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Have you ever returned food to the market?

There's always the bad fruit you thought was ripe and ready to eat, but one bite in, you realize it's rotten. As in brown or splotchy inside. Most of the time, I just throw it away and grab the next one in the fridge, but when the entire batch is bad -- then I just want to cut them all open and throw it on the market's return counter. I've only done it once.

Have you ever returned anything to the market and gotten more than an apology for it?

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  1. Last summer, I was making guacamole, so I bought 4 avocados from the supermarket. 3 of them were HORRIBLE - but they looked and felt decent on the outside. I was so mad since they were over $2 a piece I returned them - they apologized and returned my money. Went to another market for the avocados...

    1. I have on rare occasions when I had plans to go back by the market again. More often, just as you suggest, I toss it and forget it.

      When I have returned things, they couldn't have been nicer at my local market. They let me chose another whether it's a canned product or produce. They have also replaced things I've paid for only to find when I get home didn't make it to my grocery bag.

      1. trader joe's is famous for taking anything back, no questions asked, and with a smile. i've returned a few things over the years, from a stale box of cereal to a frozen bag of pasta (i had bought two, tried one and threw it out, returned the other), to a bunch of mealy and icky tomatoes. the staff are always apologetic and refund my money, no problem.

        i've also returned a bottled (nonrefrigerated) juice blend once to safeway (cran-mango... eww!), and got my money back there too.

        1 Reply
        1. re: artemis

          I took back some goat cheese rolled in herbs because the ingredient list didn't say there was dill in there. I hate dill. They asked why, I told them, they gave me the money back. Soon, the label included dill.

          I also returned some chicken that looked good in the package but smelled bad on opening, and some cheese that was moldy UNDER the label to the Roche Brothers in West Roxbury, MA. They didn't give me a fight.

        2. I take things back to the market, Costco, TJ's. Because I have bought meats that have been bad, fruits or vegetables that have been substandard, or things that have not lasted in my fridge, I will always go back and let them know. Either they replace it, or I get my money back. I shop and cook for a living, and when the client is paying for their groceries, it's something that I have always done, even for me personally.

          One time I opened up a beef steak I was using for stir fry, and the thing was so fatty I wouldn't use it. Back it went.

          1. Returned grainy ice cream. They replaced it with another container that was also grainy. Obviously the market let an entire batch thaw and then they were refrozen. I was bummed because it was my favorite flavor of Haggen Daz, peanut butter and choclate and now I can't find it anymore.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mattesq

              Dude, that flavor rocks...

              Check this out and look at the bottom for "Shop Locator" ...

              A man can't live without his source of energy, come on.

            2. More often than not -if I have a problem with a product - I just write a polite letter to the manufacturer and they almost always send coupons for free products. I once wrote a letter AND brought the product (in this case a semi-price-y olive oil that I was unable to open) back to the store; I was just so mad because olive oil is an *essential* in my kitchen. So I got a replacement AND a huge stack o' coupons.

              I once brought a moldy (inside) coconut back and had it replaced.

              1. Joining in the chorus - yes I have returned bad food. I got a bag of apples from Costco. They looked fine but one bite showed a brown, floury interior. When a second and third apple were exactly the same, I put everything back in the bag and took it back. They took the return without hesitation. They always ask for a reason to complete a form that accompanies the returned goods. I assume this helps them to identify bad suppliers.

                1. I purchased some raspberries that got furry about the 3rd day before we even tasted them. Today I brought my receipt to the service center and explained what happened and they refunded the cost. I know this may not happen everywhere. I live in a midwest small city of 50-60 thousand

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: conniemcd

                    I bought raspberries yesterday AM (which looked perfectly fresh) and by evening they were furry! And our house is air conditioned, so they were not sitting in the heat, either. I didn't have time to take them back, so I tossed them. We've really been enjoying raspberries this summer, but I guess we'll try to buy them at the farmers' market and do without in between market days...

                  2. I got an organic pork roast that came vacuum-packed in a plastic sleeve. Paid an arm an a leg for it, too. That night, I cut the package open and the roast STANK. I wrapped it in a plastic bag, planning to return it to the store the next day, and threw it in the freezer in the meantime so it wouldn't stink so bad on the way to the store. The next morning it was GREEN and furry like a Petri dish. The butcher who refunded my money said that the sudden intoduction of oxygen into the previously anaerobic environment had caused explosive bacterial growth.

                    1. I've returned meat and fish that were obviously going nasty, but that's about it.

                      One of my sisters, on the other hand, won't hesitate to return anything that she thinks is unpleasant, not just rotting. Her local Kroger store knows her by name.

                      1. I've returned all kinds of things. Fish, seafood, bread, fruit, other dry goods. Reasons ranging from rotten to just HORRIBLE tasting. Local markets, chain markets, Costco, everyone I have dealt with were very friendly and gave a refund without any hesitation. I have also taken items back to the store and then emailed a complaint to the manufacturer and have received coupons for free products.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Dlish

                          Ditto these thoughts!

                          I've returned bottles of wine that had soured due to prior handling or poor storage, corn with critters, berries that had mold throughout the entire package, a 25lb bag of flour sporting an entire colony of protein, etc. Each market, warehouse, or retailer were very apoligetic, often sending an employeed to get another item and verify that -- in the case of the mealworms -- hadn't hit their entire shipment. Often these places don't even bother looking at my receipt. The one time the manager did (Costco) was to find out how much he needed to give back.

                          I also email the manufacturers to let them know about problems. Coupons aside, if I find a product I like and want to continue seeing made available, I'll let 'em know about potential problems.

                        2. People return food to my store for lots of reasons. One lady decided the next day that she really couldn't afford what she bought. She brought back over $30 worth of food that we had to just toss (it was produce).

                          1. I've returned food (incl. produce) and it was accepted no questions asked.

                            Once, I returned produce that was bruised because the clerk didn't handle/bag it properly. Went back to the store with a couple hours, got an apology and a free substitute of non-bruised produce (they were nectarines).

                            1. On several occasions, I've returned meat that was on the way to rotten-dom; also wine that tasted off when the bottle was first opened; and I once went back to Whole Foods when they mistakenly charged me something like $13 for a piece of ginger. Now I always try to look at the store receipt before driving home!

                              1. All of these returns, were they done with a receipt? I'm constantly tempted to return fruit to Safeway ("Guaranteed or your money back!") but I never remember to keep my receipt. I'm so sick of being promised "sweet & juicy", "best of the season" or "tree-ripened" or whatever marketing buzz words they use to trap people into buying really bland tasteless fruit (and twice, an internally rotting canteloupe). Why do I keep buying their fruit? I ask myself the same question. I don't live or work near a farmer's market or produce store so it's either take a risk or eat bananas.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Alice Patis

                                  I know Whole Foods will take returns without a receipt as long as it's on the computer that they carry a particular product. Of course, you get store credit and not cash back when you do that. I'm not sure about Safeway, but Ralph's required a receipt when I returned a watermelon. I almost blew my top when I cut open the thing and half (I'm not exaggerating) was white on the inside. The woman I returned it to just stared at it like she couldn't believe it either--especially because she remembered ringing it up for me no more than half an hour earlier.

                                  But back to the recipe thing. I think it's hard with produce because the brands are all the same at the big supermarkets (did you really buy that Chiquita banana here?). But if you had a store brand of something, or a package of meat tagged with a Safeway sticker, they'd be hard pressed not to at least give you store credit.

                                2. Last month my 87 year old mother purchased a carrot cake from the Von's grocery store close to her house. This store has an in-house bakery which generally turns out pretty decent cakes. The carrot cake was a birthday cake for a 92 year old friend of hers, and it was going to be served at their weekly card game (these old babes are real card sharks). The cake was terribe, almost inedible. One side of the cake collapsed when it was cut, it didn't taste much like carrot cake and the texture was gummy. I took 2 bites of it to confirm their diagnosis of the cake and they were right on.

                                  My mother took the uneaten half back to Von's, asked to see the manager. He tasted the cakes said there was nothing wrong with it and asked her what she wanted. She said her money and that's exactly what he gave her. Most of these stores are really concerned with customer service and keeping their customers happy and coming back.

                                  1. I took a carton of eggs back...three were broken on the bottom. Now I check my eggs (no, their eggs) carefully before I leave the market. I've also taken milk back that smelled bad when I opened it.

                                    I did not have a receipt but they happily exchanged my items, which is what I wanted. I usually get good stuff at The Nuggett.

                                    1. I've returned a few things at Trader Joe's, but that is their schtick, take anything back, no questions asked. Twice it has been because I didn't like the product, once because there was mold on top of the hummus when I opened it (non clear lid, so not visible in the store).

                                      I rarely return things at a regular grocery store, though I did take meat back once because it looked fine but smelled bad when I opened it. They were fine about the return, refunded my money with no hassel

                                      1. I'm the Monarch of the complaint (and it's cousin: the return)!

                                        I've taken back a milk to Tom Thumb because the gallon had a hairline fracture in it and milk leaked all over the car.

                                        I've taken a moldy pie back to Whole Foods because, well, it was a pumpkin pie, not stilton and need I say more?

                                        I've taken back stale cookies to Celebrity Bakery (in Highland Park, no less).

                                        I've even taken a CD back after opening and playing it (not because it was damaged, but because it was not what I thought it was going to be) and gotten a full refund.

                                        Never has anyone questioned these reasons. So long as you are polite and stand your ground, you can get pretty much what you want.

                                        And some stores even have a so called 200% guarantee on their own products: Get a full refund AND a replacement. Is this a great country or what?


                                        1. If you keep your receipts in the car, it makes it a no brainer to always have it on hand if you want to take something back. You can use an envelope if you wish, but I just toss them on the floor behind my seat. I clean out the car every week or so.

                                          1. I once bought some scallops and when I went to make them realized they smelled like tin. Hey, they weren't cheap and they smelled horrible so I returned them. I don't know why but the only place that I can seem to buy scallops that don't have a metallic taste to them is Whole Foods.

                                            1. I always try to remember to save my receipts and then if something tastes bad, I save the packaging - and have never had a hard time returning anything with those 2 items. Let's face it, you cannot save perishable food to be returned. But food is too expensive to throw my money away on food that did not taste good. If I bought something that has a brand label at a store to which I am not planning to return, I'll find out the company's address and send them a request for a refund along with the label (sometimes they send you coupons).

                                              1. I once found a hair in a national product brand and called the number on the packet. They were very nice, sent me a check for what I paid for it, a coupon for a free replacement product, and a pre-paid padded envelope (including special packaging) in which to return the offending item and its pacacking. And I didn't have a receipt or anything.

                                                I'm not gonna name the company or the product, but I'll definately continue to buy their products as they had a positive attitude about it.


                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: TexasToast

                                                  I tend to bite my tongue on these types of posts because I worked on the other side and can be a bit sensitive about it... LOL! Anyway, I worked with many national and multinational food comapanies and they all had pretty much the same policy because it really helps them discover problems with the packaging, product flavor or if there was a issue with the production line.

                                                  My BEST story in this vein is when we lauched a new frozen food product and within a week of it being on the shelf (and after millions spent on developing and promoting the product) customer called the company to complain that her product was melting in the microwave! It turned out, after all the careful planning that the printer had gotten the instructions wrong and possibly all the brave people trying the product was having the same problem! Instantly calls were made and new boxes were printed and got to the shelves in amazing speed. Yes, it cost my client a lot, but it was worth it because the product went on to be a success. If that one picky lady didn't call to complain, the product would have died for sure... So yes, as I told many consumers, feel free to tell me why I suck. That's the only way I'm going to improve the products I have...


                                                2. During college, my roommate and I bought a durian, not knowing what it was. We cracked it open, and suddenly the whole apartment smelled like dirty diapers. We wrapped it up in just about every plastic bag we could find and kept it on our back steps for the night. Our Stop & Shop took it back right away; the lady at customer service was more disgusted by it than we were. If it had just cost a couple of bucks, I probably wouldn't have taken it back, but it was expensive!

                                                  1. Two Thanksgivings ago, I bought a fresh turkey @ Stop & Shop that went bad before I even opened it up. And I was had a nasty head cold on top of it, so I just sent family members to other family members' houses, and I had eggs and toast that holiday. Talk about a ruined holiday.

                                                    And then got a snotty attitude from C/S when I went to return it the next day. Walked out after getting my money returned to me; then walked back in and asked to speak with a manager because of the attitude. Manager was nice; gave me an apology for the attitude and a $20 gift card for my troubles (which wasn't my intent - just didn't like the attitude upon returning the spoiled turkey!)

                                                    I now do most of my shopping elsewhere.