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Wal-Mart Is In Deep Trouble--Ask Its Customers.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on January 8, 2007

I posted an analysis of Wal-Mart on November 30 suggesting it needed a new business model and so far, I’ve received 127 comments from people, most of whom are really mad. Every CEO who reads this blog should go to these comments. And top management at Wal-Mart should certainly see them—and learn. These comments are worth a fortune of “management consultant” money because they are authentic responses by real people who feel betrayed by Wal-Mart on a whole host of issues. Go to the Innovation & Design channel to post your own comment.

The issues are clear. Customers are very angry at the poor service they receive at Wal-Mart. There aren’t enough employees to help them, the employees themselves are not very helpful, either because they are rude, ignorant or don’t speak English well-enough to communicate with customers. Employees chatting while customers wait to get service also gets people angry. This is a big cultural issue that drives Wal-Mart customers nuts.

People are also mad at how Wal-Mart treats its employees. There are dozens of comments from people who worked at Wal-Mart, including many from managers, describing how bad management is at many stores. Being forced to work overtime and low pay come up again and again.

People are mad at Wal-Mart doing away with layaway before Christmas. This is the time of year that many want to go into debt to buy presents for their family. Ending layaway is seen at ending a major service for customers.

There are plenty of comments from people happy at the new low-priced drugs and low prices in general. But many more are not happy with dirty stores.

If you read through all 100 plus comments, it is clear that Wal-Mart is facing a management crisis, especially at the local store level. Employees are not trained to deal with customers. And there are far too few of them in many stores. Customer service is terrible at many locations and, again, people are really mad.

It sounds a lot like Home Depot, which used to have a sterling reputation with customers. In recent years, it cut employees and service and annoyed its once-loyal customer base.

At a time when consumers are playing a greater role in the design and creation of new products and services, it is madness to anger them by cost-cutting. The cost-cutting business model that sacrifices service and customer loyalty will prove increasingly harmful to CEOs and their companies if they insist on holding on to the past and not embracing the future.

Reader Comments

PiP Stocking

January 9, 2007 3:53 AM

Wallyworld is the biggest pricate sector welfare system in the third world. Who do you think sells all the crap produced by the millions of
chinese living in dorms and gtting paid a dollar a day.


January 11, 2007 2:48 AM

I was very upset at Wal-Mart for ending the layaway service. This year, I went to Meijer the day after Thanksgiving. I was pleasantly surprised! Not only did I find everything they had on sale, I got excellent customer service. So much that I was able to shop at three more stores before I went in to work for the day. Wal-Mart is a has-been in my book.


January 11, 2007 3:27 PM

walmart is out. id rather pay more at a smaller store with good service and better products.


May 4, 2007 8:42 PM

I can diffently agree with others when there are complaints that wal-mart treats bad because I worked there, and worked very hard and did extra things and favors for managers while getting paid low income money, when associates are asked to perform certain tasks and they complete it never once did I or anyone else here a thank you or get any recognition for the work that we've done and thats why I went to college for a career in business information systems, and so many other associates go to school for diffrent careers, in the end all walmart amounts to is just a stupid mediocre store.


August 11, 2007 1:17 AM

I can totally agree with all of you here. I currently work at wal-mart. And you think a company that makes Millions to billions of dollars a year, could pay us more? While management gets to sit around, and look at the computer all day, we are busting our butts to make sure everyone leaves happy. And when we, as associates go to the mgr for a work related complaint? What do they do? Close the door on your face, or make it worse. I officially have given up on even attempting to help them. Our offers to help are declined, or turned against us. And we get in trouble, for another shifts problems. Consider me done with Wal mart forever, they never wanted my help. So now they wont get it.

Dr Wm Letzkus

October 8, 2007 12:47 PM

Good article...

Bud Sutton Jr

October 23, 2008 3:18 AM

Walmart needs to bring back their layaway because there are low income
families that can't afford to buy so many things at one time

John mcQueen

February 17, 2009 7:56 PM

I worked for Wal-Mart for (6) years. I know how management handles situations in the Open Door Policy. It doesn't work. Management is more interested in their favored associates, that kiss ass,and there is never a manager that has any faults. I know for a fact that these managers will be totally dishonest in their position, and then turn around and blame associates for waht the managers themselves are doing. Managers will watch surveillance videos of associates and discipline them, BUT, the managers (which are the blame) should be the ones accountable for their own actions that they blame the workers for. The schedules are always screwed up. The computer and printout of the schedules don't work. AND, if an associate needs a correction in the schedule, managment claims the schedule has been corrected (which it hasn't), and the associates get written up or even terminated for attendance, even with a confirmation number. Management simply doesn't give a shit. Another thing is, if management knows an associate as a long-term associate, they will look for ways to get rid of you (falsify records and reports) to steal your benefits. I was terminated for the wrong reasons. I was entitled to a "FINAL" paycheck and Wal-Mart held my check for 90 days of the dated check to make the check "VOID if not cashed within 90 days, then sent the check to me in the mail. However, I did get the money, laughable to say. So, if an associate has a problem, contact the people that will listen (NOT WAL-MART), the Department of Labor.


April 14, 2009 5:36 PM

walmart is not the place to work there open door is a slap in the face. they fire you if you even try to speak your mind. your just a robot do what your told to do or get fired plain and simple


September 16, 2009 6:17 AM

I also work for Walmart. The new scheduling comuter system they have should be criminal. You are not a person just a robot. If you do not conform to their hours (anytime they want you to work) they cut your time in half. So full time people are less than part time and I have known, I am married to someone that sometimes gets 0 hours yes 0 hours because she does not confrom to what they want. So much for a place that hired us years ago saying they would work around our college and daycare hours.


October 2, 2009 7:13 PM

The following is an e-mail going around complimenting Wal-Mart. (Of course doesn't mention at times treating its' employees like slaves.)

The Federal Government spends $300,000,000/hour (24/7) and goes into debt to boot.

This should boggle your mind.

1. Americans spend $36,000,000 at Wal-Mart every hour of every day.
2. This works out to $20,928 profit every minute!
3. Wal-Mart will sell more from January 1 to St.Patrick's Day (March 17th) than Target sells all year.
4. Wal-Mart is bigger than Home Depot + Kroger + Target + Sears + Costco + K-Mart combined.
5. Wal-Mart employs 1.6 million people and is the largest private employer.
6. Wal-Mart is the largest company in the history of the World.
7. Wal-Mart now sells more food than Kroger & Safeway combined, and keep in mind they did this in only 15 years.
8. During this same period, 31 Supermarket chains sought bankruptcy (including Winn-Dixie).
9. Wal-Mart now sells more food than any other store in the world.
10. Wal-Mart has approx 3,900 stores in the USA of which 1,906 are Super Centers; this is 1,000 more than it had 5 years ago.
11 This year 7.2 billion different purchasing experiences will occur at a Wal-Mart store.
(Earth's population is approximately 6.5 billion.)
12. 90% of all Americans live within 15 miles of a Wal-Mart

Let Wal-Mart bail out Wall Street. Better yet ... . . let them run the Government.

Bill Jackson

October 2, 2009 10:31 PM

Walmart has the record lawsuits. And, look at the executives that run Walmart that have criminal records and sent to prison for fraud, embezzlement, misrepresentation, and all the manipulation for their personal gain. These "idiots" are not sorry until they caught in their trap.
Out of 29 states, better than 3 million associates (past and present) are suing Walmart in class action for unpaid hours (forced to work during breaks and off the clock), unpaid medical claims, falsifying records in their files (for their personal gain), terminating associates over false reports to steal their entitled benefits, taking away their stocks and 401k's associates put their hard earned money into.
These allegations against Walmart is NOW going to take effect in Federal Court on October 19, 2009. It is going to be interesting to see how all this turns out.

Alicia Moon

November 6, 2009 10:14 PM

Y'all got that right!

My aunt is one of the primary litigants in a class action law suit against Walmart in the state of Indiana. If you really want to get into it about a total disregard for employee rights you ought to check out Indiana's workmans compensation laws and their labor relations laws are like. They suck! No wonder Walmart is right at home in Indiana.

Oh, and BTW, in case anyone is wondering...hell no! "Mitch" AINT "My Man" And for anyone who labors hourly, the same is the case. Mitch Daniels is his own man and a big company man.

Who ever said that Walmart ought to bail out the government was never so right on the money! If you want to get technical with it, the majority of the people employed at Walmart still recieve or have to seek government benefits because the slave wages that Walmart pays don't leave them with enough to provide health insurance for themselves after they barely pay rent, buy food, pay utilities, if possible on that pittance. That's the cost that gets passed right back on to the consumers through the taxes the local governments need to raise while Walmart advertises "Prices going down." (Yeah, right along with our standard of living, free market, and competition.)

I also noticed that everytime there is a statewide disaster or a national disaster in America I don't see Walmart on the scene anywhere jumping up to offer help. Where were they when Hurrican Katrina trashed the Big Easy and all the levee broke? I did not see the Walmart corporation offer any input of help during any of our nation's bailoutand deficit problems, a good part of which their business practices have contributed to.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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