July 18, 2010

How King Soopers/Kroger lost my business over $10 and a shrug

I normally don't write posts venting about my daily issues. Unfortunately, at this point I am fed up with King Soopers/Kroger and this weekend they forced me to ask the question "Where has customer appreciation and service gone?"

I live in Southeast Denver and happen to be right across the street from King Soopers. While I generally do most of my shopping at Sunflower Market I do go to King Soopers on a regular basis. I have noticed in the last year that the staff there has gone increasingly down hill.

There used to be a great guy who stocked the dairy area, he always said hello and asked if he could help me find anything but when he left the staff's deficiencies became glaringly obvious.  The staff is more concerned with chatting with each other about their weekend plans or what they did last night than helping customers. When you ask for help you generally get an eye roll. I accepted their shortcomings based on the convenience for shopping (which is embarrassing to admit), however I am through with them thanks to their Head Cashier who was on duty this weekend. I will omit her full name, only to call her C.

I had shopped in King Soopers around 9:30 Friday night. The self-checkout cashier wasn't at his station and after waiting for him to get back and give me change I didn't think there would be a problem. He said the amount accurately and handed me cash and a receipt. It wasn't until the following morning I noticed he shorted me $10. Not a huge amount but I figured it was worth checking in to see if they could help me. I thought at the very least they would take my name and number and if the drawer had been short they would give me my money or at least a store credit.

So I went to the Customer Service counter and the clerk called for "C" the Head Cashier on duty. I explained the situation and she told me I should have come back the night before because she couldn't help me now. I said "I shop here a few times a week and that's all you can say" and she advised yes, I should have come back the night before. I wouldn't care if she lied to me and said she would check the drawer or forward it on to a real manager. Just something to feel like I was valued as a customer.

At that point I asked her "You don't care if you lose all my business over ten dollars?" and she SHRUGGED. She shrugged, said no and walked off.

While I don't feel as heated as I did about the situation yesterday, I am going to stick to my guns and boycott my local King Soopers, and perhaps all the locations, that is to be determined. When I was growing up it seemed that people took pride in their work, but I just don't see that these days in a lot of retail locations. It seems more prominent in industries like grocery stores where they know they're the closest and most convenient. I don't expected to be waited on hand and foot. However I do expect to be given the benefit of the doubt as a seven year customer at a location and to be treated kindly, not like I am in "C's" way.

So there is the end of my rant. What have I taken away from this? That respect works both ways, even in retail relationships and sometimes you have to walk away.


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shelly said...

I've heard a lot of complaints about King Soopers, as well as United Airlines in the past few years from customers as well as employees. I believe that this type of behavior at Kings and United begins with the way the management treats their employees. When the employees are miserable, it's difficult for them to treat the customers well. It's unfortunate all the way around.

Jordan said...

So wait, you're complaining about a business that's following standard procedures over money? It's your own fault for not having checked over your receipt and the cash given back to you.

Any business is going to tell you this and to play the victim here is absolutely ridiculous. I'd shrug over you too if I were "C."

Next time you should learn to check your items/receipt before you leave the store.

Melissa said...

Unfortunately for the consumer, customer service is bottom of the list of priorities with most companies. (And yet they keep wondering why their sales are continuously on a down slide...)

I had a similar experience with Barnes & Noble. I prefer Border's, but would occasionally shop at B&N if I was nearby. I happened to pick up a book out of the sales rack that I thought was the last one I needed in a series. Turns out it wasn't the one I still needed.

Unfortunately the weekend I was going to take it back was when Denver got hit with a blizzard so I was forced to wait another week. I took it back and apparently I was 1 day outside of the return period so they didn't want to let me return it.

The manager made a huge deal out of how she was going to make an exception and that this was not normal and acting as if I should be grateful etc.

The cost of the book $7. Loss of 100% of my business as well as my family's... at least several hundred dollars every year.

Tali said...

Thank you Jordan. I hadn't really thought of myself as playing the victim rather inquiring where the standards and procedures had gone. It's good to read your insight though.

I can't wait to read your blog and learn more about you and your life and ways.

Tali said...

Thanks Melissa, I really appreciate your story and it sounds very parallel to mine.

Tali said...

So true, Shelly. I imagine there is a lot of top down lack of respect.

KLM said...

I live in So Cal, where Kroger bought Ralph's during their massive buying spree of local supermarket chains. I have had similarly abysmal customer service from the Ralph's store closest to my house.

I agree with your views on the decline in customer service in the last few years. I was afraid I was the only one, so thanks for your post. I believe our best option for demonstrating our displeasure is to vote with our hard-earned dollars. I do my best to patronize companies that honor their customers and avoid those that don't. Boycott on, sister!

Tali said...

Thank you for taking the time to comment. While I wish the situation were different there is comfort knowing I am not alone. I agree we have to put our money with the people who's ideals and ideas match ours.

Paul-Baptiste said...

You think that "following standard procedures over money" is the beginning and end of doing good business? That is an interesting – and completely incorrect – point of view. Consumers aren't buying products or services. A can of soup is a can of soup, regardless of where you buy it. True value comes from good feelings and solutions to problems. From a customer service standpoint, a store should always look for ways to help a customer, even if there is no immediate profit in it. And if there is no solution – if indeed "following standard procedures over money" is truly the only answer to a problem – then an apology is in order, not a dismissive shrug. Why? Because it is easy and people like it. The customer may not always be right, but the customer must always win. Studies show that a satisfied customer will tell 2-3 people about his or her positive experience with a company. A dissatisfied consumer will share their negative experience with 8-10 people and some will push that number even higher (Hello, Internet!). The future of any company rests in keeping customers happy.

PaigeGriffin21 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sarah said...

It's about incentive.

The person you're dealing with doesn't care if you return or not, because she's making $8.50 an hour no matter what you do. Threatening a chain employee with loss of your business is like threatening them with throwing away all the food you bought from them. Why should they care? How could that possibly motivate?

To put it bluntly, they're not paid enough to care.

The person who DOES care is the person whose compensation is tied to revenue, and who has worked to get to a position that indicates some personal investment in the company. That person is driven to keep your business, and to keep the company's reputation strong. No one else is.

So next time you have a customer service issue, I recommend you find one of two people: a customer service rep, or a store manager. The cashier thinks losing your business gets rid of some lady who's making noise; the manager thinks it drops revenue and hurts image; and the customer service rep is paid specifically to care. You'll have better luck with the latter two.

Tali said...

That is an excellent point Sarah. Thank you so much. While in a perfect world we would all be invested and care regardless of ow much we make I know it's not true. I have certainly uttered the line "I am not paid enough for this" many a time in my life.

Caleb said...

That is a totally crappy experience. Quiznos lost my business off a free sub coupon they wouldn't honor because his scanner didn't accept it. I had just printed it off the internet too. They ended up throwing the sandwich away I'm sure.

Oh, and FYI, if you are ever in the South - Kroger is the same as King Soopers... same company.