Walmart’s raping of the disadvantaged continues

For those of you who haven’t seen the TV ads yet (which curiously show a nebulously interracial couple), Walmart is getting into the check cashing business.

Don’t have check cashing establishments around your home? You probably live in an area that’s doing OK. They’re a staple of neighborhoods that aren’t doing so well, financially, along with stores that sell liquor, menthol cigarettes and cheap comestibles barely deserving the term “food.”

If you have a check that’s made out to you, say, your paycheck, they’ll cash it–for a fee. Seems reasonable enough. Walmart offers a “discount” service of “only” $3 for a check up to $1000; $6 for checks up to $5000.

But why would you need to cash it? Why couldn’t you just deposit it into your bank account? Banks cash checks for free–assuming you’ve got cash in your account to cover it. Assuming you’ve got a bank account.

It’s yet another instance of being charged a fee for not having enough money.

Most banks expect a minimum deposit–they charge fees if you fall below the minimum. If those fees are higher than the $3/check, or up to $12/month (or more) Walmart is charging, then saving money means, well, not saving your money.

Not that saving your money is Walmart’s aim–the ad shows you all the things you can buy, like mp3 players and computers, presumingly from them, with the “up to $200 per year” you could “save.”

And who are these people, the ones who cannot afford to stockpile even one paycheck in a bank? I was one of them. Not for financial reasons, though–I didn’t have any ID–I couldn’t prove, to the satisfaction of a bank, who I was. Curiously, the rules at the check cashing stores were different. Mediocre, even questionable identification was sufficient to turn a check into cash, but insufficient for saving it in your own name.

These are also Walmart’s own employees, most of whom are part-time, at their management’s preference.

Assuming a biweekly paycheck at double minimum wage, full-time, after taxes you’re still likely to come in under the $1,000 check to meet the $3 price. To restate that, after two weeks of full-time work, you’re taking home less than $1000, which is a crime in itself. After 26 paychecks, throw in your tax refund check and you’re paying $85. If you work for Walmart, that’s paying your money back to your employer for the privilege of them paying you.

That’s assuming you don’t get an employee discount.

Published in: on February 15, 2010 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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