I have never called a corporate customer service line for any company before this incident. I have learned a lot about the process with just this one experience. Walmart seems to work a bit differently than the other chains I have contacted. Walmart requires much more persistence, patience, and time. Here is how it has gone down for me with Walmart.
The very day I first saw the inappropriate Cosmo cover I covered them all up and then spoke to an employee about the problem. She agreed with me and I asked her to mention it to her manager for me. The next thing I knew, one of the mangers approached me in the checkout line. I told him my concern and he told me there was nothing he could do about it. I told him that was not true and that if he wanted to do something about it that he could.
The next day I called corporate Walmart. The rep I spoke to agreed with my concern and assured me that Cosmopolitan magazine is actually supposed to be covered at the checkstands. What? Really? I couldn't believe it. I actually called in again to ask another rep to be sure. Again, I was told that they are meant to be covered. I then called the store manager and told her what I was told by the corporate representatives. She also agreed with my concern and said she would speak to the vendors and have that magazine covered from then on. I could not believe it. Wonderful!
Well, they covered them-- partially. They used partial blinders that covered the inappropriate headlines, but left the picture exposed. Another call to corporate, who said they were transferring me to higher management and put me through to the same store manager. She told me that these covers or blinders were all the vendor could do. Hmm. No, not good enough. You guessed it, I called corporate again.
This time the corporate rep gave sent an email with my concern to the regional marketing manager. I was told that I would be contacted by him. I told the rep that this is not only a regional issue, but a global one and that I'd like to be in contact with higher management that can promote change internationally. (Just a small request.) He kindly told me that he was required to follow specific protocol in the handling of these issues. Basically, they can only give me one possible solution at a time, starting from the bottom.
He did do me a favor, however, and give me two possible solutions in the same phone call. He also gave me the Ethics Hotline number. This is a Walmart hired, third party group that investigates ethical breaches. He felt like my concern could fall into this category. (As in it is unethical for Walmart to require their customers to view inappropriate pictures of women before they purchase their macaroni and cheese.) I called this hotline and reported what had happened thus far in my efforts to get the inappropriate pictures covered. He filed a report and said it would be investigated. I haven't heard anything more there yet.
I was, however, contacted by the assistant's assistant for the regional marketing manager. She heard me out and said the assistant was on vacation but would get back to me within a few days. The assistant did get back to me and was wonderful. She had been working on the problem. She was able to contact the supplier of the full blinders and had them ordered for my local Walmart. She said it would take 1-2 weeks, but that they should be covered up by November 4th.
I asked this woman what do my friends do that don't live in this region. Do they have to spend the hours I did on the phone to try and find you, the one they really needed to talk to? I asked if I could have the phone number to the company that supplies the full blinder covers so we can give that number to the store managers who don't think they have access to full blinders? She said no, but she gave me her number instead and said anyone having this same problem could call her. If you ask me, that is a pretty big deal. Please contact me and I will get you her number if your local store manager does not have full blinders or know how to get them.
Unfortunately, it is November 10th and they are still only using the partial blinder. So, the work continues. Today I will need to call the local store manager back and ask what the latest is. I will let her know that the regional marketing management team ordered full blinders and ask if they have received them yet. If she is not responsive, then I will need to contact the regional marketing people again.
Wow, right? Walmart requires an awful lot of hoops to jump through, that is for sure. The overall message here is that this requires continued diligence. The vendors come in often to restock the magazines, so the blinders may not always be in place. This can happen even when the store wants them covered. It takes speaking up sometimes for them to even realize they have been left uncovered. They are busy and they are concerned with a lot of things in their store, not just the checkout aisles.
4 years ago