business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to an “Executive Suite” brief from yesterday about a Wal-Mart promotion, one MNB user wrote:

Executive Vice President of Wal-Mart refers to its employees as "People" now. How quaint.

Probably depends on the department. There may be other sectors of the company that refers to them as “surveillance targets.”

And speaking of Wal-Mart’s surveillance practices, MNB user David Livingston wrote:

I worked for a company about 1/100th the size of Wal-Mart. I witnessed first hand the embezzlement of millions of dollars. Some of it done opening and some of it secretly. You can't blame a company for taking extreme security measures. I've seen executives get kick backs for signing leases in questionable locations. Kick backs to project engineers for steering construction business in a certain direction. Board of directors receiving millions in kick backs just for voting to increase executive salaries a few hundred thousand dollars. Heck, I was even offered no-show consulting jobs just to not talk about this stuff. It’s not just employees cheating the company but often the company cheating the government in tax evasion schemes. When two companies are bidding to buy another company, just knowing what the other company's top bid will be can be priceless. It’s only prudent to send a team of private investigators to bug competitors’ offices, hotel rooms, etc. I recall being asked to track the tail numbers of corporate plane of our competitors so we would know what cities they were flying to.

What is being written about Wal-Mart is the tip of the iceberg. If you what Wal-Mart is doing is extreme or bazaar, you are naive. I could tell you shocking stories that makes what Wal-Mart did sound like child's play.

If someone is filing a multi-million dollar lawsuit against you and there is a good chance you will lose, it would only be logical to spend a few thousand dollars to intimidate the plaintiffs and ruin their reputations. We had hidden cameras in light fixtures and clocks. Phones were tapped and emails intercepted. It was getting so bad that it became a running joke among employees and we would talk in code all day like we were in the Mafia.

We know we’ve said this to David Livingston before, but sometimes it really does seem like we live on different planets.

We reported yesterday that in the UK, Tesco has begun posting signs in its checkout lanes warning shoppers that abusive behavior toward employees will not be tolerated…a move designed to curb a rising trend toward customers being mean to staffers. One union representative estimates that 95 percent of his members have been verbally abused during their supermarket careers. And we commented:

Tough crowd, those Brits. You think they’re all manners and teatime and “stiff upper lips,” and then you find out that they’re being nasty to those poor supermarket workers.

To which one MNB user responded:

Perhaps you're thinking about Wimbledon. These must be soccer fans.

Good point.
KC's View: