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How greedy is Walmart?

DCblogger's picture
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Mathbabe goes to town meeting on the CFPB

Second the issue of Walmart issuing its pay to people in debit card form came up time after time as well. So it seems that Walmart is not only a retailer, but also a financial institution of the crappiest kind now. It issues debit cards as payment to people who don’t accept direct deposit or don’t have checking accounts, and again it seems that the money on the cards is somehow deeply tied to a fee structure. I need to look into this more (as does the CFPB) but I’m wondering off the top of my head whether people can just demand to be paid in cash instead. It’s like these people are being paid really badly, with very few benefits, and even when they get paid they’re being nickeled and dimed every step of the way. It’s like it’s not really their money even then.

I wonder if Mayor Vincent Gray and the DC City Council knew about this when they signed up for all those Walmart stores?

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coyotecreek's picture
Submitted by coyotecreek on

"...the Forbes list reveals that six Waltons—all children (one daughter-in-law) of Sam or James “Bud” Walton the founders of Wal-Mart—were on the list. The combined worth of the Walton six was $69.7 billion in 2007—which equated to the total wealth of the entire bottom thirty percent!

BTW the new 2011 Forbes 400 has the inherited worth of these six Waltons at $93 billion. The 2010 SCF data that is slated for release spring of 2012 will almost certainly show a further widening of the wealth gap given that corporate profits, stocks and CEO pay have all recovered while housing values & equity (the lion’s share of wealth for average American’s), wages and family incomes have yet to turn around."

Aeryl's picture
Submitted by Aeryl on

Living on cash is incredibly difficult these days. It's much cheaper to take advantage of an internet connection and pay bills online thru a card at most utility vendors especially if you make arrangements til payday, than to drive all over town to issue payments (or fund Walmart, which now accepts utility payments at exorbitant costs), and individual debit charges can be done without additional costs. So, when I need to pull cash off, I get cash back from debit purchases, which can be done at almost any store now.

There is a $3 monthly fee, but it allows to me dodge immediate withdrawals hitting me when I need the money to live on. When I had direct deposit checking, my car insurance payment would always hit, leaving me cash strapped for another week. With my reloadable card from Walmart, I can control what bills I pay, and for a lot less that I was paying in bank fees.

Not to say that this makes Walmart right, they should still issue check payments with free check cashing services to employees, but the Walmart card is better than the bank system in many ways. A credit union would be better, but you can't open an account with one if you have a bank debt.

editor_u's picture
Submitted by editor_u on

Has anyone heard of a sneaky clause/amendment being attached to any unrelated bill lately that would make such a thing legal? I didn't think so.

Under federal law, wages must be paid "free and clear." [Employment law citation coming when I can retrieve my law books from the house; but know for now that it's in the FLSA - the Fair Labor Standards Act - and related case law]

In its purest form, "free and clear" means that on the designated pay day, one must be paid in cash or with a negotiable instrument (usually a check). If one is not paid in cash, the negotiable instrument must be easily converted into cash on company time and with no fee charged to the employee for the transaction. You cannot be required to accept direct deposit (again, unless a law has been passed that I don't know about), even if for no other reason than that you cannot be required to have a checking account. Cash or cashable check or its equivalent, negotiable on company time, with no fee charged to the employee. Period.

editor_u's picture
Submitted by editor_u on

This page of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) – from the website of the Cornell University Law School's Legal Information Institute – contains the relevant text:

29 CFR 4.167 - WAGE PAYMENTS—MEDIUM OF PAYMENT.

"a) Standing alone, sections 6 and 7 of the Act [The Fair Labor Standards Act - ed.] require payments of the prescribed wages, including overtime compensation, in cash or negotiable instrument payable at par."

Certainly charging one a fee to use the card to obtain wages due would not amount to being paid "at par."

The section goes on to say that, "Scrip, tokens, credit cards, “dope checks”, coupons, salvage material, and similar devices which permit the employer to retain and prevent the employee from acquiring control of money due for the work until some time after the pay day for the period in which it was earned, are not proper mediums of payment under the Act. If, as is permissible, they are used as a convenient device for measuring earnings or allowable deductions during a single pay period, the employee cannot be charged with the loss or destruction of any of them…" [my emphasis]

I (a non-lawyer) don't see why that prohibition regarding charging for loss of a card should not apply to a card used to obtain wages as well.