I’m going to go on a little rant about Wal-Mart. This rant is not directed at “Mega-Corporations”, nor is it intended to be anti-capitalism like so many other Wal-Mart musings are.
Instead, I want to talk about their policy on ID Verification for Alcohol Purchases.
I was in Wal-Mart on Saturday purchasing a lawn mower (I can hear all those gasps at the prospect of me doing manual labor), and I happened to pick up a 4 pack of Sixth Glass (Reviewed HERE).
I proceeded to the checkout, only to find 6 lanes open throughout the entire store and at least 5 customers in each of these lines.
While waiting in line (longer in line than I spent shopping), I noticed something interesting. Every person in front of me also was purchasing alcohol, and the cashier was checking everyone’s ID.
When it was my turn, she also asked me for ID, and I noticed the register asking “Does Customer Appear over 40?”
40? Really? Almost twice the legal age to purchase alcohol?
When I queried the cashier, she rolled her eyes and said it was a stupid policy that everyone complains about, yet you could tell that she knew if she didn’t check, she would loose her job. I get it. She is caught in a rough situation, and would rather be employed.
My complaint wasn’t with her, so I thanked her and went upon my way. Instead, when I got home, I exercised the right of every consumer…..I called the Manager.
Wal-Mart conveniently prints the Manager’s Name and Phone Number at the top of every receipt, so I felt I wasn’t over stepping any boundaries.
My call was routed to the Assistant Manager on Duty – “Jack”.
I outlined my frustrations as such-
- Long lines and no additional cashiers
- Questioned the Policy on IDing everyone who “Looks” under 40
- Highlighted that everyone in my line was ID’ed, even though NONE of us looked under 40 (one looked old enough to be my Mom…I kid you not).
I could immediately tell that Jack was out of his element, especially when I started asking him about Corp Policy, and I could hear him searching online to find it (but he didn’t know it himself.
Ultimately, he was able to locate and read it to me…..but it seems at Wal-Mart, there is a policy against emailing outside the company (even Managers and Assistant Managers).
The policy he quoted was dated Sept 30, 2010 and was very similar to this earlier version I found on the web.
"Effective 03/20/08 All customers appearing to be under the age of 40 will be asked to provide proof of age by showing proper id. Customers under legal age or without proper id, will not be permitted to alcohol or tobacco products. This change in Wal-Mart policy is an effort on our part to restrict the availability of these products to minors."
Jack did offer to print and mail to me, or I could pick it up later. I almost wish I had (more on that later).
We then had a long conversation regarding my concerns.
Regarding the long lines – Staffing at this particular Wal-Mart has been difficult and they just can’t get enough people? <Ed Note> Really? I called BS. With this economy, they should have people applying out the door. I believe they are either being cheap or have set their standards to high.
As for the Age Verification Policy, Jack agreed that “the policy was stupid” and that requiring the customer to appear below 40 was “A bit of a stretch”. He stated that he disagreed with the policy himself, and didn’t understand why you had to appear over 40 at Wal-Mart, but at Sam’s the age was 27. <Ed Note> I appreciated Jack’s candidness, and I challenged him to take this complaint up through his chain of command. As a manager, it is his job to be the voice of the customers to the Corp Entities who make policies that are not practical.
As we finished the call, Jack said the Manager would be in Monday around 6AM, and that he would leave him a note to call me.
Come Monday, I waited until 11AM before I called the store again myself. The Manager was unavailable (he was in a meeting), so I left a message to please call me. Again at 1:00, I called and left a message (this time he was out touring the store). In the end, it was 1:30 before he called me back, and even then….he really had no idea why I was calling.
I again outlined all of the above, and while sympathetic….this time, I could tell I had gotten hold of a company man.
It is against Wal-Mart’s policy to provide or disclose internal operation procedures (I wish I would have gone in and gotten it Saturday).
While the Age Verification is not State Law, it is Wal-Mart’s policy. The Manager would take it upon himself to visit the cashier’s station and observe the procedure firsthand (he didn’t know what it was?) and communicate back to the home office my complaint.
In the end, it was apparent that this manger could care less. So after having my say…..I have now resolved that purchasing alcohol at Wal-Mart is off the Agenda. From now on, even if it is easier….I will got to HyVee, Moser’s, Arena Liquor or Nostalgia Shop. At least there, I am not treated like a criminal for doing something completely legal.
What do you think? Please post below in the comments section your opinions our experiences. I would love to read them.