Published on: September 17, 2021
Got this email from an MNB reader:
I want to provide some context in regards to the new Walmart App. It definitely has some issues. My wife placed an on-line grocery pickup order like she normally does on the app (doing this for at least 3 years). She hated it and then hated it even more when she got a subsequent email in regards to status on some items on the order. The reasons for the hate:
First, she had to go back and remove a bunch of items she didn’t order from her basket that were automatically placed there based on her preferences from previous trips. If she did not catch this, we would have had a whole bunch of items we did not need or order.
Second, some items were not available. Instead of just removing from the order, Walmart said they would direct ship up to 3 days later. Why would we want to wait 3 days for an item on a grocery order?
I also had lunch with a friend of mine who is a Walmart buyer. Indicated the app is a disaster and based on their experience no longer uses Walmart grocery pick-up. In fact, no longer shops at Walmart due to the customer experience. I have been a shopper, a supplier, and a Walmart associate for almost 30 years and have not ever seen these type of struggles before. It is a shame.
When these things go wrong, it gives one total respect for the companies that are able to get it right.
Responding to yesterday's mention of a piece about how Facebook knew about the toxicity of its Instagram site for young people, and then pretty much ignored it, one MNB reader wrote:
I feel the hardest point to combat, is the concept instilled by Facebook, regarding the expansion of the definition for “friend”. It is really disturbing that younger people use this term for anyone that connects, links, or comments, with them. You and I connect on this platform, but we are not friends. Acquaintances maybe, but not friends. Plus, the jealousness, feelings of inadequacy, and lack of personal communication that these apps foster, is disturbing. They are marketing to the most pliable segment of our population by design and creating a generation of immediate “needers”. Not a fan at all.
I'm a social media skeptic, but even I'm not quite that cynical about the notion of friendship.
After all, it was the Irish poet William Butler Yeats, long before there was social media, who once surveyed a pub and reportedly said, "There are no strangers here; Only friends you haven't yet met." (Which is sort of the way I feel about the MNB community. Also, for another example of this spirt, see "OffBeat," below.)
I don't blame the kids for seeking connections, or even for overstating their importance. After all, they're kids - they haven't learned yet that not everything is important.
We had a story yesterday about the debate taking place between some politicians and some national security experts about current inclinations to aggressively regulate big tech companies such as Amazon. Lawmakers seem to want to do it because they believe the companies are anti-competitive, while national security experts believe that "antitrust legislation to break up U.S. tech giants — without targeting Chinese companies like Huawei, Tencent and Alibaba — could impede innovation 'critical to maintaining America’s technological edge'."
The feeling until now seems to have been that some sort of increased regulation of big tech companies - including Amazon - was inevitable, and maybe even forced breakup of one or more of them. (Though, to be sure, court challenges could delay any actions for some time.)
I have to wonder if the innovation vs. competition conversation will take place in any sort of meaningful way. The initial reaction from lawmakers seen as hostile to these companies wasn't open-minded, and, to be honest, I'm not sure how to resolve the question.
One MNB reader reacted:
Kevin, I feel as long as any issues like these are clouded by self-interest and partisanship from members of Congress on both sides, then resolutions to the issues will also be flawed. When did the rule of law and ethics take a back seat in government?
I'm not sure that partisan politicians acting in their own self-interest is as new a phenomenon as we'd like to think. Now we just have cable TV.
Regarding the climate changes that could end up the relocation of some of the agriculture industry, one MNB reader wrote:
Moving grain production to outside US changes the trade balances. US economic impact moving from export to import, further increasing costs of production. Not good.
Moving production to SA would reduce old growth forestry to clear cut for grain fields. Potential for global environmental climate change. Less regulation on crops. Monsanto would be happy. Not good. Let’s not even think about ethanol in our gas. We would not only be dependent for oil, but also 10% of an additive we put in. All around not good. Anyone have a flux capacitor I can borrow?
Regarding the sense that Amazon is taking over the world, MNB reader Chris Hansen wrote:
Remember “back in the day” when Walmart was the evil empire, with their very visible big box presence driving mom and pops into the ground? Until their own fleet of trucks and delivery vans began hitting the road, Amazon was able to run pretty much in stealth mode. Based on the kids’ reaction noted in your piece, the spotlight is now clearly on Amazon.
That's the price of doing business.