Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Wal-Mart is Evil

There appears to be no hope of reform for Wal-Mart -- it is an evil organization. Don't get me wrong -- I don't think the people who work there are evil -- just the organization -- represented foremost by their executives and their board. Why such an audacious claim? (If you think the claim is audacious, you're probably an employee of Wal-Mart that is part of the problem, or very naive.)

Take this article on Wal-Mart's "charm offensive" that has been published by BusinessWeek. After years of giving the finger to critics, Wal-Mart is finally realizing that maybe they should lend an ear to the criticism. Wal-Mart has been criticized for just about everything evil in business: for being a global conglomerate that wields its clout like a scythe; to the environmental havoc its business practices are directly responsible for; for keeping prices low at the expense of employees and the use of third world sweat shops; and resisting unionization wherever it went -- going so far as closing down operations rather than succumbing to organized labour. You don't have to agree with all the criticisms -- but chances are, there is at least one that will resonate with you -- and the preceding sample is by no means exhaustive.

Wal-Mart is finally responding to some of the criticism, not because they are necessarily genuine in believing that they have erred in some way -- they're responding because all that criticism is actually resulting in a sales drop. The bottom line has taken a hit. Says Wal-Mart's CEO and Evil Leader Extraordinaire, H. Lee Scott Jr.:
"When growth was easier this idea of critics being ignored was O.K., because you were getting all this positive feedback from the numbers. As the share price slows [and] the critics are attacking, you have to get to this point. Maybe not all of our critics wish us harm. Maybe some would like us to be a better company and do things differently. So you start reaching out...trying to understand what is it about us that causes them to have this concern. How much of it is legitimate? How much of it is misinformation? What is it that we need to change? What is it we can't [change] that we will hopefully be able to communicate?"

Translation: sales have tanked because of all the bitching -- Wal-Mart will now listen so they can regain sales. Scott even admits that they could be a better company! He's aware that they are a bane on this world.

To this end, Wal-Mart has created a propaganda machine dubbed "Action Alley." It's staffed by Wal-Mart's own spinmasters, as well as professional lairs from PR firm Edelman. "Action Alley" has been tasked with getting the voice of corporate -- the propaganda machine -- going. When hurricane Katrina shredded New Orleans, "Action Alley" was busy shoveling manure on the positive actions of those low paid Wal-Mart staffers in the field. Stores were opening their doors to release supplies to shoppers in their neighbourhoods and "Action Alley" was salivating as they capitalized on the heroic efforts of Wal-Mart's peons. Not only does Wal-Mart ride the little guy to billions in profits, but when the chips are down, they flog the poor bastards to the media to take credit for their heroism. The spin continues.

Some of the actions Wal-Mart is taking in response to their critics is positive -- regardless of their motivations. It's good that they are reducing packaging -- although they're saving money in doing it; and using solar power in a couple of new stores -- although they're saving money in doing it; and monitoring their sweatshops -- although they're not allowing independent monitors in. There is some good -- but the motivation is just not there to do any good. They're doing it because sales suck. They're responding in certain areas cause it saves them money. Asked about the impact to their low cost model by going a little green on the environment, Evil Scott responds with:
"That is what you have to be careful about. There are things that change your business costs. When it comes to the environment, there is so much we can do as a company that actually lowers our costs. This is the appropriate place to start because you're not trading off higher prices for this or that."

Translation: it's about Wal-Mart stupid. It's not about the community we live and operate in, or the world we all have to live in and have a social responsibility for. It's all about profits. That's the loudest "fuck you" I've heard directly from a retail CEO -- one that makes me wonder why the hell people continue to shop and work there.

Related reading:
  • Evil Scott complains about another company being evil.

  • Articles on Wal-Mart

  • Wal-Mart CEO vows 'unfiltered truth'

  • Is Wal-Mart Good for America? Secrets of Wal-Mart's Success.

  • Wal-Mart fires back at opponents

    1. And Canadian Tire is

    2. Smartass you are not. Call me for your education.

    3. Wow, you are clearly a thoughtful writer.

          "If you think the claim is audacious, you're probably an employee of Wal-Mart that is part of the problem, or very naive."

      Wow. ...Is asking questions okay? Or does admitting confusion on my part make me a weak person?

          "Translation: sales have tanked because of all the bitching"

      Can you send me the data that shows sales have tanked? I am very interested in finding that data.
      If you find it, I would definitely like to post it on my site. I'm looking for the tanked sales here. Which number should I be looking at?

    4. Bobby ... you're a moron. When the Wal-Mart CEO admits in an interview that they're finally responding to critics because sales have taken a hit, that means that sales have taken a hit.

      Did you even bother reading the link I provided to the BusinessWeeek article? Go do your own research ... lazy ass.

      (How's that for being thoughtful?)

    5. Oh shit ... I just visited Bobby's site ... the boy is a Wal-Mart whore!

      In all fairness, Sam Walton was man of great ideals I'm sure ... but his kids have taken the business, thrown out the values, and are riding it like a cheap sow for all it's worth.

      Nothing against Sam ... but lots against Bobby and the clan he's busily defending.


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