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Sep 4, 2012 04:26 AM

Loblaws Bathurst/St Clair: sloppy shelving, supply chain issues, fruit flies, indifferent managers

The general decline of a supposed flagship store of the Loblaw empire continues.

To wit:

a) for some reason the bacon products were moved from sitting in well-defined rows on the bottom of a cold counter to vertical racks - no big deal. BUT - the clear price stickering that used to exist in the old configuration subsequently became a shambles. There are many varieties of bacon and frequent specials/reductions - but now prices for certain lines were not always evident, some of the wire shelving was popping out from its housing and the area was a shambles. Over a three-WEEK period I pointed this out to various managers and the so-called "service desk" who said it would be corrected, plus two young fellows from the meat department who instead of taking a pro-active stance (my guess is it was a five minute fix plus printing and mounting some additional price labels) responded "the [meat] manager is on vacation."

b) supply chain issues continue to bedevil this store - others? - for everyday items such as 12 oz beer cups (the red ones, out of stock 3 times in 3 visits over a week or so) and regular ground beef (available neither in club meat section nor ground meat regular-sized packages during the same 3 visits). Interesting that they had stacks of higher priced lean, extra lean, organic etc burger meat available. These are just examples, not a complete list.

c) A few days ago, I noticed a concentration of flies - both fruit and house varieties - in the vegetable section - they flew up at me while I was picking out a white onion. I am not talking about one or two fruit flies which might be present even in the cleanest store, but quite a swarm of the fruit flies and more than a few of the house blue bottle types. I politely drew this to a nearby clerk's attention. First reaction (he was stocking the salad counter adjacent) was to look at me, hold his hands out and turn his face upwards in a "so what" expression and turn back to his work. I persisted, asking if this reaction was an example of Loblaw service and concern, to which he said, "What do you expect me to do?" I replied that I was not a grocery expert, but in my house, fruit flies generally indicate either something rotting and/or a liquid spill, possibly invisible beneath other fruit or veggies. "Well, it's the time of year" he said. I walked a few yards to anothe clerk and asked her to summon the produce manager - who repeated the same mantra about the time of year. I told him this was neither here nor there in a climate-controlled store, and that I was amazed he wouldn't want to take action - "probably a spill" he said, "I'll look into it," at which point he went back behind the service doors. The cashier manager at the checkout, to whom I repeated the tale, said she wasn't surprised by the attitude (I named the employees to her).

I guess the point of the above is that Loblaw is supposedly a premier grocery chain; its prices are sure premium! But the continual evident unhappiness/lack of motivation of front-line employees - the former sometimes openly expressed especially by cashiers - and general slovenliness in a number of areas - and not only at this store - is sad and unacceptable. As I said to the cashier manager, any one of these employees could/should have responded "Gee that's terrible, Sir, I'll get right on it." They in fact might have done nothing, but I would have left at least with the impression of service and concern!

Anyone else see such instancees or am I being hyper-critical?

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  1. i think you are being hyper-critical.

    it is that time of the year for starters and the for closers, the last thing i would want is an insincere 'gee that's terrible sir'.j

    the bacon placement sounds like my old grandfather who can't get used used to change and the shelves will either get fixed or replaced.

    i never think of beer cups as a staple of grocery store (more a dollarama kind of thing). and who buys regular ground beef any more?

    1 Reply
    1. re: ingloriouseater

      I agree on the regular ground beef. This is increasingly hard to find especially in high end neighbourhoods.

      re. red beer cups
      This is a huge item for summer but they do carry them year round. They will usually have a pallet of them in the beginning of the summer but not in a small urban store.

      I don't think these issues are acceptable but I think you will find similar problems at any national grocery store. We all have our axes to grind, mine is with Metro.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Did you contact head office? Curious how they would deal with it.

        Personally, I wouldn't be one to react too much if it was the first time I saw the fruit flies/etc but if it was all of the time then I might be more reactive and wonder what they are doing.

        I saw an employee eating with her bear hands from a Loblaw's chain store (a Fortino's). She was picking out a variety of things and having a snack. It was gross, makes me never want to get bulk items again unless they are the "drop" down kinds. Anyway, I mentioned it to a manager and she was quick to say she would review the tapes and deal with the issue. So, I don't think it is a general lack of caring across stores. Maybe they took your comment as attacking vs. just informing them.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ylsf

          I believe bear hands are also known as "paws".

          as in: "Miss (Ms.?) could you please keep your disgusting paws out of the bulk bin".

          Sorry. Couldn't resist.

          1. re: ylsf

            Our Mississauga Loblaws manager is so busy moving pallet loads of stock that he barely acknowledges my feedback. He infers that constant employee turnover is a huge challenge to any service quality improvements. I've largely given up on them as they will always get what they accept.

            Shopping at Michael-Angelo's is a much better experience, service and product quality-wise at little or no higher cost. It's like turning the calendar back several decades.

            1. re: iamafoodie

              The margin-squeezing competition is especially fierce in Mississauga for Loblaws. I'm seeing less turnover in staff than bitterness and indifference at their stores. Discount grocery options, Walmart and Costco have all hurt them badly. Their big echoing Heartland store would be tomb-like without the busy lunch/dinner take-out counter. The Superstores are worse.

              1. re: Kagemusha

                Agreed K. We are grievously over served with grocery stores.

                And the big Asian grocers do a comparatively huge business volume that's got to be significant.

          2. Agreed, I don't like this store. A couple of times in the last month or so I've had a quick snack with my wife in the uppper floor eating area. Totally digusting! They seem to have a surplus of staff but yet no one can find their way to wiping down any of the tables. Brutal.