Publix's "Awesome Response!"

Red_eye and his wife shop at Publix, but the ATM outside the store seems to break on a weekly basis. He asked Publix to look into the situation:

Hello,

My wife and I are loyal Publix shoppers but we have recently had a great deal of trouble using the at entrance ATM located at store number XXXXX. It is constantly breaking almost weekly I would say. One of the primary reasons we use it is my wife shops with cash, and if she cant get cash while at your store she wont shop there. The store management has been very sympathetic however they said to write Publix Corporate because there isn’t anything they can do, hence this diatribe. Please address this problem with the ATM/Bank owner and get them to replace this broken faulty ATM with one that works since they have to fix it on nearly a weekly basis or soon the trouble for us and many others may make is simpler to shop elsewhere.

Publix responded the next day:

Mr. XXXXXX,

We’ve reviewed the maintenance history of the ATM at your Publix store…


…It does indeed have a history of problems related to how the money bills are “picked” during a transaction. A contracted technician from Diebold was at the store Tuesday trying to determine once and for all how to fix the unit. They think it may be related to how the money is loaded into the cassette by the armored courier. The courier company has also been contacted and retraining has been conducted by them with their guards. We will watch this unit and any issues with it closely.

I apologize that you have been frustrated during your visits to our store. We like to say we’re good at customer service so when something goes wrong we take it very seriously. I’m sorry that it happened multiple times until you had to finally contact us. That is the last thing we want you to have to do. Hopefully the fixes mentioned above will resolve the problems, but we will continue to monitor the situation.

If you have any questions or concerns about this or any other matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me or your store manager XXXXX XXXXX.

Sincerely,

XXXXXXXXXXXXX
Retail Coordinator, Customer Service RBU
Publix Super Markets, Inc.

Great response, Publix! It is a shame more companies don’t take the time to send detailed, personalized responses to their customers. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

(Above and Beyond highlights exceptional and extraordinary acts of service performed by individuals. To nominate someone for inclusion, send your story to tips [at] consumerist [dot] com. Be sure to put “Above and Beyond” in the subject line.)

Publix takes time out for good customer service [Patently Stupid]
(Photo: JohnKit)

Comments

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  1. publix is so expensive, they better have excellent customer service.

  2. ShadowFalls says:

    Umm… If you are already at Publix and plan on shopping there and can put a card into an ATM machine, why can’t you just use your card in the store? Seems illogical to me since you are just adding an additional step to the whole process.

  3. AcidReign says:

    …..Is it me, or is everything in italics on this post? Let’s try this: [/i]

    …..I love Publix. Do I always shop there? No. About once in four grocery trips, when I need some nicer, more pricey things.

  4. AcidReign says:

    …..oops, it’s

  5. outsiderlookingn says:

    Why would someone use an ATM machine instead of using the card at the cash register? There are no ATM fees at the register and you can get cash back if needed so it seems a pretty stupid reason not to shop at the store

  6. AcidReign says:

    …..Didn’t help. Still italicized.

  7. joemono says:

    That is a great response, but count me among those who are wondering why this customer doesn’t just use their card at the register.

  8. RumorsDaily says:

    Not italicized. I fixed it for you.

  9. davere says:

    @AngrySicilian: Publix expensive? In my experiene they are cheaper than Albertson’s and other alternatives in the area.

    Customer service has always been great with me in the very rare occasion that an item or promotion didn’t scan as advertised (as they should.) They are always smiling and willing to help. Loyal customer here.

  10. OMGLAZERS says:

    “publix is so expensive, they better have excellent customer service.”

    As a born and raised Floridian, when it comes to food shopping, I know one simple thing. If it’s not in a box and never ever at any point was alive, it can be bought outside of Publix.

    There are three main places to buy food at my university in Orlando. Walmart, Target and Publix. It’s no suprise that Publix is busy; they offer amazing deals and pretty cheaply when you consider you’re about to put it in your mouth.

    I know it seems expensive, but there’s a reason that the plastic wrapped 5 lb ‘tube-o’-meat’ at Walmart is $5. Because it’s disgusting and poor quality.

    And no, I have NOT been paid by Publix to say this. I dont even work there. I just honestly love seeing Publix get props for doing a good job.

  11. OMGLAZERS says:

    @davere: Apparently I wasn’t the only one who found that comment a bit off-kilter :D

  12. unamericanvalues says:

    I’m just wondering like the other commenters, that it doesn’t seem logistical to have to pay a two dollar ATM surcharge to get cash out when it would just be much simpler to swipe your ATM card at the till. Hey at least this person isn’t like most people in Publix south Florida demographic who are terrified of using the ATM and have to go inside the bank and write a check to teller to get money, i mean come on that is so nineteenth century.

    Kudos to Publix for actually trying to resolve a customers problems!

  13. codegrl says:

    Maybe they were just stopping to get cash out? We don’t usually use ATMs; but I believe that Publix doesn’t charge to use their ATMs.
    I love Publix, except for the fact that the one by us forgets items on a regular basis, but that’s not corporate’s fault, that’s employee issues.

  14. volsfan91 says:

    Diebold’s machines BROKEN? Surely this isn’t possible!

  15. mantari says:

    Excellent response. Taking ownership of the problem, looking into it in more detail, even detailing the steps that they are going to do to correct the problem. So very human… which is a very nice email from a large corporation.

  16. Lostcase says:

    I find this customer’s reason for not shopping at Publix rather strange. When you shop at Publix you have the option of getting cash back. It is my humble opinion that he frequents Publix’s ATM to get cash out for other purposes rather than grocery shopping. He does this so he doesn’t have to pay the associated ATM fee. Publix owns the Presto ATM system. Whenever you pay an ATM fee anywhere, Publix gets a portion of the fee. If your financial institution is an associated member of Presto, your ATM transactions at Publix will not carry a fee because Publix has an arrangement with those institutions. There are over 1,500 members of Presto. Here’s a link to more information.

    http://www.publix.com/services/presto/QandA.do#Q3

  17. getjustin says:

    Moving back to Florida in about a month and cannot wait to shop at a Publix again. I’m stuck with HEB in Texas, and since they’ve muscled out most other competition, they can treat you like crap because you’ve got nowhere else to go.

  18. boomer359 says:

    Why would someone use the ATM outside the store instead of getting cash back inside?

    Because Publix Presto ATMs don’t have surcharges. They’re free and work with any bank.

    Publix is all about customer service. I’ve lived in Florida for the majority of my life and have shopped at Publix the entire time without a single bad experience. Clean stores, friendly employees, well stocked shelves. They even stay open during hurricanes.

    The three years I lived in DC, the thing I missed the most was Publix.

  19. Lostcase says:

    In my previous comment I forgot to emphasize the great customer service that Publix gives. I moved to Nashville from Florida 4 years ago and Kroger was the main grocery store chain here. I was surprised by the poor customer service and indifference that Kroger’s employees showed toward their customers. Especially when just about everyone you meet here is friendly and courteous. 1 year later Publix had opened several stores and guess what? All kind of renovations were happening at Kroger and I think they might have hired a person or two extra to keep shelves looking neater and better stocked. Customer service still pales in comparison with Publix but at least I don’t feel am a bother to them now. I shop both companies mainly because the Kroger nearest me is 1 block away. I still drive the 10 minutes down the road to Publix when time allows because everyone seems to be happy to be working there and show it. A hello and a smile go a long way in my book. Competition is good…no, it’s great!

  20. kewlfocus says:

    The thing about the Publix ATMs is that they don’t charge you if you are in their network. Publix owns the ATMs at their stores. They just recently started charging $1 to receive money from the machines if you aren’t in the Presto (Publix’s) Network. I really miss Publix, I live in DC (moved here about 3 months ago) now, Safeway really isn’t the same.

  21. Zat_XBSB says:

    In related news, sometimes the Diebold gave more money than requested, sometimes the Diebold gave less.

  22. homerjay says:

    Are all of you new here? Rule #1 of debit card ownership is never use it to in a store. He was just being a good consumerist is all. :)

  23. rlee says:

    Presto! No italics now?

  24. kerry says:

    Some people also like to shop with cash because it’s easier to control your spending. If you only take out $40, you only have that much to spend, you can’t go over. I had to live on cash for a couple weeks after my wallet was stolen (no cards, no ID to write checks, borrowed cash from someone to get by) and it was sobering. I agree with homerjay – she’s just being a good consumerist.

  25. 2Legit2Quit says:

    Oh you crazy kids and your “publix and krogers”

    you gotta come to new jersey and learn about the beauty of Acme, Shop-Rite, and WaWa.

  26. superlayne says:

    Italics. Weird, is this new? Makes reading the comments painful.

    Anyway, an ATM is a little more secure than an instore set up. TGI Maxx?

  27. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    @MaxPayne3476: Or come to Mass or NH and learn about the wonders of shopping at Market Basket..it’s wicked cheap.

    It was nice to see a detailed response from Publix that didn’t include a vague form letter. The customer service rep appears to have actually read the letter and even investigated the specific complaint! Wow!

    (Okay, so I’m really in this for the free italics).

  28. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Hey, where are my italics???

  29. GearheadGeek says:

    @getjustin: You must be in South TX somewhere… Most HEB stores are actually quite good. The one nearest my house is a converted Albertsons and has other weird issues, but in general I like HEB, and I really like Central Market. I’m in the midst of moving to another part of TX, and Central Market will be the only HEB around, but if I had to choose one HEB store it would definitely be CM! Since you’re leaving for FL soon you probably won’t care, but try a different store unless you’re in some small town with only one store, which is an HEB.

  30. Hoss says:

    What’s so great about this? The store manager tells the customer to write to corporate about a problem in the store. That’s suckie customer service. Then you get a long winded explanation about the problem — just replace the thing, let me know it — and tell me the manager will care more the next time.

  31. traezer says:

    Um, why didnt the MANAGER write to corporate? That is, indeed, bad service, if the manager tells you to do their job.

    Also, its still possible to just have a regular ATM card that cannot be used as debit.

  32. psm321 says:

    @MaxPayne3476: You’ve got to be joking. I was in New Jersey last summer and Shop-Rite was terrible compared to good old Kroger back here in Michigan.

  33. ptkdude says:

    @boomer359: Publix ATMs now charge a surcharge if your bank isn’t in their network (which is mostly credit unions). They started this about a year ago.

    As for Publix being more expensive than other alternatives, I should point out that in this case, you get what you pay for. Using comparisons in Atlanta: If you shop at WalMart or Target, good luck getting through the cashier in less than 15 minutes. If you shop at Kroger, enjoy the horrible produce and narrow aisles (the one near me can’t have 2 carts pass each other in some aisles).

    It has actually been my experience that Publix is actually cheaper for most of the things I buy.

  34. I guess I have to defend myself here. I moved OUT of florida recently and shop at stores in the Midwest now (Jewel, etc). Oranges are even cheaper in the Chicagoland area than in Florida.

  35. Charles Duffy says:

    @getjustin: HEBs vary quite a bit between locations. Of those near my home in North Austin, only the closest (which happens also to be in the lowest-income neighborhood of the HEBs I’m considering) is really a source of complaint — but the difference between that and the others is dramatic.

  36. lastfm says:

    @GearheadGeek:

    FTW! That’s my company!

  37. easy2panic says:

    *tries to remove the italics…

  38. suckonthat says:

    @psm321: Shop-rite is nothing great, but Wawa is heaven on earth. When they banned liquid on planes, all I could think about is “How am I going to get my Wawa iced tea up to Boston?! Check luggage??” I am going home in a week and it is the first place I plan to stop because nothing compares.

  39. FishingCrue says:

    I pass a Winn Dixie to shop at Publix, I’m sick of waiting to check out when one lane is open and 4 employees are jabbering away a mile a minute in spanish but won’t open another register. The only store I’ve ever been in where a MANAGER refused to open a register when 10+ people were waiting for the one open register (I handed him my purchases, told him I was going to Publix and walked out — I didn’t even have to wait for the smiling cashier at Publix — there was no line)

    Sorry to rant but Publix is usually cheaper and the service is far and away better than anything you’ll else in South Florida (and they’re not snooty like Wild Oats!)

  40. ShadowFalls says:

    I have two Publixs in my area, I don’t see either of them any more special than the Sweet Bay, Winn Dixie, Albertson’s, or Super Walmart. One thing you do find out though for Super Walmart is the express lanes. If you have 20 items or less, those lanes tend to move really fast, if not, even the others aren’t really that long either. Publix isn’t much different in that respect, except the prices tend to be higher for the same exact items, but it is a better place to shop for more healthy items, good produce department as well.

    In the end, there isn’t much point to use a card at an ATM before shopping inside a store. I always use my card, I have no need to use cash, I am a responsible adult who sets limits before I even get inside the store. I don’t need to then sorry about an ATM giving me fake $20 bills or bother counting change because of cashiers who cannot properly count, this is a general issue of all stores.

    If even better, you could instead be a person like me who uses their credit card to earn reward points for other things and pays it off at the end of the month. You then can earn benefits for just doing things as normal, it is not hard to restrict yourself at all, people make it sound like it is a complicated task as if the card controls the person and not the other way around.

  41. mconfoy says:

    the stores in the washington DC area, unlike Boston, charge 50 cents a transaction to use atm card. i don’t think so. Publix and Wegmans are rated two of the best grocery stores to work at and two of the best with customer service. nuff said

  42. FLConsumer says:

    Publix rocks! Not sure where these people who claim Publix is expensive shop. Maybe compared to the soup kitchen, yes, it might be expensive compared to free, but I’ve not found anything less expensive. Mal-Wart is about the same price (sometimes more, sometimes less), but their quality sucks. Mal-Wart believes in using pre-packaged modified meats, while Publix has a real butcher on-site and they’re more than happy to split packages and do custom cuts. Short of a community garden club, you can’t beat Publix’s produce either.

    Seriously, to those who say Publix is expensive, what are you eating?

  43. econobiker says:

    I use grocery store check outs to avoid the nasty $1.50 to $3 atm charges by submitting to the “one 30¢ five stick pack of gum” surcharge plus my cash requirements.

  44. Jesse in Japan says:

    The Diebold ATMs also have a nasty habit of making large donations to the Republican National Convention from your bank account.

  45. AcidReign says:

    …..@FLConsumer: in Alabama, Bruno’s and Piggly Wiggly are cheaper than Publix. Super Target is about the same as Publix. Sam’s Club and Walmart are a LOT cheaper than Publix. On the other hand, Wally’s meat and produce are a joke.

    …..For big grocery trips, I buy as much of my groceries as I can at Sam’s, then head next door to Walmart to fill out my list. Today, where I’ve only got maybe ten items on the list, I’ll hit Publix, and hope they have some of that magnificent, extra-thick fresh asparagus that’s been around this spring. Or, failing that, some great already trimmed and washed turnip greens or collards. It’s the kids’ fault. They stayed up late last night watching SNL and Best Week Ever, and ate up all my fresh spinach and tater tots that I was planning on serving tonight…

  46. SadSam says:

    I hate the grocery store, but if I go to one I go to Publix. Publix does have great customer service, the employees know their store, can help find items (they escort you to the location rather than point and grunt aisle 5) which I need since I never go to the store. Publix will also add items to their store if you ask. When I moved I couldn’t find the “ice cream” dog treats my dog loves so I asked the store manager and he added them to the store order next time I went it the treats were in stock.

    Publix is more expensive than Winn Dixie (my other choice, I refuse to shop at Wal-Mart) but they pay their employees a good salary, provide benefits and profit sharing and they are a local Florida company. I am willing to pay a bit more to support a store that cares about its employees and customers.

  47. JohnOB1 says:

    Tricky Consumerist… With the quotes around “Awesome Service” I thought that was you guys being ironic. But the service really was awesome.

  48. Plaid Rabbit says:

    I miss Publix dearly. I did realize that they were pricier, but you know what? I never had a SINGLE person ever:

    1) Scowl at me when I walked up to buy something, unlike every other grocery store I’ve been to.
    2) Complain, while I’m purchasing something, that they (need to go on break, don’t get paid enough, hate their job)
    3) Seem unhappy in any way.

    While it may be cheaper for me to patronize WalMart or Kroger, the food cost vs. social cost is a no-brainer. I’d rather help and support a company who gives their workers a living wage and doesn’t treat them like soulless machines (They often win or are in the top 5 of Fortune’s Top 100 Businesses To Work For), than save $.20 on my cereal. I compared at the beginning – my groceries cost about $15 bucks more. When the cheerful guy/girl who rang me up helped me to my car with my groceries, I asked them if they liked their job (inviting them to prove me wrong and unload on me.) All of them, EVERY TIME, said with no obvious saccharin-sweet cover-up, that they loved their job and loved working for Publix because they treated them very well.

    I’ll be a Publix customer for life as soon as I get back around on. For the guy in NH/MA – Market Basket???? Are you serious?! Every one of those I’ve been to up here has been dirty and ill managed. Plus, Hannaford’s is just a cheap and actually CLEAN. It’s no Publix, but it’ll have to do until I can get back home.

  49. hop says:

    tell publix to open a store up here in md.we got food lion….uck……

  50. Lookie says:

    I lived in Florida for 25 years and recently moved to Colorado. I miss Publix. Safeway, King Sooper(Kroger), Super Walmart, and Sam’s all pale in camparison to Publix. Safeway/King’s prices are no cheaper than Publix’s, but their selection, quality, and service is below. Walmart/Sams is fine if you need a can of Campbell’s soup.

  51. PhilK says:

    Publix is excellent, they’re usually either cheaper or only slightly more expensive than Wal-Mart, and more importantly if there’s a line for a register…they OPEN ANOTHER ONE…which I’m never seen Wal-Mart do. Publix deli section usually has more than 1 person waiting on people too, not just one brain-dead stoner kid who hates you just as much as you hate his service. Spending an hour extra waiting in the store doesn’t justify maybe saving 5$ total on my shopping trip.

    They also carry your groceries out to the car for free if you want, which all the little old ladies just love.

  52. shdwsclan says:

    Ive never seen a publix in my life, but if they are such an exclusive store that they carry groceries to your car, then why dont they hire GOOD programmers that know *NIX. I mean, there are a lot of crummy programmers that only know windows. Trust me, that is not a plus. The only reason its windows, is because its easy to program cause you can hack up commercial software instead of making your own…

    Anyways, it looks like they are not even programming properly for windows since they are not managing memory properly. Something is forcing itself as a foreground process. Only the gui should be foreground. If they programmed it properly, then the program should create a background thread or fork into a new process, so that program is always accessible, kinda like having two programs.

    Anyways, running an X11 or console app on a *nix would be much faster and it would crash rarely, but thats after several month of continuous operation….not to mention the fact that your able to run ultrasecure applications on very old hardware. Not the case with windows….especially on these crummy atms, where they are usually running windows 98 because the equipment is old to be economical….

    From what I know, I wouldnt even insert my card into any atm thats running windows, especially when its something that does with monetary transactions..

  53. rugger_can says:

    @shdwsclan:

    Perhaps you should write diebold and make a business offer.

  54. Red_Eye says:

    Wow quite a few comments. Let me see if I can explain why we use the Presto! ATM outside. I was born and raised in California, while living there I got into a very nice credit union that I am loathe to leave. Unfortunately there aren’t any branches here in Georgia where I now live. Presto ATM machines are part of the CO-OP network like my credit union so I incur zero fees for transactions made at them.

    As for why we don’t simply use debit at the checkout, we use something similar to the Envelope Method ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_budget ) so when we do our weekly shopping my wife withdraws all of the grocery money for the pay period at once and spends it as needed. Plus there is a $1 fee for POS use.

    As for Publix prices being high, thats all in how you shop. If you watch the deals and buy smartly you can save a substantial amount of money there, especially with their Sunday penny item.

  55. joeblevins says:

    Publix is great around here in Cola, SC. Because of the perception of higher prices, your undesirables tend to stay away. Therefore the stores stay cleaner and less crowded.

    Dirtbags will travel a long way to shop at the Walmart. I hate trying to shop there. Until recently, they used to have signs that would say that this register is ALWAYS open and it would give a time frame. More than once I would be there and half of those registers are closed but with long lines. I asked the head cashier and she said they don’t have enough employees. She then gave me the evil eye when I said ‘Then just take down the sign if you can’t hire good people’

  56. Kurtz says:

    @getjustin: HEB isn’t so bad. You could shop at Randall’s, home of triple coupons (because everything there is three times more expensive than HEB).

  57. chimmike says:

    Wegmans owns them all! Though Publix is good. And yes, meats and stuff from Wal-Mart are absolutely disgusting (not to mention the dirtyass people that shop there and put their grimy disease infested hands all over everything).

  58. chimmike says:

    @joeblevins:

    They can’t hire good people because they don’t pay anyone enough, it’s not the head cashier’s fault. Hell, the head cashier probably doesn’t make more than $8-9/hr anyways, so at that wage I wouldn’t be inclined to do anything mroe than necessary to keep my job.

  59. Crim Law Geek says:

    Publix Cherry Nut Ice Cream= teh awesome!

  60. K-Bo says:

    “Ive never seen a publix in my life, but if they are such an exclusive store that they carry groceries to your car, then why dont they hire GOOD programmers that know *NIX. “

    I highly doubt Publix hires the programmers. Dibold probably uses the same programmers (or even program) if the ATM is outside the Dollar Store as they do if the ATM is outside Publix.

  61. Publix is in fact made of awesomeness (though I do agree that the management at the store should have contacted corporate instead of making the customer do it).

    Some products are more expensive at Publix but most are non-food items that I can get at Dollar General or buy generic. You can save money by buying Publix brand food since it actually tastes good. Clean, bright stores and friendly staff. They’ve even offered to help me get my stuff to the bus stop.

  62. rugger_can says:

    Usually the best way to “catch” someone doing it is to snap a photo of their car (cell phone camera) in the spot then call your local police (city not state) as they are the one’s that enforce these laws.

  63. @rugger_can: Catch someone doing what?

  64. AcidReign says:

    …..@Rectilinear: Uh… probably me, sneaking back into Publix this afternoon, and buying several pounds of absolutely perfect fresh okra and a tub of Crisco. (Totally digestible!) My fried okra craving got REALLY BAD!

    …..I’m now kicked back in my chair like a beached whale, listening to my arteries tighten up…

  65. miketurk says:

    @shdwsclan: The picture leading this article is not of a Publix ATM, so you can stop rambling on about the superiority of Unix in this instance.

    As far as the others with their Diebold jokes, Publix ATMs are manufactured by NCR. And yes, they run Windows, and they work just fine.

  66. asherchang says:

    Did anyone notice how the machine was produced by Diebold?


    And isn’t it an expensive habit to withdraw money from an instore ATM? How much are fees for that kinda thing?

  67. arkan says:

    I don’t know why so many people have the perception that Publix is expensive. I heard that all the time while growing up, but once I actually started grocery shopping, I found that it just wasn’t the case… Publix prices are usually right in line with everyone else, and you get a clean store and friendly staff to boot, and no one can make a sub better than Publix.

  68. eli_b says:

    Regardless of the managers actions, the reply letter was almost unreal in this day and age… It was sympathetic, addressed all the customers concerns, wasn’t condescending, and outlined not just one but several steps they were taking to correct the problem.