Safeway Bushwhacks Its Customers, Laughs It Off

Beware if you’re shopping at a Safeway and attempt to exit with a shopping cart – you may get a severely bruised shin. Or worse, if you’re older with fragile bones. Most likely you can avoid the problem if you don’t patronize the Starbucks counter. (I’m sure Starbucks will be happy to hear that.) Expect no sympathy; the company evidently has not trained its people to deal with what must be a frequent occurrence with any grace whatsoever.Why is this so? Safeway’s shopping carts have a security system that locks the wheels if you attempt to exit the store with unpaid merchandise. But the Starbucks register doesn’t automatically deactivate the tags, and the barista may not wave the magic wand that indicates you’ve paid for anything you bought from elsewhere in the store and paid for at the Starbucks register. Attempt to walk your cart through the door after paying and you’ll find yourself hammered in the shinbone as the wheels lock and the cart slams into your leg.

In my case, when the store person came over to unlock the wheels, she had no response to my question about why it happened. As I explained that I had paid, and that it hurt, she was silent other than to ask to see my receipt. Meanwhile the barista (who works for Safeway, not Starbucks) came over and explained, chuckling about the situation, which is evidently not unfamiliar.

There is no signage to warn customers. And clearly the staff is not trained to take this seriously. In retrospect I wish I had not been in a hurry. I should have raised a stink, demanded a manager, and filled out a report. If it ever happens again, I certainly will. For those of you reading this, caveat emptor.

About Merv Adrian
Gartner Research VP, technology analyst and consultant, 30 years of industry experience, covering software mostly, hardware sometimes.

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