Saturday, March 08, 2008

An Open Letter to Giant Food LLC

March 8, 2008

Giant Food LLC
Consumer Affairs Department
8301 Professional Place
Suite 115
Landover MD 20785

Dear Sir or Madam:

I have been a regular Giant shopper since moving to the Washington area in late 1996. I have always thought Giant’s selection, store layout, and prices were the best value of any local supermarket. My recent experiences at your Laurel Store (0340) have forced me to re-assess my opinion.

The selection, layout, and prices are still the best around. The produce section, in particular, stands out. The produce manager is routinely there when I shop on Saturday mornings, and she is always cheerful, helpful, and willing to go out of her way to find what I need, even if it’s not in the produce section. That is true of most of the employees I have encountered.

Having found everything I need, and judiciously used my Bonus Card, whatever goodwill has accrued during my visit is erased when it comes time to check out. For months now, the number of full-service checkout lines has been woefully inadequate to accommodate the customer volume. The situation became so bad I shopped at Shoppers Food Warehouse for a few weeks before returning to the store I knew best.

My first week back at Giant 0340 found seven carts, all but a couple filled above the rim, lined up to use the sole open checkout lane. I complained to a manager, who apologized. Last week was marginally better, but I didn’t have time to speak to anyone.

This week was the final straw. Nine-fifteen on a Saturday morning, and not one full service checkout lane was operating. I got into the lengthy Express lane and asked the first employee I saw to get me a manager. I noticed as I was checking out that one of my items did not capture my bonus card savings, and the checker could not find it in this week’s flyer.

A manager finally arrived, the same gentleman I spoke with a few weeks ago. I pointed out the situation to him, and noted the cashier now working a full-service lane had only appeared in the past minute. He walked over to see to something and I went back into the store to verify I had been correct about the Bonus Card question. I found the tag on the shelf, but noted in the fine print the offer had expired on March 5.

Catching up with the manager, I asked about the Bonus Card tag, as the checkout lane question was now moot. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Since we don’t seem to be able to get enough checkers, can we at least keep outdated sale notices off the shelves. (Handing him the shelf tag.) I paid an extra buck-sixty apiece for these because the old tag was there.

Giant Manager: Did they give it to you for free?

Me: The tag’s outdated. The price she charged was correct.

Giant Manager: Go back through the line if the tag’s wrong. You can get it for free.

Me (pointing): That line? That’s what started this whole thing.

Giant Manager: (No response)

Me: Tell you what. You keep the tag and my three-twenty, and I won’t shop here any more.

Giant Manager: Okay.

So I won’t. A customer of over eleven years’ standing gone, because Giant 0340 can’t be bothered to take my money in a timely manner, and, apparently, doesn’t care if I shop elsewhere. I pass a Shoppers Food Warehouse and a Safeway to get to Giant 0340. It used to be worth it. No more.


Joe Murphy said...

Dear Home Office,

The decline of the formerly great supermarket chain dates back to the death of the last executive from Giant's founding family, Israel (Izzy) Cohen, in 1995.

Izzy ensured that Giant provided wide selection, quality food and low prices. That stopped when he died, and minority stockholder J. Sainsbury, the British supermarket chain, purchased the remaining shares and took over operations. The final blow came when Sainsbury sold the chain to Dutch supermaket conglomerate Royal Ahold (pronounced A-Holed).

While the selection stayed good, Ahold put in such novel innovations as the self check-out lanes, (no doubt purchased from the same folks who gave us the automated answering customer service systems to serve us better) and replaced the checkers wholesale.

How's that for progress?

The Desert (Dessert?) Storm Correspondent

John M. Scroggins said...

Giant seems to have a death wish.

I've shopped at Giant for over 43 years. Until the last year or so, Giant got over 98% of the money I spent on groceries.

Now, after a year of significant cutbacks in what they sell, elimination of many, many items I formerly bought from them, and increasing false advertising of items that are not in my store, or ring up with higher prices than advertised, and few cashiers, Giant's share of my grocery money has dropped to less than 2/3 and continue to falls almost weekly.

The one thing that keeps me going there at all is distance. The Giant I shop at is the grocery closest to me--exactly a mile. But even with gas prices approaching $4.00 a gallon, I am becoming more willing to drive some distance to buy the items Giant refuses to continue selling to me.

In today's (27 Apr 2008) Post Giant says "We look forward to serving all your shopping needs. That is an outright lie. I'm thinking of starting a Giant-related blog.