Infusing sense into grocery store management

Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to find some things in grocery stores that were once common?

Today was the Great Battle of the Mushrooms and Pearl Onions.

My mission: to make pickled eggs with pearl onions and mushrooms.

I needed pearl onions and loose mushrooms.

My grocery store, which is otherwise pretty good, absolutely didn’t have pearl onions.  I recall when they were easy to find, nestled in their little net bags.  Also, there were no loose mushrooms.  Instead, all they had were those prepackaged cardboard trays, covered with plastic wrap that holds condensation!

Does anyone else remember when the mushrooms were all loose and they had little paper bags to put them in, because everyone knows a damp mushroom is a sad, soggy mushroom?

I searched across three grocery chains and didn’t find better.  I had to buy “knob onions” at three times the price and some of those odious little cardboard trays.

The spouse was mad, I was mad.  Nobody listened when I complained.

More and more, grocery stores (and other stores too) choose what they want me to have, in what quantities they want me to have it in, all in plastic packaging.  If I want to get away from that, I have to go to the incredibly expensive high end stores, even though bulk food should cost far less because there’s less packaging and less waste.

The real problem I have is not so much the food, but the fact that I can’t get anything to change no matter how many managers I talk to.  Even as I submit my feedback forms and am thanked for my opinion, nothing changes.  I make calls till I’m blue in the face and still nothing changes.  What’s a dissatisfied shopper to do?

I shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, customer service is a barrier between you and the people who make decisions.

The real key here is to get to the decision makers.

I realized there is a potential solution here.  I am going to take it higher, and if you share my frustration, you can too.  Enter the old fashioned letter!  I’ll be searching for corporate hierarchy, finding names and addresses to people who really do make decisions.  I send letters by registered mail, so that they actually get into the hands of the people I’m sending them to, instead of getting lost in the mailroom.

Little by little, that gets results.

I found that if I can get past the ramparts of customer service, past the corporate donjon, and into the actual throne room, then my letter lands in the hands of the actual rulers of the corporate kingdom – and my lonely letter heads arrow straight to the place where all the calls, forms and emails couldn’t reach.

The more we all do this, the more we will make ourselves heard.  The actual views of the customer will be infused into the corporate system and be heeded, perhaps someday even more than any number of useless focus groups.


via Daily Prompt: Infuse

More Strands of White Hair

The other day, someone called in who wanted to know the price of a med.  Fine, that’s what I do.  (That’s what I… That’s what I…)  Then I asked her what it was.  She said “It’s new.”  I said “Okay, great, and if you can give me the name I can look the price up.”   She said “It’s probably not even covered.  My plan doesn’t cover new medications.”  I offered to check just to make sure.  Turned out she didn’t even know the name of the thing.  Before you think I’m making fun of some lovely creaky old lady who mmight be confused, know this frightening fact… this was a practicing nurse in her fifties.

Then a doctor’s office called.  They wanted to send us an electronic prescription.  I told them that it would work better to find us using our fax number as a serach term because it is unique, unlike our name.  This took about four increasingly simple explanations to get across.

We aren’t immune either.  I could have strangled a fellow rep who didn’t know what a benefits office was.  For folks who don’t work with insurance, the benefits office is the place that provides the benefits – like HR at a company if you work there, for example.  This agent had been though a six week training and had at least a few months on the floor and still didn’t know this extremely basic fact.  They thought we, the pharmacy, were the benefits office.  I sure wanted to give them a wall to wall coaching session!  The capper came when I closed out the call.  I said to this agent “is there anything else I can help you with?”  They said, and I quote, “you’re welcome, no problem!” and hung up.

Here’s one more that just happened.  A person callied, mid forties, wanting a refill.  He seemed pretty on the ball… at first.  Not heavily medicated, on just one or two things.  Problem: he called to refill when he had one pill left.  He knows we’re mail order.  He should also know why mail is associated with snails.  Next problem: This med is meant to be taken once a day.  His bottle said no refills.  That means you allow a little extra time for the doctor to get back to us.  Yes, the refills can be seen on the label.  Next problem:  He hadn’t ordered this med since LAST YEAR, August 4th.  I write this on April 13th.

I had to know what was up.  I asked “you should have run out months ago, have you been filling this locally?”  He said “but you sent ninety pills…”

Yes.  We sent ninety pills.  Charitably speaking, 250 days ago!

Don’t be him.