Terrible Experience With Vons

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J-Man
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Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by J-Man »

I'm putting this in the California thread because that's where it happened, but it really applies to Albertsons at the corporate level as well. I mentioned this briefly in another thread, but I don't want to hijack that thread with the full story, so I'll recap briefly here. I made an online "Drive Up and Go" order on Vons website. After I returned home and unloaded, I discovered that half of them (for which I was charged) were missing. I alerted them (on the website) immediately and received a refund right away. But then I noticed that I was overcharged for all of the "Fab 5" items that I purchased. So again, I notified them via their website.

I received a response right away asking me to send a copy of the ad in which the items were shown. I responded with that information right away and to date (a full month later) I have never received a response. Two weeks after I sent that information, I decided to send an actual letter (snail mail) to Albertsons Customer Service department in Arizona. I outlined the situation and provided documentation of everything that had transpired. It has been two weeks since I sent that letter, and again -- no response of any kind.

Frankly I don't know where to turn next. I really don't even care about the money -- it's the principle and the fact that there is no excuse for a large corporation like Albertsons to just ignore legitimate complaints. I tried contacting the county agency that regulates supermarket pricing, but all they will do is check to see if current items are scanning correctly. I ended up filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but I don't hold out much hope that they will do anything.

Any thoughts on what else I can do to get Albertsons to respond?
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by ClownLoach »

J-Man wrote: August 1st, 2022, 10:56 am I'm putting this in the California thread because that's where it happened, but it really applies to Albertsons at the corporate level as well. I mentioned this briefly in another thread, but I don't want to hijack that thread with the full story, so I'll recap briefly here. I made an online "Drive Up and Go" order on Vons website. After I returned home and unloaded, I discovered that half of them (for which I was charged) were missing. I alerted them (on the website) immediately and received a refund right away. But then I noticed that I was overcharged for all of the "Fab 5" items that I purchased. So again, I notified them via their website.

I received a response right away asking me to send a copy of the ad in which the items were shown. I responded with that information right away and to date (a full month later) I have never received a response. Two weeks after I sent that information, I decided to send an actual letter (snail mail) to Albertsons Customer Service department in Arizona. I outlined the situation and provided documentation of everything that had transpired. It has been two weeks since I sent that letter, and again -- no response of any kind.

Frankly I don't know where to turn next. I really don't even care about the money -- it's the principle and the fact that there is no excuse for a large corporation like Albertsons to just ignore legitimate complaints. I tried contacting the county agency that regulates supermarket pricing, but all they will do is check to see if current items are scanning correctly. I ended up filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but I don't hold out much hope that they will do anything.

Any thoughts on what else I can do to get Albertsons to respond?
I'm always a fan of writing a letter direct to the CEO. If you look hard enough you'll find the direct email address online. I have only had to do this a few times, but when a company really burns me and customer service fails to resolve then I will go that route and CC as many other executives and VPs as I can find addresses for. Usually you can find the naming convention online and then plug in names of executives you find via their investor site. Sometimes it is something like this - firstname.lastname@retailcorp.com where it is easy to copy a bunch of people. I recently had a terrible issue that was unresolved after half a dozen phone calls to a cell phone company whose name I will not disclose and I wound up finding 43 executives to CC under the CEO on the email. Only 2 of the addresses came back, and my email sent at 9pm had a full resolution by 7am the next morning. (Basically they lost my old trade in phone in their warehouse and said because they can't find it I have to pay full retail for it despite having proof of delivery - then changed the story several times and just wouldn't help at all).
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by ClownLoach »

ClownLoach wrote: August 1st, 2022, 1:09 pm
J-Man wrote: August 1st, 2022, 10:56 am I'm putting this in the California thread because that's where it happened, but it really applies to Albertsons at the corporate level as well. I mentioned this briefly in another thread, but I don't want to hijack that thread with the full story, so I'll recap briefly here. I made an online "Drive Up and Go" order on Vons website. After I returned home and unloaded, I discovered that half of them (for which I was charged) were missing. I alerted them (on the website) immediately and received a refund right away. But then I noticed that I was overcharged for all of the "Fab 5" items that I purchased. So again, I notified them via their website.

I received a response right away asking me to send a copy of the ad in which the items were shown. I responded with that information right away and to date (a full month later) I have never received a response. Two weeks after I sent that information, I decided to send an actual letter (snail mail) to Albertsons Customer Service department in Arizona. I outlined the situation and provided documentation of everything that had transpired. It has been two weeks since I sent that letter, and again -- no response of any kind.

Frankly I don't know where to turn next. I really don't even care about the money -- it's the principle and the fact that there is no excuse for a large corporation like Albertsons to just ignore legitimate complaints. I tried contacting the county agency that regulates supermarket pricing, but all they will do is check to see if current items are scanning correctly. I ended up filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, but I don't hold out much hope that they will do anything.

Any thoughts on what else I can do to get Albertsons to respond?
I'm always a fan of writing a letter direct to the CEO. If you look hard enough you'll find the direct email address online. I have only had to do this a few times, but when a company really burns me and customer service fails to resolve then I will go that route and CC as many other executives and VPs as I can find addresses for. Usually you can find the naming convention online and then plug in names of executives you find via their investor site. Sometimes it is something like this - firstname.lastname@retailcorp.com where it is easy to copy a bunch of people. I recently had a terrible issue that was unresolved after half a dozen phone calls to a cell phone company whose name I will not disclose and I wound up finding 43 executives to CC under the CEO on the email. Only 2 of the addresses came back, and my email sent at 9pm had a full resolution by 7am the next morning. (Basically they lost my old trade in phone in their warehouse and said because they can't find it I have to pay full retail for it despite having proof of delivery - then changed the story several times and just wouldn't help at all).
I do want to emphasize that I never go direct to the CEO office first, regardless of how bad the situation is. Having been forwarded a few CEO office complaints over my career I know that nobody wants to receive one. The three criteria I use before I go to the CEO are 1) Customer service is unreasonable, unreachable, or just plain dishonest and they've failed to resolve the issue after being given ample time to do so, 2) I have already requested a escalation to a supervisor, manager or director to address the problem but they also have failed to rectify or they clearly are not empowered to resolve (with the exception being unreachable customer service as you're experiencing, then I move right up to the executives), and 3) The complaint is of a reasonable size and price. I think I've only had to escalate issues to the CEO level three times ever, twice with telecom companies that seem to have taken away any decision making power within the ranks thereby forcing escalation, and the other time a retailer where the local store was making up their own policies and tried to rip off my wife on a return. I never ask for or demand anything except for resolution, I fully explain what steps are required for the resolution to be complete, and I never make comments such as "I demand additional compensation!" as that is just not reasonable. Each time of course the situation was swiftly resolved to my satisfaction.
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by HCal »

Have you gone to the store and spoken to a manager in person? That can often yield better results than online complaints.
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by storewanderer »

I'd try the store manager first. If the store manager doesn't do anything, that will only strengthen the letter you end up writing to upper management. Also you could try calling the customer service and referencing the case in your e-mail. But you e-mailed and that should be sufficient. You may not want to waste 20 minutes on the phone at this point that may or may not lead to a resolution.

So as you write a letter to upper management, start with the division president. You may also want to figure out who is in charge of their .com program (would be someone at the corporate level) since this is directly an issue with their area of responsibility.

I am very surprised they ignored your complaints. If this was Kroger, you would have received "store credit" for the overcharge after the first interaction with customer service. Whether or not that is acceptable (a refund to original form of payment is what would be acceptable), I just take it and move on figuring I will shop again soon. But in the case of Vons you may not shop again anytime soon and want a refund to original method of payment and move elsewhere.

I am also frustrated they told you to send copies of the ads, proof of the prices, etc. The customer service department should have all of that, or the means to look up item price/promotion history. They shouldn't be making you do all of that work. They made the error.
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by J-Man »

HCal wrote: August 1st, 2022, 3:47 pm Have you gone to the store and spoken to a manager in person? That can often yield better results than online complaints.
Well, the reason I did the drive-up-and-go order is that I was trying to avoid going into the store, since there is a COVID uptick in my area. So I would rather not go into the store to see a manager. And since the order was placed online, that was how I arranged for my refund on the undelivered items--not with the store.

Update on the situation: my local BBB (which, despite the fact that I am in southern California, is located in San Jose) forwarded my complaint to the BBB in Boise.

I've been doing a lot of curbside grocery pickup with Walmart during the past two years, and I've never had this kind of experience with them. And this past week, when one of my items was out of stock, I received a refund before I even picked up the order. (I had paid with PayPal/Discover to get 5% cash back and they had already charged my account.) In my experience, Walmart has the most efficient ordering/pickup process. Target is not bad either--especially since they don't have a $35 minimum like most other stores have. But Target of course does not have the selection that Walmart and traditional grocers have.

I would actually consider signing up for Walmart+ if I could get them to deliver to my area. (They will deliver from my local store--but it's not a Supercenter. The Supercenter is less than 5 miles away--and it's the one I use for pickup--but they won't deliver from there.)
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by storewanderer »

J-Man wrote: August 3rd, 2022, 10:23 am
Well, the reason I did the drive-up-and-go order is that I was trying to avoid going into the store, since there is a COVID uptick in my area. So I would rather not go into the store to see a manager. And since the order was placed online, that was how I arranged for my refund on the undelivered items--not with the store.

Update on the situation: my local BBB (which, despite the fact that I am in southern California, is located in San Jose) forwarded my complaint to the BBB in Boise.

I've been doing a lot of curbside grocery pickup with Walmart during the past two years, and I've never had this kind of experience with them. And this past week, when one of my items was out of stock, I received a refund before I even picked up the order. (I had paid with PayPal/Discover to get 5% cash back and they had already charged my account.) In my experience, Walmart has the most efficient ordering/pickup process. Target is not bad either--especially since they don't have a $35 minimum like most other stores have. But Target of course does not have the selection that Walmart and traditional grocers have.
I think a phone call to the store manager would be perfectly fine, the store manager absolutely has the resources to pull your transaction details, see past ads/item price/promotion history. I am not sure how well versed many store managers are in these .com pick up departments. I feel like they are being treated sort of like an isolated thing, as the store manager is already very busy with the other store departments. That is not an excuse for any of this.

I think you have hit on an issue in general with these grocery chains and their complicated promotions. This does not work for online orders. "Buy 5" sales do not work if they pull the promotion out from under you when THEY fail to fulfill the "Buy 5" required quantity. California 20-30 years ago would have been all over this for consumer protection purposes. Funny how they don't care now. Oh well. When you place that online order, every item in that "Buy 5" sale needs to be converted to the unit price of the "Buy 5" deal and if they cancel part of your order- tough luck to them- you then will get whatever they can fulfill at the lowest promotion price (as if you had bought 5, because you tried to). Same goes if you use a $20 off $70 purchase in an order. They need to allocate that $20 off each item in your order pro-rata. If they can't fulfill $35 of your order, you should still get $10 off. If they had really good service they'd automatically give a customer who has that type of result the $20 off $70 back to try and get you to do another large order after they botched the order so badly and didn't fulfill half of it, but I know that isn't how things work.

Walgreens and Rite Aid can make the above happen where if they cannot fulfill part of an order, any coupon/discount on that transaction that was based on a minimum quantity of minimum spend threshold, you still get on whatever they can fulfill. What you don't get from Walgreens and Rite Aid if they fail to fulfill, is the "buy 2 soap, get $5 Walgreens Cash/Rite Aid Bonus Cash" or the "Spend $50 get $10 Walgreens Cash/Rite Aid Bonus Cash." But if the deal is save $5 today on 2 soap that are 2 for $10 or 5.59 each, and they only fulfill one soap then they do give you the 5.00 price on the unit they fulfill and give you the 2.50 off.
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by BillyGr »

storewanderer wrote: August 3rd, 2022, 11:47 pm I think you have hit on an issue in general with these grocery chains and their complicated promotions. This does not work for online orders. "Buy 5" sales do not work if they pull the promotion out from under you when THEY fail to fulfill the "Buy 5" required quantity. California 20-30 years ago would have been all over this for consumer protection purposes. Funny how they don't care now. Oh well. When you place that online order, every item in that "Buy 5" sale needs to be converted to the unit price of the "Buy 5" deal and if they cancel part of your order- tough luck to them- you then will get whatever they can fulfill at the lowest promotion price (as if you had bought 5, because you tried to). Same goes if you use a $20 off $70 purchase in an order. They need to allocate that $20 off each item in your order pro-rata. If they can't fulfill $35 of your order, you should still get $10 off. If they had really good service they'd automatically give a customer who has that type of result the $20 off $70 back to try and get you to do another large order after they botched the order so badly and didn't fulfill half of it, but I know that isn't how things work.
Would depend on how those deals are advertised - if says must buy x quantity, then if you don't get that many you shouldn't expect that sale price. Some stores advertise things at prices like that (say 3 for $5) but really just charge each one for $1.66 (or $1.67), so with that you'd get it no matter how many you buy.

Of course, if they only have part of the order, you are certainly welcome to say you don't want it at the higher price and they can cancel all of it - if that happens often enough, perhaps they'll catch on and stop making the deals that way.
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by storewanderer »

BillyGr wrote: August 4th, 2022, 1:54 pm

Would depend on how those deals are advertised - if says must buy x quantity, then if you don't get that many you shouldn't expect that sale price. Some stores advertise things at prices like that (say 3 for $5) but really just charge each one for $1.66 (or $1.67), so with that you'd get it no matter how many you buy.

Of course, if they only have part of the order, you are certainly welcome to say you don't want it at the higher price and they can cancel all of it - if that happens often enough, perhaps they'll catch on and stop making the deals that way.
If it is the store's fault that they could not fulfill your desired quantity, you should not be penalized with a higher price. That is not customer friendly. It is not the customer's fault that these grocery store websites do not tie inventory results in with the website very well and keep allowing customers to order items that are out of stock. It is not unusual for Safeway to run promotions in a way where the purchase of 3 units of product (if you buy 3) is less than the cost for the purchase of 2 units of product.

Stores that want to take a hard line on this and up the cost of people's orders due to their failure to be in stock on the minimum quantity required for a sale price are just going to send customers to do their pick ups at places like Wal Mart where there are no games like this on pricing, and far lower regular pricing to begin with.
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Re: Terrible Experience With Vons

Post by HCal »

I'm guessing that the stores just don't have a way of fixing this. If a customer buys 2 of something when 3 are needed to get a discount, the system has no way of knowing whether that is because the third was out of stock or the customer simply didn't order it. Programming this might be complicated because there are so many different items that can be combined.

Frankly, I'm not a big fan of offers that require the purchase of multiple items. When the pandemic started, Albertsons waived the requirement to buy 5 products to get the "Fab 5" prices, presumably because so many things were out of stock on the shelves. If they cannot consistently stock things online, they should resume that policy.
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