Wal-Mart's 'dumb' year
The world's largest retailer took a beating in 2006 over efforts to clean up its image. From hiring civil rights activist Andrew Young to orchestrating what seemed like a folksy, independent blog called 'Wal-Marting Across America,' the company stumbled badly. What do you think of its attempts to put a smiley face on its tarnished image? Do you think Wal-Mart's been unfairly singled out, or deserves to be the Grand Prize winner of Business 2.0's 101 Dumbest Moments in Business?
Posted by Krysten Crawford 1/25/2007 09:05:00 AM 38 Comments comment | Add a Comment

Walmart is the poster child for what is wrong with this country. I worked for them, and know how employees are treated. Since the Death of Sam Walton, the powers to be took a new direction of greed and win by any means. They send recruiters right into competing businesses stores. They have no ethics, they are too big for most compete with anymore, and they make sure that their employees, managers, buyers, etc. do not advance too far. That company should be broken up like AT&T was, they are out of control.
Posted By Mike, Tampa, FL : Thu Jan 25, 09:42:20 AM  

Of course same store sales are dropping with Walmart since they are building more and more stores in such a dense radius. I live in a small town in Virginia and we have 3 Super Walmarts within 40 miles, and now they are building a 4th. How can same store sales not drop?
Posted By Charley Lynchburg, Va : Thu Jan 25, 10:44:23 AM  

No company has an endless upward earnings stream. Walmart competes in the highly competitive retail market and has done a great job of providing low prices to the American consumer. Forty years ago Sears held the same position but managed to lose it. The market place should be the ultimate decider of a company's fate. Those who attack Walmart have no understanding of how our economy has prospered.
Posted By James Roberts, Breckenridge, CO : Thu Jan 25, 10:48:42 AM  

Why would anyone shop at Wal-Mart and give the people who run this company anything? It's horrible how they treat people, lie, and then attempt to cover up. Wal-Mart should be shut down!!
Posted By Sharon, Oceanside, NY : Thu Jan 25, 10:49:39 AM  

What's wrong with "improved employee health-care benefits, higher starting pay levels, new stores in downtrodden neighborhoods, reasonably priced organic foods, and a flat $4 fee for hundreds of generic prescription drugs"? Sounds like a case of Damned If You Do And Damned If You Don't.
Posted By C. Wagner, Charles Town, WV : Thu Jan 25, 10:57:41 AM  

How can Wal-Mart's mistakes be bigger blunders than those of Ford and GM? Bashing Wal-Mart is simply more politically correct because they, unlike the auto makers are non-union. Wal-Mart's "blunders" have not cost their employees their jobs. This report has more spin than a monkey on crack.
Posted By Richard Baines Murfreesboro TN. : Thu Jan 25, 11:06:46 AM  

In spite of all the "downfalls" of mega retailer Wal-Mart, what matters to me as a consumer is that it saves me money. Wal-Mart is not at fault of low wages in Florida, why don't you blame Disney? They have been making tons of money and have kept low wages as well. Don't get me wrong, I like Disney, but I don't think that your article is fair...
Posted By Elsa Garcia, Orlando, Florida : Thu Jan 25, 11:06:51 AM  

I agree with Mike in Tampa, Florida. Wal-Mart has gone to hell in a handbasket since Sam Walton's death!!
Posted By David, Seneca, SC : Thu Jan 25, 11:08:50 AM  

Wal Mart is the perfect image of greed. I love the huge anti Union war they wage. They closed two stores in Quebec that voted to go Union. Wal Mart like the other guy said, IS whats wrong with this country. This country needs more unions, not less. The rich have been living off the backs of the middle class and poor far too long.
Posted By dave martinsburg wv : Thu Jan 25, 11:10:02 AM  

Walmart's biggest problem (though it has money) is that its stores are godawfully unpleasant to patronize. When you shop at Walmart, you feel poor and who needs THAT? If all you care about is price, there's the Internet. Duh.
Posted By Ron, Charlotte, NC : Thu Jan 25, 11:12:47 AM  

Walmart may be despised by many, but they're smart. Get your products at the lowest cost, and pass it on to your customers. Simple, good business. If you don't like it, then compete. Like Microsoft, if you hate Windows, then write an operating system yourself.
END OF COMMENT
Posted By Rob, Magnolia, Texas : Thu Jan 25, 12:09:09 PM  

I find Wal-Mart Super Centers to be very clean and pleasant for shopping. The Wal-Mart Stores are well stocked, and the prices are very affordable, I prefer to shop in the Super Centers myself,they have top brand names in groceries as well as their Great Value products.
Posted By Bob Zimmerman, San Diego, CA : Thu Jan 25, 12:09:34 PM  

I would drive 20 miles to avoid going to walmart.I agree walmarts has gone to hell in a hand basket.If you can find anything you need it takes 30 minuets to get checked out,why have 20 registers and only 2 or 3 open.Plus the superstore closest to me never has their shelves stocked.I was a union worker and very proud to be one.I would be glad to help picket any walmart for any UNION.
Posted By Patricia Campbell Salem, AL. : Thu Jan 25, 12:10:48 PM  

One of the worst things WalMart did was take away their layaway department.
Many of us that don't have the immediate cash for buying depended on their layaway plan, especially for the holidays.
The object of doing away with the the layaway is to get people to apply for WalMart's credit card.
That SUCKS!!!
Thank goodness for Kmart, they still have their layaway department.
I'm a senior on a fixed income and did a lot of layaways at WalMart.
I'm sure there are a lot of you that feel the same way.
As for their employees, WalMart should be glad they have people who want to work for them.
Posted By Sam Franklin Nc : Thu Jan 25, 12:11:28 PM  

I didn't do any of my holiday shopping at Walmart this year because they stopped allowing customers the oportunity to use their "layaway" feature for major purchases, etc. Walmart felt that all of their customers would sign up for their credit cards by doing this. I'm sure there are many other people out there, like myself, that still prefer to pay cash rather than aquire more credit card debt. I am able to afford to buy the things I need without the benefit of Walmart's layawy department. Unfortunaltey, there are people out there that used this feature to purchase gifts and major items that they, otherwise, would not have been able to afford. Walmart, you alienated a lot of your customers and lost a lot of holiday business by doing this!! If Sam Walton ever treated customers the way your "corporate big guys" are today, he would never have made his company as big as it was allowed to get....he knew the difference between "customer service" and "alienation of the customer", who, by the way, is ultimately the one that provides the income to keep your company afloat!!
Posted By Becky Johnston, El Cajon, CA : Thu Jan 25, 12:13:10 PM  

I do most of my shopping at Wal Mart. It's a great store. They just opened a distubution center here and the pay is very good. Our store is always full of people doing their shopping.
Posted By Jim Lawson, Cheyenne, WY : Thu Jan 25, 12:33:09 PM  

Most of the comments that I just read,I do agree with.Corporations become "too big for their britches" seem to forget to be sucessful in business you need to respect your employees.When I worked for Procter & Gamble there was never a moment that they did not interact with their employees & were always inquiring about you as a PERSON not a number.Today it seems most companies have forgotten this and their employees are only a NUMBER.Don't forget these are the ones who made you sucessful.Treat these people with the respect they deserve .Thank you,Glenda Brantley
Posted By Glenda Brantley Eustis,Fl : Thu Jan 25, 12:39:22 PM  

Oh, well. All is not right with Walmart, yet we keep shopping there...or at least someone does. Maybe they haven't read the accounts and don't know the situation....or....maybe...thay just go there anyway....doesn't affect them...Hmmmm...apathy?....I wonder.
Posted By Bill, Louisville, KY : Thu Jan 25, 12:42:02 PM  

sales are down in some departments because they think they can step up the look of their bedding & bath to be a target or above,their inhouse people have forgotten their customer base that made them money..that's why they are losing money-get back the "pretty" things and forget trend only.any one agree?
Posted By may elise, fulham,rock hill s.c. : Thu Jan 25, 12:42:44 PM  

Wal-Mart is beginning to close fabric departments. Maybe they aren't big money-makers. However, they put them in the very back of the store. Women and men went all the way back there to buy their fabric and picked up many others items on the way there. I think this is a dumb moment for them since the quilting industry alone has become a three billion dollar per year industry. And they are replacing it with party supplies? Dear Sam, I know you would not have done this to us. Also, did you see the report about sewing machines was one of the hottest items for Christmas even among the younger set?
Posted By Paula J., Hattiesburg, Mississippi : Thu Jan 25, 12:47:27 PM  

WalMart hired me, an older American, when no-one else would. They treated me very well. We had people with terminal Cancer working at out store, as well as other Seniors and people with various disabilities. Our store manager, and area managers, treated us all very well. Our wages wouldn't make anyone rich, but they were a wage. Our disabilities were taken into consideration with regards to hours and type of work we were asked to do. I think WalMart has gotten a bum rap.
Posted By Richard, Dallas, Oregon : Thu Jan 25, 01:04:35 PM  

Wal-Mart needs to go back to their roots and remember when the small communities needed them too. Note I said needed . . . . with layaway dropped right before Christmas and now Fabric going April 1 and from what I have heard Paint is next. This is how they are servicing their people . . . they are eliminating jobs and giving customers no reason to go to the back of the store and drop another $50 in their cart on the way to the checkout. Just what I need is another storage bin! Great going Wal-Mart . . . another case of greed rather than servicing the customers need.
Posted By Ellen G., Connersville, IN : Thu Jan 25, 01:07:55 PM  

The way Walmart has changed...
Sam Walton must be turning in his grave.
Posted By Kim C Hernando, Mississippi : Thu Jan 25, 01:10:57 PM  

In Walmart's rush to become known as a top end retail store it forgot to think of it's customer base that made them the retail giant that it is. They raised prices and stopped layaways. You don't see customers pulling up to Walmart in their expensive sports cars beating down Walmart's door to buy their knock-off designer clothes. It is the Middle-class to Lower-Middle class customer who made them and it's these customers who Walmart has turned their backs on.
Posted By J. Turner, Springfield KY : Thu Jan 25, 01:12:52 PM  

In spite of the media's continuous anti-Walmart blitz, WalMart is and will continue to be the country's most popular retailer. When the Union decides they have spent enough money trying to punish WalMart because their employees vote down union membership maybe the blitz will peter out.
Posted By Gene Hunt, DesertHot Springs, CA : Thu Jan 25, 01:21:27 PM  

I do not shop at WalMart for both practical and philosophical reasons. First, while WalMart does have very low prices, I have found that many items are not so much inexpensive as just plain cheap. Dairy and produce go bad immediately. Children's clothing have seams that rip and colors that bleed after only one washing. Why should I pay money for items that don't last for a reasonable period of time. Second, I am concerned about the impact of WalMart's superagressive expansion and marketing on small, local businesses. I live in a small city and there are TWO super WalMarts within ~ 5 miles of each other, with a Sam's Club currently being built in between them! How many of these things do we need anyway? What happens to the small busness owners driven out by WalMart? Do they now wind up working there for minimum wage and little/no benefits?
Posted By Michelle, Johnson City, TN : Thu Jan 25, 01:41:45 PM  

It seems to me that in a free market, if Walmart is willing to deliver goods at the best price, they should be applauded. Walmat has filled the role of Adam Smith's invisible hand for middle America and this benefits the company as well as the consumer. B2.0 shouldn't bite the hand that feeds it by concerning itself it with Walwart's marketing and management mistakes.
Posted By Matt B, Brooklyn NY : Thu Jan 25, 01:43:58 PM  

Wal-Marts problems stem from their management from the top post to the Store Managers, they fail to train their employees in the basic concept of customer service, I have observed this both as a customer as well as comments from friends who work for this retailer.Bring back a Sam Walton type to run this company.
Posted By Bob, Berne, New York : Thu Jan 25, 01:54:56 PM  

i shopped at wal-mart online for my christmas gifts. i purchased over 500$ in gifts in october 2006. they e-mailed me 2 weeks before christmas that half the items are no longer available. I had to then find these gifts in stores with 5 children in tow. I will never purchase on-line items from them again, what a disaster that was.
Posted By katrina, oyster bay cove, n.y. : Thu Jan 25, 01:55:31 PM  

I whole-heartedly agree that Walmart and it's doings since the passage of Sam IS what's wrong with this country. They sent over 80% of their supplier business to China, literally shutting down some small towns in the US with businesses that were former suppliers. Walmart is anti-America. I wouldn't shop there if you paid me.
Posted By Sharon, Fenton, MO : Thu Jan 25, 02:01:25 PM  

Brother Young was right. Why censor the man for telling the truth. Wal-Mart is a big business and everyone knows that. The whole problem is Wal-Mart has the business routine down to an art and they want it all. I shop there because the stores have what I want. If the other department stores would try to serve the customers better maybe they would sell more. Stop whining, Wal-Mart isn't going away and who wants to go back to the old ways? EvW
Posted By Eugen VonWestphalian, San Francisco, California : Thu Jan 25, 02:01:59 PM  

In a free market economy, who decides which companies are successful? Life is about personal choice. If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't work or shop there. Why did the reporter omit what Tom Coughlin was found guilty of?
Posted By Tim, Phoenix, Arizona : Thu Jan 25, 02:01:59 PM  

Walmart has always been my favorite store & most frequently shopped store for many many years. Now that they have decided to change their ways of doing business they have lost me as a customer. They decided to take layaway away right before christmas so.....I did not shop at Walmart for Christmas. I have done my holiday shopping for my childern at Walmart for my the last 11 years, Kmart got that business this year. Then they take away the fabric department, I was going to Walmart 3-4 times a week buying fabric since I make & sell purse from my home. One of the employees at Walmart also said they would not be selling summer or pool supplies any more. BIG MISTAKE WALMART! You have lost a very loyal customer! The only one that is going to get rich quick from the changes you have made is KMART!! You do not treat your customers this way, you were doing just fine before you went & made so many drastic changes. You can take that credit card, that you hope to get more money from your customers from the interest on it, & stick it where the sun doesnt shine! BAD BAD MOVE ON YOUR COMPANYS PART!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted By Melody McCoy Fayetteville NC : Thu Jan 25, 02:29:34 PM  

Far worse than having too many Walmarts, Walmart Super Stores, and Sam's per capita, is the system of stores does not stay within the "food Chain" so to speak. Economical balances are just as important as ecological balances. Walmart stores take money from the consumers in the US but a great deal or a majority of their goods come from China!! In short Walmart is not recirculating in our economy but rather is causing a huge drain effect that ends in China. Couple that with their stand behind ethics foreign to the general public Sam would be ashamed! Remember his "made in USA only" that made Walmart larger than KMart to begin with? NO BRAINER!!!!
Posted By Betsy, Youngsville Nc : Thu Jan 25, 03:07:35 PM  

The "American way" is to root for the underdog until he is on top. Then to do everything you can to pull him down.

Now that Wal-Mart is an American success story many folks, including some writers, want to pull them down.

The fact is that Wal-Mart has probaly done more to help keep prices down in this country than any other organization, politician, or reporter. We would all be paying a great deal more for many of our purchases (no matter where we shop) if it were not for the competitive prices established by Wal-Mart.

The free enterpise system is great and is what has contributed to the economic sucess of the US. Wal-Mart has been an intergral part of that success.

No matter where people work, they would like to be paid more for their efforts. Wal-Mart does not exploit its workers -it provides them with the opportunity to work. The employees are certainly free to leave or change employers if they want.
Posted By John Eckel, Simsbury CT : Thu Jan 25, 04:14:44 PM  

Folks, wake up. Wal-Mart is paying poor people in 700 factories in CHINA to make goods, then selling them to YOU, whose hard-earned dollars are going to CHINA and in 10 years, our grandchildren are going to be opening the doors of their limosines for the Chinese.

Get a clue. Vote with your pocketbook. WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!! The social and economic destruction of America is being largely led by stores like Wal-Mart and it is the worst of them and you folks are adding to it.

Is here anything there made in the USA? Sam truly must be rolling over in his grave.
Posted By Caroline, Chandler AZ : Thu Jan 25, 06:21:03 PM  

It's too bad the Time Warner marketing stunt this week in which they put bomb-like devices around town requiring bomb squads and shutdowns of major traffic arteries was too late to make the cut for this contest. That's my early vote for 2007!
Posted By Rob Cimperman, Fairfax, VA : Thu Feb 01, 01:43:15 PM  

To those who think that Walmart represents the end of American prosperity, Walmart is bringing the advantages of globalization to the "silent majority" of Americans. Those are the normal shoppers who get cheaper goods, freeing up more of our income to improve our standard of living and invest in our future. It is the relatively few, those unfortunate enough to work in an industry in which the US doesn't have a comparative advantage such as light manufacturing, that are the vocal critics(through no fault of their own, just bad luck). However the benefits of globalization to the silent outweighs the harm to the vocal displaced.
Posted By Rob, Fairfax, VA : Thu Feb 01, 02:12:22 PM  

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Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.