Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Early morning at Wal-Mart

My time is somewhat scarce, but I really like the prices at Wal-Mart, and there is a store on my way to work that is really convenient for me. I have taken to shopping there early in the morning to avoid the crowds and long checkout lines that I have gotten used to expecting at other times during the day.

This morning, around 6:30, after doing some shopping, I went to check out so I could get on my way to work. There were only 2 lines open, one line had, I think, about 7 people in it, and the only other line open at the time had 5 people, but one of those people had 2 baskets full (top to bottom) and so I decided to go to the line with 7 people. After a few minutes, the cashier (whose light was still on) informed me that she was actually closed and that I should go to another line. This is not the first time I've seen cashiers there do this, but this was the first time it was done to me.

I left my basket there, in line, and walked out of the store. I drove to the Albertsons across the street and paid a little more, but was in and out much faster. I will never return to that Wal-Mart, and it will probably be a while before I return to another one.

Now, I know that I'm probably over-reacting to this single incident, and this is a really inconsequential thing in the grand scheme of things, but there's just something about having to wait needlessly that drives me batty. I hate waiting in traffic, and will go 10 miles out of my way to avoid spending 10 minutes in gridlock.

I remember back before Sam Walton died, the Super Wal-Mart I shopped at had signs by the cash registers stating their guarantee to a fast checkout and that they would open up a new register if there were more than 3 people in any given line. Those days are LONG gone.

Wal-Mart may have figured out the way to the lowest prices anywhere, and I am thankful for the efficiencies they have brought to the retail market, but my cost of shopping there has been increasing in the amount of time it takes to make it through the checkout. Time is money, and the money I was saving there has now been outweighed by the cost of my time.

When it is Wal-Mart's time to lose out to another store, it will not be to lower prices, it will be to better service.

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