TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Re: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers' Habits

Robert Bonomi (
Wed, 24 Nov 2004 05:23:53 +0000

In article <>,

> [TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: What you say is true, but I have been
> in other stores when the same kind of problem came up, and they at
> least apologize for any confusion and offer some free gift or
> coupon for the trouble. Not Walmart though.

One of the reasons the 'other stores' charge higher prices is the cost
of such policies.

> Our Chamber of Commerce has a thing called 'Main Street Gift
> Certificates'. They sell them to you in any denomination wanted, and
> they are redeemable at almost any store in town. They are great to
> give as gifts when you do not know what to give the other person, or
> they can be used for food at several restaurants. The redemptor turns
> them in to the Chamber office less a *one percent* administrative fee.
> Walmart, which refuses to belong to the Chamber of Commerce also
> refuses to accept those gift certificates; I guess they do not feel
> they should have to pay the one percent administrative fee charged
> the redemptors. PAT]

If you'd ever had any management experience with an even 'medium sized'
business, you'd have an appreciation for how *EXPENSIVE* that kind of
'funny money' is to handle and process.

Check out the fine print on almost any _manufacturer_ 'cents off'
coupon. 20, 30, 50 cent 'discount' on the purchase price. And the
store gets paid at least an additional _seven_cents_. That's 14%-35%
*extra* for taking coupons. It is also about _break-even_ *cost* for
handling that 'non-currency' piece of paper, and depositing through a
centralized 'coupon clearinghouse' for reimbursement.

Local C of C 'funny money' is *much* more expensive to handle. It
does -not- go to the coupon clearinghouse for reconciliation. It has
to be *manually* separated out from the other coupons, etc. and
_manually_ sent over to the C of C for reimbursement.

'Store issued" coupons, gift-certificates, etc. *are* a 'whole nuther
ball game'. You *don't* have to do any 'extra' handling of that
'paper'. Once the cashier's till has been 'counted down', to ensure
that it balances against the 'tape', you can *throw*away* the store
coupon -- it is just so much waste-paper. For that reason, store
coupons _are_ 'cheaper' than actual cash, *or* checks, to process.

High-volume 'discount' operations work by paring 'margin' (aka
'mark-up') to the *minimum*, and rely on volume to produce the
profits. There just isn't any money in the budget for the
'non-essential' cost of such programs. Yes, they _could_ do it, but
to do so, they would have to _raise_ prices at least somewhat, to
cover the increased costs. Which runs contrary to the policy of
'lowest prices'.

Available evidence says that 'lower prices' are worth more to the vast
majority of customers than 'convenience' things like accepting C of C
'gift certificates'.

In article <>, DevilsPGD
<> wrote:

> In message <>
> (Robert Bonomi) wrote:

>> There are *very* limited ways for a cashier to themselves steal cash
>> money 'from the store', and approximately _one_ way to steal from the
>> customers, with 'computerized' registers.

>> Doing multiple charges against a card is simply *not* one of them.
>> The audit trail catches it at the end-of-shift, or over-night, at
>> worst. And the records point directly to the perp.

> Sure. However, since the customer can request cash back it's another
> way to steal. The cashier fakes problems scanning an item, punches in
> the amount manually as cash, and gives the customer the item.

> The customer isn't over charged, so has no reason to complain.

> The cashier's till is now over -- Now she just needs to grab the cash
> at some point during the transaction.

No, the till is _not_ over. Punching in the amount as 'cash due'
instead of scanning the item, is no different than scanning the item
itself, as far as the cash balance in the till goes. The *only*
difference is in the store 'inventory', where the proper item was
-not- deducted from the count.

Scanning (or failing to scan) the item, then punching 'cash received'
in the same amount _deducts_ the amount from the '*remaining* payment
due' from the customer, *and* records it as being 'already in the
till'. At the end of the transaction, the 'balance due' and
_collected_ from the customer is the 'actual purchases' _less_ the
amount previously entered. this means that the till is _short_ that
amount, not *long*. And it is _not_ in the cashier's pocket. In
fact, the cashier must *PUT* that amount of money _into_ the till, to
make the till balance.

Note: most modern computerized cash-registers do _not_ let you enter
'monies received' while still entering 'charged items'. Once you hit
a 'payment received' key, you cannot enter additional items onto
_that_ transaction -- without voiding out all the payment received
items, first, that is. And then you usually have to get the manager's
"over-ride" key before you can go any further with the transaction.

Robert Bonomi

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: You make it sound as though local
acceptance of local C of C gift certificates is going to be a major,
massive processing operation in a small town like ours. You make it
sound as though joining the local C of C in a small town to show
support of other community merchants and share tips, ideas, etc is
going to cause a major outlay for Walmart. You make it sound as though
any modicum of customer service and goodwill is going to have an
effect on their 'lower prices'. Walmart does have its own gift
'certificates' in the form of prepaid plastic credit cards, branded
in their own name, in the 6011 series of numbers. Those are processed
like credit card sales at the cash register, and must cost them
something to process.

Independence Walmart was giving away free coffee to senior citizens on
*Tuesday morning only* provided the person could show they were over
65 years of age and provided the person actually bought some
merchandise there. You showed your receipt and your proof of age; they
then poured you one small cup of coffee, between 9-11 AM Tuesday
only. Then several downtown stores started giving coffee and donuts on
a daily basis to seniors (no proof of age required, just 'look old and
feeble') and no requirement to buy anything from that particular
store) and Walmart quit doing it. Its like they are so 'stand offish'
toward the community they are supposedly serving. I don't make any
claim to know about Walmart operations, but I do know that certain
intangible things like customer goodwill are worth much more than a
few extra cents of lower prices. What does it cost Walmart for a
customer service person to call the taxicab and ask them 'have Jeff
come by the Walmart grocery (or general merchandise) entrance for
Mrs. Smith or whoever'. But no, the folks are free to use the COCOT
phone on the sidewalk in front to make that call if they want, at
fifty cents per call, (when the whole ride anywhere in town costs
$1.50) ? Lower prices in the store, I guess. PAT]

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