I have long hated Wegmans – for more than 25 years.

I ALWAYS said they were gouging on prices and, when WalMart came into town and gave the local chain some serious competition, Wegmans sent out a video tape to it’s card-holding members telling them how, in those tough times in the economy, there were sympathizing with the common person and were going to lower the prices on over 400 items. While people were goo-goo ga-ga’ing over how thoughtful that was, I simply said “This proves what I’ve been saying all along. They KNOW they were price gouging and they KNOW that WalMart has proven that, and now they HAVE to lower prices or lose business to WalMart.”  Well, guess what? I got this in an email yesterday:

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Yep – having to lower prices some more because WalMart is beating their prices – again. You don’t lower your prices out of sympathy for customers. You lower them because you know you’re getting the shit kicked out of you by a national brand that you’re having a tough time competing with.  And I hope WalMart continues to force them to make these kinds of decisions.

And then…

They took out the bank of can/bottle return machines from the front entrance of the store. I did not know this until today when I took in 3 12-pack containers of returnables. I made the decision when I took them out of the car to just carry the three of them in because it was raining, I didn’t want to walk away from the store to the cart return for a cart, then back to the store. I get inside, and no can/bottle return machines. There is a sign, however, that says “New returnable” something or other, and nothing else. There is a VERY FAT red line under the text with what could have been a pointed end, pointing to the left. I look to the left and see a door, and a bin for recycling printer ink (which some guy is dropping bottles into like he’s pissed off).

I go inside to the customer service counter, hold up one of the containers of empties, catch the eye of a man at the counter and just give him a questioning look. He says “They’re through the door,.” I say “Gotchya, but you might want to put a sign up there.” He says, “There IS a sign,” and I reply “Not on the door there isn’t” and go back out. Upon closer inspection, the big fat line under the text does look like it’s got a point on the end to the left, and it’s sitting right next to that door on the left of the sign. So, I try the door. It’s locked. I pound on the door. Nothing.

I go back inside, the same guy sees me coming, and I say to him “The door is locked.” He says “No it isn’t. There’s a SIGN!” I tell him I tried the door, even tried pounding on it, and nothing. He repeats “There’s a SIGN!” in a very condescending manner. I look at the woman behind the counter and say “I’m going to need to speak to a manager.” She calls the manager. The guy says something about the sign again and I just tell him “I’m done talking to you.” The woman says “Look, I don’t want to upset you” and asks me where I looked for the new recycling center. I explain to her about the sign pointing to the door and, by the time I get done explaining that to her, the manager is there.

I tell the manager that I have now schlepped these containers into the store TWICE, I invite her to come out with me and show her the one sign that doesn’t really say shit other than “new recyling” something or other. She says “Yeah, that’s supposed to be an arrow but doesn’t really look like one.” I told her that maybe a sign on the double doors leading BACK OUTSIDE and into a NEW ENTRANCE might be in order during the transition time. She agrees that the one sign isn’t helpful at all and says “I’m going to have another sign made up right now.”

I also asked her if she didn’t think that maybe the customer service guy could be asked to come up with something a bit more descriptive than “There’s a SIGN” in a condescending manner. She said she’d talk to them about giving explicit directions when asked, rather than just referring people to signs.

I recall asking someone in HR a question about retirement and was told to go the the retirement web site where I needed to register for an account, wait several days to get a password via snail mail, and then look up my question (which, as it turns out, wasn’t there). My response to that HR person was “Whatever happened to good, old-fashioned customer service where people actually answer customers’ questions rather than refer them to a web page?” I was sorely tempted a few weeks later, when she called the Help Desk, to refer her to Google to resolve her issue.

The changes that constantly happen at Wegmans (at least the Chili-Paul one) always create chaos. They move products around, claiming it’s to make room for new shit, but no new shit ever appears. Instead, what was in the front of row 11 on the right is now in the back of row 11 on the left. It’s a marketing thing, designed to force you to have to LOOK at everything and encourage “browsing” and impulse buying. And then, after they fuck up the entire store, they post two or three “helping hands” people between aisles to help people find things. The problem is, you can’t catch these poor helping hands kids because they’re being yanked in every direction and screamed at by irate customers who are tired of having to keep backtracking through the parts of the store where they’ve already been.

This is yet one more example of the UNNECESSARY chaos created by change, and I pin this directly on the store manager. Descriptive signs are a must if you’re going to relocate something. Unless, of course, you’re a sadistic asshole and you enjoy pissing people off.

Now, before any of you get your panties in a wad and decide you’re going to launch personal attacks on me because I badmouthed your dearly beloved Wegmans, know this: Comments are moderated. If you want to make a comment on the issue, you are welcome to do so. If you’re just looking to launch a personal attack, your comment will never see the light of day so save your effort. I really don’t give a rat’s ass if you think that Wegmans farts rose petals.

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