Krap Kroger Gets It Wrong, Gets It Right

Sure, they aren’t glamorous posts. No one diggs them; Xeni Jardin does not deign to cast her appraising eye over them. But we still make a point of posting the good along with the bad. After all, when an executive or CEO sees his company’s name here along with a complaint, we want them to know he’s done fucked up good. But we also want the same guy to have a bit of a glow when his company’s done something right.

So when reading this post, we hope some Kroger executive will feel a lurch in his stomach when Andy details the incompetence at his local Krap Kroger locale. But with the pain comes the pleasure, because the way that Krap Kroger followed up Andy’s complaint is the sort of courtesy and respect for customers we’d like to see more companies exhibit.

Andy’s email after the jump:

In an effort to help you shed light on good customer service experiences, I wanted to share an example. Perhaps because of my recent lurking on your fine site, I have been more aware of bad customer service and less willing to take it from the companies I give my money. A case in point is the Kroger supermarket near my house in DT Decatur, GA. This Kroger has been a thorn in my side for two years, mainly because it is one of those mini-markets that do not have the full stock of the supersized counterparts. You know that when you need something specific, they won’t have it but you still go because it is only a few blocks away and frustration ensues. Above and beyond that, are the people who work there. A more apathetic and unhelpful crowd I have never seen. Here in Atlanta, many of the Kroger’s have unofficial names that serve to distinguish them from other Krogers in the area. Buckhead has “Disco Kroger” (I am unsure why), Ponce de Leon has “COPS Kroger” because of the number of appearances on the TV program, Ansley has “Gay Kroger”, not as a derogatory designation, but for the main clientele. The one in Decatur is called “Krap Kroger”, as far as I know, although some give it a more infernal designation of “Evil Kroger”. The longwinded point of this is that it sucks. Badly.

Normally I avoid this store and drive the extra 3 miles to Publix instead. But this past Friday, I needed munchies at 11pm. Publix was closed and I was stuck. I got ready for some aggravation and headed in. I grabbed my stuff and looked at the 2 open registers. Both had a line, and I didn’t qualify for the express line. So I got in the other line. I should have known when the cashier was not in sight that this was going to be trouble. I follow my fellow line-mates eyes and spot the cashier at the service desk, frantically searching in the cigarettes.

Non-smoking cashiers always have difficulty with the color coded, size specific packs of smokes for some reason, but no big deal. The cashier comes back, not once, not twice, but three times before getting the right packs then takes the cash from the customer. It becomes apparent very quickly that the cashier has no knowledge of handling money, getting the change wrong multiple times. Groaning, I wait for my turn. The above scenario is repeated three times, seriously. Each of the three people in line need cigarettes and wants to pay with cash. Each time involves multiple trips to the service desk and change. The poor guy behind the counter was trying; he just didn’t seem up to the task. Long story short (too late!), it takes me over 30 minutes to check out with my purchases. I was seriously worried about the ice cream I had melting in line.

Here is where I get to the part about good customer service. After stewing all night with my anger, I was ready for action. I went to Kroger’s website and wrote up a brief compliant (much briefer than above) of the previous night’s poor service. I fired it off thinking not thinking that I would get a quick response or any at all really, and heard nothing Saturday or Sunday but gave them benefit of the doubt, being the weekend and all. I cracked my fingers Monday, eagerly expecting to write my favorite consumer blog about bad Kroger service. Then I got a call around 5pm. Not from some CSR flunky at Kroger HQ or anything, but from one of the managers from the store I complained about. Manager William McKinley (guessing at the spelling), really seemed interested in finding out what happened and how he could make it up to me, if possible. I explained the situation, which caused him some consternation because my poor cashier was actually a 15 year old greeter or some such and had no business behind the reg. He listened as I laid it all out for him and seemed genuine in his desire to make it up to me. I smelled coupon or gift cert, but resisted. I had mentioned in my email to corporate that I would not be doing business with that store until something was done. Mr. McKinley asked if there was anything he could do to give his store another chance, but said he would understand if I chose to do business elsewhere. All in all, he did an excellent job and handled it very well. I may give his store a second chance, eventually, but I did tell him that his effort to call and find out my problem with an eye toward solving it went a long way.