March 17, 2011

How to Make Friends at the Grocery Store

No, I won't rant. I promise.

Well, maybe just a little.

If you've been following Project Grocery, you'll know that for the next two weeks (March 13th-26th) we're trying to limit our grocery spending to $29.53.

Uh, remember me? I'm the girl who budgets $120 per week on groceries (and things found in grocery stores) and who regularly spends more than $160? It's going to be a tough challenge.

So you can imagine that a possible increase to that number by $4.74 could seem rather more important to me than it otherwise would be, right? 

See how I'm cunningly setting the stage for you to be on my side?

One of the deals I congratulated myself on the last time we went grocery shopping was four bottles of half price shampoo/conditioner, enough to last little old me for A. Long. Time. Well, as it turned out, one of the bottles was shampoo only, so I don't want it.

See it lurking in the middle background like the tricky little devil it is?

The thing about those big bright pink stickers is that they say "Reduced for a Quick Sale". They do not say "Final Sale". The shopping cart parked haphazardly in the meat department - of all places - that the bottles and other sale items were in had no sign on it. The cashier didn't say anything when she rang it through. The receipt said only "refunds with receipt within 14 days, some exceptions apply, see store for details".

So imagine my feeling when I arrive at the Customer Service desk for a refund and am refused. With a large serving of attitude, too. Do you know, I spoke with a Cashier, a Cash Supervisor, a Cash Manager, and a Customer Service Manager at that store on two different days? And all four of them used variations of these themes:
  1. It's common knowledge that anything with a reduced price is final sale.
  2. It says so on my receipt.
  3. The cashiers can't possibly tell everyone which items are not eligible for a refund.
One of the managers even told me that appropriate signage wasn't her job. That was my favourite response, I think.

Now, I am blessed with a brother-in-law who can talk anyone into anything. HIS cashiers could dance in a circle around him chanting "Final Sale" for an hour and he's still be able to get a refund.

Here's his secret: he never loses his temper.

This is a skill I'm trying to learn. So far, I've gotten to the stage where I secretly lose my temper. I get Incredible Hulk Angry, but keep it all bottled inside. My only telltale sign: shaking hands. Which is a bummer, because I usually have to sign things, and I worry that my hands are giving me away.

You'd think by this time, if you were someone in a position of authority, and some annoying woman with an Eye of Mordor kept bothering you and your staff over a $4.74 bottle of shampoo from yesterday's clearance cart, and you knew full well that there were more of the same item still in the cart and still for sale, that you'd just give up already and refund her the money.

You'd also think that after the same annoying woman got refused four times and called the Customer Relations Centre for the entire grocery chain, that - as a manager - maybe you should just give in with good grace and not keep trying to be right.

If you thought that, you'd be wrong. You'd also clearly be shopping at a different grocery store, because this kind of thing happens often enough in our town that I wonder they have any customers left at all, given that we have another store that offers points and is open 24 hours a day.

But guess who now has $34.27 to spend on groceries for the next two weeks?