Dear Kroger, We Need to Talk

Perhaps I am a freak but I have always, kind of, sort of, enjoyed grocery shopping. Okay, the truth is until recently I almost always enjoyed grocery shopping. Not anymore.

Note how little room there is to move past the Clicklist cart and this fashionably dressed employee is allowing more space than what is typical

I am not a craggy, old, grouch that can’t accept changes in technology. When Kroger started Clicklist I thought it was a great idea for some people, just not so much for me. I thought about the convenience for large families that would have long lists of food and other items they would would need to get through the week. The hour spent picking out cereal, salmon filets, apples and yogurt could now be spent doing any number of other things. For example, one might sit on the bleachers of the school’s gym during a child’s sporting event or school play and multitask by ordering one’s groceries from Clicklist at the same time. Forget about the fact that this too may take an hour and that you won’t really be paying attention to what happening on the gym floor. I also thought about how someone, perhaps an elderly customer, would like that they didn’t have walk up and down the aisles in the sub-zero air typical of grocery stores. So let it be noted, that I see times, that for certain folks, this type of shopping is convenient and for that reason I have a live and let live philosophy.

I can only speak for myself but this is why I don’t choose Clicklist. If I am buying cereal I want to look at the prices and see what is on sale. Yes, I know I can do that on the app, but it takes longer and by the time I look for the price of Cheerios compared to Raisin Bran, Life and Corn Flakes I have already forgotten the price for Cheerios. Clicklist (offered at many stores under a different names) doesn’t let me read the label. I may want to compare calories, fat and carbs before making my selection. When it comes to salmon filets and apples I want to pick those myself. Call me picky but when I step up to the meat counter for salmon I point out the particular piece I want. There are several brands of yogurt that I like and in deciding which to buy I will again decide after comparing price, coupon, and nutrition.

Customers doing their own shopping often find it difficult to move past the Clicklist carts either in the middle of the aisle or turned sidways.

Working as a Clicklist employee must be tough. They move fast claiming the right of way without making eye contact as if to say, that since I am picking out my own food, I don’t matter. Hmm, do those employees get tips? Is that why they seem irritated that I am in their space? The way they swing their wide carts around and travel down the center of the aisle brings back memories driving through Eastern Kentucky back when coal was booming and the trucks didn’t care if they caused you to leave the road or slide off the side of the mountain. It was only once, but I was mowed down by a Clicklist cart driver. No blood, no apology, but a good size bruise.

Is it asking too much to let me choose my own bananas?

Clicklist is so popular that there are fewer and fewer traditional lanes open. Another way to punish those of us that want to shop in the traditional manner and not leave it up to a stranger to decide if the bananas are green enough. Has it even occurred to the powers that be in marketing that they should value the customer that actually comes inside the store. We are the ones that make impulse purchases!

If it doesn’t save time and make things easier then what is the point?

The newest thing at Kroger is Scan, Bag Go. I was willing to try this approach where you pick up a hand held scanner as you enter the store and scan items as you put them in cart. When you are finished you go to the Scan, Bag Go line, scan the barcode there and proceed to bag up your items, pay and go. If it really worked that way I might be a fan, but it doesn’t. I used it no less than 10 times before I gave up on it. Every time there was an issue. The register would call for an attendant who would then question certain items and expect me to pull them back out. Items reduced for quick sale, such as the flowers I often buy, never scan and require the monitoring employee to have to punch in their number and then scan them for me. The proverbial straw was a day when the monitoring employee had to come over three times. Besides my discounted flowers it didn’t like that I had over 20 items and had an issue with a coupon. I asked the employee how this was saving anyone any time. She asked me, practically begged me, to tell a manager. She even said she would page one for me. She was the only one assigned to monitor eight Scan Bag Go registers, all in use, and all having issues. I knew she wanted to complain to management but it would fall on deaf ears and she would just be the employee that complains. She was hoping they might listen to the customer. I told her I really just wanted to get out of there, that maybe next time I would talk with a manager. She gave me a weak smile and sighed, “I really hope you do.”

These have a barcode but the Scan Bag Go scanner won’t read it.

The next time I walked into the store I skipped the handheld scanner and went about old fashioned shopping. I happened to see a manager as I passed through the deli section. I politely told him why I wouldn’t be using Scan, Bag, Go. He was very quick to thank me for sharing but his abrupt way of dismissing me made it clear that he couldn’t care less. I have never crashed a wedding, funeral or party of any type but I suspect such a person would feel more welcomed than I do in my local grocery store.

While I have never been able to buy everything at Aldi, I like their set up, their product is quality and even when the lines are long, they move fast. If they can expand their selection a bit they will soon get all of my business instead of 50%.