28 November 2008

Death by Commerce

Seriously, WTF?
Wal-Mart worker dies after shoppers knock him down

By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK – A Wal-Mart worker was killed Friday when "out-of-control" shoppers desperate for bargains broke down the doors at a 5 a.m. sale. Other workers were trampled as they tried to rescue the man, and customers shouted angrily and kept shopping when store officials said they were closing because of the death, police and witnesses said.

..."This crowd was out of control," said Nassau police spokesman Lt. Michael Fleming. He described the scene as "utter chaos."

...Kimberly Cribbs, who witnessed the stampede, said shoppers were acting like "savages."

"When they were saying they had to leave, that an employee got killed, people were yelling 'I've been on line since yesterday morning,'" she said.
"They kept shopping."
"Savages" doesn't begin to describe this bunch of rabid animals.

While out-of-control crowds have claimed lives the world over, there's just something so quintessentially "us" about this particular horror. If you want a picture of Americans at their stereotypical worst, you simply cannot do any better than hordes of holiday shoppers enraged that a little thing like a person's death is thwarting them in their quest for a bargain big-screen TV.

But that's afterward.

Wal-Mart set this whole situation in motion.*** You lower prices in order to attract people and couple that with quantities that will, in no way, meet demand, prompting everyone to try and be first to get one of the fifteen or twenty items you have in stock. You further stir the pot by opening up at dawn or earlier so people are waiting through the wee hours in cars or the cold to get their crack at the merchandise. Mix in a couple THOUSAND people (as was the case, here) and you have the nerve to say this?

"The safety and security of our customers and associates is our top
priority," said Dan Fogleman, a company spokesman.

I defy anyone to point out where "safety and security" entered the equasion.

To be sure, accidents happen. Certain jobs have certain risks. Flying planes, fighting fires, law enforcement, etc., all have inherent dangers you must accept to do the work. Retail, however, is NOWHERE on that list.

Large crowds were not a side-effect in this situation; they were the expressly intended goal and any legitimate prioritization of "safety and security" demands exterior crowd management, not just having enough cashiers on hand to take the money.

Whatever the case, Mr. Damour is still dead. And for what? A $300 laptop? An $800 HDTV? Matching a quarterly profit forecast?

Merry Christmas, indeed.

***As did every other retailer who follows a similar "Black Friday" strategy. They ALL roll the same dice; Wal-Mart--and it's employee--were just the ones to lose, this time around.

1 comment:

Carly Dawn Kickslaw said...

I guess Mall Wart did it again.

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