Is Target Really Just as Bad As Wal-Mart?

by Carrie Kirby on 27 March 2008 57 comments
Photo: The Rocketeer

I caught some flack here recently when I expressed a very common attitude: I won't shop at Wal-Mart due to their well known labor problems, but I love to shop at Target.

Is there really any moral difference between shopping at the two big box stores? Or is it just that Isaac Mizrahi and Jovovich-Hawk blind us to the store's values?

Here is how the two stores stack up:

  • Both have fought off employee unionization efforts, so far with 100 percent success in the United States. Target employees are shown an anti-union video as part of their orientation. 
  • Neither store pays a living wage. A 2005 newspaper article quotes the United Food and Commercial Workers, which had tried to organize some Target workers, saying that wages and health plans at the two stores are similar, but Target's plan is more restrictive. "We feel they are worse than Wal-Mart because they are masquerading as this benign employer," said Bernie Hesse, a UFCW leader, in a Fortune piece published this month.
  • Both Target and Walmart use factories with poor human rights records.
  • Both stores present obvious environmental problems with all the packaging used, etc. Both have initiatives to improve their record in this area; Wal-Mart's promises go farther, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
  • With their low prices, both stores have the effect of putting smaller, more specialized and often locally owned retailers out of business.

There are plenty of reasons in there to justify boycotting both chains. However, there are also arguments for focusing on just one store: A boycott of one store is more effective. People have to buy things someplace, and for many, especially those outside urban areas, that someplace is going to be a big box store. A boycott is an easier sell if it isn't an undue burden on those who are asked to participate.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW

And if just one store is chosen, Wal-Mart is the obvious choice. Although both companies have labor problems, it's Wal-Mart that has shown in legal cases to abuse its workers by coercing them to put in unpaid overtime, and its Wal-Mart that faces a class action lawsuit on discrimination against female employees (Target was found guilty in an EEOC suit on racial discrimination in Wisconsin stores). 

Wal-Mart's rap sheet at Co-Op America is as long as my arm, much longer than Target's. It's true that as a larger and higher profile company, Wal-Mart has been the subject of more scrutiny, but still -- there are many more documented reasons to avoid Wal-Mart than Target.

Finally, Wal-Mart's sheer size makes it the better candidate for a boycott. It's Wal-Mart's size that is allowing it to dictate changes in the retail supply chain worldwide. It's the size, and its 1.9 million employees, that make its wage-lowering influence on the labor market so powerful and its uncared-for workers such a burden on the public health system.

This last fact, the size, is what keeps me away from Wal-Mart while still caving occasionally to Target's siren song. Even if Wal-Mart was a model of good labor practices, I would feel uncomfortable adding to this behemoth's coffers and helping it become more powerful than any world government. Personally, I feel that no company should be as big or powerful as Wal-Mart has become, and, no matter what the sins of the other retailers out there, I know for sure that I'm not adding one more cent to the Wal-Mart world domination fund.

By the way, if you are looking for a big-box retailer with a reputation as a fair employer, look no farther than Costco, where employees make more, get better health care, and see a smaller difference between their own wages and those of executives than workers at either of the two leading retail chains. Costco is far from perfect, of course -- choices that truly benefit communities, the environment, etc. don't involve big boxes at all. But in a relative world, shopping there will cause you less guilt than shopping at Wal-Mart or Target.

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Guest's picture
Lucille

I know a couple of people who work at the local Target and a few people who have worked at the Wal Mart stores in town.

Locally Target pays about $1 more an hour though both still underpay. Target has usable health insurance if your in a position to obtain it.

As far as Target squeezing out manufacturers the way Walmart did I don't know. I have not heard of such stories, who knows though.

I am a realist though, much of what you find at Target was also made in China. I try to avoid buying things because it is not a wise concept to ship everything across the globe and lack of trust in the current manufacturing standards in China.

Target has better selection and a far nicer experience to endure. Our two Walmart stores are filthy and usually full of screaming unattended children. The lighting in Walmart gives me a headache too.

If you know a way to get Costco to come to our town let me know. I have been emailing them for about 4 years about it.

Paul Michael's picture

I was unaware of some of these points, but overall I'm happy with Target as my main store. And I too have the same feeling when I shop there. It's a pleasure. When I did shop at WM I felt ill. The lighting is awful, the stores are unclean and disorganized, it just feels horrible and oppressive. It's an Orwellian nightmare.

Linsey Knerl's picture

My only personal exposure has been on the local store level.  Walmart employees are usually disgruntled and overworked, which results in below-par service and me feeling like I have inconvenienced them by ever shopping there.  Target employees rumble on message boards from time to time, but when I shop my local Target store in person, I'm treated like an A-class citizen.  Since I shop places that treat me right, Target will win out every time.  I don't get hassled over coupons, my kids are treated as the blessing that they are, and I never, ever have to take them to a filthy potty... ever.

 

 

Guest's picture
Barbara

but I came across this article the other day, and just feel like it's a little relevant to the topic here.

One to Grow On(new window)

for those who don't want to read through the whole thing, the nuts and bolts of it is Walmart goal to reduce it's packaging, and the ripple effect (mostly for the better) that it will create in the economy.

Guest's picture
SJean

"Neither store pays a living wage."
I don't mean to say they should pay their people crap (and minimum wage should surely be tied to inflation), but living wage (i think) is around $12/hr. I just don't think retail work commands $12/hr, even if that is what a living wage is.

One argument is that while target does this too, Walmart started it, forcing others to follow to remain competitive. Not even sure if that is true, but it is what a walmart hating friend told me!

Guest's picture
Guest

"I just don't think retail work commands $12/hr, even if that is what a living wage is."

Have you ever worked retail? I'm curious because disregarding babysitting every job I've ever had has been retail and I can tell you that it's never quite felt worth the $5.15 to $8.65 per hour range that I've been paid to do it. I know someone that gets paid almost $19 an hour to sit at a computer and type. Granted he has to go to a couple meetings and sometimes he has to do a presentation but his main job is filling out patient information (he doesn't work at a hospital, but for a company that manufactures specific post-surgery products) and for it he also gets a health insurance package that rivals that of my mother's who works for a state run hospital.
While I get paid less than half of what he does, with no health insurance. I don't get to sit all day, I get to sit on my breaks and that's it. Without delving to far in to my actual place of work, I am required to have a very specific knowledge of my job and while "anyone" might be able to learn or do my job not anyone could do it well.
I don't want to start into a tirade here because that's not what this was about. It just really gets on my nerves when people declare that retail workers don't do work that's worth more than they're getting, when I see every day them doing a lot more work than they're given respect for.

Guest's picture
albert marks

YOU just dont think retail work is worth $12. an hour.SJEAN is a non tkinking donkey.

Guest's picture
Guest

Retail IS labor intensive epecially in corporate and understaffed companies. I've worked retail and tile/home construction and personally, I'd choose the latter over retail labor anyday! Just because you don't see what they do, doesn't mean they don't do it. Somehow, the generally public has come to the conclusion that lower status, poor-paying jobs which require little education are somehow easier and those individuals don't deserve to feed themselves and their famillies. This is a gross misconception and requires exploration on the part of the offender.

Guest's picture
GuestDC

"Neither store pays a living wage."

Really? I was able to live off of soley a Target wage and pay for college. I also know a friend who did the same.

Maybe i needed to buy more things to make the wage unlivable.

Guest's picture
Guest

Ok what level of employ were you. The only way you paid for college and living expenses with a Target job was if you were in corporate or management or you found the cheapest college on earth (it was probably some online school).

Guest's picture
Refilwe

Target has a nicer shopping experience and even if they were the same in their offerings, Target would still be better. After all, the 'low-brow' people and their "screaming unattended children" shop at Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart is also more likely to be available in small-town USA than Target...And as we all know, from universities to the Electoral College, some parts of the USA are just more important than others. Why would people in the more important parts really want to share the same Orwellian shopping experience as those in the lesser parts? Well fortunately W-M has been a bad corporate citizen so we can just blame that for avoiding them. The fact that our own preferred retailer has done the same dirty tricks is of little importance, the unattended kids don't scream and they stock nicer linens.

So both have been caught doing largely the same things but Target is ok because it's a smaller mega-retailer?

Do I understand that right?

Suppose there was a successful boycott of Wal-Mart such that it closed down...do people honestly believe Target would sit back and not get larger?

What's especially interesting is how candid some other commentators have been, essentially propping up Target as a matter of class distinction rather than what's really at issue here: Social justice.

Guest's picture
Rob

What is wrong with paying people for the work they do at market-set wages? In this great capitalist nation, you are paid based on your work/skill/knowledge compared to the next person, not based on need (communism).

I really don't understand why people would boycott Wal-Mart simply because you don't want to contribute to its "becoming more powerful than any world government."

You should be 10x more concerned about any world gov't before a company like Wal-Mart. Just remember, governments have the police, the military, and the power of legislation. Businesses only have the power you give them through your dollar.

Now if you don't want to purchase from Wal-Mart or any other business for that matter, because of inferior goods, poor customer service, etc., that is fine. I just think that one might want to reevaluate his or her reasons for shopping one place or another simply because of its size.

-Rob

Guest's picture
Caroline M

I am not a communist, but I DO believe that families shouldn't be working two or three fulltime jobs and have NO health insurance (not becasue they're stupid and rather buy crap, but plan out CAN'T afford it) and are hungry and will never buy a home. Powerful businesses which push out all competition cannot, or more importantly DO NOT, create jobs even near equal to the level prior to them taking over a market. They care only about maximizing profit. I wonder, would you support a two-teired society of the filthy rich (1%) and the 99% poverty level and below? The impersonal employment leaves workers vulnerable to severe exploitation from the owners. Yes, a capitalism-LIKE structure where merit trumps laziness is ideal, but shouldn't everyone deserve to just LIVE if they work hard? And, dear commentor, perhaps you should look into the numbers of the BILLIONS of dollars we give to subsidies for Wal-Mart openings, and the fact that they encourage their employees to go on welfare instead of offering affordable insurance. Unization and fair employment and business competition without political buyouts from monopolies is not a communist request, and those workers dedicated enough to lose everything by attempting organizing for worker's rights and unionization, deserve that result. I don't see them as lazy communists in the least.

Guest's picture
Stein

It's impossible to underpay anyone who is voluntarily employed.

Guest's picture
Zeus

Stein is being just a wee bit too disingenuous by claiming that people who earn low wages should not complain because they voluntarily accept the wages they earn.

Those of us who live in the real world know better. Many people are compelled to accept sub-standard wages simply because they have bills to pay and must put food on the table. Sometimes when people lose good paying jobs in a poor economy, they are compelled to accept poorly paying jobs in order to meet their financial obligations because waiting to land the big-money job means not eating and watching your credit go straight down the tubes.

So, Mr. "Stein", it's very easy to sit up on your high-horse and kick people when they are down, but God help you if misfortune ever comes your way, sir. You might not appreciate being on the receiving end of the "kick" from some other pompous, arrogant, jacka** like yourself.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

today I heard some news about Walmart suing a disabled woman for her medical coverage back.  It's pretty messed up.  http://greensboro.injuryboard.com/car-accidents/walmart-sues-disabled-wo...

Guest's picture
Joanna

I read the article, I would say we don't have enough details to determine who is right here. If Walmart is suing for the costs that they have already paid out via the woman's health insurance policy, then they are correct in this. If they're adding on additional costs, then that would be wrong.

This is how insurance works in all cases. I learned this in a car accident several years ago. The person at fault (i.e. their insurance company) is responsible for paying all bills related to the accident.

In the case of my car accident, I was not at fault. Thus, monies paid by my insurance company had to be recovered from the insurance company of the person at fault. This was true both for the insurer of my car as well as the insurer of my health.

Sounds like this woman did not have a good lawyer. Her attorney should have been aware of this and should have settled with all companies before giving her her judgment. In other words, if the total judgment against the trucking company were $1 million, but Walmart paid out $500k, they should receive their $500k before she ever sees a dime. Additionally, the attorney gets his cut for the work performed (usually about 30% as these are often contingency cases, with the plaintiff not paying anything up front) and in the end, she sees what remains of the cash.

Walmart is doing whats right and, IMO, were they an individual or even a smaller company rather than Walmart, folks would not be so quick to judge against them in the media.

Guest's picture
Sassy

Always love these discussions. November 5, 2005 my husband and I swore off both WalMart and Target (relating to many issues described above and also my anger at Target allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill emergency contraception and birth control prescriptions). It's been an adjustment but I've also ended up saving a ton of money because I've eliminated those impulse Target buys (and I was in the place more than once a week). We find we spend more on some things but since we shop a lot less we come out ahead.

On the other hand, my mother lives in a small town: she doesn't have much choice past WalMart, so she doesn't like it but she shops there.

Guest's picture
Guest

You're angry that Target allows their employees to have freedom to express their religious beliefs. I would say Freedom of Religion is a must and respect companies who uphold this value. Even if it goes against my beliefs.

Guest's picture
concrete rabbit

I have to say that the "Target is better than Wal*Mart" stuff smacks of snooty classism.

They have similar pay scales, similar benefits, similar policies, and sell similar stuff. But Target "feels" better, so it is better? I don't think so.

See: http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=13508 for more information about their pay scales, benefits, and so on.

If you want to get semi-serious about it, Wal*Mart is pushing green packaging and light bulbs. And their crappy lighting comes at least in part from the fact that they use overheard solar, which Target does not.

If you want to get really serious about it, though, don't shop at either place. It can be done. Just because Isaac Mizrahi designs stuff for Target and they use Beatles songs for their commercials doesn't make it better.

Guest's picture
Jen

I really have a strong problem with Wal-Mart and actively boycott their stores. (Watch "The High Cost of the Low Price" it's a great documentary about Wal-Mart) But I am a Target junkie all the way. I was just there today in fact.
I have a friend that was offered a job there for $14 per hour which surprised me. I thought that was a pretty decent wage and you can most certainly live off of that here.
I will research it further although it will be hard to kick my Target habit, if it came to that.
Speaking of anti-labor, John Mackey of Whole Foods is HUGELY anti-labor. The labor movement is very weak here in Texas, unfortunately.

Philip Brewer's picture

I end up at WalMart about once a year.  (Last time because I was on the way to the shooting range, and it was the only place on the way that would have targets.)  I end up a Target so rarely, I don't even know where there closest one is.  (The one I shopped at occasionally closed several years back.  I think there's another in the area, but I've never been to it.)

It's not a matter of principle, though.  Mostly it's just a matter of not buying much general merchandise stuff.

We buy groceries at Schnucks and IGA, both of which are within walking distance.  We're also lucky in that we have an actual old-fashioned hardware store within walking distance as well.  The last time we needed to get general merchandise of the sort that you can't get at a grocery store, we went to Farm and Fleet (part of a regional chain of "big box" type stores), which was having a great sale on compact fluorescents.

I suppose part of it is just that we already have a lot of the stuff that you might buy at a store like that--we've got a TV, a camera, dishes, pots and pans, clothes, etc.  We don't have kids, so we're not having to constantly replace things that are getting outgrown.  Our clothes do wear out, but that happens pretty slowly.  I don't think I've bought any new clothes since last summer, and only one pair of new shoes.  (I'll have to buy some new clothes once the weather turns warm, although maybe I can hold out until the new season's things go on sale.)

I take a certain amount of satisfaction from not patronizing those stores, but it's really cheating for me to do so--I'll break down and shop there when it's most convenient. Mostly, though, I don't.

Guest's picture
Lily

I had friends that worked at Wal-Mart, and I personally worked at Target while I was in college. I was much, much happier than my friends at Wal-Mart, even though we were paid the same. This isn't about classism. Different companies have different cultures, and Target does treat its employees differently, based on my own experience and my friends'. (Then again, I can only speak to the one store I worked at - it may not be true across the whole corporation.)

The labor market is fluid, if not completely free. Retail gets paid crap because there are plenty of high school and college students willing to do the work for minimum wage. I thought I was adequately compensated at $9 per hour - or maybe it was only $8.

And the marketplace is competitive. Local retailers are being driven out of business by big lot stores because they can't match the low prices. Is this fair? Is this good? Those are subjective, value-based questions. Economically, though, it is just the result of efficiency.

I don't shop at Wal-Mart or Target because there aren't any in Manhattan. But when I was in high school and college, I had my fair share of Wal-Mart and Target experiences. Target clothes, shoes, linens, and other goods always outlasted Wal-Mart. I guess Target is using better sweatshops? There's nothing classist about shopping at a place with better lighting, better products, and more pleasant employees. That's like saying there's something classist about wearing purple because you find it more pleasant than green.

Guest's picture
Zannie

I don't get all of this "classist" stuff. Maybe there's something in the commercials that makes people say that? I don't have TV, so I wouldn't know.

What I do know is that I feel uncomfortable in WalMart. I don't know if it's in any way physical or entirely psychological, but all I can think about when I'm in a WalMart is getting the h*** out. Maybe it's the lighting, but I wouldn't have come up with that on my own. It just feels like my soul is being drained out of me.

I don't feel that way at Target. In fact, I kind of like hanging out in Target. That of course is not an argument for shopping at Target, but it is certainly a good reason for me not to shop at WalMart and leaves open the question of whether I should shop at Target. I really don't see how that's classist at all.

The question is pretty moot for me most of the time, though. Here in San Francisco we have neither store. I have no idea where the nearest WalMart is; the nearest Target is in Colma. If I had a car I suppose I could go shop there from time to time, but generally I don't need anything I could buy at Target that would be worth the trouble of getting a car share car to go down there.

For me, my shopping dilemma has nothing to do with big box stores, since there are few of them I even am able to patronize. It's the little independent businesses on my street that sell all kinds of imported gizmos and do-dads from God knows where, probably China. And cheap! Cheap, cheap, cheap. I have to wonder just why they are so cheap and who suffered to make it so. But there isn't a big national bruhaha over the business practices of the "99 Cent Depot" or "Cheaper than Cheaper" so I really have no way of finding out.

Guest's picture
Looby

I'm so glad that it's not just me who has issues in Walmart, I feel ill, almost sea sick within about 10minutes of setting foot in any of their stores (ok, I've only ever been in 3).
Like Philip I don't really ever go to these stores because I don't need anything from them, but do any retailers ever do much for their staff? I worked for a small local business for 18 months and often thought I would have been better off working for a larger company.

Guest's picture
Jill

I found your comments about the lighting in Wal Mart interesting. I shop there because I have few choices in the town I live in. Its Wal Mart or an overpriced family owned chain of stores that is outrageously expensive. My job as a customer service rep which pays $8.50 an hour doesnt give me a lot of choices. The lighting in Wal Mart triggers my panic disorder. It messes with my brain in a major way. I hate it and some days can hardly go in there.

Guest's picture
KyleH

I agree with Lily above. I also worked at Target (albeit very briefly), and it was not the greatest place to work -- I was only there for a short time, but I ran into trouble immediately with not being paid for overtime. HOWEVER, I worked with several people there who had previously worked at Wal-Mart and they all agreed that Wal-Mart was a miserable place to work. It wasn't just about the pay, it was mostly about autonomy. For example, one time I was at Wal-Mart, and the guy in front of me had these shoes that he thought were on sale but didn't ring in as being on sale. The cashier repeatedly called for help but couldn't get anyone to come do the price check or void the transaction. That doesn't generally happen at Target, because the cashiers are allowed to void transactions and manually change prices.

I shop at Target maybe three times a year, and I can't remember the last time I went to Wal-Mart -- they're just not convenient for me. I don't think either of them are a force for good, but Target at least mostly avoids actively making its workers miserable.

Guest's picture
elizabethf

Both employers, all employers as a matter of fact, pay what the market will bear. Employment anywhere is voluntary. Education and experience - if you think you're better qualified and don't like what they are paying, then go work somewhere else!

Every corporation has jerks that are unpleasant to work with - uh, that's called life. No one said it was always going to be a bed of roses and yet, that is what people expect these days.

I am a loyal Target customer - grew up with it in the midwest and when I moved west when they were first building stores I worked there on and off throughout college. Then, Target offered tuition reimbursement for whatever classes, books you wanted (not just business courses as I know some retailers do). So I paid most of my way through college this way and came out with very minimal loans. I also had stock through the employee purchase plan that I sold several years later at a nice profit - not too shabby for such an evil retailer.

I simply don't like Walmart - products, while cheaper, don't seem as well made and while I don't want to buy everything "made in China," I am also realistic about being on a budget so it is sometimes necessary. Walmart's selection of products also seems to be less than Target in a lot of cases. Lucky for me, there hasn't been a rush to put a Walmart on every corner like in some areas of the country.

Guest's picture
Guest

Employment is voluntary? Only to the extent that living is voluntary. Without regulation everyone--including children--would be working 14-hour days for the same daily wage as they are now.

Guest's picture
Dar

"With their low prices, both stores have the effect of putting smaller, more specialized and often locally owned retailers out of business."

Yes, it sure is EEEVIL of these corporations to offer goods at lower prices and literally force consumers at gunpoint to abandon locally-owned shops and fork over their hard-earned dollars!

Oh, wait... Is it true the consumers actually choose to shop at Wal-Mart and Target on their own? Is it true that Target and Wal-Mart unlock the doors every morning and these shoppers choose to walk inside and spend voluntarily?

Maybe we should be talking about how EEEVIL the individual consumer is, for having the nerve to patronize Wal-Mart and Target, or to compare prices on the internet, or to frequent yard-sales and classifieds instead of retail outlets, or to dare to look around for the best deal instead of paying full MSRP.

Guest's picture
Alyson

I've cut my Target shopping down to almost nothing and Walmart IS nothing. That said, there are times that I've literally looked EVERYWHERE I can think of for something (liquid starch, so I could paste fabric on the walls as economical, easy to remove wallpaper) and could only find it at Walmart, or Target.

I'll keep it up. My thinking is, I miss mom and pop stores and if so, I shouldn't continually and constantly patronize the one that put them out of business.

And, stuffwhitepeoplelike.com is extra super fabulous. Even though I am very (but not ridiculously) white.

Guest's picture
emmy

Interesting commentary on stuffwhitepeoplelike.com from a young black woman in a very white Iowan town.
I thought what she had to say was great and agree that it just reinforces racial and ethnic stereotypes.
http://media.www.dailyiowan.com/media/storage/paper599/news/2008/04/17/8...

Guest's picture
Troy

I have heard a similar argument many times before. IMO, it's not just a matter of Target v. Wal-mart. It's about market efficiency and economies of scale. Wal-mart has more stores than Target because Wal-mart is willing to go into smaller, more rural areas. The cost of living is lower in these areas, hence Wal-mart can pay lower wages. Target's overall wages tend to be higher, because they are in more urban/suburban areas.

My mother has worked at Wal-mart for almost 20 years. She lives in a rural area, and when Wal-mart came to town, it provided a HUGE economic boost. The store recently expanded to become a SuperCenter (all new Wal-mart stores are now SuperCenters) and has employed more people, not to mention employment for construction workers, truck drivers, etc.

Working at Wal-mart honestly is the best job my mother can have for her area. The other alternatives are light and heavy manufacturing jobs- not exactly ideal environments for an older woman. My mom has 401(k), ESOP, vacation, insurance, etc. and doesn't have to work in a high-stress environment.

Most of the workers at Wal-mart tend to be in two groups- high/college kids or retired/second income people. Because of that, I don't see wages as being a big deal. Let's face it, it's hard to earn a "living" wage at a lot of jobs unless you have a mid to upper-level position. Restaurants and call centers are other places that don't pay "living" wages. Are we going to stop eating at McDonald's because they don't pay living wages? Or ordering from the JC Penney Christmas catalog?

If you are upset that you are working in a retail environment, standing all day, dealing with customers, etc. you are free to find other employment. Please don't be mad that someone else is earning $19/hours "just typing on a computer". That person is earning what their employer feels they are worth.

IMO, the bottom line is that EVERYONE- corporations and consumers alike, are trying to get the most out of every dollar spent. If you feel that you should boycott corporations for this, that's your prerogative.

Guest's picture
Troy

However, I do have a problem with sub-standard service at both Wal-mart and Target. My local stores have at least 20 checkout lanes each, and every time I go in there, only about 30% or so are ever occupied. So that means that most checkout lines are closed, regardless of how many people are in each checkout line. I've seen checkout lines 10 people deep, and still only 30% of the lines are open.

Also, I have problem with the "point and guess" approach that many workers use. Typically, my when I try to find something, it goes like this: "Where is item X?" "Hmmm... I think it's over that way (points) by item Y, or it might be over there (points in different direction) by item Z. I'm not sure, that's NOT MY DEPARTMENT."

Seriously, not your department? The WHOLE store should be your department. Granted, you can't know every item in the store, but all stores are divided into departments. So when I ask where something is, I expect a reasonable answer.

Guest's picture
Sue

I've always wonders why people expect that someone who works in a large retail store would know where everything in the store is located. I would be more than happy to get an answer that gave me a couple clues of where to look for something in a big store. I don't find that unreasonable. If a person works in the toy department all the time they are probably not going to know where specific things are located in the food section or the infants department. If, for instance, you worked in a college English department, you would not be expected to know about the location of a classroom for a course offered by the Computer Science department or the Fine Arts department. You could however most likely direct them to the right building. ("Hmmm.. I think its over that way in the XYZ Building next to the gym, or maybe in the ABC building across from the dining hall.")

That said I do wish that the stores would sometimes be more reasonable in where they locate things. I was in a Target a few months ago looking for a particular CFL bulb. Not in housewares by the lamps, not in hardware, like at WalMart. Light bulbs, and I do mean household type light bulbs, were in automotive. And they didn't have the bulb I was looking for either! At our local WalMart (yes, I shop there) the body wash is near the shampoo, but bubble bath and bath oil is in another section with the hand and body lotions, which are in a separate location from face lotions.

Guest's picture
Rob O.

I couldn't just let Sassy's comment go... She stopped shopping at Target because the pharmacists wouldn't fill "emergency contraception and birth control prescriptions?" Philosophical and even moral issues aside, is there really such a thing? No offense intended, but my head is spinning over that one.

Target is a generally more enjoyable shopping experience because their stores are less cramped, brighter lit, and overall displayed better than Wal-Mart. Yup, such things do matter sometimes.

I get the feeling that Target preys less upon it's workers than Wal-Mart. And I've not heard anything about Target pressuring small communities into giving them unfair perks as an incentive to move in. But maybe that's only because Wal-Mart is getting the lion's share of the press?

I've certainly heard nothing about Target forcing manufacturers to create lower-quality lines of their merchandise the way that Wal-Mart has done many times.

Carrie Kirby's picture

Yes, there is such a thing as emergency contraception, aka the Morning After Pill. You can learn about it here:

 http://ec.princeton.edu/questions/index.html

Personally, this was one of the more compelling things I heard in this discussion. I also am not keen to support pharmacies that refuse to sell a legal pharmaceutical product to people who need it.

As for the forcing manufacturers to do things, that's what I mean about the size issue. I don't want to add my money to a behemoth so large that it can force its suppliers to change their way of doing things. For the same reason, after reading in Fast Food Nation about the huge changes McDonalds brought to the beef industry, MickeyDs is not my favorite place to spend money either. 

Guest's picture
Guest

Just because a particular Pharmacist refused to fill Birth Control and Emergency Contraception pills is not a valid reason to boycott the store. A better approach would be to ask to speak with the Manager and explain to the store Manager your issues with a Pharmacist exercising his own beliefs (which obviously do not include birth control or EC). What you experienced was most likely the actions based on a personal belief of one individual Pharmacist, not the entire store, or even for that matter, the Target Company.

Carrie Kirby's picture

According to the Planned Parenthood site http://www.saveroe.com/campaigns/fillmypillsnow/scored, Target is one of only two companies listed that allows employees to refuse to fill EC prescriptions. An article also on the site says Target sent PP a letter including the following statement:

"Like many other retailers, Target's policy ensures that a guest's prescription for emergency contraception is filled, whether at Target or at a different pharmacy [italics added] in a timely and respectful manner. This policy meets the health care needs of our guests while respecting the diversity of our team members.”

 Walmart, on the other hand, promises customers it will fill the prescription.

This is interesting. It appears that Target wants to take care of employees who don't want to dispense these prescriptions, while Wal-Mart, in essence, comes down on the side of the customer.

While I can see Target's policy as a worker-friendly one, in this case, I just do not like it.

Guest's picture
Guest

Should retail employees who are vegetarian and vegan on moral grounds be permitted to refuse to ring up meat and dairy items? Why is it only the noisy wingnuts who pick and choose which services they will and won't provide to individual customers? And what of the rights of the customers to obtain the products they need? This corporate policy of allowing employees to make this decision is ridiculous. If these employees aren't able to do all of the work that their job entails, they need to quit and find something else to do.

Guest's picture
aa

You can boycott all you want. I save tons of money shopping at Walmart. On average, it's 40% cheaper than local grocery stores.
Talking about customer service, who cares?

Guest's picture
Guest

Ive worked for both walmart and am currently employed thru target. Ive got three other friends as of the moment that work at walmart. In my observations and theres, when it comes to employees, Walmart is WAY better. Heres just a couple examples. You will get written up at target for call people who are shopping, customers, why????? Well because there guests and we dont want them to feel not welcome! Reason two. They have repeatedly broken employee laws for making there workers work for days on end without one day off and to go one step further, for Christmas, walmart at least has the common courtesy to give there employees some kind of bonus weather it be a company t-shirt or a cash bonus which it happened to be this year. What did target do? NOTHING! Not a merry christmas or a card. Well theres empployee appreciation. Guess those coporate ceo's need something for christmas too. So when it comes to working at either of the two, I'd go back to walmart any day of the week.

Guest's picture
Guest

Hey, if low wages isn't enough of a reason to boycott Target, I've got another reason to boycott them. Target Visa Credit Cards are ripping off their customers!

I always pay more than the minimum amount due, and I have automatic bill-pay, so it's always on time, but I noticed that the minimun amount had gone up last month. When I called to point out their mistake, I was informed that they raised my interest rates! They "claim" they mailed out notices in February, but--as an avid Clark Howard fan--if I had recieved a notice, I would have closed my account in order to keep the lower interest rate. If they had "played by the book," I would have stopped using the credit card, but I wouldn't have wanted to boycott Target. Since they didn't play by the book, I just started my own personal boycott. Today, however, my minimum payment went up AGAIN, and the two people I spoke to can't explain to me why it went up. My theory is that they raised the amount by $1.50 this month, hoping that people wouldn't notice the small change. They hoped that those of us who are on automatic billpay would be $1.50 short in our payments so that they can levy all kinds of late-payment fees on us, and then have an excuse to raise the interest rates even higher! I haven't purchased anything, so my minimum balance should have gone down! Now, my boycott is no longer just between me and Target. NOW, I'm taking this nationwide. I'm determined to get as many people on my Boycott Target Campaign as possible. If Target has mistreated YOU, your friends, or family in any way, I urge you in joining this boycott.

Guest's picture
Guest

I am a single mom who has worked for Target for 15yrs. Its the first job I have ever had I could afford the insurance. I do not have a medical card from the state. I do not get food stamps. I get paid vacation that I have never had before. If you work hard and are willing to work whenever Target takes care of you. I own my home. I am not management. You get paid vacation at any level of job and insurance. I have never not been paid my overtime. They make sure we get our breaks. As for clothes I have bought at Wal-mart compared to ones bought at Target. After a few washings the Wal-mart ones look like they have been threw 4 kids and the Target ones have kept there shape and color. I could pay less and have my kid look like I buy her clothes at thrift store after a couple of washings. Thanks to Target I stand on my own two feet now. I am 45yrs old and I was an nurses aide for 11yrs before I came to Target.

Guest's picture
Zbig Brzezinksi

I was much intrigued by this story. There was always something that bothered me about Costco. I should mention upfront that I received my Costco membership as a gift. The last time I was there, I stood at the exit and counted people as they exited and noted their race. In about 200 that I counted, just one was African American. There were 2 other African-Americans that I inadvertently counted as I later noticed their Costco employee badges.

What I find bothersome about Costco, even before I read this story, was that I found it "classist", if there is such a word. I noted the parking lot filled with late model high end cars such as Lexuses, Mercedes, Infinitis, BMWs, etc. These are the people who need the type of discounts that Costcos has the least. Though I have a Costco card, I try to avoid Costco -- as I feel it gives price breaks to people who need it the least. Why can't these people shop at smaller locally owned stores that may be more expensive but that would benefit the local community more ? I believe that shopping at Costco's actually makes products more expensive to the working poor. They can't afford the Costco memberships so they shop at higher priced stores who stock these products in smaller size packages. The manufacturer, because he has had his margins cut so thin by Costco's, charges higher margins to those stores that the working poor frequent.

There is a fundamental difference between Wal-Mart and stores of that ilk and Costco's. At a Wal-Mart, one sees people from a variety of races and social-economic classes. Not so at Costco. At Costco's, you see mainly whites as well as over-represented professional Asians (including East Indians).

Next time of you Costco members is at Costco's, do a count. See how many blacks and hispanics there are. You won't find many. They are out shopping at local stores who have bought the same items at prices -- because Costco's has pushed the manufacturer "to the wall" in getting the items to it over-privileged customers.

Guest's picture
Guest

Sounds like you are the racist.

Guest's picture
albert marks

bite me

Guest's picture
Rachel

I too work at Target and they are CHEAP to their employees! Ive been there for over a year and still make $8.50 an hour with no pay raise and I started at $8.50. I obviously CHOSE to work there by my own free will, yes but only because the economy is still pretty bad and finding a new job is difficult so I deal with the low pay. I do however think its only fair for a pay raise after a year! I work any hours they give me, never call out and have willingly cross trained throughout the ENTIRE store. So not only do I know where pretty much any item is I also am the one picking up left behind starbucks cups and snotty tissues that are left on my just folded and cleaned tables and shelves. Not only do I pick up behind the messy masses and their at times dreadful offspring, I also have to listen to those same screaming , spoiled children all day (yes this also happens at Target, not just Walmart)! I not only stand on my feet hours on end I also lift all the heavy fixtures the clothing is on from sky high shelves (I loath heights btw) to set up tables that the folded clothing is on only to spend time folding the whole thing so neatly and return 5 mins later only to find it looking like hurricane Katrina hit it! Seriously Ma'am????? That size medium shirt WILL still look the SAME no matter how many colors you decide to unfold and then so rudely throw on the shelf or some cases the floor! MOST (not all) Target shoppers are CUSTOMERS and I do call them that because they ARE NOT guests in my book, some are just as bad as the "kind of people" who everyone says shops at Walmart. I hear people say to their kids "Dont worry about picking that up, that is what the sales lady is for". In my opinion they are never a guest, if they continue to act accordingly. A guest of yours wouldnt come into your home and throw trash all over your living room or ransack your closet, cupboards, or drawers and leave it a total mess. SO until that stops I will never call a those types of CUSTOMERs a guest. How lame to get " wrote up" over that. So to anyone who thinks I dont deserve $12 an hour because I'm a retail worker....well not to sound rude but **** you. I pull double shifts, work 11 days in a row without a day off at times and I still cant afford my monthly living costs! Yes I do love the quality of Target's items and the way the store looks but its true most of everything is made overseas and is sprayed with AWFUL smelling pesticides at customs before we sell it! Yep those clothes you dont wash before wearing are covered in chemicals to kill the insects from China or any other foreign country they buy from. Bet ya didnt know that. I'm not saying anyone is bad for shopping at either place. I go to both haha! The ecomomy is crappy and you gotta go where you can afford. Some people dont have jobs or make very little and need to feed or clothe their family and maybe Walmart or Target is all they can afford. My whole reason for writing this because I think Target and Walmart needs to treat us hardworking employees to better pay and benefits. MOST of us really do deserve it. Hmmmm, or maybe I just need to try and find that computer job haha. Oh and I dont hate every one who comes into Target...just be polite and try not to leave trash or mess up everything in your path. I dont think people realize how late we stay after we close to clean up everything. Peace to everyone, and the right to free speech!

Guest's picture
cindy

I too work at Target and they are CHEAP to their employees! Ive been there for over 6 year and pay raise .10. I obviously CHOSE to work there by my own free will, yes but only because it was a good place with i frist start there pretty bad and finding a new job at 56 difficult so I deal with the low pay. I do however think its only fair for a pay raise after a year more then 10 and i,m a lead in softline .AND WE HVE ONE team lead in softline so i have to set all the table and do shoes .and all target employees are can miss one day a year and konw . CUSTOMERs their kids "Dont worry about picking that up, that is what the sales lady is for". oh yes have i hear that , Not only do I pick up behind the messy masses and their at times dreadful offspring, I also have to cleams fittingroom use diapers.traget cut back on employees.all the work i do i get 8 to 16 hr to do all my work. and at night zone and we have 2 employees m to thru..in softline and 3 employees on f and sat ,and sunday ....and have boss till going to writer you up everyday ...and you have to have 4 yr collega to be magt.and fyi mcdonalds pay more and walmart will pay more . becue we have employees go to walmart start out make 9.50 hr,, target this a bad place to work we get call name and . when you go to hr it make it bad for you ,, and are insurance this not that good .. target have chang and it not looking good

Guest's picture
Positive & Proactive;)

Wow! I was just recruited to work for target and wanted to hear a few testimonials. Its funny that I asked the person interviewing me (3 interviews) if I could make between 50k-60K a year in this position as an ETL (Executive Team Leader) and I was told that range was in the ball park. The company is stable, solid, has a great reputation from Forbes, and one employee I spoke with being there 17 years said he wouldn’t have dreamed this would be his path but loves it. I have also read local media stories regarding giving back to schools, etc., that I was warming up to changing careers to be a Target employee.

I feel bad for those of you who seem stuck. My advise would be to talk to your supervisor about what YOU WANT out of the company by researching all their job titles and descriptions and make a move up the ladder! After all, if you are one of the 360,000 Target employees in 170,000 store in the world, there are openings to move up if you check out your options. Be proactive!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow alot of Target/Walmart chatter. I think each store and location is different. Some stores are older and need updating. Like in Birmingham, AL... the Target store on Hwy. 280 is a pig stye compared to the newly renovated Walmart down the street. I also believe management sets the theme for either of these stores. A good manager will see that all staff are treated fairly, and respected no matter what job they perform. Speaking with firsthand knowledge, i can say Target pays poorly, and since the recession..they expect double work from the team members. Yes, ETL's get great pay, but the team members that do the work, are at poverty level. So many team members have to get 2nd jobs just to make ends meet. The store i work at, runs on favortism, thats how you get promoted to better positions in our store. The manager of our store may get great pay but according to him,he was a punk/thug as a teen. He bragged at a team huddle one morning about his many brushes with the law, when he was younger...Assault/Bulling..destruction of property and even arson was some of his tales. It was quit shocking to learn the store leader has a criminal background. I think he should not be telling his employees his past. I walked away from the huddle thinking omg why is he in charge. I do think each store is different, depending on location, the age of the store and the people who are left to run it. We have some great people at our store but we also have some very wrong things going on. With the recession tho, people are afraid to do much about anything. One thing is for sure...retail isnt easy, and all people deserve enough pay to at least be able to feed their families. Pay raises at our store also run on favortism, Target pays team members very poorly. We do have insurance which we pay dearly for, and vacation time..lol the vacation time is given to you alittle at a time..like an hour or 2 per pay period, depending on the # of hours you work. Anyways i think each store is different and i hope and pray the economy will improve so some of us can find better work and pay. Till then we just put one foot in front of another and try n make it another day.

Guest's picture
GrannyBG

Big Box stores are not local: they purchase most items from countries that have no pollution or employment standards. The cost to human suffering and earth pollution is significant. They do very little to bolster a local economy as most items are mfg in other countries and most profits go off shore to hide out from taxes. They are the epitomy of short term thinking and unsustainability.

I try to avoid shopping in them but it is difficult because "freee trade" ha ha has off shored American jobs for this crap.

We are becoming America by and for the corporations and the hell with people. i cry for my grandkids.

Guest's picture
Guest

Glad to learn more about Target's negative practices as I feel TARGET HAS THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER!
This evening I went to the Target store on 20th Avenue in College Point N.Y. to purchase a couple hundred dollars worth of candies as I do every holiday season. Before I started my shopping I needed to return an $11.00 moisturizer that I had purchased – I explained that a store credit would be fine as I was about to do a lot of shopping. Since I had recently lost my driver’s license they refused to accept my return of the moisturizer despite the fact that I had two photo ID’s (one from my town’s Village Hall) and a number of other forms of identification. They kept me and my handicapped mother waiting there for over 30 minutes trying to resolve this minor issue. The complete ineptitude on the part of the Supervisor named Sara and all the customer service people at the 1-800-440-0680 number was simply incredible.
At 7:48 p.m., when I initially called the 800 number, I spoke to a man who said his name was Felix, he refused to help me and when I asked to speak to a supervisor, Felix left me on hold for over 10 minutes before disconnecting me. I called back and spoke to a man who said his name was Paul, he too was useless as was my my next call to Roz and final call to Shane, a supervisor, who was equally incompetent. Why does Target bother having a so-called customer service desk and phone number if no one has the mental capacity to retain a customer?
My mother and I left the store and promptly went to our local Rite Aid where we spent $250 on chocolates and popcorn. We are taking a stand to no longer support businesses like Target that do not respect their customer and that bring America down with inane policies and staff that lacks any proper training. We will only support businesses with excellent customer service like Nordstrom Bed, Bath & Beyond, etc. Not only did they lose several hundred dollars in business this evening but they have lost at least two customers due to their utter foolishness. Neither I or my mother will ever longer set foot in a Target store again. (P.S. - Their electronic carts for physically challenged folks are rarely charged and at the ready...........

Guest's picture
Guest

Well this is coming from someone who has worked at Target and is currently enjoying her job at WALMART! When I worked at Target, I hated it! I was paid minimum wage and they treated their employees like crap! Sometimes I dreaded going to work, and although I like shopping at Target (sometimes) I hate going to that specific one..the employees at Target are stuck up! I'm guessing at minimum wage you can act that way since your store is prettier than Walmart..lol! Whatever I don't care about looks I just want to get what I came for and get out! If you want looks go to the mall! Btw..I make a couple dollars more at Walmart than I did at Target, I get more hours, they don't over work me I just do my job! My experiences with HR have been awesome..any days off I needed, no problem, no penalty! Schedule change, done! To me all Target cares about is looking good and paying everyone good salaries except the people who do the most work, the sales associates and cashiers..the team leaders just laugh and talk all day. At Walnart I can truly say they care about the customers and their employees..my supervisor is always on the run getting work done! And they get the issue resolved fast! It's funny how these opinions are coming from people who have never worked at these places and want a silver spoon shopping experience at a department store! Umm excuse me! These stores are not Sax Fifth Avenue! Take your stuck up selves there! Better yet shop at the expensive locally owned stores! No thanks I have a family to feed and Walmart serves me well..I went to Kroger yesterday to get sandwich meat and it was $5.00 (at Walmart $2.50 same brand) yes I was pretty upset but I didn't feel like driving anywhere else..yep! That's my two cents! Lol..sorry for the long message!

Guest's picture
Guest

I have heard all this , Yet My wife has worked at the Walmart for 22 years , My daughter worked at Target and If you didn't get enough apps for their credit cards your hours got cut untill you no longer had a reason to go to work
I mean one hour on a Saturday , really You go Target,, not any better than the Big Walmart

Guest's picture
Guest

There's rarely any true need to shop either place. Target is showing that they're just another dismissive, unethical company in the wake of their recent security debacle. Yes, there are some rural areas where a big box has become the only option. OK. Everyone else, stop rationalizing liking Target vs. Wal-Mart on remotely ethical grounds, and admit you just like them better aesthetically.