Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Wallingford Walmart: The Manager's Interview That Wasn't + Then Was! Store Mgr. Speaks!
The 8pm Palm Sunday conditions at Wallingford Wal-Mart
A small, pre-school or kindergarten child navigated the littered fecal stained trash
on Manager and Co-Manager Doug Yeakey's Wallingford Wal-Mart
Men's Room floor to utilize the facilities which his Mom outside
appropriately assumed was safe for her beloved child.
Once again I apologize for the graphic nature of
the photos in this article. :(
Elsewhere on this blog in recent days and in our position as the Hartford Government Examiner for Examiner.com, available at Examiner.com/government-in-hartford/stevenalexander, we have reported on filthy, vile, unsanitary conditions which pose a health hazard to the people of Wallingford, CT and surrounding towns, and any visitors to Wallingford's Wal-Mart. On Palm Sunday evening, April 17th, we observed the conditions above and below as photographed at the time in their front Men's room. The bottle redemption area was also filthy and unavailable, and was also documented. Complaints to management that evening were unsuccessful, as the reprehensible conditions remained after we left an hour later. We had attempted to contact store Manager Doug Yeakey over a month ago, and he refused our inquiries, first as a customer with complaints and then as a reporter seeking some answers to questions regarding Wallingford Wal-Mart's relationship with Wallingford. At the time Mr. Yeakey was unavailable for days, and when finally reached by phone was unwelcoming and rude, refusing to hear any complaints and unwilling to answer questions. When asked if he wanted his comments published he yelled his response: "NO!" was the Wal-Mart manager's response to customer complaints and journalistic inquiries. He allowed that he would 'accept' my publishing his referral of all inquiries to a telephone number in Arkansas about Wallingford Wal-Mart's relationship to the community of Wallingford. I asked Store Manager Doug Yeakey, "Are you saying that if I want to know about your store's feelings about it's relationship to Wallingford and to Connecticut, that I should call Arkansas?" Wal-Mart Store Manager Yeakey responded with a firm: "Yes!" and vacated my call.
The Wallingford Wal-Mart Front Men's room one day after a Health Department
Complaint on April 19th. Yes, unfortunately, that is feces. :-(
The next morning, this past Monday April 18th we published the aforementioned articles, complained to the Wallingford Municipal Health Department and attempted to file a complaint with Wal-Mart corporate headquarters and still await responses from the Health Dept. and from Wal-Mart corporate management. Yesterday we reluctantly went shopping again at Wallingford Wal-Mart.
At this point your Unabashed Leftist is a bit on the physically disabled side, and unable to spend oodles of time outdoors tracking down household essentials, including food, cleaning supplies, etc.
Since taking over as CEO 2 days following his father's, Sam Walton's, death in 1992, before his body was actually buried (that is the historical fact of how quickly he and his brother moved in to take over the Wal-Mart company upon Sam's death), Robson Walton and his brother James Carr Walton have become the 15th and 16th richest multi-billionaires in the world with a borderline criminal and clearly amoral/immoral market strategy. The Robson Walton Wal-Mart plan was simple and follows:
Buy up or rent retail acreage as close to competing discount chains and independents on a large-scale basis. Contract with China for the manufacture of cheap, poor quality products made by low-paid, unfairly treated workers without human rights nor the labor-rights guarantees enjoyed by American workers(including child labor and abusive management styles). Undercut the pricing of the nearby retail stores and put them out of business(remember Caldor's, Bradlee's, the Sears' outlets when they were successful...). Design ever shoddier merchandise with cheaper raw materials(ie.: furniture made of particle board that the consumer assembles him/herself at the expense of his/her own sanity, instead of oak or maple, and iron or steel nails/screws/bolts by highly skilled carpenters and cabinetmakers) and retain the same prices as with the previous products of much higher quality. Gradually increase prices as the market will bear.
The result has been the strengthening of the Chinese economy, and the Communist Party of the Peoples' Republic of China, the abuse of Chinese workers, the loss of the largest (consumer home furnishings and more) sectors of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. on a permanent basis (encouraged by the policies of the Cheney/Bush Administration), poorer quality merchandise, a lower quality of life in general for the nation and for the world. Customer service is discouraged, 'fast, faster, fastest' is the Wal-Mart motto when it comes to speeding each unit (customer) out of the store after dropping their money at the registers. In this regard the Walton Brothers have been wildly successful for themselves and for their investors and upper management.
Cutting back on customer service staff and retail store staffing has been a key to the Walton strategy as well. Long lines at registers, spills that don't get cleaned, dirty bathrooms, and unsanitary conditions are part of the balance sheet for Wal-Mart in 2011, and Wallingford's Wal-Mart is an amazing and typical case-study.
I am unfortunately in no condition to shop elsewhere at this point or I'd boycott. For sure! Probably will sooner or later ennyway! Lol. But navigating life on a cane at times, exhausted from medical matters quickly, and the Wal-Mart here in town being the only one-stop-shop available within 7 miles of my home thanks to the con-job marketing success and near-monopoly Wal-Mart has been allowed to achieve and the immoral Walton brothers have pursued; leaves me with little choice but to shop there and complain when appropriate. Mind you, until recently, my only conversations with management were to praise. I praise and love doing so and have singled out a few staffers to management for praise. This local situation is unfortunate indeed.
So, after my Health Dept. visit on Monday and a promised visit to Wallingford Wal-Mart by a sanitarian and a follow-up report to me (which has not happened yet, but I will go there today to file my latest complaint from last evening's latest Wal-Mart fecal debacle) I went to Wallingford Wal-Mart to see Mr. Yeakey for my formal complaint. He was not available. I was escorted to the back warehouse area and an office to see Co-Manager "Larry." I expressed my concerns about the dirty Men's room and Co-Manager Larry, with whom I'd never had any prior interactions, raised his hands gesticulating saying in a loud and intimidating voice "So what do you want me to do! What do you want me to do!" Immediately defensive and attempting to intimidate this customer instead of address legitimate concerns, he tried arguing and attempted to anger me as best he could. Several other large men and one woman were right outside the warehouse office door 'observing' carefully. The woman turned her ID badge so it would not be visible, and when I asked her why she did so, she said she denied doing so. But when I asked her to turn it back so I could see her ID she refused. Interesting customer relations tactics, indeed. I presented Mr. Yeakey, in his absence, and Co-Manager Larry, who refused to identify himself any further, with the photos I had provided to the Health Dept., and with the articles including the photos that morning. Larry insisted that I leave the warehouse area at that point, and he and what could only be called a contingent of 'goons' followed me about the store until I left the facility.
I followed my most recent visit, following my second Men's room complaint of the week with Co-Manager Larry by phoning Store Manager Doug Yeakey and did finally succeed in having him speak with me at that point, early in the afternoon on Tuesday April 19th. Mr. Yeakey began our conversation by saying that he was not allowed by Wal-Mart's corporate policy to answer any questions from media and again referred me to Arkansas. I indicated to Mr. Yeakey my repeated attempts to leave messages at that number for weeks following our first interaction, and Wal-Mart's Media Office failure to respond. Mr. Yeakey gave me another number, putting me on hold to acquire it, as though this golden number would hook me up. When I phoned that number later, it turned out to be a totally non-functional number.
When I offered my complaint about sanitation at his facility Mr. Yeakey did apologize then immediately defended himself by saying he does not understaff his store and "always has 6 or more maintenance" people in the store. We challenge Mr. Yeakey to document this assertion. He assured me it would improve and said he wished for his store to "Continue to meet or exceed my expectations." When I indicated to Mr. Yeakey that it has never met nor exceeded my expectations, Mr. Yeakey modified his promise to say that he intended for his store to "Meet my expectations in the future." The future was, in fact, that very afternoon, and the conditions you see in the photographs below of the Men's room and the redemption area Tuesday April 19th.
Wal-Mart's Idea Of "Meeting Or Exceeding" Customer Expectations
As Promised By Wallingford Wal-Mart Manager Doug Yeakey
Top is the redemption area Monday and the bottom is the Men's room.
Mr. Yeakey also was again informed of the full bins in the redemption area and the failure of his store routinely to make bottle redemption available (CT has a nickel deposit on most soft drink bottles). This was our original complaint weeks ago. Store Manager Yeakey attempted to deny all personal responsibility for these deplorable sanitation and legal considerations by telling me that Tomra, Inc. (a recycling company) was the contractor for those services. When asked who puts that contract out to bid, and asked who holds Tomra accountable, Mr. Yeakey would not reply. When asked if Wal-Mart contracts with Tomra he would not reply. He gave us a phone number for Tomra in Stratford, CT which was totally non-functional when we phoned it this morning. We went to the Tomra website and tried the two other phone numbers we could locate online, and they, too are non-functional. We found a global media-relations number for Tomra, phoned it 2 hours ago and await a reply. Mr. Yeakey did say that retailers are "not required to redeem containers" of beverages they sell. A phone call to the State of Connecticut Department of Consumer Affairs proved Wallingford Wal-Mart Store Manager Doug Yeakey wrong about this.
The very customer and taxpayer-friendly Department under the new leadership of Governor Dan Malloy, and the very nice responder for the Department, Holly, indicated that retailers, Wal-Mart included, very much ARE required to redeem bottles and cans while they are selling those same products. Mr. Yeakey further indicated that when the vending area is full that the service desk is available for returns. When informed that I was previously turned away by one of his greeters when attempting to bring bottles and cans to the service desk and not allowed to do so, Mr. Yeakey simply contended that I was apparently lying about the event and that all his staff welcome filthy bottles and cans being redeemed within the store proper at the desk in line with returns of merchandise in sight of the produce aisle. He said "All my staff are aware that bottles and cans can be returned at the service desk." We might just give that a try next time all the machines are down, Mr. Yeakey, and report on that result here, as well.
I also informed Mr. Yeakey that I've interviewed employees of his who shall remain anonymous for obvious reasons and that bitter complaints about cutbacks, the way recent lay-offs were handled, and managers who have taken demotions and choose not to work as Wal-Mart managers anymore, and he chose to ignore these concerns and wouldn't answer any questions about store staffing levels beyond saying "We are not short-staffed."
On Tuesday at 5:30pm, I saw conditions including the fecal matter all over the floor of the Men's room and waste all strewn about once again, and went to the back desk to once again complain. Co-Manager "Larry" was once again on duty, not Doug Yeakey. While attempting to intimidate me--and your intrepid Unabashed author is not easily intimidated at this point, nor easily discouraged, I'm certain the Wal-Mart management will acknowledge--Co-Manager "Larry" [about 6 foot 4 and maybe 230 lbs or more, quite a physically intimidating guy, if I might say, compared to your 5'8" 160lb, 54 year-old cane-wielding radiation-ridden reporter ;-)] disparaged me personally and insulted me repeatedly, saying, among other things, "I don't know why you are the way you are!"At the time that Larry said that I had just brought him into the back bathroom to show him conditions in there. When he saw the filth, his quick thinking Wal-Mart management 'team' solution was: "You can't take pictures in here." I replied simply that I wasn't taking pictures, that I was, at that point in time, showing him the bathroom.
I was then bringing him to the feces ridden bathroom up front when he insulted me by yelling at me "I don't know why you're the way you are!" Within seconds he saw what you're seeing, and what Assistant Manager Kurt also saw a few minutes earlier at 5:30pm on April 19th, 2011-- a feces ridden floor one day after a complaint to the Health Dept. and one day after Larry tried to intimidate me in his office.
Larry, to answer your implied question behind your personal insult of yesterday afternoon, "I am the way I am about this" because neither you, Store Manager Doug Yeakey, nor any of your management "team" at Wallingford Wal-Mart shouldn't even let a rodent have to utilize bathroom facilities like the ones that you are compelling the people of my home town, a kindergartner I witnessed kicking feces out of the way to get to the toilet with his mom innocently waiting outside the room, or myself, exist anywhere at anytime for any one. The prison and jail bathrooms I've visited have all been in better condition and far more sanitary. Larry or Doug, would you let your own kids live in these kinds of conditions?? If anyone subjected your family members to these conditions for any reason, would you complain at the very least, Larry or Doug? And Misters Walton and Walton, these questions apply to you as well, maybe especially. It's a sad day in Wallingford as I must leave the comfort of my home to go to City Hall once again to complain to the Health Department about Wal-Mart and the health hazard it poses to the community.
By the way Mr. Yeakey, being made aware by you that Wal-Mart policy precludes Store Managers from doing media interviews, thanks for the interview, and I'll be forwarding a copy of this article, with interview excerpts, along with my full report to the folks at Wal-Mart regional headquarters whenever they decide to call back.
And a special message to Co-Manager "Larry" and Store Manager Doug Yeakey: You have my contact information, I always gladly and eagerly accept apologies and hope that occurs to me and to the greater Wallingford community, and I'll gladly convey them here quickly.
and Pleeze Remember, Managers of the World:
You're People Too,
And Kids and Other People
and Other Peoples'
People Matter Too!
Store Manager Doug Yeakey
James Carr Walton
Wake Up, Please
Smell Some Roses.
And Happy Easter Toya
If You Happen
Like I Do!
and pass the bisquits,
After writing that I need this tune,
done only as Arlo Guthrie can do it
and Tell the Story of the guy who wrote it:
He was the captain of a slave ship.
He changed his mind mid-ocean.
Turned the slave-ship around and
sailed his human cargo back to
Freed those folks.
Started writing great tunes like this.
Arlo tells the story well.
Here it is.
For my great readers,
those who imagine for some reason they're not my friends.
For the friends I haven't met yet.
And for Doug, Larry, Robson and James and