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Different grocers' policies and procedures in different areas or countries

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There's a good thread going about self checkout vs regular checkout at the grocery store. I am curious about your stores' policies regarding membership cards. We don't have them in StL! When we buy groceries in other cities, that is the first thing I hear after the groceries are checked--do you have a membership card. Sometimes we get a spiel, although I usually cut them short. "We don't live here!"

I would really resent it if I had to give my name, address and other info to get a card so I could get a discount at the store. Do your markets require this? If so, do all the markets in your town/city do this too?

And, do your markets give you a choice whether to get paper or plastic bags as you check out?

And are there any other unusual or odd practices where you shop for food? Anything great? Anything drive you crazy?

FYI, I really like my market and I do the bulk of my buying there. It is a locally owned local chain. I am not asked to get a card. I am not forced to take plastic bags. I can bag my stuff if I want--or not. The place has actual floor covering on the floor, instead of bare concrete. It has a great deli, and helpful clerks and stockers. It has a few weaknesses. I find the produce is not as great as it used to be. I've started visiting Whole Foods once a week to fill in the blanks. But otherwise, it is a great place to buy food. And, I like shopping at WF too.

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  1. Some of the stores here in KC have loyalty cards. One of them offers a discount on gas with a minimum purchase. I personally don't have an objection to signing up. They never call or send me anything. I suppose they can track what I buy but so what.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Samalicious

      I downloaded the app KEYRING into my phone and no longer need to carry any of the loyalty cards; so far I haven't run into one grocer that doesn't offer a KEYRING account for me to tap into; including app specials, regular coupons and special one day deals. The app alerts me to new programs and new deals. All I need to do is hand my phone to the cashier for her to swipe. My purse is alot lighter and the convenience is appreciated. KEYRING works at all major retailers as well.

      My food shopping is extensive in that I shop everywhere. My only loyalty is to scoring fresh food daily at the best price I can find. I always bag my own groceries with reusable bags I keep in the car. If I have any complaints in policy or procedure I wouldn't hesitate to bring it to the attention of a dept Mgr or store personnel. Recently, the amount of water being sprayed in the produce area was downright ridiculous and I did let the green grocer know about it. Sometimes prices are mismarked and it can hold up an order.

      My biggest pet peeve is when a cashier does not know their produce and charges me the wrong price (high or low) because they weren't trained properly. Some markets do not clearly label the organic and standard produce properly and pricing can get confused at check out.

      I enjoy small markets, pick your own farms, specialty shops as much as a well stocked grocery but in my area in order to be proactive about my menu planning I really do need to shop everywhere.

      1. re: Samalicious

        I have supermarket loyalty cards for Stop and Shop, Big Y, Shop-Rite, Adams and Shaws. Market Basket does not use them. If you are applying for a card at most of these chains and tell them you will not be shopping with checks you do not have to provide personal info. Otherwise, if the store requires this, I make up a name, address, and bad email address. That way I get the discounts and no contact.

        The cards are required at many stores to get the sale prices on many items. At the self checkout registers at Stop and Shop you can push the forgot my card button on the screen and gfet the discount but no loyalty points.

        I mostlky use the loyalty points at Stop and Shop for gasoline discounts. Yesterday, I redeemed 400 points whgen getting gas and giot 40 cents off per gallon, paid $3.59 instead of $3.99 on an 18 gallon fillup.

        1. re: bagelman01

          The Stop & Shop gasoline discount is only avail in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island.

          1. re: HillJ

            We live in Westchester County and have NEVER heard of a gas discount at S&S!!

          2. re: bagelman01

            A family member in another place does this with a Kroger chain. (The chain was bought out by Kroger and is not named Kroger.) She uses the loyalty card, takes points and gets discounted gas.

            This is the second year of our Costco membership. It is simply not convenient to buy gas there, so we don't. But the Costco card is supposed to get you discounted gas. Also, I find that I am not attracted to shopping for food at Costco. The amounts of food you have to buy are too big, with some exceptions. I do like their canned tuna. And most of the offered food is processed too much, or too fatty or carby for either of us. I think we will pass on the membership next year.

            1. re: sueatmo

              after belonging to Price Club which morphed into Costco for twenty yeras, I did not renew my membership in 2010. However, I will need new eyeglasses this spring so will rejoin for this year only. I found food shopping there not suitable for our tastes and small family size. The gas at Costco was no cheaper than Stop and Shop and far less convenient

              1. re: sueatmo

                I just went to Costco for fuel. It was $4.059 /gallon. On the way home, the 7-11 was $4.23/gallon. I do live only about 3 miles from my Costco. Depending on the size of your tank, that is worth the cost of membership.

                As far as food at Costco, most is sold in multi-packs, even the chicken thighs at 99ยข/lb. I buy more basics than processed food there.

                One advantage of having the Costco membership card is they know what you bought and if there is a recall, a phone call and/or postcard shows up immediately. It has happened with milk, produce, meats and tires...telling us that the product either needs to be brought back or is out of the range to be part of the publicized national recall.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  their basmati rice is out of this world. so too is their ice cream (haagen dasz, labeled kirkland)

            2. all the groceries around me have loyalty cards. The discounts can be quite significant, especially when they do a "earn a 10% coupon for every $300 you spend". Last Christmas I got %30 off my major Christmas shopping trip, saving $100+. I don't really care if they have my address.

              1. Many of the grocery stores I frequent have them. I don't have an issues about using them. Unless you pay cash for every purchase your buying habits are being tracked one way or another.

                I did overhear an interesting thing regarding a loyalty program. The woman ahead of me at the customer service desk was returning a recalled item. She had been contacted by the grocery about the recall since they had her sales and contact info through the loyalty program.

                1 Reply
                1. re: meatn3

                  I was contacted by my grocery because of a recalled item that I had purchased. If not for the card I wouldn't have known about the recall so I always use my cards now.

                2. Not really a loyalty program, but I'm a member of the food co-op I do most of my shopping at. I avoid the 5% surcharge added to prices for non-members (different way of saying a 5% discount), but I also receive a dividends check at the end of the year.

                  1. only winn-dixie in my area has loyalty cards..
                    but since winn-dixie reorganized and closed some stores a few years ago theres only 2 left in our area..so i shop there less often than the publix which is 2 minutes down the street...which doesnt do a loyalty card...
                    i do like the cards..i do use coupons and at the end of ringing up i hand over the coupons and then my card...i like watching the price drop...
                    as far as i know none of them require the card..u either can or cannot sign up..its your choice..
                    and i dont recall an increase in junk mail or spam from winn dixie...

                    and yes i have been asked for a card when i was visiting the inlaws and i stopped at harris teeter..(i just gave them their phone number and they gave me the discount)

                    i dont find it annoying tho...

                    they do ask for paper or plastic in the stores here

                    and the only pet peeve about grocery stores is the baggers...most of the time they are bad at it...
                    i was one a long time ago and i still remember that u dont mix soap/cleaners with food stuffs..
                    or put all the heavy things in one bag so that it rips apart the minute u try and get it out of the car...

                    and the only other really annoying thing is at sams..
                    the have a door guard/receipt nazi who wont let u out of the store if your receipt doesnt match..

                    which happened once..my wife got her prescription at the pharmacy and paid for it there..while i was checking out with the other things and went to leave i didnt realize she still had the receipt in her purse...so the door guard wouldnt let me out the door...like i went into the pharmacy and stole the prescription...
                    and even after loudly asking that i couldnt leave until we produced the receipt ..(which my wife had in her purse while she took our baby into the restroom to change her diaper)..
                    all i was told was its store policy sir......

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: srsone

                      Funny, I was just commenting to the fine folks at Costco the other day that if they must place a line across the middle of my receipt while checking my cart and before allowing me to exit the store, at least draw that line on the blank back side of the receipt so I can still read it or turn it into accounting to read. Dear Costco, why is it necessary to draw a black magic marker line down the front of a customers receipt?

                      1. re: HillJ

                        sams at least usually uses a yellow highlighter...

                        1. re: HillJ

                          They draw a line through the receipt so some of our less than ethical residents do not leave the building with their purchases, then return to the store with an empty basket and fill basket #2 with exact same groceries and then leave stating they had to run to the bathroom. Ingenuity in the criminal youth.

                          1. re: nobadfoodplz

                            Listen, I understand we all have a job to do. But, the attendant is glancing at my receipt and glancing at the purchases in my chart. Underline: glancing. Therefore it was never my impression that the "security" was high level expertise. If the attendant needs to look at the receipt, do so with some real focus and if they need to draw a line in the middle of the receipt use a marker that doesn't make the receipt worthless to the customer later. Here's ingenuity, use a yellow highlighter in the top corner and leave the money detail alone.

                            1. re: HillJ

                              I have never had much faith in the reciept checker either until a few weeks ago when he noticed that I had been charged for two packs of paper towels and only had one in my cart. He sent me back to a manager who promptly refunded the money and apologized. He mentioned that the reciept checkers catch cashier/bagging errors more frequently than attempted thefts. It seems that their presence is somewhat of a deterrent to shoplifters, but their secondary job is to make sure that everything that the customer paid for ends up in the cart.

                              1. re: HillJ

                                Mr HillJ

                                I was answering the question you posed above. Why the "listen" and "Here's ingenuity" response addressed at me? If you do not like the way your local Costco is doing the check-out please speak to a manager there and make these suggestions.

                                1. re: nobadfoodplz

                                  LOL, again with the Mr.! All woman here.

                                  My ingenuity remark was aimed at Costco not you nobadfoodplz. Your suggestion to me was sweet and well intended yes? Thank you. I've made the point numerous x's about the receipt at the store (to attendants & CS) and usually turn the receipt over for the attendant to draw a line on the back now.

                                  And to chcocat, yes I understand as well that the attendant is there to catch mistakes. I still don't understand the benefit of drawing a black line thru the receipt print.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    that's so weird -- "my" Costco in my US hometown always, always uses a highlighter to "cancel" the receipt.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      sunshine842, I have always found their receipt practice odd.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        I have noticed highlighters 'erase' the ink on that odd paper used for receipts and Costco using colored markers (red, orange and blue-probably from a multi pack they sell), not highlighters.

                                        Again, the people at the door are looking for multiples on the receipt and then checking the amount in the cart. Hence, the 'glance and mark' quick action you usually see. Then you can't walk out to your car, come back and say 'I only had one in my cart, but the receipt shows three'. It shows who checked.

                                        1. re: Cathy

                                          I understand why Costco does this checking, I don't understand why they use a black marker or why they need to draw a black mark down the entire front of the receipt. Maybe this doesn't occur at your location but it does every day at the one we shop. So, once my cart has been checked by the attendant, I turn the receipt over and ask that they mark the line on the blank back. No one has refused me.

                                          Since this is the only market/warehouse/store that has this kind of checking policy (Sams, BJ do not) I'm going to request this blank back side mark every time I shop there. My receipts are turned in to the accounting office. They need to be able to read it.

                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I understand your frustration with the black mark through the critical part of the receipt. My BJ's checks receipts at the door, then uses a hole punch to mark the top of the receipt - the store gets security/loss prevention, and I get an intact, legible receipt. As far as I can tell, the cart-inspectors are primarily checking to make sure the number of items in the cart matches the number on the receipt - they only look at specific items if the number doesn't add up.

                              2. re: HillJ

                                It shows that the receipt has been checked in case you leave the store with some problems in security. It has happened.

                            2. My normal supemarket offers a loyalty card which is also usable in a variety of other outlets - fuel, insurance, department store chain, etc

                              1. All the grocery store chains in my area have shopper's cards. Some are better than others. The store I do 95% of my shopping at has a good card. Purchases accrue points towards money off gas purchases. Recently, I had $0.60 off each gl of gas purchased at their pumps. I am sort of meh on the Wegman's card. You get a lot of coupons for free stuff but much of it is for products I don't buy (fruit cocktail cups or puddng cups).

                                The markets do require a name and address to get a card. It bothered me at first but now I have reached peace with it.

                                I don't think my market offers paper anymore. I did use the reusable bags but they all have run away from home, I can't find any of them.

                                At my primary store, if you forgot your card, too bad. They told you to save the receipt and next time you come to the store, take it and your card to customer service and you would get a refund. That drove me crazy. Ah, not happening. Many times I would ask shoppers around me if I could use their card. That policy has since been changed. Now the clerk will swipe a special card if you forget yours.

                                Something that drive me completely crazy is when the clerks comment of my purchases. I get a lot of "boy THAT is expensive" and "what is THIS?" asked with a wrinkled nose. Sigh....I miss my self check out so much.....

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: cleobeach

                                  cleobeach, have you tried going to the customer service area to get an immediate refund when you forget your card? I have by providing my name and address to the attendant who looked me up in their online system and handed me the cash credit the cashier could not provide. Perhaps you don't have to save your receipt and wait until your next trip afterall. Loyalty cards are tied to the main grocery store website which the customer service attendant can pull up on their station pc.

                                  1. re: HillJ

                                    The store has since changed its policy.

                                    When it was still in effect, I tried your method but because my husband filled out the initial paperwork and, because he didnt' like giving our personal info, made up a fake name, address and phone number. No joke, I was standing there insisting that I must be in the system. Later, when I relayed the story to him, he admitted what he did.

                                    I ended up signing up on my own and getting new cards.

                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                      Ah. If you have a data plan on your phone, you might consider using the free app, KEYRING. No plastic needed. Just an idea.

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        Would you have to hand your phone for them to take a look-see? I don't want to hand anyone my phone --

                                        1. re: Rella

                                          Prior to entering the store, I open the KEYRING app and then open the specific store page to get to their bar code the cashier will need to swipe for all of my store discounts, manf. coupons, cellfire coupons to be attributed to my bill. The cashier swipes the bar code across the reader and hands me back the device. Never had a problem yet.

                                2. I come from the school of there is no such thing as a free lunch. You want a discount on top of their prices, then you need to give them something back. If you don't want to give up info, then don't expect a discount.

                                  Sure there's ways to game the system such as giving a fake name, etc. But the core concept itself I have no problem with.

                                  When Los Angeles had it's supermarket strike a few years ago, Stater Brothers was one of the local chains that wasn't affected. They never had the card system and their prices were competitive with other sale prices. It was funny to hear people complaining that SB didn't have cards and therefore they couldn't get a discount. Why it wasn't fair not to have discounts.

                                  20 Replies
                                  1. re: Jase

                                    I do give them something back, my money :)

                                    Funny Jase, in my tenure as a grocery store customer, I remember Green Stamps and loyalty came without giving up any personal information just a wet sponge and time. Things have changed with the great almighty shopping experience and consumers have lots of choices but keeping on top of the best deals, best offers, best discounts could be a 10 hour a week job...that's loyalty!

                                    And, if I wanted to play on the side of the devil here, sure-giving the store I frequent access to my info is one thing but that neighborhood food store turns around and sells my info to third parties and marketeers both online and off unless I balk at that. So, I can see the point of hesitating or avoiding the system altogether. In this day and age information is so precious people are paying to have their identity removed...and handing my hard earned pay to x market should be all the loyalty they need.

                                    1. re: HillJ

                                      Shrug, we're not going to go with the old back in my day argument are we? The market already gives you prices that you can use to compare and see if you're happy with. What they're saying is we're willing to pay for this information. You don't want to do so, that's your privilege, pay the higher price. Everyone goes in with their eyes open. They make their decision, you make yours. No one is forcing you to sign up for a card. And if it really matters to you that much, then its set up to game it pretty easily.

                                      As for keeping up with the best deals, that's the whole point of the loyalty cards. There is a lot of info out there. That's how targeted marketing is supposed to work so I can be made aware of products that may be of interest to me. I'd much rather have that than to wade through a bunch of marketing materials that have no interest to me.

                                      There's plenty of ways to opt out of the various things. Sure none of the are perfect. But they work most of the time. Again, I don't see an intrinsic problem with the system.

                                      1. re: Jase

                                        No stores are not completely transparent about how they operate.The third party bs is the price we pay and there is plenty of it. As for your shrug, say what you will about the good old days but unless you enjoyed those simpler times, you wouldn't understand the loss. All I can do is keep up with the latest invention of loyalty so I can get my food for the week affordably.

                                        1. re: HillJ

                                          I'm older than you think and I grew up without these cards and all these database type marketing. I don't see what I missed that what so different and good. It's a tool like everything else.

                                          Every single one of the care applications have an opt out section. It's a simple as a check. These people don't want to market to you if you don't want their stuff. It's simple economics. They don't want to waste time and materials on someone who isn't responsive.

                                          Again, if it's that much of a concern to you, then take the extra minute to make up a name and address. You get the card and discount, you don't get the marketing materials. Problem solved.

                                          1. re: Jase

                                            I wasn't questioning your age, that would be rude, I referenced if you enjoyed the simpler approach. I do miss the simpler approach, you've conveyed quite clearly you're good to go!

                                            I have opted out of plenty of situations in the name of loyalty cards and still rec'd third party nonsense. It's not a perfect system. The problem isn't always solved. But thanks for playing along.

                                      2. re: HillJ

                                        that neighborhood food store turns around and sells my info to third parties and marketeers both online and off unless I balk at that.
                                        -----------------------------------------------------
                                        Exactly. And you don't really know what they do with the info, even though they say they won't sell it. And, every time you put your info into a database, you risk other exposure, such as hackers who might want your info. I'm not saying that a hacker would target a local market, but if the grocer sends your personal info to another firm who handles the marketing, if the database is big enough, it might be attractive to hacking.

                                        Here is another thought. How can the store offer discounts to cardholders? Think about it. Administering the system has costs, which are probably borne by the market as they offload their loyalty system to a 3rd party who can administer it cheaper. Offerring the loyalty cards costs the store money. So, what is the motive for offering them? They sell your information!

                                        At least that is my theory.

                                        1. re: sueatmo

                                          they dont have to sell your PERSONAL information....
                                          doesnt mean they dont sell information period..

                                          like say an advertiser wants to sell a particular product in your area..
                                          all they need is a database of 30-40 yo males or females that fall into certain groups and puchase certain products...even that general knowledge is worth something to somebody....

                                          all they need is general information...
                                          and the more and more your name and any information is online or in any kind of database it can be data mined...

                                          not to mention hacking...

                                          1. re: srsone

                                            oh I learned that the minute I started rec'ing the identical emails to every email address I maintain. How in the world does that happen if data mining isn't the culprit. No such thing as server security.

                                            1. re: srsone

                                              If you give your date of birth to anyone you're askling for trouble. My grocery store knows my name, address, and public phone number, which anyone can get on Google in 5 minutes. Why would they want to sell that?

                                              1. re: Samalicious

                                                Having your information thru a grocery chain is a target market, on Google you're just a name in viral space.

                                                One example, the parent company uses the marketing data from you signing up to make targeted mailing lists which the corporate parent company uses to fine-tune demographic data for new and current stores.

                                                2, Some stores also sell information back to the manufacturer and to noncompetitive local retailers and mail-order houses, based upon your purchases.

                                                Information is power/$.

                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                  True on selling purchase information back to the manufacturer, as I mentioned I don't have a problem with that.

                                                  1. re: Samalicious

                                                    Why would they want to sell that?
                                                    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                                                    Sama, I was just responding to the question you posed above. If you don't have a problem with your privacy being sold, that's your right.

                                                  2. re: HillJ

                                                    more and more these days information = money

                                                    1. re: srsone

                                                      http://isedb.com/20110316-9056.php
                                                      and App marketing is booming.

                                                  3. re: Samalicious

                                                    well if your the same samalicious that posts reviews on yahoo local..
                                                    or gridstream or savuer

                                                    and that was just a quick google....

                                                    1. re: srsone

                                                      It isn't the stuff we put out there on the web without hesitation that's bothersome it's what happens to "it" afterwards. My company website (for instance) has appeared in some strange and unwanted places over the past couple of years and with it a good deal of our general information. Information we want to share with our customers but wind up also handing to unwanted scavengers.

                                                      Our IT dept. spends half the month sleuthing those items and doing what they can to rid the search space of the worst offenders. It's ridiculous and a detail we elect to handle case by case. Knowing this, I tend to have a short fuse for the whole bottom feeding industry.

                                                      1. re: HillJ

                                                        i know...
                                                        if u really want to know..just try googling yourself and see how much you come up...

                                                        but unless people have a clear understanding of what they are getting into when they sign up for these programs...they wont know

                                                        1. re: srsone

                                                          so true...while other people know and don't care. I care what the young people in my life understand and whether they are applying for a credit card, using a social networking site or using a loyalty card I have explained to them (my children especially) the potential pitfalls whenever the topic of "fine print" comes up.

                                                          One example is the SCAN app that reads the bar code label while shopping and provides all sorts of useful information...well, it's also a walking scanner of your habits for the store/manufacturers to monitor. Right now it's just data but soon it will be dated attributed with your name and loyalty card #. Speed of light info...ugh.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            We used the SCAN app the other day while shopping. Yes, they know "where" I am now while I'm shopping and scanning. However, they know what I'm shopping for at my home computer, or when I'm in a coffee shop searching/shopping/searching.

                                                            I was told the other day that Costco had some sort of money card that you can buy from them in warehouse for use/purchase of items on Costco.com because you might be afraid to use a credit card.

                                                            1. re: Rella

                                                              As long as you know Rella you're informed. Not everyone realizes the power of an innocent enough app. Some are super useful; others not so much.

                                                              And, whether I'm handing a clerk my phone for a second or being asked for my zip code at check out it's not the stores that I want to bring business that I have an issue with in any policies or procedures it's what happens to the information I share w/them that they then share with 3rd parties...or some disgruntled employee decides to hack into the company system...or some nonsense that places my information into the hands of people I don't want to do business with. You know the crazy stuff that gets reported in the paper every now and then affecting hundreds of customers... I find the cost of doing business a real hap hazard issue these days...so I tread lightly.

                                          2. France:

                                            All the stores have a fidelity program -- and they put actual cash into an account. Some of the stores keep the credit balance in their system, and you can use it as a credit toward your purchases when it builds up to a usable value. I've had a few times when it's been adding up a while and I have 10-15 euros deducted from that day's bill because I apply the credit amount. Sometimes I leave a few euros just because it's nice to go in, grab a 2-litre jug of milk and a loaf of sandwich bread, then just key it off of the account at the self-checkout lane. Pretty cool, actually. Another of the big chains sends me a paper coupon at the end of the month -- again, it can be a euro or two, or sometimes it's 10-15 euros or more.

                                            Oh, yes, and coupons are few and far between -- they've just begun to appear in, say, the last 5 years, but they still haven't caught on.
                                            Needless to say, it's well worth it to be a member of the loyalty program -- and France requires companies to allow you to opt out of all emails and junk mail. I tended to avoid loyalty cards in the US because all I ever got was useless coupons and a LOT of junk mail...never anything tangible like actual cash! (think instant rebate...the other day I bought sodas, and there was a 1,22 rebate on the sodas -- so I paid the whole price, but that 1,22 went on my card account. Sometimes they'll do something like 25% discount at the register, PLUS 25% credit back to the loyalty card...so it's a real and tangible discount -- and they add up.

                                            Paper or plastic? Neither -- you don't get bags at French supermarkets -- you either bring your own or buy bags -- 0,06 each for a thin plastic bag, or 0,60 for a reusable bag (made with the same stuff they make tarps out of ) -- the reusable ones are exchangeable for life, too -- just take it in, show them where it's fallen apart, and they give you a new one.

                                            No baggers anywhere -- you bag your own.

                                            1. The store we do most of our shopping at, Fred Meyer's has a loyalty card. If you don't have it, you can give them your phone number - that was handy the other day when my SO was on the other side of the store and hauled stuff out to the car while I was shopping for groceries. I tend to cut out coupons in the Sunday paper for the store and promptly forget them, but they'll just ring them through anyway if you mention it, and they have online coupons that will load to your card, so I tend to load things/brands we buy anyway, so it'll ring in even if I've forgotten that I loaded it.

                                              I have KEYRING on my phone (the first Droid to come out) and it didn't work when I first tried it, but I know it's upgraded quite a few times, so I might try it again at the self checkout, since I usually swipe my card in a regular lane.

                                              Oh, and they have gas discounts (our local one doesn't sell gas), and quarterly rebates based on the amount you spent the previous quarter. No other mailings.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: tracylee

                                                Yes, KEYRING has been updated and a host of new features added.

                                              2. One of our local chains used to say proudly in its flyer that it doesn't require a special card to get the sale prices. There has been no choice of bag for years. Only plastic.

                                                The most annoying practices are things like having the cashier being required to ask you if you want to buy this bag of Doritos or some other junk food. That and blaring monitors hanging over the produce, meats, and registers with ads. Practices like that vary by chain. I can avoid both practices if I go to the right market, which I usually do. But the worst offender is of course the one closest to my house, and with the best hours.

                                                The places with loyalty cards around here don't run them like true loyalty cards. They are just "discount" cards. You need to produce it to receive the sale price, but you can usually borrow a card from someone else in the line. There are no "points" or targeted offers sent to you, not that I know of. There are mailings, but they are not targeted. Just a generic flyer with a coupon.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: saltwater

                                                  I've run into the "spiel" at Walgreens--usually about some discounted junk food item. Grocery checkers asked for awhile if we needed stamps. (The grocer either sells stamps, or used to sell stamps.) Checkers almost always ask I we found everything we wanted. I've heard this at Whole Foods and my grocer.

                                                  There aren't any blaring loudspeakers at my grocer, but I have heard them recently calling for baggers. That is new. In the produce dept. and in meat, there are TV monitors that run footage of their home economists preparing recipes using store ingredients.

                                                  The store also puts out recipe cards and publishes cookbooks.

                                                  1. re: sueatmo

                                                    when im at publix...i swear its the same female,loud,nasally voice..like they have it recorded...
                                                    and they just hit a button...and it always says the same thing.."ALL CASHIERS CHECK PLEASE"...

                                                2. I just remembered when seeing this post title again. The OP asked for other countries, too. When I lived in Ecuador from '88-90, it seemed that they trusted one person in a store to handle money - from fabric to groceries. In fabric stores, the clerk cut and wrapped the fabric, handed it and a slip to the person at the 'caja', or cashier, and you paid that person.

                                                  In the major grocery store in Guayaquil, you had a membership card (I think it was free) and you'd go to the caja to put money on it, then shop and use the card to pay for your groceries. I don't think they asked for information, but I also didn't have a deliverable address and got all of my mail at the consulate in Guayaquil.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: tracylee

                                                    There are groceries with US style checkout stands in Ecuador, but that separate clerk and 'caja' arrangement is the common old style. I remember in particular a hardware store where you'd tell a clerk what you wanted based on samples wired to a peg board, pay at the 'caja' (cashier) and pickup the order at another window.

                                                    Of course you could also buy groceries, especially produce, from open market stalls and vendors, and pay them directly (after a bit of bargaining).

                                                  2. Our usual stops for grocery and related products are Publix, Fresh Market and Target, none of which have loyalty programs. (unless you count the Target credit card discount program) The bulk of our grocery bill goes to Publix, with Fresh Market having a couple of preferred items/filling in some gaps.

                                                    My closest Publix asks both if plastic is okay, (establishes a default option if you aren't bringing your own bags or wanting paper) and if we found everything we were looking for. Which is actually a somewhat relevant question these days since they remodeled a few months back, largely for the better, but I still can't consistently find where they've relocated the kalmata olives to.

                                                    The cashiers seem genuinely interested in food; I think they're encouraged to know about different product lies and will frequently ask how a new brand or type of yogurt tastes or discuss how they were so glad to see that their favorite type of fresh tomatoes were on sale this week. Always positive about the products, and never a 'I can't believe you're buying that!' for whatever reason.

                                                    Another thing I appreciate is that when they say 100% satisfaction, if you aren't happy, we'll refund it no questions asked, they mean it. I suspect part of it is because we're relatively non-demanding regulars in a location that sometimes gets overrun by pushy tourists, but we've gotten into a discussion with one of the butchers about how we hadn't been entirely happy with a chicken purchase last time, and he then redid the stickers for our planned poultry purchase that day so the previous iffy chicken was effectively refunded. We never asked for a refund, never showed a receipt, he just wanted to make it right.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: beachmouse

                                                      Isn't it great when stores treat you as if your good will mattered?

                                                      1. re: sueatmo

                                                        Very much so. I think it helps when they've got a stable employee base. There are employees who have been at that Publix since the store opened in 2000, which is impressive for retail, and doubly so because unemployment in the area was running at 3% or less for a couple of years.

                                                        1. re: beachmouse

                                                          You make a good point. At one of my grocers, there is at least one employee who was there when I moved to this area in 1986. This store also employed a student son. You can't put a dollar value on things like this. The store becomes a part of the community.

                                                          I noticed when my mom was barely able to continue to live by herself, that the people in the retailers where she shopped, such as at the grocer, became important to her. The effect of how they treated her was magnified because of her age and dependence on their kindness.

                                                          Long term local business are often part of the glue in a community. We should be patronizing our local grocers!

                                                    2. I have a shoppers' card from my local Smith's store and I shop there almost exclusively. I don't care that they ask for information about me. They track my purchases and send me coupons every couple of months ONLY for the items they know I buy often. I like that. I also get money back 3 times per year according to what I spend there. I get anywhere from 18.00 to 25.00 every 4 months. I like that too. I also get gasoline points that will save me anywhere from 10 cents to 1.00 per gallon on gas depending on how many points I've gotten in a month. They can have all the info they want as far as I'm concerned. LOL.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: The Drama Queen

                                                        This sounds like a good deal, DQ!

                                                      2. I just give a fake name and number, having the various store cards can make a huge difference in price here. Yesterday I got a standing rib roast that usually goes for $22 a pound for $4.99 a pound with my discount card.

                                                        I am in houston currently.

                                                        1. I'm in Western Canada right now. I have a Safeway and Coop within walking distance, and both give discounts to people with loyalty cards. Safeway cards are free (and you don't need to physically have the card at the checkout if you know the phone number attached to the card), but I think the Coop one costs $2 or $5 because membership also pays dividends based on how much you spend. I probably spend less than $25 at Coop annually, so I've never actually got a dividend cheque. There is also a health food store within walking distance, and they have a points program attached only to your phone number (no address or email required)- you earn points based on how much you spend (and you get a few points for bringing your own bag), then X points gets you a $10 gift certificate. Another big chain here is Real Canadian Superstore, but I think their points program is only available to people paying with a store-brand credit card. Costco is Costco.

                                                          I used to live in Italy, and would shop every other day at a store called Di per Di, which I think is owned by Carrefour. There were at least five Di per Di stores that I could walk to in less than fifteen minutes... I guess that makes them a corner store? They had a membership program but you could only register at certain times on certain days, and I was literally NEVER available at those times. Like, Tuesday and Thursday between 1:30 pm and 2:15 pm, excluding holidays and August. I would do bigger stock ups at Carrefour, and I think I had a membership card there but could never figure out how to redeem any of the benefits.

                                                          When I lived in Mexico I did most of my big shopping trips at Soriana. They have a loyalty card, but they always hassled me about getting one. It was months before someone at the customer service desk was willing to sign me up, and I never earned enough points to redeem. I always found Mexican grocery stores awkward because I had NO idea what was an appropriate tip for the people who bagged the groceries (mostly teens and seniors). There was also a "minisuper" across the street from my apartment, and my roommate and I found it hilarious because we would go there almost every day (between the two of us we probably made ten or twelve visits each week, for things like ice cream bars, pop and bottled water), it was staffed by the same couple, we were the only foreigners in the area, and they would NEVER acknowledge that they recognized us.