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Old 03-19-2007, 09:40 AM   #1
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Another Wal-Mart story

Originally, I wasn't going to post this, but Wal-Mart makes me so angry. I know that many of you are probably tired of hearing about Wal-Mart, but I am just venting some anger. While I am finishing my degree, I'm working part-time at Wal-Mart. I don't even work in the pet department, but I find myself there quite often. In fact, many employees who don't work in the pet department have to help out by answering questions and getting fish without any training at all.

As an employee, I have gotten in trouble on three occasions for giving suggestions to customers in the pet department. The first time was when I refused to sell fish to a customer because they had a severe case of ick. The customer got mad and told my manager. I was forced to bag them after the manager gave me a lecture on sales. The next day, the customer returned the dead fish and yelled at the manager because those fish infected his whole tank.

The second time I got in trouble was when I told a customer to go to another pet store to get a certain species of fish. He was looking for a fish that we didn't sale, so I told him to go to a LFS where I knew they sold that species of fish. A manager overheard the conversation and yelled at me later that day. He told me that I needed to sale the fish that we have. I guess he wanted me to attempt to sale a fish that the customer really didn't want.

The last time I got in trouble was when I explained the nitrogen cycle to a customer. He wanted to purchase everything that day (the tank, gravel, filtration system, and the fish). I told him to wait on the fish. Boy did I get in trouble. I was told that I wasn't here to make friends with the customers; I was here to stock shelves and make sales. The next day, that same customer invested in the largest tank we sale (the 55 gallon tank), instead of the 20 gallon tank he was going to originally buy. Over the course of a month, he purchased over $300 worth of fish products.

Even though I have had numerous customers come in to thank me for the advice that I have given them, I am not allowed in the pet department anymore. I've helped them make many sales, it just that the sales were spread out over a couple weeks rather than that day. Apparently, making the immediate sale is much more important to Wal-Mart than having happy customers.

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Old 03-19-2007, 10:04 AM   #2
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Although you are correct that there are many horror stories concerning W*M that we read about, this would be the first that I have read from the perspective of an employee.

I am glad to hear you have attempted to do what you could to better serve the industry when you were able to, and I am sad to hear of your ban from the pet department.

Thank you for posting.
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Old 03-19-2007, 10:38 AM   #3
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Walmart has mostly been a happy experience for me from a customers point of view but it sound's more like an improperly trained manager more than a Walmart issue.

Your "extended sales" logic based on customer knowledge/satisfaction is basic "brand loyalty/value added" principals taught in the most rudimentary managerial courses and should immediately be brought up to your bosses supervisors either in person or anonymously.

Unfortunately since Sam Walton passed in 92 Walmart's slowly gone from one of the most respected enjoyable shopping experiences to one of the worst. Long lines at checkouts, messy stores, and disgruntled employees due to being over extended became the norm for about 10 years after Sam's passing.

I've slowly seen Walmart come back to core customer values learning the hard way that low prices drive them in but without customer satisfaction they get less repeat business.

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Old 03-19-2007, 11:31 AM   #4
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I do agree that this could be a managerial issue in my specific store rather than a corporate issue. I plan to speak to the store manager about this entire situation. If that doesn't work, I'll just have to go up the chain of command.

There is one issue that I think pertains to every Wal-Mart store though. The fact of the matter is that there aren't enough employees in the store. Under-staffing is a real problem in every department, especially the service departments such as sporting goods and pets. If there isn't an employee working in those departments, the nearest employee is supposed to help. I know for a fact that these 'backup' employees are not formally trained to handle these situations.

Just to give an example: I've purchased fish from other Wal-Mart stores where the employee who helped me regularly worked in cosmetics or housewares. Often times, they nearly killed the fish attempting to catch them or they would put not enough water in the bag.

I guess one thing I could address to my manager is to formally train any backup employee who covers the shift of the regular pet department worker. That way, customers could benefit from an employee who has at least some knowledge of fish. I know that this wouldn't change the entire corporate concept, but at least it would help my store.
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Old 03-19-2007, 11:45 AM   #5
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I used to work at walmart and was a manager in the pet department. This is definitley an issue with the management in your store. My manager used to just tell me to do what I wanted. I did run into an issue at one time when a customer wanted to buy 100 feeder goldfish to put them in little bowls for a wedding, then openly admited to me that he was going to flush "whoever was still alive". I told him to consider betta fish and to give them away at the end of the wedding, but he was persistent. He told me he understood and instead of leaving he went and got a manger to get them for him.

I had some other issues that I won't go into here, but overall my experience there as pretty pleasant. I would definitley consider going to your store manager, and if they don't help, to your district manager.

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Old 03-19-2007, 11:49 AM   #6
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Sorry, I must make a clarification. I stated a fact about my store, but some people might think that I was saying it as a fact for every store. It is a fact that my store is under-staffed in the service departments because we don't have a person there at all times even though we should. I have seen in many other Wal-Mart stores, the service departments without employees as well. I'm not saying that every Wal-Mart is under-staffed even though that my be the opinion of many people.
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Old 04-29-2007, 02:10 PM   #7
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You're attempts at doing the right thing are definitely appreciated. I'm a regular Wal-Mart customer and I have been to several and usually they are understaffed. The staff in the pet departments are in general unexperienced in caring for pets and as a customer, I have gone up the chain of command with my fish complaints and still no real improvement in my towns store. My only comfort is that one employee that works in the pet department at my store tries her very best to do what she can and is open to advice from people who know a little more then she does. When she is on shift, the tanks are clean and she is constantly medicating for ich and various other nasties. I still consider any fish I buy from WM a rescued fish though. Although the severity of the issue in your store may be isolated to your location, I still believe there is a significant problem with WM overall concerning their pet departments. I just thank god they dont carry any other animals.
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Old 10-08-2007, 06:27 AM   #8
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i myself would not buy fish from walmart as most of there products seem to be the lower end quality items. and i have found most of there fish are sick or have some sort of deffect. None of there products for aquariams are anygood excluding the lights they seam to be ok. And i am anoyed at the improper training of there pet department Especialy when you hear an employe tell a customer a dozen juvie cons and labs will be ok in a 20g tank. And after when they outgrow the tank it just gives another person a bad taste in there mouth for what can be a wonderful hobby. It is just my opinion if your gonna sell pet supplys and fish properl train your employes... enough said ... peace to all
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