Posts Tagged ‘Whole Foods’

Service of Mi Casa es Tu Casa–Come on In!

Monday, June 17th, 2019

Photo: tierrafina.com

Daily we hear of hacking that’s happened either to a friend, big corporation or organization. It’s a form of break-in. I think it may have inured the public to the normalcy of loss of privacy that gorges on volunteer personal intrusions. Think such smart speakers like Alexa and Amazon Echo.

Photo: wired.com

Maybe that’s why Walmart and Amazon have or are about to introduce a new wrinkle to their delivery services. In select markets, both will or do arrange for access to a customer’s home to put food in the fridges of the former and leave packages in a home, garage or car trunk in the latter.

Citizens of Kansas City, Mo., Pittsburgh and Vero Beach will be the first to officially invite Walmart delivery staff to put perishables in their refrigerators through a program slated for a fall launch called Walmart InHome. [The system was tested in New Jersey.]

Photo: commons.wikipedia.org

In “Walmart Wants to Put Groceries Into Your Fridge,” Sarah Nassauer wrote “The workers will wear a body cameras [sic] clipped to their chests, allowing customers to watch live streams of deliveries being made while they aren’t home.” She reported in her Wall Street Journal article that they’ll have access to homes via a smart lock that connects to the Internet allowing a door to unlock remotely. Wallmart sells the device.

Delivery staff for the service must have worked for the company for at minimum a year. “Not everyone embraces the concept at first, but just as people have gradually accepted renting out rooms in their homes through services like Airbnb Inc, ‘people are very quickly comfortable with it,’ said Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce business.”

Photo: gate labs

The Amazon service, Key by Amazon, wrote Nassauer, is for Prime members in 50 cities. Fresh groceries aren’t involved. In another program Via Prime Now customers get orders from Amazon’s Whole Foods division on doorsteps.

Not every delivery business received the mega company’s stamp of approval. Sebastian Herrera reported last week in the Journal that Amazon is deep sixing its restaurant delivery service.

Would you be comfortable inviting strangers into your kitchen or your home, garage or car trunk when you’re not home? Do you think comfort level for this kind of trust may be higher in some parts of the country than others? Have privacy-breaking services like Alexa and Amazon Echo paved the way? What if you’re in a meeting or otherwise inaccessible when you need to unlock your front door remotely with no time to watch while the delivery person with body camera drops off your perishables? Do you think that this person—or the staffer who packs the order–will be trained to leave foods like tomatoes and bananas out of the refrigerator and on the counter?

Photo: orchardestates.com

 

Service of Untrained Staff and Insufficient Inventory Messing Up Food Orders

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Photo: medium.com

When you order food and don’t get what you want it can be hard to tell if it’s due to a lack of staff training or insufficient inventory. This is nothing new even though the millions who order all sorts of food online these days may think it is.

I ran into untrained staff causing stress when buying a bunch of sandwiches for office colleagues at a then novel Au Bon Pain years ago. It was so bad I eventually no longer asked “Can I get someone anything at Au Bon Pain?” when leaving the office to pick up lunch for myself. The takeout offered a choice of bread, meat and cheese for freshly made sandwiches. Inevitably I’d return with ham and brie on a roll when my colleague wanted ham and Swiss on a baguette as one example. Of some five orders three would be wrong. Drove me nuts. It happened because the staff didn’t know the difference between cheeses and breads and clearly the choices weren’t well marked and/or the staff wasn’t trained to ID the options.

Heather Haddon’s Wall Street Journal article rang bells. “Amazon to Whole Foods Online Delivery Customers: We’re Out of Celery, How’s Kale? Companies offering online grocery ordering and delivery struggle with services’ logistics” described customer experience with the online grocery and delivery system for select Amazon Prime members.

Photo: LLamasoft.com

She wrote about what happened to Kelly Hills. The Massachusetts-based bioethicist  “ordered a sourdough loaf from Whole Foods recently but was offered a jalapeño cheese bread instead. Her so-called ‘shopper’—either a contract worker employed by Amazon or a Whole Foods staff member tasked with compiling delivery orders—had opted to put decaf coffee in her bag instead of whole roasted coffee beans, celery instead of celery root and a single seltzer flavor rather than a variety. ‘The substitutions are downright bizarre. It’s frustrating,'” Think of all the time wasted to return this stuff or the money lost to accept what you won’t use.

Haddon added that problems “are often amplified because daily operations at the two companies are still largely separate. Whole Foods employees said Amazon workers routinely ask for help finding items on shelves or elsewhere, distracting them from their own duties. Technology that tracks Whole Foods’s inventory is old, and officials have discussed updating it for years.”

Have you been impacted by poorly trained staff, insufficient inventory or other issues when buying food–or anything else–either in person or online? Why do you think the glitches happen? Do you usually accept the mistakes or do you take time to return or report them?

Photo en.wikipedia.com

Service of a Sleeper Brand: Morton Williams Shines Bright

Thursday, January 26th, 2017

morton williams supermarket fruits

I live in an area that doesn’t have the better known and oft-touted grocery stores Whole Foods, Fairway or Trader Joe’s nearby. I travel to these when I want something they sell but I’ve discovered that a neighborhood grocery chain—Morton Williams Supermarket–without the fame, media coverage and advertising budget of the others nevertheless offers a remarkable variety of high quality options at fair prices. [This wasn’t so when the brand that preceeded it filled the space on Second Avenue in the 40s. It pays to check back.]

My apartment is sandwiched between two branches. Both occupy typical NYC modest spaces–microscopic by out of town standards. Nevertheless, this grocer often carries what I can’t find elsewhere–such as bright red current jelly [for cookies] or Siggi’s liquid yogurt, just two of many examples. I’ve complimented the manager at the 908 Second Avenue branch, Bob Siefring, on this accomplishment. Vegetables and fruits are fresh. When they have a sale, it’s a good one. [I wrote about one in a June 2016 post.]

Speaking of Siggi’s, I dropped by at a time an employee was filling Siggis Yogurtrefrigerator shelves  and asked if he had any of the blueberry flavor [the best]. He left his post, walked briskly to the storage area and brought out a bottle. Another time I couldn’t find mushrooms and the young man neatening the onion display stopped and walked with me to the spot when he could easily have pointed me in the right direction.

We live above a grocery store that bears a well known name in the city and apart from milk, water and seltzer; it rarely has what I am looking for. In spite of sky-high prices, it doesn’t carry fresh cider bottled locally. Morton Williams does. [There was a time you could only buy this cider from the farmer’s market or a specialty food store.]

Do you have a local grocery store—or any establishment—that’s a diamond in the rough, one that surprises you because it’s so much better than you might expect it to be?

morton williams supermarket logo

Service of Apology III: Do You Need To Say “I’m Sorry?”

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Love means never having to say you're sorry

In “Love Story,” Eric Segal wrote “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” I wonder if the co-CEOs of Whole Foods think that their customers love them. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

A friend gave us a gift card to Whole Foods and we enjoyed our purchases. They charge more than other supermarkets for some things and so what? There are those who think that if they pay a lot for something it must be good and while the grocer sells a far bigger range than meat, fish, fruits and vegetables, the store is known for its organic fare. Its regulars are not hurting anyone by spending their money there.

NYC dept consumer affairsCharging more is one thing; overpricing another. In “Whole Foods admits overcharging, blames employees and apologizes,” in The Washington Post, according to reporter Will Greenberg: “The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs [DCA] wrote: ‘New York City stores routinely overstated the weights of its pre-packaged products — including meats, dairy and baked goods — resulting in customers being overcharged.’”

Greenberg quoted Walter Robb and John Mackey, Whole Foods co-CEOs’ explanation about “the stores’ fresh products, including sandwiches, squeezed juices and hand-cut fruit, [that] were often weighed or labeled improperly, with store employees labeling their pre-packaged products at prices higher than they should have been. Mackey said there have been a ‘very, very small percentage’ of weighing errors.”

Small percentage? This weighing glitch happened on all 80 pre-packaged items that the inspectors tested in different stores around New York City. Quoting a statement by DCA commissioner Julie Menin, Greenberg wrote: “Our inspectors tell me this is the worst case of mislabeling they have seen in their careers, which DCA and New Yorkers will not tolerate.”

weighing foodI asked a cashier at a different well known grocery operation about this. He said he’d been in retail all his life and had previously worked at Whole Foods. He noted that it’s easy to make a mistake on the tare weight, which measures the container/packaging that is subtracted in the pricing process. He said an employee might forget to change it from one item to another. If it was this simple, and represented such insignificant amounts of money, why didn’t the CEOs say so?

I twice listened to the video of the co-CEOs posted in Greenberg’s article and re-read the article. Three words were missing: I am sorry. Yet the word “apologizes” is in the article’s headline.

In the video, Robb and Mackey spoke to their customers. They said they’d ramp up training; have audits gauging progress made and give free any item that a customer questioned and was improperly priced in the store’s favor. They also thanked their customers for shopping there.

Will you continue to shop at Whole Foods and weigh what you buy? Does admitting improper weighing and labeling amount to an apology? If your customers love you, do you even need to apologize?  What do you think of bosses who take little blame themselves?

Thank you for shopping

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