Tag Archives: 1950s and 1960s Grocery Shopping

Only Child dismayed with bad customer service

Only Child  contemplates quality vs quantity of life

Only Child contemplates bad customer service

The past few days have brought me grief dealing with some retail. Not talking big box like Target or Staples, but small independent retail and one small chain. All businesses that I go to regularly. Now they seem to be forgetting this thing called customer service. Maybe they ate too many Easter eggs.

It all started on Saturday when I headed down to the Danforth shopping area in Toronto – it is called Greektown although many shops aren’t Greek. But the area’s charm includes it is not a mall but all street shops, the majority small, independently (sometimes family) owned.

My first stop was the shoe repair I had been going to for years. Usually the two brothers who own it go out of their way to help customers. One even delivered a mended purse to my door because it wasn’t completed at the time promised and I couldn’t return an hour or so later as I had a client meeting.

So imagine my surprise and dismay when I found a “Sorry, closed Saturday” sign on it. True, it was Easter weekend, but Saturday was not a stat. holiday. I had to carry my running shoes around with me as I did my grocery shopping. This closure seemed to get the bad vibes and bad service going wherever I went. And no, I wasn’t expecting that.

Among other items, I had to buy gluten-free rice crackers as I’m one of those supplying the snacks for an event this evening. I knew that No Frills carried them at a price I could afford, but I was trying to avoid that extra trip to another area.

Next stop was Healthy Planet to get some health supplements. While there I looked at the rice crackers selection and found one only 60 cents more than those at NF. The cashier rang them in – with sales tax. Excuse me. I told her there is no tax on rice crackers. She said they are a snack so there is tax. I said “Rice crackers are not a snack. I don’t pay tax on rice crackers when I buy them elsewhere.” She said something about that’s what they are set up in their (computer sales) system. I refused to pay for them, left the crackers and walked out.

I checked a couple more places for rice crackers. While no bad service, they sold only expensive rice crackers. I’m on a budget.

I also went to Strictly Bulk to get some Fisherman’s Friend. Those throat longezes cost much less there. They didn’t have the original version, just the cherry. When I asked if there were any in back, I got a no and when I asked when they would be getting in, the young clerk said, “next week.” She couldn’t narrow it down to what day but did finally call her supervisor. The supervisor’s answer? Sometime next week. They are doing business with the public and they don’t know when their supplies are delivered? (mental picture of me scratching my head here).

So, I finished my Danforth shopping, took all those groceries home on public transit, put the purchases away, and headed out the door again for No Frills Grocery chain store. Fortunately it is not far away from me. So I walked the three-quarter mile each way instead of taking the bus. Yes, they had rice crackers and even somewhat fancier ones than I usually buy at a price lower than those at Healthy Planet. So I bought two boxes.

This tale of bad service doesn’t end here. Yesterday, which technically was Easter Monday but only governments and schools had it as a holiday, I returned with my running shoes to the shoe repair shop on the Danforth. It was open but only one brother was there. In a somewhat unfriendly tone he said that his brother was away for a week so he wouldn’t be able to fix my shoes until next week and it would be better if I waited until then to bring them in as then they would only be in for two days. I mentioned I had brought them down Saturday and the place was closed. All he said was “I know.” No apology.

Sheesh! I can understand the brother taking a week off at some point. But around a long weekend? And it might have been better to stay open at least the Saturday to get some of the work done.

I’ll probably bring my shoes in there next week but I’m considering looking elsewhere after that. Don’t know where. There is a shoe repair closer to home – in a mall – but last time I checked there they wanted all the cost paid before they did the work. The excuse? People just left their shoes and boots there. Well, they could charge a small deposit. I do with my editing clients.

I can’t help comparing this to when I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s – there was an independent shoe repair place a 10-minute walk from home. You could sit and wait while they fixed your shoes. Now, I’m not expecting this anymore – way too many people needing service for shoes, etc.

But a little empathy and understanding for the customer might help. And what happened to apologizing in person?

All this makes you want to stick to the big box stores only.

Anyone else have some bad customer service experiences with small retail?

 

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, 1960s, Grocery Shopping, Only child, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child looks at new way of grocery shopping

vegetables-for-saleDo you like to pick out your fresh fruit and bread yourself at the grocery store? Do you hate crowded grocery stores and long line-ups at the checkout?

Loblaw has started a pilot project called “click and collect” to fix the former but you give up the personal touch. For a small fee, you can pre-order your groceries at certain Loblaw stores online using your smart phone or computer. But, you still have to go through Loblaw’s products online to choose, then go to the store to pick up your groceries, although the store’s personal shopper will bring it to your car. The scenario could even get as silly as you sitting in your car in the grocery parking lot and ordering your groceries from your i-phone. Doesn’t make sense to me. If I’m going to order groceries online from home, I want the store to deliver them to my door. I still have to pay extra either way. I also like to choose the fresh products myself. And what about if the store is out of a product that is not on sale. Can’t get a rain cheque for that.

When I was growing up we had three grocery stores within walking distance to choose from, although we lost one to a beer store. Still two left. Many people walked to grocery stores and wheeled their purchases in a bundle buggy. That’s what my late mom did except when she sent me to pick up a few things such as bread and milk. I made a point of shopping at Loblaw then because they had a huge magazine rack in the veggie and fruit department. I liked to stand there and flip through the movie star magazines and sometimes I even bought one.

After Dad died, Mom sold the house and we moved into a nearby two-bedroom apartment. I was working then so got into the grocery-shopping act. As I write in my memoir

I’m giving her part of my salary to pay for the food and with her help, I’m learning to plan menus and do a grocery list, based on the specials at the different grocery stores. I wheel the bundle buggy up the street to the IGA and sometimes if I’m early enough I don’t need the buggy – they will deliver. Or I go further up the street to the Loblaw’s. (Excerpted from You can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2014,  Sharon A. Crawford.)

Back then you ordered (by phone) from the Sears or Eaton’s catalogues and not food except maybe Christmas cake and candies. For groceries, you got off your derriere and went into the store, picked out your food, etc., went through the check-out and brought your groceries home. The only deliveries to your door were bread, milk and ice. Yes, I said “ice.” One of the neighbours down the street still had ice delivered – this was in the mid-1950s.

Methinks this new Loblaw’ trial project caters to people with cars, and smart phones, too. Although you can order from your home computer. But news flash Mr. Galen Weston Jr. and other big whigs at Loblaw’s. Many of us use public transit and our feet to bring our groceries home. If you are going to go the pre-order route, why not add in the delivery? Other grocery stores do – like Longo through Grocery Gateway.

Otherwise it is like having half the ingredients, half the service, half the experience.

And it is still work for the customer.

For stories on this new service go to

http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/10/24/loblaw_launches_clickandcollect_service.html

and

http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1164433/loblaws-preparing-drive-thru-groceries-pilot-project/

Cheers.

 

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1950s, Fresh produce, Grocery Shopping, Loblaw Click and Collect pilot project, Sharon A. Crawford, Shopping