Okay, Mark needs to vent...
A couple years ago, I had a happy relationship with a local company that enabled you to order groceries online and have them delivered
to your home the next day. The firm was super-efficient and they always showed up with exactly what I ordered. The one time they didn't have an item
in stock, someone phoned me in advance and gave me the option of substituting, cancelling the entire order or accepting it without the item in
question. It worked well, at least for me. I'm guessing it worked well for many of their customers but they were premature in starting it up (not
enough potential customers on the Internet or used to ordering things that way) and also, I read that they had internal problems with financing.
Anyway, the company — which kept changing names but was usually called WebVan, I think — went under. (I just did some research. It was HomeGrocer
when I started ordering from them, then WebVan acquired HomeGrocer, then it went
I liked that service so when I noticed that the Albertson's Grocery Chain offered something similar, I decided to give it a
try...especially since they stock Progresso Tomato Rotini soup, which has somehow disappeared from most local markets. I placed a $105.00 order last
night with a planned delivery window of 1:00-2:30 this afternoon. Sure enough, at 12:45, a nice man was at my door, apologizing for being early, and
he brought in my purchases. I was distracted at the time (had a plumber here) so I just stashed the frozen stuff in the fridge and a little later,
went to put things away. That was when I noticed that certain items were in absentia, meaning I hadn't gotten my Chicken Parmesan Lean Pockets
and several other goodies.
Okay, mistakes can happen. I phoned the Albertson's Customer Service line where they kept me for quite a long spell on hold, listening
to what seemed like the extended, 40-minute mix of Billy Joel singing, "I Love You Just the Way You Are." Finally, a nice lady came on, looked me up
on her computer and informed me that they were out of a number of items so I hadn't been charged for them. It was like, "So that's the answer.
Anything else we can do for you?"
I asked, "Why didn't anyone tell me what I wasn't getting? Your delivery man didn't tell me which items I was missing. You sent me an
e-mail confirming my order but not one saying, 'Oh, by the way, you're not getting your 64 fluid ounce container of Campbell's Tomato Juice.'" She
repeated that I hadn't been charged for it or for five other items.
"Fine," I said. "But now I have to go to the market. And if I have to go to the market today, there was no point in me ordering online
so I wouldn't have to go to the market today." She replied that on the sign-up portion of their website — which is no longer accessible once you've
signed up — it states that they are not responsible for items that they are unable to deliver. (The site, by the way, tells you that specific items
are "temporarily out of stock" and doesn't allow you to order them. This was not the case with anything I put in my little online shopping cart.) The
e-mail I received confirming my order listed all the items and didn't say that some of them might not be available. And while I'm at it, how does a
major grocery chain run out of Campbell's Tomato Juice?
I've learned not to argue for too long with people who have no power to change policy, so I had her kick me up to a higher-ranked
Albertson's employee...a move which earned me a few more choruses from Billy Joel. I explained the whole thing again to this lady, adding that the
market I would now go to, because Albertson's didn't fill my order, would not be an Albertson's. She apologized over and over and suggested that what
I have to do is to write, in the little space on the online form, "Call if any items cannot be delivered." This unfortunately adds a new level to
planning my day. With HomeGrocer/WebVan, I was pretty confident of getting what I ordered so I just had to order and then arrange to be home during
the delivery window. With Albertson's, I have to order, then be up to take a call in the morning...and then, if enough items are outta-stock, I'll
wind up cancelling the order, which means that all my scheduling goes out the window. Or if I do take delivery, then I have to figure out what I
didn't get (because they don't give me a list) and then drive somewhere and purchase it. This is screwy.
She did offer to charge back the delivery fee I paid and to inform highers-up of this shortcoming in their service. What she didn't
offer was any reason to try Albertson's Online Home Grocery Delivery Service ever again. So if they fix things, I'll never know. Oh, well. At least I
got my Tomato Rotini soup...eight cans of it. That almost makes up for the Billy Joel.
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