Three's a crowd

This is the place for general and miscellaneous posts on topics which might extend past the boundaries of any specific region. No non-grocery posts.
klkla
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Three's a crowd

Post by klkla » August 23rd, 2016, 6:39 pm

CalItalian wrote:In this weeks separate Pavilions and Vons ads, the Pavilions and Vons store names are BOTH on the store coupons again. Page 11. Three's a Crowd is the biggest feature in their ads this week. Nothing like going back to a Lucky store program from the last century. We've sure progressed. They were touting Three's a Crowd with sign throughout the stores in the Las Vegas Vons and Albertsons stores I visited last week. For the record, there are NO more trucks coming from Southern California to supply their Las Vegas area stores unlike what I saw earlier this year. I did see a couple of Safeway trucks on US 95 in Boulder City, obviously coming from Arizona.
We talked about this in the thread about Pavilions Arcadia a couple weeks ago and it seems the program has been in effect for a while now but there's a lot of evidence that they forgot to tell their employees lol. I was in a Vons in LA last night and the lines were so bad I left my hand basket on the ground and left the store. I actually feel really bad for the employees because they have to work under the "Three's a Crowd" signs and deal with irate customers and it's not their fault.

Here are some examples I found doing a quick Yelp search.

Mountain View Safeway:
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/safeway ... dXuK71covA

Clayton Safeway:
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/safeway ... pDnWbDt36Q

Milpitas Safeway:
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/safeway ... 4PNqlVxbMw

Hawaii Safeway:
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/safeway ... 4vZiVGlmYA

Menlo Park Safeway
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/safeway ... LpBMfN3qlQ

San Diego Vons
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/vons-sa ... l0nLroeXzg

Mammoth Lakes Vons
https://www.yelp.com/biz_photos/vons-ma ... 2glHsgsqMg

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by pseudo3d » August 23rd, 2016, 7:57 pm

As far as I can tell, this is only in former Lucky regions (well, except for New Mexico), so it's not chain-wide, only in SoCal and NorCal. Whatever it is or whoever thought of it, though, it is incredibly badly executed.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by storewanderer » August 23rd, 2016, 8:43 pm

It is absolutely chainwide. Albertsons LLC has had this program from day one of its operations. The California stores seem to be the ones having the most trouble executing.

This is Grocery 101 and you should not need to have a sign posted about it. It should be common sense in the operation that lines should not exceed 3 customers. The line standard at Kroger is 2 customers, followed pretty well in all divisions except Food 4 Less in my experience (line standard there seems to be about 8). Having to advertise this policy to me screams "bad service." And yes, I know this was a hallmark Lucky policy in the 80's and 90's.

This company removing self checkouts is causing the lines to be even longer. This makes it that much harder to actually offer "Three's a Crowd." Siphoning off 4 customers at a time to go use self checkout really helps get those line lengths down and stop the bottlenecks at the front end. You know, when the customer checking out has a cart and 3 people walk up all at once with 1-2 items each and have to stand there for a few minutes while the cart is assisted. Given the option of self checkout at least some of those people with the 1-2 items would use the self checkout and be out of there, not waiting, not making the lines longer. So it is my view Albertsons does not value the customers time, does not give the stores proper labor and/or has working conditions so poor that they cannot hire enough employees to provide the service level that they desire in some of these locations, and is engaging in blatantly false advertising that the customers are staring at as they wait in these lines that are longer than three customers. Those Three's a Crowd signs need to come down now. And the new policy internally should be two's a crowd, monitored via the security cameras by someone at corporate, and stores not complying should be getting some major assistance from corporate to figure out what it will take for them to comply. Maybe that means installing some self checkouts again if they can't get enough bodies working in the stores.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by CalItalian » August 23rd, 2016, 11:18 pm

storewanderer wrote:It is absolutely chainwide. Albertsons LLC has had this program from day one of its operations. The California stores seem to be the ones having the most trouble executing.

This is Grocery 101 and you should not need to have a sign posted about it. It should be common sense in the operation that lines should not exceed 3 customers. The line standard at Kroger is 2 customers, followed pretty well in all divisions except Food 4 Less in my experience (line standard there seems to be about 8). Having to advertise this policy to me screams "bad service." And yes, I know this was a hallmark Lucky policy in the 80's and 90's.

This company removing self checkouts is causing the lines to be even longer. This makes it that much harder to actually offer "Three's a Crowd." Siphoning off 4 customers at a time to go use self checkout really helps get those line lengths down and stop the bottlenecks at the front end. You know, when the customer checking out has a cart and 3 people walk up all at once with 1-2 items each and have to stand there for a few minutes while the cart is assisted. Given the option of self checkout at least some of those people with the 1-2 items would use the self checkout and be out of there, not waiting, not making the lines longer. So it is my view Albertsons does not value the customers time, does not give the stores proper labor and/or has working conditions so poor that they cannot hire enough employees to provide the service level that they desire in some of these locations, and is engaging in blatantly false advertising that the customers are staring at as they wait in these lines that are longer than three customers. Those Three's a Crowd signs need to come down now. And the new policy internally should be two's a crowd, monitored via the security cameras by someone at corporate, and stores not complying should be getting some major assistance from corporate to figure out what it will take for them to comply. Maybe that means installing some self checkouts again if they can't get enough bodies working in the stores.
The one thing you will always find at Ralphs is a manager behind the checkstands directing you to a shorter line during the busy afternoon and evening hours. Something that Albertsons/Vons/Pavilions/Safeway should emulate.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by pseudo3d » August 24th, 2016, 5:53 am

storewanderer wrote:It is absolutely chainwide. Albertsons LLC has had this program from day one of its operations. The California stores seem to be the ones having the most trouble executing.

This is Grocery 101 and you should not need to have a sign posted about it. It should be common sense in the operation that lines should not exceed 3 customers. The line standard at Kroger is 2 customers, followed pretty well in all divisions except Food 4 Less in my experience (line standard there seems to be about 8). Having to advertise this policy to me screams "bad service." And yes, I know this was a hallmark Lucky policy in the 80's and 90's.
It isn't being followed at at least a few Randalls stores in Houston (long lines), but they never claimed to do such a thing anyway--no signs. Extensive photographs from Acme Style also have no mention of it.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by mbz321 » August 24th, 2016, 7:35 am

storewanderer wrote: This company removing self checkouts is causing the lines to be even longer. This makes it that much harder to actually offer "Three's a Crowd." Siphoning off 4 customers at a time to go use self checkout really helps get those line lengths down and stop the bottlenecks at the front end.
Same here on the east coast over at Acme (although I don't believe Acme has ever promoted the '3's a crowd' thing in any recent memory. Acme took out the self-checkouts that A&P/Pathmark used to offer (and have slowly been removing them from Acme's older stores as they remodel), and this seems to lead to the majority of the complaints on Yelp and such, especially in areas where they never operated before (or haven't in years) like far North Jersey and NYC, where people are more likely to pick up only a couple items vs. doing a full grocery shop.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by SamSpade » August 24th, 2016, 9:44 am

On my recent Amarillo visit, United's stores did not have "3's a crowd" signs. Their front ends are designed very similar to modern Albertsons ones though. No self check out and a "roped off" express area. The problem with the express areas are that there will be 4-ish registers and one clerk. In the case of my recent Market Street visit, the clerk was also a slow / chatty one that led to some definite frustration.

When I was in a United store at a slow time, the cashiers had to do the "Walmart way" of standing in front of their lines, ready to jump in and assist you, but it seemed to work and does feel somewhat customer friendly.

My 2c is that the Kroger queue vision systems seem to do a pretty darn good job in most stores. I never have to wait at Fred Meyer or 95% of the time at QFC. These stores do not suffer from the 'long lines' problem that led me to stop shopping at Safeway in general. Trader Joe's also seems to do pretty well with their bell system and staffing levels, since all employees can handle all areas of the store at any time.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by pseudo3d » August 24th, 2016, 10:51 am

SamSpade wrote:On my recent Amarillo visit, United's stores did not have "3's a crowd" signs. Their front ends are designed very similar to modern Albertsons ones though. No self check out and a "roped off" express area. The problem with the express areas are that there will be 4-ish registers and one clerk. In the case of my recent Market Street visit, the clerk was also a slow / chatty one that led to some definite frustration.

When I was in a United store at a slow time, the cashiers had to do the "Walmart way" of standing in front of their lines, ready to jump in and assist you, but it seemed to work and does feel somewhat customer friendly.

My 2c is that the Kroger queue vision systems seem to do a pretty darn good job in most stores. I never have to wait at Fred Meyer or 95% of the time at QFC. These stores do not suffer from the 'long lines' problem that led me to stop shopping at Safeway in general. Trader Joe's also seems to do pretty well with their bell system and staffing levels, since all employees can handle all areas of the store at any time.
I didn't know the "no self check-outs" extended to United. Too bad. I've also never seen at Walmart (at least in the past 5-10 years) standing in front of lines, because at Walmart, lines are constantly long and understaffed (and their self check-out is usually problematic). The cashiers at Village Foods back home used to do so, but they were way overstaffed for the amount of traffic that store got. I don't know about Kroger, the only two I'm used to have either closed (and that was never busy) or has had 3+ long lines before.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by storewanderer » August 24th, 2016, 10:19 pm

United has never had self checkout, that policy pre-dates Albertsons.

It has been a long time since I saw a Wal Mart with enough cashiers around the front end to stand in front of the lanes, but I remember a time when that was the case long ago.

It has become clear that there are a lot of customer complaints as well as line issues when Albertsons/Safeway removes self checkouts. I think removing self checkouts from largely low volume Albertsons LLC Stores was different and a bit of a non-event vs. removing them from high volume Safeways and high volume stores back on the east coast. Yet they continue to remove self checkouts and not properly staff their stores. What is the deal? Do the self checkouts cost so much to have that they need to cut the expense? Do they simply not care that some customers (the hundreds a day who were using them before they got removed...) actually do prefer using the self checkout? How arrogant can you be?

I also understand not offering self checkout in stores that are high theft. There is a reason no Kroger Food 4 Less division stores have self checkout. There is a reason some Wal Marts do not have self checkout. But in the majority of stores this should not be an issue.

The key is to not make a customer feel forced to use self checkout or be punished with a long wait for a staffed cashier, but still offer the self checkout as an option. Like, one staffed checkout open and self checkouts. That makes many people feel obligated to use self checkout (or wait a while). Or worse, only having self checkouts open. That is outright unacceptable.

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Re: Three's a crowd

Post by rwsandiego » August 24th, 2016, 10:51 pm

I do not recall seeing three's a crowd signs at Jewel when I visited last week.

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