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whole foods customer service - rant

I went to the Whole Foods at Lincoln and Rose (Venice) today. I bought both pork and beef ribs, already cooked, at the smoke house counter. The pork ribs were sold by the rack, at $17.99 for a 24 ounce rack. The beef ribs were sold by the pound. My beef ribs weighed 1.5 pounds (24 oz). I felt a discrepancy in weight as I picked up one package in each hand. I mentioned to the counter woman that the pork ribs felt significantly lighter than 24 oz. She shrugged. She then told me that they're sold by the piece, not by weight. I asked why, then, was 24 oz stated on both the sign and the label. I told her that they should fix their signs to not state that something was a weight when it was clearly under it. I asked her to weigh it. She didn't, so I placed my double wrapped ribs on her scale. They came out as 1.2 pounds including her wrapping. There were three ribs just sitting on top of the other slabs. I thought she would add them to my order to make it closer to the stated weight. She didn't. I didn't ask her to. It was clear that she was over it. My problem, not hers.

I thought she might acknowledge the discrepancy, and the need for a change. She didn't. She looked at me with major attitude. It was quite disconcerting and sad to me. I'm not someone who complains, ever, and I chose to speak up because their pricing and advertising were just wrong. It was the point of the matter. How she chose to respond and act really turned me off. Am I off base here? What would you have done?

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  1. Did you talk to the manager? They are really good at fixing the issue.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jkao1817

      I actually did go to customer service, immediately. Nobody was there. I waited a few minutes and then got someone. This person was clueless and ineffective. I explained the situation to her..about 3 times. She didn't understand the weight/piece discrepancy issue. She called the smokehouse..no answer. She weighed the ribs, agreed they were too light, but didn't know what to do. She said she was going to speak to the meat dept manager and that I should continue to shop and she's come find me after she spoke to the mgr. Well, 20 minutes later..after shopping and looking for her, I went back to customer service. Someone else was there. Her got her. She was sitting in an adjacent area, having never looked for me.

      After 5 more minutes of discussion, she said they'd concluded that, in this case, they would charge me the per pound price of $10.

      Never a sorry uttered. Never an acknowledgment of the time and energy I spent due to their false advertising. That's why I asked for CH opinions.

    2. You are right to feel put out, but that's just one employee and not necessarily representative of Whole Foods, which generally has excellent customer service. As jkao pointed out, the thing to do is talk to the manager.

      1. misomom, I think that the counter woman was wrong, way out of line. But on the other hand - and I don't mean to be disrespectul - but as a person who has never wanted to pay $18.00 for a 11/2 lbs cooked rack, isn't WF set up to take advantage of customers like you?

        4 Replies
        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          I agree that it was a crazy price. but my teenager was getting his braces off today after two years..so, I was buying an assortment of foods he couldn't eat during that time..pork ribs, beef ribs, corn on the cob, a caramel apple...so, special occasion, combined w/no time to cook ribs before dinner...that's why I felt really stuck and conflicted..I wanted these ribs, but almost left them at the store...twice...customer service was horribly inept..and lacking the concepts of both customer..and service. I assure you, I will not buy them again. Haven't decided yet about whether to continue to support Whole Foods with any future trips. Just soo dumb on their part..so easy to fix...and they really screwed it up.. Dishonesty of posting weight and not honoring it was totally lost on each of the people I encountered

          1. re: misomom

            I would have done the same for my daughter - but probably wouldn't go back. Your son is named Miso?

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              No. Miso is a nickname for my daughter

              1. re: misomom

                No need to justify what or where you buy food.

                If you feel like your problem was not solved to your standards, contact corporate. I did that once after a VERY bad experience at WF.

        2. misomom that really sucks. I rarely complain too. So I find that when something finally gets my blood going enough to stick up for myself I'm not very good at it. But I'm starting to get better with practice. If I care enough now, I'll politely ask to speak to a manager when I sense that I'm not getting anywhere. I tend to do it early on now, to save me and the other person extra time and aggravation. If I don't want to put forth the time and effort I just leave without buying the item or tell the cashier I don't want it. I did that about three weeks ago at, guess where? Yup, whole foods. I bought the other stuff but the item that was giving me trouble stayed in the store. I was nice and polite about it but it was very liberating to just walk out of there without it. You are not off base at all. Did you buy the ribs? If you feel up to it you can still call the manager. Right now the college kids are off for the summer and adjusting to their new summer jobs. I've had a few small issues, nothing like yours, and chalked it up to people having to switch modes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: givemecarbs

            Thank you for your empathy. As you can see from my above replies...I did buy the ribs..because I really wanted to feed them to my son. Neither of the people I encountered was college aged...I would've been much more understanding if that were the case..I probably would've just sucked it up and kept my mouth shut. And you're right..I spent waay too much time at customer (dis)service and am caring enough, as a nonranter, to post a rant

          2. I've recently started shopping more often at the WF in Orlando, FL and have noticed this "attitude" amongst almost all the employees. I feel like they silently judge me and assume I'm not "good enough" to shop there. It's disconcerting.

            Also disconcerting, is the $100 I paid for an assortment of vegetables, 4 meatless Chik'n patties, 3 meatless burger patties, and some buns. Crazy.

            5 Replies
            1. re: kkachurak

              Wait, the employees at WF think YOU'RE not good enough to shop there? I'm surprised someone who makes about $10/hour would have that attitude.

              1. re: kkachurak

                kkachurak thanks for posting, I feel the same way sometimes at my whole foods. I love my fellow chowhounds! The last time I was at Whole Paycheck there were some yummy looking chocolate layer cake samples. I was starving for my lunch and took one, grinning and proceeded to chomp down on it with gusto. I had the strong feeling I was being stared at. I looked up and saw a woman behind the counter at the deli area staring intently at me. Our eyes locked and she didn't look away like most strangers caught staring. I turned back to my delicious cake sample and when I looked up again she was whispering something to her co-worker and they both looked at me and giggled. Then my friend came up and informed me that there were fresh sushi samples. I got one and he got one. He didn't like his so I ate his also. I really enjoyed the sushi and didn't look around to see if anyone was watching me. After that I just ignored the bored employees standing around. In the past I've had an employee follow my friend and I around a bit, but that was because he is an engrossing conversationalist and the guy was bored and wanted to listen in. It was a bit disconcerting but I tried to take it as a compliment to my friend. Hmm, this post may have been way too much info, but anyhow I know what you mean about the 'tude at WF. I see way more near misses with carts and awkwardness among the customers too. It is the self-absorbed attitude of the shoppers I think. Someone summed it up way better than me on my post about TJ's culture. My WF is right across the street from my TJ's, but WF still has the best bakery around these parts. I try to hit the produce, head directly to the bakery and then get out!!!!!! But I do get distracted by the tasty samples.

                1. re: givemecarbs

                  Darn! the mods took down your kind words before I could get the name of the novel. Thanks again for the compliment Bob W your thoughtful post meant so much to me. I woke up to a power surge this morning and lost many appliances. I'm typing this on a laptop at my supermarket's food court. I wanted to re-read your post and look up the author you mentioned and also cheer myself up. I'm just so angry right now.

                  1. re: givemecarbs

                    I would have given the deli worker who did that the one fingered salute. :D

                    1. re: gryphonskeeper

                      I like the way you think gryphonskeeper! :)

                2. Personally you are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

                  Comparing a rack of beef ribs and a rack of pork ribs are like comparing apples and oranges. In my experience. all racks of Beef ribs have much more to them compared to a rack of Pork ribs. the bones are bigger. there is more meat etc. I have yet to see a rack of Pork ribs be equal in size to a Rack of Beef.

                  So then the first question is was a full rack given? remember since pigs are not grown to exacting uniformity [like those square watermelon the Japanese grow] there will be some variation in the size of the rack.

                  If the full rack was given, could it be within a reasonable margin of error for an average sized rack. I think so. If you added ribs to make up the weight, at least half would not be edible. [IE bone and cartilage ] so there would only be about 2 oz of meat added. leaving that out for me is OK especially since built into the price is the prep and the cooking.

                  Mostly what I would judge the Pork Rack's Value on is the taste when I ate it. was it worth 17.99? If so, Buy it again and if not, then go elsewhere for ribs. People rave about Baby Blues which is near that Whole Foods. A Whole rack of Baby backs from them is 22.95 and they only price their Beef ribs by the bone count not by whole or weight.

                  The point is Whole Foods may sell more whole racks of Pork ribs and it is easier to price them that way. [other variable sized items priced per unit, Avocados] And they may only be selling Beef ribs in Smaller portions hence the Price per lb.

                  Take Care

                  - P.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                    I think you're missing the point Mattapoisett. The problem was that the sign and label said one thing, while the actual method of sale was something else, and when she complained she got attitude. No-one's debating whether the ribs were good or not - although for that price they'd better be!

                  2. One thing I find amusing after reading this thread is that the people who complain about WF still keep going there. Masochists? I'm not trying to be funny or smart-alecky, but if a place disappoints that much and is expensive to boot, why even patronize them?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: monkuboy

                      I've never had anything but steller service at WFM - and that's what I expect for the prices. When there have been issues, the department or store head have been very reactive and responsive to the issue. And when they are out of a product, they'll call me when it arrives (and in one instance, called me weekly to say they still hadn't gotten any fat back in, until they called to tell me they were holding some for me).

                      I can only think that something is very wrong at that particular store and a note to WF corporate would be greatly appreciated by management and the other store patrons.

                    2. weights and measures are REGULATED by state and federal law.No one gets to guess about the advertised size.
                      The lousy attitude and service I read here regarding WFM is the ARROGANT norm here in the DC area .Add the prices and at best middling quality their success just confuses me.

                      1. Um...what exactly did you want her to do? That is more of a management problem. She doesn't set the prices, complaining to her isn't going to do anything.

                        1. I won't spend my money in WF because of this arrogance. With the prices they charge? No Thanks, I can get much better quality at the local farmers market, and butcher shop, and Trader Joes.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: gryphonskeeper

                            The quality and selection of produce at Trader Joe's is underwhelming. Agreed their prices, customer service, and certain frozen items are consistently good, I love the prepared food and produce selection at WF best.

                            1. re: ginael

                              I try to go to local Farms for all my produce, milk, eggs, meat and cheese. For dried, frozen canned... etc. Joe's is where I like.to go. NEVER WF again. $14.99 a pound for dried apple slices? No thanks!

                          2. The WF I shop at has a similar pricing scheme for salmon. They have the regular fillets priced by the pound, but they also sell individual serving cuts of salmon for a flat rate. The sign is very clear that the price is per piece and the average weight is 6 oz, but not all pieces are exactly 6 oz. It sounds like that is what they were trying to do with the ribs, they just weren't clear in the labeling. You were right to try and talk with a manager, and it is disconcerting that they were so unhelpful. On their end it would have been as simple as selling you the ribs at the stated price/weight then clarifying the labels/signs so future customers know that they are paying by the package, not the pound (and for a food like pork ribs with a pricing scheme like this they should sell by the rack...)

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: mpjmph

                              I tend to think either one of 2 things here. Either there was an approx. note on the sign missed by the op (or should be added to the sign) OR the 1.5lb weight was a pre-cooked weight. Certainly, service could have been better.