Last night I made my first trip into Walmart since before Thanksgiving. If you have done any shopping there during the holiday season you know that its pure misery during that time. Walmart is always understaffed (every store I've ever been to is) and that's fine. They aren't built for customer service. They're built for selling stuff cheap.
I read a really interesting article about marketing a couple of months ago that really explained the difference between "fidelity" and "convenience". Fidelity is the total experience of something, convenience is how easy it is to get what you want. Companies that succeed usually are really good at one or the other. The experience of buying something at Walmart is awful (the fidelity) but the convenience is what they're good at (selling everything cheaper than most everybody). If you'd like to read the article (it talks about how Starbucks lost its fidelity and is a good read), click here.
I bought three items while I was at Walmart. Cold medicine (I'm still suffering miserably with a stubborn and nasty head cold), fabric softener, and Star Trek on DVD (which was on sale for $13). I saw the movie when it originally came out in theatres and wanted to see it again since it had so much going on in it I figure I missed some details. I went at 10 p.m. and had to negotiate around pallets full of merchandise in the middle of aisles, lots of customers (even a few hotties, didn't mind that view), and an elderly lady who stopped me to ask if I had a sunburn on my head (still have the blotchy head).
I don't mind going to Walmart. It serves its purpose: cheap merchandise. I don't expect good customer service. Actually, I barely expect any at all. Walmart doesn't invest enough in employees to produce good customer service. So Walmart, I don't hate you. Because without you I'd afford even less.