Benny and his friend Griffin at Ocean Beach in San Francisco.

Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Kmart Weirdness

This is my letter to a Free Press reporter about Kmart:

Kmart employee program


Dear Ms. Dybis:

Thank you for your coverage of Kmart. The News is doing a good job at covering this particular retail disaster.

I'm writing because I have a friend who was a cashier at the Roseville Kmart (the one that didn't close) in December, and she told me about an odd employee campaign.

For a week or so, there was a sign in the employee break room that said "15 rings per minute or else!" Everyone knew what the "15 rings" meant -- Kmart
wanted each cashier to ring so many orders per minute, even if there was no bagger to help or the customer was confused and slowed the process down. My friend thinks it was 15 rings a minute, but I would definitely confirm that number.

Anyway, the employees soon found out what the "or else!" meant. If an employee failed to meet the quota, he or she had to wear name tags that said "I can only do 12 rings a minute" or some such. The idea, of course, is to humiliate the employee into ringing faster. Or maybe the customers were supposed to taunt the lazy employee while throwing coupons and wadded-up shopping lists at her.

I find it shocking that Kmart would institute such an abusive system in a time when it needs all the good public relations it can get. Heaven only knows how
much the little tags cost. Is this part of Kmart's "innovative efforts" to improve customer service? And I thought the weird concept stores were bad.

Thanks for your time,

Ann Arbor


Subject: RE: Kmart employee program
Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 16:48:20 -0500
From: "Dybis, Karen"
To: CK,

Dear Ms. CK:

Thank you for your email. Out of curiosity, I stopped this afternoon by the Kmart you wrote about. Sure enough, the "ring" number on the name tag was noticable to me -- thanks to your email! I will be calling Kmart to find out more, and I will update you on the situation. I appreciate you writing to bring it to my attention. What a lousy program!!

Karen Dybis

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