Meijer Unjustly Charged
Posted: 2006-01-01. Categories: Meijer, Michigan

This is certainly an interesting website. I’m writing because I have been Meijer employee for eight and a half years and I have a few things I’d like to say. One of the things I have always wondered about, as an employee is this:

What responsibility does a customer have to make sure that they have not made a mistake?

Several cases in point:

  1. In the toy department’s model car section, there were several signs of various sizes that claimed “30% off all Models in stock”. I happened to be behind a customer who insisted — vehemently — that the models were 50% off. There were NO signs or anything to indicate as such; she had misread the sign.
  2. Meijer (and other retailers) are supposed to have ad signs on the shelf even if the product has sold out. It is nearly impossible to make sure signs have not been moved (by unobservant employees or customers). A week before Christmas, we had a sign up for the Care Bears plush with video. Not the Talking Plush, but someone (likely a customer) had moved all the plush around looking for a particular one. Another customer comes up, grabs a talking plush which is not on sale. Who is at fault for the so-called scanning error?
  3. Our ad signs almost always include the UPC of the ad product specified on the sign. They also include original price, model number, size, and a description. If a customer grabs a 6.5 oz bottle when it’s the 8 oz that’s on sale– even if it’s on the same shelf– is this a scanning error? My in-laws have done this than lambasted Meijer for their error. Is the customer not responsible to make sure they have selected the right item? And what about the price scanners placed in the store that will show the very price that the item will ring up at?

Also, the scanning law does account for human error. If an employee misprices $199.99 item for $19.99– no store is required to honor that price. Often where I work, we will give a reduced price, but we are not required (by law) to be so harshly penalized for a mistake. Mistakes happen— someone gets distracted, didn’t get enough sleep, misread the price, etc. The same rule can also apply to ad signs that were not taken down when the ad price expired– but in some situations, the sign may be honored.

Another point I’d like to make is that anyone who thinks Meijer purposefully is trying to take advantage of their customers, I assure you, is mistaken. There are many layers of checking that occur to try to get the ad products correctly signed, to make sure products are properly marked, and that everything scans as it should. Many layers. Things slip through the cracks– people make mistakes. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me “I’m never shopping here again” and then I saw them back . . . well, I wouldn’t need my job at Meijer.

Retail is a difficult job. And unfortunately, I have found a large group of people who are simply unforgiving of errors. Most employees in retail are doing the best that they can. We cannot do everything– I cannot make sure all prices are correct in the entire store. I cannot make sure that every store in the chain doesn’t have a manager who doesn’t get disgruntled by customers who don’t know the situation (such as how Meijer does not get any money for crushed cans or bottles without labels!) Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing at Meijer that condones “thumbing their nose” at scanning laws. There may be some ignorance on the part of employees, but it is nothing intentional.

A little forgiveness, a little understanding, and a little personal accountability can go along way. Does Meijer make mistakes– sure. Do they do these things on purpose? No. Do employees (and managers) have bad days sometimes and not treat people with exemplary customer service? Sure, don’t we all have bad days? It’s not like most people can call in just because they had a fight with their kid, or got reamed out by their boss for something that’s not within their control, or had the washing machine flood the basement.

Some times I think everyone should be required to work in retail for a spell. To understand what it’s really like.

(And don’t get me started on the games and scams that customers pull! I’ve seen enough to make me sick– including moving price tags just to get the scanning award and peeling off UPC stickers to get a lower price.)

Well, I hope that you find this informative, at least. I didn’t see any commentary from someone who worked in retail. Oh, I suppose I should add that I am not a manager. I am a regular employee– and I have been for all eight and a half years. There is nothing for me to gain by this letter besides people getting a chance to hear the other side. Maybe it will make a difference. Maybe not.

Signed — C. Dickson,
8.5-year retail employee (team member of the month winner– twice; recipient of multiple positive customer service comments); College graduate; Alternative High School Teacher

3 Comments to "Meijer Unjustly Charged"

  1. Retail Bandit says:

    Dear Ms. Dickson,

    Loyalty is certainly an admirable quality. I hope your employer appreciates you. Meijer should hire you for their PR department. I notice you don’t say, which city you are from.

    All joking aside. I have personally shopped at hundreds of Meijer stores and I admit there are some wonderful stores, who have conscientious managers and employees within the chain. Unfortunately, this is not true across the board. If you took the time to read the comments from our Meijer shoppers, you will find that some Meijer stores do not treat their customers with the respect they deserve.

    No one is out for blood. I’ve personally worked retail for many years and I know first-hand what a difficult job it is. I also know that a great deal of the problem can be traced directly back to our schools. Young people entering the workforce these days are generally not prepared to handle the responsibilities required of them. Many lack rudimentary reading skills, they are unable to problem solve and are handicapped in the math department.

    I once had a Meijer cashier call a manager because instead of punching in $20.00 on her register, she entered $200.00 and had no idea how much change to give me. It took all I could do, not to comment on her ignorance.

    Meijer has a tough job ahead, trying to deal with an incompetent workforce. That does not mean that they don’t have a responsibility to their customers. Yes, Virginia mistakes happen but does the shopper always have to be the one to pay the price?

    It’s a tough business to be in but it won’t get any easier, any time soon. I appreciate your taking the time to write. It is comforting to know that some Meijer stores actually care about their customers and are trying to do what is right and fair.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Clair Dickson says:

    I have read your response. One thing that I have trouble not making comment on in your response is where you wrote about the cashier who couldn’t figure out what to do after punching in 200 instead of 20 dollars. You say, “It took all I could do, not to comment on her ignorance.” If I may ask a pointed question: did you help her? Did you do the math and tell her what the amount owed to you was?

    I don’t work as a cashier because I get easily flustered while handling other people’s money. Is it fair for you to assume ignorance? Maybe she just got confused and was afraid you were going to yell at her for being stupid. I’m glad that you are perfect in your job and that people do not think you ignorant or stupid just becuase of the job you hold or the mistakes you make.

    As a teacher and a retail employee, I do not have that luxury. Sure, there are people who work in retail who are mediocre, at best. There are those people in every job– teaching included. Some stores have problems with employees– can it even be said that it is a problem with all employees? I did read through many, many of the complaints for several retailers.

    I am a very cynical person and even I do not beleive that any retailer mismarks or misleads on purpose. The retribution from sanning law and public outcry would be enough deterant. Recall’s little scandal when they “tailored” prices to zip codes. We are, I cannot help but think, an unforgiving, litigonous society. The scanning law does include purposefully and knowingly when it refers to mismarked items. Can YOU prove any of these accounts were done on purpose and with knowledge of the store or corporation?

    I could see outrage if a person was denied a refund of the overcharged price, but to be outraged at not making a profit and deciding to never shop there again? Well, just keep in mind– and this website indicates it– for every person who says “I will never shop at Meijer again” there is someone at Target saying they will never shop there . . . the Target shopper comes to Meijer while the the Meijer shopper goes to Target.

    Signed Again–
    C. Dickson
    Brighton, Michigan

  3. Retail Bandit says:

    Dear Clair,

    You are awefully quick to judge. For your information I worked retail for quite a few years and I know a little bit more than you might think. Businesses are in business to make money, period. Some do it honestly and some do it dishonestly.

    Yes, I have been and know people who have been intentionally ripped off by retail establishments and unscrupulous retailers. The law does not prevent this, it is only trying to help even the playing field for consumers.

    Where I live we only have a Walmart within a 90 minute drive, as far as large retailers go. We prefer to shop at the small retail shops owned by individuals, instead of spending our hard earned dollars with huge corporations.

    I don’t believe all corporate stores are the blame. I believe managers are under a great deal of pressure and some are cutting corners and taking chances to look better on paper. This is exactly why some, namely Meijer stores conveniently provides their customers with their own “cheat sheets” printed with the Michigan Scanner Law. These pages leave off the important portions of the law and misrepresent what the law actually says, effectively enabling Meijer to deny paying the bounty allowed by law.

    As for that cashier. We tried to explain to her what we gave her and how much change to give us in return but she refused to listen, choosing instead to make us wait 15 minutes for a supervisor to show up. She was convinced her drawer would be short because she entered in the wrong dollar amount for what we gave her, which of course would not have affected her drawer at all. I was quite upset after the experience.

    This site is intended to give people an outlet for all that frustration. When you wait for 10 minutes in line, only to be overcharged, are then forced to wait in line another 20 minutes to rectify the situation and then only to be told we won’t help you resolve the problem, even though it’s our fault…. Blah blah blah. You have to admit it gets to be a nightmare. My readers have a right to know if there is a problem with a certain store, in a certain location. If a location is indicated in the letters I receive, I always post it.

    While I appreciate your feedback I find it insulting that you would attack me for not being more patient with a person who obviously wasn’t properly trained in the first place. I can choose to shop wherever I like and spend my cash where I choose. I just prefer to spend my money with businesses who appreciate me and not with merchants who see me as nothing more than a walking wallet.

    Best Wishes