Meijer Uses Receipts To Warn Customers They Bought Products Recalled For Botulism

Instead of just printing coupons on the receipt, Meijer put this warning, using purchase history tracked to her credit card, that reader Sarah may have purchased products recalled for botulism.

She writes, “Thanks to consumerist, I had already disposed of them… I was just glad that [Meijer] did that – it seemed above and beyond just tacking up the notice on the wall.”

Props to Meijer. It’s good business sense to help keep your customers from dying!


Edit Your Comment

  1. cedarpointfan says:

    Meijer has always been good to it’s customers. :)

  2. And they say collecting all of that Grocery Store data is a bad thing : -)

  3. scoobydoo says:

    Ranks up there with Costco, who sent me a letter when something I purchased got recalled.

  4. mopar_man says:

    Meijer is great. Their stores are clean, produce is fresh and the employees are always friendly. I wish they would expand. In the few times I’ve been to the Chicago suburbs, the Meijers always have a ton of cars in the parking lot while the Wal-Mart across the street are a ghost town.

  5. faust1200 says:

    The Meijer near me in Michigan is 24 hours and is probably a step more bizarre than Walmart. But kudos on the coupons.

  6. JohnMc says:

    Good for Meijer!

    Now what is Wal Mart’s excuse? Their IT department tout’s that they keep a running record of every product sold by every customer for 24months. So why doesn’t WM to this?


  7. Buran says:

    I’m sure there will be grumbles about how this means that yes, they really do track things you buy.

    On the upside, this is a valid use of that — it’s not a marketing message.

    I do know that carmakers do use your purchase history to send you urgent recall notices. I’ve gotten two for a car I no longer own (sold it to Dad, so I would just hand him the notices) but last time, I used the no-postage-required envelope to notify VW of the ownership change. (dad already had the recall done, though — I told him about it). But then, that might be a little bit different — you provide a lot more info to a dealer to buy a car than you do to a store to buy peanut butter.

  8. brendanm14 says:

    I can see that Meijer learned this from their Frequent Shopper Card, but credit card info? Very proactive on Meijer’s part to go through all of the sales of those particular items and look up the credit card numbers of those individuals.

  9. cheesyfru says:

    Meijer is great, especially the past year when they’ve done a huge renovation on our local store, fixed most of their stocking problems and introduced a great new line of organic products. I’m no longer desperately craving a Whole Foods!

  10. cabedrgn says:

    Like others have noticed, this is an excellent use of consumer data. Unfortunately other places (such as WalMart, holding one of the worlds largest consumer tracking databases in the world) do not utilize this feature, at all.

    Its my personal opinion that if they used consumer purchasing data to these lengths then some people won’t be as standoffish to the tracking in the first place. Kind of a happy medium.

    I’m surprised it took until now for someone to notice the benefits beyond advertising.

  11. Every store that tracks this data should do the same thing. This is awesome.

  12. marsneedsrabbits says:

    If their checkout system is anything like the one at Kroger, they can even put a notice on the screen to see the back of the receipt for special notices/offers/etc.
    We don’t have a Meijers nearby, but I wish we did. What a great way to share recall information with their customers. They didn’t *have* to do this – that space could have been used for money making coupons, but they went above & beyond and did the right thing.
    I agree with CABEDRGN… if they used the tracking information in helpful-to-me way, we might be more inclined to accept it.

  13. burgundyyears says:

    Interesting – I shop at Meijer all the time and have done so for years in several states (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan). While they do have a store credit card, I’ve never seen or heard of a shopper’s/discount/track-what-you-buy card from them (which is one of the reasons I like shopping there.)

    Do they have them? I wonder how they’re targeting these coupons.

  14. lastfm says:

    The regional grocer I work for does not allow the sale of any recalled items, and pulls them from the shelf. I have had only one instance where a recalled product tried to make it home. The product was already labeled with a bright orange sticker with big bold letters that said “RECALL DO NOT STOCK”.

    Somehow this sticker got by both the grocery partners and the customer. I saw it, but tried scanning it anyway. A red message came up on my screen that said something to the meaning of, “This product does not meet our safety standards and is banned from sale”

    This system is as close to “fool-proof” as you can get, with two layers of protection for recalled products, not allowing any to leave the store.

  15. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I love, love, love Meijer. The Target vs WalMart thing doesn’t actually happen as much around here as in other places, because we all go to Meijer first.

  16. crnk says:

    Amazing job for a company to protect the consumers they serve!

  17. Bay State Darren says:

    Um, shouldn’t they just not sell those products? “Here’s a warning now that we have your money” doesn’t sound like good customer service to me.

  18. Secularsage says:

    Yet another reason why I wish Meijer would open a store in the St. Louis Metro East area… they’re awesome.

    Coincidentally, I met my wife while working at Meijer!

  19. ElizabethD says:

    @Bay State Darren:

    Um, “Ocean State Ellie” here pointing out that you missed the point, Darren. Meijer was NOT selling the product when she got the receipt. She had bought it on a previous shopping trip there, which the store’s computer knew from her store ID card.

  20. Amelie says:

    So because the company has decided to use its data for to be helpful, it’s all good. Thank you, but I’ll pay cash and pay attention.

  21. Bay State Darren says:

    @ElizabethD: Whoops.

    I guess this is one case where Orwellian business practices worked out well.

  22. cabedrgn says:

    @zouxou: Not necessarily but it is a service that give a little more worth to using those ID cards. Chances are that most people that pay cash and do not utilize the store cards (I have a friend that does the same) are conscious of their information and whats happening around them, including recalls. The same cannot be said about most store id card users.

    ..and for those who do not know. You still can get sale prices (in most states) by telling them you want the sale price presented but do not want a store id card.

    The only benefits I’ve found to these cards (aside from this one, and sale’s don’t count in most cases) are the lost keys things and some promotions like CVS ‘bucks’ and a few select others.

  23. BrockBrockman says:

    I hope that expensive jewelry I bought my secret lover on the credit card I share with my wife never gets recalled.

  24. acambras says:

    Ha! Just be sure not to call 1-800-FLOWERS to send your secret lover a bouquet.

  25. says:

    When I read the first sentence I thought, “Meijers is printing a note on the receipt telling you the thing you just bought has botulism in it? Couldn’t they have just NOT SOLD IT TO YOU?”

    Then I read the whole thing and felt stupid :-)

    Kudos to Meijers, I liked them ever since I worked as a bagger there in the first one that opened in my town (12 years ago…).

  26. Amelie says:

    I have no problem with the store loyalty cards, because one makes the choice to sign up for them, but the article stated Meijer put this warning, using purchase history tracked to her credit card. Perhaps the person who wrote the story, confused the two, but if my credit card is letting the grocery store track my purchases in detail, I’m pissed.

  27. Christopher says:

    As a fellow mid-westerner, Meijer has always struck me as “Walmart done right.” They have greater respect for their customers and employees.

    They’re even unionized, but in the good way, LOL. I had a job with them through high school making about $7.50/hr (this was when minimum wage was <$5.15/hr) and they payed better than most other places I could’ve worked.

  28. Melov says:

    Meijer didnt give me my gas tickets last week after shopping. I was super pissed

  29. Hexum2600 says:

    I used to work at a Meijer as a third shift cashier. I didn’t really like working somewhere that was unionized, but that never came into play. Their training was complete, they had excellent people there to work with, even third shift (which tends to collect the dregs at a grocery type store.) I have to say, now that I’ve recently moved back to Ohio, that I’m happy not to have to go to Wally world (wal-mart) or that hideous and uncomfortable store target. Its a great shopping atmosphere and their prices are good, they have excellent customer service (their full service customer service desk is open 24 hours)… all in all I’d have to say they rock.

    Now a funny story – when i was working there I ran into an ex girlfriend who started coming up to hang out late at night. I started offering to pick up shifts at the gas station in the parking lot and she would come up there to talk and have a cigarette. Apparently, she had a boyfriend who came up there and actually kicked the glass door of the gas station in when he saw her there talking to me… and the managers there were super cool about it, putting the blame all on him (which IS where it needed to be). Just, a funny story.

  30. jordy777 says:

    Meijer is the most incredible shopping experience one could ever imagine. I wish I were kidding. I am not.

  31. selianth says:

    I wonder if Meijer might not just be printing this warning for EVERYONE. All it says is “You MAY have purchased…” Seems like it might have been easier for them to print this warning on every receipt for a week rather than actually do the analysis on your purchase history.

  32. crapple says:

    Damn I miss that store sooo much. I moved from west Michigan (where Meijer started, you couldn’t throw a rock without hitting one) to Atlanta and the South is the land of Wal-Mart. Granted, Wal-Marts are a tad cleaner here than they are back home, but they’re still awful. I’d give up every Wal-Mart and Target that’s less than 30 minutes away to have a Meijer that was 2 hours away.

  33. bigTrue says:

    Meijer’s is fantastic. Where else can I get oranges, kitty litter, motor oil, and a pair of dress slacks at 3am? Living in Baltimore for 2 years made me miss them even more. Now, if only Meijer’s had the Sandwich counter I fell in love with while visting friends down south near a Publix. Oh, gawd, awesome sandwiches at 3am would be the best.

    The one downside, at least here in Michigan, because you’re paying for the 24 hour and large scale store with everything, prices tend to not be the best around. Target beats them almost all the time, unless something is on sale, for household stuff and Kroger usually wins on grocery stuff.

  34. cedarpointfan says:

    @selianth: I didn’t receive any notice on my Meijer receipts…

  35. BrockBrockman says:

    As all of you extoll the wonders of Meijer, I’m beginning to wax sentimental about good old Fedco. Nearly each and every one replaced by a Target or Walmart. [Wikipedia]

  36. stinkbucket says:

    I have always loved Meijer Thrifty Acres and was looking forward to shopping there this summer on a 2 week visit home (to Michigan).

    During my vacation I went to see the movie SICKO.
    In the film there is a story about a 25 year old woman with cervical cancer who crosses the border from Detroit to Canada for her healthcare.

    The weekend I saw the film it was revealed that Meijers fired her and repeatedly called her “un-american”.

    The surprising thing is that where she worked was never brought up in the movie!

    As much as I love Meijer, I think this was low-class. I really hope that something will be done to restore what I see as a big creepy smear across Meijers good name.


    After all of that I didn’t get to shop at Meijers on my trip anyway! Boo!

  37. RaslDasl says:

    I got a letter from BJ’s about the recalled chili. I guess that’s one benefit of forcing shoppers to be “members”. Funny thing is I had given up my membership months ago as I didn’t want to pay $45 (plus tax – thanks NJ!) for the privilege of shopping there anymore. Now I just borrow a friend’s card and use self checkout.

  38. styrofoam says:

    This isn’t necessarily Meijer’s – It’s CATALINA Marketing, the company responsible for those receipts. I wouldn’t doubt that this occurs at most of the places that use Catalina- Cub Foods and Rainbow/Roundys in the upper midwest are two I know of.

    And guess what- yes, they’re tracking your Credit Card. I’m assuming they don’t have a massive database filled with exact credit card numbers, but some set of hashed data. Catalina can go look at everything you’ve purchased in a participating system on that particular card. You’re a faceless number at that point, but they know what it is you’re buying.

    The Consumer programs on the other hand, now they’ve got your name and address as well, as well as all the nice demographics you’ve provided to them. So they prefer the consumer loyalty stuff as it’s more accurate- but it’s easy enough to build a picture of a person with their demo-less purchases.

  39. Schmee says:

    Some of the posts here assume that they tracked the purchase through a credit card, however Meijer does have a shopping card that they could have just as easily tracked the purchases on.

    And frankly even the worst Meijer store I have been in beats the vast majority of Wal-Marts on cleanliness and service.

  40. mrdelayer says:

    For a minute I thought the article meant that the warning was printed on a receipt from when the recalled product was purchased.

    Then I took the three seconds and actually read the article instead of the headline.

  41. David Millar says:

    @Selianth The reason for saying *MAY* is because even though food products might have different batch numbers and expiration dates, products typically carry the same barcode. It’s possible that when stocking the shelves, a good can or two could have been stuck in the back behind some bad cans and maybe Mr. or Mrs. XYZ dodged a bullet.

    I’m just glad Meijer is so proactive with their business practices. I mean, I know if I died I probably wouldn’t spend much more money at Meijer.