Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The long arm of Wally-World

Wal-Mart has a goal: global domination. Wal-Mart, currently the largest retailer in the United States, is about to acquire Taiwanese-owned Trust-Mart. With that purchase, Wal-Mart will be able to duplicate in China what they've done in the USA: exploit workers by cutting benefits. Wal-Mart's health insurance options for 2007, dubbed the "value plan" and the "freedom plan," feature deductibles reaching as high as $6,000 for family coverage under the "freedom plan" -- meaning that a Wal-Mart employee selecting that plan would have to fork over $6,000 before insurance started covering their family's medical bills. That's a lot of money for a cashier earning Wal-Mart wages, and it begs some serious questions about how a deductible that high can be met without going into debt.

And it will allow them to do in China what they do in the USA: exploit customers by doing away with layaway. The company cited falling demand and credit cards as reasons for ending the policy. Consumers apparently prefer the instant gratifcation plastic can give them to the patience that is required with layaway.

Wal-Mart wants instant gratification, too. It wants people to pay up and take their merchandise home.

Left out, says customer Laura Walsh of Luray, Va., are people who are trying to live within their means and avoid credit card debt.
"For being a responsible citizen, and paying for my goods ahead of time and not digging myself into debt, this is what I get," she said.

And the acquisition will let Wal-Mart do in China what it does in the USA: bust unions and destroy neighborhoods. "Wal-Mart told the world, the aldermen and the mayor that they weren't bringing supercenters to Chicago. . . . Now, big-box living ordinance goes away and, all the sudden, we're talking supercenters. Wal-Mart has a credibility issue with the public. They're saying one thing and doing another. They owe us an explanation about why they've changed their strategy," Gannon said.

Ron Powell, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 881, said allowing Wal-Mart to build supercenters would destroy good union jobs at other stores.

"Look at what's happened all over the country, especially in small towns. They put every other grocery stores out of business. Then, they start raising their prices," Powell said.

I wonder if the goods sold in China will say "Made in America?"


Frederick said...

I wont shop there, it's amoral.

Anonymous said...

Left out, says customer Laura Walsh of Luray, Va., are people who are trying to live within their means and avoid credit card debt.

Ms. Walsh's opinion is commendable, but I should point out that layaway is usually just a way for corporations to book revenue on stock that they haven't actually acquired yet as well as a way to make money on your money. It's a ripoff for the consumer because of the interest rates, and there is always another option for the consumer. Save the money, and buy the item when they money is available. Of course this requires the discipline of not spending it in the meantime.

Tina said...

Some very kind yet very misguided person gave me a pre-bought portraits package at Wal-Mart Studios as a baby shower gift when I was pregnant with BabyGirl. It allowed us to have new portraits taken of her every 3 months for an entire yr. I didn't want to waste their gift-- and I didn't want to use it either-- but we did use it after we looked it up online that the portrait studios rent space from Wal-Mart and are not actually owned by them. That made it a bit easier to swallow.... but... we haven't foot in a Wal-Mart since the last time we picked up the last package of photos, nor do we intend to anytime in our lifetimes, either.

sumo said...

I don't shop there...I'd rather pay a little more than rub elbows with that many people at one time. Sets the old nerves on edge...and I wouldn't be able to tolerate all the kids screaming and running around loose. I went with a friend once (not knowingly) and thought I'd entered Bizzarro Land...no thank you.

pekka said...

This kind of predatory company, with it's relentless pursuit of the retail monopoly and the strangle hold on suppliers, is killing us all in the end. Their march to take over the retailing has looked like unstopable volcanic erruption until recently. Germans in their wisdom voted Wall Mart down by their wallets and, after losing about billion dollars, were forced to pack it in. Their hostility towards their employees has also prompted a red light for their expansion from the Scandinavian governments. Maybe these body snatchers from the outer space can be stopped after all!

DivaJood said...

I have a real hate on for Wal-Mart, and the partner, Sam's Club. Fred, you're right, they are amoral companies.

Kvatch, I always understood layaway to be as follows: customer selects the item, puts money on it, and has a specific period to pay it off and then collect it. Always on available, specific items. What you're describing is "special order" and yes, it's a way to make money on the customer's money.

Tina, I can just picture your face when you got the shower gift. That's a sad story, my friend. Hopefully, with the current bean, no one will give you anything to do with Wal-Mart.

Sumo, I had a similar experience: on the road, driving TO California when I moved here, ran out of something I needed. The ONLY store around was a Wal-Mart. It had put everything out of business in the area. And this was a "I gotta get this NOW" item. So we went in. I had an anxiety attack. It was not pretty.

Pekka, good description: "Predatory Company". They are not doing so well in Europe.

pissed off patricia said...

I wouldn't go in one of those damned stores if you held a freakin' gun to my head.

Anonymous said...

Kvatch, I always understood layaway to be as follows...

I think I was trying to get at the consumer's somewhat naive notion of how layaway benefits them rather than the particulars of how it's transacted. No matter how you slice it, layaway benefits the corporation and the corporation only. Saving one's own money until the item can be paid for in cash is the only system that benefits the consumer (unless, of course, you have the discipline to pay off your credit cards in full, each month).

Lola Heatherton said...

Well, I get much better make-up from the French department store, Tar-jey, also known as The Red Circle Boutique.

Helen Wheels said...

I wouldn't be caught dead setting food in a Walmart and it's been at least 15 years since I have (if that).

My mom has bought stuff for my niece there, and my sister returns it. She keeps telling my mom not to buy stuff there, I think my mom finally got the message.

It is a monster, like the hydra, seems if you cut off one head 5 grow back in its place. SCARY.

NotSoccer Mom said...

everyone should see that movie. it's available at netflix. it really spells it all out for you. no one should be shopping there! it's BAD BAD BAD news for us all.

Anonymous said...

communist wal-mart the new terror outlet in the usa as far as im conserned wal-mart is a new kind of terror outlet at a fair price....fairprice to maim and in some cases DEATH TO OUR CHILDREN!!!and look at all the jobs that wal-mart has taken from the middle class, sending them overseas, or threating to forceably close manufactures factorys if they do not move there productions to china to be made, by cheap labor, nothing more than swetshops for the young and poor..... we the peaple, should do somthing- LIKE STOP BUYING WAL-MART!!!!STOP FUNDING THE TERROR!!!WE CAN FIGHT TERROR AT OUR HOME FRONT, HELL LET'S LEFT THE EMBARGO ON CUBA AND PUT ONE ON THE COMMUNIST CHINA WAL-MART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!