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One of my alter egos is that of a professional photographer, one who’s shot more than his share of weddings and engagement sessions. Since these are big events in their lives, couples frequently want to include items that are important to them during photo shoots. I’ve shot plenty of sessions that included family dogs. Some want to pose while wearing their alma mater’s football jerseys. And I once shot an entire wedding party who posed with shotguns, rifles and pistols. Why not? In a similar vein, Stephanie Wehner’s beau, Mitch Strobl, wanted to include a pose in their engagement session with his beloved Ruger Red Label 12-gauge. That wasn’t a problem, until they ordered prints through a Dallas area Walmart store. . .

When Wehner arrived at the Walmart at Central Expressway and Midpark Road to pick up the prints, she was told the photo with the firearm would not be released.

“She was very nice, but very matter-of-fact, like she was not going to budge or give me my photo,” Wehner said.

She even recieved a slip from the clerk that read: “MINUS ONE 5 X 7. NO WEAPONS.”

Yes, this was a Walmart store. One of the more firearms-friedly national retailers out there. How did they justify their anti-gun stance?

The clerk at the Walmart told Wehner it was the store’s “policy.” Wehner was told she can’t print pictures of guns.

But it’s the explanation that caught the couple off-guard. Wehner said the clerk told her the photo couldn’t be released because the weapon would promote a “gang culture.”

OK then. That’s obviously a different kettle of fish. Nothing says Crips, Bloods and Nortenos quite like an image of a broken-open Red Lable insoucianty slung over a dude’s shoulder.

Walmart’s photo studios are run by outside contractors, but that doesn’t mean situations like this don’t reflect badly on the Bentonville mothership. Apparently, this was all just a big misunderstanding. A training issue, if you will.

A Walmart representative later said the chain has no policy against printing out pictures with firearms.

“We had a new associate who was misinformed. Her actions are not consistent with our policy,” the representative said. Walmart officials said the policies have been reiterated to employees at the store.

Good to know. And maybe there are some lessons to be learned here by all parties involved. As for the store, throwing poorly trained people on the floor and treating customers badly – especially an employee of one of Dallas’ largest media outlets – can be bad for business. Not to mention embarrassing. As for Wehner and Strobl, next time, how about posing with a Beretta or Perazzi? You know, something not so easily mistaken for a gang piece?

 

67 Responses to Walmart Refuses to Print Engagement Photo That Includes a Shotgun

  1. Poorly train people at Wally world….naw…8 bucks and hour is a stellar wage attracting the brightest of this generation.

  2. “We had a new associate who was misinformed. Her actions are not consistent with our policy,” the representative said. Walmart officials said the policies have been reiterated to employees at the store.”

    Right. I put that excuse right up there with “I was quoted out of context.”

    How about – “We think guns are icky, and we thought we could get away with this policy. Please don’t sue us.”

      • The policy is clearly intended to discourage gang-members who take photos with there gats from doing business there. Its also clear that the policy is either deficient, the training is deficient, or both.

        • I can all but guarantee that this wasn’t actual written policy anywhere that said accociate could produce.

      • I accept it too.

        My first thought when reading the story was that some Walmart executive probably almost had a stroke when he heard about it. I very much doubt the clerk in question is still employed. The people running Walmart are not stupid and the last thing they want to do is incur the wrath of gun owners.

        • Sam Walton was an avid hunter and WANTED firearms in his store to help attract hunters. What a pity that someone in a contract role can “quote” their own policy for Walmart.

    • “Walmart’s photo studios are run by outside contractors, but that doesn’t mean situations like this don’t reflect badly on the Bentonville mothership.”

      I took a part-time job years back at a Wal-Mart, and their photo labs are not contracted out. It was back when they had the wet labs, but I still know managers at the store I was at, and to this day they are just Wal-Mart associates (but with dry labs that are basically big inkjet printers). As for the policy, they do not allow nudity, but they even have a statement in their policy that they are not the “police of the world.” So, even if images of drug paraphernalia are seen, the photos are to still be printed.

      Frankly, given that this is the largest retailer to ever exist, it should have just been handled at the store level. I don’t really find this newsworthy that out of the several million employees (Wal-Mart hires 600,000+ new ones annually and maintains an industry average retail turnover rate [yes, I do still own WMT stock]), one didn’t follow policy and procedure. I’ve printed many photos from skeet shoots and such at my local Wal-Mart and have never had an issue.

      On the flip side, glad to see RF is starting to apply the same standards to other organizations other than just police departments that have the “bad apple.” The difference, law enforcement has <1% (it just makes the national news every time something happens). Wal-Mart has to eliminate 20%+ of its retail employees over a 12-month rolling period due to dishonesty. Glad to see this such a HUGE story . . . /sarc

      • The difference is the bad apple in police departments kills people, and the other difference is that generally said bad apple gets weeks of paid vacation, I mean administrative leave, and won’t ever be punished appropriately.

        For this to be even remotely comparable, WalMart would have to refuse to fire dishonest employees. Which, since your reference “turnover”, clearly isn’t the case.

        Try again.

  3. The proper response to someone refusing to give you something that you have paid for is, “show me the policy”. If it is a store policy, it is written down. Period. If they still refuse, you politely inform them that you will be reversing the charges on your credit card. They charged your card and did not provide the promised services, therefore they don’t get paid.

    • Is there any evidence that the customer was actually charged for that picture. I remember getting film developed at Wal Mart and not being charged for shots that did not develop correctly.

    • That’s how you get anti gunners on the street using guns to try to turn their lives around, always just THIS close to doing it too.

    • Nonsense. Ask for help locating something at a Walmart. Apparently policy must be to take customer to the item rather than pointing in a general direction across the store.

      Try the same at HomeDepot or Lowes. If they even know what item is or what dept it is located in you’re doing really well.

      • The Lowe’s near me always has very helpful employees, even to the point of helping gather a workable mish-mash of fittings to do some unconventional uses. The departments are manned with people who have experience in the field.

      • HD & Lowes employees are generally mediocre. The local Ace employees know where everything is. Damn near worth the higher prices just to save time.

    • There was a time back when the walmart superstores had “walmart skaters” who would skate or rollerblade to go get stuff for cusomers and I thought walmart was pretty awesome. of course I was in Junior high school at that time, but still.

  4. You want cheap stuff you go to Walmart. You want competent help you go pay more somewhere else. I figure these people are less dangerous working at Walmart than most other jobs they could be ‘qualified’ for.

  5. So what’s the actual language of the policy?
    The whole “gang culture” thing could be racist as all get out and hence a fun read.
    I also wonder what gang members and wannabes are printing out photos at Walmart? When they’re plastering their pics all over Facebook, Instagram and whatever else why revert to the paleolithic practice of printing your photos at a photo lab? Printed photos are so 1980. Printed photo blankets on the other hand are righteously awesome. I love cuddling in my Tooki Williams photo blanket.

    • That’s what I was gonna ask, what gang members are going to walmart to print photos of their activities?

      • The same guys who post those very photos on Facebook…

        The local sheriff down here loves the info Facebook idiots provides his crime investigators.

    • Yes, many clubs and restaurants have lengthy, circumspect dress policies to fence out gangs and “thugs”, written so as not to appear racist. I saw one that prohibited “plain white or black T-shirts,” among other things. Didn’t realize I was so gangsta.

  6. Meh…don’t read too much into it.. prob some ” associate ” feeling like they have to make a difference.

    • “Meh…don’t read too much into it.. prob some ” associate ” feeling like they have to make a difference”
      .
      Nah! Just missed the “1st day of work” store tour that included Wal-Mart’s fine, well stocked gun department!.
      .
      Was probably sick that day.
      .
      .

  7. At that point, I’d just walk over to the sporting goods section, buy an 870 and make a point of walking past the photography section on my way out

    • Our local Evil Empire® has a policy that when a gun is sold the department manager walks it outside and then hands it to the customer. They do that at Dunham’s Sports also.

    • I certainly hope they fired her. I cannot believe that is a “training” mistake. This sounds more like someone making up the rules on the fly, probably based on their own leftist ideology, but I will reserve judgment on that. Before making what any reasonable person would know is a controversial decision in the name of the company they are employed, it is an employees duty at that level to refer the decision to a manager.

      • They didn’t throw that clerk on the floor without training her. The manager threw her under the bus. If there wasn’t a store policy, then she wouldn’t have said anything; she wouldn’t have made it up. Where would she get that idea? No, I bet that this was the manager’s unwritten policy and he preferred her to be fired than his sorry pass.

  8. Man, I was about to say – what is this, DPRK now or something? Can’t print anything that’s not approved by Dear Leader? Sheeesh…

  9. I understand getting a lot of photos printed at Walmart, but engagement photos? There are places that for just a bit more will use much nicer paper and better processes.

    • It’s all about volume. You’re going to send out a few hundred of these things with a graduation announcement. The savings ads up.

      I have had hundreds of prints made at a plethora of “photo labs,” from Wal*Mart to drug stores to high-end online providers. The difference isn’t in the paper or the equipment. The difference is in the skill level of the people operating said equipment.

      Now… you say Wal*Mart managed to hire someone (at minimum wage) who couldn’t comprehend company policy well enough to execute it properly? I’m shocked! Shocked, I tell ya!

  10. “we selll shotguns and shotguns shells, but we take take a hard line against selling shotgun photos.” Derp.

  11. Any time something like that happens, and they claim policy, ask for a copy of said policy with the relevant passage highlighted.

    19 times out of 20 they’ll be dumbstruck.

  12. Hrmm…..

    It’s a stupid policy if it really is a policy.

    But…… Its Walmart and they can have whatever policy they want no matter how stupid.

    Our job as customers is to let Walmart know how we feel about their policies. If their policy is indeed stupid then a nice note or phone call to the manager expressing your displeasure with the policy is in order.

    Its a private business, we approve their policies with our shopping dollars.

    We disapprove of their policies by giving our shopping dollars to someone else.

    • Yep. If it is indeed “store” policy (sounds like it isn’t but let’s say it was), then I suggest the couple take their business elsewhere. Private property rights and all. Plus why you would willingly give money to a business that doesn’t support your rights is beyond me. I hold the same standard to gay couples that try to use the power of government to force a photographer who doesn’t want to provide services to them.

  13. I don’t believe that the clerk was “misinformed.” That’s a crock. Either she is a pearl-clutching hoplophobic wingnut who made up a bullsh!t excuse, or the concessionaire is.

    But I don’t want her or the concessionaire fired. I want lots of gun owners to send their gun-oriented photos to her for printing so she, or her boss, can choke on them.

  14. Most of the time, when you have a company that won’t do X because of gunzah, it’s most often not the COMPANY that’s sticking, it’s the person you’re dealing with, BLAMING the company rather than taking a personal stand. I found this to be the case when dealing with computer companies in particular — there was a famous case of Dell supposedly refusing to sell computers to a company with the word “Combat” in their name, the salesperson claiming that Dell had a no-business with gun dealers policy. That was the famous Weigand Combat Handguns case. I spoke to a high-level representative of Dell Computers when it happened (Michael Dell), and he explained they had no anti-gun policy, that a salesperson misinterpreted rules that would prevent sales to persons using their products for illegal purposes. I took that as meaning “the salesperson is very anti-gun, and blamed their unwillingness to serve a gun dealer on the company instead of their own prejudices”.

    Dell couldn’t come out and SAY that, of course, since that would look even worse for his company — that he allowed his salespeople to use their own prejudices to quash sales would have REALLY looked bad. So he chalked it up to a typical Strother Martin-esque “Failure to Communicate” and left it at that. I suspect THIS case is something similar.

    The person making the prints in the Walmart photo department probably was an anti-gun weasel, maybe a Demanding Mommy, and refused to print that picture because eek, ebil gunzah. She BLAMED it on the company’s “no gang symbols” rule so she’d have an out, and so it wouldn’t simply be her own personal prejudice against guns. Walmart did the same thing Dell did, and said “oh, this was just a misunderstanding” so they wouldn’t look bad, either for having an anti-gun rule, or for having uncontrolled zealots running amok in their company.

  15. Sounds like a one-off blip and Walmart, eventually, took care of it.

    Now, if Walmart HQ had stood fast and upheld this supposed policy, that’s fine, too. It’s their store and you have other options. Same as CVS ceasing selling cigarettes or some bakeries not selling certain types of wedding cakes.

  16. ??

    Walmart sells shotguns.

    “…the photo couldn’t be released because the weapon would promote a “gang culture.”

    “Culture” control by walmart employees.

  17. Since I have a relative who works for the Evil Empire®, I can say without a doubt that it was “probably” an unofficial store policy. They tell the associates to do one thing then when you request to see a manager they will turn on the associate and give you whatever you want to make the “lowly” associate look bad. I have heard more stories of associates being thrown under the bus that you can imagine. The whole corporation runs on the premise of “plausible deniability” from the top down. Which also explains the Evil Empire® nickname. You got to call it like you see it.

  18. Wal Mart is slowly adopting the policies of the people that literally hates them….the far left. Meantime, their loyal customer base is being abused because of some misdirected “political correctness.”
    I am a loyal Wal Mart customer, and as some have speculated, I hope it was just an overzealous store clerk that overstepped their authority.

  19. “weapon would promote a “gang culture.”

    I guess she has not gone to the sport section of the store. Not all Walmarts sell rifles and shotguns (not sure why), but all sell ammo. Complete idiot. I would have demanded to talk the manager of the store.

  20. Gun control groups say they can be as successful as gay rights in the states. Turn about is fair play. The courts are willing to force bakery owners to provide services to gay couples or face discrimination charges. Companies that discriminate against gun owners, that infringe on their Constitutional rights, should be held accountable.

  21. Largest retailer of firearms in the nation will not print a picture of a gun.

    This is what hiring minimum wage employees buys you.

  22. So… now we know that liberals are upset by:

    guns (no brainer)
    pop-tarts chewed into the shape of a gun
    engagement photos with guns
    short stories that involve dinosaurs and guns

    There should be a formal list somewhere that we can add to as it gets more and more hilarious.

  23. Just checked with Wal-Mart and they have no policy about processing or printing photos that have firearms in them. They do have policy against processing or printing photos of anything that could be construed as illegal, such as pedophilia. Its a bit grey, and interpretation falls to managers. Also, photo processing/printing in Wal-Mart is operated by Wal-Mart associates, portrait studios in their stores are outside contractors. Big difference there. Those contractors operate under their own rules, not Wal-Mart’s.

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