Monday, October 19, 2009

Walmart Will Tease But Won't Please!

I have a major attitude issue with the blue giant of retail. They have their customer strategy ass backwards and they haven't a clue about it. I defy anyone reading this article to challenge me to the truthfulness of the statement I'm going to make in the next sentence. If Walmart is selling something, anything, you like, they will discontinue it! Years ago I ws an assistant manager for them and I worked the overnight shift for 6 months. I found a delicious shrimp dish in the packaged deli dept, it was out of this world. A month later it was gone from the order list. Every week a customer or more would come to me and describe a product they were looking for and I'd have to tell them we didn't carry it anymore and they would either leave dejected or really pissed off. I had another similar situation in the Hardware dept. They sold a roll of really tough trashbags in various sizes and they were great. I used to be good for 2-3 packages a month with them and they always sold down, especially the 35 gal size - DISCONTINUED! They now sell Hefty tough bags for about $13. I will not spend $13 on a box of trashbags. They can stick them up their ........ I digress, a habit I fall into more and more these days. On and on it goes.

Walmart has repackaged it's cracker and, I assume cookie, packages to look like they belong in a generic hospital kitchen. Very unappealing to look at let alone judge the contents. The old packages fell under the if it's not broken don't fix category. Tax write-offs I gather. In their haste to rebrand their own generic products the decided to do what? That's right, delete a cracker that was the best cracker they ever sold - the Crackle. I spoke to the Keebler rep in a store in the Tampa market and he told me they did indeed drop that product and are now trying to push their generic Town House cracker which, to my stupidity, I proceeded to buy 2 boxes of to see if it was the Crackle just broken up. They suck! If these are the repackaged Town House crackers that Keebler sells then they must have sole them the rejects because these things are not good at all. The Crackle were buttery with the right amount of salt and .......THAT'S WHY THEY WERE DISCONTINUED! Some Bentonville asswipe will probably pull a data spreadsheet and say the Crackles didn't measure up and that the other cracker things would turn over a tidier profit from the low income folk who probably buy the generics. If I got to Publix, Sweetbay, or Winn-Dixie supermarkets and tell them there's something I would love for them to carry they try to get them. You tell someone at Walmart the same thing they tell you it's the decision of the buyers in Bentonville that make the decision on the life or death of a product. That my friends is totally wrong. I know it's wrong because I fought for a customer to get Hebrew National Kosher products returned to the order book and I got them reinstated. I showed the numbers from my store to the buyer and he directed me to the specific buyer and I proved the sales numbers to him and showed him the the competition was getting our Kosher business and that we did indeed sells those items, especially during the holidays.

In conclusion, I firmly believe that Walmart has done the one thing company founder Sam Walton never wanted to see happen. They got too big for their own, or the customers, good! They don't feel the need to listen to what the cuustomers want but rather what the spreadsheet wants which are often in conflict. The employees are not happy, the customers are not happy but the executives are happy. They know that by keeping prices down people will be forced to shop at Walmart but there is a crack in that ice. I'm actually finding regular pricing for many regular items I buy weekly cheaper at the supermarkets without being on sale. Walmart doesn't seem to be price comparing anymore and several people I know have tried to do a price match and have gotten resistance to it. A few years ago it was not like that. What happened? I did also notice that the star between Wal and Mart is gone and is at the end taking a spiral shape now. The star was for Sam Walton and I guess he's been discontinued too! Does the spiral have significance? It doesn't appear to be an upward one.

One last note. Do you ant a free gift card? Call 1-800-wal-mart and make a legitimate complaint and tell them you want some satisfaction from the local store. 99% of the time they'll pay you off with a gift card and reply to the internal email from the home office that the customer was satisfied with their service. People knew if they spoke up enough they'd be bought off. The store manager I had made it a rule to do justy that to avoid repeated complaints. You have the option and this is what usually happens. Be legitimate about your issue and don't scam, too many of them are out there driving the prices up by scamming.

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