I found the sunscreen I wanted. It was on sale for $21.99 if I only signed up for a Rite Aid ‘Wellness Card’. I filled out the form as the line to check out behind me grew. The sunscreen didn’t come up at the right price. The line behind me grew. The clerk left her station to check the price. She instructed me to swipe my credit card and that the price would magically go right. It didn’t. I stepped aside and let a nice man with chocolate milk and a candy bar (breakfast?) check out. The clerk went through a return process so that I could get the printed, advertised price. I left, went to my car to apply the sunscreen and alas, the pump was broken.
I went back into Rite Aid, found that I had purchased the last of that particular sunscreen, grabbed another on-sale $21.99 sunscreen and went to exchange it. Even though I was exchanging one $21.99 sunscreen for another, since I didn’t have my ‘Wellness Card’ on me (left that in the car, natch), the special price for the exchange wasn’t working. I asked for a manager to override the pricing difference. I had been there 3 minutes ago. They remembered me. They knew I had a ‘Wellness Card.’ And, the manager of the entire store came over and said, “Sorry, I don’t have any override capabilities. You’ll have to pay the $8 difference.” “Um, but, they’re both $21.99.” “Right, and you can go out to your car and get your Wellness Card and stand in line again if you want.” “Don’t they give you any power at all? I can’t believe that Rite Aid would rather have an irritated customer than give you the option to fix this here and now.“ “Sorry, I don’t have that authority. But you’re being really nice about the whole thing.” And she’s the store manager. My eyes widened in disbelief. It was like an episode of Seinfeld. Only instead of no soup for me, it was no sunscreen for me!
At that point, I chose to return the broken sunscreen and just go home to put sunscreen on. I left Rite Aid, after 25 total minutes, with no sunscreen in hand, irritated and curious how a store gets so big that they start to put policies in place that do not help the customer. How do you lose so much confidence in your staff that you don’t give them any power? How do you dumb a job down so much that you can hire robots to do the job? Rite Aid appears to be working on the premise that even their store managers aren’t even smart enough to think for themselves.
It makes me think about my business; what choices do I make that are helpful to me that are horrible for the customer? What decision making have I taken away from my front line (my packers and pullers and pourers) because I haven’t trusted them enough. What can I do to change that?
We’re instituting an Intrepreneur Day here at Bramble Berry. This is the chance for our staff to unleash their inner entrepreneur withIN Bramble Berry, to be the boss of their work area for the day. Is there something that’s bugging them? Something they’ve always wanted to fix? This is the chance! We’re giving everyone 1 to 3 days to research, write a mini business plan, present it to me and then implement the plan themselves. The goal is to empower our team to make positive choices for themselves and improve their work environment.
Rite Aid apparently doesn’t trust their employees enough to make simple, $8 decisions. I’m glad I had such a negative experience with them because it was a reminder to me that if we expect people to be brainless automatons, they will be. If I expect my team of BrambleBerrians to do and be more, they will be.
Intrepreneur Day – here we come!
That is a wonderful idea. You are awesome.
Oh Anne- Marie,
This one really gets me…whatever happened to the Customer is Always right…that would have really fried me…and now, you have let everyone know about their service and I wonder how it will affect their business…that $8 difference resulted in a return of $22…and might result in MANY people choosing NOT to shop their anymore.
I had an issue happen at Staples, where their clipboards we rining up for three packs and not individual clipboards…so I asked for either 4 more clipboards or $4 refund…the manager actually had the nerve to suggest I might have the other 4 clipboards at home…the result…they lost SEVERAL HUNDREDS of dollars of business for a $4 issue…I wonder if it was worth it…
Because we want super cheap prices, we have compromised quality in customer service…there are still companies doing it right, but for the most part, people don’t care anymore because they KNOW we will continue to shop there because their prices are the lowest…
I applaud you for giving your employees this opportunity to make your business even better…
A few of them went out the other night to talk about their ideas; I love that they are taking it so seriously!
That’s a nice way to think about it but judging from their Twitter account, I’m not sure they’re monitoring their brand very well. =(
I’m not sure I’m a dream boss – but I know that I have many flaws and I just keep trying to chip away at them. =)
Thanks everyone for your comments – I appreciate everyone’s thoughts! I love having this community =)
That’s a very good reason about why having CHOICE in the marketplace is so important. You can just shop else where next time – go to another airline, go to another rental car etc…
Still, that sounds like a horrible experience and I’m sorry to hear about it =(
I’m a sucker for trying new products and Oil of Olay had a new sunscreen so I just had to try it =)
I’m sorry about your experience in retail. I worked retail for a small company in college and loved it. I worked for a large company doing retail in college and it was a very different experience. I wouldn’t go with as negative as yours but it was a very different experience. I’m not surprised you got great reviews though! =)
Aw, that’s sad. Hire good people, train them well and then let ’em go (in my opinion!). Then again, I’ve never run a 500+ store chain either so that take with a grain of salt … =)
Ha ha … good one!
Sad to see an established brand not be able to compete (for whatever reasons).
I think it’s a double edged sword of growing larger – something bad/stupid/money-losing happens and to prevent it from happening again – and the larger you get, the more of these bad/stupid/money-losing happenings you get – and then all of a sudden, you have all this red tape and all of a sudden, you’ve become a company you never wanted to.
Thanks for being a customer. I appreciate it!
Goodness … that sunscreen situation is ridiculous. You’re a great business lady that’s for sure, and I’m sure your staff will come up with some even better improvments for you.
Sorry to hear about your bad experience at Rite-Aid…maybe someone higher up in that organization will read this and give you a refund and more?! 😉
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: you sound like a dream boss to work for!
Forgot to add: I think the Intrepreneur idea is a great idea!!
We just got back from a family trip to California and had similar customer service experiences. Our flight to CA was delayed 2 hours which meant we wouldn’t make our connection. All we got was attitude from the airline “if you fly in the summer there’s going to be bad weather” and “if you fly in the summer everything is going to be booked” like it was our fault. Then cancelling our hotel where I was going to use my points, they told me they’d have to charge me $140 since I didn’t give 24 hours notice and they couldn’t just charge me points. I said but I can’t get there, this is not by choice!!! too bad those are the rules. Then getting there the next day was going to put us 1 hour past the 3 hour holding time for our rental car. They would not hold it for us and they said there were no other cars. They could not comprehend that the car that we were GOING to originally get, would still be there. The sad thing was I got nowhere with them, but my husband calls and says basically the same thing I did and got everything straightened out. Of course it took 1 hour for my husband to convince the rental car company that they actually would have a car.
$22 for sunscreen? Girl, go to Target! ;P
This is something that I hated about working in retail. They claim a customer first philosophy, they make you endure hours upon hours of awful, badly acted, stale videos on how to help the customer…..but heaven forbid you stop straightening the shelf to help the customer! I do not know how many times I got chewed out for not doing my ‘job’…..yet I got glowing reviews- highest in the store- on customer surveys.
As a customer, just the other day, I looked up a store to see if they had something I was looking for. They did, and on sale for half price! We went up there only to find out the store was a franchise and did not honor the website sales. I was truly dumbfounded. Who does not honor the sale on the website, especially when the customer was going to buy 50 of said item?
Megan B Chase says
A lot of large companies don’t allow the managers at the store to do much of anything. I was a manager at Joann Fabrics and I could do nothing. The higher ups only cared for the bottom line and if we were making enough sales. If the manager at rite aid even had the code to do the return it could of meant her job for not following store policy.
Wow. I’ve never understood all the steps it takes to return something. I tried to return something I bought with my debit card the other day and the store wanted to see the card and my ID. I explained my purchase was essentially cash and asked to talk to a manager. Finally they let me return it. I had my receipt so I’m not sure what their issue was.
I have also had horrible experiences at Rite Aid. Must be part of their corporate culture. Maybe they should change their name to Wrong Aid!
I would be unhappy too, if I didn’t feel like I had the control to make a customer happy for a ‘small’ amount ($8 is a lot of money but not too much in the grand scheme of things considering the ramifications). Hire the right people, give them the power to have control over their space and see what happens … it’s worth a try! =)
I am so curious to hear what they come up with! I am excited to see them all do a basic business plan for their idea with some rudimentary cost analysis too. It’ll be a good life lesson in general (and hopefully help the warehouse set up and customer service set ups as well!) =)
Aw, thanks. That’s a big compliment. I have many many many failings and every day is a learning lesson. With the help of my Mastermind Business Group and business coach and awesome BB team, hopefully I am growing as a leader for them.
I guess you sometimes really do get what you pay for … =)
Thank you! We love having you as a customer and appreciate your support.
That is CRAZY! Oh my goodness. I notice on their Twitter account that they’ve recently changed Tweeters. I wonder if that’s why? What an inappropriate response. Yikes.
Agreed. ‘Internal locus of control’ is very important for everyone – children, teens, us, employees – anyone because ultimately, we can make a difference no matter where we are and what we are doing.
I once read a study in some business magazine that showed that how you handle a mistake makes a larger impression on the customer than if you had just gotten the entire thing right to start with! And that makes sense – when you get an order right, it’s just sort of par for the course. But if you have an order that is wrong, the vendor gets a very big chance to make that very big second impression. So, though it’s always best to get it right the first time, dealing with adversity is where you really show your mettle and character as a company.
Good for Walgreens! That’s fabulous that they are learning to depend and trust the people that they hire. After all, they shouldn’t hire them if they can’t trust them, right? =)
And while you may the only employee now, it’s great that you are thinking about it ahead of time because when you start to grow, it’s wheeeeee! So fast, sometimes too fast to think about things like policies.
Especially when you have a team as great as mine – they’re pretty close knit and committed to what we do to help small indie business owners all over the world pursue their small businesses. I feel very lucky and blessed to have them on our team. And, they are going to ROCK this ‘experiment’. I know they are.
Aw, thanks! That is quite the pick me up after a long day. =) I’m really glad that you liked the post.
After reading this, it doesn’t surprize me that the Rite-Aid’s in my area are closing one by one.
I find it very disappointing that the corporate world has adopted a very money oriented mind set and yet they seem to forget who exactly it is spending the money! Your people represent the way your company feels about its relationship with the public and if those people don’t care, then clearly the organization as a whole has allowed this attitude to become their practise.
That is why I personally value my relationship with BB. Your staff clearly care about their customers and they want to represent the company proudly– and it shows! I applaud the fact that you as an employer care about the development and trust bond of your team to nurture them. I wish there were more bosses like you!
Wow. I completely understand! Many corporations in my experience just hire whoever to fill a spot and give them very small tasks……No wonder people are unhappy…they feel very underappreciated. Thank you for this Blog!
Unbelievable! So glad it worked well for Brambleberry though! I hope your employees come up with lots of great ideas!
You are awesome Anne-Marie! Many people (f not most) would simply become irritated, shrug or fume and move on. Instead you chose to apply someone else’s short-sightedness to your own situation and use it to grow. Do you know how rare that quality is? So many people read something like that in a book, nod, smile and let it go. You actually practice mindfulness. Wonderful 😀
Well, well said. It is fascinating that in the rush to get more efficient, the human touch was taken out. But now, when every dollar matters more than ever, it turns out that consumers want service and that they want to make the right choice the FIRST time to preserve their precious dollars. Often times, it’s a human being with brains that helps with that buying decision so maybe we’ll see a swing back to customer service again? We can only hope =)
They had the numbers from the receipt they were using to do the exchange with. They could have exchanged the products at full price (both of them) too. Or, one of the gals could have whipped out her own card. Or they could have done the exchange and dealt with the issue later but none of that happened. It was a clear abdication of thinking! =)
That is so right – when you take away the competition, everyone suffers. Competition is GOOD for raising the bar, keeping prices aggressive and ultimately, the consumer benefits when there is more competition. It’s too bad that the pricing is so good at your food store – I guess we know why. They don’t have customer service! =)
I understand that companies want to track us and that they are able to make better purchasing decisions through tracking our purchasing decisions. But, the refusing to exchange one same-priced-product for another same-priced-product was a bit crazy, IMO. =)
Totally crazy, I agree. I was dumbfounded. And I really really needed the sunscreen too (ha ha). =)
Love it! And remember, what is good for your customers is for you to be here in a few years so it’s not always cost cutting that is the answer when you’re thinking about “How can I best benefit my customers?”
I’m really excited about what the team comes up with. I gave everyone 3 months so I’m expecting a lot of projects to get started slowly =)
And one more reason I refuse to shop at the ‘supermarket-type’ drug stores.
Ann Stoermer says
Ugh, I hate shopping experiences like that!
What a great idea. I have to say that every experience I have had with your company has been a very positive one. That is one of the many reasons I keep coming back for more! I have a feeling you are a wonderful person to work for (especially after reading stuff like the above post), which makes them want to spread your positive vibe!
Wow, what a nightmare. It’s great it helped you think about your business. I don’t know if you’ve seen it but I loved the show “Undercover Boss” that recently aired about bosses stepping into the employees shoes and trying out different facets of their business and seeing what works and what doesn’t.
A positive experience I had was with a company that sent me the wrong containers for my product. I called and asked what happened and they automatically told me to keep the wrong containers and that they were sending out new ones and I’ve been a customer ever since.
I’m sure your Intrepreneur Day will be great.
Sadly, no great shock about Rite Aid as you can see when I tweeted that they didn’t have my last 2 prescriptions: @my_rite_aid @YouScentMe sorry to hear that. Maybe you should find a dr that doesn’t prescribe obscure medicines.
This is great! As an entrepreneur, I always say that everyone on the team must feel like they can change the light bulb when it goes out (and not that it’s just one person’s job). Everyone must feel equally invested for the entire team to succeed. That said, it’s pretty difficult that carry out that vision as a one-woman business! But some day, in the future, that belief will carry its weight!
Wonder Turtle Soaps says
Good on you, Anne-Marie, for turning a negative experience into something positive! I think great customer service (and getting along with people in general) all comes down to treating others the way that you would want them to treat you. I am always impressed when someone seems to genuinely care about me as a customer. It’s great when someone thinks outside of the box and works at fixing a problem I might be having. I know goof-ups happen, and I don’t get upset about mistakes. What matters to me is how the mistake is handled once it’s brought to someone’s attention. It’s too bad you had such a bad experience. I don’t understand why they couldn’t just let you take the other sunscreen for the same price and let you get on with your day. They could have worked out the details after you left by looking up sunscreen barcodes and your Wellness Card number and doing the swap on the register later. (If something like this happened to one of them, I wonder what their perspective would be?) Something good came out of it, though, and I admire your attitude! 🙂
I am in awe! I absolutely hated my time working within one of these drug store chains, Walgreens, for a multitude of reasons, but Walgreens is actually in the process of revamping their register system so that a mere cashier can complete a customer return or exchange instead of having to call a manager, thus having the customer wait. So to hear that Rite Aid operates in such a manner … I truly have no words! What an experience.
that is a great lesson learned. I will have to go through my business model and make sure it helps the customer out and not hinders them. I am my only staff, but that doesn’t mean that I have not put up goofy obstacles for my customers.
Jessica Shabel says
I applaud you Anne-Marie for taking a “less than stellar” consumer experience and using it to shine a spotlight on yourself as a business owner. I wholeheartedly agree that if you give your team the tools they need, the most important being the ability to affect change within their sphere of influence, they will build you a staircase to the moon
I freakin’ Love you, A-M. LOVE!! With a capital LOVE.
Did I say love? What I meant to say is LOVE. <3 <3 <3
Good for you!! I love that you turned this into a positive—Way to go!!
It is a sort of irony that the “Big Box Stores” had a business model that streamlined everything and cut costs because it took the human factor out of the equation. “Back then” everyone had a pocketfull of credit cards and wanted to just grab & buy quickly. Now with the economic meltdown the credit cards are gone (or at least pared-down) and each purchase is more thought-out and scrutinized “do I really need this?” and each hard-earned dollar is spent with care. The very business model that worked so well, and ran the Mom-and-Pop family stores under, is now turning around and biting those big boys in the form of customer disgust. Not appreciating that a customer chose that dollar to be spent there and the “You don’t matter” attitude that is evident with each employee a customer interacts with. Hopefully there are still enough people like you who will bring back the Mom-and-Pop business’s that made America great. People who take pride in what they do & that it is not just a profit (which is reality…we all have to pay our bills!) but also the pride in knowing that a satisfied customer walked away from the transaction…because they will be walking back in again! (and they’ll bring friends!) 🙂
Did they need the numbers off the Rite Card card to make the transaction legitimate for their cash balance? Just trying to give them the benefit of the doubt in an awful situtation! 🙂
I find that customer service is going down the drain. It’s not how I was trained when I joined the service industry 30 years ago, I was taught the customer is always right and to do everything within my power to make them happy and keep them coming back. Not so anymore. Yesterday I did my groceries a superstore in Saskatoon and bagged my own groceries while the clerk was checking her finger nails and was talking to some one else about if they were going to hang that night, and the sad thing is I will go back there because it is the cheapest place to do groceries. I guess when you take away the compitition they can treat you anyway they please. Lemonaid is a good thing!
Lori Trapp says
I dont shop at rite aid any more because of that dam card.i had a simular issue and I have been shopping with them for 10 years,avoiding walmart so they could have my business.Now I shop at Walmart.
Evermore Organics says
This bothers me about a lot of companies. They hire college kids and other people who have no interest in the work they’re doing (and are just there temporarily, as are college kids) so they can pay them as little as possible. There isn’t going to be anyone who actually knows anything beyond what aisle things are in. This bugs me, because sometimes I need the expertise of someone who actually understands the products. I’ve never seen it so bad though that no one in the store had override capabilities. Relying totally on machines? Yikes.
Dee C. says
I’ve actually heard that about Rite Aide before…and glad there is not one around me! I’m also glad you used that experience to think about your own business…and if I had employees i’d be doing the same thing, as this has inspired me to do more…so since I don’t have employees I’ll think about my customers more…what is good for them!
Good for you AnneMarie!!!
Everyone will benefit from your choice to “make Lemonade”!
Smart thinking Lady!