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Want to do risky work for free?

by: DocJess

Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 17:38:57 PM EDT

I tell this joke where I say that I want to weight 93 pounds, not to stay there, but to need to gain 30 pounds, and thus will get a job as a part time buttercream frosting taste-tester at my favourite local bakery. When people ask me if there is such a job, I reply that I'm sure if I pay the bakery enough, they'll give me the job.


However, Wal-Mart is about to start getting people to do work for Wal-Mart at the person's own expense. 


When you look at the costs to drive your car, there's not just gas, but also oil, maintenance, depreciation, insurance. Wal-Mart is planning on paying people who shop in their stores just for the gas necessary to drop off packages at the homes of Wal-Mart customers on the store-shopper's way home.

Read it again. 

It's hard to know where to start with all the things that are wrong with this. Do you want a stranger with a Wal-Mart package coming to your house, and then you open the door for him/her? What a GREAT way for rapists and pedophiles to troll around. What if you're a sweet young thing knocking on a stranger's door, and he says something like: "oh, it's hot outside, would you like a soda?"

Not to mention that Wal-Mart has hit the bargain basement in being unwilling to use what everyone else uses to ship, like FedEx, UPS, and the US Mail. Some places actually have their own trucks and make deliveries. Now that's mostly furniture and appliance stores, but it used to be a lot of them. 

Now let's talk liability. Who says that package will ever get delivered? It's all on the honour system, and will Wal-Mart believe you when you say your package never arrived? 

What if a package is damaged? Did it happen within Wal-Mart's supply chain, or on that last leg? There's really no good way to tell. Wal-Mart has already had problems with people buying one thing and getting another. Like buying an iPad and getting note pads. (The kind you write on.)

Yet another reason to avoid Wal-Mart at all costs.

Original source material here.

DocJess :: Want to do risky work for free?

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I think it's great (0.00 / 0)
No, no satire there. I think it's great that Wal-Mart is thinking about this.

I strongly support the "sharing economy"--services like TaskRabbit, in which you pay people you don't know to come and do stuff in your home. Or AirBNB, in which you get people you don't know to pay you for staying in your house, perhaps while you're there. Or RelayRides, where you rent your car to a stranger.

It turns out that, scary as these things sound at first, that most strangers aren't criminals or creeps. These services work.

To be fair, Zipments, which tried letting unscreened people deliver packages, ran in to problems with insurance and licenses...but not, as far as I know, with theft, fraud, or assaults.

Yes, there are issues to be worked out. How big a discount will get customers to do this? Will people who want delivery be able to opt for another method? How do you deal with the liability issues?

But I do think it's good that they're thinking about it.

Ah Scott - we have another disagreement (0.00 / 0)
It's a substantive issue. With TaskRabbit, they actually screen and hire the people. Saying that "you pay people you don't know" is like calling the local plumbing company and trusting that they send out one of their plumber-employees. There's a level of responsibility.

With Wal-Mart, the only requirement will be that you live in the neighborhood and have a car. It's unlikely that they'll even run people's drivers licenses to make sure they're not revoked or suspended.

The other thing is that when you use the crowd sourcing programs, you get to do some checking ahead of time - point is, there's someone with responsibility.

You could make the case that when you buy or sell something on Craigslist, you're also taking a chance when you make the exchange, but normally you talk to the people ahead of time. And it's YOUR CHOICE - it's not Wal-Mart picking whatever person lives past your house relative to the location of Wal-Mart.

The money Wal-Mart will pay is for gas only. They'll come up with something like the average price of gas in the local community is $3.60/gallon, and the average vehicle gets 30 miles to the gallon (or whatever the numbers are) meaning 12 cents/mile. Thus, if you have to go 2 miles out of your way, that's 24 cents. Big deal.

This is one more way that Wal-Mart is going after decreasing wages in America. When they "hire" customers to do deliveries, they're cutting what they spend on delivery companies - people who are screened, have jobs, get paid a living wage.

Finally - every year on Black Friday, someone gets trampled, killed, beaten, tasered, etc. AT WAL-MART - you don't find that at most other places. Occasionally, perhaps, but mostly Wal-Mart, statistically.

It's a TERRIBLE idea....and time will tell which of us is right.  

[ Parent ]
Doubt time will tell (0.00 / 0)
They're getting hammered left and right (literally) on this, so I doubt they'll try it. I was really distressed to hear the discussion on CNBC yesterday, where, without irony and without disagreement from the others, one host was suggesting it might be OK for Nordstrom's to try this, but not Wal-Mart.

There's a classism in that discussion that appalled me--the idea you can't trust the Wal-Mart shopper, but the civilized Nordstrom's crowd would be fine. Blech!

So I think this idea will die in the brain-storming stage. And I'm not sure anyone else will be quick to consider it, either.

[ Parent ]
Nordstrom's v Walmart (0.00 / 0)
I agree that there's classism, but the other point is that the likelihood is that a Nordstrom's shopper would not want to be part of such a program because of the likelihood that Nordstrom's shoppers really are well paid.

That is, when you have money, you look not only at the cost of something but the time value. So if you were to take a half an hour to drop something off (between picking it up in the store, filling out the paperwork, driving over and then driving home) you'd see an associated time value, and you'd likely prefer to use your leisure time for leisure, or else work for much more than the price of a few tablespoons of gasoline.

Independent of classism, it's a bad idea from a liability perspective.  

[ Parent ]
I think you are looking at the use case wrong (0.00 / 0)
First, one would assume they are paying for all your gas, not just what it would be out of your way[I mean don't be silly, there hasn't to be something in it for the deliverer].  I don't know if it is round-trip, or one-way.  Say you live in one of the fly-over states and it is 70 miles[or more] to the nearest Walmart or like big-box store.  Now they are giving you 8 dollars, or possibly even 16 dollars, to drop off something to one of your neighbors.  Who you likely know, since in such a sparsely populated area you likely know all your neighbors.  If your neighbor had asked you to pick it up for him instead of Walmart, you likely would do it for free since it isn't a large inconvenience.

[ Parent ]
this is walmart (0.00 / 0)
i doubt they will be springing for a dime they dont have to, for 16 bucks, they could get most things delivered by professional means

[ Parent ]
The neighbor thing (0.00 / 0)
I see your point about out in the boonies, so I went to the site to look for stores. There are none in Montana, 2 in Bismark, ND (and none other in the state) and 1 in Pierre, SD (and again, none others in the state.)

And "close" in a place like that could be 10 miles off your route home, just getting to and from a farmhouse off a road. But the original article said they'd only pay you for places on your way home, so even if they gave you two gallons of gas, it limits to about $8 at current prices.

And I don't assume that Wal-Mart would do anything to give "something in it for the deliverer" beyond the gas. If they did, they'd figure out what it would cost to pay FedEx, or whoever, drop it 10% and pay that -- they specifically said they're only paying gas.

I have read in the past what Wal-Mart has done to large suppliers. They'll come in and explain how to change the line to cut costs in production. They use their own trucks for large orders, like semi's full of Tide, because they pay their internal truckers less. They're all about saving everything possible to make more money for their stockholders.  

[ Parent ]
certainly nothing wrong with looking out for the stock holders (0.00 / 0)
but as the thing going around Facebook shows when compared to Costco wages vs productivity, if you slice the fat a little too close to save the stockholders a nickle today, it often costs them a dollar later on. WalMart's policy of "helping" suppliers cuts production costs, and of taking EVERY short cut to save on costs and increase earnings has not only made WalMart synonymous with cheap quality, poor service and generally miserly approaches to retail, it has dragged down some pretty good brands who were too desperate to stand up to WalMart.

This is one more case in the long line of destructive business practices. Funny thing, in that small town environment pretzalz describes, a lot of folks would drop off a package for their neighbor for nothing.... i know i would and have, not for WalMart, but for other businesses.

[ Parent ]
Sorry Scott, I love Crowd Sourcing for non business (0.00 / 0)
But I have a real issue with this being one more way WalMart is trying to squeeze skilled labor (and yes, delivery is skilled in the sense that to commercially deliver packages, you have to have insurance and a CDL. The liability doesnt bother as much as they whole concept of getting unpaid customers to do the work of trained professionals. What if the SL decided to fire all the professors and let the students teach themselves? it might be an interesting concept, but it would not likely deliver the same level of education as having trained professionals guide them

We do some things like that (0.00 / 0)
It's not analogous to having the students teach the classes--that would be more like having the Wal-Mart customers do the ordering.

We have experimented with students and alums do other things that we might otherwise hire people for. In some cases, we pay them, but in others we don't. Years ago, we used to have students, as part of their attendance, rotate doing work in the dining hall, for example. Now we hire people for that.

You don't have to have a CDL to commercially deliver. It certainly isn't a requirement for pizza delivery, for instance. You need a CDL to drive a commercial vehicle over 12 tons or 15 passengers, so your own car is OK. I just looked up the requirements for a UPS driver, and they don't have to have a CDL, as far as I can tell--just a 6-day course to drive their vehicles.

[ Parent ]
Actually you do have to have it, not because their trucks are that big, but because their insurers want to make sure you are a professional (0.00 / 0)
i have delivered pizza in my day, and while it is true you do not have to have a cdl, you are a hired employ of the pizza company.this would be like if you walked into pizza hut and they said, after you eat, we will knock a dollar off your order if you will deliver a pizza on your way home!

i had my share of KP at college! but there again, i was part of the school organization, and i was washing dishes, wiping tables or following supervision in cooking of a trained professional head cook. you are right, this isnt like the students teaching. its more like hanging a sign out by the street and inviting complete strangers to teach a class or two for a discount on text books!

[ Parent ]




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