Tag Archives: Wal-Mart

Saga of the Desk

16 Dec

This is taking me 8 months to write, because that’s how long this saga FELT at the time it was unfolding!

I can’t unpack 10 boxes (TEN!) until we buy a desk.  Right now, those boxes are lining the front wall of the living room.  Expensive items lined up right in front of a window.  In the main area of the house.  First thing you see (and trip on) when you walk in the door.  The cats jump on the important files and computer accessories.  This is not optimal.

I’m super-motivated to get a desk to finish unpacking.  I would have been finished after one week, if only I had somewhere to put office/computer/school items.  BUT I don’t want anything too big.  This desk has to fit in the living room, so it can’t be too bulky.  It also can’t be too heavy.  Because there is one LAST move in our future.  So it has to be light enough for Cool and me to carry, and a non-awkward shape that can also fit in one of our cars.  And since the rest of our cheap, WalMart furniture in the living room is black–it has to match.  And it would be ideal if the desk could fit in a corner–and store a lot.

Needless to say, this is a tall order.  And I didn’t want to settle on the wrong thing just to unpack quickly.  So we looked and looked.  And I found a really nice, black corner model.  And it was composed of cubes.  Which we have 3 cube shelves in the living room.  It provided 12 storage cubes and a desk space.  And best yet, this same desk was on Amazon, WalMart, Office Depot, and Target–widely available.

But I didn’t order it right away.  You see, we had just moved.  I had all the moving expenses on my debit and credit cards, and the same day we were looking for a desk–I bought a washer/dryer.  The latter purchase has been my ultimate dream-fantasy since I moved out of my parents’ house.  Coin-op is no way to live.  But it was nearly $2,000.  So I had to give my psyche (and wallet) a rest before making another big purchase.

No big deal.  The desk was in at least 4 places–a week’s wait would mean nothing.

So I waited a week.  Then when I went to the WalMart (cheapest of the 4 sites) to buy it–they were sold out!  Oh no.  But that’s OK, it was just a little more expensive at Target.  The black?  Sold out also.  What?  How could it possibly sell out at different stores in one week?!  But the white was available.  Not perfect, but maybe we could paint it?  Never-mind, nope.  That one was sold out too?  Office Depot had been pricey, but it wasn’t an option anymore either–sold out.  Why was there a run on our desk???????  Normally, I trust Amazon best and they have the best customer service and return policy–but the desk had always been double the price there.  It was through an outside seller.  Did we want it bad enough to pay DOUBLE?  No.  Not after moving.

We tried to forget the desk.  Couldn’t.  We tried to find something similar.  Not a thing.  We went to the manufacturer website.  They don’t make it anymore?  We though about building the same desk ourselves.  Cost of tools would out-price Amazon–then we’d have to store and move them.  Ugh this desk.  This dream desk. . .

The boxes remain unpacked. . .

So we decided this desk was the perfect desk and we couldn’t get it out of our heads, so we were willing to bite the bullet and pay the Amazon price.  This desk was PERFECT.  So I bought it from Amazon–at double the price, because that’s the only ONE we could find anywhere.

Then a week later, out-of-the-blue I get an e-mail from WalMart:  The desk is back in stock.  WTF?!!!!!!!!!!  At first, I didn’t even want to open the e-mail and look.  But then I knew the price was bound to be lower.  And sure enough, WalMart’s price was even lower then it had been the first time.

This time I could not hesitate.  I bought the WalMart desk at the discount price–I knew Amazon would do a return/refund.  I even had WalMart ship it to one of their stores in the hopes someone could even build the desk for me.  Then, I went to pursue the refund and was happy to see the Amazon desk was “preparing for shipment.”  It had NOT been shipped yet!  Lucky me.  So I merely canceled my Amazon order before it even went anywhere.

Relief!

Was short-lived.  I get an e-mail the next day, “Your item has been shipped.”  And it wasn’t WalMart is was Amazon.  Mother-fucker!  They had shipped my item even though I canceled it.  Now I would have to deal with the shipping companies-ugh.  The seller e-mailed me an apology (I’m suspicious they kinda on purpose didn’t see my canceled order) and told me to just refuse delivery.

Easier said than done.

But I didn’t know what carrier they used.  If it was USPS things were going to be stupid and slow.  If it was Fed-Ex, they would fling my package on my stoop and run before I ever got to the door. . .  I waited for the tracking info, but it never came.

When I checked my spam folder, I saw it was Fed-Ex–oh no.  I hate their service–Fed-Ex doesn’t care.  They rush and over-extend their employees so much that they just try to do the fastest thing.  I would never have a chance to refuse delivery.  I had to create an online account.  My desk was supposed to be delivered the next day.  So I changed the order so it would be held at a certain Fed-Ex location.  And I got a confirmation e-mail and everything.  Now, I could just call and refuse delivery, then get my refund.

But that’s not my luck.

I came home from work to a desk delivered to my apartment.  A giant, heavy desk.  I think the specs on Amazon said 140 pounds.  This was not going to be easy.  And for me–nothing ever is.

Ugh–now Fed-Ex had disregarded my instructions and I would have to deal with wrapping, carrying, and paying for this giant thing to be sent back.  It would be a real hassle, eat up MORE money, and I didn’t want to deal with it.

I e-mailed the Amazon seller and asked if they could just give me the lower price.  Because now, not only did WalMart have it in stock, Amazon itself had 9 of them–at the WalMart price.  No sense in jumping through hoops to return it when everyone else had it for the lower price anyway.  The seller said they just weren’t big enough to accommodate the prices that huge companies like WalMart and Amazon could do–which is understandable, but unfortunate.

And then there was this.

I didn’t want the cats to knock over the humongous box and squish themselves–it weighs a lot.  So I laid it on the floor.  And when I did I noticed a WalMart receipt?  Did the Amazon seller get the desk from WalMart then re-sell it to me?  Nope, sure enough there was a WalMart.com return address.  What happened?  Could this have coincidently been shipped to my house (instead of the store, and a week early) on just the day Fed-Ex was supposed to deliver my Amazon desk to the apartment?  Certainly not. . .

But it did!  I knew this because then the Fed Ex desk came–from the Amazon seller.  Now I had TWO desks.  Heavy, heavy desks.

I complained to Fed Ex.  They said sure enough they saw my “hold at office” request, but ignored it and delivered it to my door anyway.  Delivered and ran–before I could refuse it.  They didn’t care.  I complained to the Amazon shipper again.  To his credit, he made things relatively easy on me by arranging for Fed Ex to pick the desk up at my apartment.  At least I would not have to haul the heavy thing anywhere. . .

When the (same) Fed Ex guy came to pick it up, he said he saw the “hold” request, but his boss said to deliver anyway.  WTF?!  And he hauled the desk away.  And I got the very expensive price refunded.

But the story is not over.

We had to build the desk.  And as soon as I opened it, I saw it was CHEAP.  But after all that trouble, we were keeping the crummy thing, dammit!

So I start following the sparse and convoluted picture instructions.  It said glue this to this, and glue that to that, glue, glue, glue.  But the glue was CHEAP.  And messy.  And even when you held things in place for a good 5 minutes, they came right apart when you let go.  Or came apart while you were gluing the next items.  I supplemented with Guerrilla glue or some-such superior product.  Then I noticed the camber (whatever the lock-screw thingies are called)  hanging out.  The directions were written in a backward way!  No wonder the cheap piece of crap wouldn’t stay together–it should have been cambers first, then glue just for added insurance.

I had to rip apart everything I had done (for like 2 hours) and start over.  AAARRRRRGGGG!

I tried to take it apart without damaging the cheap, cardboard-like pieces.  Which was too easy in most cases given the time it took to glue it in the first place.  And start over.  By this time I was over it.  And those camber things are always a frustration.

So I started the assembly over.  And did I mention I was OVER it?!  So it wasn’t built carefully and with eye to detail.  It was forced together in the way it should have been from the start.  But everything about the desk, the instructions, and the supplies were cheap.

So what did we end up with?  A black cubby desk that looks nice (from afar) and matches the living room, that allowed me to finish unpacking.  Is it functional?  NNNoooooo.  Don’t put any weight on the desk–it’s unsturdy.  Don’t touch it, because the glue that was supposed to hold on prominent pieces was crap.  So if you come close to the desk, try to put something on the wrong shelf, or heaven-forbid try to move the desk–you quickly see/feel it’s hanging together by a thread.

It’s not going to make another move, that’s for sure.

Wal-Mart = Veterinary Hospitals

20 Jun

When I mentioned that Wal-Mart considers 36 hours full-time, my boss looked a little concerned and asked if I had considered working there.  I guess since I didn’t post this yet–she couldn’t tell I had looked into it for my blog.  No one (in America) WANTS to work at Wal-Mart.

It gets a really bad rap–some if it deserved, but let me be honest–vet hospitals aren’t that different *Truth.

I got most of this info from one of those Wal-Mart-hating documentaries.  Which I don’t think are very good, because they are so biased.  And everyone knows that documentaries are supposed to present FACTS and let the viewer form their own opinion.  The best documentary I ever saw?  “Zoo,” which detailed the Enumclaw (sp?) bestiality case.  It was so good because they didn’t attach morals to the facts of a stigmatized topic.  The Wal-Mart documentaries don’t do that.  They present pretty one-sided, jugemental, negative information about the corporation and label it as truth.

But here are some comparisons (in bold, taken from “Wal-Mart:  The High Cost of Low Prices”):

No, or extremely poor health insurence

Out of 12 years of employment at various (6 different ones?) vet hospitals in three different states, I was only offered health insurance at 2 of them.  And one of them was contingent upon working a certain number of hours (full-time status).

Eligible for Welfare

In Seattle, one of the most economically stable places IN the U.S. I was eligible for food stamps while working full-time at a vet hospital.  And I had 10 years of experience and my Animal Science Bachelor’s DEGREE (not that it matters).

Required to come early, stay late, or miss lunch–getting gypped out of breaks

This is a no-brainer at a vet hospital.  It is absolutely expected that you will come early to prepare for the day, miss lunch if it’s necessary to finish important tasks, and stay late if needed.  Breaks–unheard of.  Vet employers figure the wave-like cadence of the day and ability to walk around on your own accord actually gives you more down-time than taking 2 mandatory breaks would. . .  Make your own judgement call here.

I actually think this situation is worse at (especially privately owned) vet hospitals than at Wal-Mart, because no one is checking in on this like they might as a larger corporation.  When it happens the management says something like, “That’s the nature of veterinary medicine.”  Does that make it fair?  Or legal?  And they make no bones about it that it WILL happen, even asking at the interview if you mind.  And as an employee, what are you supposed to DO?  Well, I guess you could say you mind and NOT get the job. . .  The owners (most likely the vet) figures they themselves do it so the employees should too.  Except employees are not getting the direct and indirect benefits that the vets do.  OSHA, or whoever regulates working conditions, would have a field day if they cracked down on veterinary hospitals.

Paid low wages.

Obviously this is true at vet hospitals.  Everyone is getting paid relatively and comparatively low wages.  Look at any human field:  To work with people, you have to have certain licenses, accreditation, hours of experience. . .  There are minimum standards.  AND a human nurse or assistant can only do a sub-set of tasks.  You have a phlebotomist, x-ray technician, respiratory therapist, on and on for each small job in a hospital.  And those people are paid accordingly.  A vet assistant–needs NO license, degree, or amount of experience.  Because veterinary medicine is largely unregulated and animals are seen as expendable property, vet hospital employees are underpaid.  Veterinary employees do a little of everything, so they make substantially less than their counterparts working on people.  Also, vet employees are underpaid, because veterinarians themselves are underpaid, and it’s the trickle-down effect.

Add in steep competition to work with animals, and it’s an employer’s market.  They are able to higher pre-vet kids (anxious to garner their mandatory experience hours) that demand no benefits, are dependent on their parents so they don’t NEED insurance/high pay, and are still too naive to limit their hours or demand overtime.

Management/owners make exponentially more than employees.

Vets get paid very little compared to every other doctor, that’s true.  Also, they have a high debt-load (the highest of any professional?) to pay back.  But there is still a vast difference between their salary and that of their technicians, assistants, and receptionists.  And for the vets that own their own business (which is profitable in the longer term) this differential becomes huge.

Many hours a week–overtime pay is not paid at all, or very frowned upon.

Vet hospitals all have very long hours.  In my 12 years of experience, I have worked only as short as 8.5 hours (at full-time).  But I have worked an average of 9 hour days, and even as long as 13+ hour days (emergency) and 50+ hour weeks (holiday boarding).  I have only worked at ONE vet hospital that paid overtime wages if you worked over a full-time load in a pay-period.  And the management really makes a great effort to keep people under that number of hours, giving longer lunches, sending someone home early, giving extra days off when a person gets close to over-time by covering someone else’s time. . .  And of course ALL vet hospitals make you work during some part of the weekend (the busiest time).  And four of them REQUIRED me to work holidays–only two of them with extra compensation.

Not mentioned by Wal-Mart employees that is true of vet hospitals:

-unpaid working interviews

-must purchase own (mandatory) uniform–4 of my 6 hospitals, at least.

-little or no training, especially in an official capacity

-as an off-shoot of that, maybe getting thrown into a (possibly life or death to the patient) situation you are not comfortable with or not knowledgeable enough to do.

-handling chemicals +/- appropriate protection

-working short-staffed (more often than not)

-sick leave very frowned upon, or not granted at all.  Because a small business is dependent on each and every employee every day they are scheduled.

So I can’t say I felt all that sympathetic toward the (American) Wal-Mart employees featured on the documentary.  Biggest difference is that Wal-Mart is one, huge corporate entity so the public is more AWARE of these problems.  All the items above plus crazy people and poop–Wal-Mart and veterinary hospitals-just may be the SAME job 🙂