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.


Edit Your Comment

  1. JackieTreehorn says:

    If I get stuck behind another person at my local Kroger in the U-Scan line with WAY MORE than 12 items, well, I am just going to lose it.

    Seriously, why does Kroger go to the effort of putting someone at the little station in the U-Scan section if they’re not going to bust people with 50 fucking items?


  2. Good on McKinley. It’s nice to see Kroger has a method for passing complaints from corporate to individual store managers, but it’s even nicer to see that McKinley understands that his customers are his best source of information about his operations.

    About Kroger: when I lived in NC, it was actually the best of the local grocery stores. Far better than Food Lion, and blessedly distant from the nearest Piggy Wiggly. Nothing in my experience, however, compares to the grossness of certain Boston-area markets, specifically the Foodmaster in Inman Square–its floors are carpeted for God’s sake!

  3. Ben Popken says:

    Trey writes:

    “With regard to today’s Kroger post, I just wanted to note this: apparently the practice of nicknaming their stores is very widespread, at least in the south. In Knoxville, TN, where I live, we have the famous (infamous?) “Fellini Kroger,” so named for the great regularity with which it’s goings-on resemble something out of a Fellini movie. Trust me, the Satyricon has nothing on this place.”

  4. Ben Popken says:

    Who knew Tennesseans were such vintage film buffs!

  5. Tennesseein’ is Tennebelievin’, Ben.

  6. kimdog says:

    Sigh. I agree with Andrew. Since moving to the Northeast, I find myself
    longing for Kroger’s. Pathmark, Associated, and Key Foods are all
    equally gross.

    Oh, and we nicknamed our Kroger’s in Nashville, too. I often would
    drive past the “United Nations” Kroger to go to the “Fancy Kroger”,
    which later became the “Hepatitus” Kroger when two of the deli workers
    were discovered to have Hep C.

  7. JackieTreehorn says:

    The United Nations Kroger would be an apt name for our local one as well, mainly because the majority of its patronage looks to be in dire need of humantarian aid.

  8. Pelagius says:

    Glad to see the practice of nicknaming supermarkets is more widespread and creative than I’d realized. In Seattle’s U-district we had the Ghetto Safeway, though “Ave-rat Safeway” would have been a more apt description.

  9. Friends in D.C. have told me about the “social Safeway”. It’s less a nickname than a class, I guess. The social Safeway is where it’s expected (and semi-fruitful) to hit on strangers. I guess in a town where your best date prospects are your intern or your kickball teammate, it’s a welcome option.

  10. misskaz says:

    The Jewel nearest our house rarely gets our business because of its disgusting produce, bad service, and crazy clientele. We call it the “Crack Jewel” because everyone and everything there (customers and staff alike) appear to be on crack.

  11. Lesley says:

    The UN Kroger in Nashville kimdog referenced might be what I call “Ghetto Kroger.” I’m equidistant between Ghetto Kroger and Fresh Fare Kroger (Kroger named that one themselves), but if I want good Mexican food, I have to go to Ghetto Kroger.

    In Memphis, we also had “Jew Kroger”–obviously, it was the one that was walking distance to the largest concentration of Jewish people and had an awesome kosher section. (ps–my Jewish friends named it that; I would never come up with something that possibly offensive on my own).

    Also, yeah, that’s me that’s always at the U-Scan with about 20-25 items. But if they fit in three bags, I feel like I should get to be there!

  12. any such name says:

    naming Krogers isn’t a southern thing – friends in Columbus, Ohio did it… i.e. the store near OSU Campus was Ghetto K. Roger, and where I went at OU in Athens we had Appalachian K. Roger (because let’s face it, K. Roger is funnier than Kroger…)

  13. trixare4kids says:

    I am jumping on the “We name our local supermarkets” bandwagon. We have “The Mothership” (Safeway) in Oakland, CA — named for its ridiculously gigantic size when compared to the other grocery stores in the immediate area.

  14. Happy Scrappy Hero Pup says:

    Just FYI, the Kroger in Buckhead has been deemed the Disco Kroger simply because in a former life the space served as a disco. At least I’ve been told.

    And doesn’t this topic really get at the convenience vs. quality debate for grocery stores?

  15. bambino says:

    So let me get this straight, it’s offensive to give something a descriptive name based on ethnicity/nationality/religion (e.g. ‘Jew Kroger’)? Is it because Jewish was shortened to Jew? And don’t give me the bull that it’s because people use Jew as a derogatory term, you can take any word and make it derogatory. If that’s so, remind me to get very pissed off the next time someone talks about an ‘Italian deli’ or ‘Little Italy’.

  16. Here’s my understanding of the Atlanta Kroger naming system.

    Ponce Kroger=”Scary Kroger” (the only thing still scary about it is the vastness of the wine selection)

    Buckhead Kroger=”Disco Kroger” (used to be Limelight Disco)

    Aynsley Kroger=”Crisco Kroger” (not Gay Kroger)

    Toco Hills Kroger=”Krosher” (not Jew Kroger)

    South Moreland Kroger=”Gentrifikroger” (Crack Kroger got torn down)

    Am I missing any? I haven’t really heard any names emerge for the new Edgewood Kroger or the new-ish one near the Amtrak station.

  17. XPav says:

    The Kroger near the University of Houston campus was called “Kombat Kroger”, due to it’s very poor location. I’m not sure if it has a “K” in the official documentation, but, well, it’s funnier that way.

  18. stubar says:

    I must say that I shop at “social safeway” and haven’t once been hit on or felt secure enough to do the hitting. Perhaps it’s because I go on Saturday morning, when all the cool people are out enjoying the day and not suffering through a hangover at the grocery store.
    Also, and kimdog, which Krogers in Nashville might you be referencing? I’m a Nashvillian at heart, and I’m Green Hills Kroger for life (except now my mom lives closer to the Franklin Rd/Brentwood one – argh!).

  19. TechnoMom says:

    The Disco Kroger has that name because there was a dance club in the same shopping center (several different ones in the same space over the years – Rupert’s is one name I seem to recall). The clientele would stop by the Kroger after going to the club, still dressed up to dance, so the Kroger was considered a good place for people-watching by some people.

  20. ACurmudgeon says:

    Thanks for the insight on Disco Kroger, I din’t konw. I had heard of “Krisco Kroger”, “Kro-gay”, “Kruisin’ Kroger” and worse for the Ansley location but went with one that I heard most for me and mine) for the name. Scary Kroger I had heard also, but I always liked COPS Kroger better. I have never seen it on the show COPS, but I had heard it had been on many times. If it hasn’t, it should have been. I have seen some of the most brutal arrests (not undeservedly, I am sure) going down in that parking lot. Someone should start a list online…

  21. etinterrapax says:

    This is fascinating! As far as I know, we don’t do this here in MA, though my husband and I do use the “dirt” designation, as in, there is the good grocery and the “dirt grocery,” a la Mallrats. And I know a lot of people who refer to Whole Foods as Whole Paycheck. Sheesh, if we’d only get a Whole Foods over here. I live in a grocery wasteland now.

  22. ACurmudgeon says:

    I hear you etinterrapax. I once did a experiment of trying to get out of a Whole Foods spending less than 40 dollars. I found it impossible.

  23. Kroger’s owns a chain called King Sooper’s out here, and my local one is referred to as ‘Queen Soopers’ because it is in what used to be a predominantly Gay neighborhood. How funny.

  24. Clare says:

    I used to live in Pittsburgh, and there was one Giant Eagle in a not-so-nice neighborhood that we always called “Ghetto Eagle.”

    In the Delaware Valley, there’a a lot of different supermarket chains–Acme, Shop ‘n’ Bag, Giant, Genuardi’s, and Pathmark are just a few–so it’s not really necessary to identify them by their locale or clientele. Dyed-in-the-wool Philadelphians pronounce Acme “Ack-a-me,” though.

  25. bambino says:

    I always found the supermarket names in New Jersey funny when I’d go to visit family there. FoodTown, PathMark, ShopRite. It’s like they all had to be compound words. Let’s be creative here people!