July 11, 2020
Stop & Shop
60 Everett Street
Allston, MA 02134-1952
To whom it may concern:
There are a number of things I like about your establishment. You are close to where I live. You have a decent selection of Kosher foods. You usually have most of the things I need in stock, and when you don’t, it’s often due to circumstances outside of your control. It is convenient to be able to weigh and tag my own produce. It is convenient to be able to scan my own groceries using your Scan-It! system. Checkout lines usually aren’t that long.
However, I have negative experiences at your store often enough that each visit feels like a game of Russian roulette: will this time be uneventful, or will something go miserably wrong? What’s worse is that the things that go wrong are usually the same few things, suggesting that you and your employees are unable to learn from your mistakes how to do better. Frankly, I am tired of it.
I’ve written to you before, but this time is different, because now I’ve made a decision about how I am going to respond in the future to negative experiences at your store: for every single negative event, I will take $100 of my business from your store and give it to the Start Market on Western Avenue. As a result of this decision, after yesterday evening’s trip to your store, I will be spending $500 at Star Market before I return to Stop & Shop. Let me tell you why.
The trouble started when I tried to ring up my Scan-It! order in the self-check-out aisle and received the dreaded notice that my cart had to be audited by a store associate. I’ve written to Stop & Shop about this before, but let me say it again: I’ve been shopping at your store for decades, I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars there, I’ve been a Rewards member for as long as you’ve offered the program, I’ve never stolen a single item, and because of all this, there is no reason why you should ever need to flag my Scan-It! order and force me to undergo a “random” audit. I understand that you, as the manager of a single store, do not control what the Scan-It! system does and you cannot change corporate loss-prevention strategies. Nevertheless, the only way this will ever change is if customers keep complaining about it and put our money where our mouth is, so every time my Scan-It! order is flagged for one of these stupid audits, you will lose $100 of my business.
I had used the Scan-It! app on my phone, rather than one of the store-provided scanners, for my shopping. Unfortunately, the associate staffing the self-check-out aisles did not know how to deal with that and informed me that I had to go stand in line and wait for a cashier because of it. That’s the second $100 of my business you’ve lost ($200 so far). Stop & Shop has been allowing customers to use their phones for Scan-It! for years, so why aren’t your associates properly trained in what to do if someone who used the app is flagged for an audit?
I went over to one of the staffed aisles, stood in line, and eventually gave the associate there my Stop & Shop car to scan. When the computer once again demanded an audit and I informed her that I had used my phone rather than a store device, she also did not know how to handle that. Another poorly trained associate, another $100 of my business lost ($300 so far).
She called over the associate from the next aisle over, and he also didn’t know what to do, despite the fact that he was senior enough to have a register key. He wasted a hefty chunk of my time playing around with the register and his key trying to figure out what to do, before ultimately giving up and going to get a supervisor. Another $100 of my business lost ($400 so far).
When the supervisor arrived, I complained to her both about the fact that I was flagged for audit in the first place – while I acknowledged that it wasn’t her fault, I explained that it was stupid, and I was sick of it, and it literally endangered my health and the health of store associates in the middle of a pandemic by forcing more interaction between customers and associates and forcing associates to touch customer groceries – and about the fact that I had to interact with three different associates who didn’t know how to audit a Scan-It! order from the app. Not only did the supervisor refuse to acknowledge that the associates should have known how to do this and that this was a problem that she would address, she lied to me by claiming that the app was “relatively new” and that’s why they didn’t know how to deal with it (the app is seven years old!). You lose another $100 of my business ($500 total) for your supervisor’s failure to take ownership of a problem and lying about it instead.
Let me return for a moment to an issue I touched on above, i.e., safety during the pandemic. I had to interact with four different store associates when I should have had to interact with none. Three of those associates touched my groceries, when none of them should have had to (also, they repeatedly tipped a box of donuts onto its end to scan the bar code on the side, crushing most of the donuts in the box). I was in the store for twice as long as I should have been. All of this increased my risk and the risk to your associates of contracting Covid-19. None of this is OK.
There was actually a sixth failure during this trip, but I’m not holding it against you because one of your associates actually handled it decently. One of the items I had in my cart, “Of Tov Chicken Breast Nuggets,” failed to pull up a price either in the Scan-It! app or at the register. This is a basic inventory control issue that should never happen, and normally I’d add another $100 to your “tab” because of it. However, rather than wasting even more of my time at the register by making me wait for someone go to the frozen aisle to find out the price of the item, the associate just rung it up by hand at a significant discount. I appreciate that.
In summary, you are losing $500 of my business because you treat loyal customers like criminals as a matter of corporate policy; because you’ve failed to properly train your associates in how to deal with a straightforward situation with significant adverse customer impact; and because these failures endangered my health.
CC: Gordon Reid, President, Stop & Shop, 1385 Hancock Street, Quincy, MA
CC: Store Manager, Star Market, 370 Western Avenue, Brighton, MA
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