The Meijer Experience to Forget February 26, 2012Posted by humbug27 in Life.
Tags: checkout lanes, cost cutting, groceries, long lines, Meijer, meijer store, self checkout lane, shopping, stores
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It is well documented that we face many challenges as a nation. The economy is still in rough shape, the housing market is in tatters, and politicians remain gridlocked. The impending presidential election has political pundits in a frenzy, prognosticating about 2012 and beyond. People are concerned about the direction that our country is heading, and rightfully so. Many of us wonder when the economy will recover and put people back to work. I think these concerns weigh on all of our minds. Either directly or indirectly, we all feel the consequences of the new economy we live in today. Recently, I had an experience that illustrates my point.
As the story goes, my family and I decided to go to Meijer one evening to pick up a few household items. We arrived at around 6:30 p.m., unpacked the kids, and strolled toward the entrance. As we walked through the automated doors, a Meijer employee stood there and greeted my family. As we moved past her, we exchanged smiles and nodded our heads in acknowledgment. What seemed very insignificant to me at first, ended up being a big deal. It all occurred to me when we finished shopping and we headed to check out. Of the thirty checkout lanes at this Meijer store, only two of them had cash attendants working the register. Naturally these lines were filled with customers whose buggies were overflowing with merchandise. I could tell that the wait in one of these lines would be dreadfully long. My only other option was to use a self-checkout lane, which I absolutely despise! To make matters more challenging, my two youngsters were becoming restless. At that moment, I had to choose between the lesser of two evils: longer wait vs. self-service.
I decided to use the self checkout lane because I felt it would save me time and the circumstances dictated it. The trade-off was the extra work I had to do, scanning and bagging my own groceries. Why does there have to be a catch though? Can’t a giant corporation such as Meijer afford to have a few more employees working the registers, especially for the customer’s sake? The simple answer is yes, but they choose a different strategy. One that funnels customers to the self-scan machines because their only other option is to wait in unreasonably long lines. Sure, you could leave your merchandise behind and walk out, but who wants to do that after spending the time filling your buggy. The corporate logic at work is: “If we can train customers to scan and bag their own groceries, we save on labor costs.” “We want to keep our labor costs under control because that is the biggest expense a business has.” This is their thought process when they think about their business strategy. I find it ironic though, how Meijer can justify paying someone to stand at the door and smile at people, while customers are stuck waiting in long lines. Seriously Meijer, if you’re too cheap to add staff, I would much rather trade the awkward door greeting for another cashier. My shopping experience may start with a smile at the door, but it ends with me questioning if I’ll ever shop with you again. The lesson here is that corporate cost cutting often has a cost of its own. In this case, that cost is felt by the customer waiting in long lines or scanning and bagging their own crap. Despite my criticism, I’ve learned something of value from my experience. I will make my own business decision and shop elsewhere. As the old saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me…”