Friday, February 17, 2006


Despite the stress of dealing with disgruntled customers, I preferred working at the customer service desk to the monotony of cashiering. So I was happy when I was offered a primary placement there, just a few weeks after training in customer service. There was grumbling among some of the women who also worked on the desk since this promotion officially bumped me ahead of several of them who had far more experience than my 2 1/2 months. This included a far more qualified woman who had worked two stints at the store for a total of six years, and had been requesting this very position for some time now. But my stint here came to an abrupt end since I was never “coded” on the desk in the computer, even though I had been granted the promotion. So when an opening came up one of the assistant manager’s went and filled the position with a new transfer from the night shift. Rather than correct her higher-up, the front-end manager ambushed me on my way back from break with the question “How would you like to go back to Layaway?” I gave a cool “I guess so,” because I had been back in layaway before.

For a few days during the pre-Christmas rush I was thrown into Layaway without any training and told to “do what I could.” Considering, I did fairly well, serving as a runner to pick up the packages and also figuring out how to run the register. They always had to push the limits though, and one particularly rough evening I found myself as the only one scheduled to deal with a long line of people and close down the desk, something I had no clue how to do. (Touchingly, two girls who I didn’t get along with especially well broke their plans and stayed late on a Saturday night to help me out...) On the whole, Layaway was a pretty stressful place, due to long lines and understaffing, which were even more acute here than in most deparments. The problem stemmed from the thousands of packages being stored in many random locations, both in and outside the store, because of a crunch for space. Unlocking and searching shipping containers with a flashlight in freezing temperatures may rank as the single most unpleasant task of my tenure at WAL-MART. My catching a cold almost immediately sealed the deal: I hated Layaway.

But I digress, because this wasn’t even the main reason that I didn’t want to move to Layaway. As I have said before, I liked the service desk for all of the action; I got a lot of great material working there. This was why I had passed on the position in the photo lab, something I certainly wouldn’t have done if I had known I would soon be banished to Layaway. Back in my conversation with the front-end manager, my less than enthusiastic response must have been obvious, because she had my favorite CSM take me aside to take the fall. Clearly upset at being forced into such a position, she apologized for not “coding” me to the front desk, which triggered this unfortunate chain of events. While accepting full responsibility, in a more candid moment she admitted it wasn’t technically her fault, but rather something that slipped by everyone and came about due to a lack of communication. I tried unsuccessfully to ease her concern, telling her it wasn't a big deal and convincing myself that being “cross-trained” in another department would probably give me a better grasp of operations.

This experience is relevant for two reasons. The first is that it shows how poorly WAL-MART treats its employees and what little regard is given to their feelings. Equally importantly, my bouncing around points to yet another scam. I contend that my not being “coded” for the service desk was not a mistake, but a purposeful omission. The Service Desk is listed as a Pay Grade 4, as opposed to the Pay Grade 3 of cashiers, a difference of 20 cents per hour. A small amount perhaps, but it adds up when you consider that there are four of us associates who work largely at the desk but are not paid extra for it. I am further convinced that this is the case since they pulled the same shit for another raise that was coming to me. When I was hired as a temporary cashier I was told that I would receive an evaluation no later than 90 days in, the time when raises are rewarded. My 90th day came and went without mention; ultimately due to these convenient mistakes I would end up leaving the company before ever receiving a single raise.


Anonymous said...

I have read all of your post, and enjoyed them very much you have prove that all the rumors are true about Wal-Mart

I worked for Wal-Mart for only 9 months I went in thinking that I wanted to raise to the top, after leaving my job in softlines,which now I see was the wrong thing to do, since the Store Manager knows nothing about this area and is never there to created any problems.

I was ask to go to the Service Desk I worked the Christmas Season and returns, again since our Store Manager did not do any thing about the front end and the way it was begin run, I transferred to Hardlines side, big mistake.

I do not know if you are still employed or have quit, but to find out really how much worse it is than you have seen you really have to be on the Sales Floor, this is were the degradation of Human Begins is really in full worse. Belived it or not what you have witness on the front end is minor.

Anonymous said...

but it gets worse... i became a department manager and it is the most stressful job i have ever seen, not only do they give unreasonable amount of tasks to do by a certain time, but there are two or three other managers that give you another list of tasks to finish before you can go home; they walk around with thier hands in thier pockets and do nothing until it is time to scold you for not finishing everything right away. it's bullshit, plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

I now work at wal-mart and I used to work at a rite-aid
compared to that wal-mart is heaven
I am a cashier and I get paid more than I did before to do 75% less work, The people are nicer and give you chances to even more to a diffrent section vs doing all of them at once I understand with so many people it's hard to keep everyone happy but I am extremely satisfied

Anonymous said...

I've worked at McDonald's for two years now. I can describe the perks, pay, and raises as 'spartan'. So far I've received .15 raises every 6 months, but the state minimum wage shot up, eliminating most of my raises. We at McDonald's believe in squeezing every penny out of each minute that we're on the floor. Leaning is forbidden, and if you can't find something to do during slow hours the production managers have an endless list of tasks (scrubbing baseboards, cart wheels, polishing the stainless steel surfaces, scraping away months of grime from hard to reach areas).. I got tired of this thankless daily grind, went over to wal-mart after hearing people getting hired for about $5 more than I currently made.

That was where the bull started.

A pair of managers played "drop the ball" on my application for two weeks, before I got called in to do an interview. I was interviewed twice, one by a departmental crew leader and another by an assistant manager.

I passed with apparent flying colors (though why they would hire me so quickly boggles the mind), that same day they had me sign various documents.... I found out I'd be making less than what I'd expected, and only part time. I'd receive no training, and would be put directly on the sales floor, shadowing some other random employee during their shifts for 7 days, during which I'd receive no pay. They played hardball, pressuring me to sign this or that without reading it through, and told me I had to quit my present job before they'd even consider going any further.

I sensed this was a load of garbage, as I knew at least two other wal-mart employees who worked at my mcdonald's store.

I backed out, telling them to toss my application.

Strangely, I continued to get phone calls requesting interviews for the next two weeks.

Wal-Mart: Always dropping the ball...Always.

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Mark said...

Hi. I work at Walmart and recently interviewed for a position of Zone Merchandising Supervisor, AKA ZMS.

You said, "The Service Desk is listed as a Pay Grade 4, as opposed to the Pay Grade 3 of cashiers, a difference of 20 cents per hour."

I would really like to know where you found a list of the pay grades. I would like to know how much of a pay grade difference this new opportunity is, but I can't find the info online.

Anonymous said...

" My 90th day came and went without mention;"

Why didn't YOU mention it? I work for a Fortune 500 company and it's clearly spelled out in our employee handbook that it's the employee's responsibility to follow up on reviews, raises and promotions. Quit pretending to be a victim. You took the job, you benefitted from the pay, you should have asked for your 90-day raise.

Anonymous said...

walmart doesn't offer a "90" day raise.

Anonymous said...

Walmart use to offer an automatic raise after 90 days and the Sunday premium but they eliminated that a couple of years ago. However, if you were working at the store before they eliminated the Sunday premium, you still receive it. I think Zone manager is a paygrade 6 especially since electronics is a paygrade 5 and deli as well. Softlines and any other floor associate that doesn't have a register are paygrade 2 while leaving the cartpushers as pagrade 1.

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Anonymous said...

You have to go on the wire at walmart and you can look it up it will show you the pay grades it's in job preferences... just ask personnel if you can't find it

Anonymous said...

No 6 is department manager, zone is higher, but I only remember up to 6

Anonymous said...

I call BS on shadowing for 2 weeks with no pay.