February 10, 2013
The Stop & Shop Supermarket Company, LLC
Attention: Consumer Affairs
1385 Hancock Street
Quincy, MA 02169
To whom it may concern:
My wife and I spend over ___ on groceries every year. Until today, a large fraction of that was spent at Stop & Shop. However, after what happened to me today, I will go out of my way to give Stop & Shop as little of my business as possible.
The school our children attend in Watertown held a community service day today. Students and their families came to the school in large numbers, despite the recent blizzard, to create various items needed by non-profit organizations within our community. Unfortunately, we discovered at the start of the event that a few things we needed for the projects were missing, so I drove over to the nearby Stop & Shop on Pleasant Street to get them. Since I was already there, I also threw a few items in my cart for my family.
When I got to the checkout aisle and had rung up my $31.20 worth of groceries, I discovered that I had forgotten my wallet at home, a half hour drive away. Cursing my own stupidity, I told an associate what had happened, explained that though my wallet was at home my checkbook was about five minutes away at the school, and asked if I could pay by check. She assured me that I could, and I ran off to the parking lot to drive to the school, grab my checkbook, and drive back to the store.
Less than 15 minutes later, I returned to the store and presented my check. When the associate attempted to ring up my order, she informed me that since it was the first time I was paying by check, she would need to see ID. “But I don’t have any ID. It’s in my wallet. That’s why it’s the first time I’m paying by check – I usually pay by credit card – and that’s why I’m paying by check in the first place.” She called over another associate to whom I explained the situation. She said she would take the check without ID and just had to call over the manager.
The manager, upon his arrival, informed me that it was simply impossible to accept my check without ID. I explained to him that I was buying items for a community service activity in progress at that very moment at a nearby school. I explained to him that I was a regular customer at that Stop & Shop, where I shop several times per month. I explained to him that he could look up my Stop & Shop number and see that my name and address there matched the name and address on the check. None of this mattered; he insisted that he simply could not accept my check without ID.
Given that most banks, including mine, allow merchants to verify checks by telephone, there was absolutely no excuse for refusing to take my check.
I next offered to leave my $200 smart-phone with him as collateral if he would just let me rush back to the school with the few items that were needed there (less than $20 worth of merchandise) and then come back with payment for the entire $31.20. Even this, he refused to do.
At this point, one of the other employees, who could see that I was clearly sincere and could be trusted, offered to pay for my order out of her own pocket, but she didn’t have enough cash on her. Another customer who had overheard the exchange walked over and handed me $20 in cash, which I did my best, unsuccessfully, to refuse because I had no way of paying her back; she said that I should just make a $20 donation to charity and we would be even.
I ended up calling another parent at the school and asking him to come to the store to pay for the groceries, which delayed even more the start of the activities that needed them. Not to mention that it was inconvenient to him and both inconvenient and rather embarrassing to me.
Obviously, if we had remembered to buy the needed items in advance, or if I had remembered my wallet this morning, all of this trouble could have been avoided. Nevertheless, it is entirely unacceptable that your store manager was either so stubborn or so restricted by your corporate policies that he treated a verifiably good customer poorly over a potential loss of at most $31.20, when each of your stores probably loses many times more than that to shoplifting every single day.
I will not willingly give my money to a business which treats its customers this way. While I can’t say I’ll never patronize a Stop & Shop supermarket again – I’m sure there will be times when I have no choice – I promise you will be seeing a lot less of me.
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I could see Stop and Shop’s point up until you mentioned they could look up your Stop and Shop number… that totally should have been ok for one relatively small purchase in an exceptional circumstance. At worst they stood to lose $31 in merchandise, at best they do a tiny favor for someone in distress.
Seriously, when’s the last time someone used a fraudulent check to buy $31 worth of groceries? The manager should be given leeway to use his best judgment in this case (and in this case, almost anyone should have been willing).