The Evil Empire

Friday, August 18, 2006

I think everyone knows how much I hate McDonald's. But, at the risk of everyone thinking I'm anti-corporation, there's another company which makes McDonald's look like a bunch of saints. I hate this company (and all of it's stores) with every fiber of my being. I equate going to one of their stores with getting a root canal- sans novocaine. What company?

I would rather go to the ghetto KMart, with it's almost bare shelves, in Herndon than step foot in a Wal Mart. I honestly don't think Sam Walton would be too proud of the horrible monster that his simple business model has become. I really don't think the current business model is what he had in mind.

There hasn't been a single occasion in which I've had a decent experience there. Several years ago, when I moved to Ashburn, I was in a townhouse, and the landlord had allowed us (roommies and I) to paint. So, being that I was rather price-conscious, I went to the Wal-Mart paint department and picked out a color. Then waited for someone to come to the department to mix the color for me. And waited. And waited. Finally, I went to another department and asked them to page someone, which the girl did. I waited another 10 minutes. No one showed up. So, I went back to her and asked her page again. Another 10 minutes- still no one. I finally ended up leaving and going to Lowes.

I've also tried to get an oil change there, as well as getting a new tire. Every time they tell me it will be about 3 hours. Unacceptable. And the one time that I did finally get an oil change- I think they ripped me off, because two weeks later when I checked my oil, it was black. I honestly don't think they changed it. Never again. From now on, I go to an actual oil change place and pay the 40 bucks. It's worth it to know that there actually is oil in my car.

As if the shitty service wasn't enough, the store itself if always a cluster-fuck of overflowing shelves and masses of people, their 7 kids and 3 shopping carts in tow. No matter what time of day you venture in (and there were plenty of times in college that I took advantage of the 24/7 hours), there are loads of people- and normally the very worst of society. No, not everyone who shops there is included in this group, there are plenty of "normal" people who are drawn in by the low prices. I'm not talking about them. I'm talking about the people who, at 11 PM are there with their kids (who should be at home in bed) running around the store, screaming, while mom buys her 10 rolls of paper towels for $1.

Now, while the shitty service always pisses me off, I can understand it. We've all heard the stories of Wal-Mart locking their employees in the store overnight. And the fact that, in an effort to keep prices as low as possible, they hire almost all part-time, low-skilled, low-educated labor. I mean, who wants to hire people who can actually count to ten? Then you'd have to pay them fair wages, and (gasp) benefits. And, besides the lousy pay and lack of benefits, it's pretty obvious that the employees are treated like shit. The only people I've ever seen at a Wal-Mart who looked even remotely happy were the greeters- and they're just happy to be out of the retirement home for a few hours. You can tell a lot about the way a company treats their employees by the looks on the employees' faces- and by the way those employees treat customers. And every single employee (except the greeter) always looks like the life has been sucked out of them. Now contrast that with Target. Almost everyone at Target at least looks alive- and for the most part, reasonably happy. I refuse to give money to a company who treats their own internal customers the way Wal-Mart does. Basically, "low, low prices" equals "low, low wages, benefits, service, and quality." So while you are saving 29 cents on a new mop, it's the employees that suffer.

Another beef with Wal-Mart- hypocrisy. They will not sell the un-edited versions of cds, video games or movies, preaching "family values." First of all, it's censorship, and if they would bother to train their staff to check id's, it wouldn't be a problem. But they will not do that. Unless you want the edited version of your favorite artist's cd, you won't be able to buy it at Wal-Mart. Secondly, why do they feel it's necessary to instill these values? Who died and made them my parents? While I'll admit that not enough parents are doing their jobs and paying attention to what their children are listening to, I also feel that Wal-Mart has no right to tell people what they can and can't listen to. And while they are preaching to us about "family values," they are selling tobacco products and weapons. I guess we are worried about kids listening to curse words in music and playing violent video games, but we aren't too worried about them smoking or stabbing each other. And keep in mind that their poorly-trained and under-paid staff probably could give two shits if the kid buying a pack of cigarettes or knife from them is 18 or 14- they just want their shift to be over. We won't go into too much political talk here, but can you guess which political party they give money to? Either way, I will not let a store tell me what music I can listen to and what movies I can watch.

I could get very bleeding-heart liberal on y'all and bitch about the way Crap-Mart undercuts the "little guy," and drives smaller retailers out of business, but I know at least a couple of you (right-wingers) who are going to argue the whole "every man for himself" point, so I won't get into it. Suffice it to say, I absolutely loathe Wal-Mart and vowed quite a while ago to never shop there again.


David in DC,  8/18/2006 01:01:00 PM  

When I worked in the Communications Office at a union trying to organize Wal-Mart's distribution centers and drivers I discovered that they are also one of the worst serial labor law violators in U.S. history.

Whether you believe in unions or not, the laws are on the books. Repeal 'em if you like, but until you do, break them and you're a crook.

Wal-Mart is run by folks who celebrate their status as scofflaws, when it comes to denying workers the rights to organize. They revel in it. With very little promptimg, they brag about it.

Good call, Ash.

Wal-Mart = Evil.

Johnny 8/18/2006 01:32:00 PM  

I personally do not get these people who hate WalMart so much. And they have every right to sell only the CD's and video games they want to sell. This isn't "censorship", it's free enterprise. I think it's great that WalMart does that; the working class customers could use some help in protecting their kids from vulgar entertainment. From reading this blog, it seems like Ashburnite's parents could have used the help also.

Ashburnite 8/18/2006 01:40:00 PM  

david- very good point. While I think that in some cases, labor unions are a little out of control, I do agree that they exist for a reason and that there are plenty of industries in which unions are necessary. And by Wal-Mart denying the rights of their employees to organize they are ensuring that they can treat their employees like shit.

johnny- you are one repressed ass. First I'm a slut for having sex before marriage and now I had shitty parents just because you don't like what is said in my blog? here's an idea- fuck off. and yes, I used a vulgar word. If you're so offended by me, then stop fucking (more vulgarity) reading. And by the way, my parents paid very close attention to what I was listening to/watching. They, unlike you, knew that it was their job to raise me, NOT a retail store's. And by the way, get a blog that actually works.

to everyone else, sorry, but hypocrites like "johnny" piss me off.

Tara 8/18/2006 02:40:00 PM  

You might want to try the Wal-Mart in my area. I call it MY Wal-Mart because I'm there so many times because it's within minutes of my home. However, I know exactly what you mean about waiting in different departments for someone to help you. The same thing happens in the craft and sewing department, and the layaway department. I avoid those areas as much as I can, but when I do have to go into the craft department I usually search for the stuff myself before I have to resort to calling someone.

Cody 8/18/2006 03:47:00 PM  

my friend Robin just got a job at corporate doing design stuff.

Johnny 8/18/2006 07:10:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AlienCG 8/19/2006 07:49:00 AM  

I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart either. If you are going to sell music, sell the actual CD's and not just the censored copies. For that reason, I don't buy CD's there. I don't buy video games there, either, but that's because I go to a locally owned and operated video game store.

Needtsza 8/20/2006 04:54:00 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ricardo 8/21/2006 12:39:00 PM  

I love you! This is the stuff that gets me so annoyed and no one cares. I'm glad you spoke up. In my town Wal-Mart is the only game in town. Don't like it, then you have to go several towns over to find Target which I prefer. And what is it with these families out at midnight with the screaming kids? I hate that.

But what I hate more is the certain political view of every man for himself. This is what many a corporation does and this is why you are so frustrated. Until these companies are made to face the music, it will continue.

mgc 8/21/2006 02:37:00 PM  

ash - i am at a loss for words. i thought you never got political?

nicole 8/21/2006 11:12:00 PM  

Wow, Ash, you've got one of THOSE types lurking on your blog?? Oh dear.

But if it's considered "free enterprise" when WalMart dictates which CDs it'll sell then it's definitely FREE SPEECH for you to complain about it on your own damn blog.

Simple bit of logic: if you don't appreciate a particular blog's content then don't waste your self-righteous time COMMENTING on it.

Mike V. 8/21/2006 11:15:00 PM  

amen, baby!

wal mart is a pox on our country.

as the largest employer in the US, they have been responsible for manufacturing jobs fleeing for sweatshops overseas, falling wages and terrible benefits more than any company in history.

I will never, EVER step foot in a Wal Mart and I never have.

Anonymous,  12/01/2006 06:20:00 PM  

My sympathies.

I don't find the crowd that specific to Wal-Mart though, more specific to its location. I've been to Walmarts in Toronto and the surrounding area, and while they're full of the "working class" people, they are not even close to what you're describing. I've been to a Wal-Mart in the Bay Area and it was a bit closer, but still, not like that at all. I bet if I go to one in a Southern state or in Florida, it will resemble the picture you painted, or be even worse.

So Wal-Mart is evil and all, but that's beside the point. What it is, basically, is the absolute cheapest store you can find (except dollar stores, but those don't have nearly all the products it has), so it draws the shittiest people to it. I think it's as simple as that.

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