Several months ago, I started getting the occaisional emails from a Wal-Mart PR guy. He seemed to be under the impression that I wrote what I have defending Wal-Mart out of a deep love for his company. No, I just think that if Wal-Mart wants to move into the inner city and sell cheap groceries to poor people, we should let them.
(If you've ever actually spent significant time in a neighborhood with section 8 housing, you know that they almost never have grocery stores. They have crappy convenience stores where buying anything fresh is incredibly expensive. Frequently, various health-food advocates will put out studies saying that if poor people would just shop in suburban grocery stores where they would be charged suburban prices, they could EASILY feed their familes fresh vegetables for less than the cost of fast food. Those advocates are idiots.)
Anyway, I exchanged a few friendly emails with Walmart PR guy, until he wrote and asked "Are you in NOVA? Or the good part of the state?"
As from my perspective, where I live is the good part of the state as Northern VA's willingness to pay taxes means we have decent roads, top public schools and emergency services that will reach you before you die.
CC is a Northern Virginian for several generations back, so pride demanded she stop responding to PR guy's emails. He would still send me the occaisional press release, which I would read and then ignore because my interest in Wal-Mart really stops at poor neighborhoods and those usually aren't what his stuff trumpets. Yes, it's nice that millions of dollars in bonuses went to hourly employees this year, but whatever. Bring Anacostia some mangoes and we will talk.
But something I've seen in the news a couple of times has really pissed me off.
A Wal-Mart in Beaufort, SC was still selling the recalled pet food a week after the recall. So a lady came in and bought a thousand dollars worth just to get it off the shelves.
I learned about this woman in News of the Weird, where she was being made fun of. Yes, at first blush, she sounds like a crank. But if Walmart wasn't obeying the recall, hell, she was just doing what she had to do to keep people from buying the food and sickening their pets.
Anyway, I wrote the following letter to my PR guy and sent it off:
I read "TheConsumerist.com" and read about how last year your company
found out that it was selling a T-shirt with some sort of Nazi
Insignia. Walmart corporate said they were recalling the shirts, but
for something like four months consumerist readers were sending in
pictures of themselves holding the shirts as they continued to find
them for sale.
A representative example
Given that, how do you handle recalls of actually dangerous products?
Has the pet food recall worked better than the Nazi t-shirt recall?
What have you done differently?
A news story about stores still selling the food
Are you going to pay back Margaret Trask of Beaufort, SC, who bought a
thousand dollars worth of the food because your store was still
selling it a week after the recall?
I'll be interested to see the response.