This morning, while I was out running other errands, I dropped into a nearby grocery store to purchase jelly for my son’s school lunches. I visited this store once or twice before, but I’m not particularly familiar with the store layout or the brands available for purchase.
The jelly jars were actually segmented into two different sections of the aisle. For the record it took me a little while to figure this out. The first set of shelves contained the common brands like Smucker’s and Welch’s. The second area, which was located a shelf or two to the right, contained more specialized jars of organic and all natural jams and jellies.
I stood in that aisle for a few minutes longer than I would have liked. I settled on a non-organic product, before realizing that other options were available. Although organic products tend to be more expensive I am willing to pay more for them. This is especially true for food that my son will consume on a regular basis and although I hate to admit it; peanut butter and jelly top the list of things my son eats regularly.
I wasn’t familiar with any of the available brands, so I read the labels on a number of jars, checked the prices and ultimately settled on a brand that was on sale. The final price: $3.99. A similar product with the same flavor and size was also available for $3.99, (regularly priced), but I settled on the more expensive brand because it just looked tastier.
When I reached the self checkout lane I noticed the register didn’t reflect the sale price. There was a long line growing behind me and I chose not to hold up the other customers by trying to figure out the problem. It was only 50 cents more per jar, (I bought two), and for one dollar it didn’t seem worth the hassle.
I began to walk out of the store, but I felt irritated by the whole scenario. I wasted time comparing sizes, flavors and prices. If the little sale flag hadn’t been hanging off the shelf I would have purchased the other brand of organic jelly without any question.
In general I have a rule about approaching customer service; since time is just as valuable, if not more so, than money I will not wait an inordinate amount of time to save a dollar. I glanced at the customer service area and found only one customer standing in line counting out change. I just happened to approach the counter as she pushed forward her last penny and the cashier asked how she could assist me.
I explained the situation and the cashier stepped out without saying a word about what she was doing. I immediately wished I hadn’t approached the counter. I didn’t want to wait ten minutes for the clerk to find the item, look at the price tag and make a decision on whether or not I was owed one dollar.
But as I waited in line I noticed a large sign hanging on the wall that said pricing errors will result in the first item being provided free of charge. Lucky for me the cashier returned within two short minutes, (yes I kept close note of the time), and offered to refund the full cost of the first item plus provided fifty cents back on the second.
Those two minutes, (probably three or four by the time she actually refunded the money), resulted in a $4.99 refund. In essence, I received one jar of organic jelly for free.
It certainly helps to know and understand a store’s policies. I am much more likely to take the time to resolve issues with customer service if I know a two minute wait could earn a $4.99 refund instead of $1.00.