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Readers: Wal-Mart needs more than remodel

Wider aisles? Prettier floors? Nicer displays? Not the point, according to many readers. Instead, hundreds of readers responding to our recent story on Wal-Mart's plans to upgrade some stores said they'd like the discounting giant to concentrate on other gripes.
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Wider aisles? Prettier floors? Nicer displays? Not the point, according to many readers.

Instead, hundreds of readers responding to our recent story on Wal-Mart's plans to upgrade some stores said they'd like the discounting giant to concentrate on other gripes. Among the items on the wish list: pay more attention to customer service, clean up stores, keep popular items in stock and pay workers better.

Other readers who wrote to us said no amount of improvements would draw them into Wal-Mart, because they disagree with the company's business practices. But a few readers defended Wal-Mart, saying they liked the stores and appreciated the bargains.

Here are some excerpts.

Not enough
Creating an "upscale" clothing line didn't help Wal-Mart, and I don't believe this will, either.  The biggest reason I think twice about shopping at this store is because of its absolutely appalling customer service, likely generated by its absolutely appalling treatment of its employees.  Yeah, aesthetics are nice, but Target has half-decent customer service and better products.

No longer a fan
I stopped shopping at Wal-Mart years ago and switched to Target because I always felt "dirty" in their stores; their restrooms, the aisles, the merchandise, the grocery area always looked old and uninviting. Maybe the spiff up will help some, but I don't think it will win back any customers who now shop at Target. Shopping Wal-Mart is such a horrible experience ... I'd rather pay more money somewhere else and have a better experience.

Treat workers better
I don't shop at Wal-Mart because of the way they treat their employees.  I would rather shop at Target or Costco. ... I would rather pay a few pennies more knowing the people who work there have decent salaries and benefits.  Otherwise I subsidize those same people with my tax dollars via medical assistance.
-Nurse In Minnesota

Add customer service staff
Certainly there are stores that need to be cleaned up and remodeled.  I don't think there are many who would disagree with that, and the remodeling doesn't put me off.  What bothers me more than anything is the lack of service in the checkout area.  In my travels around the entire country, the most consistent thing I find in shopping at Wal-Mart is the large number of checkout counters and few people to staff them, resulting in long lines of disgruntled customers who leave the stores with a low opinion of the service and the store.  I think Sam Walton would be appalled to know that his bottom line, service, has been replaced with corporate profits.

Good return policy, poor service
As a general rule, Wal-Mart does have better prices, but I do agree with many others in that the customer service does go lacking. If you are purchasing high-end electronics like wide-screen TVs or DVD players, there is seldom anyone who can answer questions you might have. ... One thing Wal-Mart is great at is returns. They will either exchange, refund or swap, usually with no questions asked.

Clean up stores
Wal-Mart is what it is: cheap prices for mostly cheaply made products.  Adding spiff to the stores' appearance will not change that. Cleaning the stores may have the same effect as adding spiff. Our local stores smell, the floors are dirty, the restrooms look like those at a truck stop, and seemingly, no one in management does anything about it. ... One solution might be to reduce the number of stores and concentrate on quality, selection, cleanliness, management and customer service.

Enjoys Wal-Mart
Our Wal-Mart is great and even the employees are nice! I think if you go in with a negative attitude towards Wal-Mart you're not going to enjoy your experience!

Bring back layaway
If Wal-Mart wants more shoppers, they should try to treat their employees fairly and equally.  Then they should bring back layaway.  Many stores do not have layaway or are considering getting rid of layaway.  If a person is on a fixed and/or low income layaway is the only way to shop.

Stock more necessities
I shop at Wal-Mart for many of my weekly products, but in our town they are so busy they are often out of the necessities which I need. I am glad that they are renovating their stores to make it more appealing to the customer, but what about the quality of their products and the ever-discussed treatment of their employees? Is a remodel going to change all this? I don't think so.

Other companies at fault, too
I find it sad that so many seem to live to protest Wal-Mart. Seriously. Many, many, many businesses have inappropriate labor practices, so why is Wal-Mart the only one mentioned? If you don't like Wal-Mart, don't shop there! It is as simple as that. Seems everyone likes Target. They are nice, but way more expensive than Wal-Mart. How anyone can not see that is beyond me.

Pallets in aisles
My big issue with Wal-Mart is that the shelves are usually half-empty with the pallets of stock sitting in the aisles.  Numerous times, I have had to open the stock boxes and pull out what I need.  Wal-Mart is always horribly understaffed and the staff that is working is disgruntled half the time. I do shop at Wal-Mart because I can't beat their prices anywhere else, and I have a teenager to feed that has a bottomless pit as a stomach.