Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Advocate This!

Every time I walk into a Fred Meyer store I am reminded of the power of the consumer.

Now, I’m not a huge consumer advocate type of guy. I don’t go out of my way to complain. I think I’ve sent a total of one meal back at a restaurant in my entire life. Hey, if I order it and I don’t like it, whose fault is that? Anyway, back to Fred Meyer.

In the late 90’s the Fred Meyer location at Northwest 20th and Burnside went through a major renovation. Everything was replaced and redesigned.

This is where Bruce had to go to work.

Y’see, they replaced the shopping baskets. The traditional rectangular baskets with the two fold out handles. The ones that work really, really well. The ones that many of the people that live in the neighborhood and walk to and from the store use to buy a day or two worth of groceries.

Well, FM tried to fix them.

They replaced every shopping basket in the store with an ergonomic, stacking basket. Shaped like a kidney bean it had a plastic handle that was attached right in the middle of the basket. They sure looked fancy and they were easy to carry. Hugged right to your hip.

But you couldn’t fit anything of any size in them. At it's widest, the floor of the basket had maybe 3.5 inches of space and it flared out to a wider opening at the top. What’s the use for a basket that can’t hold a half-gallon of milk standing upright? Or a head of lettuce? It was absurd.

I immediately used the power of the internet and got a note in to the Manager of the store. I explained the problem and asked him to resupply the traditional baskets.

I received a pretty quick reply from him (within one day) and he let me know that he had checked out my concerns and that they were bringing in a stock of traditional baskets that afternoon.

I went to the store and, lo and behold, rectangular baskets. They kept the kidney bean ergo-baskets around for a few months, but nobody ended up using them.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

So that’s my one standout consumer action story. One that actually had an impact on people doing their daily business. Small scale? I suppose. But it had to be done.

Do you have an advocate story? I’d love to hear it.



Whitney said...

When we bought our 4th ferret kiki from petco (god forbid I EVER BUY an animal again- shelters are much better)I was appalled at one of the employees obvisous lack of education and caring for their animals.

She knew nothing about ferrets, and when I pointed out that the food and water for the critters was too high for the babies to reach she said "oh they're fine." So we decided to rescue little Kiki home with us (she was by far the smallest), and asked for a container in which to safely tranport her home.

The employee took her in the back and came back with a card board shipping box, duct taped closed, with pnecil holes poked in it (I swear that ferret had better not have been in there when she did the poking).

I could not believe how terrible and uncarring this woman was! So we took Kiki home, and she was soo lethargic from lack of food and water, that it took us a week to nurse her back to a normal baby ferret bounce.

I was so disgusted that I sat down and emailed the GM of the NW region of Petco to complain. I recieved a phone call that afternoon to personally apologize. He said that that was not what petco was abotu and he would personally inspect the store and make sure all of the employee's training was up to snuff. Low and behold the next time we visted, those babyu ferrets (and all the other animals) were as clean and well fed as I have ever seen them. And we never saw that woman again. (yea!)

Patti said...

If you're going to steal pictures off my website the least you can do is put up a link. I was thinking "I stole this photo from www.rxshelving.com"

Bruce said...

Patti has brought up a good point. And, I shamefully admit, it's one I hadn't thought through; The use of a published image as a way to illustrate my blog entry. So I have removed the photo of her products. Now, I'm not sure what harm has been done, but in the end that's not really the point, is it. So Patti, I'm sorry for using your picture to illustrate superior shopping baskets. It won't happen again. And the link that the picture had directly into your website is gone too.