When You Work For A Manufacturer, Do You Still Have To Go Through Retail Channels To Buy Its Product

Let’s say I worked at the Miracle Whip bottling plant in Ypsilanti (or wherever the hell it is). Let’s say further that my fridge is devoid of Miracle Whip, and that my wife has been nagging me for days to bring some home. Could I just email HR and have them deduct the cost of a 16-oz jar from this week’s pay and then take one home? Or do I have to go to Safeway and buy some like everyone else?

Or another example: Let’s say I worked at the Chevy factory, and I needed a new Chevy. Could I just talk to the right people (my banker, the sales department) and then meet a guy out back and grab my new Cruze when it’s done? Or would I still have to take delivery via a dealer?

On a business trip to a manufacturer of electrical measurement instruments I was able to buy one with their employee discount, which cut the price in half. As I was not an employee I had to pay cash, but employees could pay by payroll deduction.

Sometimes yes, sometimes no-there is no one answer to this question.

correct. When I worked for the automotive arms of a couple of Japanese electronics companies, they had “employee purchase” options where I could buy pretty much anything out of their retail catalogs directly at a significant discount.

now, I work for a car company, and while I do get a discount on our vehicles I’m still condemned to go through a dealer, thanks to the stupid fucking franchise laws.

There’s a clothing company called Columbia Sportswear not far from where I live, and they have an employee store on their premises. I only know this because a few times a year they extend an invitation for employees of the college I teach at to shop there. I’ve yet to take advantage of it, so I don’t know how good the discounts are.

Is having an employee store common with clothing companies? Nike is also headquartered nearby, and from Googling I see they have one. I’ve never gotten an invite to shop there, though.

I once worked for a company that made furniture. As an employee I could buy stuff at a massive discount without going through a retailer. There were limits to how often I did it but I definitely didn’t have to go to a store to get it.

You didn’t go to HR directly to buy it, you went to the sales folks. (Manufacturers have salespeople after all; otherwise who handles selling things to retailers?) But I guess HR probably got involved if there was a dispute since the discount was an employee benefit, so think of them more like “customer support” in that situation. I wasn’t there long enough to actually buy anything so I can’t speak to anything more specific.

I work for a major computer makers, and we have employee codes we can use in the regular online store.

When I worked for a personal-care products company, we had a company store in which one could buy seconds (bottles that didn’t look quite right), at a discount. We never were able to buy “retail ready” product.

While in my advertising career, our agency had a major manufacturer of vacuum cleaners as a client. That company had an employee-discount program, which we were allowed to participate in. They direct-shipped the vacuum cleaners to our homes, at a pretty good discount.

As others have noted, the answer is “it completely depends on the company.” As far as I can tell, there is no law preventing it (unless it’s a specific industry that has a law protecting franchisees, such as the automotive industry, as jz78817 notes). Also, it’s unlikely that you’d be allowed to just grab a bottle of Miracle Whip off the line. :slight_smile:

I worked security at a place that make electrical cords, and everyone was allowed to take a few home for free.

I also worked at a soda bottling plant, and seconds (usually soda put into the wrong cans, like root beer into cola cans) had a nominal price of like $1 per case.

Back in the day GE had a company store where you could buy small stuff - clock radios, small appliances, tools (they used to manufacture some Black and Decker products). Bigger stuff you would buy on your own, then submit the receipt and get a rebate. No discount on light bulbs, but I seem to remember Christmas lights in the company store.

I once worked for a semiconductor manufacturer who had a small stock of products that employees could take for free (in reasonable quantities, and not every product). There were several cases where employees developed products and started companies who then became good customers.

My cousin used to work 7-Up and he got 2-3 cases free each month and could buy more at cost, but he said a lot of times, it’s cheaper to buy on sale. I posted this on another thread. Since soda has a limited shelf life, production increases during the holidays and the wholesale price drops. Watch your local store ads and the best time to buy soda is just before a holiday.

I also knew someone who worked at Sony and was able to get a professional monitor and video switcher through him for a big discount. He said they were allowed to buy a TV or monitor only once every few years. The switcher didn’t fall under that restriction because it wasn’t a regular consumer item. He also said that his price for VCRs weren’t much less than retail because the markup was so small.

I think it often depends on how much trouble the manufacturer wants to go to to give this perk to their employees. Generally, they’re not well set up to sell tiny quantities to individuals. There’s also servicing the sale, like answering questions or handling returns and warranties. It might be cheaper to give a bit of product away than to create some little facility to handle all this stuff. If a factory is optimized to fill truck after truck with pallet loads, getting paid for one item isn’t worth the disruption.

If you’re plowing a shopping mall parking lot, and a little kid asks for a snowball, you may be kind enough to indulge them, but you wouldn’t look at it as a way to get rid of the snow.

Mr.Wrekker had a contract with company who made Club Aluminum cookware. I got 2 sets of the crap. He said every contactor that came in to estimate work time and cost got a set. One guy didn’t want his. Thats how I got 2…Yay!

Also on what do they manufacture. The electronics factory where my Dad used to work gave employee discounts for two items/year (they made consumer products); the electronics factory across the road didn’t provide discounts (they made parts such as printed circuits which wouldn’t have been terribly useful to their own employees).

My grandpa retired from nestle and he was able to get nestle products for a discounted price. If they didnt have it, they would order it - as they did with the special purina one dog chow he had to buy. The store isnt what it used to be, but it is still available to employees, just not retirees anymore.

The World’s Second Best-Selling Commercial Jet Airplane Company did not have an employee purchase program. :slight_smile:

IIRC, my friend from Sony said the didn’t have to pay upfront for the purchases. He’d be invoiced like any other customer.

Just remembered, the place I’m working at right now allows employees to buy pet supplies at the discounted price we receive. The employees are invoiced as part of the regular invoice run. Good for the employees, but a pain in the butt for accounting (i.e. me). It would be an even bigger pain to deduct the charges out of their paycheck, because of having to account for payroll deductions.

I worked for Sony for about 5 years, and the way it worked was we had employee logins for a special part of the retail website, and we just paid by credit card. I forget what the limit was, I don’t remember if it was number of purchases, or dollar amount.

Yes, my aunt and uncle both worked at GE and shopped at the store. They also sold non-GE stuff at a discount. Stouffer’s frozen French bread pizzas were a big hit when I was young. No idea what GE does now.