Walmart Eliminates Greeters – Who Cares?

 

Did you ever see the movie with Jim Carrey called “Fun with Dick and Jane”, where he loses his high profile job and is forced to become a greeter at a local store? It’s so funny, but what was on the news this evening was not so funny.

Our local news reported that Walmart is eliminating the greeters at the front entrance. The person in the segment that is losing the job in April is an elderly veteran. He said this job keeps him going. They showed him saluting the patrons as they entered the store, and they smile and salute back. The local news person interviewed many of the Walmart customers who said they would no longer shop there if he wasn’t present. Wow! They were adamant that they look forward to seeing him, talking to him and that it adds to their overall store satisfaction.

At our local Walmart, it has usually been a disabled person in a wheelchair. They greet you with a smile, and offer flyers on specials throughout the store. There have been times when I’ve had to wait with my cart at the entrance, while a group of people chatted with the greeter.

My sister said at her local Walmart Super Center, that they are not only eliminating greeters, but they are also eliminating cashiers. They have half the cashiers they had last year, and are encouraging more people to use self-checkout. I’ve used the self-checkout at several stores when I have a couple items, but if I have a full buggy, I not only appreciate a cashier, but someone to bag the stuff and even appreciate the chat. These people are our neighbors and community. The physical interaction is more than important. It is part of a human need to communicate and interact with a real person.

I have seen cashiers in Walmart with a black eye, and I refrain from asking why; she is still pleasant and engaging, there are those who limp and sigh while they ring up my order, and clearly they are there because they have to work, they need the income, the benefits and they are part of society who need that job. They may also need the interaction, the pleasantries, to feel like they are contributing, and obviously, according to the people interviewed today, they are. They are more than a welcome sight.

As more low income jobs become robotic, and eventually eliminated, what will the more fragile in our society do – the veteran, the disabled or mentally challenged, the older person with an ailment who may be struggling, divorced or widowed, that needs this job, and human interaction? Walmart is eliminating greeters – who cares? I do.

What do you think of this policy? Would it change your view of Walmart as a company? How will the elimination of low-income jobs change the quality of life for those that depend on them?

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There are 77 comments.

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  1. Member

    It is sad. I agree. I don’t have an answer. Robots are going to be everywhere soon. 

    I hope these will go the way of the original answering machines. Customers really didn’t like dealing with machines, and competitors with human phone answerers soon had an advantage. 

    • #1
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:04 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  2. Member

    The Walmart near me stopped having greeters a while back. They also removed about 2/3 of the registers and replaced them with self-checkout. With no greeters and less cashiers it means you need to be able to lift and stock shelves in order to work there. That leaves out a lot of the older and disabled folks who used to be greeters. Higher minimum wages are forcing these changes.

    • #2
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 19 likes
  3. Member

    Bean counting Suits probably never push a shopping cart and just use one of those pricey delivery services. They dream of driverless cars and drones because, as we all know, you have to be “on the right side of history.” 

    The greeters are/were one of the most distinctive features of Walmart. I’m not sure going faceless is a smart move for a store that’s not the most pleasant to shop in. (I recently waited a full half hour behind one customer in the Service Department. Slow computers, apparently.)

    My local Stop and Shop has a roving eight foot tall robot that looks for spills. It expects YOU to get out of ITS way. Not fun. 

     

    • #3
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:14 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  4. Member

    Our greeters are transformed! Into people who match your purchases against your receipt (see Costco). One guy told me they are especially on the lookout for beer.

    That’s my neighborhood and I’m proud of it.

    • #4
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  5. Member
    Front Seat Cat Post author

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Our greeters are transformed! Into people who match your purchases against your receipt (see Costco). One guy told me they are especially on the lookout for beer.

    That’s my neighborhood and I’m proud of it.

    They match your purchases to your receipt? Ok – bad for beer thieves – good for greeters!

    • #5
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:21 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. Member

    It’s ridiculous. I hate the practice. It becomes meaningless and then it erodes human interactions. Human interactions should not be forced or turned into rote recitations.

    I guess I’m with Mike Judge on this one.

    • #6
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:51 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Member

    Well, I don’t want to get too down on Walmart because all of the grocery stores in my area are increasing the self check aisles. I refuse to use them. I see some people using them but most of those aisles have no one in them. I would rather wait in line.

    As for greeters our Walmart sometimes has one and other times not. Sometimes one of them will pull a basket out for me but, in general, they do nothing but smile and say hello. I do feel sorry for those losing maybe the only job they are capable of.

    My Walmart is a fairly pleasant place to shop. The employees (if I can find one) are usually very helpful.

    • #7
    • March 14, 2019, at 5:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Member

    I walked into a high-end convenience store a few months ago and was greeted by someone behind the counter. There were four people with uniforms but not one was actually looking at me by the time I looked back. Now what am I supposed to do? 

    First, it’s not genuine. Obviously the workers have been told by corporate that they must greet customers when they enter, and they naturally might feel awkward doing so, hence the look-away. But here I am having to respond to the greeting ( socially ) but it’s not real. So if I ignore, I’m being ‘rude’ – I have to acknowledge at least. So I look in the direction of the sound and not one of the four is looking back at me. 

    This isn’t the first time something similar has happened, and now I’m annoyed. Why should I be needlessly distracted by something that’s superfluous and unnecessary? It wasn’t a real greeting. Am I supposed to feel good someone said something to me that is 100% meaningless? How is this not making social interactions even more fraudulent?

    So I asked in a nice voice, “ who said that?” That was an awkward moment ( because he/they didn’t really want to have a real interaction) “I did”, said one guy. “Well, I didn’t know who said it and I turned to say hi back and no one was looking at me so I didn’t know how to respond. What am I supposed to do? “

    They were so uncomfortable after that. I tried to make them feel better but I think they were either angry, frustrated or embarrassed. I don’t actually care.

     

     

    • #8
    • March 14, 2019, at 6:20 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Member

    Are there no work houses or jails to deal with the surplus population? Too harsh?

    Frankly, I don’t care for greeters I shop for efficiency and minimal human interaction. Most of my shopping is for food. I know what fruits, vegetables, meats, and other things I want. It’s not that I hate being greeted, but I’m not looking to hold a conversation with the store staff. I’m usually listening to a podcast and I want as few slow downs as possible. Self check-out is great for small purchases. I do like a cashier for larger ones, but I don’t care if they are friendly to me. I want them to be fast, clinical. 

    I don’t know what the greeters will do, but what did people like that do before greeters were invented? The invisible hand will sweep things in what ever way it will. Worrying about it is pointless. 

    • #9
    • March 14, 2019, at 7:59 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  10. Member

    I was in a Home Depot today, one of the really big ones. They actually didn’t have what I was looking for (a small container of wall patch), but I bought a little plant. Lousy day, needed some greenery.

    Anyhow, there was a very, very elderly gentleman sitting in a chair, leaning against the anti-theft device at the entrance. He was wearing the orange vest and nametag; I assumed he was a greeter, so I said “good morning ” with a smile. I figured I would be extra nice out of respect. He stared right through me. No reply, nothing. Later, after I had decided they did not have what I was looking for and swung back to look for a houseplant, I saw him trying to rise out of his seat to answer a question for an elderly woman. Then I looked around. It was as if the entire store was staffed by the bus from the nearby fancy senior living facility that flies their own “Senior Lifestyle” flag. I went to the self check out and bought my ten dollar plant. A woman with an eastern European accent (could have been Russian, could have been Polish) told me thanksandhaveaniceday. Yeah, let’s just replace them with robots.

    • #10
    • March 14, 2019, at 8:27 PM PDT
    • Like
  11. Member

    I have found Walmart to have much more pleasant bots in their self-serve checkouts than Giant Eagle. The hurry-up – stupid – no – not- that – way tone at Big Bird makes me crazy. Always ends with a wait for help sign flashing at some point. I have never had a problem at Walmart.

    • #11
    • March 14, 2019, at 8:42 PM PDT
    • Like
  12. Member

    It’s not the bots, it’s the net. I’m willing to bet that sales/square-foot are down across Walmart. It’s happening to all the rest of retail, why should they be immune? Their real estate overhead per store is pretty much fixed, so where can they economize? Yeah.

    • #12
    • March 14, 2019, at 8:52 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  13. Thatcher

    Cool. The more they automate the more I can steal.

    • #13
    • March 14, 2019, at 8:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Member

    Front Seat Cat: As more low income jobs become robotic, and eventually eliminated, what will the more fragile in our society do – the veteran, the disabled or mentally challenged, the older person with an ailment who may be struggling, divorced or widowed, that needs this job, and human interaction? Walmart is eliminating greeters – who cares? I do.

    So do I. I really hate the the idea/belief that a company must make as much profit as it absolutely can. Make enough to meet its expenses? Yes. Businesses can’t run in the red forever. I know that. But try to squeeze every last penny out that you can – no matter who gets squashed in the process? No. I don’t like that. I’d make a horrible business owner, I suppose.

    • #14
    • March 14, 2019, at 9:17 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  15. Member

    Weeping (View Comment):
    But try to squeeze every last penny out that you can – no matter who gets squashed in the process? No. I don’t like that. I’d make a horrible business owner, I suppose.

    Trying to minimize expenses is not necessarily trying to squeeze every last penny you can. Grocery stores have notoriously low profit margins. I would prefer that they stay in business. 

    I don’t care for automated checkout but I will have to accept it when nothing else is available. I don’t really think they are yucking it up at corporate headquarters every time they let a checker or greeter go. 

    • #15
    • March 14, 2019, at 10:47 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  16. Member

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Weeping (View Comment):
    But try to squeeze every last penny out that you can – no matter who gets squashed in the process? No. I don’t like that. I’d make a horrible business owner, I suppose.

    Trying to minimize expenses is not necessarily trying to squeeze every last penny you can. Grocery stores have notoriously low profit margins. I would prefer that they stay in business.

    I don’t care for automated checkout but I will have to accept it when nothing else is available. I don’t really think they are yucking it up at corporate headquarters every time they let a checker or greeter go.

    For the record, I don’t think most places (including WalMart) are “yucking it up” either when they layoff people. I think most of them simply don’t think about the individuals that are affected by the decisions – especially businesses as large as WalMart.

    And you’re right. A company minimizing expenses is not automatically the same as trying to squeeze out every last penny they can. But with a company the size of WalMart that brings in billions of dollars a year, I find it hard to believe that that’s not what they’re trying to do when they layoff greeters and install more and more self-checkouts.

     

    • #16
    • March 14, 2019, at 11:24 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):
    Are there no work houses or jails to deal with the surplus population? Too harsh?

    For some people it is always the Christmas season.

    • #17
    • March 15, 2019, at 1:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Member

    Franco (View Comment):
    This isn’t the first time something similar has happened, and now I’m annoyed. Why should I be needlessly distracted by something that’s superfluous and unnecessary? It wasn’t a real greeting. Am I supposed to feel good someone said something to me that is 100% meaningless? How is this not making social interactions even more fraudulent?

    Ummm.

    These people are in a job where they are required to greet as part of their normal duties. Common courtesy is to respond courteously. Most polite niceties are fraudulent to some degree, but if we just toss them as useless we become New Yorkers. Or worse.

    With a little practice it is not even very distracting. Two seconds of effort in a gesture of human decency is not a massive strain. You discharged any obligation to respond by replying in the direction of the group. The group was probably taking some sort of break, maybe a bit , and worried that you were a store buyer (a spy from some level of corporate sent to confirm that employees are following procedure) and scared to say much of anything for fear of extending the content of any subsequent reprimand.

    JD Salinger’s campaign against phonies through his proxy Holden Caulfield was a (possibly unintentional) warning bell that courtesy was just too extreme a strain on the fragile psyche of that hermit author. As much as I hated that book in school, it has only gotten worse with age.

    • #18
    • March 15, 2019, at 2:41 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  19. Member

    Front Seat, is your local Walmart by chance in a $15/hour minimum wage jurisdiction?

    • #19
    • March 15, 2019, at 3:15 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Member

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):
    This isn’t the first time something similar has happened, and now I’m annoyed. Why should I be needlessly distracted by something that’s superfluous and unnecessary? It wasn’t a real greeting. Am I supposed to feel good someone said something to me that is 100% meaningless? How is this not making social interactions even more fraudulent?

    Ummm.

    These people are in a job where they are required to greet as part of their normal duties. Common courtesy is to respond courteously. Most polite niceties are fraudulent to some degree, but if we just toss them as useless we become New Yorkers. Or worse.

    With a little practice it is not even very distracting. Two seconds of effort in a gesture of human decency is not a massive strain. You discharged any obligation to respond by replying in the direction of the group. The group was probably taking some sort of break, maybe a bit , and worried that you were a store buyer (a spy from some level of corporate sent to confirm that employees are following procedure) and scared to say much of anything for fear of extending the content of any subsequent reprimand.

    JD Salinger’s campaign against phonies through his proxy Holden Caulfield was a (possibly unintentional) warning bell that courtesy was just too extreme a strain on the fragile psyche of that hermit author. As much as I hated that book in school, it has only gotten worse with age.

    Yes common courtesy requires a response, but if by the time you try to respond, like a second later, and they aren’t even looking at you, then they destroy said common courtesy.

    Moreover if some corporation has mandated that their employees greet every customer because someone decided they needed a friendly and personable, “homey” kind of facade for their business, it’s a complete failure.

    It’s quickly determined and then becomes a waste for everyone – especially the employees!

    Like the the telemarketer who doesn’t know your name saying, “How’re doing today?”

    You might not value your own time, thoughts, privacy or genuine interactions with people. That’s fine. I do. 

    Welcome to Costco, I love you…

     

    • #20
    • March 15, 2019, at 4:55 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. Member

    I avoid Costco, trying to push a cart past the grazers at the food sampling stations is akin to working your way through a feed lot. There is no relief after passing the check stand as you try to get past all the carts stopped at the pizza and hot dog bar.

    • #21
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:10 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  22. Member

    Valiuth (View Comment):

    Are there no work houses or jails to deal with the surplus population? Too harsh?

    Frankly, I don’t care for greeters I shop for efficiency and minimal human interaction. Most of my shopping is for food. I know what fruits, vegetables, meats, and other things I want. It’s not that I hate being greeted, but I’m not looking to hold a conversation with the store staff. I’m usually listening to a podcast and I want as few slow downs as possible. Self check-out is great for small purchases. I do like a cashier for larger ones, but I don’t care if they are friendly to me. I want them to be fast, clinical.

    I don’t know what the greeters will do, but what did people like that do before greeters were invented? The invisible hand will sweep things in what ever way it will. Worrying about it is pointless.

    You seem friendly.

    • #22
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:33 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Member

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    I avoid Costco, trying to push a cart past the grazers at the food sampling stations is akin to working your way through a feed lot. There is no relief after passing the check stand as you try to get past all the carts stopped at the pizza and hot dog bar.

    I spoke to a manager at a Costco once who said they had a member who never bought anything…only came in to dine on samples. I’m sure there are plenty like that.

    • #23
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Member
    Front Seat Cat Post author

    Franco (View Comment):

    I walked into a high-end convenience store a few months ago and was greeted by someone behind the counter. There were four people with uniforms but not one was actually looking at me by the time I looked back. Now what am I supposed to do?

    First, it’s not genuine. Obviously the workers have been told by corporate that they must greet customers when they enter, and they naturally might feel awkward doing so, hence the look-away. But here I am having to respond to the greeting ( socially ) but it’s not real. So if I ignore, I’m being ‘rude’ – I have to acknowledge at least. So I look in the direction of the sound and not one of the four is looking back at me.

    This isn’t the first time something similar has happened, and now I’m annoyed. Why should I be needlessly distracted by something that’s superfluous and unnecessary? It wasn’t a real greeting. Am I supposed to feel good someone said something to me that is 100% meaningless? How is this not making social interactions even more fraudulent?

    So I asked in a nice voice, “ who said that?” That was an awkward moment ( because he/they didn’t really want to have a real interaction) “I did”, said one guy. “Well, I didn’t know who said it and I turned to say hi back and no one was looking at me so I didn’t know how to respond. What am I supposed to do? “

    They were so uncomfortable after that. I tried to make them feel better but I think they were either angry, frustrated or embarrassed. I don’t actually care.

    Franco – Yes they may be doing what they’re told but being friendly back is helping them to also appreciate what they’re told to do. I hear you. When I go to CVS, they always yell “welcome to CVS!” – I always say thanks but some don’t even acknowledge. Funny – but I come to know who’s working by that voice – one woman is also a volunteer at our hospital and a veteran – I know her voice now.

    • #24
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:46 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Member
    Front Seat Cat Post author

    Sisyphus (View Comment):

    Franco (View Comment):
    This isn’t the first time something similar has happened, and now I’m annoyed. Why should I be needlessly distracted by something that’s superfluous and unnecessary? It wasn’t a real greeting. Am I supposed to feel good someone said something to me that is 100% meaningless? How is this not making social interactions even more fraudulent?

    Ummm.

    These people are in a job where they are required to greet as part of their normal duties. Common courtesy is to respond courteously. Most polite niceties are fraudulent to some degree, but if we just toss them as useless we become New Yorkers. Or worse.

    With a little practice it is not even very distracting. Two seconds of effort in a gesture of human decency is not a massive strain. You discharged any obligation to respond by replying in the direction of the group. The group was probably taking some sort of break, maybe a bit , and worried that you were a store buyer (a spy from some level of corporate sent to confirm that employees are following procedure) and scared to say much of anything for fear of extending the content of any subsequent reprimand.

    JD Salinger’s campaign against phonies through his proxy Holden Caulfield was a (possibly unintentional) warning bell that courtesy was just too extreme a strain on the fragile psyche of that hermit author. As much as I hated that book in school, it has only gotten worse with age.

    I’ve been in the south so long that smiling, greeting and nodding to strangers is so normal – you can tell where the tourists are from when they don’t smile back – sorry but its true :-(

    • #25
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:52 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. Member

    Greeting customers as they walk in can actually work as a shoplifting deterrent. You’re acknowledging the customer — telling them that you’ve seen them, and you’re aware of them. It’s a small way of defusing potential problems.

    Obviously, the larger the store and the more impersonal the staff the less it’s going to work. But when the staff is attentive to the customers, it acts as a sort of unconscious social restraint against shoplifting. The guilty mind says “These people saw me come in, they’re aware of me, they’re watching me . . .”

    This is obviously also true with human-staffed checkout lanes. I have often considered just how easy it would be to slip something through the self-checkout without scanning it. A human cashier would obviously cut down on the shoplifting. Stores like Wal-Mart must factor in the losses they will incur from shoplifting by having self-checkouts instead of humans. They must somehow decide that paying a human costs more than the losses they will incur.

    This trend of removing human employees will continue until the losses are too great. Clearly if you don’t like this trend, the answer is to start shoplifting to teach them a lesson.

    I kid!

    But the cold equations are fascinating here.

    • #26
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:57 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  27. Member
    Front Seat Cat Post author

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    Greeting customers as they walk in can actually work as a shoplifting deterrent. You’re acknowledging the customer — telling the potential criminal that you’ve seen them, and you’re aware of them.

    Obviously, the larger the store and the more impersonal the staff the less it’s going to work. But when the staff is attentive to the customers, it acts as a sort of unconscious social restraint against shoplifting. The guilty mind says “These people saw me come in, they’re aware of me, they’re watching me . . .”

    This is obviously also true of self-checkout lanes. I have often considered just how easy it would be to slip something through without scanning it. A human cashier would obviously cut down on the shoplifting. Stores like Wal-Mart must factor in the losses they will incur from shoplifting by having self-checkouts instead of humans. They must somehow decide that paying a human costs more than the losses they will incur.

    This trend of removing human employees will continue until the losses are too great. Clearly if you don’t like this trend, the answer is to start shoplifting to teach them a lesson.

    I kid!

    But the cold equations are fascinating here.

    Great point – at Ross they have a male greeter who is not just a greeter, he is there to deter shoplifting – it is obvious. He says hello but looks like a cop.

    • #27
    • March 15, 2019, at 6:59 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    I’ve been in the south so long that smiling, greeting and nodding to strangers is so normal – you can tell where the tourists are from when they don’t smile back – sorry but its true :-(

    Might be flyover country in general. I’ve spoken to “coastal dwellers” who assume that all our friendliness is faked, because they just can’t imagine people who are naturally friendly toward others.

    • #28
    • March 15, 2019, at 7:00 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  29. Thatcher

    We don’t have a greeter any more.

    I always thought they were there not only there to greet, but to look for shoplifters. Every once in a while, there’ll be an article in the paper about how someone stole a big screen TV from the store.

    As for self checkout, I’m a little leery of it. I feel as if I’m stealing the stuff, and no doubt I’d be accused of theft if I forget to scan one item . . .

    • #29
    • March 15, 2019, at 7:03 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Thatcher

    I hate self checkout….I’m not even sure why. lol This is the perfect demonstration however of the actual minimum wage being Zero.

    • #30
    • March 15, 2019, at 7:07 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
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