Sunday, September 3, 2023

Giant Foods, "Convenience," and why I'm switching to Aldi...


I tried to find a more modern commercial for Giant Food Pharmacy, but it seems that the company doesn't spend a lot on electronic media advertising and hasn't since the 1990s.  So we'll have to settle for this.  Also, very little of today's snark concerns the content of this ad and is instead about the company's current self-checkout system.  Stay with me.

First, the ad itself:  "your prescriptions are filled while you shop?"  This is like that old joke about the car repair shop that features the promise "tires rotated while you wait:"  when the customer is told that it will take 24 hours to get the tires rotated and points to the sign in protest, the mechanic remarks "well, you'll be waiting, won't you?"  In my experience, the reason why you "wait for your prescription while you shop" is because the standard reply to "Is my prescription, which was called in three days ago, ready yet?" is ", give us another twenty minutes."  So yeah- your prescription is being filled "while you shop," but that's no more impressive as a mechanic telling you that your tires are being rotated "while you wait."  You're shopping because you came to pick up your Rx and it's not ready yet.  Not exactly a feather in the cap of Giant Food Pharmacy.

But now, the real reason for this rant:  Giant's "new and improved" self-checkout, which requires customers who don't have time to wait behind the family with four carts and a file cabinet full of coupons or the jackanapes who won't get off her iPhone to respond to questions about the non-EBT eligible items that make up half her cart, includes a built-in glitch that makes the whole experience a big, insulting headache.  I'm talking about the scale that all scanned items must be placed on the moment they are scanned if you don't want the screen to accuse you of being a shoplifter, which it does anyway at least once per visit.  It's bad enough that I can no longer move heavy items like cases of bottled water or family packs of chicken directly back into my cart but instead have to pick them up twice because an electronic scale must confirm that I'm being honest, but the insult is compounded when putting the items on the scale result in a loud "You Have Unscanned Items In Your Bag" announcement loud enough to let everyone within a ten-foot radius that you are being suspected of theft.  Oh, and it's not like there's an infinite amount of space to put your groceries down- if you're making a large purpose, at some point you have to stop scanning, take your groceries off the scale and put them in your cart-- and be "politely" reminded by the machine that "if you are finished scanning, please select your payment method."  Grrrr...

I'm not kidding- since they put this new system in, I have been accused of shoplifting (by a machine, not by an employee- they invariably just walk up to the system, swipe the screen with that plastic baton thing, and move back into "waiting to assist because yeah we know these machines suck" posture) every. Single. Time. I've purchased goods at Giant Food Pharmacy.  And I thought the "please confirm the number of bags you're purchasing because we aren't sure you got it right the first time" and "would you like to round up your $9.01 purchase to $10 for our charity of the moment?" messages were imposing annoyances.  

I'd go back to letting the Real Human Being who resents seeing buggy tech slowly separating her from a job, but Giant is doing a very good job making that option less attractive by the week by giving fewer shifts and leaving more and more of those assisted-checkout lines closed.   So we customers find ourselves with three options- wait forty minutes on line to let a real cashier handle our purchases, save time by going through the self-checkout but be regularly chastised and accused by electronics during the entire experience, or- finding someplace else to buy our groceries.  Aldi is right up the street, has everything Giant has, and doesn't "remind" me that I shouldn't try to steal stuff I'm not trying to steal.  So I guess it's going to be Aldi from now on, except of course when I have to pick up a prescription.  Then it's back to Giant- and probably more shopping, because it will be "almost ready" when I get there, just give them fifteen or twenty minutes.

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