by Ralph Chappell
OOIDA member from Winston-Salem, NC
Awhile back, I got to spend ten and a half hours hand unloading 46,000 pounds of Star-Kist cat food and tuna fish at the Grove City, OH, Wal-Mart Distribution Center. That was after waiting 12 hours to get loaded in Independence, MO.
Star-Kist overloaded the truck, refused to cut even one of the more than 300 items, and were their usual obnoxious selves to deal with. Wal-Mart, on the other hand, was polite, friendly, and their usual inefficient selves. Wal-Mart put one of their receivers in the trailer with me, and we proceeded to segregate the items individually on pallets. I missed my scheduled pick up due to the extended unloading time.
Driving to my next pick up, I turned the radio on and guess what I got to listen to? Ol' Paul Harvey himself, extolling the professionalism of some Wal-Mart driver. This kind of kicked me right over the edge...I know I should not be so insensitive to the Wal-Mart driver's plight, but for some reason I felt compelled to provide Wal-Mart with my reaction to my day at Grove City and Paul Harvey's crass commercial message. I e-mailed what, in the harsh light of day, was a rather intemperate, but heartfelt message conveying my sentiments regarding Wal-Mart management, receiving practices and procedures and the absolute disregard of outside drivers they demonstrate. I decried their mean-spirited attitude and challenged them to talk to me about it, knowing the scoundrels would never reply! In short order however, I was contacted by a very senior management official who, if not exactly gushing with remorse, at least listened to my complaint and seemed to be interested in the situation.
He blamed the shipper, and swore that Wal-Mart had no control over the situation. He asked how Kmart, Target, and other companies do their receiving and asked me to compare Wal-Mart's procedures. I told him that having been done dirty at the Woodland, PA, Distribution Center a week later, that I fully intended never to set foot within another Wal-Mart Distribution Center again. If I could find a way to avoid Wal-Marts totally, I would do that as well.
I even got the address and telephone number of Ol' Paul Harvey. I called his office to get him to tell "The Rest of the Story" of Wal-Mart and was warmly received by one of his staff members, who asked me to put my account into writing. The point of all this … I declared war on Wal-Mart. I have hauled Wal-Mart trailers for Wal-Mart and I know, understand, and admire the fine, professional trucking service they run. I want Wal-Mart to treat outside drivers exactly the same as they treat their own drivers. Nothing less will satisfy me. To that end, I suggest that every outside driver that gets taken advantage of by Wal-Mart do the same. Quit complaining and tell the decision makers what the problems are. Be specific, business like, and detail your grievances. People will listen and ultimately, we can improve the situation.