Please, Stop & Shop, stop treating me like a thief

By | September 10, 2017

Dear Stop & Shop,

I’ve been a customer at the Stop & Shop at 60 Everett Street in Allston, Massachusetts for twenty years. I’ve been “in your database” with a Stop & Shop Card for as long as your chain has used Stop & Shop cards. In the past five years, I’ve spent on average more than $3,000 per year in your stores.

I am a frequent user of your “Scan It!” smart-phone app, the Scan It! devices in your stores, and your self-checkout aisles. By using these, I save you money by reducing the number of employees you need on duty each shift.

In addition to all of the above, I rarely use coupons, since I frankly don’t have time to clip them.

In short, I am one of your best, most loyal, most profitable customers. And yet, on a regular basis, when I shop at your store, you accuse me of being a thief.

When I use a Scan It! app or device to do my shopping, I bag all of my own groceries as I scan them, so that when I finally get to the front of the line at the self-checkout aisle, all I need to do is scan my Stop & Shop card, pay, and leave.

Alas, on an all-too-frequent basis, I am informed by the register, “This transaction requires cashier assistance. Please stand by, help is on the way!” And then I stand there, waiting, often for several minutes, for someone to come along to do a “quick scan” of my groceries.

You know, to confirm that I haven’t stolen anything.

When someone finally shows up, more often than not they are flummoxed by the fact that I used the smart-phone app rather than a Scan It! device. So then they have to go find someone else to tell them what to do. Even when they know, it takes several minutes for them to jump through the extra hoops necessary to activate a Scan It! device for them to use.

Then they have to scan seven items from my groceries before the computer will let me check out.

This is stupid in so many ways, including:

  • You have detailed records of how long I have been a Stop & Shop customer. You know how much money I spend in your store. You know that I use Scan It! and self-checkout lanes on a regular basis. You know that despite all the times your computers have demanded a quick scan of my groceries at checkout, you have never found a single item that I hadn’t scanned. I am not a thief. I have never stolen groceries from you, and I never will. Your data tell you this. It is stupid to do these checks on customers who it’s clear from your data are not thieves.
  • I bought 44 items today, of which your quick scan protocol required seven to be scanned. So you had less than a 16% chance of finding an item I was trying to steal. And that’s assuming that either I would have stupidly put such an item in an easily accessible location in my grocery bags or that the employee doing the scan would have taken the time to dig through my carefully packed grocery bags to reach the items on bottom, which of course they’re not going to do, since they, like me, want to get it over with as quickly as possible (and if they do, I’m left with my carefully packed bags in disarray, my bread crushed, etc.).
  • I bought over $130 in groceries tonight. If I was going to use Scan It! and your self-scanners to steal from you, then why in heaven’s name would I have scanned over $130 worth of my groceries?

But really, I want to return to my first point. You have more than enough data about me in your computers — data that I have allowed you to collect precisely to enable you to provide me with a better shopping experience — to know that I am exceedingly unlikely to ever attempt to steal anything from your store. It simply should not be necessary for you to do quick scans on customers like me. Ever. Full stop. It’s a waste of your time, a waste of our time, and an unnecessary aggravation to your best customers.

Please make it stop.

Sincerely,

Jonathan Kamens

P.S. While I’m writing to you, there’s something else I would like to ask you to look into. There is something very wrong with the computer that runs self-checkout aisle number 15 at the Allston Stop & Shop. I’ve used all the self-checkout aisles many times, and the computer in that particular aisle is many times slower than all the others. It is maddening to have to wait for many seconds between each scanned item. It is even more maddening, when using Scan It!, to have to wait for a minute or more while my Scan It! order scrolls by on the register, something which takes a few seconds on all the other registers. I hope you can do something about this.

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