The Safeway Hot 100: No Refund Until You’re Proven Innocent

Michael’s fiancée sent him to the grocery store late one night. He came home with the wrong moisturizing cream, which happens all too often during shopping expeditions based on someone else’s instructions. No big deal. They just brought it back to Safeway the next time they visited the store. He paid cash, but it was still all sealed up and had a Safeway sticker on it. Only the cream’s price tag and popularity with shoplifters meant that the store’s Loss Prevention staff would need to review surveillance tapes to make sure that Michael hadn’t stolen the item.

A couple months back my fiancee had sent me to the grocery store in the twilight hours of the night to pick up the essentials for the next morning – milk, eggs and moisturizing face cream. I foolishly use cash instead of my debit/credit card, but I do use my loyalty card. I spent way too much on some Oil of Olay something-or-other that was apparently not what she wanted. It was subsequently argued over and then shelved in our medicine cabinet.

Fast-forward a couple weeks and I have the foresight to remember prior to our next grueling shopping expedition that this pricey item is gathering dust in our medicine cabinet, so I suggest we return it. We can’t find the receipt, but it’s still in the shrink wrap with the Safeway sticker on it, so I don’t think it’ll be a problem.

She returns it and is told that she’ll receive a refund in the mail within 5 days. After it doesn’t appear in a few weeks she calls Safeway and is told that she’ll have to speak to a Manager. After a few tries we find out that the item is on the Safeway “Hot 100”, and until their Loss Prevention team can review footage proving that we didn’t steal it they won’t refund or return the item.

As someone who has been a loyal Safeway shopping for the past 5 years I find this treatment to be extremely disrespectful – she should not be guilty until they can prove her innocent.

What’s the point of having a loyalty card that tracks our every spending habit if we can’t use it to prove our innocence of shoplifting?