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Sewergate: an update

After a flurry of bad publicity, Wal-Mart has given a little on the case I cited yesterday (and Paul quibbled with me), where a family with new quadruplets were having trouble putting an addition on their house. They were being blocked by regulations that limited their ability to expand their septic system, and Wal-Mart was blowing off their request to tap into their pipe.

Now, my original idea (which I apparently didn't express well enough) was that Wal-Mart, who spends gobs of money to promote itself by saying "you couldn't have a better neighbor," had done the absolutely worst possible thing in response: nothing.

They could have said "sure!," and garnered gobs of free good publicity. Or they could have said "we'd like to, but we can't" and cited engineering and legal and regulatory concerns. They could have said "we'll have to look into it very carefully," and pointed out how tough and complex the regulations were. Instead, they simply blew off the request and left the family hanging.

Now, though, the stink has begun to sting. Realizing the magnitude of the bad ink they're getting, they're desperately trying to recover. They've given the family a $500.00 gift certificate and have promised to review the Lynch family's request.

It's a basic tenet that in many cases, the absolutely worst thing you can do is ignore it and go away. Lord knows I do it myself enough. But one would like to think that a company that's been as successful as Wal-Mart would be smart enough to recognize such situations before they blow up on them.

Comments (23)

>Now, though, the stink has... (Below threshold)

>Now, though, the stink has begun to sting. Realizing the magnitude of the bad ink they're getting, they're desperately trying to recover. They've given the family a $500.00 gift certificate and have promised to review the Lynch family's request.

Great so they were blackmailed but stupid journalists. Now the next time I go to Wal-Mat I've got to pay a little more to make up for advocacy journalism. What a great day in America.

What Paul wrote (^^).... (Below threshold)

What Paul wrote (^^).

You know, giving should not be coerced. And WalMart will regret the sewer-line sharing if they go that far, and probably far sooner than they anticipate.

Another aspect to this story is that every single person with property adjacent or even across town from a Wal Mart will now claim they are entitled, also, to gift certificates because, oh, a crow in their backyard once flew over a Wal Mart and didn't land because it was raining.

From what I've read, particularly recently, Wal Mart is being so targeted by Democrats, specifically former and even current Democrat candidate handlers and DNC spokespersonsadinfinitum, that they are going to find any possible wedge to make Wal Mart do any possible thing, or else.

I would like to see Wal Mart make some sense here and caving into this demand for the shared sewer line seems to be highway robbery. $500.00 gift certificate...I suppose the familly and Democrats nationwide will rail that that just isn't enough money. Can anyone explain why this family is due anything? A $500. gift certificate is extremely generous from/to anyone, but it's particularly offensive to my view when you're held to the fire or else.

Like I said, giving is supposed to be voluntary. Not because Democrats threaten to destroy your business otherwise. I really, really perceive Deaniac and DNC ruthlessness in this.

If Wal Mart caves in about ... (Below threshold)

If Wal Mart caves in about this, I hereby request every single conservative nationwide to write a letter of demand to the DNC for "gift certificates" in the amount of $500.00 and the funds to run a new utility line into our respective, individual homes -- say, $20,000. more each -- because, otherwise, or else.

I think it's easy to see that Wal Mart is being held up like that old timey stage couch: "hand over the money box, or else."

Argh: "stage COACH."... (Below threshold)

Argh: "stage COACH."

I'm sleepy, leave me alone...

This has all of the same ta... (Below threshold)

This has all of the same tactics used by Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow Demolition!

Great shakedown! Way to go!

Hmmmm.1. I rather ... (Below threshold)


1. I rather liked that "stage couch". Where can I buy one? :)

2. Jay you were wrong before, wrong now and will continue to be wrong on this issue unless, and until, you change your position. Wal-Mart doesn't owe anyone anything.

3. So Jay. If Wal-Mart was running a slogan "The most Evila Bastard Neighbor in the world who'll roast your dog and eat it for lunch", would they be obliged to do that?

Or if Wal-Mart ran an ad stating "We Bitch-Slap our Neighbors every damn morning!". Would they, according to your logic, be obliged to send someone over to deliver that bitch-slap?

Nonsense shouted out for the world to hear, is still nonsense Jay.

Yep, rick13, my sentiments ... (Below threshold)

Yep, rick13, my sentiments exactly. Wal-Mart has no obligation to respond. Paul said it very, very well yesterday.

"The stink has begun to sti... (Below threshold)

"The stink has begun to sting" thanks to journalists (and bloggers) who jumped on Wal-Mart as the bad guy here, when clearly Wal-Mart did nothing wrong, simply because thay felt sorry for the family and figured Wal-Mart was therefore obligated to do something for them. Congratulations!

Wal-Mart is in fact being targeted by Democrats and labor unions, who have hired Democrat campaign startegists to demonize Wal-Mart with the goal of forcing the company to unionize its stores.

I'm not particularly a Wal-Mart fan, but once it goes union, it won't matter because I won't be able to afford to shop there anyway.

Ed, I thought Wal-Mart owed... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Ed, I thought Wal-Mart owed them an answer. Even a simple "our lawyers are looking into it" would have sufficed. It was the sheer stupidity of utterly ignoring it that bugged me -- and still does.


For those who are keen to g... (Below threshold)
Malibu Stacy:

For those who are keen to get something for nothing, Ned Flanders would make a much better neighbor than Wal-Mart, which makes their promotional claim nothing more than puffery.

Jay, I usually agree with y... (Below threshold)

Jay, I usually agree with you, but here you are dead wrong. Wal-Mart "owed" them nothing, not sewer service, not an answer, nothing. And if it weren't for media hype, which is largely the result of Wal-Mart's status as big labor's whipping boy, there wouldn't be any bad publicity fallout.

How about the DNC or Air Am... (Below threshold)

How about the DNC or Air America providing diaper service for the family. Then they wouldn't need more sewer service. They could even save all the poopy diapers for Screaming Howard. He could chew on them while riding on his stage couch!!!

Reread the article Jay, Wal... (Below threshold)

Reread the article Jay, Wal-Mart did give them an answer.

But there was one other solution: hooking up to the sewer system of a nearby Wal-Mart, which has a line running from the store to the Brockton sewer system.

The couple, who spent $2,700 on an engineer to design a septic system, asked the giant retail chain for help. Wal-Mart said no.

Wal-Mart was researching the situation but didn't have an immediate response yesterday to why it rejected the request, according to a spokesman.

They said no.

I couldn't give a shit if a... (Below threshold)

I couldn't give a shit if a WalMart truck hit a busload of Nuns...I will shop there if I save money. $$$$$$

I think the whole thing is ... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

I think the whole thing is unfair to walmart.

And it would be a really bad precedent to allow people to hook into their sewer lines.

Nope, the solution for this couple that has almost 3k to do an engineering survey, is to move.

rick13 may have said it bes... (Below threshold)

rick13 may have said it best and I tend to agree. A shakedown by any other name is still a shakedown. From the original story:

"I always heard they do things for the community but I guess not this community,'' Chris Lynch [the father and "victim" of evil corporation - AD] said.

Mr. Lynch had it wrong. This was not a community request to perpetuate a greater good. This was a personal request to help the Lynch's. As stated repeatedly, Wal-Mart did the right thing the first time and it would be unfair of anyone to expect such a subsidy from any business. Complaining about the experience to the press could have been retribution for the denial, an attempt to repackage the request under different terms, or an innocent mention of frustration to an agenda-driven reporter. Any way you slice it, it's a coerced subsidy, aka shakedown. You don't reward them though I understand why Wal-Mart is trying to diffuse the situation.

We'll have to drive down th... (Below threshold)

We'll have to drive down the street and try to scope out which house it is that's the source of extortion. We shop at that Wal-Mart regularly.

I have to agree: Wal-Mart owes them nothing.

If they can afford to add that much onto their house, they can afford to move. They're apparently not too bad off.

People can be so evil.

Hmmmm."Ed, I thoug... (Below threshold)


"Ed, I thought Wal-Mart owed them an answer. Even a simple "our lawyers are looking into it" would have sufficed. It was the sheer stupidity of utterly ignoring it that bugged me -- and still does."

And just how many goofy nonsense requests does a company like Wal-Mart get every single day? You think that this is the one and only request that this particular Wal-Mart had on it's plate? If you do, the prove it please.

I've worked for big corporations and the amount of nonsense they get bombarded with is just astounding. Every single individual or group with an agenda is looking for support, funding or advocacy.

What you didn't take as a possible option is that Wal-Mart didn't even notice this family's request.

ed just posted along the li... (Below threshold)

ed just posted along the lines I was thinking...why does Wal-Mart owe anyone an answer to any request? Why is it Wal-Mart's problem all of a sudden just because they were asked?

The real issue is this family doesn't want to spend to hook into the sewer and they're looking to hang the cost on someone else. Jay, your initial post on the subject contained this:

"If they would allow the Lynch family to connect to that pipe, they could put up the new addition and not force the family of seven to somehow all live in a 750-square-foot, two-bedroom ranch."

Break that down. It's an "If/then/and" statement. You know how it comes across? "If big bad Wal-Mart would just let these poor, downtrodden people connect to the pipe for which Wal-Mart is legally responsible and paid to have installed, then they could live like civilized people and big bad Wal-Mart would not be forcing these poor downtrodden people to live in a hovel."

You positioned them as the victims, when they are actually the aggressors. Wal-Mart isn't forcing anyone to do anything, even though that is EXACTLY what you wrote. They are trying to force Wal-Mart to do something. As are you. As are the press.

Wal-mart may be the world's biggest corporation, but they can still be taken advantage of. "Good PR" is doubleplus ungood speak for "corporate blackmail."

NO ONE forced those people to live there. They never heard of moving? They seem to be able to scrape up tens of thousands for renovation...extend that credit line and get some sewer service. Beg for donations. Have a bake sale. Sell blood. Whatever. Don't strong-arm Wal-Mart to force the company to do something just because you don't want to pay to have it done yourself.

And here's a little something no one brought up: They knew about the quads how long ago? Why didn't they make arrangements before now? Because they don't want to pay for it, that's why.

We're back to the same issue: Why is it Wal-Mart's problem? They're not the bad guy here, no matter how you try to paint them as such.

Sorry Jay...I usually agree with you about 99.98% of the time, but this one is just all wrong IMHO.

I was gonna say what ed sai... (Below threshold)
OC Chuck:

I was gonna say what ed said. (He probably said it better than I would have, so...)

Sorry, have to agree with P... (Below threshold)

Sorry, have to agree with Paul on this one.

My "friendly neighborhood W... (Below threshold)

My "friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart" actually agreed to let me buy formula by the case after my triplets were born, instead of having to gather individual cans off the shelf--then proceeded to jack the per-can price by about 30% when I went to pick up the 3 cases I had requested. A store 30 minutes away never increased their price, btw.

Needless to say, I'm not Wally-world's biggest fan, though I still shop there occasionally. Between them and Target, they're the lesser of two evils, and that's about the only choices in my area.

This case, however, is a little bit different. On the one hand, Wal-Mart would probably never had any problems with these folks hooking into their sewer system, but they certainly weren't under any "moral obligation" to do so. At the same time, I understand that the family probably doesn't have the option of moving elsewhere--a tiny home right next door to Wal-Mart wouldn't bring enough on the market to even make a down-payment on a house of any size.

The proper solution would be for them to be granted an exception to the regulations that prevent them from putting in a suitable septic system.

Ok, having read all of the ... (Below threshold)

Ok, having read all of the posts and comments on this, I have one thing to say. I live in a small, two-bed one-bath home of roughly 760 sq. feet. I have five children.

We are not talking about living in squalor, here. It just a small house. You send the kids to play outside a lot, oh freakin' well. Either deal with it or make arrangements elsewhere -- don't expect someone else to do it for you!






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