Industrial Espionage Keeps Walmart's Prices Low

Walmart’s everyday low low prices are thanks to department managers sneaking into local competing Kmarts with price guns, scanning everything, and then setting all of their prices 10 cents lower, according to a former employee and current Consumerist reader Altered Beast…

Wal-Mart had (has?) these small black electronic devices [Texlons], with a scanner and a keypad. As a group (3 or so of us, all department managers) we would head over to our local K-Mart. There, we would sneak around as a group in the equivalent of each department we managed. There we would scan the upc of various items we also carried, then punch in the price it was selling for. We were told that if we were caught, to just bolt out of there, and to NOT let anyone get a hold of this equipment! This was emphasized many times.

When we returned to Wal-Mart, we’d hand in our little machines, and a supervisor would set it in a docking station. The computer would then automatically generate new tags for our items at prices lower than K-Mart (usually around 10 cents lower). It didn’t seem to matter how much the product actually cost us, just as long as all our prices are lower than K-Marts.

Guess if you’re ever undecided about whether to buy a gallon of pickles from Walmart or Kmart, choose Walmart and save 10 cents/bushel and help feed America’s greatest oligopoly.

RELATED: Breaking the chain: The antitrust case against Wal-Mart [Harper’s]

(Photo: Maulleigh)