Yesterday I wrote about being Barefoot Up North. It ain’t always fun and games.
Here’s an incident that still burns me up when thinking about it . . .
But there’s a bright side.
Interestingly, this part of northern Wisconsin has a bit of a barefooting tradition. I’ve already told you about Porter Dean, the barefoot fisherman to Presidents in Boulder Junction.
[By the way, in checking with the Boulder Junction Chamber of Commerce yesterday, I found out that the statue/carving belonged to the owner of the “Fisherman’s Wife” shop there, and when the place closed, the owner took it with him/her.]
I’ve also written about Barefoot Charlie’s, a restaurant in Land O’Lakes operated by, who else, “Barefoot Charlie” Haase.
But I suspect these people have been forgotten by now.
Anyways, the grocery store in a town called Eagle River is Trig’s, headquartered in Wausau, and with a total of five stores. I’d shopped barefoot there for years (decades, almost). And why not, as their “Vision and Mission” says on their website:
We will go out of our way to serve our customers better than any other grocer in the community. Together our team strives to exceed customer expectations through:
- Highly-trained associates who are eager to provide immediate attention
- An unmatched selection of the highest quality, freshest foods at fair and competitive prices
- An enjoyable shopping experience in a spotless store environment
So one time two years ago I was accosted by this slovenly, horribly obese customer claiming I couldn’t be in there barefoot. I used a trick I’d heard of from another barefooter: “Wanna bet?” He insisted it was illegal but didn’t want to bet, so I pulled out my Wisconsin letter, which he didn’t really look at. I then just left him.
About 3 minutes later I got bum-rushed by an employee. In fact, it was the manager. He was frantic that I get out of his store and extremely rude about it. I had to leave now. You’d think I’d been flinging poo around the store.
It turned out that the “customer” was their “inventory control” person going incognito looking for shoplifters. And the manager was even pissed at me for trying to show my letter to the security person.
So I used their website contact page to write a letter about the incident. It was more-or-less my standard debunking of a few myths, telling them how they were failing to live up to their “Vision and Mission”, along with a plea that the letter make it to somebody who actually could do something about the situation (as opposed to a lot of big companies for which a low-level flunkie handles customer complaints).
Here is the email I got back. (I’ll put the whole thing here in one chunk, and then comment on it.)
I would like to start out by introducing myself. My name is [Redacted.] and I am the V.P. for T.A.Solberg Company, in charge of Retail Operations.
I simply wanted to let you know that you have reached this level with your e-mail message regarding barefoot shopping.
I have done my due diligence and researched all of the topics that you cited in your e-mail. There is really no reason to debate the merits of the Standards that we have elected to put in place for the welfare of our Customers. I realize that you would like to engage in the debate of our decision. There is nothing that I can say or do to convince you that our decisions are just. As a company we have the right to create “Standards” that we feel are in the best interest of our customers. Defending those decisions is not something I choose to do.
I assure you that everything we do at Trig’s is sincerely & genuinely designed to be in the best interest of all of our customers. We will from time to time encounter clients that will choose to debate those decisions. Try as we might, there is simply no pleasing everyone.
We appreciate each & every customer who shops with us and you are no different. However, we are not planning to change our standard with regards to barefoot shopping in our stores.
We respect your right to shop where you choose, and would simply ask the same of you in respecting our right to require shoes & shirts while shopping our supermarkets.
Thank you for taking the time to write to us. We answer each and every customer concern. It is only through the comments and suggestions of our customers that we can continue to improve .
Now, I don’t know just what sort of “due diligence” he did, but he couldn’t even get my name right! (And it wasn’t even a friendlier “Dear Scott,” or “Hi Scott,” either.)
And then he claims that he knows what is good for my own welfare better than I do, and what is is my own best interest. Feh.
And their “Vision and Mission”? Well, I guess, who gives a damn? After all, “there is simply no pleasing everyone”. And we’re not about to try. They could have pleased me without displeasing anybody else.
It is more important to them never to learn anything.
(And note how he lumps shirts in with shoes at the end there, too.)
What a blow-off.
So, what was I going to do for food shopping? I sure as hell didn’t want to give people like this any business. (Yes, I could let my wife do all the food shopping, but that’s not fair to her—around here where I live, I actually do most of the food shopping at a barefoot-friendly Kroger.)
Well, with a bit of internet research I discovered there was another grocery store in Eagle River (it was on the other side of town). It’s a Pick ‘n Save and it is really, really nice. I’ve never been treated with anything but respect by any of the employees, and this includes the managers, who are really good at chipping in with all sorts of tasks, including bagging as necessary.
Their statement related to customer service is
We are a grocery store that actually understands that you don’t live to shop…you shop to live. Our promise is to make sure that everything we do always lives up to your life.
[Emphasis in original.]
And they live up to it.
The store is clean and has a great selection. It is always a pleasure to shop there.
(OK, on my last visit I had an employee ask me, “Are you allowed to be in here barefoot?” I answered, “I always have before.” And that was the end of it. No chasing me through the store; no fetching managers to harass me. Nothing except letting me finish shopping.)
And now back to the title of this entry: Unintended Consequences.
I have to thank Trig’s and Mr. [Redacted.]. If it weren’t for them being such assholes I never would have discovered the Pick ‘n Save. I wouldn’t have even known that it was there.
So isn’t that a great unintended consequence of Trig’s’ policy? Allowing their former customers to find and patronize their great competitors?