Hey, Walmart, nice to hear from you
I don’t like to brag, but I get an awful of lot of e-mail.
I do have to admit that not all of it’s personally directed to me.
Even if I’m the only name that’s visible in the “To:” box, I have a hunch that some of it – maybe even the notes I get from Joe Biden – go out to an awful lot of folks. (Aside to Joe: If you’re reading this post, please drop me a line and let me know whether my hunch is correct here. I know you’re a busy man, so you don’t need to craft a full note up, just put “It IS personal” or “Sorry, but it’s NOT personal” in the “Subject:” line. Thanks, pal.)
Anyway, the other day I received – are you ready for this – “A Special Invitation from Walmart.”
Given all the junk email I log, I have to say I was capital-D-Delighted to find something in my mailbox that was both special and an invitation.
Talk about “You’ve got mail.” Cowabunga!
Once I opened the invite, however, I have to say I was a tad surprised to read that:
At Walmart, we value customers like you.
Maybe they’re being sarcastic here, or maybe they’re just trying to make me feel guilty, but I do find it hard to believe that Walmart actually values customers who, well, don’t actually spend any money with them. I mean, if they had 1 billion customers like me, their revenues for 2011 would be the same as if they had 2 billion customers like me. Which would be zero.
The one and only time I stepped toe in a Walmart was to buy some stuff for a customer event held in 2004. And that was only because it was convenient to where I worked. Frankly, I found it pretty darned depressing, but I understand that, since then, they’ll actually put in decent produce departments.
I’m sure if there were a Walmart next door I would drop in occasionally for paper towels or a bag of carrots or a flashlight. But there isn’t a Walmart next door.
In fact, I couldn’t tell you where the nearest Walmart is.
Without wheels, I just don’t get around much.
So I get my paper towels from PeaPod, my bag of carrots from Whole Foods, and my flashlights from the family-owned hardware store around the corner.
By now you may be thinking that I’m something of a bona fide, certifiable, world class snob.
Which, I must confess, I kinda/sorta am.
I understand that Walmart drives prices down and lets a lot of people stretch their dollar. So that’s good. And they do employ a lot of people. But I do suspect that in some purchase cases there’s a decline in quality. And most of the jobs they provide are ill paid and provide poor benefits. Which, I guess, places Walmart in the American employment avant-garde. (Hmmmmm. Let’s play this one out: At the rate we’re going, the only people who’ll have any money to buy anything will be the rich, and they don’t shop at Walmart. Yep, we’re really in for it.)
And I do believe that Walmart, while certainly not alone, has contributed to the citizen-as-consumer mentality and our collective insatiable need for more junk.
No, they’re certainly not alone. But they’re sure the apotheosis of crapification.
Still, since they did send me a special invitation, I thought I’d give them a quasi RSVP and at least click through to their website.
After all, they almost asked so nice:
We want you to be the first to know about our wide assortment of new products, limited quantity special buys and featured values — available online and at your local store.
Limited quantity special buys? Available online? What’s not to like? (Although, frankly, this would have made more sense if they’d said “we want you to be AMONG the first to know,” rather than “THE first to know.” Come on, Walmart, who do you think you’re dealing with here? Some kind of Gullible Gus? Why would you want a non-customer to be “the first to know”? Shouldn’t you be rewarding loyalty?
Anyway, I didn’t have all the time in the world, but I did check out what they’ve got on clearance.
Well, my first thought was: these guys are good.
After all, the first clearance item – of the 1,862 they had on offer that day - that caught my eye was a Tom Brady shirt. Did they know I’m a band-wagonner Patriots’ fan?
But then I dug down a bit further, and most of the clearance goods were stuff like Kobe Bryant Laker shirts, NASCAR pajama bottoms, and University of Arkansas bedding sets. Not that I’d be in the market for a Tom Brady anything – much as I worship at the Brady altar - but Kobe Bryant? NASCAR? University of Arkansas (Wooo, Pig, Sooie )? AS IF…
Plus there was no Tom Brady shirt on sale offer, to begin with. Fraudsters! Talk about bait and switcheroo. Lure me in with Tom Brady, and deliver a bright pink Brett Favre Vikings shirt, marked down from $12 to $10. (If you buy two you can rub them together and start a bonfire if you get cold watching a Vikings game. Which, if you’re watching a Vikings game, will no doubt happen.)
As I read through the communiqué from Walmart, I became increasingly skeptical about it’s being something that was personally directed to me, and that it, indeed, was a “special invitation.”
What tipped me off was this:
This email is a Walmart advertisement.
Which actually makes me kind of sad, in a way.
I suppose I shouldn’t take it personally that the so-called “special invitation” isn’t all that special. It was, after all, a pretty high quality invitation. No, it wasn’t on Crane’s high grade stock, but when was the last time you got a “special invitation” that was copyright? That tells me that they value what they have to say. (Hope they don’t come after me for copyright violation. This seems like fair usage to me, but, then again, I’m not an IP attorney.)
On the whole, given that I do get an occasional unwelcome, almost spammish e-mail, I’m happy to have heard from Walmart. I’m even thinking of forwarding my special invite on to Joe Biden.