Albertson’s Shows How To Provide Poor Customer Service

It seems that Albertson’s has a "Zero Tolerance, Zero Brains" policy. Here’s the story from the Northwest Florida Daily News: Man arrested for eating jelly beans in store.

It seems that the guy ate a few jellybeans out of the bin and he was busted from shoplifting.

OK, the guy was wrong for digging into the bin and eating a few candies. Being an adult, he should have had better judgement that to have done that. It’s something kids do, not adults. But what he did hardly deserves a criminal penalty. Maybe just a moment of embarrassment.

What is also wrong is how the Albertson’s manager handled the situation. He could have politely asked the man to pay for the candy, explaining that there are no free samples. The store could have put up a little box and sign saying "Samples: 25 Cents" next to the candy bins. I’ve seen a lot of stores do this. But to send in the police over a matter involving such a tiny amount of money is ridiculous.

Being this petty over an extremely petty crime is a public relations disaster. The story is on Drudge and many blogs. It makes Albertson’s management look like unthinking idiots. Ultimately preventing a few cents worth of inventory shrinkage may cost them thousands in bad publicity and lost sales. The Internet amplifies this kind of screw up so even a little thing can get blown up big.

Think about it. Kids do sometimes grab stuff out of candy bins without parents seeing. Would you want to go in a Albertson’s, have your kid take a treat or two, and then be arrested summarily because of their “zero tolerance” policy against shoplifting?  Who needs that kind of potential hassle? I’d rather go to a friendly store like Albertson’s major competitor, Publix, wouldn’t you?

What do you think? Does the punishment fit the crime? Was the manager out of line on this one?


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1 Comment »

Comment by trade show booths
2008-07-11 12:20:34

hi Frank, I like your “amazing events” category and will have to read some of the other posts. When I read the first paragraph of this post I thought, well, what he did was wrong and what if every customer helped themselves to some “free samples”, so at some point the store has to do something. However, I then read your suggestions and agree completely. Arresting him for shop lifting was ridiculous. Embarassment would have been enough, or even better, posting the sign, “If you would like a sample, please see an employee”, and the employee could give out the sample or say you can get 2 ounces for 50 cents or something like that. I understand the frustration business sometimes feel, but with smart thinking they can come up with win-win solutions. ~ Steve

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