Manufactured Spending

How to Befriend Cashiers and Improve Your Manufactured Spending Game

The other day I got a question on Twitter that I’ve wanted to address for a while. John H@coasttal wanted to know how to essentially butter up his local Walmart associates so he could ms there easily:

I can say from experience that befriending Walmart cashiers can make your manufactured spending routine infinitely easier. Before my local Walmart reps got to know me, I spent a lot more time hopping from one store to the next in order to buy money orders. I always walked into the store with a bit of anxiety: Are they going to ask excessive questions? Will they assume I’m engaged in some kind of illegal activity? Will they ban me from the store? Befriending the cashiers helped alleviate those fears and increased my productivity substantially.

Not only could I easily buy $10,000 worth of money orders during every trip, but I didn’t even have to hide the fact that I was using Visa gift cards. The cashiers and managers are now fully aware and completely ok with this. Being friendly with the manager also led to him backing me up after a confrontation with an asset protection officer

This is the same manager who helped me double the amount of cards I could liquidate. How? He trained the cashiers on how to process multiple card swipes on bill pay transactions. Not to mention that he is also the one who made an exception for me to use gift cards in the first place. 

So how do you go about breaking down barriers and befriending your local Walmart cashiers? It’s really comes down to five things:

1. Be honest. There was a time when I took the Fight Club approach when it came to manufactured spending: “Don’t talk about it.” I soon realized that telling the cashiers I was buying thousands of dollars in money orders every week to pay bills sounded ridiculous. It made them uneasy and more suspicious. So I came right out and explained it to them and the reaction was, “That’s so cool! I wish I could do that.”

The same goes with my run-in with the asset protection associate. When I explained to him I was buying money orders to earn miles and points, he was actually familiar with this hobby and relieved he could cross me off the suspicious person list. He asked some questions and later told the cashiers it was ok for me to use Visa gift cards to pay for money orders as long as my name was on them. This hobby is weird but nothing we do is illegal, so be honest and your Walmart cashiers will be more at ease.

2. Be nice. You have no idea how many awful people Walmart cashiers deal with on a daily basis. I’m constantly told, “You’re my favorite customer. If they were all like you, it would make my job so much easier.” I try to be nice in general (except to jerks, for whom I save my full wrath). Being friendly, remembering people’s names, and taking the time to get to know them and ask about their day goes a long way. It will take time, but eventually this combination of a friendly rapport and being honest about your ms activities will make your trips to Walmart easier.

3. Be considerate. If you’re buying $10,000 worth of money orders and there’s a huge line behind you, split your transactions and let others go ahead of you. What I often do is buy $2,000 – $4,000 worth of money orders, depending on how long the line is, and then let someone go ahead of me to keep it moving. The customers spend less time in line and the cashiers appreciate it because their customers are less irritable. It goes a long way in building good will.

4. Fill out surveys. Customer surveys are extremely important to Walmart stores. I was told my local store needs at least two positive surveys a week. They sometimes have trouble even getting to that number. I also learned that my store rewards cashiers for positive survey feedback in the form of a $5 lunch credit. My local store employees know I always fill these surveys out. So they’re happy to ring me up, even if it does take a long time. If you’re just getting to know your local cashiers, you should fill out a survey, mention them by name, and the next time you see that cashier, let them know about it.

5. Bring them treats. My local Walmart has been good to me. Everyone from the store manager to regular cashiers are awesome to deal with. I know many of these people personally now. I genuinely like them and as a result, I drop off Krispy Kreme donuts either during holidays or after I’ve taken a trip made possible because of their help.

Why Krispy Kreme donuts? Because everyone likes them, they’re easy to transport, and they’re just a little bit more special than regular donuts. Anyway, it really depends on what kind of relationship you have with your Walmart team. I get along great with everyone and really consider some of them friends. So when the occasion calls for it, I’m happy to show them my appreciation. Nothing does that better than five boxes full of sugar-covered calorie bombs.

Really, befriending cashiers is like befriending anyone else. These people deal with a lot of awful customers on a daily basis (have you read People of Walmart?) and dealing with pleasant people is sometimes a rarity. Be that pleasant person and you’ll not only make their day, but they’ll repay you by making your manufactured spending routine way less difficult.

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  1. Arianna, Thank you for writing this us. I may print it take it with me when the new WM opens. Alot of this is just common sense, but then again, common sense is not too common these days.

  2. Thanks Arianna, I have applied the same strategies and there is probably only one employee at my local WM who has a bunch of attitude. The employees are always asking me where my wife and I are going next and are generally friendly. It allows me to do about 30-50k in weekly MS. Key takeaway is don’t be a jerk! WM employees deal with a bunch of crap and they appreciate it when they are dealing with respectful kind human beings.

    • Can I ask what card you are using to purchase M O’s?

    • Very true – they deal with enough jerks and to be honest, what we do is pretty weird and suspicious especially if we don’t explain it to them. You can’t win ’em all over, though the only surly employee at my WM is starting to come around. We had an incident where she yelled at me in frustration about why I was buying so many money orders and called the manager. Thankfully, I knew the manager and he strolled in, saw it was me, and said “Oh! This is Ariana. She’s cool.” The other cashiers told her I fill out surveys for them, so now she’s being a lot nicer.

  3. Beach Miles

    “Five dozen calorie bombs.” Is that like 5 dozen donuts?

  4. Hi Ariana! I am trying to open a new account mainly for MO deposits and some organic spend. Confused between TD and WF. Any thoughts?

  5. I have the same relationship now with all our Money Center employees.We chat socially now. But I have to ask,,You one day asked to speak with the mngr after your relationships were healthy and asked if you could up the $2k-$10K? Are they separate transactions, since I understand that you can only do 5 swipes per transaction? You have to fill in paper work, photo copy drivers license,etc every time?

    • Yes, they’re usually five transactions for $2k each. I do have to fill out paperwork. The key here is that they know I’m using Visa gc’s and they’re ok with it because they know they were obtained lawfully.

  6. Deborah Studwell

    Thanks, i am very new to this hobby, but very interested. So, newbie question, do you then put the MO into a bank account? Also, for all of us newbies, the acronyms are tough to figure sometimes, like in the comment above, what is TD and WF?

  7. Guessing when you get them doughnuts you just bring a bunch for many of them? Do you casually hand in the box when you go for a MO route or do you go in separately just to give them the treats?

    It’s definitely a nice gesture, I guess for the rest of us a bit of rapport building needs to proceed it though, otherwise it might come across as weird or attempted bribery of sorts, more so if that gets them in trouble with a manager.

    • I bring them along during an ms run. It’s definitely awkward if you don’t know them well enough, but like I said I’m friends with a lot of the staff and it was well over a year into me knowing them that I started doing this. It’s not a regular thing – just something I do on holidays or right before/after a trip as a sort of thank-you-for-helping-me-make-this-happen. You’ll know when you’re comfortable enough to do this without it feeling like a bribe.

  8. Danielle McBride

    How do your gift cards have your name on them?

  9. Are you still buying GC after Yazing lowered their cashback from 1.25% to 1%? I thought you were pausing for a while.

  10. Foolishrunner

    Just read your column today for the first time and have signed up on the email list. Great info on WM, but my experience with my local store is that I have been turned down on 2 different trips trying to buy money orders with gift cards as they said that you cannot pay with gift cards and they limited money orders to $1,000 each max. Am I getting wrong information from the clerks?


    • It varies by store. Some of them allow it and others don’t. The $1,000 limit is per money order. I regularly buy around $10,000 worth (i.e. ten money orders for $1,000 each), in $2,000 increments since you can only swipe four cards per transaction. if I were you I’d take a break for a couple of months. Walmart has high employee turnover, so maybe a more cooperative cashier will come around next time.

  11. Ariana,

    First off, thank you for sharing this great post. I’ve been in this game for a few months now, but I’m still doing the big run around to multiple WM since I don’t want to raise suspicion and live by the Fight Club motto. 🙂

    My question to you is, how did you initially “break the ice” and tell them what you are doing? I just find it extremely hard to just tell them, “by the way, I’m buying these MO’s with GC”. Any info on how you went about bringing up that topic would be great.

    Once again, thank you so much for your contributions to the community.

    • In my case, it happened organically. I started off buying just $2k and asking them, “Can I split this across four debit cards?” Then just work on befriending the cashiers and increasing your purchase amount until they’re comfortable with a $10k purchase. I can’t remember how, but payment method came up at one point and I just said honestly, “I’m paying with these cards because they help me earn miles, which I then use to travel.” People are always excited by the prospect of travel. The cashier was asking me all these questions and at the end, she wanted to know how she could get in on it.

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