business news in context, analysis with attitude

Responding to the news that Walmart has won a temporary injunction preventing one of its former senior executives from taking a new job at CVS, one MNB user wrote:

At this point, who ISN’T a competitor with Walmart. By this logic, holding a leadership position within Walmart would preclude future employment by virtually all national companies. I’m not a lawyer, but I do believe that should be an infringement on personal rights and unconstitutional.

Another MNB user agreed:

So the exec can’t go to work for anyone???? Taken to the extreme, if you are on the management team at  Walmart, that’s the end of working as it is known.  You either work for them or retire???? I don’t think that’s right, and hopefully the court will let this guy exercise his livelihood…

On another Walmart-related issue - the increasing of toy prices to improve its profit numbers - one MNB user wrote:

There is now a Walmart not far from my home so I shop there perhaps once a month to cherry pick certain items they sell cheap.  From my experience, while those increased toy prices will be changed in the computer, many of the price tags on the shelf will stay the same, whether intentionally or intentionally.  Many customers probably won't notice that "error" at checkout.   What's fun is to challenge the price at checkout which then requires a 10 minute tie up of that register while they find someone to verify that the shelf price was lower than the price being rung up.   In consideration for my fellow shoppers I only do that if the line is short - usually just tell the cashier the price is wrong and they can keep the item.  A month later I come back and the shelf price still hasn't been changed.   Unfortunately Walmart does not have a "Price Guarantee" like some supermarkets where you get the item free if it rings up wrong.  One time I did complain to Walmart by e-mail, I got a response that the store manager would call me.  Never received any call.  It seems that the majority of the Walmart cashiers are applicants rejected by Kmart - that should tell you something.

Reacting to my rave about Sears’ at-home servicing offering, one MNB user wrote:

I had an equally good experience with Sears. I needed tires and after visiting Sam’s where I was told they do not make appointments, first come first served, then Wal-Mart where there was no one at the service counter then a couple of local shops whose prices were 30% higher than what my research said I should pay, I headed home. On the way I passed Sears and pulled in just to check. The service manager Francis was great. He took me through the options available, recommended exactly what I already knew I needed, gave me a price just as good as the Bentonville Behemoth, and asked if he could have about an hour to get it done. I spent the hour walking the store, and bought several gifts. My car was finished on time, the paperwork was finished when I got to the service area and I left a very happy Sears shopper. I will definitely go back again.

And, regarding another retailer, MNB user Christy Carlo wrote:

I am about a week late, weighing in on your comments about Amazon Prime and the need to spend $80/year on the service.  When the program was introduced, I did the one month trial and thought the service to be fine but not worth the steep price tag.  I did not auto-renew and went back to utilizing free Super Saver shipping.  My purchasing was fewer and further between. At some point later in the future - maybe a year - I took advantage of yet another free trial. And during that trial period, I ordered a product which gave me a bonus 6 months (did not know that at the time of purchase).  During those months, I started placing a lot more orders with Amazon.  Somewhere shortly after that, Amazon Mom began - and once again, I received my next three free months.  Since I have a new baby, I started taking advantage of the fast shipping and the low prices.  After all of that, last night, I received an email stating I have 9 more free months of Amazon Mom/Amazon Prime.

The moral of the story is - I've had free Amazon Prime for probably over a year (give or take a month or so in the middle) and have yet to pay for it. Would I now?  Yes.  It took several months of having the shipping to feel it was worthwhile.  I'm willing to bet that even at the end of these 9 months, there will be yet another promotion for free months.   Look at Amazon Student - anyone with access to a ".edu" address can get it for free as well.  I think that those paying the membership are the minority and with some research, you can find free months here and there.  Amazon Prime has been an amazing marketing tool - they have gotten thousands of dollars from me this year that I never would have spent previously.  Between Prime and my Kindle, Amazon has me sucked in as a customer for life - all by waiving an $80 membership fee and providing (almost) instant gratification!

Never underestimate the power of instant gratification.

We continue to get emails about our “50 great American movies” discussion.

One MNB user, responding to my listing of The Searchers, wrote:

I agree The Searchers is a classic. The thing I always liked about John Wayne was his ability to let the more unknown actors steal the show. It was as if he knew his performance depended on their success too.

My dad had a stroke almost ten years ago, he loves cowboy movies. So our family has seen all of them about a million times.

At their best, movies not only provide us with compelling narratives and relevant metaphors, but also can be a kind of connective tissue between generations. I’ve had a wonderful time over the years watching old movies with my kids...and I think they’ve enjoyed it as much. (I hope.)

And another MNB user wrote:

The  pleasure of your list of 50 movies is that we all have our personal lists, we may have some of the same movies on them, but we will have differences, and the discussion of the differences is what makes it pleasurable.  I’ve seen The Searchers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and I think that Red River is better than both of them.  If I made a list like yours, I’d include some not because they were movies that taught me anything, or had a wonderful story or message, some I’d include just  because they entertained me,  some of them are pretty mindless, but when I’m in the mood for mindless entertainment, I’ll put on of them on.  Anyway, great thread, and it ‘s something we can discuss and debate from now on, because there is no right answer.

Which actually is a nice lead into my next point...

Finally, a few thoughts about a “Your Views” posting from yesterday, and the many emails that came in response to it.

The message to which I am referring, of course, is what I think can be fairly described as a diatribe against me and anyone to disagrees with the political views of this particular MNB reader. As I said yesterday, I debated with myself about running the letter, but in the end decided to because it directly addressed something that we talk about a lot here on MNB - the need for tolerance and civil discourse.

While I got a lot of emails that took issue with this person’s perspective, I’ve decided not to post them - mostly because, while I have no problem if MNB veers off into relevant political discussions from time to time (as we have with the debate about child nutrition legislation), I’m not really comfortable with prolonging a dialogue that mostly would be people criticizing this fellow for his intolerance. I think my response yesterday made it clear that I think part of the problem we have in this country is the inability to see the other guy’s side of things, to see compromise as an honorable goal to be achieved rather than a word rife with suspicion, a synonym for “sell out” (as one major political figure recently suggested in an interview).

To be clear, I do not believe that anger and intolerance is the sole province of one end of the political spectrum. There is plenty to go around in both political parties, just as there are wingnuts of all political stripes.

That said, I’d like to think that most people are calm, thoughtful, and willing to listen to people on both sides of the aisle. They’re not reactionary, not intolerant. They view things from the center, not from the fringes.

I’ve always believed that America is a centrist country by and large...I would argue that it is center-right on fiscal policy, center-left on some social issues and center-right on other social issues. (I’m not sure where the country is on foreign affairs at the moment, because it increasingly looks like there is nothing in the center but a black hole where none of the nation’s previous assumptions offer workable solutions.)

I’m glad that people feel so passionately about issues that they offer their emotions and opinions freely here on MNB. When it makes sense and there is relevance, I’ll continue to run them ... even the rants and diatribes, when I think there is a larger point to be made.

I like what journalist Jim Lehrer had to say on the subject:

I'm in the civil discourse business. I think it takes all kinds. And more power to everybody.

KC's View: