When Convenience Contradicts Itself

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Customer Engagement
Customer Experience
There's nothing worse than rummaging through the aisles of the local Stop & Shop. Supermarket shopping has always been an unwelcome task, so when my mother and I were met with mile-long lines after an excruciatingly long day of running errands, we decided to approach this challenge with the utmost efficiency and speed.

There's nothing worse than rummaging through the aisles of the local Stop & Shop. Supermarket shopping has always been an unwelcome task, so when my mother and I were met with mile-long lines after an excruciatingly long day of running errands, we decided to approach this challenge with the utmost efficiency and speed.We typically prefer to use the self-checkout lanes whenever possible, as we've grown weary of each employee's tendency to crush tissue boxes and flatten bread. On this particular day, the self-checkout lines were exceptionally long because half the registers were closed due to computer issues. To cut down on wait time, we decided to grab one of Stop & Shop's "Scan It!" devices. I scanned all our items, while my mother began to bag everything. However, all our efforts were tossed out the window the moment we reached the register itself.

After taking the necessary steps to link the device with the register, an error message appeared, telling me I required assistance. When the young man finally made his way over to our line, I explained the situation, to which he responded, "Oh, you've been audited." I stood there with a confused look on my face, as he provided no explanation. Since when had Stop & Shop become the IRS?

"Well, what does that mean?" I asked, my patience obviously wearing thin.

"That means I have to go through and rescan your items to make sure everything matches up." Finally, an explanation!

But did I miss the fine print somewhere? Because no one ever told me this "helpful" gadget may potentially cause more of a headache than it's worth. This "minor inconvenience" completely negated everything we had hoped to avoid. Not only would it take twice the time, but it would also require someone else to handle our items, thereby threatening their survival. (You think I'm over-exaggerating, but I'm not.) He looked around, as if unsure how to proceed, at which point I asked him to simply cancel out the "Scan It!" transaction and allow us to proceed normally, as if we hadn't already scanned everything once before. I didn't want to waste more time than we already had, and I sympathized with the exasperated faces behind us.

While I can understand why Stop & Shop may have such randomized auditing features in place, there was not one instance where we, the customers, were told this might possibly occur. (Of course it waited to happen until the store was filled to the brim. Why wouldn't it?) If stores are going to introduce conveniences that are supposed to enhance the in-store experience, they must ensure that the consumer understands what the "convenience" entails and equip employees with the knowledge necessary to rectify the issue with ease and speed. This isn't the first time we've encountered issues with Stop & Shop, though, and judging by their consistently lackluster response, it won't be the last.

EXPERT OPINION
EXPERT OPINION