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Stop and Shop - A Tale of Two Receipts

Stop & ShopOne shopper's tale of two receipts - the before and the after, the receipt you couldn't read unless you already knew what you had purchased and its cousin - the crisply printed and completely legible one.

It's also the story of a high volume retailer that apparently doesn't think the customer needs a receipt that can be read and what to do about it (if you have the time and patience to persevere).

Stop & Shop graciously responded to the article posted on their Facebook page promising to right the wrongs.


Going Shopping on New Year's Eve

Just before noon I purchased about 15 items at the South Bay Stop & Shop and paid for them through a self-checkout register. When the payment cleared, the receipt printed - barely.  "Not again!"  The receipt wasn't legible. 

I would love to approach the printer in advance of checking out:  "How are you doing today?" I would love to KNOW the printer is working before I place my groceries on the scanner scale.  Where is the "Test Print" button?

The South Bay Stop & Shop used to have five self-checkout lanes, a master terminal and a master assistant to help anyone with self-checkout problems.  In fact, you could move your order to the master terminal and print the receipt there.  When Stop & Shop more than doubled the number of self-checkout lanes, the master terminal was eliminated. 

Stop & Shop checkout systems are certainly connected to the internet and to a UPC / product description / price database.  However, it would appear that the individual transactions by terminal do not automatically update to a store system.  In fact, the registers update only periodically, what store personnel refer to as "24 hours."  As a result, your transaction, which you see documented on a receipt, is not available to anyone in the store, including store managers, until the once-a-day cycle upload occurs except at the terminal where the purchase took place. 

This means you cannot ask for your receipt to be reprinted unless you wait enough time, return to the store and request a new receipt.  Come to think of it:  if the receipt is illegible, how do they know how to locate the original data?


Requesting a New Receipt

Stop & ShopSo here it is December 31, 2013, around noon, on a day when the store closes early and is filled with shoppers buying New Year's Eve accoutrement.  "I can't read my receipt," I said after waiting 10 minutes in the long customer service line.  "I need you to print me a new one."  

Customer service reps are not good at dealing with these situations.  Lines at the Stop & Shop Customer Service counter are long and service reps are busy all the time. What they don't need is somebody walking up to the counter asking for a copy of a receipt that they cannot generate, at least not at that moment. 

Mr. Customer Service Rep looked at the receipt I had just handed him and replied in a sarcastic and somewhat demeaning tone of voice:  "You can't read this?  I can read it." 

It's best to ignore such comments.

"Still," I thought to myself.  "Do I really want to wait through this agony?  How much time am I willing to waste on this?  Do I really need this food?"  You see, I have been through this same play before.  I know what their options are. 

No one in the store likes me under these circumstances and vice versa.  "I remember you from the last time," he said.  Well, aren't we both lucky!

"You can give me my money back," I said.  He took my receipt over to the cash register and stared at it.  Why, I'm not certain.  I suspect he was trying to figure out what to do - his mind weighing strategies while his dazed eyes were fixed, unfocused, on my receipt.

From prior experience, I know that the only way to get a new receipt is to return the merchandise, then buy it again.  "No!  I'm not going to do that."  On November 12, 2013 the Customer Service rep refused to cooperate with my ridiculous strategy for getting a legible receipt.  "Call the Store Manager," I said. 


Escalation to Upper Management Works
Stop & Shop
This time, my request to call the store manager was met with the "Cash Office" door opening.  Out walked Celsa who, after listening briefly to my story, returned to her office, door shut.  Back in November, Customer Service told me: "All receipts in the store look the same. There is something wrong with the ink on all the registers.  We have new ink on order."  Hmmm - sounds made-up to me.

Why is Stop & Shop so negligent / careless / unprofessional in its attitude toward check out registers and towards its customers?  Probably the answer is that people don't much care about receipts and few customers complain.  They go shopping to buy food, not receipts.   I, on the other hand, go to the grocery store for both. If I need to return an item (rarely happens), I want to make sure I can read the receipt.  I also pay with a debit card and use the receipt to reconcile my bank statement.

Perhaps five minutes passed and the Cash Office door opened again.  Celsa said a cashier was on the way and would be generating another receipt for me.  James Poreria, Store Manager, soon appeared looking nonplussed - same person who helped me out the last time.  He and another familiar looking employee asked me to come over to register #1. "Training" mode was the plan - a receipt with the word "TRAINING" at the top and a procedure that wouldn't affect my bank account.  "That's fine," I said and placed my items onto the conveyor. 

When all was said and done, the new receipt "Total" differed from the prior receipt "Total."  What had been charged to my debit card was $34.22 while the "Training Total" showed $33.92. Both receipts made use of the Stop & Shop card discounts so it's not clear what I, the self checker, did wrong.  

What had been charged to my time clock was an extra 20 minutes.  Worth it?  Yes, on New Year's Eve, on a day when I wanted to make sure I started the New Year right.

When I saw the difference in price, I laughed and said: "Close enough. Thank you.  I'm happy to pay the extra $0.30 for a receipt I can read.  Have a Happy New Year."  They wished me the same. 



Stop & Shop Responds via Facebook

On 1/1/14, this article was posted to the Stop & Shop Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/StopandShop

Stop & Shop checkout printer not working. Funny story on how customer service and management respond. http://www.uphamscornernews.com/stop-and-shop-tale-of-two-receipts.html

And what a surprise, by noon on 1/2/14, Stop & Shop had responded with a helpful and courteous message.

Nancy, we apologize for the way your experience was handled at your local Stop & Shop. Both of the receipts should have rung up the same. We ask that you please give our Customer Care team a call at 1 800-767-7772, option 3, option 6, if you would like to discuss your experience further. In the meantime, we will follow up with store supervision to ensure their printers are working properly and receipts are being printed clearly. Once again, thank you for bringing this to our attention.
  

UC News Editor Reply:
  
Hey, I will definitely follow up with them. If you could get our local management to commit to quality printers, then my experience at S&S would be close to PURRFECT. Thanks for your gracious response. Oh, and I did enjoy writing the story.

Posted: December 31, 2013     Nancy J Conrad


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