I am rather particular when it comes to a brick and mortar shopping experience. Specifically, I like for someone in the store to acknowledge that I am there and to ask me if they can help me with anything while I am there. This is the case even if I know exactly what I want to buy. I once went into a store, knowing exactly what I wanted to buy and walked around the store looking at things, all the time noticing that the store employee was just standing there doing what looked like absolutely nothing. At no point did he even give me a head nod. I would have happily taken my purchases in a sack or a bag if he had even tried a simple hello, but this was not to be.

During the months that I worked at Wal-Mart, one of the things I really loved about the place was that there was always a person at the entrance who would greet every single person as they came in and bid them a good day as they left. I’m not saying that these people were one hundred percent sincere to every single person they greeted — but they certainly made it seem as though they really cared about the wellbeing of the people greeted. They really knew how to make someone feel like they were noticed — you’re not just a statistic here, you’re a respected shopper and we want to start off your experience well.

Now it seems that Wal-Mart is looking to cut costs by re-assigning greeters to go deeper into the store and help customers find items, a chore formerly done by employees. (I have many not so fond memories of directing people one foot to their right to find things that they wanted.)

[Jerome] Allen, who is a member of Organization United for Respect at Walmart, said the company can cut costs by giving greeters more work inside the stores. At his location, Wal-Mart has been reducing hours of some associates. By sending greeters into the stores, they can do some work formerly done my other employees and save wages, he said.

“I’m going to be doing part of the associates’ work,” Allen said. “They have been cutting hours left and right.”

I wonder how many people will be alienated by this move. They step into their favorite store, and find themselves not feeling as welcome as they once did. I quickly gave up any thought to shopping at Wal-Mart once I read of their misuse of Medicaid as their own health care plan, not to mention abysmal wages and poor treatment of employees. I therefore cannot say that this would be the thing to drive me away from shopping there. For those who once happily were greeted by the purveyors of low prices, they may feel the retail giant shunting them away — perhaps into the arms of the smaller independently owned retailers so badly threatened by giants like Wal-Mart.

4 Comments

  1. To me the big point here is that the former greeters make less than employees classed as ‘associates’ and will now be doing some of the work of the latter, whose hours are being cut.

    Seems like working at WalMart is a marginal job anyway; now they’re making it even more so, and you can bet those associates will be hustling their asses off and ready to do overtime for free, to out themselves on the supervisor’s list of ‘good’ employees.

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