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Grocery Shopping Question

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marissaj Feb 7, 2011 04:56 AM

I was in a very well-known store that advertises itself as a 'gourmet' shopping experience (I have an email out to them, so I want to see if they redeem themselves before listing what store it was), and picked up an 8 pack of Honest Kids b/c my 2 y.o son was crying for a drink.
I have never tried Honest Kids before, and I got the Super Punch flavor. It was completely undrinkable. It literally tasted of water with some kind of artificial sweetner added (I KNOW this is not the case, but that was how it tasted).
So, I brought it to the front and informed my cashier that I thought it was bad and showed him that we had an almost full container of one carton of juice, and the other seven were untouched. He told me not to worry about it- the manager would take care of it.
The manager returned and informed me in a really loud, obnoxious voice that there is 'nothing wrong with the juice, its delicious and she drinks it all the time- you cannot return something just because you don't like the way it tastes'. And, I understand that, I really do... but... in other similar stores like Whole Foods or TJ's, they would never make you pay for something that you say doesn't taste good, nor would they give you major attitude about it.
It wasn't like I had just brought this juice to the front either- I had a bill of around $150 that was already mounting up!
I would have thought that most grocery stores would just take a small hit for a $5 container of juice rather than be so rude to a customer (especially when they can probably return it to the manufacturer and cite customer complaint anyway).
Am I completely wrong for not expecting to pay for something that was not to my taste? If this happens again, what would be the correct way to handle the situation?

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  1. The Chowhound Team Feb 7, 2011 10:07 AM

    Folks, this thread has already got off to a bad start, and we don't see signs that it's going to get much better, so we're going to lock it early.

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    1. e
      ediblover Feb 7, 2011 09:35 AM

      I, like everyone else, have made many bad purchases over the years. Not once, after having used the item, have I thought of returning the item. Because, the fault's on me. I'm an adult. I made a decision. It was a bad one. Oh, well. I'll look to avoid buying the same/similar thing again, but it seems out of bounds to expect the vendor to essentially pay for my mistake.

      If you're cautious about a product, ask for a sample or a review before making the purchase. If the kid's going wild (or some other factor is present), just fall back on a familiar, reliable product.

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      1. h
        Harters Feb 7, 2011 09:34 AM

        I take the view that it's my problem if I buy a product that I subsequently find is not to my taste.

        I'd apply that to the tomatoes that looked ripe but werent, the apple variety that was "woolly", the chicken that was bland, the fish that had more bones than I like, the tin of tomatoes that was more waterery than I'd expect, and so on. Luckily it happens rarely - but perhaps the supermarkets should adopt a "taste before buy" policy - a bit like the OP did.

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        1. t
          tzurriz Feb 7, 2011 09:33 AM

          I have a 3 year old and an almost 2 year old. Sorry to say this, but you were out of line. The manager could probably have handled it better but you were way out of line.

          1. Opening an item and giving it to your child to drink before you have paid for it is theft. Even if you intended to pay for it, you hadn't yet. It wasn't yours.

          2. Giving in to a tantrum is never a good idea. A 2 year old is old enough to understand that they have to wait until the item is paid for.

          3. Unless the store has a posted return policy like TJ's, you don't get to return something just because you don't like it. You chalk that up to a life lesson and move on. You've only used one of the item and the rest are sealed? Excellent, take them to your local food pantry and teach your child a lesson about charity.

          4. A return is just that, a return. Meaning you have purchased the item and for some reason no longer desire it, but it is in original condition. So, you get to return it. This met none of those criteria.

          Consider the $5 to be tuition in the school of life. Move on.

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          1. monku Feb 7, 2011 09:17 AM

            Like shopping life is full of choices and you're not going to get a "do over" if you make a choice you don't like.

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            1. s
              Sherri Feb 7, 2011 09:09 AM

              You write: "I would have thought that most grocery stores would just take a small hit for a $5 container of juice"

              I have to ask, WHY do you think this? Geocery stores, like any other business, are there to make a profit. They aren't charities. It is impossible to please all the people all the time; you end up pleasing no one and that is very bad business.

              Your sense of entitlement is misplaced in the marketplace. Just because some other stores have a particular policy does not mean that all - or any - others have the same policy. I can not fathom thinking that if I don't like something the store is obligated to buy it back from me. Ye Gods! Where do you get the idea that (quoting your post) "I would have thought that most grocery stores would just take a small hit for a $5 container of juice rather than be so rude to a customer (especially when they can probably return it to the manufacturer and cite customer complaint anyway). " Again I ask, WHY?

              Using a screaming 2 year old as excuse is feeble at best. These are separate issues. Deal with your child. It is not the store's business to make your son happy.

              I am absolutely astounded that you feel entitled to open a container, taste it and decide you don't like the product and expect to be reimbursed for it. I simply cannot wrap my mind around your thinking. Life lived in the key of MEMEME is unrealistic.

              This is J-U-I-C-E for goodness sake. Spend your energy on important issues. Juice isn't it. At the end of your post you ask "Am I completely wrong for not expecting to pay for something that was not to my taste?" Yes, you're wrong. If you buy something you don't like, simply don't buy it again. Live and learn.

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              1. l
                LeoLioness Feb 7, 2011 08:21 AM

                I think you're wrong and the manager handled it badly.

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                1. mcf Feb 7, 2011 08:08 AM

                  "Am I completely wrong for not expecting to pay for something that was not to my taste? If this happens again, what would be the correct way to handle the situation?"

                  A few thoughts. Yes, you were completely out of line, asking not to pay for a free sample you'd helped yourself to. Extend that behavior to every shopper who opens packages, samples and has a change of heart, and you can see how bad for business and your fellow shoppers this can get. To avoid such desperate measures in the future, you could consider always traveling with your own small drink and easy snack on hand; I did, pretty much every parent I know does. Even for quick errands.

                  To expect the store to take a hit on the cost because you didn't take such steps is unreasonable. But if you contact the manufacturer and tell them you'd like to buy their products but found the drink unacceptable, I'd almost bet they'll send you a free merchandise coupon to more than compensate you.

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                  1. re: mcf
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                    reatard Feb 7, 2011 08:14 AM

                    "To expect the store to take a hit on the cost because you didn't take such steps is unreasonable"

                    The real problem is that at the end of the day the store doesn't take the hit it flows down to every customer of that store. So, every returned item to Trader Joe's or WF's is paid for by you and me.

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                  2. r
                    Raids Feb 7, 2011 07:46 AM

                    I didn't realize anyone ever returned anything just because they didn't like it, store policy or not.

                    I also didn't realize that people opened products in the store before paying for them, which, even if well-intentioned, is - strictly speaking - still breaking the law. Instead of buying the product, you're stealing it and then making restitution when you check out. Not that anyone's going to charge you or anything ridiculous like that, but I guess it's not a situation where I'd also complain about a product and expect to not pay for it.

                    It's just bad manners to impose on a store more than one way at a time, IMHO. Apologies to the OP because you seem upset by the incident, but that is my honest opinion.

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                    1. Quine Feb 7, 2011 06:24 AM

                      I think you were stressed by your crying child, which might have given you a "tone" which hit the manager wrong as you explained why you thought you should not pay for the offensive juice.

                      I think that the manager handled it badly as well as rudely.

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                      1. re: Quine
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                        ospreycove Feb 7, 2011 07:19 AM

                        Get over it, it is only $5.00 or 62.5 cents it was not really clear how the transaction was handled.......If this is your focus,, and reaction just imagine when a real crisis hits, how it will affect you. Do not always consider yourself a victim in insignificant events or situations. There is nothing in life that is "risk free".

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                      2. m
                        marissaj Feb 7, 2011 06:05 AM

                        BTW: I just did a little experiment. This chain has about 9 stores or so. I called everyone of those stores, including the one I bought it, and they all said to just bring it back and they will give me store credit or a complete refund on the product as per their return policy.....

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                        1. re: marissaj
                          m
                          MelMM Feb 7, 2011 06:42 AM

                          If they were saying they would give you a refund or store credit, then it sounds like you neglected to mention in these calls that you had never paid for the item to begin with. It makes a big difference.

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                          1. re: MelMM
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                            marissaj Feb 7, 2011 06:51 AM

                            Not really- the manager could have told me to pay for it and return it immediately for store credit. When I told her I would pay for it and just bring it back she told me bringing it back wouldn't do anything anyway, and thats why she could not do anything now.
                            When I called I couldn't go through the same scenario over the phone. Obviously I won't be opening anything in any of their stores ever again, or in any store.

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                        2. viperlush Feb 7, 2011 05:42 AM

                          I don't see anything wrong with opening the drink for a crying 2 yr old before buying. I agree with other responders who said that unless it's a stated policy (like TJ) I wouldn't expect the store to let you not pay for it. But I do agree with you that they didn't have to be rude about it.

                          I know it is not the right attitude, but if I was tired and annoyed enough my response would have been "screw it, here is $5 for the juice" and walked out leaving everything else in the cart/on belt.

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                          1. d
                            dump123456789 Feb 7, 2011 05:34 AM

                            You should have expected to pay. While it's nice that TJ, WF and Costco would not make you pay, that doesn't mean everyone else wouldn't. Perhaps your store has a history of people who think the store is one giant sampling station. I suspect if you'd paid for it before drinking it, you might have gotten a different response.

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                            1. re: dump123456789
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                              4Snisl Feb 7, 2011 09:22 AM

                              +1. If the store did their part in bringing in the item and storing/pricing it properly, then as a customer, your responsibility is to pay for it if you make the product "unsellable" (e.g. you open the package).

                              If the item seems defective or is not to your taste, then I think the proper outlet for your displeasure is to contact the manufacturer of the product. This is the course of action I'd recommend in this instance, and for the future.

                              I hope that replies on this thread do not extend the unpleasant experience (e.g. seem like personal attacks). You're asking for read on a situation, and hopefully thoughtful responses can provide you perspective (assuming you have an open mind, and are not simply looking for support of your initial position).

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                            2. c
                              Cathy Feb 7, 2011 05:34 AM

                              You opened it IN the store before the actual purchase, then didn't want to pay for it?

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                              1. re: Cathy
                                viperlush Feb 7, 2011 05:43 AM

                                Would you rather she continued to shop with a thirsty, crying 2 yr old?

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                                1. re: viperlush
                                  sunshine842 Feb 7, 2011 05:49 AM

                                  No, but I'd expect that she take the thirsty, crying 2 yr old to a drinking fountain...or to get a drink from a vending machine (many of them sell non-pop alternatives)...or reach into her bag for the travel sippy cup of water or juice box that the rest of us hauled around when our kids were that age.

                                  Doesn't excuse the manager for being rude, but opening a drink and then refusing to pay for smacks of a scam (I'm NOT saying that's what the OP was doing; but if you were a manager at a grocery, I'm guessing you'd deal with those who WERE attempting a scam in that manner on an hourly basis).

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                                  1. re: sunshine842
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                                    marissaj Feb 7, 2011 05:58 AM

                                    There were no options of a vending machine in this store. And I fully intended to buy the product. If I had taken it home and opened it, I would have brought it right back and returned it. I am fairly confident that this particular store would have accepted it back if I expressed that it wasn't good, and if nothing else given me store credit or let me exchange it for different juice.
                                    I actually did have a sippy cup with water but if you remember from your 2 y.o days- when a 2 y.o is SCREAMING for something, you usually give it to them.. Especially my 2 y.o who seems to enjoy having terrible 2 moments more than most others.. ;)

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                                    1. re: marissaj
                                      sunshine842 Feb 7, 2011 06:07 AM

                                      "when a 2 y.o is SCREAMING for something, you usually give it to them.. " ...Um, no, I didn't. What I had available was all THEY had available, and screaming for something else wasn't allowed.

                                      "Especially my 2 y.o who seems to enjoy having terrible 2 moments more than most others.. ;)" -- this is frequently linked to the fact that they learn fairly quickly that if they keep screaming, they get what they want. 2-year-olds are amazingly astute and logical little creatures.

                                      I am NOT judging you...there isn't enough information here, and this is not a parenting forum...but the two sentences are inexorably linked. Sounds like this might be your first/only, and it IS SO EASY to fall into the trap they weave...but you have to be the mom sometimes.

                                      At any rate...buying the juice was the right way to go...you could have brought it back later, contacted the manufacturer, or just pitched it...but ***even though I know that's not what you were up to*** -- it's not too hard to see how the manager thought it was. dump123456789 just downthread is thinking the same way.

                                      (and like I said...this isn't an admonishment or a judgment, just a "been there, done that" bit of advice that hopefully cuts down or eliminates a little hassle from your life)

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                                      1. re: sunshine842
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                                        marissaj Feb 7, 2011 06:12 AM

                                        As I wrote below, I called all the chain of stores who all told me that they don't expect the customer to keep something they aren't fully satisfied with.
                                        Yes, he is my first and only child, and since I was shopping I did not want to deal with him screaming and twisting and turning in his seat pointing to a container of juice boxes that I was going to give him when I was in the car anyway.
                                        I told them at the store to pitch it. I agree, btw, that it would be easy to think this was a scam, but surely if someone was going to scam, you would pick something better than a box of juices. Oh, and btw- I showed her the first container, totally not drunk. To which she responded how delicious the juice is and how she drinks it all day long.

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                                        1. re: marissaj
                                          sunshine842 Feb 7, 2011 06:19 AM

                                          Nobody's trying to excuse her for being rude.

                                          And if you actually spent time phoning other stores to point out what rat bastards this store is, you are taking this WAY too seriously and you need to let this go. You have a beautiful child...focus on the good stuff.

                                          Don't shop there any more -- give your money to those other stores...but you've spent way too much time and angst on this already.

                                          And don't give in to tantrums. If you have to take him out of the store, then do...but giving him the juice immediately just reinforces the "if I pitch a fit, Mom will do whatever I want" that he's already learned. It'd still have been water (and was, the few times mine decided to try tantrum as a convincing argument.)

                                          I was not, and still am not, a perfect parent, by the way...tantrums was one that I simply never tolerated, though.

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                              2. CarrieWas218 Feb 7, 2011 05:25 AM

                                You should have been able to return the un-opened containers and affect a refund of those seven, but not the one you opened and drank from.

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                                1. re: CarrieWas218
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                                  marissaj Feb 7, 2011 05:29 AM

                                  I asked for that option. They said they couldn't do that. I didn't even take the unopened 7 cartons- I told them to put them in the trash!

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                                  1. re: CarrieWas218
                                    thew Feb 7, 2011 07:16 AM

                                    only if they sell single containers, which they may not

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                                  2. monku Feb 7, 2011 05:23 AM

                                    Am I completely wrong for not expecting to pay for something that was not to my taste?
                                    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                                    Yes, you're wrong.
                                    If a product was spoiled that's a different story.

                                    Check the package of juice, maybe there's a money back guarantee.

                                    Maybe shop at places TJ's, WF and Costco if you expect more liberal return policies.

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                                    1. re: monku
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                                      marissaj Feb 7, 2011 05:27 AM

                                      That's the thing. I did shop @ a place very similar to TJ's and WF! That's why I expect more :)

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                                    2. thew Feb 7, 2011 05:12 AM

                                      while it would be nice, there is nothing wrong with the product, so they have no obligation to take it back. it isn't broken, it isn't spoiled, it isn't missing anything. imagine you went and bought a $100 of filet mignon, only to decide the texture isn't to your taste, and you like sirloin. is that the stores fault?

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                                      1. re: thew
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                                        marissaj Feb 7, 2011 05:21 AM

                                        We are talking about $5 not $100. And honestly it was more of an issue with the obnoxious way of talking than the $5. (Plus, this wasn't a piece of meat- this was a box of juice that could be returned to a manufacturer).

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