7 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Walmart Employees
If you're in the store, you're being watched, but that's not all you need to know.
Millions of Americans love Walmart for its competitive prices and large selection. Whether you need a last-minute bag of dog food or plan to make a bigger-ticket purchase like a living room sectional or lawn mower, this big-box retailer has you covered. But even for diehard fans, there are some things you might not know about shopping at Walmart—and, finally, former employees are spilling the beans. Read on for seven major warnings from ex-Walmart employees.
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The security cameras can read your texts.
Walmart's security cameras aren't messing around. According to a former employee who goes by @obeygoddess on TikTok, they offer complete coverage of the store and are so high definition that you can zoom in to read a shopper's text messages.
"One of the first things they did [during training] was bring us to the loss prevention room and zoom in so far [on a camera image] that you could literally read the date on the newspaper," she says in a viral video. "They were trying to show us that if you steal from Walmart they will see."
The self-checkout machines are more supervised than you think.
Just because there's no cashier at the self-checkout machine doesn't mean no one is watching you. According to @obeygoddess, the retailer has special devices that show employees what each person is ringing up at self-checkout. If they suspect you're stealing, they can pause your transaction from afar. If that happens, it will appear as if your checkout machine is broken.
"At that point, you have no choice but to call for help," says the employee in another viral video. "When we come over, we pretend something is wrong with the machine." The employee will then unbag your items and ask you to go to a supervised checkout machine. And just like that, the shoplifting attempt is averted in the most secretive way possible.
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There are plainclothes security officers in the store.
If you're in a Walmart, the shoppers next to you may not be shoppers—they could be undercover security. Former employee Paris Mars, a social media influencer who goes by the handle Heyparis, notes in a YouTube video that she saw this during her tenure at the store.
"There is security dressed in plain clothes and they look like customers," she says. "They pretend that they're shopping—they might have a cart, they might have a basket—but they're watching you."
What's more, she says these workers may even be incentivized to catch shoplifters: "I was told that for every person that they catch in Walmart they get like a percentage, or raise, or commission for the person that they caught."
As detailed in The Sun, @obeygoddess had a similar experience. "At my store, we had two people that would be there [at] all times like every day seemed like… They would walk around the store from morning till night time until we closed," she explained in another TikTok video.
None of the employees are product experts.
If you have a question about a product at Walmart, you might be better off consulting Google than an employee. On Reddit, a former employee who goes by u/beepboopbebopbop said Walmart workers don't have specific expertise about the departments they're stationed in.
"No, I don't know which non-clumping litter would be best for your asthmatic rescue cat. Yes, I do work in the pet section. Today, that is. Yesterday, I was in hardware, and tomorrow, I might be in health and beauty, or I might be in paper and chemicals," they wrote. "Same goes for everyone else here."
In fact, a general lack of knowledge is basically baked into employee training. "We're trained to read the box and basically tell you what we see on the box," said Mars. The only exception is the workers in the cell phone department, who are employed by phone companies instead of by Walmart.
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You shouldn't ask employees to check the back for you.
At least not if you actually want them to, that is. Mars says most employees on the floor will simply go to the backroom, chat with their friends, and come back out to explain they couldn't find the item.
"The best way to actually get someone to check if something is in stock in the back for you is to not speak to a Walmart employee directly but look for one of the backroom boys," she says. She explains that these employees are the ones who carry the big crates, boxes, and pushcarts. "They are more likely to actually look in the back for you for the item you are looking for than an actual Walmart employee."
Take caution if you hear a "code brown" announcement.
If you hear "clean up in aisle six," by all means, ignore the intercom announcement. But if you're shopping at Walmart and hear "code brown," do not take it lightly.
In Aug. 2022, an article in Mashed uncovered a subreddit thread in which ex-employee and Redditor u/Expeditio revealed that this announcement means there's been an act of violence in the store. In a separate post on Quora, a then-current employee backed this claim up.
The employee on Quora also detailed what other color-coded announcements mean: Black is a weather condition, green is a hostage situation, blue is a bomb, red is fire, and orange is a chemical hazard.
If you do hear one of these alerts while shopping, listen closely for any instructions and be aware of your surroundings.
You may not want to let your kids near the toys.
If you have no intention of purchasing a new toy for your little one, you may not want to get them within earshot of this department.
Former Walmart employee Rachel Timsina posted a video on TikTok with the username rachelt369, in which she notes "toys are purposely left on to catch the attention of kids so they make their parents buy it." In the background, you can hear various toys making noises. Commenters note that this is a common marketing tactic among retailers.