Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rain Check Please

I discovered an awesome new Cheapskate Tip at the grocery store this Saturday. More and more lately, I've been noticing that Ralph's has been having some excellent sales in their weekly flyers. Of course, unlike Fresh and Easy and Trader Joes, all of their other prices are inflated but as long as you stick to the sales you can get some real good bang for your buck. Trouble is, their adds come out in the middle of the week. I usually can't make it to the grocery store until the weekend and by that time they are out of stock on many of their best sale items.

For example, this week, they had an excellent sale on chocolate chip cookies from their inhouse bakery. 18 cookies for only $1.80! I don't normally buy cookies, but for that good a price, it was worth the treat. I don't even think I can make them at home that cheaply! Anyway, I went to the display shelf where they had every kind of cookie you could imagine: oatmeal raisin, peanut butter, chocolate macademia nut, sugar cookie - everything except for Chocolate Chip that is, which of course was the only kind on sale. But I wasn't about to leave any stone unturned, I wanted those cookies. So I began to ask around the store to try and find someone who could tell me if there were any more in stock in the back.

And this is the thing that I hate about Ralphs on Van Nuys and Burbank, their service sucks. First I asked the closest attendant who was busy stacking produce and he literally said to me "I would have no idea. You have to talk to the bakery." So I go over to the bakery where I stand for several minutes and while there are ten employess in the back buzzing around, none of them will make eye contact with me or come to the counter. So I leave and go to customer service where someone is on the phone making a personal call. Finally she hangs up and turns her attention to me. I ask her if there are any cookies and she says she doesn't know, she doesn't actually work at customer service and has to get back to the station but that I should go back to the bakery. I told her no one will help me at the bakery. She said I should go back and ring the bell. So I go back to the bakery, there is no bell. I am convinced that the staff is hiding it from me so that they do not have to help me. I stand around for a couple more minutes, still, no one will make eye contact with me.

Now I realize people are busy and have additional responsibilities but I've spent 10 minutes trying to track down these cookies and am done being polite at this point. So I finally just address the closest person in an authoritative voice and very directly so that they have no choice to pretend that they don't see me anymore and keep on ignoring me. "Hi!" (in a fake friendly loud and agressive voice.) "Do you have any more of the chocolate chip cookies that are on sale." She barely looks up clearly not wanting to help me but caught in the act. "They are out on the display table by the Coffee Stand." Immediately puts her head back down hoping I will go away. I do not go away. "There are none out there. Do you have anymore?" She doesn't even move to go and check. Her reply is, "Then we don't have any, but you can get a raincheck."

I'm not sure that I believe her that there are no more cookies, but at this point I don't care anymore, I am too excited about my new Cheapskate discovery which may be my answer to taking advantage of Ralph's best discounts. Ralph's policy is that if they publish a sale add, and they are out of stock when you come to get it, they will actually give you a rain check to come back in and get the same deal at a later date, even if the sale has already ended. I'm wondering now how many other stores have the same or similar policy. So no more having to miss out on awesome sales just because you do your grocery shopping later in the week.

So back I go to customer service where the manager has finally returned. I request my rain check for the cookies. "Oh, they are on the display shelf by the coffee stand," he says. "There are none out there," I reply. He seems surprised and a little confused. "Did you ask the bakery?" he says. "Actually, I asked three different people, all of whom told me to ask someone else and the bakery was the one that told me to come here and get a raincheck." "Really?!" He gasps emphatically with both eyebrows raised as high as possible and a shocked expression on his face. My suspicions have been confirmed. There are definitely more cookies in this store somewhere and the Manager is pissed that his staff is not stocking the display shelves sufficiently, and on top of that, they are throwing rainchecks at the customers to get them to go away.

He asks his associate to go ahead and make me out a raincheck for my troubles and heads off briskly in the direction toward the bakery. I am sweetly satisfied. Not only did I secure my awesome discount for a future purchase of the cookies, I am now aware of this great raincheck policy which I will certainly take advantage of in the future, and also I have achieved a silent and well crafted retribution on this totally inconsiderate staff who are most certainly about to be reprimanded for their inaction. It may be slightly evil, but tell me you wouldn't feel a little bit victorious in that too.

1 comment:

Family Time said...

I love rain checks! Another good hint is that most stores in the company can transfer to each other. So if a item you want is seasonal you can ask to get it transferred to your store. TOPS is still a family business so it might be easier for them but most companies do it. I am suprised at the customer service. We have the policy if we don't know find someone who does. I like going the extra mile for guests. I need to come down there and work:) I doubt they could afford me though...