Monday, April 02, 2007

New Word Department

The company has completed a wage management initiative that will result in the separation of approximately 3,400 store Associates. The separations, which are occurring today, focused on Associates who were paid well above the market-based salary range for their role. [Emphasis added.]


That’s how Circuit City, perennial also-ran to Best Buy in the electronics superstore wars, chose to describe ‘people getting fired’ when revealing yet another turnaround plan last week in a press release quoted above.

“Separations” certainly sounds much softer than “firings” or “layoffs.”

Even “downsizing,” which has for years been the euphemism of choice among corporate officers taking, on the one hand, multi-million dollar option packages for their own good while, on the other hand, “downsizing” the hourly work force and shifting production elsewhere, now appears too harsh.

Could be that The Office has made “downsizing” a much scarier word by revealing, in its hip, sardonic way, that “downsizing” means real human beings lose their jobs.

In any event, “separations” may become the new euphemism of choice. After all, as with marriages, “separations” is optimistic: it implies a temporary split, intimating a possible reconciliation at some future point.

Perhaps those Circuit City employees who have been “separated”—fully 8% of the entire work force—will indeed come back to Circuit City after a time. Like a contrite, philandering spouse, they may come to admit they had it too good for too long, and will accept their old jobs at newer, lower wages.

In which case, “separations” would be entirely accurate.

But I suspect it is not.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2007 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations. This commentary in no way constitutes a solicitation of business or investment advice. It is intended solely for the entertainment of the reader, and the author.


TheColonel said...

I happened to visit our local Circuit City several times last year. While waiting around, I usually chat to the salespeople, who I found to be a young, bright and articulate group. They all were satisfied with their wages, and were not working on commission. One fellow told me that he made more at Circuit City than he did at his recent construction job.

Your comment today made me think of old Henry Ford. Mr. Ford raised the wages of his workers so that they could now afford the Ford products. How are these young "separatees" (I guess I made that word up just now) going to afford Citcuit City's products ?

Idaho_Spud said...

What I'd like to see:

"The company has completed a wage management initiative that will result in the separation of the board of directors and CEO. The separation, which is occurring today, focused on the board of directors and CEO, who were paid well above the market-based salary range for thier role"

Sounds like an effective cost-cutting measure for a second-rate electronics store. This company is second-rate because their prices are too high and their service sucks. Neither of which are under control of "associates".

A$$hats. One more reason to never again set foot inside Circuit City.

Kinney said...

I wonder if Circut City signed a pre-nup.

Bryan said...


How the young formerly unseparated employees can afford Circuit City product is by using the 'spiffs' provided directly by manufacturers to get around the no-commission fraud foisted on the customers. Unfortunately, you can't eat a 'spiff', but you can sell it on eBay.


That's a great re-write of the statement. Why do you think their prices are too high, when they sell below cost? How can you possibly provide good service on products that are assembled in Asia, and shipped here by the boatload? They are inherently disposable.


Bryan Matthews, Charlene Matthews, and Cheyenne Matthews thank you for this blog. It has provided many hours of entertainment, and is now on my daily reading list. We appreciate your insight and enjoy the fun!

Namazu said...

I wonder if the employees experience any separation anxiety.

pondering said...

Colonel, the short answer is Sam Walton will squeeze his supply chain even harder to drive (love that word-drive) out what little profit that may have slipped between the cracks of his suppliers and lower his prices more for the newly reinvigorated Circuit City employees to purchase their electronic devices.

stocktraduers said...

WTF. Please, I swear this society is full of a bunch of wussies. Say it the way it is. Spinning words is insulting and retarded. There ..that isn't so polictically correct is it.

bugly said...

Too bad Circuit City didn't understand that good motivated employees are the foundation of a retailer that can kill the competition. Home Depot didn't understand that either and I predict both will be crushed by competition with better customer service.