a lot of comments about how Wal-Mart allows low-income families the ability to purchase things like 42-inch flat-screen TVs. I'm sorry, but not very many people actually need a flat-screen TV, much less low-income families. I'm sure that $988 could be spent on much more useful things, including helping to set yourself up for an education.

Reading a lot of the "if you don't like it, work somewhere else" comments makes me sick: Wal-Mart destroys competition, making it harder to find a job elsewhere, Also most Wal-Mart employees that I have seen in my area are uneducated and don't care, because Wal-Mart provides a steady job. I don't shop at Wal-Mart, because I don't support their corporate practices or would-be monopolies. But I think the real issue here goes beyond Wal-Mart: We need to somehow change the ideology of low-income families, especially immigrants. For generations, they are born and raised knowing nothing but poverty, and it's hard to combat and change that. When middle-class America only seems like a dream, there's not much incentive to chase after it. Welfare is not the answer. Education is, but it's not as accessible to the people who really need it as we'd like to think it is.

Lawana

Wal-Mart used to be the best place to shop. Now it is hard to get any service. I live in Mantachie, Miss., halfway between Fulton and Tupelo. The Wal-Mart in Fulton has higher prices. When I contacted the company, I was informed they were owned by different corporations and would not have the same prices. Guess where I shop?

debi

I am an employee of Wal-Mart, and I think the wages we get are okay, along with benefits and the discounts. Maybe if customers would stop coming in there and stealing, things would change. I am proud to say that I am a Wal-Mart employee.

Carrie

Well said, Alicia! I posted earlier and said the same thing about community competition in more detail, but the editors trimmed my post to where it doesn't even make the point. But to your other point: WMT is a prime example of how to exploit social programming and people's lack of exposure to something different, and something better.

I have lived in a small town and really didn't have anywhere else to work or to shop--and was scheduled for 10-hour shifts as a cashier while I was 8-months pregnant, and wasn't even allowed to have a stool. I had to go on early maternity leave, and my daughter was born three weeks early. After that, I drove an hour to work and eventually moved to a larger metro area. WMT is actually part of the reason I pursued a career in human resources--because of how I was treated and our store was run. I am now a human resources consultant and was recruited last year for the regional HR manager for WMT, and the head hunter just laughed with me when I laughed at him for even calling me. I'm not your typical HR person, as I have two business degrees (MBA) and 10 years corporate HR experience, and I can go toe to toe with every half-cocked attempt at logic on this board defending WMT. I know how to run a business and how to treat employees, and I know how to be a responsible business member of my local communities, which WMT is not. I also commend the poster who said I'd rather spend $10 than waste $5.

Jerry B.

I followed Jim H's link to the Snapper/Wal-Mart story ("The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart," see link below) and came away with a new realization regarding Wal-Mart.

With their "suggestions" that suppliers create a lower-quality product yet still carry their known name brand (such as Levi Strauss), Wal-Mart is creating a new substandard benchmark of quality. So you see, you may be getting lower prices, but they are the apples, and you cannot compare them to the oranges of even the same manufacturer of that product.

I also have become a former Wal-Mart customer, and I finally convinced my wife that we aren't saving money on the Diet Dr. Thunder that "tastes just like Diet Dr. Pepper at a cheaper price," because we are spending the savings (and more) on the gasoline it takes to make numerous trips until she finally finds it in stock.

And to give the "if you don't like it, work (or shop) somewhere else" defense a final rest, thanks to the criminal number of longtime local stores put out of business by the arrival of Wal-Mart in their town, there often is no "somewhere else" unless you want to work in China or some offshore factory ship anchored past the 12-mile limit.

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html

dj

This is in response to William Hensley, who complains about Wal-Mart associates not knowing about the products that are sold in the store and copping an attitude. First of all, we do not make the products, only sell them. We also have new items running through Wal-Mart constantly and should not be expected to have all the answers. We don't get operation manuals, and you as the customer are just as capable of reading the label as we are. Most of the rudeness from associates comes from customers expecting us to know all the answers--and getting nasty with us because we don't. I for one don't need your (the customer's) attitude either. When shoppers come down an aisle and walk right past the item they're looking for and interrupts me to ask stupidly where that item is instead of opening their eyes and looking, yes I can be rude.

Bernice Wides

Wal-Mart used to be a great place to shop. What happened to customer service? I had my purse stolen at a store in San Antonio,Texas, and they just didn't even care. When I talked to management when this occurred, the response was they had other priorities ahead of mine. I now shop at Wal-Mart's competitor, which is HEB. I spend a little more each week, but I would rather spend more at a store that cares and will take the time to listen to you. Now I know why Wal-Mart has received all this negative publicity. They just don't care about their employees and customers. I will never step in a Wal-Mart again. I go to Target for my shopping. They will continue to lose customers. Just give it time, and they will be where the Kmarts are now--gone.

David

In response to dj: I hope and pray I never catch you in my store. I'm just an underpaid, third-shift cashier, but I bust my tail to give the highest quality of service to every one of my customers. On third, we don't have the department-specific experts that the day shift has, so I learn everything. "No, that shirt doesn't match those pants." "Yeah, a 30-watt sounds nothing like a 50-watt; if you want quality, get the 50." "A... a what? I'm really sorry, I have no clue. Would you like to call a manager?"

And yeah, that last one works, 2 of our 3 overnight managers will actually stand around the store with our customers and help them make a decision, come up front and run a register, and wheel buggies of groceries out to cars.

And even though we're stupidly understaffed right now, I watched an associate let go just the other night for deliberately offending a customer. Our products might be bottom-line cheapo brand, but our service is top-notch.

Do I feel like I'm really underpaid? Yes. Am I looking for a new job? Yes. Do I feel like I'm used and abused to my limit to save the customers a few more cents? Yes.

Do I blame Wal-Mart for it? Absolutely not. It's not even as bad as I expected before I signed up. I was unemployed, and now I get a paycheck. If not for Wal-Mart, I'd have no car, no house, and no future. Of course, I plan to repay that help by taking the first job offer to come my way. I have to watch out for myself, and Wal-Mart has to watch out for itself, and that's the way the world works.

amani newell

Except for its staying open 24 hours, I can't say anything good about Wal-Mart. There is no time I can enter that store without getting angry at the sheer density of people. To make matters worse, the checkout line is a waste of my life. The store has at least 20 registers, but I have yet to see more than five open. Not even the self-checks are open. I refuse to shop in Wal-Mart unless every other store has been checked and I can't find the item I need. I'd rather spend $2 more anywhere else, because it costs me less in aggravation and time waiting in line.

Troy McKie

I am a former Wal-Mart employee. I'm not pro-union, but I am anti-Wal-Mart. I come from a small town in northeast Colorado, and within the first few years of the Wal-Mart opening, all three of the other department stores in town closed up, one of the three grocery stores closed, and the once-busy main street full of mom-and-pop stores is in shambles. Wal-Mart is killing that small town.

In that same town (Fort Morgan, Colo.), I was once told by a manager that I didn't have a choice, because, "Where else are you gonna work in this town?" The managers at this store actually celebrated when they ran one of the smaller grocery stores out of business.

Wal-Mart kills small towns, and that is all there is to it. You can say it's a narrow perspective, you can say they're not all bad, you can even follow the Wal-Mart line, but in the end I know the truth is that they kill small towns, because I've seen it happen with my own eyes.

It has been more than two years since I set foot in a Wal-Mart or Sam's Club, and I don't plan to for the rest of my life.

dj

David, we are all "stupidly understaffed" mostly because we hire those straight-out-of-high school young adults who think they should make lots of money with very little (if any at all) experience and do as little labor as possible for it. When they find out they have to earn their paycheck, they quit. WMT loves the idea of turnover, so they can continue to hire lower-paid people rather than pay their dedicated long-term associates.

fedupwithwalmart

I think people should stop going to this dirty-smelling store, where the employees (and I don't blame them at all) are hard to find. It's terrible that they treat their employees so horribly, but that seems to be the American way with most companies these days.

Wal-Mart has a reputation for moving into small towns and putting the mom-and-pop stores out of business. Stop shopping at this horrible company.

Linda

Wal-Mart ruined my town (Mt. Pleasant, Mich.) and destroyed all the businesses--and the personal service, too, that made my former town a textbook case of Midwestern hard work and hospitality. When I go home now Mt. Pleasant looks dead and depressed. Why should so few be so rich at the expense of so many--and do it by climbing in bed with the Chinese Communists to the point that no one else can even fairly compete? I can't even imagine why anyone has to have billions of dollars. Why should the largest, strongest American company in the world be so instrumental in destroying America's middle class; the class that built this country through sweat, muscle, and sacrifice. For years, I've tried to keep a level, objective point of view about what was happening, but I can't anymore. Destruction of competition. More stories of people laid off or companies I grew up with going out of business for good. Strong-arm tactics within the companies they buy from to influence pricing. Entering into every domain of grocer retailing, banking, you name it. "Benefits" that are a joke to the point that our own taxes have to subsidize Wal-Mart full-time employees. Why? I am having a difficult enough time affording my own health insurance. Salaries so low overseas that one feels slavery is alive and well and those poor souls can't even afford the very products they are making. What choices do they have? And for the rest of us who glory in low prices, do we really want this at the cost our society is now paying?

For those writers who say, "If you don't like the wages--leave." I say, for many there is nowhere to go. There are not many options in a small town. Fewer and fewer options are out there for the rest of us. In my own community where I now live in Brooklyn, one independent furniture maker after another is closing shop, because they can't even buy the raw materials to make their product at a price less than the finished product from overseas. They can't pay their staff a decent wage, and compete with salaries that are $3 per day. This is such a travesty.

The thing that really bothers me is that Wal-Mart disguises itself with an American folksy aw-shucks image. And all the rest of us spout out the benefits of a free market economy and capitalism. Seems to me the only ones who win in this game are the international globalists who don't give a damn about the majority of us who can't play in this game, and the Chinese Communists who seem to have won after all. I feel sick to my stomach by all of this.--Linda M.

Lucy

When my son applied to work at a Wal-Mart, the manager who interviewed him stated he would place him as supervisor in the children's clothing department. Would you believe they sent him a letter stating he was not chosen because of his credit report?

Talk about discrimination. My son was so upset. I told him not to worry, that he would find another job working for another company, not Wal-Mart.

Ken R. former Wally world associate

Where is Robin Hood when we need him? Wal-Mart, you should be ashamed of yourself. Just a footnote to add to the comments Joe made: All the billions you make, Wal-mart--what about when you go to judgment day? You can't take it with you, and no one can spank you like God can.
--Ken, former Wal-Mart associate

Roozer

After working for Wal-Mart for about four months, I still like it. I very much enjoy my job. I thank God I have a job. My hours are right for my family and me. I don't have people breathing down my neck because of the way they think something should be done. I meet the nicest customers. I have tried other jobs and can honestly say I like my Wal-Mart job. I think it is a good company and that it offers a lot more than it is given credit for. Not all people want long-term careers when they have been a stay-at-home mom for years. I know I don't care to start somewhere else. I can move up, or I can stay in my current position. I choose to stay with what I do. Just thought I would write a few of my thoughts as someone on the inside.
--Lora

Amanda in Indiana

I am a Wal-Mart assistant manager. I have been there three years and have doubled my salary while still going to college full time. I whole-heartedly believe in what Sam Walton said: "Our customers vote at our registers." I vote.

John Gianukos

I just do not use Wal-Mart. If you do not like something, the only way you can do anything about it is to change your life and stick to it. I have spent years without walking into Wal-Mart. It is not needed and is an eyesore for most communities.
--John Gianukos

dirtyharry

Wal-mart is great. I shop there 99% of the time. Employees and naysayers need to look at themselves to see why they aren't happy. Get more education, speak better, comb your hair, look interested in your job--or shut the hell up about being low-paid.

Bill

I work for a super center in Maine as a deli associate. Working in this field for more than 10 years with a few of the competitors, I am shocked at how badly Wal-Mart treats its employees--rude and horrible management from the top to bottom. The only reason I stay is the hours work for me. If you took a poll, it would show that more than 80% of the people who work in the store aren't happy. Sam must be rolling over in his grave. The store manager cares about his profit margins and not customer service. It's a joke.

susan

I am an associate of Wal-Mart since Dec. 2, 1996. I started as a cashier, trained in the cash office and on the courtesy desk, and have been promoted to a department manager. As in any job, it is what you make of your position, and Wal-Mart offers you every opportunity to promote yourself. After 15 years in the insurance field with several large insurance companies, I have found more reward in this retail field and only wish I had joined the team earlier in life. I have had friends who retired from Wal-Mart early in life and purchased stock through their time and retired very wealthy, and then returned to work again at Wal-Mart. I have yet to see that in many other national and large companies.

Insurance is offered to full-time employees at a very reasonable cost, and I have seen employees refuse this benefit by their own accord in order to take from the government. There is no reason anyone cannot prosper as an employee of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart offers many incentives, i.e. discounts on general merchandise, vegetables to promote healthy eating, and vision centers.

There is no limit to what an employee of Wal-Mart can accomplish. I have found the liberals who cannot stand success in a retail field to be the biggest opponents of Wal-Mart. As an associate of one of the greatest companies, I will continue to sing its praises and encourage anyone who is motivated to succeed to join this team.

ceemoney

First of all, I've been working for Wal-Mart for about five years, and it's been hell. They always talk about how they are family--what a bunch of crap. My house burned down three months ago, and you know what I got from Wal-Mart? Fifty dollars. And to add insult it was a Wal-Mart gift card that basically mean they didn't give me anything. We didn't get any bonus, because we didn't meet the numbers required to fatten up the Walton sisters' net worth, so now I'm really struggling. I work on the overnight shift, during which sometimes we only have two or three people to unload 4,000-piece trucks, and then they tell us there are no merit raises. Talk about sweatshops!

We have had five different managers in five years, because the only way for you to make money at Wal-Mart is to sacrifice your family, go out of state to do managers training, relocate (50% of the time), and put in a lot of hours and hard work that nobody cares about. So what do I have to say about Wal-Mart? Thank God for school, which I will be attending in September to get the hell out of here.

Gosh

A lot of places pay crappy wages. I don't earn much more than a Wal-Mart worker.

The thing is, one must shop where it is cheapest. The Mom-and-Pop shops are gone. They don't have a chance to compete. And now even the big boys like Circuit City are struggling because of Wal-Mart. I think other businesses are just mad because they can no longer get away with overcharging for stuff.

One says all this stuff about how unfair it is that people are losing jobs because of Wal-Mart, but I have no sympathy. If people need jobs, they can always resort to a warehouse job like I had to. I don't like my wages, but I know my choices: Make more or spend less. Since good jobs are hard to find, I will spend less for what I want and need.

GATOR 4 LIFE

OK everyone. Stop being stupid. The same manufacturers make the same items for WMT as for Target, Sears, Kmart, etc. I used to work for WMT. On numerous occasions we would open boxes from manufacturers, addressed to us, with Target's brand of merchandise. Example: We opened a case of clothes labeled White Stag. Inside was Cherokee (sold at Target). Same with potato chips, soft drinks, etc. Consumers are being fooled, thinking they are getting higher quality, hah. It's all the same, and made in the same sweatshops in China.

When I left WMT, and I applied at Target. The pay scale was even worse. And Kohl's pay was ridiculously low. Everyone slams WMT because of its success. Wait until the union gets ahold of Target and checks their pay and benefits. They would have a field day. Oh wait, not nearly enough employees for the unions to bother with them.

As far as pushing a button for service at Target, I did that. The poor girl almost fell running to assist me. I suggested that next time she walk, that I don't minding waiting an extra minute or two. Her reply was that she would be written up if if she didn't "clear" a page within 30 seconds. Hmmm... sounds like a great place to work as well. Customer service also comes with a price. Oh yeah, TGT's CEO raked in more in compensation for himself than WMT's CEO. So who's really getting rich? In retail, it's not the low-end worker anywhere in this country. This is a global economy. Your "American" car is really a foreign product in terms of the percentage of parts manufactured overseas. Outsourcing is now a way of life. If you really want to buy American, go to another country.

Cassandra

I work for Wal-Mart, and I have a lot to say about your comments on this page.

First, Wal-Mart is providing jobs in other countries so those people don't come over to the U.S. and take all of our money. I like the fact that we are doing this, because we are showing the world that you can do more for other countries besides just talking about what you are going to do--at least Wal-Mart is doing it. Anyway, Mexico is going to have Wal-Marts soon, and that will be more jobs down there and fewer people coming across the borders. Nothing against immigrants--my family immigrated, but if there was a company around like Wal-Mart in so many other times in history, I don't think my family would have immigrated here.

Second, I used to be a teacher, and I am getting paid the same amount I got when I started my first year teaching. I am an hourly associate.

Third, I work for a good company and a good store in my area, and I feel like some of you need to stop discriminating. No matter what one experience you had at a Wal-Mart, it doesn't give you the right to bash the whole company.

And like any new company, it has growing pains, but these people who are working here are trying to work out these kinks so that Wal-Mart does become part of your community and gives you the best customer service it can. Wal-Mart has a lot more years ahead of to grow and change.

VIRGIL HEARD

Wal-Mart's auto center tore up the wheel locks on my car, did not tell me, and left me stranded in the desert.They also left my friend with a stripped drain plug that burned up his new pickup motor. We both were stiffed by Wal-Mart and its "no pay" insurance company. We never got a dime out of them. Their business model uses aggression as ethics. A truly narcissistic, evil corporate plague over America. I recall the news articles about the women raped and murdered in their parking lots, because they refused to install security cameras.

Sarah

I think one thing we overlook when we pay these lower prices is that on the grocery side, we pay a lower price for a lesser quantity, and on the general merchandise side, we pay a lower price for a lesser quality. We have a lower quality and the product wears out or breaks sooner and ends up in a landfill somewhere, and we go to WM and buy it again. Is that really saving us money? What about the landfills? What happens when they are full of junk bicycles, broken electronics, and kitchen appliances, and the many other things that are just put out with the trash?

Nikolus Gianukos

Well, Wal-Mart is constantly attacked, and small businesses hate it. However, looking at facts, it saves people money by buying things in bulk from other companies and is able to sell cheaper. People talk about quality and how it has dropped because of Wal-Mart--the fact of the matter is that quality has dropped because all American companies are relocating to Third World countries. Therefore, we are really the only ones to blame, because we always want it 5 cents cheaper, no matter how many Americans lost their jobs. So, we can attck Wal-mart or we could look in the mirror and see where the real problem lies, ourselves.

T Cook

I know a lot of people who work at Wal-Mart and bring home checks of less than $300 every two weeks, because Wal-Mart cut hours when it brought in all its temporary employees. And I've also noticed that once a Wal-Mart employee is making too much, Wal-Mart finds any reason to fire him and bring in new help at a lower wage. Most of these people are on government-assisted programs that we as taxpayers pay for. And one more thing that I want to add is that, when the the Wal-Mart manager gets his bonus, it is more than $100,000 a year if the store makes over what it is supposed to for the year. Why not give some of that to the employees?

Cheryl C

It's quite funny how so many can criticize the company just because it is the biggest retail store out there. I work 40 hours a week, and they work around my school schedule. I have medical insurance, thank God, because when I went to the emergency room, my visit cost 17K, and I only paid my deductible. I have a 401K (at age 23, I am pretty proud of that) to which they contribute, and stock. I am proud to say I work for Wal-Mart and for all you nay sayers out there, you can just go shove it.

cosmo

Let's focus on its medical insurance. For such a big company, its medical insurance is lousy. You would think that Wal-Mart would have better medical insurance for its associates. If you get sick or your spouse comes down with cancer, look out--they do not want to pay.

walmart vet

I worked for Wal-Mart when it was fun. Before Lee Scott. I quit when they capped my pay and told me I would never get another raise after giving them 17 years of loyalty. I hate unions and would have fought them. Most of us did back then. But they wanted us long-termers out, and we left. Now they have part-timers who will go for the union.

Lee Scott and the people he hired have no business philosophy. They blow with the wind and listen to anyone. The people who work in the stores used to know and some probably still do--know what the customers want, but Lee thinks he and his cronies know better. Well, Lee, you are so wrong. Our customers are screaming for what they want. Read this article. Your employees are unhappy. I say: No. 1, get rid of Lee and go right on down the list and bring in someone who knows that people are important in a retail business. That pride is important to a person, and you get pride from working in a place that values your input and regards you as important. But until Lee Scott and his team of people who can only think in a square are gone, forget it. The reason it worked before is that we had fun, we got a significant piece of the action in profit sharing, and the stock soared because of us. (We thought of ourselves as part of the company, you see--pride.) Also, we used to buy stock, and who in their right mind would buy it today? Lee Scott is no leader.

Dave

I work at Wal-Mart (Asda) in the UK. The employees are treated like second-class citizens by the management. If a store is doing well, management takes all the credit. If it is not doing well, the employees get the blame.

Tom

I work for Wal-Mart and have for 17 years. Benefits? I just signed up for insurance that provides $500 cash for this coming year for myself, my wife, and four children (that's $3,000 for medical expenses); the maximum out-of-pocket for my entire family is $4,000. Not free, by any stretch, but once that $4,000 is spent out of pocket, we would pay nothing the rest of the year. And there is no cap on the expenses, not for this year or for life. How much will it cost me? About $110 per month for all six of us. Who in retail has that kind of benefit available to them?

k.c.

My wife has worked for Wal-Mart the past three years. The medical benefits are way out of our price range. As far as store cleanliness goes, it's one of the worst I've seen.

DSa L-49

Wal-Mart has some managers that make me sick. My mom asked for change from a $20. She had said, "Can I get change? The bill acceptor on the pop machine is not working." The manager, a real no people skills person, crudely asked what kind of change. She said, "Fifties and hundreds."

He threw the money back at her and said, "No! I do not joke about money."

Everyone in line and the other workers laughed before he set the law down. It could have been a light-hearted moment, but the stick in the mud waiting to cut your foot open, as I called him, set us all straight.

Beaver

If people want to make more than $10 per hour, what is stopping them? It's not Wal-Mart stopping them. We are living in a society in which we want to blame others for our shortcomings.

The reality is many people who work at Wal-Mart are being given their first opportunity, and if they make the most of it, they can make more than $10 per hour.

Bad service will happen from time to time in all large companies. I do not see this as a reflection on Wal-Mart but rather a reflection of some of the bad attitudes that have become too prevalent in America.

Amazon

My husband has worked for Wal-do-not-Mart for seven years, each year paying huge out-of-pocket expenses for insurance. Last year our daughter became pregnant. Wal-Mart insurance does not cover dependency pregnancy, so we opted to go for a cheaper insurance plan this year to save money for her pregnancy bills. Of course, disaster hit and she had to have surgery on top of having a baby. We have almost $19,000 in medical bills. It's a joke, Wal-Mart is the largest retail employer, but its employees suffer. Yes, my husband can leave his job and get another one, and that's the plan--I guess seven years of employment will go down the drain. His salary hit its cap almost four years ago, and yes, each year Wal-Mart gives him an increase-of-living expense, but somehow it's almost the exact amount of what the increase in insurance is. How clever.

Right now Wal-Mart is suffering from lack of sales. Perhaps it should remember that happy employees make happy customers. Less and less we shop there now.

James

I personally don't shop at a store where 99% of what they sell employs no Americans. People here complain about jobs leaving, unemployment being high, and wages lowering, but then they shop and buy a bunch of junk made in China. It's easy to put a stop to the jobs' moving; don't buy the junk made in China--like what you see at Wal-Mart. Also it's kind of funny how the media blow way out of proportion the union wages when in reality they're much lower than they want us to believe. I know, because I'm a union employee. Those who think union employees at GM, etc., are overpaid when really Honda, Toyota, and Hyundai make better money being non-union. The problem is that a bunch of CEOs here in the States want us to work for nothing and while they make hundreds of millions, kind of like at Wal-Mart. I will never shop at Wal-Mart, because I won't participate in the corporate greed.

soldia

I've worked for Wal-Mart for less than three years now and am one of those who spent a year in Iraq. In the short amount of time I've been there, I've already gotten almost $3 in total raises, and I only pay $60 a month for insurance for myself and my wife. If they're so bad to employees, then why would I be the exception? I've never had a job where I averaged a dollar a year raise and paid $60 a month for insurance. Not to mention the fact when I was in Iraq, the associates working at my store assisted my wife (who has worked for Wal-Mart for six years) with yard work and care packages for me and my fellow soldiers, and Wal-Mart paid me the yearly bonus for the year I wasn't even there. I'm not saying some Wal-Marts aren't bad, but many of them are good to their employees and take care of them. It all is dependant on the management team of that store, market, and region. Corporate only dictates so much.

marco h

It shows how a lot of the people in power like to take advantage of the system. All for greed. Our country's economic decline comes from this type of abuse to the American worker. I hope that someday this giant comes down. I guess Wal-Mart has become a shadow of modern politics here in America, trying to gain the almighty dollar no matter who suffers and at what expense. It's all a big lie just like the war. Wal-Mart and George Bush would make good business partners.

kevin

I have worked at Wal-Mart for more than nine years. Honestly, there aren't any other jobs in this area. Just this summer, three factories have closed their doors, two are on strike, and all others are downsizing--all but one, Honda. It is growing and hiring and believe me, my application has been in there for awhile. But with around 2,000 applications and only 400 getting hired, you learn not to get your hopes up. So it's back to the trenches at Wal-Hell.

John Paul

As a recently employed associate at Wal-Mart, I can see that things are pretty messed up from the inside. Pay scales are unfair--it's funny how people who stand around on the floor most days do nothing but talk to friends and use their cell phones on the clock, but they make more money than the hard-working sweat-infested truck unloaders or nightshift stocking teams. People who work in hot conditions in an environment where they can have heat exhaustion, trip over things, or have heavy boxes fall on them don't have decent pay or coverage. Sure it's easy to say that people have a choice to not work there, but someone has to. So instead of pursuing useless rhetoric, why can't they just pay employees what they're worth for what they do? Ten dollars doesn't make anyone able to pay bills in today's economy. Many people I know at the local Wal-Mart have to work two jobs to raise a family. Also in smaller towns, there aren't many places to work, especially when Wal-Mart came in and destroyed local small businesses. Where are you going to work? Sure everyone wants to be rich, but the not-so-greedy just want to work and be able to pay their bills. Wal-Mart is about as bad as fast food chains who employ high school kids for minimum wage. Most of us work there long enough to realize there's no future and try like hell to get out of there, knowing there isn't much else out there to go to.

mary

I work for Wal-Mart in Canada. I do not shop at Wal-Mart.

eva snyder

I worked at Wal-Mart for a little over one year. I had to leave on disability for a while, so they fired me for no good reason. Now they won't even let me collect unemployment. The head of the store did not even have the decency to tell me I was fired. He had a CSM do it. I personally hate Wal-Mart. I can't even support my family because of them. Are they a family-oriented store? Do they care about the employees and families? I think not.
Eva Snyder

Kat

Wal-Mart/Sam's used to be a great place to work. Now it is a job to use while you are getting your education to get a career. It is hell to work there for life, because they only care about making money. As long as money is coming in, that's all that matters.

If you are lazy, a thief, late all the time, and just don't care, they will hire you. The club that I work at has had three associates of the month who have been drunk on the job, one who sits in the break room half the day, and one who leaves on company time to do her errands.

Management says they can't do anything about it. If they can't, who can? Then they give out bonuses to everyone across the board--the one who sits in the break room all day gets the same bonus as the hardest worker. Evaluations are a joke; they want you to do your job and the one's job who is not working. Eventually Wal-Mart will have all goof offs and no workers.
Health insurance is a nightmare as it is only for disasters.

Heather

I've worked at Wal-Mart almost three years, and tomorrow starts my last week. Our store allows one raise per year, which is already set. No merit raises; home office won't allow them. I've been trained to work in six different departments and have been expected to cover all of them at the same time by myself to cut costs of hiring new employees, which is understandable seeing how new employees make more than a dollar more an hour than I do just starting out. Many people quit the store only to return again, getting raises for having quit and starting on their new higher wages. By staying there and doing my job dutifully, I have been shortchanged time and time again. Wal-Mart has good prices--this is true--but the products are usually not even worth what they ask. Their shoes have more than 70% markup. How is that value? You're right. If you don't like it, leave. And that's exactly what I plan to do.

Sar

I've read some of these posts from people who work for Wal-Mart and Sam's Club, and it's unfortunate that they had such a bad experience. I work for Sam's Club, and I love my job. Yes, we have lazy employees and maybe some unethical practices, but those practices are not usually in place for long. Maybe we have good management in our club because some of the things you guys are describing I know for a fact would not be allowed in our club. I'm sorry some of you had bad experiences, and maybe your pay isn't good enough, but I'm pretty sure everyone wants to get paid more; that's not Wal-Mart's fault. If you don't like it, quit. But we shouldn't categorize Wal-Mart from just a few bad experiences. There is no perfect job; if there was we'd all be working there.

Ben

Wal-Mart is not in business to help out poor people; they are in the business to make money, period. Don't fool yourself into thinking they help elevate poor people to a more comfortable standard of living. Their merchandise is cheapened by their manufacturers (in addition to improved manufacturing processes), and of course moving manufacturing to China. Consumers have been fooled into thinking they are getting quality products at a cheaper price, when in fact often times they are getting poor quality products at a cheaper price. You get what you pay for, people.

Mariana

Wal-Mart pays above average wages at all the warehouse distribution centers. If it would eliminate three managers and their hefty yearly bonuses, it could afford to pass along more money to the employees at the store level. Too many managers at corporate and warehouse level.

warren bacon

Where does the money you spend at Wal-Mart really wind up? You could say that Wal-Mart shoppers have helped our enemies. Let me explain. Wal-Mart does a great deal of business with China. China makes much money off Wal-Mart and the American people. The money China makes does not go back to its people or its economy. It goes into its military. A recent speech in China by the head of Chinese missile forces credited companies like Wal-Mart for helping the country to build up its military forces. That blender you paid $25 dollars for was built in China for 67 cents. Wal-Mart splits the difference with the Chinese. This money goes straight into the coffers of the People's Liberation Army. This is the army that helps supply Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and the Iraqi terrorists your boys are fighting now. Not to worry, as the American economy continues to sink, our allies in the Persian Gulf are getting ready, along with the Chinese, to dump the dollar in favor of the euro. Can you say instant depression, America? China and the oil countries of the Middle East own most of the debt. That $9 trillion in our deficit is owed to these countries. When they call in the marker and demand payment, do any of you have a clue where we will get said money? If you think your paycheck is small now, wait till the Draconian tax increases that are coming start hitting. Close Wal-Mart, close the borders, start teaching arithmetic and science in our schools again, deport the illegals, rebuild the military, support Israel, bring God back into the public forum, arrest and imprison all dishonest and disloyal politicians. This will solve your problem, America.

steve

Eva Snyder: Unemployment benefits being denied is not a decision made by Wal-Mart. It is made by the state that you were employed in. In fact, it is very difficult to be denied unemployment as the burden of proof on the employer is very high if the employer challenges your claim. Also it would be very unwise for them to fire you simply because you went on disability leave as they would be wide open for a lawsuit, and based on what Kate posted Oct.13, Wal-Mart won't even fire someone who was "drunk, sat in the break room all day, or ran personal errands on company time"--most likely due to the fear of a discrimination or sexual harassment lawsuit. These people have posted on this page about their horrible pay, no benefits, and being overworked by Wal-Mart. There are too many people in the workforce today who are only interested in the paycheck portion of the job that they agreed to perform for the agreed-upon wage and only doing as little as they can get by with. We all need to get back to giving 110%. It seems from some of the posts that the Wal-Mart associates with that attitude have stayed and have very respectable incomes. No one is rewarded much for doing the minimum. And no, I am not with Wal-Mart or own stock. Just a small-business employer with an opinion.

Ken Tullis

I've heard how Wal-Mart is un-American, treats employees like slaves, runs small businesses out, etc.
First of all, I spent 20 years with Wal-Mart, and I can tell you firsthand that this is all bull. Yes, they try extremely hard to control wage costs and every other expense they have. But these people aren't the slave drivers that some of you let on. Ask some of the people who have been around for years, not the ones that worked there six months and think they should be running the business. You will find that things are quite different. Some people think that having a job means not having to do anything except stand around. I hate to tell you, but if you applied a little effort, you might just find that you got paid more.
There are things that every company does wrong, and Wal-Mart is no exception.

As far as buying items from China, what discount store doesn't? Go to any major outlet, and you will find imported goods.
If this country didn't import, our unions would have the price of everything jacked up so high none of us could buy.

Last but not least: You haters don't have to buy at Wal-Mart. You employees who constantly complain, find another job. The fact is, we do buy there because of convenience and low prices. Before Wal-Mart and others like them, we would buy all our things from a downtown store that wouldn't stay open the hours we needed to shop and could charge whatever it wanted. Now they want to know why they are failing. It's simple--high prices and unwillingness to be open the hours people need. Either shop there or don't. It's a free country.

Angie

I have worked for both Sam's and Wal-Mart, and those who have worked at either know the pay scale is well below par. They just put a cap on all hourly and mini-managers' pay. There is a profit share for hourly workers, but all out of pocket expenses come out first (store accidents, etc.), so it isn't much compared to the upper management's. The medical is a joke, and part-timers don't get it for the first two years. Yes, you do get cheap prices, but look carefully at your merchandise; it's cheaply made (you get what you pay for). I worked in receiving, stocking, audit, cashier, and team lead, so I do know how it works. Yes, after eight years I walked away for better pay and better conditions. When an assistant general manager tells me my job before my family, he can keep his job. Wal-Mart will be seen for what it is: greedy. It has strayed from Sam Walton's basic beliefs all for more money.

Ken M

After working for two separate wholesale companies and the way I was treated as a vendor, the only reason I go to Wal-Mart is if I have to. I also feel this as a customer. Living in a small town, sometimes I find Wal-Mart is the only place to get what I need. I pay higher prices for groceries, I pay higher prices at our local hardware store and get good and friendly service at both

poor person

I know people who work at small localy owned buisnesses and they get payed minimum wage while the owner gets rich, the prices there are much more expensive then walmart...I also know a woman that works at sams club who make $10.00 an hour, and got a $3000.00 profit sharing check last year...I think walmart has so many corporate enemies that they get alot of bad press

Dave

Wal-Mart's puny "wheel-of-fortune" checkout counters invite customers to forget a bag of merchandise. The items are then promptly recycled back into stock and resold. The situation is complicated by cashiers who plunk your change/receipt in your hand and attend to the next victim--you're history. Letters to the head shed treat problems as a fault of only the local store.

ac carroll

Please, people stop bashing Wal-Mart. I've worked in a Wal-Mart distribution (7016) for four years. I get paid $17.50 an hour. So don't act like they don't pay employees well. If you are an employee who doesn't like making $7.50 an hour in the store, just transfer to a DC. Most of the people who are talking down on my company are the lazy asses who got fired. So get a life, and don't hate Wal-Mart because it makes billions. Haters. AC CARROLL DC 7016 represents fool.

TJ

I can't understand why we are talking about Wal-Mart, and soon we won't have enough gas to make it to Wal-Mart. If people feel they are not making enough money, they should move on to find a new job. Gas prices should be our main problem, not freaking Wal-Mart. Come on, people.

Les

Please, Wal-Mart, go away.

Les

Wal-Mart, the worst retail store ever. Went straight down the tubes when ole Sam passed. So long, Wallyworld. Good riddance.

Kevin

Let me start by saying I am not a fan of Wal-Mart's practices. But when did it become a problem to provide good products at low prices? No one told anyone to take a job with Wal-Mart, and there are those who love it there. Are they perfect (no), and are they looking out for their employees (no)? But they are not alone. When a company runs itself to benefit the employee (unions), they go under (GM). If people were paid their worth and products were sold for theirs, would there be a balance?

We no longer run the economy, and we must learn to work within the limits of our means and be frugal and save. The masses spend what they don't have and then cry when asked to pay. You couldn't afford that house when you bought it, and you knew it. The days of save and buy are gone. We want it now, and it's credit or cheap prices. Work your job, buy what you save for, and don't spend what you don't have. It's that easy. By the way, I myself am in debt. I learned the hard way, but I cried to no one and asked no favor. Like they used to say, grab yourself by the bootstraps and pull yourself up. Good luck.

Withheld

I've only been in "Dogmart" once, to price an air-conditioning unit for my girlfriend, and that was the last time. The schlock and junk they sell wouldn't last a year. While I was there, I asked a question at the camera counter and the woman who worked there couldn't answer it, which means she didn't know her product, and why should she? If I were paid her salary, I wouldn't give a damn about my product either.

Karen

As a former employee of Wally world, I can tell you the reason their employees don't carry insurance through the company is that, on their pay, they can't afford to and still bring home a paycheck. Their insurance also doesn't cover basic needs, like well-baby check-ups. Their low-prices are a joke, as an ex-department manager, I know the markup on their items (on most of it there is more then a 50% markup). When things are put on clearance, the company still makes a profit. The only way it pays to work for Wally World is if you are a store manager or above (90% of those are white males). If Sam Walton could see what his company has become, it would kill him. Wal-Mart will only hire people who are willing to work whenever they want them to, and they don't want to let them work full-time (40 hours a week) or hire them full-time so they don't want to give their employees benefits (benefits cost the company money and take away from store-managers' bonuses). They say they encourage their employees to get an education and better themselves, and as soon as I enrolled in school to finish my degree, they moved me to the 11 am to 9 pm shift, so I couldn't go to class. Wal-Mart loves under-educated people to work for them. They have driven so many companies overseas, putting more people out of work, not to mention the small hometown stores they have put out of business. In an 8-mile radius of my home, there are three stores, and within 20, there are seven. Does anyone else see this as being a little pushy? After 6 1/2 years with this so-called family company, I walked away. I couldn't stand it any longer. The way they treat customers, the way they treat employees, the way they treat their vendors, got to be to much. I decided for me and my family the best thing to do was complete my degree and try to make companies like this see how they should do things. My law degree will help me fight companies like Wally World and hopefully give the little guy a fighting chance.

Vyper3000

Wal-Mart used to brag about how much business they turned right back to American manufacturers. Does anyone remember the last time you saw them do that? They can't, because the vast majority of the cheap crap you buy at Wal-Mart is cheap Chinese junk. I challenge anyone reading this: Go to Wal-Mart, pick out something you like, and try to find one of whatever it is not made in China or Mexico. They send jobs out of this country, don't pay a decent wage to the employees they have, treat their customers like cattle, and destroy local businesses leaving nothing behind but waste, destruction, and a lot of trash.

Wal-Mart, like many things, started out as a great idea, but it isn't one any longer. Just because "the people want it" doesn't make it right: Mob mentalities are usually pretty stupid and this is a flaming example of it. It's going to American patriots to finally stand up and do what is best for America.

No more Wal-Mart.

Steve

I, as a Wal-Mart associate, have read about 50% of these comments. Now it's my turn. It appears that there are certain repeated comments from those who do not like Wal-Mart. These are "putting others out of business," "treating employees badly," and "no health care provided."

Here are a few things I hope you all would understand. First, Wal-Mart is not the lowest paying employer in town. Wal-Mart pays on average one dollar higher than minimum wage to anyone hired in the door no matter what your level of skills is. From there, Wal-Mart pay rate is based on your ability to maintain a job (based on your last job and the length of time you were at it) as well as the department you will be working in. These two items are what determine your starting pay. Seems fair to me. This rewards those who will most likely stay over those who quit jobs easily. Tell me about someone who works in fast food who makes this kind of money starting out. There is none to talk about.

Wal-Mart also provides the ability to purchase health insurance. We don't see any comments about how horrible McDonald's is. They do not pay for their employees' health care either--it is paid for by the worker.

As for overworking employees, this is ludicris. In fact, it is against policy, and you are written up for working over 40 hours as well as working off the clock. This is strict policy within Wal-Mart--no one is allowed to work off the clock. Simple as that. Yes, sometimes you are asked to cover another department while they take breaks or lunches. What's wrong with that? If you do not take your lunch within the first five hours of starting work, you get written up and if you run a cash register, it will lock you out of it until you punch out for lunch. Seems like a good idea to me.

As for profit sharing, those are the bonuses that were talked about. If you wish to have a bigger bonus, make your store profitable. How? Do your job. Simple as that.

As for putting other stores out of business, where's the beef here? If those stores are ripping people off, then those people almost have a duty to shop where things are reasonably priced--don't you think so?

Now, the issue of buying from China. What can be bought made in America anymore? Electronics? No such thing. And let me advise you of something else here on this subject. What makes you think things are made with any less quality in Wal-Mart than anyplace else? Wal-Mart carries name brand items that are sold by other stores that it was suggested people shop at. We sell Panasonic, Sharp, Samsung, Sanyo, and a host of other televisions at our store. Aren't those the same sets sold at many other retailers? How is it that our sets are of lower quality than those other places if they are the same sets? The fact is, they aren't. Toys that are sold by Wal-Mart are the same toys and same names that are sold by Toys-R-Us.

I see mentioned a comment about the cat food recall. How is it that this is Wal-Mart's fault? We sold some of that food, yes, but so did thousands of other retailers. It didn't even come from China; it actually came from Canada.

It amazes me how lost and out of control things get when a discussion about a company that is doing something right gets started. Those who support the unions (which have hurt this country horribly) are against Wal-Mart because they don't allow unions. I wonder why not? Do you think the prices would be as low if unions were involved? Never. Unions are not responsible for keeping prices of goods and services low--they are responsible for keeping them high. Then only union workers can afford to buy them.

By the way--I started off the street with Wal-Mart at more than $9 an hour and in the first three months, received a raise due to performance or evaluation, which put me over $10. Never got that at Mickey D's. Never would either. Yes, I purchase stock through payroll deduction. And for every dollar I put in, Wal-Mart puts in 15 cents. That's 15% for those who aren't good at math. Wal-Mart is actually paying me for buying stock, which is on the upswing again.

There was a comment above from Angie about profit sharing coming after expenses like store accidents and so on--what do you think profit is? If you don't understand this concept then, no wonder you don't understand business concepts and don't understand Wal-Mart. Also, if you worked for Sam's and didn't like it, why go to Wal-Mart next? Seems it wasn't as bad as you believe it is. Remember many of the negative comments are from disgruntled employees. Could it be possible that when someone doesn't get their own way, they cry about it to everyone who will listen?

That's what most of it is, anyway.

Also, the person who says he worked there in the photo lab and wasn't ever given recognition for repairing the processors should keep a few things in mind. The most important is this--it wasn't his job to repair the machines and if he would have broken it further, ruined a customer's photos, or worse yet, gotten injured while working on it, it wouldn't have been him who got the crap for it--Wal-Mart would have paid for it. There is a reason that they have a service to pay for the repairs, and that's who should have been called. And it is doubtful that they were paying $700 or more dollars to have it repaired. Most likely, as with any big business, there is a service contract on it so that it is guaranteed repaired within a certain time frame and costs kept reasonable. This is just how business works. Wal-Mart isn't any different in this respect. I have done similar things when "asked to" and have many times been told "good job" afterward. Probably because I did what I was supposed to do and not just gone out on a limb to show off, so to speak.

Just wanted to set some of the record straight about a good company.

Bill G

Companies cannot grow forever. This is the fallacy of business. You can only expand so far as dictated by the environment (land, population, prices, and interest).

There are only so many people buying and so many selling. There are so many products that can be made in a fixed amount of time. The production lines have a maximum rate of production with a set quantity of products. When the math is done and the answers are arrived at, why is it that dollar-minded people think that the laws of physics can be changed. Work-in equals work-out (or products out) and it does not equal more out no matter how many good economic rah rahs you present to the shareholders. There are only 24 hours in a day and not 31 hours, so you cannot get more out.

By the way, even if you automate the production environment and it has a limited quantity, it can produce in 24 hours.

Wal-Mart and Corporate America, once you have reached your max point, that is all you can do and no more. For you nay sayers, adding new products means an old product is discontinued so you are simply swapping one price tag for another.

Bill G

Steve,

Well said.

Thanks for the info. With the negative onslaught concerning Wal-marts these days, it is hard to filter and hear the positive news.

Your comments balance the scales more where I am concern as I try to listen to both sides.

Rae

First of all, this argument just aggravates the heck out of me. I was a Wal-Mart employee for five years, and they paid me just fine for the work I did. All this bull about tons of Wal-Mart employees being on Medicaid and food stamps is just that. Do you realize just how little money you have to make to qualify for aid? When I was on medical leave and only pulling in $400 a month, the state wouldn't touch me. They said I made too much money to qualify for most programs, and that is with two kids and a spouse. I have seen the model of the kind of poverty you have to be in to get aid, and anybody yanking in 20 hours a week with two kids and a husband makes too much money to qualify for assistance by my state's standards.

My husband and I went through recent illness, and only when we had both been on medical leave for a month and had absolutely no residual income whatsoever to live on would the state step in and help us with food and medical care, and only then because, without it my husband would have died.
We are hard workers in my family, and I never had a gripe with my wages or my hours or my medical coverage at Wal-Mart.

All our financial issues started when I left Wal-Mart for what I thought were better wages (even though I was already making $10 an hour) and better medical coverage (even though I was already covered, and would have to wait six months to qualify at my new job) It was during this interim that we got sick and had nothing to fall back on.

Please understand that I speak from experience here. I am not just talking to hear myself speak. If all these Wal-Mart employees are sucking your tax dollars through state benefits, then it's because they are only working five hours a week and have large families.

I worked every available hour I was offered, and have two children and a spouse, and I did not qualify for benefits until our income was lower than $400 a month.

Now, on the service end of the deal, I was polite and kind to every customer I made contact with. I had a customer who came in a wheel chair and hunted me down each week because she knew I would help her shop until she was finished, and I did it without complaint to her. I cannot possibly be the only kind employee at Wal-Mart who took pride in helping those I served.

As for the prices and/or low-quality items, when I want a high-end item that I want to pay extra for, I go somewhere else. I continue to shop at Wal-Mart, because I can afford to buy what I need there. If something I purchase sucks, I take it back and they give me a refund. Period. If I can't find the quality I want in an electronic item, I go elsewhere to buy it. Period. I take no shame in purchasing what my family needs for prices I can afford, and buying where I can get the best prices or best quality.
I also shop at Hy-Vee and at Super Savers and at RadioShack. These places get my business because they deserve it, not because I feel obligated to give it to them.

Finally, of all the things that life has taught me, one of the best to know and practice is that if something isn't working for you, change it. If it does work, don't. Simple as that.

Douglas H.

I used to occasionally shop at Wal-Mart but haven't been in one for several years. Yes they have low prices, but the cost to society far exceeds the few pennies difference for an item you probably don't need anyhow. Their business model is to get commodities for the absolute lowest price,all coming from the labor of people making pennies an hour. Some may say pennies is more then these people had before they went to work for sweat shops, but before, they were farmers, perfectly happy making a living from their land. Millions were convinced they could earn a good living making products for the American market, only to find out too late they were taken advantage of. The wages paid by these former American manufacturers to their foreign workers is nothing short of slave labor. Many paid headhunters for these so-called good jobs only to find they were duped. Some had to go into prostitution to get out of the factory. We have all heard the stories of the 12 year olds chained to their machines, forced to work 18 hours a day for a mere pittance, all so Americans can have their lead laced toys for their children's Christmas. But it was cheap. Americans have also been taken advantage of by Wal-Mart and the way they do business, pressuring American companies to either move overseas and be able to sell to Wal-Mart,at the Wal-Mart price or lose a valuable market share for their goods. Many companies have gone bankrupt rather then move to China. The Walton family have profited handsomely by this practice, but they have failed to pass along the rewards to their employees. Wal-Mart could pay their employees much more and still make a fair profit. Sadly Wal-Mart only pays well if your name is Walton. Welcome to the Walocaust. Coming soon to your occupation. www.walocaust.com.

damnit all

Wal-Mart is more than a hazard to small business. It destroys small towns and makes them dependant on Wal-Mart-mart for goods. Too bad anti-trust laws don't translate to retail (or do they?), because Wal-mart is in a position to put a strangle-hold on small towns whenever they want. There used to be five grocery stores in my town that supported at least 10 people, some upward of 50, but they have all been destroyed but one (an Aldi that is around 1,000 square feet and has only one person working at a time and can't afford to keep a selection to fill a kitchen). So at this point, if Wal-Mart doubled their grocery prices, we would have to drive 45 miles to get to the nearest non-Wal-Mart, although I can get to three Wal-Marts in 10 minutes.

It works for Wal-Mart because their process is very controlled: Sell maximum amount of product for minimum amount of people and work. That really doesn't fit in a town (like the one I live in) where a company/business will hire someone because they can afford it and the person is local and needs a job to live.

This "buy cheap" mentality is what is screwing America right now. We should focus on paying worth, because everything is connected. To make these prices lower, employees are inevitably having their wages slashed, and with their wages slashed, they need the prices to be lower, which results in further wage cuts. And the price dropping can never catch up with the necessity. The bottom line is workers in America (and everywhere) need to be paid more. Then they can afford to pay an appropriate cost for an item (one that will pay for the product and reimburse the workers who made it and the retailer who sold it).

People don't care to do this if they a) know about it and b) have the money. I think if Americans were more aware of the direct impact their frugality and outsourcing is having on fellow citizens, things would change quite a bit.

Thank you, Wal-Mart, for making life more affordable for people who need the break.

God damn you Wal-Mart for destroying local economies and small businesses and forcing people to shop at your stores because you put their employer out of business, and now you are the only place they can afford to shop.

The real thing that sucks is that suppliers don't offer products to small businesses with the same discount they offer them to Wal-Mart. It is a fact that it is cheaper to buy some items from Wal-Mart than it is for a small-business owner, with a state and federal tax ID, to purchase it from the same supplier. And how exactly is anyone supposed to be able to compete and make a living like that?

I don't blame Wal-Mart for competing. It's natural, but damn it, people have to fight back. No one is going to willingly part with their money or power or profits. You have to remove it from them forcefully for the good of others. Sounds a bit like Robin Hood, but you'll think the same thing when you see a family homeless in a town of 10,000, because the guy who owned the store that employed them personally went broke trying to keep jobs for him (and others), because the local Wal-Mart mysteriously quadrupled their inventory of the same items and were selling them (what would have been for the small business owner) at 2% profit margin (after the cost of the product).

No way in hell are you are going to be able to pay rent/utilities/wages/benefits/salaries/advertising/donate to local causes on 2% profit of almost anything you'd sell in a small town.

Recidivist

I love reading the pro-Wal-Mart comments. So what if people are being cheated, so what if they are not making a decent wage? That's okay as long as I get my piece of crap from China for 2 cents less than Dollar General. It is a good thing that we talk and blab on about being such a Christian nation, because if we ever had to prove it by demonstrating deeds instead of hot air, we'd be on the next elevator down, way down if you know what I mean. America is the nation of "I got mine by hook or by crook. Screw you if you don't got yours."

Raul

Plainly put, don't rock the boat. Wal-Mart is a business, and as such, must make money, so the process is working, and if people can't keep up, it's not Wal-Mart's fault.

As an ex-employee, I was treated fairly well, and earned a decent check for the experience I had. Wal-Mart is going to be the world's No. 1 superstore, so get used to it.

Calvin H

I am a former salaried management employee of Wal-Mart. I feel the company wants everything and gives very little to the people that truly run things. They need to learn how to actually show respect for their associates. Stop the lip service; say it and actually mean it. As former management, I was directed to mislead my people. Obviously, I have a problem with that and would not waste valuable time in a company so screwed up.

Alcid Forcier

Wal-Mart is at it again, putting price tags on an item, and when you get there, it seems to have doubled. Case in point: A can of Reddi Wip was marked $1.63, and when the cashier rang it up, it was $2.47, and she said I could have it for the price on the container. I wanted to see a manager, and she said, "I will take care of this." Same store same day, I went and picked up cottage cheese; the price on the item was $2.50, and when I got to the cashier, it had grown to $3.58, quite a differance.

So every time you shop at Wal-Mart, you must check the sale price and the price in front of the product. If you do not and you buy a ton of food, you may be losing lots.

I always check all prices, and it is like a game to me, but it is only good practice. I take a picture of the products and take it to the manager, and most of them just brush it off and do nothing about it.

I shop at Meijers most of the time, and I have never found any mismarked products, and if I did I know the manager, and I would bring it to his attention, and I know he would get on it right away. So shop wisely and look for mistakes, and at the end of the year, you can save a ton of money.
Yours for better shopping,
Big Al

John Hulpke

The nice thing about this debate is that it proves the old saying, there are two sides to every story.

Carlos Garcia-Pomareda Juega

In my opinion, Wal-Mart is an example of how a shop has to improve to become a high competitor in this area.

javier vigo

I agree with the low-price strategy because it helps poor countries.

Claudio Martin Fernandez

Wal-Mart is destroying a lot of local small companies and should try to improve local markets.

jacobo rey

I think that this kind of business kills the old and day-to-day shops.

César García Rodriguez

In my opinion, Wal-Mart is good in products' prices. Poor families need Wal-Mart

Manuel Figueroa Díaz

I agree with Wal-Mart policies, because they help many young people to find a job.

Candela Ramos Loureiro

I have never been in Wal-Mart, but I thought that the company is willing to make anything to keep low prices, which could result in unfair strategies with their employees or competitors. This debate is a great idea. Thanks.

Ruben

Wal-Mart is a giant that does not give fair treatment to its employees, who have a minimun legal salary. Moreover, it makes small shops go bankrupt.

Paula Sanchez Carrasco

First of all, I must say that all I know about Wal-Mart is through the Internet as there is no store near where I live. In many places, people believe that this company is becoming so powerful that any kind of monopoly in food would damage the market. Of course they are the stronger company in these sectors, but to what extend is it beneficial for customers? Do they only worry about low prices? Or also fair commercial methods?

Emma Fernandez

Where I live there are no Wal-Mart stores, so I am neutral. But I do think the arguments exposed at the beginning of the discussion are very clear. The discussion is introduced by the pros and cons of Wal-Mart. However, when reading the pros, I only find about disadvantage. Lower salary wages and employees not included in health insurance appear in the pros. I cannot understand this. I think that if a company is as big as Wal-Mart is, it may try to improve their employees' conditions and wages and not to bully them.

Lucia Alvarez Calvo

I am Spanish, and here there aren't Wal-Marts. In my opinion it develops a successful strategy, so it is a good example of a successful management style. On the other hand, I think that it also could be a successful company by giving workers the salary for which they are working. And empower them a little.

Emilio Lostalé

In my personal opinion, and as a business student, I have a lot to learn from Wal-Mart. They had success in a very difficult market and in small cities where nobody wanted to be. This distribution model is also very successful and competitive.

On the other hand, each success means the failure of another. In this case, Wal-Mart's success means that a lot of small shops will go on bankrupt, because they are not able to compete at Wal-Mart's prices.

In my personal opinion, Wal-Mart is doing what all of us do each day after waking up, just surviving!

Mariña Garcia Romero

I agree with the business model of Wal-Mart and its corporate culture. It is also true that in my country there is no Wal-Mart, so I might not even know half of the story, but I think that if it was that bad not so many people would want to work for them. Furthermore, it is important to take into account that Wal-Mart's business model is studied and even imitated all over the world and there would be some reasons to do that.

Laura Abad

In my opinion, people buying at Wal-Mart should know that they are enhancing poverty and discrimination among citizens. Maybe it would be necessary to think in every group involved in this and see how everybody could benefit. Sometimes, there's need to look at a general perspective: It's good (at first sight) for customers, but not for employees, and they are also customers, so everything is connected.

Sandra Andión Sánchez

I cannot make a real opinion against or in favor of Wal-Mart, because in my country there isn't any shop of this company. However, in all countries, there are more than one multinational that operates and controls the market. This is the real competition--small shops have to suffer the consequences and big shops can manage the competition based on their own rules.

Moreover, there are many, many companies, not only big companies, that pay only the minimum salary, so this not only happening with Wal-Mart.

Marta Fernandez Lopez

I think that Wal-Mart has a good strategy, because the company offers good products that have low prices. This fact involves some changes in the industry, because the competitors try to sell better products with competitive prices to attract customers, so if they cannot afford it, they have to disappear. However, the firm should pay more to its employees and promote them according to their skills, because there are a lot of women who are very qualified for jobs that are only for men.

Enrique Anton

In my opinion, Wal-Mart is a very big and profitable company that was able to succeed in the market by offering low-price products, and this is difficult because to sell products so cheap it need to have a strong strategy to deal with the cost of producing at a lower price. So, I believe that Wal-Mart is an example to follow for many companies nowadays.

naiara arias

First, I don't know a lot about Wal-Mart, so I am neutral. However I think that is a very successful firm with a great strategy of low prices. This strategy benefits all type of clients and creates great competition in this segment. On the other hand, it is said that there is a bad environment with their employees, and this is something that could change.

Diego Gomez

I don't know very much from Wal-Mart, because there are not any shops near where I live. Wal-Mart has a very successful strategy of very low costs. This maintains the customer happiness, so that's good, but in my opinion Wal-Mart should also improve the labor conditions such as salaries and health insurance, to become a model company that is very profitable and in addition gives to the workers what they deserve.

Richard

Retail pay in general isn't enough to meet the cost of raising a family today. As benefits go, many companies, not just retailers, are affected by lower benefits at higher cost. Health insurance today is becoming much more costly and the benefit package is smaller.

Richard

Questions:

Are Wal-Mart market managers (district managers) giving away the company?

Do these people simply give away the money and merchandise, driving up the cost of goods to the serious purchasers?

Dave B.

I agree most with Alex who posted about the vicious cycle created by Wal-Mart that "traps" workers. So many of these posts fail to see the big picture; many employees don't have the option to work elsewhere, because Wal-Mart has destroyed the existing competition. Call me a "liberal" or "socialist" if you want, but isn't it "human" to take care of your own, especially when you flaunt Christian values? It's disgusting that the Walton family has only given less than 1% of their vast fortune to charity and the CEO makes more than $17 million annually--while associates are offered poor wages and benefits and are told to seek government services. Personally, I support socialized medicine, but I do not support Plantation Capitalism. I admire Bill Gates and others who have given more than 50% of their earnings to charity. The pursuit of money is certainly the root of evil, but I am proud to see that Americans are finally waking up and taking action. Wal-Mart is certainly going to need to change the way they treat their employees or they will see the birth of an economic revolution this great nation has never endured. I am tempted to end with many quotes and idioms that come to mind, but the one that holds most true is that the only thing Americans love more than building something (or someone) up is tearing it down.

scott

Wal-Mart will hire anyone off of the street. They push them through two interviews in an hour's time just to give them a job offer and send them for a drug test. Then, because of their hiring standards, you can cut the tension with a knife when you work there because everyone is now a suspected thief. This is because of poor hiring and promotion standards. The truth is that a corporation really does treat everyone the same. All of their standards, rules, and regulations are written and the same for everyone. The large problem for Wal-Mart is their hiring practices. It is the people they hire that create the tense situations and aura of suspicion that is cast on every one of their employees. The only people at Wal-Mart that seem to get fired are those that have been there for years and think that no one will suspect them, the model and dedicated employees. That said, it is a corporation, and if you leave they will always have another applicant they will hire and leave after three months, if they make it that long. I don't believe it is the pay. I believe that it is their reputation as a bad employer. Wal-Mart does have to do something about the quality of person that they hire. They have to be attentive to their employees needs, which, in my experience, they are not. If they continue to promote the people that they do, they will never slow their turnover. They are much more concerned about hiring the next employee than keeping the ones they already have.

madmilker

People in America need to realize just what got America in this shape--"cheap," yes so-called cheap items from a foreign land.

"Wal-Mart firmly believes in local procurement. We recognize that by purchasing quality products, we can generate more job opportunities, support local manufacturing, and boost economic development. Over 95% of the merchandise in our stores in China is sourced locally. We have established partnerships with nearly 20,000 suppliers in China."

Now, if there be 182 countries making items for the world to buy and they have only 5% of the pie in China, duh. This company makes the nice people of China support their currency(yuan) by keeping it in their country working for the people there, but with the yuan going up in value and the US dollar going down…all the foreign items that the American consumer buys thinking it is cheap has went up in price.

People, it's all about the currency and to keep a currency strong you got to keep it floating around the country you live in so it can work for you. For the past 12 years all them US dollars are being shipped overseas to a foreign bank and with the American worker not making anything for the foreigner to buy the “we the people” have to turn to the “second” largest employer in America(Uncle Sam) to sell “we the people” debt in order to get all them dollars back.

50 years ago a foreigner would had given their left nut for a US dollar or a Hershey’s chocolate bar and today the same foreigner has got Uncle Sam and the American consumer by both all the while Hershey is moving the chocolate factory to Mexico. Wake up. America and think “Made in America.”

"Considering that there are over 30,000 ships at sea this morning,” writes James Carlton, director of the Williams College-Mystic Seaport Maritime Studies Program, in an e-mail, "the total number of organisms and species in this global 'bioflow' on the morning your readers read your piece could be staggering - billions of individuals, and thousands of species."

Indeed, scientists have long considered ballast water the primary way invasive aquatic organisms are introduced. From the zebra mussel’s arrival in the Great Lakes, to an American jellyfish severely disrupting Black Sea fisheries, the potential costs of accidental introduction of a species to new homes can be tremendous. Aquatic invasives cost the US $9 billion yearly, according to estimates by David Pimentel, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Zebra and quagga mussels (a cousin to the zebra) alone cost the $1 billion annually.*end quote!

tat is $9 billion a year in hidden taxes to all Americans…
cheap ain’t chic and it cost America jobs.

“Now let us look at Wal-Mart again; you buy a product there, 6% goes to the employees, 10-18% is profit to the company, 25% goes to other costs and 50% goes to re-stock or the cost of goods sold. Of the 50% about 20-25% goes to China, a guess, but you get the point. Now then, how long will it take at 433 Billion dollars at year for China to have all of our money, leaving no money flow for us to circulate? At a 17 Trillion dollar economy less than 40-years minus the 1/6 they buy from us. Some say that if we keep putting money into our economy, it would take forever, but if we do not then eventually all the money flow will go. If China buys our debt then eventually they own us, no need to worry about a war, they are buying America, due in part to our own mismanaged trade, so whose fault is that? Not necessarily China, as they are doing what’s in the best interests, and we should make sure that trade is not only free, but fair too.”

http://www.worldthinktank.net/pdfs/TheFlowofTrade.pdf

and when it comes to all them ther turnips in D. C. ….they all need to red…oops! read George Washington’s farewell address after only eight years of serving his country…

Retail makes nothing! ….and until the American people get off their lazy @ss and start to demand…”made in America”….all the retail jobs will be sitting in a foreign land.

The dang government makes only debt…like all it knows is spend…spend…spend. The turnips ain’t never past a dang “saving” bill. They go up on tat big hill and play banker with my dang tax dollars and every dang one of them is one sandwich short of a picnic when it comes to balancing their dang check book.

National Debt from 1776 to 1910 wus only $2.6 billion and tat wus without a income tax. After the stiff-shirt “my sh!! don’t stink” bankers met in 1910 at Jekyll Island tat debt wus put in high gear in 1913 and even with a income tax and now a tax for every dang thig a person touches…even the air he/she breaths tat debt has mushroom to over $10 trillion in 2008.

Now….we the people in the past 7 months has taken on another $1 trillion and tat person in tat big white house is saying the car is going to slow…well…maybe he needs to get out of the dang thig and walk.
http://dailybail.com/home/the-national-debt-road-trip-video-warning-not-for-the-faint.html?lastPage=true#comment4859693

And with America being over $57 trillion in debt….a little walking wouldn’t hurt them either. People….it ain’t no place in the Constitution tat states the government is suppose to take care of you….not one dang sentence. The word “cheap” ain’t no place to be found either. If you don’t buy American made…you don’t have jobs cause RETAIL makes nothing.

Quit thinking in terms of a jack@ss and elephant….they the ones tat put US in tis mess….think in terms of character, faith in God, love of Country, your State, your town, your family and your dang job. Spend a month…maybe two red…oops! reading Michael Hodges “Grandfather Economic Report” series and learn how the people in government has pull the wool over the eyes of “we the people” for the past 96 years.

“Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.” - John Quincy Adams, 6th President of USA.

“I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.” - Thomas Jefferson

“No generation has a right to contract debts greater than can be paid off during the course of its own existence.” - George Washington to James Madison 1789.

“support your town…shop around.” - madmilker

Cat

Wal-Mart's strategy is a race to the bottom, but once there, where can you go? It started as a great concept when Sam Walton was in charge. They've not only lowered prices, but lowered standards as well. I stopped shopping at Walmart when I learned that it pressures manufacturers to lower prices every year. That may work in Wal-Mart's favor, but what about the profitability of the manufacturer? Capitalism should work for both companies involved. It was around the same time that I noticed most of the products in Wal-Mart were no longer "Made in America," so I wondered where the American jobs were going. Now I only go there when some misguided relative has given one of my kids a gift card for the store. The stores are poorly kept, the staff doesn't care about their store or customers (I wouldn't either if my company were treating me poorly), half the shelves are empty on any given day, the dry foods are often stale, you can see the white marks on the pastas where bugs have been nibbling (which indicates how old those boxes are since the inevitable eggs have had time to hatch), and selection in any given category is very limited. Did you know that if your printer is over 2 years old, they may not stock the ink? Learned that when trying to buy ink at Wal-Mart for my 2 1/2 yr old Epson. Apparently, they believe no product should last that long. And I find that the prices at Target, Toys R Us, and the local grocery stores aren't really that much higher than Wal-Mart. Target and the grocery stores are usually within pennies of Walmart's prices. Toys R Us has much greater selection, and they run lots of great sales. I find that Wal-Mart's about even with the local dollar stores. So, I'll pay the extra nickle to shop anywhere but Wal-Mart. I think they've done more long-term damage to this country than any other group (which is really something considering some of the political leaders we've had).

John

Online debate over? In the real world this debate continues/ I have a couple comments from the perspective of a Westerner living in Nanjing China but first want to see if the debate page still works.

John Hulpke

Wal-Mart is so big that it must be doing some things wrong, and I encourage the company to fix those things (low pay to those who produce goods sold in Wal-Mart, difficulties for female employees to be promoted, etc). But I also am glad to recognize a company when it does things right, and here in Nanjing, China, I am very glad I can shop at Wal-Mart. China has serious problems with fake products, including fake medicines and food with fake labels. When I want to buy yogurt, I want to be certain that yogurt was made by the company whose name is on the label. Sad to say, when I shop at a smaller store, I am never quite sure. So this comment may not apply to any shopper outside China, but here, I am very glad to see international brands such as Carrefour and Wal-Mart here in Nanjing. Thanks! John

Kim.Yan.Yao.Zhang

Walmart has many benefit but we should remember that Walmart has critics. For example, it destroy small retailers with lower price while providing bad working condition to its employees. It is said that Walmart also harm environment such as river water. Somebody said it is not Walmart's fault that the sweatshop worker get lower pay but I insist that it is Walmart that force his supplier to cut the cost to suit its requirement. Form the video named "Hi cost of low price", the former worker accused that Walmart pay women less than men where the gender discrimination was common which had already violated labor laws and human rights. Personally I also feel that Walmart indicates the so-called "consumerism" which imply customer to buy things they actually don't need. In a word, Walmart is kind of new type monopolization in new era and we do need to work a supervision system in society to take care of it .

Alix Li Jing Lucy Tang

Many people have chosen to focus on the negative side of Walmart; however Walmart's business practices have made a positive impact on people'lifes. Walmart brings new concepts of retailing, which integrates manufacturers, marketers, logistics and services providers as one. Through their improved supply chain management and technology, Walmart is able to supply their customers with the most suitable products at the lowest prices. Walmart helps families stay within their budget by providing an extensive variety of products.

maeve

Although Mal-Mart support clients the products with lower prices, it harm to the other small retailers and suppliers.if you want to kill Wal-Mat,you should restrain the desire which pursue the low prices.Acctually,it's hardly to do so.

chengjunjun

In the first place,the Wal-Mart'employees work very hard,more than second,10 hours everday;but managers beleive that Chinese workers wanna work more.
Third,I am surprised that Wal-mart employ someone to watch whe workers,that seems unfair to the workers.

Zheng Zhang

What Wall-Mart has many critics but we should remember that WM has benefit also.
WM brings new ‘technologies’ to China. For example, new ways of selling things and communicate (information system: use satellite and other IT to communicate information immediately and efficiently to other supermarkets, suppliers…) and this technology is good for China. Indeed it can be a model for Chinese’s supermarkets. It is a good example for China to expand their business in an international context. Moreover it is not only a question of technologies, but it also concern habits, customs (of selling and buying) that can influence Chinese people and new ways of managing and treating employees.
Wall Mart creates jobs for Chinese people that do not find jobs because their home town (mostly country side) do not provide as many job as the demand is. WM is a labor supplier for China. It also influences the social aspect of China.
By integrating big manufacturers, Wall Mart speeds up destroying retailers that do not provide good values and products (and which is illegal and irregular!) and just speeds up the process of their bankruptcies.
Do not forget that WM is just one participant of the competition of low price in China. You cannot just blame a MNC like WM because WM brings good advantages to a changing economy as China’s one.

Florent Noalhyt

We can argue in many ways about walmart's small wages, and walmart destroying small retailers. But imagine for one second that walmart decides tomorow to close one of his huge stores in China, or wherever. It would be a disaster. whether we like it or not, they employ many people, and even if the wages are low, it is still money : It is Purchasing power. So if walmart leaves a city tomorow, it would be a strike for all the citizens and for the economic situation of the city. Sure we could say that if walmart go, then the small retailers would come back and they would employ many people too. But the reality is that walmart creates much more employment, not only in their stores, but also in walmart's suppliers
we also illustrate this from the perspectiveo f women. it gives many chances to people who don't have much skills or ability. the position is comparatively stable. If a woman works in a store nearby, she can take care of tahe job as well as family. besides, it provides better HR system, more insurances, more stable salary and the pooortunity for promotion as well if you have the ambition. yes, people in WMT work long hours, but it doesn't exercise the brain a lot.

Winnie & Neelam (UST)

It’s true, no one can beat the “everyday low pricing” offered by Wal-Mart. What is debatable here, though, is whether it is worth it at the cost of their employees and suppliers.

The majority of Wal-Mart shoppers tilt toward the lower-income families and shop for not any other reason than the lower prices compared to other stores. Similarly, many of the Wal-Mart employees lack the skills due to various reasons such as the lack of college funds to earn a degree or for financial reasons. The shoppers and employees alike are facing a similar situation and by maintaining its low pricing, both sides of the chain can be satisfied. Especially with the volatility of the economy at present, consumers will be more sensitive to price changes, and this may have a negative impact on Wal-Mart shoppers with the budget constraints. By not charging customers a little more, this helps to protect consumers, in particular low-income families who may not be able to afford to purchase their goods elsewhere at a higher prices. Bearing all things in mind, it is best that Wal-Mart continue to do what it’s best at --“everyday low pricing”.

Joshua Lau

Life is all about tradeoffs. Let’s use an analogy to better understand this fact of life.

There are tons of choices when it comes to food. Some are healthier, some are cheaper, and some taste better. The perfect meal that is cheap, healthy, convenient, and tasty is extremely hard to find. McDonalds tastes good, is cheap and convenient, but is not healthy. Similarly organic lettuce is healthy, and tasty but not cheap.

Similarly, there isn’t an existing company who can provide cheap, convenient, quick services and products without some consequences. In order for society to enjoy the benefits of a company like Wal-Mart, some part of society or the environment must suffer. It is absurd to think that something like Wal-Mart can come about without some consequences. Wal-Mart exemplifies how the modern business world is made up of many trade offs. The customers of Wal-Mart demand convenience and low costs while the workers demand better wages and working conditions. It is apparent and obvious that the two cannot coincide with one another. Both parties will never end up in the green, as they are inversely correlated, and have a conflict of interest. However, from the Wal-Mart managerial standpoint they wish to maximize profit and provide top end customer satisfaction.

Wal-Mart exemplifies the modern business world is made up of many trade offs. The customers of Wal-Mart demand convenience and low costs while the workers demand better wages and working conditions. It is apparent and obvious that the two cannot coincide with one another. Both parties will never end up in the green, as they are inversely correlated, and have a conflict of interest. However, from the Wal-Mart managerial standpoint they wish to maximize profit and provide top end customer satisfaction.


Wal-Mart is successful because of the business strategy that it employs, and there are costs associated with providing products with lower prices. Consumers, you and I implicitly decide what type of company practices to encourage and what not to encourage. Ultimately, we are responsible for the success of Wal-Mart.

Lee Ka Man

Very nice for keep on debating about this topic and here are some opinions on both sides.

Pros:
Wal-Mart should become the role model of caring about employee’s welfare as it is the head of the whole industry in the US and even in China. If it starts treating employees well, other companies may look up to it. It will benefit the whole labor force. Also, if Wal-Mart spends some capital on its staff’s welfare, it can save PR cost of enhancing its reputation, and retain and attract talent. Approximately 70% of its employees leave within the first year. Someone argues that if Wal-Mart stops bullying its staff, it may need to raise the price of the products in order to compensate the cost of fulfilling employees’ interests. With the influence of Wal-Mart in the national economy, it can also force the government to set up laws to protect employees’ interest, and then they won’t lose its competitiveness. Treating staff well is the trend in nowadays' business world. As so with Foxconn, some staff committed suicide because they are dissatisfied with the pay, working environment, etc., and it just raised the wages of the workers in order to motivate them to work harder.

Cons:
The belief that employees of Wal-Mart are mistreated because of the relatively low pay may contains bias. If people think that 20% less than average is a kind of mistreated behavior, then why do so many people keep on working there? In 2006, a newly relocated Supercenter created 240 new jobs, bringing the total number of store associates to approximately 500. More than 2,500 people applied for jobs at the new store. There maybe some underlying reasons like discounts on products sold in Wal-Mart, extra benefits given by government, good working environment, also, flexible working hours. If this is the case, it’s unfair to say that Wal-Mart is mistreating its staff.

Howard

Wal-Mart should improve employee benefits by implementing a new human resource policy that could create a good condition for the employees. For example, they could offer some staff discounts on various products sold by Wal-Mart. Besides, Wal-Mart could collaborate with other companies to provide some special discounts for employees if they are purchasing the other company's products. Changing of the company's working culture like providing fair and good working conditions and treating all employees equally regardless of their gender or race would be essential to increase the sense of belongings of the employees to the company.

It is understandable that Wal-Mart has to incur a huge cost in implementing the new policy and the changing of corporate culture. Therefore, in order to maintain everyday low cost policy that Wal-Mart promised to its customer, maybe Wal-Mart could consider to increase the price of certain luxurious goods and at the same time maintain the profit margin and consumption goods low. This would actually make a balance between the cost and benefit that Wal-Mart might have to face.

Sean Smith

I absolutely agree that Wal-Mart should change the unequal treatment they give to the employees of different races and genders. However, we should not expect Wal-Mart, as a business entity, to solve a social problem like poverty. We as working-class consumers like to shop in Wal-Mart because it offers safe and quality products at a low price. If you increase that price, we can’t afford it as well as we do now. If you change your whole strategy, you are no longer the Wal-Mart I like to shop in now.

From the perspective of the Wal-Mart management, if you change the whole strategy, you are facing the risk of losing market shares and being less able to create as much job opportunities.

Ji Yung Jang

Stop Bullying Wal-Mart!

Wal-Mart’s main objective is to serve its customers well by providing low costs for consumers. This Wal-Mart does extremely well. Wal-Mart caters to impoverished consumers who can’t afford to shop elsewhere, and studies indicate that Wal-Mart’s food prices alone saved consumers $50 billion dollars a year. This allows consumers to save money by shopping at Wal-Mart, thus improving their standard of living. Furthermore, even for people who do not shop at Wal-Mart, they benefit indirectly from Wal-Mart’s low prices as Wal-Mart forces local grocers to compete with its lower prices (5% on average), driving down prices for consumer goods on average for consumers and redefining industry standards. Not to say that the ends justify the means, but according to the uilitarianism theory, Wal-Mart is currently doing the right thing by providing great benefits for a vast population. Finally, if Wal-Mart is so evil, how come the consumers aren’t complaining? The fact is, consumers are already voting for Wal-Mart with their dollars.

Second, Wal-Mart provides employment to a large workforce, especially for low-skilled laborers, who, if not for Wal-Mart, would be otherwise unemployed. In fact, Wal-Mart employs more full-time teenagers, senior citizens, and minorities than any other retailer. Many point to Wal-Mart’s high turnover rate as evidence for employee dissatisfaction. However, most of Wal-Mart’s job applicants come from the ranks of the unemployed. For these low-skilled laborers, Wal-Mart provides an opportunity to build their experience and skills so that they can move on to better-paying retailers such as Costco or Target in the future. If not for Wal-Mart, these people may not even have a chance to be employed. For these low-skilled employees, “if Wal-Mart's compensation is high enough to appear attractive to these workers, why should Wal-Mart be singled out for criticism of its wage policy? No company is big enough to control the entire labor market.” [Weston]

Sherri

The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. It is an endless cycle of servitude. The rich employ the poor at low wages--they make plenty of money at the expense of poor people needing jobs. They hide behind the curtain and let us fight it out.
Wal-Mart provides low prices, sure and great, but what is in it for them? Certainly not just a tingly feel good feeling to help his fellow man. No, I think not, my friends. They are in it to make money and that is what they will do, no matter what the cost.

Walmarts a Joke

Sure, they have great prices, but is it worth the cost of our future or the people they endanger by abusing people in Third World countries? They say save money and live better, but what they really mean is spend money so we can live better...
Wal-Mart needs to step up and take responsibility for its actions.

Join the Debate

 

Participate More!

Please send us your ideas for new Debate Room topics. If you're an academic, association officer, or other industry expert and would like to write a Debate Room essay, send us a query. Questions? See the

BW Mall - Sponsored Links

Buy a link now!