Monday, November 28, 2005

WalMart Shoppers Deserve to be Trampled

No, not literally, but hear me out...

While watching the parade and Survivor on Thanksgiving, I was bombarded with ads from every store around about how the doors open at 5 a.m (WTF?!?) and you better get shopping! "Who in their right mind would sign up for that shit?" was the thought repeating through my head. That, and sympathy for the folks who have to wake up at 3:30 to go to work and handle these maniacal jackass shoppers for minimum wage.

On Friday night, the local (Detroit) news led with a bunch of shopping stories from the area and then expanded to nation-wide. What were those stories? Incidents and altercations at stores over these bullshit "door-buster" sales. There were five or six stories, ranging from trampling at the doors, fights in lines to an off-duty cop macing his fellow shoppers to jockey for a "bargain" laptop. Every single one of these stories took place at a WalMart. Every one.

First, think about the origin of that word, door-buster. I can only assume it comes from the threat of people's faces being shoved through the glass as the mob assembles, waiting for the store to open. Sounds like something I need to get in on!

But these "door-buster deals" are all hype and bullshit. Take this incident:
Woman knocked unconscious by trampling shoppers
ORANGE CITY, Florida (AP) -- A mob of shoppers rushing for a sale on DVD players trampled the first woman in line and knocked her unconscious as they scrambled for the shelves at a Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Patricia VanLester had her eye on a $29 DVD player, but when the siren blared at 6 a.m. Friday announcing the start to the post-Thanksgiving sale, the 41-year-old was knocked to the ground by the frenzy of shoppers behind her.

[...] Paramedics called to the store found VanLester unconscious on top of a DVD player, surrounded by shoppers seemingly oblivious to her, said Mark O'Keefe, a spokesman for EVAC Ambulance.

She was flown to Halifax Medical Center in Daytona Beach, where doctors told the family VanLester had a seizure after she was knocked down and would likely remain hospitalized through the weekend, Ellzey said. Hospital officials said Saturday they did not have any information on her condition.

So this woman spent the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the hospital to save seven dollars! That's right, she got up before dawn—and since she was first in line, likely was there the night before—endured the crushing crowd for hours and was then promptly stomped into the floor for a DVD player that was available every other day of the year for $36.87. WalMart also stocks a model for $38. When you see an ad for a $29 DVD player, that seems like a tremendous deal—one worth setting the alarm for! But only if you are unaware that DVD players are regularly priced only a few dollars more, and you don't know your chance of nabbing one is slim to none.
[...] Ellzey said Wal-Mart officials called later Friday to ask about her sister, and the store apologized and offered to put a DVD player on hold for her.

Wal-Mart Stores spokeswoman Karen Burk said she had never heard of a such a melee during a sale.

"We are very disappointed this happened," Burk said. "We want her to come back as a shopper."

Whaat? Let's take those last three bullshit statements one at a time:

1. "...offered to put a DVD player on hold for her" -- As if this poor woman is going to want to set foot in your crowd-control and security-deficient nightmare of a store to come pick up that piece of Taiwanese crap. Maybe you could have sent the DVD player found beneath her trampled, unconsious body along with her in the ambulance, instead of selling it to somebody else. Or better, perhaps you could have sent a representative to her home to install an actually nice DVD player for her to watch when she returns from hospitalization to continue her recovery from the injuries suffered from your negligence and callous disregard for basic safety.

2. "... never heard of a such a melee..." -- Hey, Ms. Burk, with lying and selective intelligence skills like that, there's a job waiting for you in the White House. My quick google search came up with countless results over the last several years—many of them at WalMarts.

3. ""We are very disappointed...want her to come back as a shopper." -- Your concern for your bottom line is touching. I'm sure you are relieved she's not on your insurance roles...

The same thing was true with the laptops people were literally dislodging the electronics counter to get. Apparently all the fuss was over a price reduction of $22. At four hundred bucks, that's a paltry five percent savings! These prices might be crossing a magical threshold that makes them sound irresistible, but it really is a miniscule savings for maximum punishment. And it's all part of WalMart's grand bait-and-switch marketing scheme.

Now, because these shoppers are idiots, doesn't mean they really deserve to be trampled—of course not. Though I will say that the minor discomfort they experienced for their bargains on Friday is light penance compared to the suffering of workers around the globe making this phenomenom possible. The WalMart shopper in the country just seems to perfectly capsulize everything wrong with red-state America. Parking lots filled with yellow-ribbon adorned SUVs driven by ignorant sheep who refuse to sacrifice anything for the war or the cheap socks they feel entitled to.

This is a great little piece on the whole Black Friday charade. And here are some photos of a stampede over a 72 year old woman as it unfolded. The high cost of low prices, indeed.


Carly said...

Don't take this the wrong way, but I think I love you...

In upstate NY a customer decked a (yes, WALMART) clerk because she wouldn't open another register.

An eyewitness on a local radio station told the DJ's that "The clerk put the smack down on (the customer) and her eye was bruised and there was blood on her face".

I hate Wally-world.

Otto Man said...

You shouldn't have backtracked off that title.

Otherwise, brilliant post.

ORF said...

I'll re-tread on the backtracking to say that any jackass who gets up at 4:00 a.m. to get to the store by 6:00 DOES deserve to be trampled, especially if they feed at the troughs of Wal-Mart. That place is miserable. This post, however, was not.

Anonymous said...

I have sympathy for the guy who died. He was just showing up for work, and got killed. I heard that Wal Mart sometimes buys life insurance on their workers... but the families don't get the money. Wal Mart gets it.