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Is Wal-Mart letting you down?

Customers are complaining that stores have too little help to keep the shelves stocked. Has that been your experience?

By MSN Money Partner Apr 17, 2013 1:54PM

This post comes from Karen Datko at partner site Money Talks News. 

Money Talks News logoEverywhere you look, it seems, there's an article about empty shelves and bad service at Wal-Mart. "Hey, Wal-Mart, it's hard to make sales when store shelves are empty," chides a headline for a Brad Tuttle column on Time.

Wal-Mart store in Secaucus, New Jersey / Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesAn oft-cited statistic is that while the Bentonville, Ark.-based mega-retailer has increased its number of U.S. stores by 13% in the past five years, its workforce has shrunk by 1.4%. A March article by Bloomberg says there are too few workers to reliably move the trucked-in merchandise from the storage area (what Wal-Mart calls "the steel") to the shelves, where people can buy it. That observation is based on interviews with Wal-Mart employees (called "associates" in Wal-Martese).

And, Bloomberg reported: "Last month, Wal-Mart placed last among department and discount stores in the American Customer Satisfaction Index, the sixth year in a row the company had either tied or taken the last spot."

A Wal-Mart spokesperson told Bloomberg that store stocking has not been in decline.

That Bloomberg story prompted a large reader response. "More than 1,000 emailed complaints signal that Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s restocking challenges are more widespread than the world's largest retailer has said," a follow-up story said.

This time, Wal-Mart responded that its own much larger sampling shows that things are better than ever. "These customers continue to tell us they have had a positive shopping experience and those numbers have trended upward over the past two years," the spokesperson told Bloomberg. "Our in-stock shelf availability is at historically high levels and averages between 90 and 95 percent."

But, The New York Times says, Wal-Mart executives are concerned, particularly about the stocking of fresh foods like produce.

Internal notes from a March meeting of top Walmart managers show the company grappling with low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality. "Lose Trust," reads one note, "Don't have items they are looking for -- can't find it."

Analysts have noticed too. "In its larger supercenter stores, Wal-Mart can't keep the shelves stocked, and that is driving customers away," Terrie Ellerbee, associate editor of grocery industry publication The Shelby Report, told the Times in an email.

We'd like to know: Has that been your experience? Are you getting the goods you're looking for and the prompt customer service you want at checkout and elsewhere in the store? Has your Wal-Mart shopping experience been in decline in the last year or two?

While we're at it, here's another thought: Some research says retailers are better off if they provide decent pay and benefits, which keeps and incentivizes workers. But raising its low wages would require Wal-Mart to raise prices.

Which would you prefer: cheaper goods or better service, including fully stocked shelves and quicker checkout? (Did you know that members of the Walton family, whose late patriarch founded the chain, held four spots on Forbes' 2012 list of the 10 richest Americans?)

More on Money Talks News and MSN Money:

Apr 17, 2013 2:51PM

I cant stand Wally-world.  They move everything in the store every 5 seconds and THEN when you do find something you need, it takes you 2 weeks to check out.  I complained to a manager about having 24 check-out lines but only 2 were open and he said - "well we have plenty of self service checkout lines".  He got a real "deer in the headlights" look on his face when I asked if I got the 10% discount for working for Wal-mart.


More than once have I left my intended purchase because there was no one ringing up the sales.

Apr 17, 2013 2:51PM
Horrible service here where I live.  25 check out registers and only manning 4 anytime you go in. People get frustrated and leaving their items at the cash registers during peak shopping hours like at lunch time thru the week. How much does this cost to have some one restock all of these items. Prices almost double on some items from that of Target. What to do? nothing. no other place to shop because Wal-Mart has ran all others out of business then gradually and silently run the prices of their almost all imported merchandise. Nasty  dirty floors, debris laying all over. No greeters anymore. Don't even go in their restrooms, yuck.  The store has went down so fast it  makes your head swim. Young managers that when complained to best response is, I am sorry but I disagree with you. A few stores are trying to open back up then I hope it will be Bye Bye WAL-MART. Boy, how they fleeced America and we did not realize what they were doing.  
Apr 17, 2013 2:42PM
They also need to do a better job of selling more or most of their goods that are made in the USA.  I'm sick of seeing "Made in CHINA" on 90% of everything they sell, not only at Wal mart but at places like Ross, SteinMart, Kohls, Target, etc., etc.  WE have to start by only buying stuff made in the USA, like Japanese people buy 90% of their goods made in Japan.
Apr 17, 2013 2:36PM

I HATE WALMART AND THE OWNERS ARE ANTI-AMERICAN.  They will do anything for more money as if they don't already have enough.


I do not shop at Walmart and I do everything I can to discourage everyone I come in contact with not to shop theor either.  They sell refurbished as "NEW" electronics.  Everything there comes from CHINA and they no longer support the American ideals.  They underpay their employees so that we, the taxpayers, are supporting their WELFARE Bills and FOOD STAMPS.



Apr 17, 2013 2:57PM
Time after time, when I shop at walmart , one cashier is on duty and the shelves are not stocked. If there was a store with similar prices , I would drop Walmart like a bad habit.   Frankly, Walmart sucks.
Apr 17, 2013 2:52PM
Everything there is cheap crap, including the food. Theyve destroyed all hopes of decent product and decent wages, while the owners are 4 of the top 10 richest people in america ? AND PEOPLE STILL GO THERE AND GIVE THEM BUSINESS ?!?!?!?!?!
Apr 17, 2013 3:32PM

What's wrong with Wal-Mart?


1. Lack of help in the store to wait on customers.

2. Long waiting at check out ,too few cashiers.

3. Substandard fresh produce.

4. Stores are not clean and neat like years ago.

5. Prices are not always the lowest.

6. Chinese made products that are not built to last.

  Customer service has declined markedly in the last 10-12 years ,its not the pleasant shopping experience anymore


Apr 17, 2013 2:57PM
I was shopping at Wal-Mart due to salary reduction and tought finacial times, but the customer service is so completely terrible that I have had to find alternatives. Going to Wal-Mart and dealing with the entire atmosphere is similar to what I imagine Hell is like!
Apr 17, 2013 3:03PM
I work in reatil also. WM has to be one of the worst places to work for. They never have enough cashiers. They have 27 cash registers. Only 5 are running. Some registers have to collect dust. 
Apr 17, 2013 3:04PM
Ahem... just because the same 500lb, no bra wearing, non-handicapped yet in a motorized wheel chair 6 kids in tow without shoes, customers are returning doesn't make Walmart a great store. I will never shop there again.  It's filthy.  The aisles are crammed with crap that a person is intelligent enough to find themselves on a shelf.  The employees are treated like crap so they in turn treat the customers like crap.  They will let a person in regardless if that person is properly dressed for public.  They are NOT much lower than Target and so my family shops everywhere EXCEPT Walmart.  Also food for thought.... what happened to their boast of "AMERICAN MADE MERCHANDISE" hmmmmmmm???
Apr 17, 2013 2:48PM
WM relies on thier suppliers to stock their shelves and is ok with customers missing out on needed items in order to punish those suppliers that "fail" to live up to WM standards.  Essentially all WM wants to do is to push ALL of the costs they can get away with to those who provide deliveries into WM stores.  Example is the bread, cup cake or soda companies.  

WM's practice is shameful.
Apr 17, 2013 2:42PM
Apr 17, 2013 3:23PM

Have called the corporate office so much with complaints I'm surprised they even answer my calls. Were I live they are about the only store without driving about 40 miles. Have bought dirt 3 times and got my money back 3 times because no one there to load. On one of the occasions talked with manager and informed him he worked for Wal-Mart and could load dirt just like any other employee. The look on his face when I told him that in front of other employees was priceless. I go only when I haven't got the time to drive the 40 miles to go somewhere else. They have put too many small  american owned with american made products out of business. They move everything around all the time and when you look for something that they stocked a month ago all of a sudden " we don't carry that item". So if I can, I avoid  Wal-Mart like the plague.


Apr 17, 2013 2:37PM
They need to have sales on their meats, steaks once in awhile.  Also have a better inventory of grocery items, which they lack in badly.  They need a better grade of employees plus some security from thieves.
Apr 17, 2013 3:05PM
Yes, the store in my town struggles to keep the shelves stocked.  The staff has told me that there is not enough help to keep up.  It is surprising to find shelves emptied during the weekends.
Apr 17, 2013 2:57PM
Liars, can't even keep my Ocean Spray Cran-Cherry in stock. WHEN, I do actually see it, I have to buy 6-12 bottles at once to make it through the rest of the month that they will not stock it.
Apr 17, 2013 2:51PM
Stop moving merchandise around on the grand scale and frequency that you do. Perhaps people would be more forgiving of other flaws if stuffmart provided a little stability in this fashion.
Apr 17, 2013 2:52PM
I also have encountered poorly stocked shelves and items that have been recalled with no info to the public. (ex: Exer Hides ckn. wrapped rawhide chews for dogs) this was a big seller and was dropped without explanation. This is a Wal-Mart brand.
Apr 17, 2013 3:27PM

I have seen wally world for the last time. cannot believe the decline the past two years. the execs

obviously have their head in the sand. sam must be rolling over in his grave

Apr 17, 2013 3:17PM
wal mart sucks, but the stuff they do have is cheaper and on a budget i can't be picky :(
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