Sunday, March 05, 2006

Rule #3: Ha, we didn't really mean #1 and #2.

A couple years ago, I happened to notice a sign along the road that said "Future Location of Tom Leonard's Market." The typeface used looked sort of familiar, and having spent a large chunk of my life in Connecticut, I quickly made the connection to Stew Leonard's. I was interested to see what this market would be like.

I knew that the chain in Connecticut had a reputation for good customer service, and when Tom Leonard's opened, I was pleased to see that there was a giant rock in front of the store, inscribed with the following:
Rule #1 -- The Customer is Always Right
Rule #2 - If the Customer is Ever Wrong, Re-Read Rule #1.


So it turned out to be a decent little market for fresh produce and a couple other things. The fresh mozzarella was superb. I missed having a place like that around when I lived in Georgia for a year. It was one of the first places I went to when I moved back to Virginia.

One little thing bothered me though -- a lot of items are sold at "2 for" prices. e.g. one gallon of milk for $3, but two for $5. I'm a single guy, living with just my cat; I just can't drink two gallons of milk before they'd spoil. Same thing with quarts of strawberries or other perishable items. Very occasionally, I could use that pricing scheme to my advantage, say two avocadoes for $3 instead of $1.69 each, but more often than not, it would be a complete waste of food and money.

I have to imagine that other single people would have similar situations, especially older senior citizens.

Tom has a suggestion box in his store, and a big sign saying:
What do you like?
What don't you like?
I want to hear from you!
Put a note in the box and I'll get right back to you!


So I filled out the form and said that I liked the mozzarella, and that I really disliked the two-for pricing, put my name and email at the bottom of the slip and dropped it in the box. I guess I didn't really expect them to change the policy, but I was curious about how they'd respond.

Well, they responded with an email that said "thanks for your comments, we'll put your email address on our list." OK, so technically I guess that's "getting back to me", but it wasn't much of a response.

You know what, Tom? Tell me that you use that pricing scheme for reason X or reason Y, I don't really care. But do NOT put up a sign implying that you'll respond to a customer's suggestion/inquiry and then just use the system to harvest email addresses.

I replied to that email, basically saying I had expected a real response, not to be added to a spam list. (And yes, it is spam because I was not told my email address would be used for marketing purposes.) I never received any response to that email; I haven't been back to the store, either.

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