back to article Walmart workers invited to shuttle packages

As Amazon tests drone-drops for online orders, Walmart wants sales associates to double as delivery drivers. The global retail giant has launched a program to enlist its employees to deliver packages on the way to and from their jobs at the company's stores. Participation in the program, Walmart insists, is voluntary. Marc …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    Nope, nothing to see here

    Just another Uber wannabe. What could wrong?

    1. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      Re: Nope, nothing to see here

      Uber are mere babes compared to Walmart's expertise in screwing employees.

      just thinking 'Union' at Walmart will have you trailed 24/7.

      ASDA staff are to be issued with new fully insulated jackets so they deliver chilled goods, too.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Nope, nothing to see here

        Far too true.

    2. MyffyW Silver badge

      Re: Nope, nothing to see here

      Well I was a little worried when I was handed a broom and a jar of sudacrem...

  2. J.Smith

    Associate

    I like it, I'm not a person, I'm not an individual, I'm not a worker, I'm not an employee... I'm an associate! woo! I feel valued as a huma... I mean associate now. My billionaire bosses make me one of them, it's so inclusive, I just don't get their government subsidized pay. Oh well, one step at a time for me.

    1. m0rt Silver badge

      Re: Associate

      "Everything is awesome!"

      1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
        Terminator

        Re: "Everything is awesome!"

        It generally was for those Lego people in that film, only when they got glued into position did the world come to an end.

        But this is not about having a great time in your job (I know I would if it was building lego all day! :D ) but in extracting every penny not even from the working day, but from your home time, 24 hours 7 days a week... next up "voluntary" kidney donations.

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Associate

      Never trust a company that calls its staff "associates"

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Associate

      Beloved employer loves its associates. I love telling associates that associate is what Amazon calls its stock pickers.

  3. joed

    But do customers care?

    With ship to store option available and most of Walmart customers/people;) visiting the store on at least weekly basis there may be little demand for home delivery. It's unlikely to be free for customers and this alone defeats the purpose (employees may be asked to drop off the package at their own time/dime though). Maybe for large items that customer can't pick him/her-self (but then neither the employee would be able to). Walmart (and other brick and mortar stores) is desperately trying to become part of online shopping instead of taking care of it's core business but I'm not sure this really answer true need. I go their stores often enough but can think of maybe few times I looked them up online (and shipped bulky item to the store, like once). Huge selection is as much of a curse as blessing (Amazon syndrome) and with most of online purchases being taxed now, there's less and less reason to shop online if one can just go to a nearby store.

    1. Montreal Sean

      Re: But do customers care?

      What I don't understand is Walmart already offers free home delivery for online orders over $50.

      They ship by FedEx, CanPar, Canada Post...

      We've had deliveries to our home that consisted of multiple 50Lb boxes.

      Maybe they don't offer this in the USA?

  4. redpawn Silver badge

    It starts as "Voluntary"

    but becomes expected of loyal employees, those who wish to remain employed by Walmart. I'd expect fines for delivery errors to find their way into the mix too as part time delivery folk are not as practiced as the regular kind. Employees will probably have to be tracked by their mobile or such to make sure they are prompt in their delivery. Cheer Walmart as they have not used up the last human worker yet.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It starts as "Voluntary"

      I wouldn't worry, this is not going to be the next big thing. Dinosaurs like Walmart won't be able to compete with the real on-line focused players (and there's many more than just Amazon). So this idea will be trialled, but they'll find the net benefits are small and possibly even negative.

      I believe it will die - the question is whether the pea-brains of directors accept that from a trial, or whether the bad idea ORIGINATED from the board, and they'll demand national roll out before admitting that it is a crap idea.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It starts as "Voluntary"

        If you look carefully the efficency an effectiveness of dinosaur Walmart's supply chains and logistics beat Amazon

        Of course as a cheap market place for anonymous tax avoiding 'entrepreneurs' to sell counterfeit stuff to be delivered by underpaid unofficial couriers Amazon is really innovative.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: It starts as "Voluntary"

          Besides, as a brick-and-mortar location, Walmart can consistently trounce Amazon in that niggling little necessity of everyday life that almost requires a physical presence: groceries. Is it any secret that ANY Walmart you see now does groceries (and in the case of the Neighborhood Markets, is their specialty)?

          1. joed

            Re: It starts as "Voluntary"

            This. It's also the reason why any of Walmart's competitor (like Target) has had such a hard time to beat them. Nobody likes to spend more time and money on shopping and getting all that's needed in one shot is no brainer.

          2. DJSpuddyLizard

            Re: It starts as "Voluntary"

            Besides, as a brick-and-mortar location, Walmart can consistently trounce Amazon in that niggling little necessity of everyday life that almost requires a physical presence: groceries.

            Where I live, I can get Amazon Next-Day Delivery, Amazon Prime Now (delivery in 2-4 hours, driven in cars by Amazon delivery people), or I can drive 3 minutes to the Walmart, grab stuff, go through the self-checkout and be home in 10 minutes.

  5. Elmer Phud Silver badge

    SlaveMart

    I expect Walmart to sack anyone who refuses to do drops.

    As it's 'on the way home' do the workers expect to be paid for this?

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: SlaveMart

      Possible conversation in Walmart

      Emp: but Boss, I'm sorta not going home tonight, if you know what I mean...

      Boss: Does your wife know about this?

      Emp: No

      Boss: so you will drop all these packages off for me or she will.

      Boss walks away and pockets the money that was supposed to be given to the employee.

      He thinks, right, who's next for a little blackmail?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: SlaveMart

        Walmart effect

        If it were WholeFoods or Trader Joes doing this and they claimed it lowered the carbon footprint of the delivery everyone would be all over it and giving them awards

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: SlaveMart

          But they don't because they know the shoppers are savvy enough to know it doesn't matter whether you come to them or they come to you: gas gets used either way.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Boffin

            Re: SlaveMart

            But they don't because they know the shoppers are savvy enough to know it doesn't matter whether you come to them or they come to you: gas gets used either way.

            Not quite, if the employee, driving home anyway, has to make a detour to deliver a package, only the extra distance and the petrol used for that detour should be counted against the delivery

        2. JLV Silver badge

          Re: SlaveMart

          >If it were WholeFoods or Trader Joes

          Not really. WholeFoods' sanctimonious greenwashing greed turns me off twice as much as Walmarts.

          You can be be anti-union (outside of dangerous jobs) and pro market but it is still pretty obscene to have so many full-time employees on US welfare/poverty line as Walmart does. Costco treats their employees much better (and get savaged by the stock market for it).

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: SlaveMart

          "If it were WholeFoods or Trader Joes doing this and they claimed it lowered the carbon footprint of the delivery everyone would be all over it and giving them awards"

          That's pretty much along the lines I was thinking too. Given a decent employer and fair employment practices, along with T&Cs along the lines of "the app knows your route, you won't be given drops that add more than 20% time or distance to your normal route and you get paid £X per drop to cover for fuel, insurance and time", then it make a lot of sense. It has to integrated into the normal everyday delivery system to, since there may well be coverage areas where none of the staff live or are too far off the route home. Not to mention that a dedicated delivery driver is going to more efficient anyway than someone who does a few drops on the way home.

          I'd see this as strictly volunteer and staff register for it as supplemental to the standard routes and are only called on when it's more efficient, eg there's only a few drops and someone going that way anyway is cheaper than sending the full time driver out of the busy area and potentially missing 10 drops for the sake of one or two.

    2. 2+2=5 Silver badge

      Re: SlaveMart

      'on the way home' would be illegal in the UK regarding driver working hours - you can't work an 8 hour shift and then become a delivery driver without the required break. (The break has to be non-work, not just non-driving).

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: SlaveMart

        "'on the way home' would be illegal in the UK regarding driver working hours - you can't work an 8 hour shift and then become a delivery driver without the required break. (The break has to be non-work, not just non-driving).

        From the article, they are talking about non-driving staff, ie the till operators and shelf stackers, and most of them are part time so almost certainly working well under the working time directive allowances (which you can contract out of anyway). No one doing that sort of work would be driving more than 4 hours home even if the entire drive was classed as work.

  6. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Alert

    Why am I reading

    parts of that article in Cave Johnson's voice.

    "Participation is voluntary... but only if your contract has the opt out clause"

    "Our fulfillment centers are the safest fulfillment centers anywhere, and always needing more voluntary workers.."

  7. Snorlax
    WTF?

    Let me know...

    ...when the first Walmart employee is shot by a hillbilly customer for 'trespassing'.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let me know...

      This won't happen. Hillbillies don't shoot their own kind.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Let me know...

        The hell they don't shoot their own kind ... Ever hear of the Hatfields & McCoys?

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Let me know...

        THe hell the don't

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Let me know...

      > ...when the first Walmart employee is shot by a hillbilly customer for 'trespassing'.

      Let me know when... the first Walmart employee is shot and killed using the gun and ammo he's just delivered. :-(

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Let me know...

        Guns are the one thing you can not just ship in the US.l It has to go to gun dealer.

  8. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    And phase 2...

    Till-jockey to customer: "Hey, your loyalty card shows you live at 22857 Verilong Drive. Would you mind dropping a couple of parcels off on your way home?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: And phase 2...

      ...and you'll get a WHOLE ONE THOUSAND extra loyalty points

      (worth 10c)

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: And phase 2...

        With depreciation, now they have all those drivers, it'll take 100,000 ELPs to make your dime ... only redeemable for in-store purchases of goods that haven't been marked down.

        If anyone wonders/cares, I never shop down the walmart ... I don't do business with corporations which assume I'm a criminal simply for doing business with them.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: And phase 2...

          So what do you do when (not if) it's the only store left? Starve?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    REALLY??

    Walmart is just trying to lower their deliver costs. This plan still involves Associates having to actually go to the store to get the package, then make that delivery, so delivering packages "On the Way in commute TO the store" actually isn't happening, unless the company plans to trust Associates to take customer packages HOME with them, in order to deliver them in the morning, BEFORE going in to work, at the store. How long before criminals claiming to be Associates, start committing crimes against customers who are awaiting package delivery? I personally would NEVER want my package delivered by anyone other than US Mail, Fed Ex, or UPS, as they have standard delivery vehicles with company logos that cannot be faked without significant and pointless expense, that no criminal will invest in, just to home invade some random victim. #PASS...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: REALLY??

      At our place in Fort Bragg (CA version) all of those outfits make deliveries with private vehicles. The USPS drivers are supposed to have a "Rural Delivery" sticker on them, but they rarely do. And that's barely 200 road miles from SillyConValley.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: REALLY??

      Walmart is just trying to lower their deliver costs

      no shit sherlock

  10. Jonjonz

    Civil Associates

    Now I get Trumps quip about the Civil War. If the south had just labeled those people working their cotton fields as associates, and classified the food and board as wages, everything would have been all fine and dandy, just like today's McJobs workplace.

  11. Nolveys Silver badge
    Meh

    I Look Forward To...

    ...getting deliveries from someone driving an '86 Chevette that sounds like an unbalanced washing machine and leaving in its wake a great black plume. Though I imagine the filthy, unwashed child in the arm that the driver isn't using to carry the package will be a bit depressing.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: I Look Forward To...

      Or how about a single mom with one kid at her sisters but one who's not well and so is with her, needing this job because it's the only one she can get, and now having to load up deliveries on her almost-broken down Ford and hoping it limps along to the next paycheck or set of food-stamps because she can't afford to get it repaired and also pay for electricity.

      But no, let's sneer at the poor.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I Look Forward To...

      ...getting deliveries from someone driving an '86 Chevette that sounds like an unbalanced washing machine and leaving in its wake a great black plume. Though I imagine the filthy, unwashed child in the arm that the driver isn't using to carry the package will be a bit depressing.

      The deliveries are most likely to be as the associate returns home from work, so there won't be an unwashed child with them. Even on the way TO work, they shouldn't have family members with them.

      Actually I've wondered what they've thought through for the legal side of this. It would be hard to say that a walmart employee making deliveries was a "contractor" unless it was kept entirely voluntary.

      If an employee who is a contractor runs over some small children while making a delivery, then it's the contractor's fault. If a Walmart employee runs over some small children while making a delivery, then it's suddenly walmart's problem.

      BTW, Amazon Prime Now deliveries and even Next Day delivery already comes from a fleet of privately owned vehicles (including 86 Chevettes).

  12. kain preacher Silver badge

    Here is some thing to think about. In the US when you get auto insurance they ask is for personal use or business. Obviously business rates are much higher. now if you get into an accident and they find out kiss you insurance good bye.

    Oh and here is another sweet gem. Lets say you as an invidious buy 4 bottles of bleach and take it home no problem. If you transport it for money you needs a CDL with a hazmat endorsement. Then requires finger printing and a back ground check. lord have mercy if have some thing like li ion batteries.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Excellent points.

    2. John McCallum

      Insurance

      That is the same here in the UK and probably most countries

      1. Korev Silver badge

        Re: Insurance

        The last time I renewed my car insurance in the UK, adding occasional business use made it slightly cheaper.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: occasional business use

          "adding occasional business use made it slightly cheaper."

          And what exactly was your/their definition of "occasional business use"?

          When I was last in this game, occasional business use was for things liike occasional inter-site travel to meetings.

          If WalMart think this will be profitable for them, it's presumably going to be a lot of "associates" each doing a lot of deliveries (and assoociated mileage, risks, etc).

          1. Chloe Cresswell

            Re: occasional business use

            There is also a difference between use of your car for "business use" and "transporting goods for a company".

            On top of that, there is also a difference between "use in regards to the owners business" and "use in regards to the owner's employers business"

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: occasional business use

            "If WalMart think this will be profitable for them, it's presumably going to be a lot of "associates" each doing a lot of deliveries (and assoociated mileage, risks, etc)."

            Do Walmart not have their branded insurence products? Here in the UK, ASDA, ("Part Of The Walmart Family") do. If so, and if needed, I'm sure they could sell a special staff car insurance that included their delivery options and help make sure their "associates" spend their pitiful wages to help shore up the director level "associates" bonuses.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              truck off

              "help make sure their "associates" spend their pitiful wages to help shore up the director level "associates" bonuses."

              Hmmm. Once upon a time, some employers were in the habit of paying their workers in tokens that could only be spent in the company's own shop. A recently revived version of the same concept is to force workers (often fake self-employed workers without much legal protection) to use "officially approved" safety equipment which can only be bought in the (overpriced) company shop.

              Anybody know much about the Truck Acts (in the UK anyway) which made this kind of madness illegal?

              Something better change.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Insurance

          I work in Insurance and I can tell you that at my employer at least, aside from any pricing differences, you lose certain discounts if you're using the vehicle for small goods deliveries.

    3. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      @kain preacher - I do not the hazardous shipping regulations very well any more but I doubt consumer quantities will require any special endorsements or training. The CDL is not for commercial delivery but to drive certain types of vehicles such as semis. Otherwise your pizza delivery driver would need a CDL. However there are issues such as insurance and liability to consider.

      Also, Wally World is concerned about Amazon taking away more business. One point about Amazon, etc. is they are basically giant catalog operations without the need to print and mail a catalog. As a catalog operation their limits are from whether they want to be in a niche market (LL Bean) or a 'general store' (Amazon). Catalog operations have been successful in the US for a long time. Wally World has not run a catalog operation nor do to they properly advertise their website (a common failing for many B/M retailers is the website is an afterthought).

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        CDL is required for transporting haz mat.

        " I doubt consumer quantities will require any special endorsements or training."

        And you would be wrong. I know a trucker that got $1000 for having four open paint cans on the back of his flat bed. a gallon on motor oil into a river can do a lot of damage

        The CDL is need to transport hazmat material . In the US if you are being paid to transport haz mat you need a CDL and haz mat endorsement no matter what you drive it in.

        The hazardous materials regulations are applicable to the transportation of hazardous materials in commerce and their offering to:

        Interstate, intrastate, and foreign carriers by rail car, aircraft, motor vehicle and vessel.

        The representation that a hazardous material is present in a package, container, rail car, aircraft, motor vehicle or vessel.

        The manufacture, fabrication, marking, maintenance, reconditioning, repairing or testing of a package or container which is represented, marked, certified or sold for use in the transportation of hazardous materials (49 CFR 171.1(a))

        GENERAL DOT HAZARDOUS MATERIALS REGULATORY REQUIREMENTS

        "No person may offer or accept a hazardous material for transportation in commerce unless that person is registered in conformance with subpart G of Part 107 of this chapter, if applicable, and the hazardous material is properly classed, described, packaged, marked, labeled, and in condition for shipment as required or authorized..."(49 CFR 171.2(a))

        Underlined in the preceding extract from the Hazardous Materials Regulations are three important terms; "person," "offeror" and "commerce" (See Appendix A Definitions). The word shipper is frequently used by industry in place of the word "offeror." For the purpose of this document only, the term shipper and "offeror" are used interchangeably. These three words are important in that they define when you are subject to the jurisdiction of the Department of Transportation. Additionally, you may be subject to the requirements of other Federal and/or State Laws.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. jake Silver badge

      I suspect that if I were invidious and bought 4 bottles of bleach, the DHS would come a' knockin' and ask me to do some 'splainin' ...

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Just tell them you are a cleaner and blood stains are nasty.

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "I suspect that if I were invidious and bought 4 bottles of bleach, the DHS would come a' knockin' and ask me to do some 'splainin' ..."

        Just say you'd just been to Sam's Club?

  13. Dwarf Silver badge

    So many holes in this, you could drive a truck through it.

    Presumably this means that all deliveries are at commuting times, so that would be the same sort of times that everyone else is on the road and therefore unlikely to be at home - what would they do then - try again tomorrow at the same time to get the same effect, then card it and return it as non-deliverable ?

    I wonder if the staff are late due to traffic, etc will they be expected to make up time, or is the delivery service counted as overtime ??

    What happens when they are on holiday - do people not get deliveries at those times of the year ?

    Good job its not in Europe - what with the working time directive that is supposed to set a limit on the time people do in a week.

    I'd also guess that many staff are making more than a delivery driver, so I can't see how any of this will stack up.

  14. jtaylor

    Wow, lots of well-formed concerns about this program. Thanks for the education!

    I could easily see Walmart making this a voluntary — truly voluntary — program. They have nothing to lose. Some employees will jump for a little extra cash. When I worked retail, there was lots of fine print, and few employees really understood it. As a new hire, I was advised by other employees about where to be careful, and what is just management BS that everyone signs and it doesn't really matter.

    Walmart could list all the risks and assign them to the employee in a wall of text. Those who read and understand it, would probably not run deliveries. Some others will happily deliver and tell coworkers about how much extra they made last week: what a great program!

    TLDR: These benefits to employees are immediate; costs are not.

  15. kain preacher Silver badge

    Lets remember this was company that held a food drive to help their works who could not afford food. Of course the food was donated by other employees.

  16. sitta_europea

    It gets worse.

    My firm sells Alkaline cells, those things that you put in your transistor radio or whatever gadget turns you on thesedays. We can and do deliver them to our customers in our vans. They're 'stationery'. Because we sell Alkaline cells, by law we must have a collection point on our premises for used cells. But because when they've been used they're classed as "Hazardous Waste", the customer can't give them to our drivers to return them to us because we can't carry Hazardous Waste on our vans. So the customer throws them in the bin. Go figure.

  17. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    It is all a legal minefield

    that the Walmart 'associates' will be unable to grasp even if they have a law degree.

    With all the complicated laws with us states moving an apple into California is a crime even if the apple was grown there.

    Moving 4 1 gallon containers of bleach over a state line is more than likely a federal crime. Bleach can be used in the production of Crystal Meth. Just saying for the FBI that you were delivering it on your way nome won;t cut it.

    The words '40ft barge pole' come to mind.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: It is all a legal minefield

      "Moving 4 1 gallon containers of bleach over a state line is more than likely a federal crime."

      Even if you JUST got them from the nearest price club...OVER the state line?

  18. kain preacher Silver badge

    With all the complicated laws with us states moving an apple into California is a crime even if the apple was grown there.

    You cant even move the apple from southern California to northern California. They have produce check points on the freeway.

  19. 4d3fect

    It is to laugh.

  20. Wzrd1

    Now, here's something more interesting

    In the US, automobile insurance policies come in commercial and consumer packages.

    Delivering packages for Walmart would be commercial activity and not covered under the automobile insurance package that Walmart employees barely can afford to pay.

    That effectively renders those employees involved in an accident at the time of such commercial activity, legally not covered by insurance.

    Which is mandatory in every state.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Now, here's something more interesting

      Every state is also required to allow drivers to pay a one-time waiver. Otherwise it falls foul of Article I, Section 9 IINM.

  21. adam payne Silver badge

    "The global retail giant has launched a program to enlist its employees to deliver packages on the way to and from their jobs at the company's stores. Participation in the program, Walmart insists, is voluntary."

    They insist it's voluntary, yes it probably is voluntary for now.

    How long before it is compulsory?

    Will they get compensated for extra mileage, insurance change etc etc? I can imagine the answer but with so little detail it hard to completely condemn them again.

  22. DagD

    Sir, I delivered the package. I Promise!

    By the way, I need tomorrow off to hook up my new Xbox I just received in the mail....

  23. Sherrie Ludwig

    So, the worker delivered package arrives damaged/missing part/gets left on the porch as per posted note, and goes missing? Is the associate responsible for the package? Some Wal-Mart customers have purchased boxed electronic gizmos (iPods come to mind) to discover that the package did not contain anything but packing materials, or in the case of one gizmo purchase, a brick to make the weight plausible. Or, the customer claims that the package arrived with something missing, or damaged, even if it did not. Wow, so much to go wrong, I cannot even imagine.

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