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December 16, 2005 12:11 PM   Subscribe


 
[A subsidiary of Wal-Mart] sells dildos
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:14 PM on December 16, 2005


dildoes?
posted by rxrfrx at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2005


I don't care how you try to convince me, PEA; I'm still not shopping at Wal-Mart.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:16 PM on December 16, 2005


It sounds like Lillian Strange needs this.
posted by wumpus at 12:17 PM on December 16, 2005


They are also considered "management material".
</lowhangingfruit>
posted by spock at 12:18 PM on December 16, 2005


But is this a Christmas dildo or one of them pagan holiday varieties?
posted by stirfry at 12:21 PM on December 16, 2005


This is a dildo -- what they are selling is a vibrator.
posted by swift at 12:23 PM on December 16, 2005


Yep, still not enough to get me to shop there. They'll have to have live demonstrations of dildo use before I even go into their stores again. And then I'll still buy one on the internet.

spock, niiiiiiice! Made me laugh.
posted by fenriq at 12:24 PM on December 16, 2005


The grandmother-of-five blasted: "I am not happy with this one bit. I am quite surprised that a supermarket is allowed to sell these things.
"Anybody could get hold of them, even young children. It's a disgrace."


ROFFLE. Your kids, your responsibility to restrain them. What's next?

"ASDA sells carving knives for 15 pounds! Lock up your children since they might start chopping their hands off if they get to ASDA!"

(That being said, I loved ASDA when I was in the UK. It was the only place I recall that the incredibly lazy people at the cashiers actually bagged your stuff for you. Thank you Wal-Mart for bringing American customer service to those of us temporarialy estranged in foreign countries!)
posted by shepd at 12:26 PM on December 16, 2005


Practically all British supermarkets bag now.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 12:32 PM on December 16, 2005


Well, in that case, PotEoA, sounds to me like British consumers should be thanking ASDA for leading the charge to real customer service.
posted by shepd at 12:33 PM on December 16, 2005


This isn't a ploy to get anyone to go to Wal-Mart... it's to get you to come.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:37 PM on December 16, 2005


Customer SELF service, it sounds like.

Sorry.
posted by brundlefly at 12:39 PM on December 16, 2005


Yes, thank you ASDA for trying to force employees to act like servile drones and bleat mindless platitudes to strangers in order to keep their 5 pound an hour jobs.
posted by lunkfish at 12:46 PM on December 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


Anybody could get hold of them, even young children.

Err yeah, and then they would do what with it, exactly? Beat their little brother over the head with it? Use it to torture ants? I mean, kids today are pretty savvy, but I really don't think your average five-year-old would see it as anything but a weapon. Which Wal-Mart seems to love to sell, so what's the problem?
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 12:47 PM on December 16, 2005


I've never understood the idea of having your groceries bagged for you. Is it to create low paid employment opportunities (as in states where you can't pump your own gas?) - which is another way of saying why should I pay more for my goods just to service the store's wage bill?
posted by A189Nut at 12:48 PM on December 16, 2005


"Anybody could get hold of them, even young children."
Oh no! Young children could get hold of them! And what ... use them? I'd imagine that anyone old enough to know what those puppies are for won't have any problems in that regard, and that if some five year old picks them up ... well, they might shove it up their nose, perhaps? :)

Catherine Gort, Durex's group marketing manager, hopes that the vibrators will fly off the shelves before Christmas.

I hope the mechanisms inside aren't that powerful ...
posted by kaemaril at 12:50 PM on December 16, 2005


These dildoes...

Do they...

...Nevermind...
posted by jpburns at 12:54 PM on December 16, 2005


One benefit of baggers is that they typically bag quicker than the customers so you don't get held up by a couple of very slow customerbaggers ahead of you.
posted by zeoslap at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2005


vibrators are evil, and dangerous. Wal_Mart should stick to selling guns
posted by matteo at 12:55 PM on December 16, 2005


This is true: A woman in Swansea passed out in ASDA and was injured from excitement due to the vibrating "Passion Pants" she was wearing. I believe she purchased them elsewhere. This made the national news.
Info here, another article here.
At the time, an ASDA spokesperson said "We like to think shopping with us is exciting enough already." I guess they changed their minds?
posted by cushie at 1:05 PM on December 16, 2005


Occurs to me this could be a marketing thing to spice up their image. I can't imagine they'll sell many dildos.
posted by lunkfish at 1:08 PM on December 16, 2005


jpburns: These dildoes...

Do they...

...Nevermind...


Fin de cycle.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:14 PM on December 16, 2005


Anybody could get hold of them, even young children.

Who do you think makes them?
posted by George_Spiggott at 1:23 PM on December 16, 2005



Like the line for returns after the holidays isn't long enough.

"The box has been opened. Next!"

Forget Wal-mart - give your business to the small business owner.
posted by fluffycreature at 1:32 PM on December 16, 2005


This is what children do with vibrators.

Cute little shit. His giggle when he turns it on never fails to maks me smile.
posted by quite unimportant at 2:08 PM on December 16, 2005


This is my favorite bit :

But it seems that no-one in Stevenage needs a piece of battery-powered equipment — as yet —because none had been sold as the Mercury went to press.

I wouldn't say nobody "needed" them, but it sounds like granny scared them off.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:31 PM on December 16, 2005


That being said, I loved ASDA when I was in the UK. It was the only place I recall that the incredibly lazy people at the cashiers actually bagged your stuff for you.

Who, in that scene, is the incredibly lazy person? The glassy eyed, bored to tears, min. wage-slave? Or the paying customer who stands there like a lemon doing bugger all whilst s/he scans the 10 thousandth item of the day?

Sheesh. Thanks ASDA for bringing American levels of service servitude to this island.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:00 PM on December 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


I've never understood the idea of having your groceries bagged for you. Is it to create low paid employment opportunities (as in states where you can't pump your own gas?) - which is another way of saying why should I pay more for my goods just to service the store's wage bill?

It's so some glacial elderly person doesn't spend 15 minutes putting her catfood in a bag after she spent 20 minutes writing out a check.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:10 PM on December 16, 2005


Who, in that scene, is the incredibly lazy person? The glassy eyed, bored to tears, min. wage-slave?

Yep, it's your duty as customer service to... serve the customer. Don't like serving customers? Perhaps a customer service job just isn't for you! And yes, there's plenty of non-customer service (or very indirect customer service) jobs open to the undereducated/hard-to-employ, in case that's the usual retort. (Some examples: Janitor, meter maid, night security guard, etc.)

To a lot of us in customer service (Like myself! Hi customers!), serving the customer means getting their asses out the door as fast and pleasantly as possible. Bagging groceries in a professional manner does that. Most customers don't know how to bag groceries well and end up rebagging them over and over or using a zillion bags for everything (which, again, I noted during my time in the UK were pay-per-bag!). Worse yet, eggs end up in the bottom of the bag and cans crush them at the till.

Or the paying customer who stands there like a lemon doing bugger all whilst s/he scans the 10 thousandth item of the day?

Oh dear, you're absolutely right. Perhaps the customer could stack the shelves while they wait? Or maybe they could grab a mop and clean up the spill in aisle 5?

Sheesh. Thanks ASDA for bringing American levels of servitude to this island.

Servitude:

1.1. A state of subjection to an owner or master.
1.2. Lack of personal freedom, as to act as one chooses.
2. Forced labor imposed as a punishment for crime: penal servitude in labor camps.
3. Law. A right that grants use of another's property.

As a foreigner to the UK, I stand corrected. ASDA truly is a penal colony! Perhaps the USA could come over and help emancipate ASDA workers for you?! :-D
posted by shepd at 3:12 PM on December 16, 2005


Man, I hate it when the cashier or bagger tries to bag my groceries. I take a backpack for a reason and you better believe I know how to pack it efficiently.
posted by ddf at 3:20 PM on December 16, 2005


As a rule-of-thumb, I prefer European over American attitudes about many or even most things. But the comments above that equate good customer service as "servitude" blah blah blah piss me off. In the US, and especially in the parts of the US where smiles and friendly greetings are part of daily life—including daily commercial life—most of these supposed "platitudes" are not, in fact, platitudes but are completely sincere and the quality of life is greatly improved in the contemporary urban era where most people are strangers to each other. Your surly and put-upon view of commercial interactions are not the human status-quo: in low-population and rural communities throughout the world people treat each other with more friendliness and respect on a daily basis than you find in European urban or East Coast US urban communities. It's you guys who are fucked-up and apparently determined to lower the quality-of-life of everyone around you.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:27 PM on December 16, 2005


Completely sincere - er, first of all its for money isn't it and second ever heard of false consciousness? And "professional skill" in bag packing? Oh America, I worry for you.
posted by A189Nut at 3:57 PM on December 16, 2005


It's you guys who are fucked-up and apparently determined to lower the quality-of-life of everyone around you.

Another shout out for the English attitude to customer service here.

It isn't that we want our staff to be surly and rude. However, we don't see why they should be forced to robotically follow some management-determined script that does nothing but insult the intelligence of both worker and customer.

When some minimum wage kid who flips burgers for a living tells you to 'Have a nice day', it isn't because he's genuinely concerned about the quality of the day that you have -- it's because when he gets caught failing to do it often enough, he'll be fired.

So although the script is law under the golden arches, the language that it is couched in is so alien to our culture -- and even more so to our teen culture, that they rarely follow it, and yes, I fully support their minor act of subversion. I'm shopping at a certain place because I want a particular good or service, and whether or not the employee that serves me slavishly follows the prescribed form of words is a matter of complete indifference to me, provided they are civil and efficient at their job.

Consequently, our interactions with people in service industries are genuine human interactions, with the fully diverse range of experiences and attitudes that that should entail -- not some bland, homogenized experience, designed to make you believe that spending five dollars entitles you to be treated like a prince among men.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:13 PM on December 16, 2005


The grandmother-of-five blasted: "I am not happy with this one bit. I am quite surprised that a supermarket is allowed to sell these things.

"Anybody could get hold of them, even young children. It's a disgrace."


Needless to say, grandma needs to stop by and bend over sometime.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 4:35 PM on December 16, 2005


Need any help bagging, sir?
Er, no, I thnk I can just about manage to pick up this enormous block of cheese , the tanker of milk and the shedload of bread and place it in my single bag. Do I look like a disabled? Thanks for asking, though (like the management give you any choice).
posted by dash_slot- at 4:36 PM on December 16, 2005


>>the paying customer who stands there like a lemon doing bugger all

So we're all shitheads if we expect service staff to provide the service they're paid for?

If the person bagging at the grocer's is slow/stoned or whatever, I pack it myself. If the person at the "full serve" gas station is slow/busy, I get out a fill up myself, but if it's been a long day and I _don't_ want to do it, they damn well can. It's what pays their wage.

Yeah, I know the wage is shit in most cases, but that goes with the skill-set required for the job. If it was hard to pack groceries, it might pay 80 grand a year... :-)
posted by login at 4:41 PM on December 16, 2005


I'm a hell of a lot less likely to shop somewhere I see staff demeaned by having to read out a 'friendly' focus-grouped, corporate script. I prefer honesty, even when that honesty entails surliness or obvious boredom, to faux-cheeriness. I don't want store staff to act as if I live in Disneyland, and I don't appreciate the idea that my time at the counter should somehow try to insulate me from the reality of unfulfilling shit, low-wage jobs.

Honestly, in every shop I've ever visited frequently where the staff have been completely free to express their attitude and opinions rather than doing so while the manager's back is turned, I've had an infinitely friendlier experience. Fewer rules equals happier staff, equals less veiled resentment and equals more genuine desire to help in ways the situation requires, rather than adherence to a set of 'rules of helpfulness' laid down in a manual somewhere.

I suspect some of this trans-Atlantic misunderstanding comes from a different definition of 'service'. Having grown up in the UK, my expectations are very utilitarian - I don't need platitudes, I don't need a shopping experience, I just need the staff to do the things I'm not allowed to do myself and get me out of the door and back to more interesting things as quickly as possible. It seems that the prevailing American attitude is to expect service with a capital S - the staff taking care of your every need until you're out of the shop. You'll rarely get that here, but I honestly don't think Brits would want it if it was offered.
posted by terpsichoria at 5:07 PM on December 16, 2005 [1 favorite]


Consequently, our interactions with people in service industries are... not some bland, homogenized experience, designed to make you believe that spending five dollars entitles you to be treated like a prince among men.

All I wanted was my fucking groceries bagged. Jesus.
posted by grouse at 5:18 PM on December 16, 2005


I'm sorry but if I'm spending 170 freaking dollars in a store for groceries, I don't want to bag them myself. If I'm a customer paying good money for a service, I want that service. And part of what I'm paying for in a store is to have my shit put into a bag. And it's really not too much to expect people working in service jobs to be cheerful and helpful. I've waited tables, delivered pizza, installed furnaces, painted houses and worked in customer support and I always tried my best to be cheerful and helpful to the customer. That was because the customer was paying money to the company and the company was paying me money. And if the customer was happy, then my boss was happy and then I was happy and then my landlord was happy because I had money to my rent. It's pretty simple.
posted by octothorpe at 5:50 PM on December 16, 2005


ddf: Oh dear, you're absolutely right. Perhaps the customer could stack the shelves while they wait? Or maybe they could grab a mop and clean up the spill in aisle 5?

Well, I'd say part of the problem is that good baggers are becoming more and more rare. One of my first jobs was as a bagger/stocker at a small mom and pop grocery that was one of the last places in my community that would not only bag the groceries, but offer to wheel them out to the car for you. One of the baggers there was so fast, when he bagged cans it was like watching a stream of water defy gravity and flow uphill into the bag. This was also the guy who knew the location of every item stocked in the store.

A189Nut: Completely sincere - er, first of all its for money isn't it and second ever heard of false consciousness? And "professional skill" in bag packing? Oh America, I worry for you.

Well, I don't know. The fairly large number of people I know who work in retail may grouse about their lack of pay. But they complain even more about the know-it-all customer who thinks that they know more about how a shop should be work than the people who spend 30+ hours a week there. To me, dismissing the skill sets involved in grocery work reeks even more of "false consciousness." If you want to help wage-slaves in retail out, argue for giving them living wages. Don't give them attitude that you could walk in off the street and do their job cold in five minutes.

PeterMcDermott: How is the fact that the minimum wage slave behind the counter has knowledge you don't have, and skills practiced beyond what you have, insulting to anyone's intelligence?

terpsichoria: I suspect some of this trans-Atlantic misunderstanding comes from a different definition of 'service'. Having grown up in the UK, my expectations are very utilitarian - I don't need platitudes, I don't need a shopping experience, I just need the staff to do the things I'm not allowed to do myself and get me out of the door and back to more interesting things as quickly as possible. It seems that the prevailing American attitude is to expect service with a capital S - the staff taking care of your every need until you're out of the shop.

I wonder if another big difference here is difference in shopping patterns. For example, here Friday and Saturday are the big shopping days, as are the First and Second of the month when people get paid. So as a bagger, I wouldn't bother with the guy with a backpack and a loaf of bread, or the person with a jug of milk, a pound of cheese, and loaf of bread. I'd be helping out the mother with two kids in the store doing the shopping run for an entire week, and dry and canned goods for two-three weeks. The goal is to get an entire cart with 100+ items sorted and bagged before the customer has a chance to fiddle with money or sign the credit card slip. The other benefit of bagging is to get the large orders out of the way quickly for the next customer. So from my view this seems like a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. If you bag, your are "insulting people's intelligence." If you don't come off of stocking to bag, customers complain about having to wait in line.

The world of grocery customers is also not loaded with chronically young and obnoxious people like here on MeFi, so you also have people with varying degrees of motor impairments. Most people with arthritis tend to appreciate being given a couple of nice light packages with handles rather than a collection of random items and an empty bag. I had regular elderly customers where we not only bagged their groceries, for them, but we called for a cab, and loaded it up.

I don't know what you are seeing, but what I'm seeing as an American is that companies are increasingly trying to load more and more work onto the customer. So you have things like self-serve checkout lines where one employee can observe six stations. You have high turn-over to keep wages low killing your organizational expertise and knowledge. You have routine scripts rather than attempts to cultivate long-term relationships with customers.

For me, customer service means depending on the skills and expertise of the staff to facilitate my shopping experience. If it means that they sack my groceries while I'm fumbling for my debit card, how is that insulting, false or dismissive?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:16 PM on December 16, 2005


You're absolutely right. I should've made clearer that I was ranting about McDonald's-style scripted cheeriness, not bagging - I've no problem with staff automatically sticking things in bags for me, although I usually tell them not to bother to save them the work, to be honest. It irks me when able-bodied people expect or demand that the staff bag things for them, particularly when it's coupled with rudeness or in situations where bagging would slow everything else down - that attitude sort of goes hand-in-hand with the scripted servility I hate so much, in painting the staff as hired servants.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:33 PM on December 16, 2005


No problem. As someone with two years experience at a grocery, and in a relationship with someone who worked 7 years at a grocery, I really dislike hearing people dismiss grocery work. In fact, I think part of the problem is that retail chains have done an excellent job at reducing the level of skills required and expected in the business. For example, few cities have stores with an in-house butcher anymore. Not that I approve of eating meat, but that's one example of a skilled worker that has been largely pushed out of direct contact with consumers.

Back to the main topic, I still feel odd about buying condoms from chain retailers, even after doing a bit of sexuality education. (Well there was that one time I bought a pack with a girlfriend on one arm, and a female friend on the other arm, but I was stupid and drunk at the time.) It's possibly less a sexual thing than a TMI thing, as I also feel uneasy having certain kinds of OTC medications in my basket. I think buying sex toys from a setting that did not offer substantial privacy is a big challenge, to the point where people might prefer the compartmentalization of the local porn shop.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:46 PM on December 16, 2005


Um, could we get back on topic and stop talking about customer service and start talking about dildoes? Please?

(Wow. Things I never thought I'd say.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:46 PM on December 16, 2005


I sure as hell wouldn't want to buy a vibrator from my local grocery store! I'm on first name terms with the cashiers there, plus I run into people from the neighbourhood practically every time I go. Besides, in the UK there is an Ann Summers shop on every corner selling this kind of stuff. Why go to ASDA?
posted by fshgrl at 10:27 PM on December 16, 2005


No, I want to rant about customer service.

It's not about friendliness. The South of England could definitely use some tips on urban interaction, but that's not what this is about.

I used to work in a phone shop and had no problem being friendly to customers, even Americans. Scored 96% on customer service when we were mystery shopped (my proudest moment).

But some American stereotypes would come in and act peeved that I wasn't acting servile and hanging on their every word. One arsehole went off in a huff because I couldn't recommend a restaurant that served 'English Food' for him. I dunno where he got that idea.

Managers are generally on your side when rude people come in and that's how it should be.

You can be polite and friendly without being 'bubbly' and smiling all the time. If it's more natural for Americans thats cool, but don't try and force us to.
posted by lunkfish at 3:58 AM on December 17, 2005


No problem, grapefruitmoon.

Catherine Gort, Durex's group marketing manager, hopes that the vibrators will fly off the shelves before Christmas.

I hope the mechanisms inside aren't that powerful ...


God, I do.
posted by JanetLand at 6:11 AM on December 17, 2005


lunkfish writes "I can't imagine they'll sell many dildos."

10,000 in three months.
posted by Mitheral at 4:22 PM on December 17, 2005


Why do you assume that every "have a good day" is some scripted sentiment that management forces upon peons?

Putting aside what I've done when I'm worked in customer service, as a customer I say "please", "thank you", answer every "how are you?" with "fine, and how are you?", I smile and treat the person I'm communicating with like, you know, a person. And that's definitely what I do when I'm on the other side of this interaction. Having the type of personality that inclines in this friendly direction is part of the skill set of being in customer service. Just because you're a misanthrope doesn't mean that everyone else is. Just because you want to be as rude as you like to other people because you find friendliness to be cloying doesn't mean that you have a right to expect other people to behave as you do and it certainly doesn't mean that they secretely feel as you do and are only faking friendliness because there's someone standing behind them with a whip.

And you damn sure aren't doing them a fucking favor by "not playing the game" and being rude to them.

By the way, I get exceptionally good customer service pretty much wherever I go and all the time. I wonder why that is?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:21 PM on December 17, 2005


I'd gladly buy one of these "dilbrators" if the checkout staff would help me pack the six inches of vibrating pseudopenis up my puckered asshole.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 5:36 AM on December 18, 2005


For years customers complained about being "harrassed" by sales clerks who were stationed in each department to be of assistance. So look what happens. We get no assistance at all now. J.C.Penny, a department store chain that I have shopped in all my life has switched to central "Customer service" stations so that there are only one or two places were you can pay for your items on each floor rather then one in each department. This Christmas I spotted not a single sales associate on the floor other than the three women checking people out. So there was no one around to answer my questions. I guess If I wanted to ask about available merchandise I was free to stand in the very long check-out line and wait my turn.

Most customers don't know how to bag groceries well and end up rebagging them over and over or using a zillion bags for everything (which, again, I noted during my time in the UK were pay-per-bag!)

My experience is just the opposite. The baggers don't know, for example, that I keep the cat food and laundry supplies in the laundry room so they can all be bagged together. Also they put grooming articles, cleaning articles and food all in separate bags, so that one bag may contain a single bar of soap. The toothbrush can go in with the toilet paper as far as I am concerned.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 10:23 AM on December 18, 2005


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