email: cavebear2118 AT verizon DOT com

Monday, February 23, 2015


Have you ever felt you were cheated at a store?  And didn’t know what to do about it?  I did today, and I did something about it.

I shop at a particular grocery store.  I normally don’t question the weights of the fresh fruits and veggies.  I mean, how can I tell the difference between 2 pounds and 2.5 pounds of apples? 

But I CAN tell that a small handful of snow peas ISN’T .85 pound!  But that is what the register scale said.  When I challenged that as “ridiculous”, the cashier re-weighed it as .5 pounds.  THAT was still ridiculous, but several re-weighings got the same weight.  So I paid and went home.

I have a good quality Salter digital kitchen scale.  I checked the accuracy  by carefully measuring a pint of water (minus the container weight) and it showed PRECISELY 16 ounces (to the nearest 1/8 ounce).  So my digital scale was VERY accurate.

The .5 pound (8 ounces) of snow peas (according to the store receipt) actually weighed only 1 7/8 ounces according to my verified kitchen scale.  That’s a bit of a difference.

So I weighed most of the other fresh produce.  Same over-weight charge pattern!  I was annoyed.  But it would be my home scale against the store’s certified scales.  Of course they wouldn’t admit any error, and if I brought stuff back to the store for a reweigh, how could I prove I hadn’t removed some of the produce?

Ah, but there was the scale in the store. 

I called them.  I told them I suspected they had an inaccurate #4 register scale.  It took a while to get to the store manager...  First was the customer service desk.  They insisted the scales are accurate because they are checked every 2 weeks.  Then I got to the cashier, who remembered me because of the snow pea reweigh. 

When she couldn’t explain a way where the scale would be examined AND I would be advised about the result, I got to the store manager.  HE took it seriously.  I explained why I was sure my scale was accurate.  He agreed to check the scale immediately and call me back in 10 minutes.

I assume he simply grabbed a large can and compared the weights on different register scales.  I doubt he had a certified test weight on hand.  I expected a callback saying that the scales are tested regularly and were accurate.

I was wrong (which means I was right).  He reported that the #4 register  scale had some produce debris in it that caused inaccurate readings.  HE AGREED I WAS RIGHT!  So I asked about getting an adjustment to my bill on the percentage of inaccuracy.

He immediately assured me that I should come back soon with the receipt and he would refund 100% of the cost of all my weighed produce.  Wow, that was almost everything I bought.

I also asked “what about all the other customers who went through that register and were overcharged?”  He said they had no way to identify those customers.

They do.  I studied my receipt, and the register number is identified there.  There is a data string in the receipt, and I’m good at figuring those things out.  Date/time/store#/register/etc/etc.

AFTER I get my refund, I will point that out to him, and “suggest” he have the IT department arrange for similar refunds to those customers (via shopper club numbers). But if they don’t I’ll never know.

I did my part by checking something suspicious and questioning the store. 

You know what ELSE I did?  I decided to make a scale-tester for future use.  I took my bowls of accumulated coins (who uses coins anymore?) and scooped out about a pound of pennies.  I found the smallest lidded container that would hold them and even cut off enough duct tape to seal it.  Then I weighed the container, tape and pennies on my verified accurate digital scale, taking out pennies until the container and all weighed PRECISELY 16 ounces.

I’ll bring that to the store from now on, first to show to the manager, and for verifying the register scales in the future.

It pays to be willing to check on things you doubt.


Megan said...

Fabulous outcome Mark. I'm pleased that you ended up achieving a good outcome. I think the other key to your success is remaining polite and civil. Many people don't know how to complain - they think that they have to behave in an angry manner and that causes the emotion to become the issue rather than the cause of the complaint itself. I recently had a positive experience in complaining: I wanted to express my deep frustration at the incompetency and poor customer service I was experiencing. I opened the discussion with the shop assistant by asking him for advice: What did he think would be the most effective way for me to provide feedback to the store about the poor quality of service I was receiving? It turned out that he wasn't a mere shop assistant, but the recently appointed regional store manager. I ended up receiving a lot of background information about changes taking place in store management and administration (which did account for some of the mucking about); I was able to provide him with feedback about what it felt to be on my side of the counter; and he gave me the email address for the best person in head office to provide further feedback to. I didn't make a huge impact on the business, but I was better informed and I felt quite proud of myself for getting my message across without getting emotional.

Sydney, Australia

Just Ducky said...

Good for you. You are right they have the data to find those other customers through the store shopper cards that almost every store uses.

Bella said...

Haven't you gotten over your cigarette habit? You need to get back in the habit of witing here!

Brooch Czarina said...

Awesome complaint strategy and awesome results and future plan! Good Job!

~Brooch's Mommi
~~hijacking the baby's acct ;-D

Katie Isabella said...

We could be fraternal twins.