Disclaimer: The comments stated in this post are 100% mine, and are my opinions and comments only. They are my personal feelings towards the Dollar General company.
As some of you may know, I’ve been self-employed for many years. I manufacture products and run a retail business out of my home. Previously, I had worked for retail stores in management positions. In 2009 I started this blog, but didn’t really do anything with it until 2011. And then, it grew like wildfire! Even with everything I had going on, I missed working in retail management. Earlier this year, I started applying for management positions. One of those companies I applied for was Dollar General. I did read the reviews online on several sites about this company, and they were some very scary reviews. But I told myself it couldn’t be that bad. In April I was hired as a store manager for Dollar General. Little did I know, this was about to be a HUGE mistake.
I was initially told I would train for 3 months, then get my own store. I was also told I would train at the local store right down the road from me, but I ended up starting in a store half an hour away. Which was fine with me, since it was temporary. I trained for 2 DAYS with the most scatterbrained manager ever, and was then told I’m the new manager. The only training I had was on the registers. Lucky for me, I learn very quickly and was more than willing to take on the challenge.
In the two months following, I made big changes in the store. I got rid of staff that didn’t want to work, hired new staff, and cleaned up the store drastically. Customers kept asking if we had a remodel, and my employees just told them no, they just had a new manager. I received many compliments from customers, and even the occasional compliment from my District Manager.
I was told that after I trained in this store, that I was getting a brand new store that was opening in August, which was much closer to home. I was spending $150 a week in gas driving to this store, and it really cut into my pay. I was on salary, but when you consider the hours (60-70) and the $150 for gas, I was working for around $5 an hour. But I kept my eye on the future, knowing I was going to get a store closer to home.
In July, my District Manager told me I wasn’t getting the store I was promised. He offered me another store in a town 10 minutes from home. But, this town is a BAD area. I was on jury for a car theft that happened in the parking lot of the Dollar General in that town 8 years ago. I discussed this with my DM, and he insisted that this town was safe, and nothing bad ever happens there. So, I decided to check it out for myself. I very rarely visit this town, and I had never been to the Dollar General there either. But I went there with my boyfriend on a Saturday afternoon to check it out. And ok, it didn’t look like a bad area. The store itself seemed ok. I talked to the assistant manager who showed me around, and he said nothing bad ever happens there. He said there was a lot of theft, but never any problems with customers otherwise.
After discussing this with the store associate and talking more with my DM, who assured me it was a safe store, I ultimately decided I would transfer to this store. I would save myself a lot in gas, and I would save myself 40 minutes in drive time every day. I was also transferring to a store that does about three times the volume of the other store I was in. I was told by my DM that I would also get an increase in pay for taking this other store.
However, I never got an increase in pay. I contacted HR and my RM, and they both told me there would be no increase in pay. They said my “raise” would be the gas money I would be saving. Wow.
Ok, so moving on. I made the decision to transfer and I was standing by that, and I would still do the best job I could do, because that’s the kind of person I am. Little did I know, the lion’s den I was walking into. The staff here was VERY loyal to the previous manager. He put in maybe 20 hours per week (even though we are required to work a minimum of 48 hours), and he didn’t work ANY nights (we are also required to work 2 nights per week). I was told the manager would come in at 11am, buy everyone lunch, and then leave for the day. This was his way of having them keep quiet about his hours. He made sure everyone was trained to be a key holder (he admitted this to me) so if there was a call in, he would not have to come in to cover.
I’m easy to get along with, in fact, when I told my employees at my previous store, they begged me not to leave. If the store was closer to home I would have stayed, but it was not worth it for me to travel so far for such a little paycheck. I even offered a few of them to come over to my new store with me, but it was too far of a drive for them as well.
The staff in this store hated me from the moment they first saw me. They kept saying how they wanted their old manager back. They were like a bunch of kids who wanted their parents gone for the weekend so they could party. I would write up the schedule, only to find out they didn’t work when I scheduled them. I asked one employee on a Monday morning why he didn’t work the previous day. His response was “because I didn’t like the crew working that day”. This is the same person who got mad at the previous manager and threw a large Dunkin Donuts coffee all over the previous manager’s car and another employee’s car because he couldn’t get more hours. He was known for having temper tantrums, punching the doors and windows, and cussing at managers. Why was he still there 7 years later? Because the previous manager was never there, and didn’t like firing people. So, he literally, let everyone do whatever they wanted.
At one point, I had 19 days in a row of an employee calling in for one reason or another. I was severely short staffed, and because of employee theft, severe behavioral issues, and constant absenteeism, I had to let 4 employees go. I was running the store on a skeleton crew, and no one was applying for these jobs. Who wants to work in this town for minimum wage? Not a lot of people.
And all of my fears about working in this store in this town? They were real. All the things I feared was real. As soon as it got dark out in this town, it turns into an inner city area. There are shootings. There are drug deals going on in the parking lot. We were surrounded by 3 heroine houses. There is an alley directly behind the building where drug deals go on. One of my sales associates sent me this (sarcastic) text when he found a used syringe ON THE SHELF behind a box of oatmeal:
Yes, the problems here were very real. We were open until 10pm every night, while all of the other stores in the area (including a major grocery store right across the street) all closed at 8pm every night. I had pleaded with my District Manager, my Regional Manager, and HR to change the hours of this store for the safety of the employees. But, my requests fell on deaf ears.
Nothing prepared me for the reality of how dangerous this town really was until the night of September 15th. I was closing at the store that evening, and I had just hired a new assistant manager, and it was his second day on the job. It was 9:24pm, and I was at the front register by myself, adding up the nightly cigarette counts. My assistant manager was in the office, which was in the back of the building, and upstairs. I heard the doorbell go off, which always went off when someone walked in, and I looked up to say hello to the customer. Little did I know, this was not a customer. It was a man, with his head full covered in a blue cloth, with only cut-outs for his eyes. He had a knife in his left hand, and he demanded the money out of the register. I was being robbed at knife point.
I was in complete shock at first, not believing that this was actually happening to me. He kept telling me to hurry and grab the money out of the one register. The drawer itself was already open because it was was completely empty. I showed him this and he demanded I open the other register. After fumbling around to grab my keys and trying to remember how to open the register (I was so terrified, I completely forgot what I was doing), I opened the other register, and when it popped open, I put my hands up so he could take the money. He had thick heavy gloves on, and he demanded I take the money out and hand it to him, and he kept waving the knife and telling me to hurry up. I did what I was told, I took the money out of the drawer, handed it to him, and he was out the door. I was unharmed, physically. But emotionally was another issue. As soon as he was out the door I grabbed the store phone and screamed for my assistant to come down. I tried calling 911 but I was so frantic and shaken, my hands could not dial. When my assistant came down, I told him we were robbed and he had to dial 911 for me. I then ran to the doors to lock the doors, which I was also having issues with, because I forgot to lock the clips on the right door. I’m telling you – when you are shaken like this, you forget the most basic things that you do every day.
While my assistant called 911, I tried reaching my DM with my cell phone. I tried calling him a few times, left him voice messages and text messages with no response. The police showed up quickly, and they searched for the suspect, who fled on foot, while a few officers stayed in the store to view the CCTV tapes and to talk to me. The one police officer made the comment that it was “crazy” for this store to be open until 10pm, and another officer said I should get hazard pay for working here. He said this was a VERY dangerous area and asked me if corporate was aware of this? I said yes, I’ve been asking them to do something about this, with no response. At around 11pm, and still dealing with the cops and still no word from my DM, I called his boss, my RD (Regional Director). She answered and I told her I was robbed at knife point and what happened. She acted like it was no big deal. She asked me what time I go in in the mornings, I told her 6am. She told me instead of coming in at 6am, to come in at 8am. Wow.
After I left the store, I had to go to the police station (my boyfriend went with me, he flew down to the store when I called him about the robbery) and I had to write a statement at the police station. I then had to go back to the store with the investigators because they needed to burn more copies of the CCTV tapes. I ended up not getting home until almost 1:00 am.
The next morning, my RD called me to see how I was doing. I told her I was very shaken, and terrified. I told her one of my key holders was now afraid to work evenings. Her words were, “well you can tell her it’s not an option for her, just like it’s not an option for you”. I was floored. I just went through the most traumatic thing I’ve ever been through and she tells me “this is just a part of doing business, and it will be back to business as usual”. Any respect I had for her at this point went right out the window. She just seemed so cold hearted. I told her what the police said about it being too dangerous to be open so late, and she just commented once again, that she would have to look into it.
Even though I still had to work my 2 nights a week, I did not do so. I was physically unable to force myself to work evenings in this store. A couple days after the robbery, a man walked in with a hoodie over his head and my stomach went into my throat. A feeling just came right over me that I can’t really explain. I know this customer was just walking into the store, not doing anything wrong, but at first glance all I saw was a man with a hood over his head and I became terrified all over again. And then a couple days after that, I was at the register (and our backs are towards the doors) I heard a man with a raspy voice say something and he had the same sounding voice as the robber and again, I went into a panic, and started shaking. Between situations like this, and the customers asking me all the time to tell them again what happened, it was becoming too much.
I wrote a long email to my HR rep, telling her about the robbery, and pleading with her once again to do something about the hours in this store, for the safety of our employees. To this date, I have never received a response.
In the mean time, my DM had decided to step down, and announced we have a new DM. Our new DM had been with the company for 1 year, and I honestly had no opinion about him before I met him. I believe change can always be a good thing, so I was optimistic, even though I liked my previous DM. Plus, I was so new to the company, I didn’t really think much of it.
Well, our new DM ended up being just a young, 25+ kid who was trying to make his mark in the business.
Two weeks ago, I came down very sick. I worked all day, and ended up going to urgent care that night, just hoping for meds. I found out I had the flu, and was told by the Dr. that I could not return to work for a few days because I was “highly contagious”. He wrote me an excuse saying I could not work and I sent a copy via text message to my new DM. Mind you, I’ve never called in sick before, I show up and work even when I’m sick. He just said ok, and just let him know how many hours I’m over for the week when I do payroll on Saturday. I would be over in payroll hours because since I would not be there for 3 days, I had to use payroll hours to have someone cover for me.
On Saturday I did payroll and I was almost 20 hours over, and emailed him that info. Well 2 days later, we had an “emergency” conference call. Basically, it was a conference call where our new DM thumped his chest to show us who was boss. He told us to store-use a notebook to take conference call notes in, and he would be checking our notebooks to make sure we are taking notes. Mind you, I had a notebook I brought in from home 6 months ago and always kept notes anyways. But we are not children. Even in high school your teachers don’t read your own notes. Your notes are for YOU, not anyone else to read.
He also told us that he will be “micro-managing” our schedules. His words. If we show we are scheduled for 6am to 5pm, then he will be calling us at 6am to make sure we are at the store, and at 5pm to make sure we are at the store.
He said we cannot leave our stores on our T2 day (my T2 day is Sunday) until our truck’s freight is all up. But, NO ONE can work on freight after 4pm on ANY day. They are to be doing recovery and cleaning up only. If he walks into a store after 4pm and someone is doing freight, we were told the store manager will get written up. Keep in mind that I spoke to him the previous week and he promised to come to my store that day to help me get fully staffed, by looking at neighboring store’s applications. Of course, he never showed up.
I can’t tell you how many weeks I worked 80+ hours in this store. I would work 6am to 10:30pm, a 16.5 hour shift, because of my staffing issues. And lunches? What a joke. Store managers don’t get the choice to have lunches or even breaks. Because they give you so few payroll hours, you are there by yourself a lot, and if you do have a cashier, they are constantly calling you up for help for returns, voids, needing change, etc. My “lunch” would be a slim jim while working on planograms or endcaps, or putting up freight.
Having been robbed did not help us to get staffed, either. I was told not to mention to applicants that we were robbed, but I don’t believe in lying to people, or lying by omission. I would rather have new employees know in advance, than to spend the money on background checks and drug tests, only to have them quit after finding out we were recently robbed at knifepoint. And for the record, do date they have not yet caught the guy, and he’s robbed three other businesses in the area since.
And then, my new DM’s facebook page was brought to my attention by a few other area managers. Talk about unprofessional and disgusting. These are actual snippets from his FB page:
Would you want to work with a guy who feels this way towards women?
To make matters worse, in his conference call, he told us that if we went over hours for any reason, he was going to be taking those payroll hours away from us the following week. When I logged into my payroll that day, he had taken the 20 hours I was over the previous week when I was sick – with a dr’s excuse – from my following week’s payroll. This means I would have been alone for an additional 20 hours in my store the following week, and I probably would have had to work a 90 hour week that next week. For what? $3 an hour when you figure in all my hours?
My boyfriend, my parents, my family, they all wanted me out of this job and said they would fully support my decision if I quit. Well I finally snapped.
I placed my keys in the safe, and walked out. I texted my RD and told her I quit, and that my keys were in the safe. I did not bother to let my DM know.
I was done.
And I drove away.
And it felt awesome.
They have not yet hired a new manager, and I still continue to get text messages and phone calls asking me how to do things, and I have to admit, it tickles me to tell them it’s not my problem anymore. The staff in this store, along with the higher ups all treated me like crap and I’m done taking it from them.
I’m so relieved and happy to be rid of the worst company I’ve ever worked for in my life.
Now on to the things in my life that actually matter. Yes, I’m back.