Wednesday, June 05, 2013

"C" as in CUSTOMER SERVICE...a thing of the past?

Welcome once again to this week's Alphabe-Thursday post.  This week we are studying the letter "C" as in CUSTOMER Service.

I refuse to honor a company with my business if I'm not treated fairly.

I shopped at Kroger for over 20 years.  I was loyal customer and shopped there probably 99% of the time up until about a year ago.  They lost my business in the blink of an eye due to poor CUSTOMER service.

I always ask for paper grocery bags because I have trouble with my elbows.  I didn't know why they were bothering me until one day when I was carrying a couple of gallons of milk to my car in plastic grocery bags.  The weight of the milk was pulling on my arms and my elbows were hurting.   That's when I realized what was wrong.  If I had the milk in a paper bag I could balance the bag on my hip.  In fact, I could carry two gallons of milk in one paper bag that way.  So, I started asking for paper bags.

A few times I did all my shopping only to discover at the register that they were out of paper bags.  It was happening a little too often and I felt like they should put a sign on the door warning customers when they were out of them.  This was the second time in a row it had happened to me.  I was told they had been out of paper bags for a few weeks.  If I had known I would have gone to another store that day.  Instead I ended up with a shopping cart full of groceries and had no choice but to have them put in plastic bags.  Yes, one of the sackers could help me to the car, but I'd still have to carry them all in the house when I got home.  My poor elbows.

So, I went onto Kroger's website and wrote and told them about what had happened.  I said it nicely.  I wasn't rude.  I believe in treating people the way I want to be treated.  I received an E-mail back and was told someone from the store would contact me.  I waited for probably a month, but never heard a thing.  So, I wrote again.  The CUSTOMER service person wrote back:

to me
Dear Betty:

Thank you for contacting The Kroger Co.   According to our records you were in touch with Tom at the store and the issue was resolved on August 1, 2012.  We apologize that you feel we are lacking in customer service and hope that you will reconsider.  Your issue was not ignored.

If you have further comments or concerns please write or call us at 1.800.576.4377 Monday through Friday EST.   Thank you for your patronage and have a nice day.


Amy Tumbleson
Consumer Affairs

Reference:  12530291

I couldn't believe it.  At no time did I speak with anyone at the store named Tom, Dick, or Harry.  In fact, I hadn't been back to the store since July.  I was waiting to hear from someone at the store and took my business somewhere else in the meantime.  When I didn't hear from them I wrote to CUSTOMER service a second time to make them aware of the situation.

Did she think I'd write just for the heck of it?  I told her I hadn't heard a thing.  If someone from the store had contacted me I wouldn't have E-mailed her again.  This is what I wrote back (and now I was mad):

You think I was in touch with a person named Tom at the store???  I'd love to see your records because you've been misled.  At no time did I ever speak with any one named Tom and at no time did anyone ever address my complaint.  To date I've received no explanation.  I haven't even been back to the store and as I've said previously I was a long time Kroger customer.  If that's what you were told you were misinformed by your employee.   If I was mad before now I'm furious.  I would be more than happy to meet you at the store and together we can see what Tom has to say.  Either he has me confused with another customer or he's being less than truthful.  I would not have written to you again if someone had at least shown some concern and contacted me.  That's just common courtesy.  Betty

Of course, I never heard another word.  I now shop at HEB which is a Texas grocery store.  They moved into the Houston market about 15 years ago.  People kept telling me I should try them, but I was loyal to Kroger.

I actually prefer the selection at Kroger, but I've learned to adapt to HEB.  My son and I were just talking recently about how friendly the employees are at HEB, how there are always plenty of lines open, and how they don't act like they're doing you a big favor when you ask for paper bags.  At Kroger I sometimes felt like I was inconveniencing them.

I now shop at HEB because I want my money to go where my business is valued and respected.

I googled good customer service and pulled up a Canadian site.  This site says that good customer service is the lifeblood of a company.  I just think too many companies nowadays ignore this basic principle.  Have you tried calling a company lately?  If you did you probably got a recorded message telling you that your call is important to them.  Really?  How come a human isn't answering the phone if the call is so important?  You can spend ten minutes going through a menu where you have to push one for one thing, two for this, three for that, etc.  Just put a human being on!  That's good CUSTOMER service.

Thank you for letting me vent.

To see a list of other Alphabe-Thursday participants visit Ms. Jenny's blog at Jenny Matlock..."off on my tangent."


  1. I only bother with customer service when it is absolutely necessary. And you're right, if the people who works for a company aren't nice, then why shop there? at least, it wasn't such a bad situation.

    hope you have a great day.

  2. Is there such a thing as customer service anymore? I haven't seen it in very many places either. Lol And I do think it is the one thing that people will come back for more than anything else. I think they think it's cheaper! Not so in the long run. Got to let your feet do the walking.

  3. Personally, I think you should have asked for a store manager, right then and there and told them if they want your business, they need to take care of the issue. With so many Kroger stores, how the heck would corporate Kroger have their finger on the pulse of one? They probably send that same email out to everyone and just change the date and names.

  4. Good for you to speak up! I agree with Ms. A above that it's good to speak with a store manager -- that way they can't ignore you!
    We were out to eat recently and weren't brought our salad (which was a separate item) We made a remark to our server when she brought the entree' but told her that it was OK, we (honestly) didn't need it after the appetizer anyway. She apologized umpteen dozen times and we assured her it was truly all right. A bit later the manager came to our table and apologized some more -- and offered a free dessert! Now that's customer service!!

    And you're right those 10 minute long menus drive me nuts! We should be able to speak with a real human being without wading through all that nonsense!!

  5. I can't remember the last time I felt like I was getting excellent customer service somewhere. It's a dead art in my opinion...

  6. Such a fascinating *C* post!

    btw if it's any consolation, customer service is a "foreign" concept here in Spain!

    Visiting from Alphabe-Thursday, here’s mine!

  7. A good reason as to why the nasty gram was invented.
    Great post!
    Glad we don't have Kroger in Canada!

  8. Perhaps it's because I live in a small town, but customer service here is topnotch! I'm so sorry you have had a bad experience.

  9. There is no such thing as real customer service anymore. Just machine voices. Unless you hammer 0 enough times you might get a human on the line...

  10. Where I live, we don't even GET bags anymore. We have to bring our own. It's good to be "green," but I wish we still had a choice!


  11. In Seguin, we only have Wal Mart and HEB..... HEB is my place to shop.....
    It's so sad that so many of the big stores could care less about our desires .......

  12. Good post and I support your position on customer service or lack thereof!

  13. What a collapse of customer service. Crushed to hear your complaint.....

    HEB clarifies in their name, customer care is better...

    Thank you for linking your post to the letter "C"


  14. A great C post! Sad;y our country is lacking a lot of things and this one tops the list!


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