Saturday, January 20, 2007

A question for the room

I'd like to open this one up for the general public. No holds barred, rotten tomatoes welcome.

What would you like to see out of "Behind the Counter" in the next few months? And don't think I haven't noticed a slew of new Wal-Mart employee blogs out there! Welcome to the party.

I've had requests for merchandise, which I'm seriously considering and a request for a personal interview from thewritingonthewal.net. It's not that I'm not extremely flattered - it's just that I'm EXTREMELY paranoid. There was a period during the fall - right after consumerist.com linked to me - when I was sure I'd been found out and went to work every day sure that was the day I'd be fired.

I've logged about 2.5 years at the Wal-Mart now, and I can honestly say that it's starting to be a grind - not that it ever wasn't. It's the same types of evil customers day after day after day, always trying to run game and no one listening when I go "look, they're returning six things of stolen fishing line."

Do you want more stories about my encounters with crazy people? Or more about how the store works? Or doesn't work?

And I do like reading the comments.

Comments, criticisms, suggestions and amendations welcome. Approval neither desired nor required. Suggestions may or may not appear in a future episode of "Behind the Counter." Returns not accepts at brick and mortar outlets. Please do not ask for help from anyone wearing a blue smock as they likely do not speak English and cannot help you anyway. For your shopping pleasure, please go to Target. Peace out!

50 comments:

Anonymous said...

More stories about the crazies!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I would also like to read more stories about the crazy customers. I also work in retail, and it's nice to know that we're not the only ones with those types of customers.

Penalt said...

I work in customer service too. Just for a printer company and not Wally World. I like the stories of crazy customers and clueless management. I find it comforting that someone else knows what sort of thing I go thru.

Anonymous said...

I agree, more about the customers!! It is so reassuring to know I am not alone dealing with crazy people! Also you have such a great way of describing them and making what otherwise would be drudgery into fun.

Anonymous said...

I think I may be alone here -- I enjoy the stories about how the store runs -- crazy management stories are fun!

Anonymous said...

I think youre doing a great job.. highly entertaining :) Nothing needs to be improved in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I think you are doing an AMAZING job and I look forward to reading your blog every day.

You should be trying for a book deal if you aren't already.

I'm serious girl.

xoxox
Erin
http://www.nerve.com/regulars/missinformation/092/

Anonymous said...

I'm seriously addicted to reading about the goings on at Wally Mart. It's like a mini-country, with it's own rules and hierarchy within each store. I love reading about the crazy customers, but I love even more about the rules and goings on at Wal-Mart (with regard to the employees).

I know this is very guache to say (since now it's hip to hate Wal-Mart), but I'm fascinated by a company who unapologetically cares most about their profits. And all the strange ways people on the outside try to exploit their success. Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Just a question...

Are Wal-Mart employees allowed to FREELY talk about their jobs to the media, in print, or on the internet? Is there some kind of unwritten rule against doing so?

grundes said...

It's really interesting to read about procedural things: how price labels are adjusted, how cash is counted, etc.
Not that I want to scam the store for a few pennies, but reading about how a big organization works is fascinating.

Bart said...

Keep in mind that you're exposing the side of Wal-Mart that most do not see. It's fair to guess that over 95% of the people in the U.S. have been to a Wal-Mart, but very few have the advantage point that you do. That commonality is what draws many to your blog.

If you're getting burned out...back off to less posting, but I hope that you do not quit doing it. I've honestly been surprised by your recent flurry of posts. I like hearing about the screwballs that try to get one over on you, I like hearing about the spineless managers, and I like seeing a small bit of the gears exposed that is Wal-Mart.

Keep up the good work man (one of the folks that found you through the Consumerist).

Anonymous said...

I LOVE reading the stories. As another CS cashier, it helps to give a heads up on scams being tried at other Walmart locations. Like the whole customer changing the prices herself...That's what we all secretly think they do, aside from just not reading the signs properly or even at all, but to then have that actually confirmed being done- it's funny but only cause it wasn't us in that situation.
Um. It would be nice if you got all your stories published in a book. Sh*t, I'd buy it!! And if they were distributed to all Wal-marts for at least all managers to read..even better. I think if they all realized how tough we got it they wouldn't be giving us such crappy pay for it all.
I think you're doing an AMAZING job capturing the stories and the emotional rollercoaster that all cashiers go through with their customers but the wishing of ill luck to the customers is a tad bit to much.
Overall = GREAT JOB!!! Keep them coming!

Corwin Brence said...

I seriously enjoy reading this blog every day. I've linked here once before (in my "Stuff of the Year Awards" post a month ago), and most recently I've added a link back here on the sidebar of my own blog.

As for what I wish for this blog's future? I want a book. A coffee-table book, kinda like the Darwin Awards books - a complete compilation of all the crazy-customer stories ever printed on the site, plus some "bonus material" - previously unpublished stories, a "fictional" section where you talk about things you wish would happen at Wal-Mart, and perhaps what you would have done in situations that others have experienced.

I do hope you keep writing. This is probably the most enjoyable site in my entire (overstuffed) bookmarks folder, right up there with Bastard Operator From Hell.

Ol' Lady said...

I can't think of anything that you should change. You cover everything, the crazies, the staff, the management, the big corp...you have the most awesome sense of humour...I love stopping by and catching up with you and your days. Publishing a book from your blog would be the best!!! I know I would buy it and so would lots of others that I know...I wonder if Walmart would sell it???

Library Rat said...

I, too, would like to hear more about the crazies. It remind me why I'm glad I'm no longer in retail, although "customer service" is still a large part of my job.

I've got to agree with you about the paranoia. I stopped blogging about my retail job because I came within a hair's breadth of being discovered and most likely fired. The new blog I've started about my new job is laced with misdirection about who I am and where exactly I work. Not that it too difficult to find out, it just requires some effort.

Anonymous said...

I would love to hear more about how Wal~Mart does, or doesn't work. I work in retail too, and I love learning about what you do.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy reading about the bitter details of your days at the desk. As a long time reader, I know that I will always empathize and feel just a bit better about my day because of the insanity that you endure and blog for the rest of us. Retail sucks, but you make the suckage funny. Thank you.

Arkady said...

Look here, Ace, you don't need our advice on what to put in your excellent blog. I'm a professional writer, but I wouldn't presume to tell you what to write about. Your unfettered judgment is better than ours, and that's why we read your stuff. So, thanks.

Anonymous said...

khrzJust keep posting stupid shit that cusomers do that the normal Joe/Jane on the street has no idea of and which retail workers are all too familiar with but thought it only happened to us.

Don't talk smack about Wally and DON'T encourage people to shop elsewhere: Just the facts, Mam.

I would hope that your blog would gain wider perusaal so that the average person gets a clue as to what happens on the other side of retaial. Be the mirror.

You're duty/calling is to bring this crap that retail workers go through so far out into the light that my Mom reads your blog and says, "Geeze. These guys got it rough. I think I'll forward this to my girlfriends".

That said, you can't do that if Wally fires you when you stroll way out into the light; and unless you stroll into the light, why bother hiding behind the desk?

Think about it. You got no job, you got no blog.

I'm just sayin' that it's time to decide if you want to change the way "Mom" views retail workers or simply make me and my partners in retail chuckle.

Good luck,
Jess

sugar. said...

I would like to see you simply keep up the good work. all of your other readers have made very good suggestions.

If you lose your job, screw them, right? As far as I can tell, you don't give away any personal information, or store location on here (thought I think I may have read you're in FL, there have to be like at least a hundred WM in FL tho.) so you should be fine.

You remind me that sane employee's actually exist. Thank you for that.

Chunes said...

I don't know why anyone would want to fire you after reading your blog. I'd promote you after reading it (and I have---read it, that is).

I love the direction your blog's been going lately---don't change a thing!

Chunes said...

By the way: I want to thank you for teaching me several things about my own job at Wal-Mart. Some of it has made my life much easier at work the past couple days! It's kind of like two weeks ago, I was at the service desk and I saw one of the girls typing in a DL#. She made a mistake on the last digit, but instead of hitting clear and starting over, she deleted the last digit and re-entered it.

I said, "Whoa! How did you do that?" And she explained to me that the backspace key next to the "0" key on the keypad acts as a backspace when you're keying in a DL#. You've taught me a bunch of cool things like that with your blog. Thanks.

Chunes said...

Oops. I meant "backslash key" instead of "backspace key." You must think I'm a loon for writing that. :o

Anonymous said...

I don't work at Wal-Mart, but I do work in retail, and I love reading your blog. I find solace in the fact that my job isn't the only one involving the worst humanity has to offer. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, as much as I enjoy your writing and this blog the thing I want most for you is to find a new job! This can't be good for you and although I find it all terribly amusing (and, I have to confess, I kind of like reading about the crazies because I feel soooo good about myself in comparison - and it's made me a better customer, I think) I'd kind of like hearing that you've found some better job somewhere. Every job has its share of nutjobs, but it seems to me that you and your fellow WMers see a much larger than normal number.

Cheers.

Ms.X said...

Your blog is like a training manual for WalMart customer service trainee's. I wasn't trained, I was put in customer service and if I asked a question I could get as many different answers to the questions as people asked. E.g, do we cash insurance checks. Nobody knew. So I have found your site helpful in learning how to work the service desk.
At the store inwhich I am employeed the refund policy means nothing.
Recently I was put in Customer Service because no else "knew how", well guess what neither do I, I have just had the misfortune of saying I wanted to learn how to work there. I do know how to do a simple refund with or without a receipt and I do know how to do money orders. I can do simple moneyGrams and I can cash a payroll check. The only trouble I got into last time was sending an international moneyGram US instead of Asia. That was an interesting process in learning to correct the error. More because the custome caught the mistake and then told me how to redo it! I asked him why he didn't tell me in the first place. It seemed like some kind of scam.
I am not quit as critical of "crazy" customers as you seem to be. But that is my only critic. Keep up the good work. Your material is accurate and well written.

Anonymous said...

I love reading about the crazies... I work at Wally myself. I do Accounting and cashier which is fun! :-)
I would be careful about revealing too much about how we operate. If this got traced back to you somehow, you could be fired for revealing Company information...it's happened before. The guy that leaked the pay scale info got canned. Just be careful!

Anonymous said...

Keep it up buddy, I know what you're going through.
I retired after 30 years working for the government and after a year or so of retirement went to work for Wal-Mart as a part time cashier. After about six months I was made Four Star Cashier of the month, then promoted to CSS.
I only worked about three months as a CSS before I'd had enough of all the BS from the customers and management and quit.
It's been three weeks since I've been gone and my migraine is gone.

Anonymous said...

You do an excellent job. Please keep it up. I love reading about the crazy customers but I'd really like to hear more about how someone gets to be a manager. None of your managers sound like the most competent people in the world.

of_oz said...

Keep doing what you're doing! You have a great mix of stories about "crazies" and peeks at how the store operation, of humor and human insight. Don't ever change!

Chimera said...

Adding my own voice to the echo chamber: Please don't change a thing. Stay anonymous, and keep the posts coming. Even if you change jobs, keep blogging. You have excellent writing skills; you explain clearly; you rant eloquently; and I laugh almost continually.

Not all customers are stupid, but those who are provide excellent grist for the blogging mill. Those of us with backgrounds or current jobs in Customer Service can laugh and empathize at the same time.

And I've learned things from you, as well. As a regular Walmart customer myself, I've actually heard my own voice say "I didn't know that" a time or two. It helps a lot, sometimes, knowing whence some of these heretofore unexplained "company policies" spring.

And I'm on fairly friendly terms with most of the local Walmart employees. I passed along your blog URL, and they've made it one of their guilty pleasures...

Anonymous said...

The Crazies are my favorite!

Carmen said...

I agree, we need the crazy customer stories mostly, but I think you already do a nice balance of everything. Mostly crazies & a little of everything else!

Anonymous said...

I personally like the behind-the-scenes look your blog gives.

The Crutnacker said...

Personally, I like the behind the scenes stuff more than the crazies, but both help me understand Wal Mart much better. It's not hard to see that Wal-Mart's real problems stem from catering to the lowest common denominator. I can now see why Target's return policy got so crazy. It's a shame those of us with legitimate returns have to be viewed in the same light as the scum that comes through your line.

Anonymous said...

Crazy customers -- because we all love to think we're not like them and we're much better. Stories about how the store doesn't work -- because we love to think about that we know better on how to run the store (even if this is completely your idea!). I think also good 'tips' about how to get a discount (like the one -- claim the price on the sticker was different and get US$3 back!) would be great, too!

Thank you very much for your blog! THis is the first ever blog that I really read :))))

And I'm on the Internet since 1996...

moo said...

I like hearing all the crazy stories about what you deal with on a regular basis. I've worked retail in the past and remember all the crazies. Keep up the GREAT work! I love this blog.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a few "inspirational" stories - stories about employees or customers that surprised you by doing something positive.

Not, of course, to take precendence over the crazies.

Rob the Webkahunah said...

I think you have a great mix as is... I love the customer crazies, but I would miss the occasional "how wal-mart works" article were they to disappear from the blog entirely.

I totally appreciate your paranoia... I nearly got fired, and had to delete a previous blog (about customer service, natch) because my bosses didn't appreciate my tounge-in-cheek sense of humor about our customers.

Please be careful... I would hate to see you lose what has proven to be such a great inspiration to you.
On the bright side, it would allow you to try and get a book on the subject published. :)

Jonathan said...

BBC:

I'm the guy who requested an interview. Recognizing your totally understandable concerns, I propose we do the interview blog-to-blog. My questions for you are here:

http://thewritingonthewal.net/?p=1958

and I'm hoping some of our readers will chime in with more. Just so you know we're not out to get you, I promise I will link and publish your answers in their entirety.

Anonymous said...

I think your approach is pretty much on target. The reason I keep coming back to your site (I first came here from The Consumerist, BTW) is that it provides an unvarnished POV from the "other side" of the counter. Too many folks seem to suffer from brain lock when dealing with people who work in retail -- they forget that the person at the register or at the service desk is just another Joe/Jill trying to make a living, and has very little latitude to make policy decisions on their own.

I'm always interested in the behind-the-scenes workings of Wal-Mart or other mega-retailers: the differences between stores, the amount of control individual store managers actually have, how y'all deal with bringing in and keeping up with all of that stock, etc. And the day-in-the-life stories are priceless. (Makes me appreciate my desk job all the more.) Thanks!

Em The Waitress. said...

Hi! I haven't commented before, though I have been enjoying your blog for a couple of months. But since you asked...

I truly enjoy your insights on the inner workings of Wally World, but I have to say I get the biggest kick out of the crazy customer stories. Because when those nuts are done at Wal-Mart, I promise you, they go eat at a Cracker Barrel, where I worked for five long years.

You really could write a book. It would be awesome. I would give copies to everyone I know who has ever worked in the service industry. :)

Anonymous said...

Keep doin what your doin! I like a combo of both the workings of the store & the customer nightmare stories.

Anonymous said...

I think your blog is superb but are you male or female? I took a class in college that teaches how to glean gender cues, even if you dont know the author's name, etc. You're writing leaves it hard to figure out, although Ive mostlt assumed your male, no offense intended if you arent.

Good luck w/ Wally & the blog!

Anonymous said...

**mostly & you're....cant damn type tonight

Anonymous said...

I would love to have you come out from "Behind the Counter" to receive the acknowledgment and pay worthy of your writing genius!

As others have suggested, you, my blog God, should write a book...you should write many books, but please, only one about Walmart.

Until the time comes when you see fit to leave the customers waiting in line, I think it best to continue writing as you have been all along!

After all, you can't improve on perfection!

Anonymous said...

I read all the comments and one thing is clear: if you get fingered, it's over. I won't read your blog if you're "found out". You got to stay under the radar. Let Wally get a court order to find you. Really.

Stealth it til the book comes.

Jess.

Anonymous said...

I just love your stories, about customers, management, etc but I really find the ones about how things work interesting too.

I've always hated wallyworld. Primarily because we don't have the nicer ones in our hood. Their all rundown, cluttered, filled with thugs and losers so I could never stand shopping there. Now that the movie came out and everyone knows how evil they are I have more altruistic reasons for not shopping there.

Funny thing, just recently, I went into the WallyWorld right by my house later in the evening to cash a check when the banks weren't open (I know..I know..but hey, I remembered they cashed checks from your site :-P). Anyway, I'm standing line at the service desk and my daughter asks me "Why don't we like shopping here again?" just then....swear to god...some drunk stinky bum comes rolling up to both of us to tell us how "purty" we are. She said "oh ya!". So funny!

Keep it up!!!! Love this site!

cupajoe said...

It's so nice to read your blog - I often feel like I'm sitting down to a cup of coffee with a buddy who tells the greatest stories.
What I'd like to see you do more of is manipulate the idiots. Like the guy who brought back the ice chest. Give them just a hard enough time to shame them a little, but not put your oh-so-precious job in jeopardy.

Anonymous said...

its a shame that these people back then had an allusion that you were a woman, but after the interview on bbc came out it sure turned a few heads that a guy is talking about customers and saying "at least hes cute".