A few weeks ago I was buying groceries at my local store. They advertised a special on what-I-will-call, Herbert’s Homestead chicken. Herbert’s Homestead has lots of different types of chicken – regular, organic, free-range, air-chilled, etc. The special was buy one package, get the second (of equal or lesser value) for free. Cool.
I only needed one package of Herbert’s Homestead chicken for my menu plan that week. But I decided to buy two since I could freeze the second and use it later. Plus, it was buy-one-get-one-free! With the current cost of groceries anything helps.
At my store the chicken display had signage for “Buy One, Get One Free” for Herbert’s Homestead. The entire case was filled with yellow Herbert’s Homestead packages. I picked out two and finished the rest of my shopping.
At the self check-out I noticed I was charged for both packages. The second one was not deducted off my receipt. Hmmm. I asked the store attendant about it.
She looked at me and asked to see both packages of chicken. I pulled them out.
She called back to the butcher shop. There was a short conversation. She nodded and “mmm-hmmmed” a few times. She hung up the phone.
“You bought the yellow label Herbert’s Homestead chicken,” she said. “The buy-one-get-one is only for the green label. I’m sorry.”
That was it. I paused and took a deep breath.
“But there wasn’t any green label in the display,” I said. “How could I buy green label if there was none?”
She looked at me. Did not smile. Then repeated, “I’m sorry.”
My blood pressure rose a bit. She did not look remotely sorry. She did not sound remotely sorry. She sounded like she could care less. I decided to go back and look at the display case to make sure I was right. And to talk with the butcher.
When I arrived at the chicken display case I found that indeed there were only yellow label packages of Herbert’s Homestead. There was indeed a sign for “Buy One, Get One Free.” There was no specification for the type of label on the sign. There were no green label packages to be seen.
I asked to speak to the butcher behind the counter. He came out while wiping his hands on a towel. I asked him why the case was filled with yellow label chicken if the promotion only applied to green label chicken. I asked him where the green label chicken was.
“We sold out,” he told me. “We restocked with what we had available.” He gestured to the stocked display.
“But you didn’t take down the promotional sign,” I pointed out.
“Hmmm,” he said, “I’m sorry.”
That was it.
He did not seem remotely sorry. He did not agree with me that leaving the signage up, then replacing the whole case with something that was NOT on special, was misleading. He did not offer to take the signage down. He did not offer to compensate me for the second package of chicken. He did not offer to allow me to return it. (In all fairness, I did not think about returning it, I was too mad at that moment.)
I drove home thinking about the words “I’m sorry.” I thought about how when someone says “I’m sorry,” despite clearly not being sorry, it feels worse. I wish neither of the people I had interacted with at the store had even bothered saying “I’m sorry.” It simply did not ring true.
So, all that being said, if I were my own best friend, I would take a couple things away from this. First, I would tell myself don’t tell someone I’m sorry, if I am not – they will know. And it only makes the situation feel worse.
Second, if I ever have the opportunity to make a display for something, I will make sure to only fill that display with the actual item that is on special. I will not replace it with something NOT on special. OR, if I do replace it, I will take down the promotional signage.
And third, whatever happened to customer service? Whatever happened to making things right? Do I keep spending thousands of dollars a year at a store for groceries, when that store seemly could care less about taking care of their customers? I don’t have an answer yet for myself. I wouldn’t have an answer either if I was talking to my best friend. It will take work and effort on my part to make a change to a different store.
Is it worth it due to $16 of non-promotional chicken? Probably not.
Is it worth it due to feeling like I was taken advantage of, mislead, and treated poorly? Probably.