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People who eat the food for sale in supermarkets - would you say something?

We were just shopping at a Whole Foods in a very expensive neighborhood. We saw an older couple, well-dressed in very nice sportswear, munch their way through the produce section. They opened bags of grapes, ate some, put the bag back on the display. They opened a container of blueberries, helped themselves, closed the container, and put it back on the display.

I was super-pissed.

However, I didn't say anything. I hate confrontation.

Then I happened to see them at the service deli, where the wife ordered a container of tuna salad. I wanted to ask her if she was planning to eat the tuna before she left the store. I'll bet she did just that - eat some and then leave the container on a shelf somewhere.

I make it a point to mention that they were well-dressed and this store is in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in town because I'm 99.9% certain that these were not poor, hungry people who desperately needed to eat (and even if they were, there are plenty of food banks around here, especially at this time of year).

Plus the fact that they then put the containers back for other unsuspecting buyers was really disgusting.

Would you have said something? If so, what?

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  1. The grapes are one thing as they're sold by weight. Containers of blueberries, however, are not and I probably would have been unable to stop a blurted out, "Hey!"

    More than once I've bought something and taken it home, only to find it half eaten already. Cottage cheese, mixed nuts...

    It's awkward taking it back and having to say that, no you're not the one who ate half!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Violatp

      I have never in all my years picked up cottage cheese or anything else that was half eaten and noticed after I got home. Was it not sealed or what? You make it sound like it happened on a regular basis?:-)

      1. re: miss_belle

        Nothing "half-eaten," but several items, where the seal HAD been broken. Back they went.


        1. re: miss_belle

          I recently bought a big can of nuts at BJs and later noticed it was half empty after I got home. They replaced it of course.

          1. re: miss_belle

            I wouldn't say a regular basis, but definitely more than once! The cheese and the nuts are the ones I remember. I know there have been a few other instances where I wasn't *sure* but suspected. You know, like, did I open that? Doesn't it usually make a specific sound when I open it? That kind of thing.

            The cottage cheese I just didn't notice, even though it had to have been quite a bit lighter than it should have been. I mean, it was literally half gone! And yes, seal gone. I'm sure I just picked one and tossed it in the cart. I remember the nuts because at least I caught that before I went home as I went for the container while I was waiting for the bus. Seal gone, half empty!

            Let's see, the nuts happened at the Lucky on Fulton and the cottage cheese at the Lucky on Ocean. Both in San Francisco.

            1. re: miss_belle

              I recently bought a different brand of cottage cheese (on sale) and when I got home noticed that there was no plastic layer between the cheese and lid. I called the company to complain that they put no seal on the package.... I was told they put a layer of plastic under the lid. So..someone must have helped themselves. Gross

              1. re: cheesecake17

                I'm with you -- not much grosses me out, but as a child of the Tylenol era, that's disturbing and a little scary.

          2. I would have reported it to the store management. When I worked in a supermarket, we
            were told about a woman who was emptying bags of "regular" bulk coffee into the trash and refilling the bag with expensive Kona. They kept an eye on her for a few visits and
            eventually caught her in the act. She shopped in a fur coat and drove a Mercedes.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ferventfoodie

              This. Report it to management and let *them* deal with it.

              1. re: LindaWhit


                It would tick me off for sure, especially if they really seemed able to purchase groceries. I'd feel bad for someone stealing (which is what this amounts to) a pack of bologna and a loaf of bread to feed their family if they are poor/down on their luck and hungry but not well off persons having dinner at the expense of the grocery store!

            2. I am guilty of nibbling from my container of olives from the olive bar, things off my salad from the salad bar. Technically its IS stealing since it hasn't been weighed yet so I try to control myself but sometimes the hunger kicks in, KWIM? However I don't think a single olive or cherry tomato would even register on the weight.

              But opening containers? Opening them and then putting them back?? I would have said something to an employee, manager and let them know. Often times people are serial shoplifters so pointing them out avoids the confrontation on your part but gives the store a heads up to keep an eye out.

              I am curious though about why how they were dressed and being in an "expensive area" matters? Stealing is stealing. Just because you dress well and shop in an expensive neighborhood does not mean you have money to burn and are not living on a fixed income. Would you have felt better or thought it was OK if they looked homeless??

              86 Replies
              1. re: foodieX2

                The point about the clothes was that this couple could afford to purchase this food they were munching on. So they were not stealing food because they were starving and had no choice. They were stealing because they wanted to.

                1. re: Atochabsh

                  But how does what they were wearing tell you that they can afford to buy the food? Seriously, not being snarky. Would it have been morally OK if you knew they were hungry/starving? that there SS check was two weeks away and they had no food? That the cost of their medications left them with barely enough to buy regular food never mind pricey fresh produce? I guess I am curious where you (general you) draw the line.

                  There was a period in my twenties when I lost my six figure job. Being young I had some savings but not a lot and spent quite a bit on window dressing. Well I ended up out of work for well over year. When my unemployment ran out I ended up on food stamps. Looking at me you wouldn't have known it though. I still had my really good handbags and shoes. I still had very nice clothes. I still wore my grandmothers ring and the gold charm bracelet my parents started for me in my teens. I looked like the young professional I *had* been. Don't judge a book by the cover, KWIM?

                  1. re: foodieX2

                    If you are struggling, do you go to the most expensive grocery store in town or do you go to Shopper's Food Warehouse?

                    1. re: Just Visiting

                      If you're not planning to pay, why go to a cheap store? Just sayin'. :-)

                      To answer your question, if it were that blatant and frankly disgusting, I'd alert a store employee.

                      1. re: mcf

                        You make a point. If I was planning on robbing a bank, I would not head to a tiny one, in a rural setting, unless they perhaps handled large transactions for many large farms, or perhaps energy producers. i would rob a really big one! That is IF I was going to rob someone.


                        1. re: mcf

                          I'd take out my phone and take their photo. Then I'd show it to the management. Stealing pissed me off.

                        2. re: Just Visiting

                          Yes, if that the place I can walk to or if it's the closest. If one can't afford food chances are the can't afford to fill up to drive across town (cost of gas).

                          When it was me I didn't have a car as I lived in the city. I could walk to stop and shop (more $$) but it took 2 buses (or the subway and a bus) to get to Johnnys Foodmaster. Sometimes it was easier to walk so I sucked it up an paid more. <shrug>

                          1. re: Just Visiting

                            Were I in that position, I would go to a "food bank," or to a mission. Few in the US are actually starving, unless they just do not wish to avail themselves of resources.

                            Eating food in a grocery, and not paying is just not a good way to go about life, IMHO.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              Bill, a lot more people are hungry than you think. I've been hungry, and that is in Canada, which has better social programmes than the US does.

                              No, I'm not justifying theft, but I'd certainly excuse it more out of hunger than out of greed or not caring about wasting the food thrown away after. "Mitigating" and "aggravating" situations exist even in judicial rulings.

                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                Not "starving" but US Dept of Agriculture "17.4 million American families - almost 15 percent of U.S. households - are now "food insecure," an almost 30 percent increase since 2006. This means that, during any given month, they will be out of money, out of food, and forced to miss meals or seek assistance to feed themselves."

                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                  <Eating food in a grocery, and not paying is just not a good way to go about life, IMHO>

                                  Every morning I shop at my neighborhood market. Every morning there is a man, who is homeless, who is invited to come into the market and get his morning coffee and sweet roll. He's a gentleman. He's quiet, unassuming, mannerly and humble.
                                  My feeling is that he's mentally ill and he's alone...nobody in the market knows his story but they know that they like him. I'm not sure how he gets by but I can, intuitively, guarantee that taking anything that's not his would never enter his mind.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    I think that is an entirely different situation that what the OP referenced. Due to the decline in our mental health systems in the last few decades there are really a huge number of people with mental health issues who struggle to make it on a daily basis. And not just monetarily. It's quite sad the situation they find themselves in.

                                    1. re: Leepa

                                      Of course it is. I never said anything to the contrary and BTW I'm very familiar with the mentally ill who are homeless and hungry and alone. None of them would ever consider stealing something that isn't theirs.
                                      There's never any rationalization for stealing and that's the point i was making.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        I work with many of them every day and I'll freely admit that some will consider it and do. My point, apparently not well made, is that mental illness isn't an excuse. Sometimes it's a reason, but it isn't an excuse.

                                        1. re: Leepa

                                          Everyone's moral compass is different....regardless of who they are.
                                          There's no excuse.

                                2. re: Just Visiting

                                  plenty of people at my trader joe's use foodstamps.
                                  dress well, too.

                                  And yes, it does make a difference if paying customers can afford veggies for their kids, or not.

                            2. re: foodieX2

                              Eating food before it is weighed and paid for is stealing, just in case you were confused on that.

                              1. re: escondido123

                                Which is exactly what I said in my post. :)

                                1. re: foodieX2

                                  Here's what you said: "I am guilty of nibbling from my container of olives from the olive bar, things off my salad from the salad bar. Technically its IS stealing since it hasn't been weighed yet so I try to control myself but sometimes the hunger kicks in, KWIM? However I don't think a single olive or cherry tomato would even register on the weight."

                                  So 200 people a day nibble from their container of olives, things from the salad bar........wouldn't that start to add up into many pounds of stuff being stolen one bit at a time?

                                  1. re: escondido123

                                    I think situations like this always pose the question of "tasting vs stealing". I don't live in the US, but most food vendors where I am openly encourage "tasting". Eating a few cherry tomatoes or grapes to decide if you want to buy them, is welcome. Eating half a pint of blue berries is not. Also, when the vendor is smaller and the "snacking" is basically done under the proprietor's eye then it's more obvious that it's acceptable.

                                    Much like porn, I think the difference often ends up being a case of "I know it when I see it". But it's never so staight forward (for most vendors) where their inventory is built around selling absolutely every grape/olive/ounce of cheese.

                                    1. re: cresyd

                                      most food vendors where I am openly encourage "tasting". Eating a few cherry tomatoes or grapes to decide if you want to buy them, is welcome.
                                      right, but in this case the customer had already decided to purchase the item, so the "tasting" explanation doesn't apply.

                                      1. re: cresyd

                                        Now, this is being painted with a very, very broad brush, but in the US, many retailers DO have tasting stations, and that is where a patron can sample ____. Most "big-box stores," such as Costco, and Sam's Club, have them at the end of most aisles. Many "dine" at those tasting stations, and never buy the products.

                                        In the UK (London mostly), I do not recall such at a Tesco, or Sainsbury, but might just have missed them.


                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                          It does happen over here in the UK, but not much. Usually on an occasional basis, when a new line is being pushed.

                                          1. re: Robin Joy

                                            Since most of my grocery-shopping forays are rather limited to "downtown" London, and even more in Mayfair, I have just not seen it. That is most probably because of the places, where we have shopped.

                                            Thanks for the information, as I tend to have a very narrow view (albeit a good one), on the UK, due to where we usually are, for our meetings.

                                            This Dec., we DO plan on getting "out" a bit more.

                                            I try to NOT form ideas about the UK, because my travels are so very focused, and my experiences do not even begin to cover much beyond the 'city-center" of London, and then even more focused - Mayfair.



                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Marsha Marsha Marsha ... Mayfair Mayfair Mayfair.

                                      2. re: escondido123

                                        I agree with not eating food before it is weighed, but I would assume that prices are set to account for such projected losses (projected meaning they may or may not occur, but the price accounts for it either way.) I don't think that stores are selling products at prices where they truly lose money if the occasional person nibbles, or even tests a blueberry to see if it tastes good. Is it right? No, but I am betting that prices are set so stores don't lose money.

                                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                          So this makes it okay? What if everyone who entered the store did it?

                                          1. re: Leepa

                                            but not everybody does...every store has a percentage that they allow for shrinkage -- and that number will be fairly accurate, because it's based on a moving average of what came up missing in inventories.

                                            They actually look at the shrinkage number to evaluate their store security -- if it goes up, they'll usually increased in-store security.

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              But because they expect it then it makes it okay? I just don't get that. Sorry.

                                              I don't really care if they expect it. They expect it because it has happened in the past. If people acted right, then they wouldn't have to expect it and then, perhaps, the cost of groceries would be less commensurately.

                                              1. re: Leepa

                                                I didn't say that. I said that not everybody does it -- it happens at a very predictable rate.

                                                shrinkage also happens via employees and vendors and just plain mistakes.

                                              2. re: sunshine842

                                                So since department store prices include their losses from shoplifting, there's nothing really wrong with shoplifting, as long as it's just small things?

                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                  It's not shoplifting. It's shrinkage. ;)

                                                  1. re: Leepa

                                                    "Shrinkage" is what a guy experiences, when swimming in very cold water. This is NOT "shrinkage," but theft.


                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                      But if one found a store employee and asked permission to taste an olive, or to taste something from the salad bar, it would undoubtedly be permitted. So theft seems like the wrong word to me. Emptying out the cheap coffee and substituting the good stuff--undoubtedly theft (and also wasteful, making it even worse than simply stealing something).

                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                        it would undoubtedly be permitted
                                                        you may be right, but you should never assume. the bottom line is that taking something *without permission/consent* is theft.

                                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                            Fortunately for all those here who've been deeply concerned, the poster now has standing permission for her sampling from her store manager. Of the many ethical issues facing us, I have to say this is not the one that concerns me most ...

                                                          2. re: foiegras

                                                            stealing seems like the correct word to me.

                                                            taking something WITH permission is inherently different than taking something WITHOUT permission.

                                                            it really doesn't matter whether or not the permission would probably have been granted, what matters is whether the permission WAS IN FACT granted.

                                                      2. re: escondido123

                                                        But wait. If they factor in shoplifting, then who is to say that one should not just steal a St. John ensemble at US $ 6,000? I mean, if stealing small items is OK, why not go for the big ones?

                                                        Now, if THAT was the point, that you were making, with a bit of hyperbole, then ignore my comments, as things just went over my pointed little head. If that was IT, then I completely agree.


                                                    2. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                      Well, any grocer probably factors in theft, and then, all patrons, who actually pay, must cover that.

                                                      Just because a retailer factors in loss, and loss-due-to-theft, does that absolve patrons, when stealing?

                                                      Sorry, but I tend to disagree that stealing from a grocer is OK, regardless of how they factor that eventuality into the cost of goods.


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        With you here,stealing from a grocer is NOT OK.

                                                        In the produce,dairy and other PERISHABLE short date goods loss even without shrinkage of the pilfer type is huge.
                                                        The last profit,$$ numbers I remember in the grocery store,supermarket business are tight,2% and a rare few,nearly 4%.

                                                      2. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                        Certain items are "loss leaders" just as in the restaurant business. However, if "shrinkage' is 5% then you have to multiply the price times 20 in order to figure the Opportunity Cost.

                                                      3. re: escondido123

                                                        So today I did an experiment. I went to whole foods after work to pick up some olives from the olive bar as well as few other things. I decided to grab a salad since I am dining solo tonight. When I got to the register I asked the cashier to humor me and had him weigh both. Then I took 2 olives out and ate them, and ate a piece of chicken from my salad. I had him weigh them again and there was no difference in price. Interesting…

                                                        And then since I am in retail (in my area of business we plan for an average of 1.2% in shrink) and can't let things go I talked to manager (who I know personally) and asked about the no nibbling rule. He basically told me that the markup on the most convenience foods is really high (they charge $7.99 per pound at the salad bar) so they don't sweat the occasional nibble, its more for sanitary reasons. He said you would be amazed at how many uses their hands, cross contaminate utensils, etc. His employees wont really say anything unless its gross abuse.

                                                        I also asked him about things like the grapes, tomatoes, berries etc. He said Whole Foods has no problem with people trying loose produce, he actually encourages people to "try before they buy". He also said they aren't going to sweat the occasional sampling of packed produce- ie raspberries, blueberries etc.. The last thing he said is that he encourages his employees to offer tastes of things people can't reach themselves-gelato, cheeses, deli items. He can't keep track of this so there is no way to tell how many tastes of gelato or high end cheeses go out the door. But they have proven results that most people do buy after they try so the cost in loss revenue is far out weighed by the increase in DPT's and UPT's.

                                                        So does that make what the couple did right? In his case yes because its built into their pricing structure. Would he prefer they asked before opening containers, yes for sanitary reasons. (plus he said you REALLY don't want to eat unwashed produce!). He said in his store if saw someone opening container of berries he would approach them, see if they liked them and then removed the container. His employees are trained to do the same but still he acknowledged you cant catch everything. Lastly, he would appreciate any customer pointing out gross negligence but does not expect it.

                                                        So I learned a lot. I really enjoyed telling him this all started on chowhound, and his reaction was a sarcastic "no surprise there!"

                                                        1. re: foodieX2

                                                          Was in WF recently and my husband was looking (inspecting) something behind the counter. A employee asked him if he wanted to taste before purchasing. I thought that was pretty cool.

                                                          On another note, I've noticed that a lot of stores have been putting grapes in sealed clamshells

                                                          1. re: cheesecake17

                                                            I'm not sure what a sealed clamshell is, but my guess is that it is something like this giant plastic container that snaps together in ten places and holds the four pounds of grapes I bought from Costco the other day. No, I didn't try to open the container and taste. I wouldn't do that because a closed container says "don't open without permission." The grapes are okay. I had to have them so bought without tasting.

                                                            1. re: Willa

                                                              Yup, those are the containers. I've seen them in stores besides Costco in different sizes. One local store has a sticker with the weight and price covering the edge of the container... So if its opened the sticker would be ripped.

                                                          2. re: foodieX2

                                                            If a person needs to be 'right' then let them be 'right'.
                                                            You go girl.

                                                            1. re: foodieX2

                                                              I love it! I was going to ask if anyone here was in food retail and wanted to weigh in. Thanks for the information.

                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                Just because it's built into their pricing structure does not mean it is right. Stealing is an unfortunately common occurrence. It is because it is common that it has to be accounted for. It's sort of like saying because doctors have malpractice insurance, that they are right to take risks... because it is taken care of.

                                                                1. re: kubasd

                                                                  I think you're missing the point about what stealing is. If I have an apple tree, and neighbors take apples from it - then yes, that is stealing. However, if I have an apple tree and I tell one neighbor - please let the neighborhood know that they can take as many apples as they'd like, I don't like apples/can't use all of them and it helps me if you take them. Then if neighbors come/go/bring friends to take apples - that's not stealing.

                                                                  Most green grocers/vendors are happy for you to try produce (as mentioned above in a sanitary and limited way). They know it increases the likelihood that you'll buy. And with something pricier (and easier to contaminate) such as cheese - it's behind a counter and monitored - but the philosophy of sampling is still there.

                                                                  The notion that stuffing a bunch of grapes into your purse is the same as trying one to evaluate whether or not you'd like to buy them is an extremely narrow view of commerce.

                                                                2. re: foodieX2

                                                                  Whole Foods "allows" stealing so that its clientele can have the dubious benefit of feeling that they are above say, Shaw's. Customers who are eating while shopping spend more.

                                                                  1. re: postemotional1

                                                                    Whole Foods "allows" stealing
                                                                    you're kidding, right? i've seen numerous WF customers - in various locations - escorted out for helping themselves to unpaid items.

                                                                    and customers who eat while shopping often end up paying *less* if they don't actually pay for what they've eaten! plus, it's common knowledge that you tend to buy more if you shop while you're hungry...so if you eat while you're in the store & take the edge off your hunger, there goes your desire to toss extra items into your cart.

                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                      No- they don't "allow stealing". The allow "sampling". There is a big difference.

                                                                      Stuff your purse with grapes and you are going to get busted. Eat a few grapes you won't.

                                                                      Pour a bit of soup into a container to taste. No problem. Fill a container, eat it and throw it away without paying-busted.

                                                                      Open sealed containers (ie: cottage cheese, yogurt, cookies, etc) and eat them as you walk around and then don't pay for them, you are stealing.

                                                                      Are there people who abuse the system? Of course which is why most retailer build in a cushion.

                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                        What happens if I decide to sample, say the Hickory Smoked Ham, the Pumpernickel, some lettuce, maybe a tomato slice, plus a squirt of Gulden's Spicy Mustard. It's OK, but then I decide that I want Smoked Turkey, on Rye, with Boar's Head Spicy Mustard, and put the rest of the stuff back. Is that OK too?

                                                                        Maybe I get a chicken out of the roaster, rip off a big piece of the breast, just to taste, mind you, but decide that I feel more like the salmon that night, and just stick the partially eaten chicken back. That should work, right?

                                                                        Sorry, but I must be loosing IT, as so much that I am reading does not make sense.


                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                          So, Bill Hunt, if you ever find yourself shopping at WF (not sure if I will ever again based on the manager's opinion of how things should be run in his store) remember that anyone can 'munch their way through the produce section' free of charge, with a clear conscience, because "it's built into their pricing structure".
                                                                          If I ever decide to go in and give it a whirl I might just walk on over to the bakery, grab a croissant, make myself a cappuccino and walk to a table outside and see if I like it enough to purchase more.

                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                            Thanks for the H/U, but think that I will pass.

                                                                            When we got our first WF, near us in North Phoenix, I really did like the cheese department. However, something major changed, and it went downhill quickly. Have not been back in quite some time, so that department could now be back on track?

                                                                            Other than offered samples (I turn down most), I'll skip the grazing.


                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                              Actually, the only reason I've found myself going into one is to purchase my liquid vitamin. The store is close to me and it's convenient and I only need to go in once a month.
                                                                              I'm very particular about where I purchase my produce, meat, & cheese and baked goods. I've been *burnt* on one too many occasions, years ago, with the "fishmonger" at my local store who used to sell me fish that, when unwrapped at home, smelled like no fish should smell unless it's been sitting around a little too long. I did that a couple of times, took it back, and received an apology w/ an offer of something different. No thanks. Any fish department that has a distinct smell of that pungent fish smell is not for me. Having been raised in an area where I had my choice of anything I wanted, guaranteed fresher than fresh, I vowed I'd never step into another store, no matter where it's at, for anything but my vitamins. Oh yes, when I'm in there, I've been asked to sample whatever they've decided to offer the public but I've never seen anything that interests me. In and out is just fine with me.

                                                                        2. re: foodieX2

                                                                          i didn't say they allow stealing. postemotional1 did.

                                                                    2. re: foodieX2

                                                                      <He said you would be amazed at how many use their hands, cross contaminate utensils, etc. His employees won't really say anything unless its gross abuse.>

                                                                      I don't want to even imagine what that might be based on what he believes is acceptable. A manager who's not promoting basic sanitary food handling does not deserve my business or anyone else's.

                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                        My sister and I had a fabulous time shopping at Whole Foods today. We were fighting about whether to use pre-shucked oysters for our stuffing or to find good oysters in the shell and shuck them ourselves. She was pushing for the pre-shucked. I insisted that I would not use oysters that I would not eat. So I called Whole Foods. They usually only stock Blue Points which I dislike. But the day before Thanksgiving they had two other varieties. The man in the seafood department said, "come on in and try the oysters!" So we did. We bought four dozen RI oysters. But while tasting a kumamoto, I could tell it was spawning. I said "Ewww, yuck, this one is spawning...." They sent me to the wine counter to sample some wine to wash down the bad creamy spawn flavor of the nasty oyster. Thank you! A lady in the fine cheese section was watching me and my sister make choices in the store close to her section. She got a huge kick out of our enthusiasm and we got into an excellent discussion of the "Babette's Feast holiday" and how important it was to do it right. She kept giving us samples of things. A lot of fun. Couldn't sample everything. For example, I have been soldiering on trying to finish the four pound "clam shell" box of grapes from Costco but lots of them are squishy and mild. So I bought a bag of grapes at Whole Foods. AFter all the commotion, I opted not to taste a grape in advance. Mostly because I was afraid of the unwashed grape. I think the points made about the risk of eating unwashed produce have been excellent and I am cured of my uninvited grape-tasting.

                                                                        I loved the staff at Whole Foods, though. They really shared the spirit of creating a feast and loved helping us shop for the best. I was very impressed when the oyster clerk told us that she had included a number of extra oysters to make sure that if any were bad we had a substitute. Wow. That doesn't happen that often anywhere in Chicago. And the prices were great. So bravo, Whole Foods!

                                                                        1. re: Willa

                                                                          The quinine has done her no good. The unwashed grape has transported her soul to heaven.

                                                                          1. re: MrsBridges

                                                                            No, MrsBridges, it was not the quinine it was the disgusting creamy spawning kumomoto that was not thoroughly rinsed out of my mouth by the authorized but smallish sample of Riesling. If I could have, I would have sampled the quinine. Or the hydrogen peroxide. I HATE spawning oysters. Good thing I was allowed to taste. We are eagerly awaiting the finest oyster stuffing we have ever made, thanks to the ability to taste first and reject the randy spawning oysters.
                                                                            And now we face the question of whether my 21 year old son's homemade eggnog, uncooked, will do any of us in. If it does, it will be a great way to go. Slowly beaten egg yolks with milk, cream and sugar, then egg whites beaten to a stiff peak folded into the custard followed by heavy cream beaten to stiff peaks and folded. The cream and meringue are not completely incorporated and lovely little clouds are floating in the meringue............
                                                                            Unfortunately, I have just thrown out 3 lbs of Costco and Whole Foods grapes because I didn't open the clam shell containers and try them. I tried to eat them and serve them but there were so many soft ones......shudder. What a shame.
                                                                            Shame on the store for selling them. And stupid me for buying them.

                                                                        2. re: foodieX2

                                                                          <<its more for sanitary reasons>>

                                                                          whole foods is the only store at which i won't take any of the samples they put out.
                                                                          the reason is that they put the tongs in their entirety into the food that is out for sampling.
                                                                          this means that when someone takes the tongs in hand and retrieves a sample, the only place to replace the entire set of tongs is to place them on top of the food samples.
                                                                          everyone's hand dirt ends up on the tongs (because the food residue that ends up on the handles will make it stick) and the tongs go right back on top of the food after every serving.

                                                                          i've complained to the whole foods management about this lots of times, but this is their system.

                                                                          other stores, such as gelson's, bristol farms, etc, will put out disposable toothpicks for retrieving the sample or put the samples in individual plastic or paper cups. (much more sanitary)

                                                                          1. re: westsidegal

                                                                            If the employees are too lazy to put a clean toothpick in each sample, the toothpick means is definitely not perfect. I have seen people accidentally put the toothpick they ate off back in the new toothpick cup.

                                                                            I like the individual cup idea though. That is what they use at the store I frequent and it works well.

                                                                            1. re: Fowler

                                                                              that would be gelson's in my area.
                                                                              another good system, but much more labor-intensive is the trader joe's system, in which an employee mans each sample station and keeps a continuous supply of samples coming out in little pleated paper cups.
                                                                              the whole process is monitored by a human.

                                                                        3. re: escondido123

                                                                          If I'm buying by weight, I'm not eating across the store or in line. Many stores do offer samples (thanks). But, when you buy per weight, then I can't imagine eating before paying. Yes. That is stealing.

                                                                    3. re: foodieX2

                                                                      I can only remember bottles of water or perhaps a soda, but those were reported, to the checkout clerk, to be charged. Other than "samples," I cannot recall ever eating anything.


                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                        As a child my dad would let us eat those animal crackers that came with a string handle or a slice of American cheese which had already been weighed and marked by the deli. But our favorite was torn off pieces of warm Italian bread. We always paid for everything.

                                                                        1. re: melpy

                                                                          <<We always paid for everything.>>

                                                                          This is a very, very important part of the equation, and one that is missed by some.


                                                                          PS - thanks for the "trip down memory lane." I had forgotten that "string" on the Animal Crackers box.

                                                                          1. re: melpy

                                                                            When I take my daughter shopping, she loves to eat a slice of cheese or bakery cookie. I ask for the item to be weighed and ill take the sticker for the cashier to scan. Many times the counter guys (who know us, as we shop often) will wave me off and tell the baby to enjoy.

                                                                            But when it comes to eating a banana in the wagon, I usually take one that's the same size as she's eaten. I tell the cashier that my baby ate one in the wagon and to charge me for the weight of the one I've got. Sometimes they look at me like I'm totally insane

                                                                            1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                              I always had them weigh my keys along with the remainder of the bananas. At that time, I keys for half the universe...so the store came out on top.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Trader joes makes it easy- they price the bananas by the piece, not lb.

                                                                                1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                  there was no Trader Joe's within 500 miles of where I lived at that time.

                                                                              2. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                I am with you (I think, as my level of confusion is getting higher), in that if it's in the store, and I eat it, I pay for it. Sounds so very simple, but then it appears that many stores expect their patrons to have a good meal, while shopping, and just comp it. Does that include a bottle of wine, that I sample, but decide to not buy it, and put it back?


                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                  Funny you mention the wine. I almost mentioned it earlier in the thread but decided not to, but now that you've opened that door... I know a woman who actually did open a bottle of wine and begin drinking it in the store. She was caught by the staff of the store and the management banned her from coming back. And they meant it. She was caught several times trying to go back and was escorted from the premises. Seems like, here in NC, the store could lose it's license to sell beer and wine if a customer were caught consuming within the store. The manager was hugely pissed.

                                                                                  1. re: Leepa

                                                                                    And the thief even more pissed, I suppose?

                                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                                      Actually, she was pretty ashamed that it had happened. Shortly after that she went to rehab.

                                                                                      1. re: lagatta

                                                                                        Lagatta, I saw what you did there.

                                                                                      2. re: Leepa

                                                                                        There are a lot of local and state laws on the consumption of alcohol. That can go from in-store wine bars, to just passing out samples. Also, things DO change, like they did in AZ some years back.

                                                                                        As for "sampling" a bottle in a store, I guess that I would have to bring my own stemware... ?


                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                          One of the liquor stores near me has a number of higher end wines in one of those contraptions that keep the oxygen out of the bottle and allows for small amounts to come from the bottle an the rest kept for later. They have stemware, and it is there for sampling :)

                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                            I'm pretty sure she just took off the cap and swigged. ;)

                                                                                2. re: foodieX2

                                                                                  never eat anything unless it is offered to by store employees such as Jungle jim's does in my area.stealing is simple that and not to be justified esp. if you see someone who may pose a health problem.in short ,yes i would contact store about problem.

                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                    You really should "nibble" on stuff with a bar code for the product. Don't try to convince us you're being teeny, you're shoplifting, plain and simple. Get something that's in a can or a bar-coded bag or box, eat as much as you want, and claim it at the register, Your "nibbling" is pretty shameless. You're shorting all of us with your shoplifting. I obviously draw a hard line on that, but your "nibbling" costs me money in the long run. Shame on you.

                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                      "Technically its IS stealing"

                                                                                      No it's not. Unless by "tecnically" you mean "actually and in fact stealing".

                                                                                    2. I'm going to call you on not saying anything because you didn't want confrontation - that makes you complicit in the theft and, frankly, is this something you teach your kids? To witness wrong doing and ignore it?

                                                                                      I would have at least notified the store management but - more likely for me - I would have confronted the person directly because I hat sh*t like this. It makes the food more expensive for the rest of us because of the level of theft raises food costs.

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                        Don't have any kids. If I did, I am not sure what I would teach them about this kind of thing. Confrontation is something I used to try - and no matter how nicely, it almost always resulted in a nasty reply. I once asked a young woman on the metro - she was almost certainly a local and should have known better - not to eat on the Metro because it makes a mess. She was eating an ice cream cone and did, in fact, let it drip on the floor and the adjacent seat, and then she threw the napkin on the floor. Maybe she was unbalanced but she went bonkers. Ever since then, I just move away.

                                                                                        I agree it makes food more expensive for the rest of us, and it is also unsanitary. That's why it bothers me.

                                                                                        If I saw someone being assaulted I would certainly say something (and hope I didn't also become a victim) and call the police.

                                                                                        In any case, I was asking what others would do. I wasn't asking for your opinion of my decision. So you gave me your answer.

                                                                                        1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                          I'm not saying that it is ok to eat on the Metro, but this is a situation where there really isn't anything that the person could have done about it at the time that you confronted them. Sure, they could have not bought the ice cream cone, but when you spoke to her, she presumably already had it. Not really something that you can stash in your purse for later.

                                                                                          Not an excuse for losing it on you, just saying that there isn't really a solution that could have been accomplished at the point you spoke with her.

                                                                                          1. re: jw615

                                                                                            Get off at the next stop and throw it away. Do not throw the napkin on the floor. Those are things she could have done. Although frankly, maybe I should have put it in her purse for her. Maybe then she would have gotten the point, and at least her freak-out would have been justified. I know that I was hoping the train would stop short and the ice cream would end up all over her.

                                                                                            In any case, my purpose in saying something was to persuade her not to do it again.

                                                                                            1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                              or how about wiping up, or attempting to contain the mess?

                                                                                        2. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                          In some places I've lived, confronting a person in the grocery store is a good way to get physically assaulted in the parking lot. No thank you.

                                                                                            1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                              Everyone is not comfortable with confrontation.

                                                                                              1. re: CarrieWas218

                                                                                                the confrontation, if any, should properly be done by store staff according to the store's policy.

                                                                                                most stores don't want their customers going around playing sheriff for all the obvious reasons.

                                                                                                shrinkage control is something most grocery stores think about and most have policies in place about the way they want things handled.

                                                                                              2. I would have said something to the management and let them deal with it. I reported this elderly lady that was filling a container of soup at the deli counter area, she was looking around questioninly and I though she was looking for a top for the container. So I offered her one as they were on the side where I was. She declined and just left the area slurping down her soup.

                                                                                                31 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Atochabsh

                                                                                                  Frankly if I saw an "elderly woman" taking soup without paying, I would assume she's hungry. I can't imagine arresting or shaming someone for "stealing" soup.

                                                                                                  1. re: Helene Goldberg

                                                                                                    Ha. I live in an area where 'elderly women/men" put on their Sunday best every single day and drive their Mercedes to the neighborhood market. They walk to the deli, after pouring a free sample of coffee when they walk through the door, and ask for a small sample container and go to the hot food buffet and one by one sample each and every item. This is their lunch. The market has, off and on, hired a security guard just to overlook this stealing. Which it is. When asked why people do this, as I've been told by people who work there and I'm very familiar with, they say the people like this feel entitled. They feel that because they spend money at the place, when they're not stealing, they feel they should be able to eat a few olives or grapes or whatever else is loose and unpackaged.

                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                      Years ago, one of my mother's friends would buy a can of soda at the mall. Then walk through Hickory Farms sampling all the cheese, sausage, crackers etc. they had set out. That was her lunch. She was not cash strapped by any means. I was only a teenager when she regaled us with this story, but even back then it rubbed me the wrong way. Yes. I realize they were free samples but still.. Some people are just like that.

                                                                                                      1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                        To me, this is totally different. The samples have been set out without any expectation of financial compensation to the store beyond the hope that someone will purchase a full product. A salad bar in a grocery store is set up with the explicit expectation that people will pay for whatever they take.

                                                                                                        1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                          Yes, I know it's not the same thing.

                                                                                                          1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                            No, it's not the same thing, obviously. But it is a mindset involved here that, in my opinion, seems to be part of the discussion. Anything that's out in the open, unpackaged and in front of someone to take, no matter what the reason, is fair game. I've seen people actually stand in front of those cheese trays (the ones where an employee has cut them into 1/2 inch squares and put little toothpicks for sampling) and eat the entire pile. Where do you draw the line between sampling and stealing? It's that mindset where people will take advantage a nice gesture and feel entitled to do so.

                                                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                              I'd say that to open a bottle of jug wine, pour a few glasses, and then put the cap back on, might have crossed the line.

                                                                                                              Of course, for "better wines," one would want to travel with both glassware, and a wine opener (I do, when flying), have a few glasses, then put the rest back on the shelf, if it did not go well with the free cheese, that had been cut into cubes with the toothpicks.

                                                                                                              I just seem to be missing something very important in this thread - "If it's there, then it's OK to eat/drink it, but you do not have to pay for it." Is that correct?


                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                I'm afraid so, Bill Hunt.

                                                                                                                Attempting to rationalize grazing by claiming hunger or deciding if it's deserving of purchase is a concept I'm unfamiliar with. To stand at an olive bar and taste a few to decide which one is palatable seems strange but maybe I'm part of a dying breed that thinks this type of behavior is ill mannered. I'm oftentimes hungry in the market but I pay for the food, go home, and sit at my table and eat it. I can't remember a time when I've stood and eaten a piece of food, outside my home, unless I was attending a cocktail party and then it's just a piece or two, if that. The concept of eating or drinking something, that has not been paid for, and has not been offered, is stealing....no matter how hard people try and explain it away.
                                                                                                                It reflects an obvious sense of entitlement.

                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                  Trying to think back, I can only recall a few bottles of water, which were later purchased (bottles empty by then), that we have ever opened. Summer in AZ can be brutal, and often the water in the autos is gone, before we get to the grocery store. I am bound to be forgetting something, but nothing else comes to mind.


                                                                                                                2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                  I hate it when I forget my wine key and stemware at the grocery store and have to resort to chugging champagne from the bottle.

                                                                                                                  1. re: babette feasts

                                                                                                                    Funniest remark in the thread.......

                                                                                                                    1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                      I agree, and as one who always travels with three openers, a Vac-u-Vin with four stoppers, plus a Champagne/Sparkler seal, and often "travel stemware," though never to the grocery store...


                                                                                                                3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                  There is a word for people who exhibit this kind of selfish entitled behavior and predictably it is Yiddish. The word is "schnorrer."

                                                                                                                  1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                    truly some of the best words are in Yiddish.

                                                                                                                    1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                      So true.

                                                                                                                      There's just nothing in the English language that describes things better than Yiddish.

                                                                                                                      1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                        It really just means moocher, which I think is just as appropriate in this case.

                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                          The beauty of Yiddish words is that they take on broad connotations. *Moocher* is just one part of *schnorrer*.
                                                                                                                          Perfect word.

                                                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                            It must have a bunch of other connotations in "Yiddish/American" it doesn't have in German, then. Schnorren = to mooch. I'm unaware of other meanings.

                                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                              Yiddish had its roots in Germany, as did Ladino had its roots in Spain.
                                                                                                                              They're both cultural languages.
                                                                                                                              Yiddish isn't German.

                                                                                                                      2. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                        < predictably it is Yiddish. The word is "schnorrer."

                                                                                                                        Perfect. That word is just one of the *great* words and was used by some pretty wise people with incredible insight :). Yiddish words describe things/people perfectly and the people who used them knew exactly, and in what context, to use them.

                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                          and in Yiddish you get to cuss up a storm and while people sort of get the gist, few know just how filthy your speech is at the moment!

                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                            Yep. That's one of the reasons I love it :).

                                                                                                                      3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                        A friend of mine used to manage the cheese section of a Whole Foods. Every Sunday, the same woman - neatly presented, apparently coherent, of a weight that would suggest access to regular meals - would come in at the same time of day (generally considered the post-church hour around here, which is the time all waitstaff hate to work), walk around the store, and eat all of every tray of samples set out. She never bought anything, just hovered over the samples until they were all gone.

                                                                                                                        He disliked this woman but wasn't allowed by management to actively confront her, so his solution was to set out the cheese samples slightly later every week, until finally, at her regular time there were no cheese samples to be found anywhere in the store. He said she came in for about two weeks after that and wandered the store as though searching for that free cheese. Now, if she'd come to him and said that she ate the cheese because she was hungry, he'd have given her all the cheese that was his to give, but because she only ever gave the appearance of being greedy he did not feel inclined to be generous. Not long after, she stopped coming in and the cheeses went back on their usual rotation. She hasn't appeared since.

                                                                                                                    2. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                                      Samples are one thing. Sampling from the produce, and not paying, is another.

                                                                                                                      With the former, the producer, the distributor, or the retailer, has offered those, and charged them against their advertising/marketing budget.

                                                                                                                      With the latter, people are just stealing.


                                                                                                                      1. re: CanadaGirl

                                                                                                                        But the samples are set out for people to try, in the expectation that they would actually consider a purchase, whether that day or in the (near) future. To go in there with a soda, more than once, with the intention of just having lunch -- to me, that's stealing. You might be stealing from the marketing budget rather than the cost-of-goods-sold line, but either way it's the profit of the company in a way that is not intended. Not that you always have to match a company's intentions, but trying to justify this one is pretty out there, IMHO.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sweethooch

                                                                                                                          I see what appears to be "dining on samples" in Costco, more than my local groceries, which tend to be a bit more "boutique." At Costco (do not shop Sam's Club, so it might be the same, or differ greatly), I have seen people hit each sample stand, and on a few occasions, more than once. I have seen a couple go up, and take "a taste for my spouse," only to have the spouse do the same thing, moments later.

                                                                                                                          Personally, I seldom will accept a sample, as nearly everything being offered is not something that would likely buy. Now, and at our since-closed boutique A J's, my wife did more samples, than I ever did, and over time, HAS found some neat items, that we HAVE bought - and some, many times. In her case, the marketing DID pay dividends - how I will miss that store!


                                                                                                                      2. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                        I see similar, at Costco stores. Many aisles have "tasting counters," and a lot of folk dine on those samples.

                                                                                                                        Personally, I try to avoid those stations, and go to the "back aisles," as there are often fights, when patrons try to get up to the table, to get more tastings. It can be like Mardi Gras, with people fighting for some cheap beads. Not what I want, when I only need to buy a few items, and not enter into the fray.

                                                                                                                        At smaller grocery stores, I have tried a few samples, but only a very few. Now, my wife has done more, and often bought the product offered.


                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                          NOT like Mardi Gras: nobody's flashing to get the samples.

                                                                                                                          (Either that, or YOUR Costco is very different from MY Costco!)

                                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                            Hey, you really need to stop by the Scottsdale Costco on N Hayden!


                                                                                                                      3. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                        Latin dancer, I hear you. Scroungy bastards are scroungy bastards, no matter what their income is.

                                                                                                                      4. re: Helene Goldberg

                                                                                                                        Several points of logic here on Helene's 'not shaming or arresting someone over soup" comment (thought I posted it after hers): if she is hungry, and in a store, then she must have gone to said store with the intent of buying some food to feed herself. Unless she went with the intent of NOT paying money for food to feed herself. Stealing is taking somehting that doesn't belong to you, and in a store, it's taking it without paying for it. You get arrested for stealing. Shame is for doing something you know is wrong. It looked like this woman knew what she was doing was suspect.
                                                                                                                        That said,Helene, I'd probably let it go too. We don't know what people's motives or situations are. She did know it was wrong though.

                                                                                                                    3. If and this is a big if ... anything I said to the offenders would have been something on the smarmy side of snide and snarky,slimy and sweet etc.
                                                                                                                      Likely scenario would be find the nearest employee and leave the confrontation where it belongs.

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: lcool

                                                                                                                        Yes- alert the store and let them do what they will with it.

                                                                                                                      2. I always try a grape before I buy them, just to make sure they're not too tannic, sour, whatever. BUT, I always buy something (red, green, black..whatever tastes best). If, in fact, this couple was "munching" on the blueberries and not tasting one to see if they were worth the $4.99 per half pint, then I'd definitely say something to the manager.

                                                                                                                        32 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: Christina D

                                                                                                                          I love to go to the farmers' markets in the summer to buy fresh fruit. Multiple fruit stands from south west Michigan, southern Illinois, Indiana.....every stand has samples of the blueberries, peaches, apples, pears, cherries.....I always try a sample before I buy the fruit. That's the only way to know what you are getting, as Christina D said. A lot of grocery store produce departments offer samples. They all should. It encourages sales. I won't buy clementines without tasting because they vary so much in flavor, tartness, sweetness, freshness. If clementine samples are not available, I don't buy them. Snitching a clementine in the store, peeling it and sampling it in plain view of the shoplifting police, especially if I hate it, is something I wouldn't do. But I will eat a grape uninvited. I used to eat the grape quickly and quietly, to avoid detection. I was a sneak thief. Now, I just take the grape and try it (eat it) in full view of the shoppers and the shoplifting police. If I like the grape I buy a bunch of them. I'm more worried about eating the grape without washing it than I am about raising eyebrows because I ate one without paying for it. Truthfully, I feel entitled to eat the grape. Why a grape and not a clementine? Size, I suppose. I wouldn't take an apple and eat it. I wouldn't take a stalk of celery and eat it. But I would eat a green bean or a pea pod. I know I'm asking for trouble by admitting my produce sampling ways. No defense. But please. I'm an excellent customer and I buy a lot of produce.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                            I wonder if a lot of these attitudes come from the fact that so many people on these boards shop in large grocery stores where there's a element of "big brother watching". I buy the vast bulk of my food from an open market with many vendor stalls (I don't live in the US). In addition to the majority of stalls having the owner or owner's children actively working - there's also very clear and obvious vendor competition. My parsley is cheaper than yours - But your parsley will go bad in 2 days, mine will stay fresh for a week, etc.

                                                                                                                            In this environment, the idea of not trying an olive, a slice of bread, a grape, some cheese, a few leaves of cilantro is essentially unheard of. Items like carrots and onions aren't "tasted" (and on the carrot front I wish there was an easy way to taste...). But particularly fruits - pomegranates, pomelos and other citrus - will often be opened to give shoppers a taste. This is both given the more seasonal nature of the produce and people wanting to make sure items are ready - but also competition for shoppers. Personally, I buy most of my produce from the same set of vendors - but for items such as lemons or cherry tomatoes - I buy from who has the best that day. Lemons are a look/squeeze - but tomatoes - I may try from 5 different people and buy none if they're not good enough.

                                                                                                                            I think because this is done largely in front of the owner that there's a feeling of "if it's wrong, they'd let me know" - because it's not some minimum wage stock boy who's close by. So the idea that sampling or tasting is stealing really doesn't apply to the shopping environment where I am. Sure, some take advantage - but I think it just highlights that this is more of a grey line.

                                                                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                              My shopping is much the same as yours, cresyd -- more often than not, it's the owner who's handing me the sample! Even in the supermarkets, it's not unusual to have someone standing in the produce department handing out samples of whatever's on special today.

                                                                                                                              There's a lady who buys her veggies from the same folks at the market as I do -- she's truly hilarious to watch...she goes around the entire stand (it's one of the biggest in our market) and tried EVERYTHING -- green beans clementines - everything. Then and only then will she order the quantity she wants, handing the little paper bag off to her ever-silent hubby to put in their shopping trolley. (the kind you drag behind you).They buy more than enough to justify the samples, but she cracks me up.

                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                My favorite is a woman who frequents the same herb/leafy green vendor that I do. She tries a leaf or two of about 10-15 bunches of parsley before deciding which one she wants. I've never had that sensitive a palate for parsley - but it seems to work for her. If I had my way though, there'd be a subtle way to try carrots. The off season carrots here can range from totally generic and fine to some truly horrible experiences.

                                                                                                                                There is a cheese place that serves both locals as well as being a bit of a tourist stop (tours of the market usually stop there). And there you can get samples of basically any cheese you want. I know more than one person who goes there to buy the cheap locally made "Greek" feta after tasting all sorts of imported cheeses. It's clearly part of their shtick and they know it happens. Who's to fight the business model?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                    Or maybe a parsley snob? I have no idea.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                                                      It's odd...that being said, if there was a sly way to try if carrots were good or not - I would be thrilled.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                      I agree about the carrot issue. The bad carrots have an unpleasant bitter taste that does not get much better no matter what you do to them. I'm sure that if you asked someone in produce, they would let you try a piece of carrot before buying. I've never seen carrot slices offered as samples. You know what? The retailers should try the damn carrots before offering them for sale. If they taste bad, they shouldn't sell them.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                        I shop (overseas) mostly in open air markets, and if I asked one of my regular vendors - I'm pretty sure they'd let me find a way to taste. But it'd probably involve having to use a box cutter or something to cut it. In no way do I believe my other tastings in the market are squeeky clean and sanitary, but the visual of a dirty knife....

                                                                                                                                        1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                          do your vendors tear clementines open with their teeth? That one gives me pause.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                            Hey - if they're sharp! (not a given....)

                                                                                                                                            Jerusalem has moderately ok drainage because the whole city is built on hilly terain, but hardly great. So there's nothing better than seeing produce roll off into puddles of standing black "water" during the winter, sit there for a a while and then get replaced on the top of the pile. I like to think of it as making sure my immune system doesn't get the chance to slack.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                              now THAT I don't have -- we have a covered market, so there's not much standing water (even though the town itself is hilly) -- so it depends on what hits the floor -- if it's something soft like strawberries, they'll throw them away, things like bananas or oranges go back on the pile (after a quick wipe on someone's shirt...), and things like apples that bruise will be put on a back shelf -- maybe for the employees to use/eat later? (no idea)

                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                Yes, the food here I think largely falls somewhere inbetween first world sanitary measures and old world open market standards. I've never gotten food poisoning so badly here that I needed to be hospitalized (and those I do know who have, it's not better or worse than anything that would happen in the US) - but situations of "funny tummy" - ah well.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                          Anyone who has a good produce buyer will be sampling produce shipments before accepting delivery, that's their job as well as getting a good price. At my old wholesale food job, we had a dedicated produce buyer who did sample everything that came in before signing for it, and the best items were cut up and put in the lunchroom for the office to sample and recommend to our customers.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                    <I'm an excellent customer and I buy a lot of produce.>

                                                                                                                                    So am I. The place I market at has stellar produce. It's one of the reasons I shop there and I've never had a problem with anything being anything but the best. I shop there at least once a day, as I'm within walking distance and like everything fresh. I've, frankly, never considered tasting, before I buy, or feeling that sense of entitlement to do so. The produce guys, who all know me, actually follow me around asking me if I'd like a sample before I purchase. I, on occasion, will take it just to be mannerly. Other than that, I trust everything they sell.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                      The store I buy at will cut a slice of an apple or anything else you want to try. I ask when I want a sample. My store is a good local store as well, but I've got a picky palate and don't like blackberries that are even slightly bitter, etc... I generally only buy things that are in season though. I haven't bought a fresh tomato since summer.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                        I wonder if the degree of tasting/sampling or not depends on how much seasonality impacts the availability of produce. Where I am, with the exception of items perceived to be staples (tomatoes, cucumbers, lemons, bell peppers, and a few others) - the quality of produce can varry vastly based on the season. In one category, they are nearly impossible to find if not in season (strawberries, cherries, artichokes, limes) and in another category they're present all year round but the quality and price can vary significantly (broccoli, pomegranates).

                                                                                                                                        In these cases tasting is a huge part evaluating what point of the season you're at and if the price set is fair. It's very easy to see the first strawberries of the seaon and go "yes! they're back! give me a kilo!" - and find out they're way over priced and don't actually taste that good. Or the last batch of stawberries of the season and they're over priced and don't actually taste that good. I go to mostly the same vendors because I do trust them to price their produce fairly and let me know if a certain item I'm looking for just "isn't available anywhere" (or if it is, it's going to be overpriced and not very good). But there are still items that have to be tasted.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer


                                                                                                                                          I love your name.
                                                                                                                                          I should never have said I felt "entitled" to try a grape before buying. The word has a bad connotation, especially in this economy. What I meant was, a purchaser of any product decides to buy it based upon the seller's implicit or explicit representations of the nature and quality of the product. When there is an agreement, there is a contract. If the purchaser gets home and finds that the product is not of the quality or nature that was represented by the seller, the seller has breached the contract and the purchaser should have some recourse. So I would return the offensive grapes if I didn't like them. Rather than get this complicated, just let me try a grape before I buy it.

                                                                                                                                          I wish I had not used the word "entitled." I am not that kind of person. I have worked for everything I have, paid my own way through school, sacrificed vacations, dinner plans, time with my child and so on. I have never felt "entitled" to a job or a vacation; I have always felt obligated to adhere to the highest standards of excellence and would not expect to receive a paycheck unless I did so. I have gone from years of restaurant jobs to a brief stint at hairdressing before I threw myself into law school in 1987. I don't think I am better than anyone else and I think that I am only entitled to that which I have worked for or paid for. That is why this discussion is intriguing to me. Because despite my strong feelings about working hard for what you receive, I still think I should be able to taste a grape before I decide to buy it.
                                                                                                                                          And let's laugh a little about this! Its fun!

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                            Thank you, Willa.

                                                                                                                                            What a lovely, kind post. Your humility is inspiring :). I hope you and your family (and son :) ) have a healthy, joyous and delicious Thanksgiving.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Willa


                                                                                                                                          I see a major difference here.

                                                                                                                                          The farmer/producer has sacrificed a certain amount of their produce, to entice folk to purchase.

                                                                                                                                          Now, if you took a basket, gathered up fruit and veggies, then at them, while walking around, without paying, I am not so sure that they would welcome you.

                                                                                                                                          Also, and on the other end of the spectrum (OT here), I have seen several unscrupulous vendors offer samples, that bear no resemblance to the product offered. That is a form of fraud, IMHO.


                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                            Glad you see a difference, Hunt.
                                                                                                                                            The way I see it, I don't have to pay for bad grapes. So, I try one and if I don't like it, I don't buy a bunch. The vendor loses the cost of the single grape but might still be able to sell the whole bunch to an unsuspecting consumer who didn't taste first. If I didn't try the grape, I might purchase the whole bunch as some here think would be the right thing to do. But if, after I bought the bunch of grapes I tasted them and they were awful, I would take them back and the vendor would lose the cost of the whole bunch; not just the cost of one grape. So I'm doing the vendor a favor by tasting.
                                                                                                                                            I hate falling into the category of a thief for tasting a grape before buying.
                                                                                                                                            I posed this ethical question to my 21 year old son tonight over dinner. He generally takes a dim view of people who break the law. What I said was, "Is it wrong for me to taste a grape at the grocery store before I buy a bunch?" My Mom was there as well. They looked at me as if I were nuts. A flat "no" was the response. I played devil's advocate. "If the grape was not offered as a sample, I would have no permission to eat it and if I were to have eaten it anyway, I would technically be a thief. I went to law school. There is no doubt about it." My son said "Why are we discussing grapes?" I said, "This is an ethical thread on Chowhound and I am apparently the scum of the earth for eating a grape before I buy a bunch." He burst out laughing. I told him that many people think that I should be photographed eating the grape and then turned over to management. That a large number of members detested grape testers and believed that we caused great losses to the grocery business and increased prices for everyone. As I said, my son is usually quite severe about following the letter of the law (whereas I am more concerned with accomplishing the purpose of the law or bagging the rule). He said (bless his heart) that I couldn't be serious. I said that there were dozens of people who were livid about the theft of any produce, even the little grape by a prospective purchaser, and had been bristling with outrage about this issue for hours and even days. So I repeated, "Am I a bad person for testing a grape without authorization?" He said no. He said that people who have nothing better to do than blast away about the lack of moral character of grape testers did not deserve to have lives. Well, that was a bit extreme. He has a little sarcastic edge that comes out sometimes. But I laughed and laughed. Out of the mouths of babes. I love my son!
                                                                                                                                            I know that the unauthorized eating of a grape before purchase qualifies as theft. And it shouldn't matter that the grape is a little thing, it is theft just as if I ate a watermelon in the store. LOL! Yes. True! But I still maintain that it is not wrong to test a grape before buying it. In the end it saves money.
                                                                                                                                            Now, on the subject of ethics. A couple of observations.
                                                                                                                                            Let's talk about the little white lie. There is not a person commenting on this issue who can say that he or she tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth 100% of the time. No such thing. Everyone fudges the truth sometimes, if only to save hurt feelings. Small lies v. big lies. I am not going to call anyone here a liar just because they fail to be perfectly honest 100% of the time. And it is the same kind of problem when we try to explain why it is okay to lie sometimes but not other times. Yes, it is.
                                                                                                                                            My point here is that we are all flawed, that no rule can be followed 100% of the time, and that we should get off our high horses and give people the benefit of the doubt taking into consideration all of the circumstances.
                                                                                                                                            And my other point is that there is not a business in this world that is going to forgo an easy profit. I suppose that is perfectly ethical to many of you. But quite often businesses go too far. LIke vendors who sell flabby, overly sweet and nasty grapes. Or try this one. I was working In NYC one day. Long horrible meeting. Was staying at the Ritz on Central Park (it was the only room available, I kid you not.). When I finally got to my room after the meeting, I really wanted a glass of wine. Right then and there. So although I tend to avoid opening the half bottle of red in the mini bar (they are usually an outrageous $35-60 dollars for low grade wine), I grabbed the half bottle of red, opened it and poured into the lovely wine glass. After my second sip, I thought My God, this is fabulous! What is this wine? So I then looked at the mini bar menu.
                                                                                                                                            Opus One. $150 for a half bottle.
                                                                                                                                            To me, that is a sneaky thing to do. Just as sneaky as it would have been to put a $500 price tag on the mini bar half bottle of red. You don't expect it. You don't look at the price, assuming you will be gouged but willing to take it to a point. Never would have opened the wine at $150 a half bottle because you cannot charge that to the client. You just can't. But now that it is opened, you love it. You can (a) call the desk and complain. They will take it off the bill but you have to stop drinking it. Or (b) keep drinking it because it was just what you wanted but better and it would be too painful to stop and sit looking at the wasted wine in the bottle. Very nice little trick. A little like a bait and switch.
                                                                                                                                            And those grocers who leave nasty peppers and green beans in the bins till the bitter end. They are happy to take your money and give you rotten food. So people are flawed on both sides.
                                                                                                                                            My bottom line on this issue. Tasting a grape with the intent to purchase may be theft but it is okay and saves everyone money. Opening a closed package of cheese and breaking off a chunk to taste it would not be okay -- it would be theft and vandalism. I'm not comfortable with helping oneself to a warm chicken wing with the intent of tasting before purchase either. But I will ask for a slice of bologna at the deli counter before buying.
                                                                                                                                            Grazing is never okay unless you are eating free samples.
                                                                                                                                            Costco has excellent samples of many things but never of their grapes.
                                                                                                                                            Ethics are never black and white.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                Agreed in full.

                                                                                                                                                I also think that this notion that it's stealing assumes that the grocery store prices are based on people stealing vs based on people legitimately sampling and food going bad/not selling. I bet if someone went to grocery store management and said "I plan on buying groceries from you today and most likely in the future because you are located close to where I live/work and I like your selection. I am asking if it would be ok if I try (in reasonable moderation) grapes, cherry tomatoes, berries to assess their quality prior to purchase. Would that be alright? And aside from obvious issues such as not biting into an apple or cutting open an orange - are there specific items I should never sample?" I bet that most managment would say it's perfectly alright. And if they said no, I personally wouldn't trust any produce from a place is that scared of me trying a few grapes and a blackberry.

                                                                                                                                                If a place has a cheese counter/deli where that is staffed and you are asking about various kinds of cheeses or cured meats and you're offered samples - the shopper can reasonably assume that it's condoned by the store. And not enjoying "stollen goods" that the staff member is giving away against instructions.

                                                                                                                                                I think that right now everyone is assuming that grocery store prices are set with the assumption of loss (due to spoilage and theft) and not taking into consideration the very real possibility that "advertising costs" of samples are also part of that price.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                  YEAH...Willa beautiful example of why adults are responsible for teaching the shades of gray.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: lcool

                                                                                                                                                    I find that it runs in families, however you were brought up. I would never be able to bring myself to sample produce, but my husband thinks I'm a goody two shoes because his mom and grandmothers always sampled. However he can't change my mind about it,and gave up long ago!

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                      I think a sample,1 grape to insure that the bunch for our mynah birds will pass muster is OK,especially if more than 90% of the time I buy that bunch.You just can't live with 1/2 pint crows,sin in a black satin suit and no DAILY GRAPES.
                                                                                                                                                      Although what my MIL did was not the same thing.She would feed the two girls all through the store off a bunch of grapes,bananas,apples etc and never consider the "pony up" and pay thing,EVER.This isn't teaching the correct gray.Is it a problem 40 years later?You bet.Both girls still think more about entitlement than "earned".The 4 boys are the opposite.
                                                                                                                                                      From time to time on a trip to the store when my first three were little I've done the deli with a sticker,banana,bagel etc before checkout and ALWAYS PAID.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: lcool

                                                                                                                                                      All 50 shades? ;) I completely agree that store employees do not want to be chased around all day and night by customers asking for samples that they would certainly be given, but are capable of helping themselves to.

                                                                                                                                                      I don't personally sample a lot ... I use my eyes and smell things, and sometimes I make a bad decision. I've gotten some truly awful strawberries. If they're really bad, the dogs eat them. They are less persnickety.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                        The only thing I sample is a red grape,with or without seeds and I don't even really like grapes.But six grapes daily and a certain flavor profile is part of the peace plan.If the grapes are for household I don't bother and I don't mix them with the bird grapes at home.
                                                                                                                                                        I agree with you about the sight,aroma and feel will work 99% of the time.Any off choices I make something around here will eat.

                                                                                                                                                    3. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                      Exaggerate much?

                                                                                                                                                      For the record, I was the one proposing taking a photo and it was not for the person eating one grape and then probably buying the bag of grapes, but for the person who eats a handful of grapes, then skips over and samples the strawberries or blueberries or whatever. Maybe they pretend to buy and then ditch the incomplete package somewhere else in the store. THOSE are the people I'm talking about. People who are deliberately munching their way through the store with no intention of paying.

                                                                                                                                                      I'm curious, how does tasting one grape and not buying save anyone money except you?

                                                                                                                                                      Edit: and I hadn't even gotten to the part about the outrage over the price of the half bottle of mini-bar wine. If the hotel didn't make a secret of what it cost and you were too tired or lazy to look, then it's on you.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Leepa


                                                                                                                                                        I didn't mean to offend you! My story was tongue in cheek. Partly because it wasn't clear at all to me that the critics of people who taste produce were distinguishing between those who graze and don't pay, and those who sample a grape and buy if the grapes are satisfactory. That's why I brought it up with my family. It is an interesting issue (although it is getting a little long in the tooth). I don't like thinking that I am a thief -- which I suppose I am if I take a grape without paying for it.

                                                                                                                                                        I suppose you didn't like my son's caustic observation that people who want to photograph grape tasters don't deserve to have a life. I'm really sorry about that. The problem with cyber communication is that sometimes the words come out all wrong and you really needed to be there to get the humor. He was not as hostile as it might have sounded. But he was very funny and we should be able to laugh at ourselves.

                                                                                                                                                        I'm sorry.

                                                                                                                                                        I am a firm believer in editing. Many times when I receive an insulting letter I fire off a draft reply that is as scathing and offensive as possible. Then, I edit to refine my language and create an even more brutal response. When I am satisfied, I save the email and walk away. I come back after a break and take all of the nasty, personally offensive language out of the email. I'm always glad that I toned it down.

                                                                                                                                                        Two comments to your note.

                                                                                                                                                        You asked, how does tasting one grape and not buying save anyone money except you? Well, if I taste a grape and I don't like it, I don't buy the bunch and someone else will probably do so to the profit of the store. If I didn't taste the grape and I just bought the bunch and then hated the grapes, I would return them and get my money back. The store would not be able to sell that bunch and it would lose the money it might have made had I simply tasted, left the bunch and let someone else buy it. We're all different. Maybe the actual buyer would have no problem with the grapes.

                                                                                                                                                        And as far as the mini bar story. I was only trying to say that consumers get taken for a ride all the time. I will stand by my position that it was sneaky and unscrupulous to slip a hugely expensive half bottle of wine into the mini bar when my experience nearly everywhere else has been that mini bar wine is really expensive for what you get but it rarely exceeds $35-60 dollars. Would it have been okay for the hotel to put a $500 half bottle of wine in the mini bar knowing that many people don't check the menu prices? What if it had been a $1,000 bottle? It was on me because I drank the rest of the delicious wine despite the price, and paid for it myself. But it was a little bit sneaky. Quite clever, really.

                                                                                                                                                        "Lazy" was painful, personal and hard to swallow when I think back on that horrible, really grueling trip. Sigh.

                                                                                                                                                        Oh, nuts. I like the Chowhound site and it has been fun. No offense intended, Leepa.


                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                          I think your example from white to black as a lesson in GRAY was STELLAR.

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                          As I travel most of the year, and am confronted by mini-bar wines, plus often have the Room Service wines, both listed. I have not problem. I can go to the bar (or a nearby bar), and drink wine, or can pay for the wine in the mini-bar, or from Room Service. Those are my choices.

                                                                                                                                                          Now, if my wife opens the Cashews, then I shudder. Those suckas' are about US $ 1.50 each!


                                                                                                                                                2. I'd drop by the customer service counter and tell them. Depending on my mood and the egregiousness of the crime, I might speak up to the offending party directly.

                                                                                                                                                  Several times I have been shopping and felt very hypoglycemic. I have picked up and drunk a small orange juice. I leave it conspicuously in my cart in the front and pay for it at checkout. I do not consider that theft since the item is not sold by weight.

                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                    OK, so consensus is either say something to management or to the offender. Next question - WHAT would you say?

                                                                                                                                                    Just as an example, when I see people eating on the metro, I say "oh be careful - they actually arrest people for eating on the metro" - which is actually true, though not nearly enough. So basically pretending to be helping them. This way, it doesn't seem confrontational.

                                                                                                                                                    Any ideas for a similar strategy for saying something to the munchers? (And yes, they were actually eating, not just tasting a grape or two).

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                      Frankly, I would have gone to the store management/customer service desk & said pretty much what you said here - that there was a couple literally munching their way through the produce department.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                        Agree with Bacardi - in talking to management, just state the facts - you saw a couple (brief description) eating X in Y department. No editorializing needed.

                                                                                                                                                        If I was going to speak to the couple themselves, I'd say something like "I saw you eating X, Y and Z without paying for it. That type of theft increases the prices I pay and I do not appreciate it." Then walk off.

                                                                                                                                                      2. re: tcamp

                                                                                                                                                        Exactly ditto: oranges, chocolate milk, sodas, whatever. Hell, better in jail briefly than in a coma. Same even with water. I shop at Whole Foods in NY almost every day, and the first few times I did it I went to the chief (uniformed) guard out front and told him. I put it in my basket. Every so often I put down the water bottle somewhere and forget it, and then forget to pay. I feel like shit when that happens (2x, I think); twice I went back to pay and they passed me on, once I left a buck on the cashiers desk (which if it indeed went into the system, I'm sure the cost of doing that was more than $1).


                                                                                                                                                        The store has cameras covering every square inch....

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rbraham

                                                                                                                                                          Perhaps you could carry what you need if you know you have medical issues. I really doubt anyone wants you in a coma or hauled away by ER. But, you know your health issues. If every person with such issues grabbed a water or whatever and put it down without paying, then you know someone else is picking up the tab.

                                                                                                                                                      3. If it's something that can affect my health, I say something to management. Months ago, I saw a little kid methodically poking holes in the plastic wrap over steaks and chops in my local market. I rang the bell and quietly told the meat manager.

                                                                                                                                                        I try not to be a supermarket vigilante with strangers. You never know when you're going to be shopping at the same store as Ted Bundy or something.

                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                          and that one I totally agree with -- not only does the store to lose a pretty hefty pile of money if all that meat goes bad, but Mr Pickyfingers is also risking the health of others. Absolutely tell the manager and let him figure out how to deal with it.

                                                                                                                                                          I have had several incidences where an unhinged person stalked me to the parking lot (a couple of times when I *didn't* confront them -- to the best of my knowledge, it was completely unprovoked) -- that I simply refuse to confront a stranger about a behavior that doesn't involve me. It's frightening, and I don't want to repeat the experience, ever. Happily, I've never been harmed...but I don't want to tempt fate, either.

                                                                                                                                                          If I can find store personnel, I might say something. But otherwise, I'm taking care of MY business and going about MY day.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                                                                                            I saw something similar in the candy aisle. Not only did this little kid put his bare hand into the dispenser of Jelly Bellys, he went in shoulder deep. Mom was oblivious, so I brought it to the attention of an employee nearby. I'm sure they were delighted to have to throw away the entire hopper of jelly beans.

                                                                                                                                                          2. No, but I do not condone such acts. I just feel that it is not my place to "report" them, or admonish them. I will subjugate that role to others.

                                                                                                                                                            Some folk are just socially-challenged, and there is likely no cure for that. "Class" is something that usually cannot be taught.

                                                                                                                                                            I do not mind confrontations, but will pick my arena. A supermarket is not my choice.


                                                                                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                              I agree with you on this front. I don't condone it, but I really don't care to report them. It's a waste of my time. If I feel like it or I'm having one of those days, I'd say something directly to them.

                                                                                                                                                              I think the OP's post put me off a bit in the sense that she had to point out their manner of dress and the location as if 'only poor-looking people steal.' Also, why didn't OP say something if it bothered them so much?

                                                                                                                                                              Had this couple been of a different look, how quickly would OP have been to report them? Was OP less inclined to confrontation because 'these types of people don't steal in my neighborhood?'

                                                                                                                                                              If I were the OP and it bothered me so much, I would have said "if you're going to sample the foods, at least have the decency to not return the containers where someone else can grab it."

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                                                You misinterpreted. I pointed out their manner of dress to make it clear that they didn't seem as if they were people who would have difficulty paying for their groceries. Definitely rich people steal.Though usually on a much larger scale!

                                                                                                                                                                I would have been even *less* inclined to say something/report someone who seemed to be in need, because I would have compassion.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                                  That's exactly my point. They did not look poor, so people just look away and keep shopping. If the couple did not look the part in that expensive neighbourhood/shop, I bet they would have been hounded by several people.

                                                                                                                                                                  Sad, but true.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                                                    I believe St. Augustine or maybe Francis of Assisi (I forget) said if your family is starving it is not a sin to steal a loaf of bread.

                                                                                                                                                                    in my fuzzy world I say if you still have a nice fur or car or whatever you can sell or pawn, you really aren't quite at the point for absolution.

                                                                                                                                                                    to be putting back the half-eaten is worse than stealing, it's possibly tainting as well. but if there is justice in the world, these are the folks falling ill to produce-borne salmonella as they munch their unwashed, ill-gotten fruits.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: nikkib99

                                                                                                                                                                  Their dress, or at least the mention of it, seems to have put several folk off.

                                                                                                                                                                  I do not really care, who they were dressed, if they were stealing from the store. I do not care if they drove off in a Jaguar sedan, of a recent vintage, it is the stealing, that would be a real negative with me.

                                                                                                                                                                  How many Hollywood celeb-u-tramps, feel that it is OK to steal, so long as it benefits them?

                                                                                                                                                                  In the end, it is all about those, who feel that stealing should be overlooked.


                                                                                                                                                                3. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                  I think there is a difference between helping oneself to tastes just to eat self-designated samples, with no intention of buying the product, and trying a berry or a grape to decide if it is worth purchasing. Even at the best produce stands/departments, the grapes vary dramatically. I'm pretty sure if I asked to try a little grape the store management would say okay. I know my logic is flawed and there are slight ethical issues here. I would never photograph a single grape-taster who was clearly trying to decide if the grapes were good enough to buy and go to the management. I just don't have the time in life! As a rule, I am extremely ethical and I hold my head high even knowing that I sample the grape before purchasing. I don't lie (which is why the confession here knowing that my logic is flawed). I hate being accused of cheating at scrabble online just because I win a lot. I am usually a noble person who fights for the underdog. I don't think I lack class at all. But I agree that eating a grape without permission before purchasing is technically stealing. It is not borrowing (like my dog did when it ate my ham last night and got sick later). I am examining my conscience as we speak.

                                                                                                                                                                4. If you see something, say something.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: pdxgastro

                                                                                                                                                                    Um, where have I heard that... ?


                                                                                                                                                                  2. There are places in the world where you would be taking your life in your hands if you got caught stealing someone's used toilet paper. The people you describe need to go spend some time there.
                                                                                                                                                                    I would have alerted a store employee and told them to bring the manager/owner/security bc I saw someone stealing. I would tell the employee that I was going follow the people and not allow them to leave the store by any means. THAT would wake the employee up! When whoever arrived I would explain what I saw. I would make such a spectacle out of these crooks they'd go another store to steal from of course. I'd follow them to their car and make sure they saw me write down their license plate number. I would then inform them that I knew some people in law enforcement and the IRS and they might expect to hear from some one soon. I have had the displeasure of being stolen from when I had a business and had everything I owned stolen from my apartment once. Thieves aren't going to get much sympathy from me. BTW I'm STILL having to deal with the fallout from having my personal documents stolen and it was years ago it happened.

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                      " I would then inform them that I knew some people in law enforcement and the IRS and they might expect to hear from some one soon"

                                                                                                                                                                      Is this why my taxes are so high? Are the IRS and police tracking down people for eating grapes in a grocery store now? :P

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: twyst

                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, twyst, I am a tax lawyer and trust and estate litigator. The grapes have nothing to do with your taxes. But I will be glad to try and help you.

                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                        "There are places in the world where you would be taking your life in your hands if you got caught stealing someone's used toilet paper. The people you describe need to go spend some time there."
                                                                                                                                                                        Some of these places may well be in the same city as the Whole Foods in question. I have more than once seen thieves get beaten up in the poorer neighborhoods where I've lived (or just shopped) in NYC (South Bronx, pre-hipster Williamsburg, etc). Like seeing two cashiers in a dollar store run out into the street after a guy who stole a package of tube socks, drag him back in, and start punching him and kicking him in the stomach. If you're going to steal, it's prudent to steal from some classy expensive store where they just call the cops on you.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: ratgirlagogo

                                                                                                                                                                          what beats the hell out of me are stores that put security tags on the cheap liquor but not the pricey stuff...

                                                                                                                                                                          if I was going to lift it and maybe get caught, damn right it would be for the good product.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                            I had that thought when being cross-examined as to whether or not the credit card I was using at the supermarket was really mine (I dunno -- embossed with my name, and a wallet full of photo ID and other credit cards that match it?) Never did figure out what the deal was -- it was my regular grocery store (new cashier) -- and it was a whopping $15 worth of groceries.

                                                                                                                                                                            She finally backed down when I met her glance and said "I can assure you that if I was going to fraudulently use someone's credit card and risk the jail time, I'd be down at the Best Buy grabbing a flat-screen TV and a killer sound system, not $15 worth of eggs and butter."

                                                                                                                                                                      3. Trying things sold by weight is fine. Trying things in priced containers is not, but i doubt the couple really thought about how the two are different. I wouldn't have said anything.

                                                                                                                                                                        FYI, my folks (born and raised in South Asia), are entirely accustomed to shopping for produce and many other individually sold goods in this way. To them, buying pounds of something without trying it is silly, especially when there are multiple vendors. Frankly, I'm inclined to agree, though I never do it. The mentality of just buying on the basis of looks is why supermarkets in our country are full of beautiful poor quality produce.

                                                                                                                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rockcreek

                                                                                                                                                                          Asking for a sample of fresh fruit/veg is one thing. Opening a sealed container then eating some of what's inside is a completely different matter. I'm sure you agree, I've lived in cultures were no one buys anything without sampling BUT you MAY NOT just walk up to a vendor and grab something and stuff it in your mouth......not unless you never plan to visit that market in one piece.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: rockcreek

                                                                                                                                                                            Unless the store offers samples or unless you ask for a sample, then eating food sold by weight means that others pick up the cost. The only real difference is that the store eats the cost for the "by pound" and passes it along to customers, and the individual customer covers the theft if it's priced per container and someone eats part of that.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: CyndiA

                                                                                                                                                                              Generally, I see your point. Although I think others pick up the cost of samples whether they are offered or taken. And I don't think the cost, as in the grape example, is significant. It takes a lot of "stolen" grapes to be noticed in the price by weight.
                                                                                                                                                                              I think that there is a huge difference between sampling the grapes and stealing an SUV. So does the legislature, which is why some "thefts" are qualified as felonies and some "thefts' such as tasting a grape or taking the cashier's pen after signing a charge, are not taken very seriously at all and usually not of much concern to the store.
                                                                                                                                                                              And I think that the endless discussion of the lack of moral character of the grape tasters of this world was interesting at first and is now totally blown out of proportion by a lot of people, none of whom can pass the "perfect character" test. Finally, I think my point about the self-defeating behavior of bad businesses who sell bad product and give bad service should be considered and perhaps slow down the mob-like rage against the small grape taster in the process. Because the real problem of higher costs and smaller profits is not the grape tasters' behavior; it is bad management, laziness, over-sized bonuses for the people in power, bad product, loss of creativity, lack of appreciation for the customer, and so on.
                                                                                                                                                                              And after I got home with the disgusting box of clementines, I was enraged with the store and really tired of hysterical finger-pointing of some in this group, assigning the label "thief" to someone for sampling a small grape that will not make a difference in the price.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                I'm not here to nit-pick, but in the case of the imprinted pen metaphor some specifically print their logos on them not for ID but for recognition and advertisement.

                                                                                                                                                                                oh yeah 'X' market, need to check them again...

                                                                                                                                                                                why it's hard as heck to buy clothes w/o logos sewn in.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                  LOL, hill food! You are correct and my pen example was a bad one. I have a friend who is a psychiatrist, and he has a whole pencil holder full of pens with logos such as PRISTIQUE, XANAX, PROZAC,.......his favorite is one with a name for a drug similar to morphine (omg). Imaging swiping one of those pens and pulling it out in an important business meeting.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                    my husband used to work in the medical industry on the administrative side. He came home, proudly offering me a very nice pen that had a lanyard to go around your neck (I'm horrible at leaving pens all over the place, so he thought this would help me keep track of my pen)

                                                                                                                                                                                    I could never get him to understand why I damaged the plastic shell of the pen by wiping it with nail-polish remover to get rid of the VERY attention-getting print for a popular vaginal yeast infection remedy.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'd have worn it with a certain ironic pride. but I'm a guy, woulda been funnier worn by a gal. I always wanted to print up a set of t-shirts imprinted with a status in Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World"

                                                                                                                                                                                      'Delta-Minus Semi-Moron' (humans genetically spliced with cattle)

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                                        One of the guys in my office had a Viagra coffee mug, didn't seem to bother him in the least. It sat on his desk all day long. Hey it's a free cup, right?

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm pretty sure 'unauthorized sampling" is of concern to the store, since they include it in their budget, but the price of prosecuting would just not be cost effective.
                                                                                                                                                                                    That doesn't mean they condone it.

                                                                                                                                                                                    When I take something home and don't like it, which is a rare occasion, I take it back for a refund. It's seldom enough that it doesn't bother me much, and that way they have evidence to show the produce buyer, so he can avoid buying from the same purveyor next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                      Out of curiosity - presuming that by quoting "unauthorized sampling" you equate that with shoplifting - what is your basis to say that the pricing of grapes factors 'sampling a grape' along with shoplifting as opposed to authorized samples/advertising/coupons/etc?

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                                                                                        Authorized would be either the manufacturer giving the market a finite amount of the product for free (a real sample) or through a coupon which they cover. Advertising the sales of certain items in weekly flyers is also paid for by the manufacturer, notby the market, just to add to the layers of money involved. Everything is documented down to the last penny. The manufacturers also have a budget, which is far bigger than any of their clients as far as samples etc. The most controlled way would be to have "demo people" on hand to distribute product samples, keep track of what is used and then answer any questions, rather than everyone taking as much as they want in a free for all (where did that saying come from I wonder). Let's face it, when I see people help themselves to a sample, it is as often as not more than one grape. Of course that is probably why I notice them: I know that's probably not anyone here, but still that is what I observe. See the story of the clemetines above, how many would you have to "sample" before you knew the crate was OK? Easiest to buy and return what is left, than explode in rage. Not that I haven't exploded in rage many times after getting home myself, over many issues!

                                                                                                                                                                                        If they really want you to try, the market puts out a finite amount for grazing, either because they are proud of it and want to boost sales, or because it's getting close to expiration and they don't want to just toss it. For example, with deli counter samples, they are putting out the ends that have to be discarded anyway, so they can write it off to goodwill or the marketing budget. If the supermarket specifically puts something out for tasting, they know exactly how much it is costing (or not costing) them as opposed to just a vague 2% shrinkage which can end up much higher in the end, since they're just guesstimating. I would hate to run my business that way (not that I have one! just saying) I'm not an accountant but I do like to know where my money goes in general.
                                                                                                                                                                                        And I did work in food sales for a long time and know how people are about food samples, so maybe I'm a little touchy about the subject too!

                                                                                                                                                                                        Personally I seldom buy grapes because I know as often as not they aren't good thing, tastewise. At least here in NY.There's plenty of other fruit that is more dependable. But I know that when I visit my sister in California, that the grapes will be generally excellent, that's just the way it goes.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                          You make excellent points fairly and articulately, in a nicely-measured tone unlike a couple of my rants. I sometimes think this discussion has devolved into a disguised political discussion (the view, for example, that some people were just brought up to think they are entitled sounds familiar). I usually know better than to debate politics online. It can be really destructive and it never has a good ending. I am responsible for using the word "entitled" with respect to my right to taste grapes. I actually do not believe I have a right to taste grapes in all cases, and sometimes I taste one (just one) from an open package because I know, as you said, that grapes can be bad tasting in Illinois, just as in NY, but I love them so much I want to buy them.
                                                                                                                                                                                          I wasn't mad that I had not had the chance to taste the clementine, I was unhappy that the clementines were so awful and that the store had not done a better job of monitoring the quality of its product before purchasing and selling to the public. I'm going to stop talking about it just just take them back.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Despite the fact that not all stores have authorized grape sampling and I do it anyways, I cannot agree that I am a thief and a shoplifter. I just can't get to that point. Not about a grape that I intended to buy. If I pulled up to the grocery store and parked, with the full intent of shoplifting grapes -- even a single grape -- because I wanted a snack, I think that would be clearly be stealing.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Anyway, you sound very knowledgeable and I can tell you worked in food sales. This entire discussion would make a good article as it has lots of angles and seems to interest so many people.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Ah, California produce (except for tomatoes and Michigan fruit). My sister used to live there as well and it was paradise to go to the grocery store.
                                                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for your excellent comments.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                            Willa, I am sure they throw out much more produce due it it going bad than you, and everyone else in the universe, ever could eat; I was just playing the devil's advocate. I loved working in the food business, had to retire due to husband;s illness but glad I can still pass on all the wacky and weird things I learned in my many years in the field. That's what life is all about in the end, I think.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                                                                                                                              <That's what life is all about in the end, I think>

                                                                                                                                                                                              Including all the hilarious visuals on this thread. I particularly like the little boy who went 'shoulder deep' into the jelly bellies. What a hoot.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                I can't even begin to tell you about what the chefs I know do in the kitchen, I should write a book (anonymously of course!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I liked the jelly belly story too. Reminded me of when I was shopping in an asian market off of Broadway in Chicago with my two year old and he started stirring the big barrel of jasmine rice with his arms. I received immediate horrified stares and glares. Very embarrassing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, but have you ever done it? It's quite a remarkable feeling...

                                                                                                                                                                                2. "Grazing" is pure theft! ~ It's stealing anyway you slice it. ~ Retailers rarely say or do anything about it......it's not worth the embarrassment to the thief, (customer) or loss of future sales. ~~ Retailers know full well this goes on...they see it everyday....it's all figured into the operating budget as part of the 'shrinkage' and retail prices are set accordingly. ~ So all of the thieves drive up prices for everyone!!

                                                                                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                                                                                                                                    Once in awhile I hear stories, one in fact, that made me howl in laughter. There was this guy, I don't remember the city in the US, who began his graze through the produce department. Apparently there was a huge gutteral scream and people came running from everywhere in the market. He'd, unknowingly, popped a Ghost chili and chewed away. They had to called the medics because he was in unbelievable pain. The manager, tired of the commotion, also called the police who promptly hauled him off to the nearest jail because, apparently, it wasn't his first time for stealing. Karma.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                        Poor baby. Guess if one is going to steal, they should look for milder produce. Like robbing a bank, and having the dye packet explode all over the money?


                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Uncle Bob

                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes. And then we ALL pay for those folk's dinner in the aisles, and all the rest.

                                                                                                                                                                                        If one wishes to curb higher prices, then maybe confronting stealing, is a good first step, in a 12-step program. Otherwise, we just subsidize their behavior.


                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                            There, you hit the nail on the head.

                                                                                                                                                                                            You and I and all the other consumers must pay for "shrinkage." Theft plain and simple, I call it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            A trip to the supermarket is usually among a long list of other errands I must make (honestly, I "steal" most of our groceries from our restaurant). I often find myself hungry when I get there.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm sure most people are familiar with the consequences of going grocery shopping when hungry -- that's why I like to grab a cup of coffee (most of our stores offer this) when I go in. If I'm in a store with no coffee, I get a Pepsi or something, PAY FOR IT, and make sure the cashier gives me a sticker or at least a receipt.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I'm fortunate in that I needn't taste the produce in order to determine what's good and what's not; I've been doing "food" for 35 years for restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                            There have been a few times when hunger just over-took me, so I'd pick-up a package of anything from sliced prosciutto to chips and -- again -- pay for it and get a sticker or a receipt.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I was accosted once by a store detective (or whatever they call 'em nowadays - "loss control specialists") after having purchased a bag of pretzels. What he saw was me pushing my cart down the aisle eating the items for sale. He was aggressive and actually asked me to abandon my cart, even though I tried and tried to show him my receipt, and took me to a front office somewhere.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I showed his supervisor my receipt and the supervisor told me "well, it's just not good to eat in the supermarket -- people will get the wrong idea."

                                                                                                                                                                                            Needless to say, I found it ridiculous. The home office (Stop & Shop for those who need to know) sent a nice letter and a gift certificate and explained that the supervisor wasn't following their policy. They also invited me to purchase, and then munch, anything I want while I shop in their store. After all, if I'm in a hurry to go eat, I'll spend less time and arguably buy less in their store.

                                                                                                                                                                                            On the other side of the coin, I had a roommate in college who shop-lifted stuff like strasbourg pate and caviar. I couldn't bring myself to partake of his "booty" after he told me how he could "afford' it. He was never arrested but not one but two of our town's supermarkets invited him never to come in again...

                                                                                                                                                                                            Whether one believes in God, Buddha or plain ole Karma, it's gonna get you if you take what doesn't belong to you...

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: shaogo

                                                                                                                                                                                              Stop and Shop has great customer service.... at least at the higher up level. They've gone above and beyond for me too.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. People who eat the food for sale in supermarkets ...

                                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe it's because of this http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/861454

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                            Maybe this couple planned on pickling their bounty? Perhaps they were going to put it all in jars, for later consumption?

                                                                                                                                                                                            Or, maybe they were just dining at everyone else's expense?


                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Had a big discussion about this today. After some thought, I think what I should have done is a variant on my Metro strategy, i.e., confront while seeming to be helpful.

                                                                                                                                                                                            "Excuse me, sir, you seem to have forgotten your blueberries."

                                                                                                                                                                                            He now knows he's been seen and perhaps I've saved him some embarrassment, and in any case, he will think twice before doing it again. And I have managed to avoid a confrontation.

                                                                                                                                                                                            I am amazed at the people who think that if the item is sold by weight, then it isn't stealing. Yes, it is. Stealing from the store, not from the customer who buys the item. But it is still stealing.

                                                                                                                                                                                            As for sampling, I should have noted that the store has trays out with samples. No need to open the containers to sample.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. As I said earlier, I'd take out my phone and take their photo while in the act. If they see you doing it, then maybe (but not likely) it would make them think twice about it. If they continue, show the photo to the management and send them a copy if necessary. Doing nothing just makes it okay, in their minds, to continue this behavior.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I hate thieves and really seriously feel that standing by and doing nothing almost makes one an accomplice. If they think that no one is going to say anything then it just makes them bolder and more "entitled" next time.

                                                                                                                                                                                              Let the flaming begin.

                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, IF I knew where my phone is, and IF I remembered to bring it with me, and IF it was actually charged....that might be possible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Just Visiting

                                                                                                                                                                                                  LOL. I'm the same. I am getting better about the charged thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I did take a photo of the woman in Walmart who was going through the line with two carts full in the 20 items or less lane. It was too funny to resist. What was sad were her two young daughters who were with her - learning her mother's bad behavior.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                                    in some (mild) cases, i feel like the photo isn't even necessary. i've just made eye contact with people doing that before, and just realizing that they've been noticed is enough to make them stop. those not dissuaded are probably more likely to turn into a confrontation.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. I myself have seen an old lady and her friend have a meal out of grapes. Perhaps it wasn't the fact that they were eating/stealing them, but the one lady kept shaking her head as if she didn't like them, yet kept popping them in her mouth to "recheck".

                                                                                                                                                                                                NOWADAYS, I double check my bag of grapes before I buy. I never used to look, but now I do and am so surprised by some of the bags of grapes that have been raided. Sure I'm not paying for em, but it just seems like used food to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                People, if you want a free meal, go to Costco on Saturdays! Seriously. (although I'm sure membership fees make up for the demos)

                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lolabrw

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well, it is sort of like receiving a gift of a Whitman's Sampler candy selection, only to open it, and find that nearly every piece has been bitten into...


                                                                                                                                                                                                2. Fairly regularly, the TV news will report that someone came across a live black widow spider in pre-bagged grapes. One can only hope that one of those arachnids will encounter the sticky fingers of overzealous grazers like the pair you describe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hope that those "little ladies" did not eat one, while "sampling."


                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm curious.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    For those to who take offense to this practice AND would advocate confronting the individual or notifying store personnel, do you take this philosophy to the misdeeds of other types of social misfits and miscreants?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Most of us drive, right? Some of us speed, some of us don't. But I think a majority of us are in the former as opposed to the latter category.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    But regardless of whether we speed or not, we've all no doubt seen other people exceed the speed limit.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    For those who advocate confronting the supermarket free-loader or notifying store personnel, do you also confront the speeding car and try to pull him (or her) over by yourself or better yet get on your cell phone (hands-free no less!) in your car and call the local highway patrol?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wouldn't it be fair to say that society most likely incurs greater costs from speeding (from higher insurance premiums to the risk of accidents and bodily harm) than from shoplifting?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Really curious about this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't drive in the passing line (the outside left lane) unless I intend to pass and I get right back in the lane next to it (to the right of it), once I have. I've driven many miles across the country and find this is the best way for me to drive. It seems to me that if someone wants to risk getting a ticket from going 10 miles above the speed limit then it's their problem....let them 'have at it' and I stay out of their way. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm more concerned about the self righteous driver who thinks it's his/her civic duty to keep everyone at the speed limit as they're driving in the passing lane. On an LA freeway these types of drivers create more danger and chaos, in many cases, than the driver who's driving above the speed limit.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, having said that, when I see, and experience, a driver driving erratically and I intuitively know they're either texting or not focusing or possibly under the influence then, yes, I phone in (blue tooth for me) and alert the highway patrol. I'm concerned for the other drivers on the road, including me, and I believe it's my responsibility to do so. The same goes for Amber Alert. I think we'd all agree on this, right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      I've always been curious about people who feel entitled to take advantage and steal something that's not paid for but I've never (although I've inquired about the people I've seen do it just out of curiosity) actually confronted or 'told on' them. It's, undoubtedly, infuriating because it's not something I'd ever do, but the market where I shop knows it, deals with it and is just as disgusted with it as I am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I see nothing wrong with trying one grape to see if it is sweet or not. I've gotten too many sour bags in the past. This one grape evens out all the water they have sprayed on the fruit and the bag weight. . I would never taste anything unless I intended to buy it if it was good tasting.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                                                                                                                                        When I observe someone driving dangerously, whether that is caused by ingestion of legal, or illegal substances, I call 911 (voice-recognition, so hands-free), and report them. I let the authorities handle it from there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Same with the grocery. I am not paid to be security, but will report someone, who appears to be stealing, and let others deal with the situation, whatever it might be.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                                                                                                                                                          You have made a number of excellent points in this discussion but I am confused by one thing: First you stated, "I just feel that it is not my place to report them, or admonish them" and now you are saying " I am not paid to be security, but will report someone, who appears to be stealing, and let others deal with the situation, whatever it might be."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          So you would or would not report them?

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Fowler

                                                                                                                                                                                                            It depends on what I think the "infraction is."

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If I observe a person loading their pantyhose with steaks, then I would report that. If I see someone eating little tastes of things - well not so likely.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt - that reminds me of the scene in 'Pink Flamingos' when Divine goes to the butcher shop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hill food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Um-m, maybe we do not need to go there... ?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                That film spawned many visual metaphors, and most involved Divine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Your call.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  yes, maybe we do not need go there. after all this forum is about, well, not that. (John Waters IS insanely funny, but not before dinner)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt


                                                                                                                                                                                                                      but Balto is a good food town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. here's an earlier discussion on a very similar topic (although the OP extends the question to "would you say something") with equally strong and similar viewpoints.


                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I recently saw a teenage boy go to the counter and ask for a glass of water. The employee gave him an empty cup to fill at the soda machine. Instead of filling it with water, I saw him fill it with Coke. I called him out of it loud enough for others to hear, he looked pretty embarrassed and got out of there quickly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I am in the camp that says if you are not offered a sample, then it is stealing. Rationalize it however you want, it is taking something that isn't yours without permission.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Today I saw a guy who was blatantly grazing his way through the produce section. He was popping grapes on his mouth by the handful. He did not have any grapes or other produce in his cart...he was obviously snacking. I gave him "the look" and he just smirked. But shame on me, I was in too much of a Thanksgiving shopping hurry to go find a manager.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I might have said something. Something like, "Are you hungry? Let me buy you lunch." I've read through all the replies and I'm actually shocked that not one person so far (unless I skimmed over someone by accident) would have opted for this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Would I buy lunch for someone tasting a grape? Nah. Would I be grossed out if my yogurt seal were broken when I got it home? Yes. But if someone appears to be hungry, I might opt to buy a meal rather than turn them in to the food police or send them to a food bank.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: eepi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Good for you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I honestly do not see this behavior where I shop, but I do offer panhandlers food, after an assessment (I keep energy bars in my car for this purpose). I have gotten all kinds of reactions, from really beautiful gratitude to suspicious questions about what flavor it is (good ones). People are hungry out there, especially in a downturn.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: eepi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Do you honestly believe, just because people don't announce they've offered to purchase food for another human being that appears hungry, they don't do it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eepi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Wow! This is the most delightful idea.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The idea of offering the snacker lunch is a great idea. I'm gonna use this one next time I see someone's filthy hands all over the olive/cheese bar at our supermarket...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: eepi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      There's one homeless guy, that I know of, who's welcome in the store where I shop.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      He's polite, quiet, unassuming and almost innocuous. He comes in and takes a free sample of coffee and one of the samples of sweet roll. He then exits the store, quietly. Everyone knows of him and remarks about what a gentleman he is.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The rest of the clientele is, I'm absolutely 100% sure, not 'hungry'. They're not only *not* hungry but they're feeling entitled once they enter the front door.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wouldn't confront any of them, ever, but if I *did* get angry enough at their cavalier attitude about sampling everything they could get their hands on, I might say "Are you hungry? Let me buy you lunch" out of pure sarcasm.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But you are talking about samples set out for the purpose of enticing people to buy and while it is true that the homeless man probably won't buy anything, he isn't taking the food that is for sale. He is taking food that is offered free of charge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My question - four months ago - was would you say anything if they took food that was being offered for sale? In the case I wrote about, it was actually packaged food (a bag of grapes, a plastic container of blueberries) that they opened, sampled, and closed, leaving the containers on the counter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I think I would not confront them personally, but get hold of one of the employess and point out their transgressions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I agree with NOT confronting folks personally.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In this day & age, you can't tell one fruitcake from another, & who wants to end up looking down the barrel of a gun over a stolen grape.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. whole foods is stealing from its costumers with prices like that!!!!!!!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        but yes, i probably would have told a worker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I have to say. When it comes to Internet discussion boards and ethical dilemmas. This place is not half bad..:-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I take my role as self appointed aid in enforcing the rules very seriously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I call security if someone pushes when the door clearly states "PULL".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ilikefood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I could keep you very busy then :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I just remembered something about my husband's grandmother, who was a sweet, well mannered, little old Italian lady. She had the most gorgeous collection of African violets on the kitchen windowsill, and one day I admired them. My SIL laughed and said, oh she always pinches little pieces of the plants off at the grocery store, sticks them in her pocket and then roots them at home. This to me is even more questionable whether right or wrong; if I was a grape taster then I would surely be indulging in this practice too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I saw a whole new level of sampling this weekend. A woman squeezed and sniffed several avocados, selected one, too, a small knife from her pocket and scooped out a taste. Must not have been up to her standards because she selected a different avocado.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Walking down the soft drink isle, i wanted to get a bottle of seltzer and reached for one and noticed it was about 30% gone. So, somebody chugged it and put it back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm starting to feel a little Armegeddonish. Are we really that far gone?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: monavano

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Was the pilfer-proof cap band* still attached to the cap?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If so most likely, it was a short fill that got through QC at the bottling plant.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In any case, did you bring it to the store managment's attention? If someone has been slurping in the aisle, I'm sure they would like to know and make sure the product doesn't get into a customer's hands.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If it was just a short fill, they'll either make the bottler replace it or shrug their shoulders and toss it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *-I'm always amazed at folks that will use a product that has compromised pilfer protection.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: zippypinhead

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The bottle had been opened and i said nothing. Sometimes I'm just not a good shopper/citizen. Other times, i am.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Today, I bought a five pound box of clementines to replace the box I bought last week at the same store, the same brand. No tastes were offered. The ones last week were fabulous. The ones I bought today are garbage. Too sweet. A few dry. One or two close to rotton (they were hidden). No flavor. I hate them! And I thought back to this discussion. After all the discussion about theft, I had caved and announced that i would no longer taste grapes before buying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I take it back! It is ridiculous and just wrong to spend so much time pointing fingers at the customer who tastes a grape before buying. I'll keep doing it (although I will attempt to wash the grape before I eat it) and I believe that will result in more profits for the store, not less. I am the customer and the store is only going to make a profit -- something that is good for everyone -- if it does a good job selling its products to me, treats me with respect, appreciates my business and offers a quality product. That is how the economy will get better. I challenge the grocery stores to improve on their performance. I have frankly never seen anyone pigging out on the produce. But I have certainly seen a lot of old, rotton stuff still for sale. Mediocrity in job performance is disgusting and embarrassing to all of us. If people want this economy to thrive, they had better learn how to manage, how to set standards of excellence and follow through. They need to work hard to attract and keep business. The fierce debate over what is stealing and what is not is side-tracking everyone from other more important issues.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Businesses have to spend money to make money. They pay for space, advertising, marketing, shipping, employees, and yes, samples. Floor samples in furniture stores and auto dealers. Bakeries offer samples of baked goods. The ham store will give you a slice of ham to taste. Wineries understand the importance of tasting the wine before buying. Most restaurants will let you taste the wine before deciding if you want the bottle. We can lie down on a mattress or sit on a sofa before we buy it. With grapes, there is no reason not to let the customers taste one and if they are not in sealed packages I cannot imagine a store manager saying no to a request for a grape taste. I think they should let us taste the damn clementines too. They are all so different. Watermelon. Same thing. You want to sell it? Let the customers try it. Or the heck with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So to all produce vendors and grocery stores out there I say: stop complaining about your lackluster sales and poor earnings. Do a better job of marketing your product and standing behind it. I'm tired of the customer being painted as the bad guy. Tasting a grape from an open bunch before buying is just no big deal; it is not intended to satisfy hunger and it is not intentional theft. I would wash it first. With apples and oranges that are sold separately, I usually only buy one or two if I can't taste; and if I like it and have time to go back, I might buy more. Had samples been available, the store would have sold more. It was a mistake to buy a five pound box of clementines without tasting. I was fooled because they looked like the same ones I got last week, they were the same brand, the same store...... The store should offer samples if it wants to be more profitable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have never seen anyone steal from a grocery store. I have seen kids eat the animal crackers but the parent pays for it. People grab a cold bottle of water. They pay for it. I know people steal and I do not condone it at all; but it cannot be as commonplace as this long discussion has suggested. Tasting for purposes of increasing the store's sales is not the same thing. I don't care what you call it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm pissed about the clementines and just wanted to vent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      23 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As a firm supporter of the 'sampling' perspective - I'm with you. Go forth and taste!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I think that sampling of produce - specifically more seasonal items such as melons - is both good business as well as acknowledging the imperfect nature of agriculture. All produce is not ripe at the same time. All produce does not spoil at the same time. Also - all produce is not used by ever shopper for the same thing. If I need a lemon for zesting - the quality of the skin is more important than if I just need it for juice. If I'm cooking any vegetable/fruit - it doesn't need to be of the same quality if I'm going to use it for a raw preparation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Personally, I would rather buy from a vendor where the produce prices are moderate, but that means the quality is less uniform. And then let the vendor trust me to taste in a respectful way to determine if the quality of the produce matches the price asked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        What I also think this thread shows is the lack of the relationship that people have with the store/vendor where they buy produce. As someone who buys produce (not in the US) primarily from vendors at an open market, I usually deal directly with owners who have a very close relationship with the produce but also with directly building their customer base. So not only will they offer me samples of fresh/newer items, they'll draw my attention to the "first of the season" items and tell me when a certain ingredient isn't that good. However, in a chain grocery store - very often that relationship is lost and there isn't the direct relationship where you "know" that tasting is both accepted and encouraged.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So you're planning to open up a sealed bag of clementines in the produce dept. and eat one? What if the one you partake of is fine and part of the remainder of the bag isn't? Who will you blame then?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No, Leepa, I am not planning to open a bag of sealed clementines. You didn't read what I said carefully. I said I was going back to a life of crime tasting grapes before I buy them. And I wouldn't open a sealed "clamshell" to taste a grape either. But the store ought to bend over backwards to sell me these products and they would do much better if the products were featured, displayed, offered for a taste.... So many people here are up in arms about people who taste before they buy, and they call them thieves. They blame them for increasing costs. Baloney. When does the store take some responsibility? I say, as soon as it opens its doors for business and asks the public to enter and buy their products. And it better deliver if it expects to thrive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Back to clementines for a minute. I was griping because it is the store's fault that the clementines were crappy. The store's fault. Not mine. And. If I had eaten a good clementine, even if I snuck (or "stole" if you prefer) it under the net wrapper, then bought the box and found the rest of them rotten, it would still be the store's fault, not mine.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And furthermore, if I give the store $4.50 for five pounds of clementines that are supposed to be of good quality, I agreed to part with my money only if I received clementines of GOOD QUALITY. Since i didn't receive what I paid for, the STORE HAS MY MONEY wrongfully and you might say that the store has stolen from me. The onus is not all on the consumer to make sure that we get what we pay for. Especially when we cannot sample in advance. My point is that I am sick of lackluster service, lazy (yes, I said lazy and I was not referring to me) management, stupid cost-cutting methods that are actually bad for business and result in increased costs for all of us, failed businesses, lost jobs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            And I will blame the store every single time, Leepa, if they sell me crap.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What I am saying is that it is insane to keep pointing fingers at consumers who want to get what they have been promised when they pay for it. It isn't the little grape tasters who are costing the shoppers so much money. It is bad management, poor buying, poor marketing, bad customer relations, failure to increase sales .....there are so many things that businesses could do to increase their profits. Creative things. Or simple things, like putting out samples of produce, within reason. I don't expect to taste the damn fresh morel mushrooms at $60 a pound. I'm not asking for the world. I won't ask the fish monger to cook me a piece of salmon either (although the smart retailers provide tastes of cooked fish, meat, baked goods). I am entitled to get what I pay for and it would be helpful if the store would provide that to me in the first place. You bet I blame the store for the fact that I have to get in my car and drive back for $4.50 today. It is hardly worth the time and the cost of gas. In fact, if I did the math, my guess is that it will cost more than $4.50 to drive to the store and get my money back. It will take at least 45 minutes. How much is that worth? I need to work today. I make more than minimum wage. $4.50 for 45 minutes or more is less than the minimum wage. A lot of people would just not bother because it costs more in time and money than the stupid clementines. And then those people would be stuck with inedible clementines, out $4.50 (which the store has taken wrongfully and which does not belong to the store), and the store would get to keep my $4.50 for what probably were very cheap clementines on their last legs. So whose fault is that? Is it okay for grocers to sell substandard merchandise?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It would not be my fault, Leepa. Not under any circumstances.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Actually, I would ask for a test taste of morel mushrooms @ $60 per pound..:-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I wish! But they have to be cooked and those you can usually tell by looking at them if they are fresh. If they are, then I have never had a disappointing one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Oh Ok. I don't care for mushrooms so I didn't know that type had to be cooked first..:-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: miss_belle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    plus (for the sake of academics) if a morel is going bad it happens fast, they get mushy and throw off a sulphuric odor. no taste test needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                LOL Do you need to send me a bill for the time it took you to type that?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Coming back to finish my thought. It seems like you've chosen me to lash out at. If you read back to my post I don't recall that I've ever called a grape taster a thief. I have called people who munch their way through the produce department picking up boxes of fruit eating part and abandoning the boxes and so forth, thieves because that's what they are. For whatever reason, be it poverty or just entitlement, they're entering the store with the intent of noshing their way through the produce department and have no intention of buying anything. That's what the original poster referenced and that's the point I'm answering. Whether you feel entitled or not to taste a grape is your own decision and I have no intention of passing judgement on you. Not that it's my place anyway. You do your thing and I'll do mine. For me, I'll continue not to sample unless the store has specifically invited me to do so by putting out a sample platter.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Leepa


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was not lashing out at you. Sorry if you took it that way. And lol, no, I will not be sending you a bill and I have no idea why you would have said that. A joke? Or a dig to make your point that you are not impressed with my loss of time and money over the bad clementines and you once again think I am "exaggerating."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Your comment asking me if I was going to send you a bill was as unpleasant as your suggestion in your last post to me that I might have been lazy. You don't know me. I have not attacked you personally. I rather like much of what you say here and you appear to get along with others so I wonder why the instant negative reaction to me?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was lashing out generally at the endless debate over what is and is not "stealing", where all of the focus has been on the consumer and the group appears to have lost sight on the role of the grocery business to make good their promise to sell quality merchandise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't want to have a problem with this group or with you. So please accept my apology. I meant no offense to you. At the same time, I will also ask you with all due respect to please give me a break and the benefit of the doubt before you take my comments personally. They are not intend to be personal to you.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Are we good, Leepa? I hope so.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  P.S., I can type over 90 words per minute so the time it took to write my post for which you suggested I bill you was miniscule. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              3. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If inferior produce is sold to a consumer - some will suck it up as poor luck, some will return the product (or remainder of the product) for a refund, some will never shop at that store again (or purchase that item or range of items from that store again). The point of samples is part of building a relationship with the consumer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                If I'm allowed to sample, then I have increased faith with the vendor that the product is of a certain quality. Items like clementines and grapes can range in quality in ways that can not be determined just by looking. A vendor that encourages trying a segment laid out, or taking a random grape increases my faith in the vendor's interest in me buying the products I want and will be satisfied by. And while produce will always have some "bad apples" that fall through the cracks - I'm happy to believe that it's more a "this happens" than a vendor trying to dupe me into buying inferior product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                However, ultimately - a bad product is the responsibility of the vendor. With or without sampling.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Willa- Call the store and tell them exactly what you posted here. That last weeks were good and these were bad. I can *almost* guarantee that they will take them back/refund your money. I rarely return things to the grocery store but I would definitely do it in your case. Sounds like this is a grocery you frequent often so even if they ask for you to bring them back (as opposed to destroying) it shouldn't be too much of a hassle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just last week I bought 6 lamb chops from the counter at the grocery (so not shrink wrapped) for $24. I thought I smelled something strong but after he tightly wrapped them I gave then another sniff and thought I was imagining it. By the time I got home my car had the distinct rotten meat smell. When I opened the package in my kitchen I thought I would vomit. The butcher had no right selling me these things. I called, spoke to the manager who not only offered to refund my money at my convenience but he also offered to replace the lamb chops free of charge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Could I have asked to smell them in advance? Sure but I don't consider a grocery store as a case of "buyers beware". In the same way that I expect to be able to return clothes with a flaw/damage that was not noticeable in the store I expect to be able to return food for the same reason.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I agree that (particularly) in regards to items like meat or dairy, items that are spoilt are completely the responsibility of the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  However, the nature of produce is different. There are tomatoes that are completely "sell-able" - but not ideal to eat raw and the consumer would be better served using them in cooked dishes. Same for fruit. Sometimes this can largely be determined by sight (mushrooms), other times a quick taste will resolve the issue. Then the consumer can decide if the state of the produce will serve their interest and they fell the price is fair.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    our grocery store will refund double the price of the produce if you don't like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Where is that????? What a wonderful policy! I would have a different view of this whole subject if I shopped there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Giant in the Philadelphia area. it's not widely publicized, and I've never used it myself, but I have a friend who does. I don't buy clementines often anymore, but if I do I'll be sure to buy them from Giant because they are sucha cr*pshoot. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hey! I'm new to the boards. I know this is an old discussion, but I think it's a good one.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A question for you: did you return the clementines? I almost never hesitate to return produce (especially when it's a large amount) when they're not up to snuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I never did return the clementines. I set them aside in the garage and they rotted with that terrible rotten citrus smell so I had to toss them before I went to the grocery store again. It was just one more thing on an endless list of things to do. My bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Funny, I was thinking about this thread just last night at the grocery store. I was in front of the grapes. The red ones were too big, oval and did not feel firm. They would not be good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The green grapes caught my eye. I rarely buy them because they are usually sour. But some of you will remember when red seedless grapes did not exist, and as kids, we ate green grapes all the time. Remember? Those green grapes were delicious! Really wanting grapes, I inspected these green grapes carefully. They were the size of marbles, they looked very fresh and they were a rich bright green color. That's when this thread came back to me. Oh, I wanted to try one of those grapes so badly! They were not in a closed package. One grape just wouldn't matter...... But I said to myself, "No!" "What if everybody ate a grape?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I selected a bag of the green grapes and bought them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And nuts! They are very sour. I hate them! They are taking up a lot of space in my produce drawer. This time, I will try to take them back. But tomorrow is a work day and the pace is going to be relentless.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        On the bright side, I have not had another bad clementine since I complained about that box. They just keep getting better!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You could always try them out in a recipe. The grapes, I mean.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Leepa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This recipe sounds fabulous! Good idea! The sour grapes will sweeten with roasting and be delicious with pork. Thanks, Leepa.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'd love to hear how it turns out!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm glad the clementines are getting better! I get most of my produce from Costco, and buying large sizes, as I do, it's always somewhat risky--but I tend, by and large, to do well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Find the time to take the grapes back, if you can. It'll be liberating :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I saw a person several weeks in a row do this, mostly from pre-packaged produce (ie bleberries etc), I went to the service desk and described the person. The mgr went to see the person, I've never seen them since. To me that's just gross.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. When my dad is in the U.S., He goes to WalMart, grabs his shopping cart, grabs some nuts and probably a drink then starts eating while he shops. He usually finishes the drink before he's done but regardless he always makes sure the cashier scans the empty/half empty container so he can pay for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I thought about this thread over the weekend while I was grocery shopping. I was passing by the bulk bins, and noticed a couple of teens (I suspected they were brothers) who were sampling from a number of the barrels. It was obvious they were trying to be inconspicuous, with their furtive glances and palming of the goods, but sly they were definitely not. I almost said something, but then I saw a store employee who was restocking some of the other bins, and he clearly saw them, too. I don't know if he said anything to them or not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                What's even more digusting is seeing store employees taking handfulls of cashews from the bulk bins. I gave the guy the look of death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I remember my grandma used to sample a grape just to check if the grapes she was going to buy were sour.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I also had a friend (no longer a friend) said that when he was starving in University, the only way he'd get fed was sampling his way through the grocery store. I gave him an earfull.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: salsailsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It must be a great satisfaction to those who starve to death, to know they did so honestly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: salsailsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I dunno, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Dinner at Andronico's (entirely offered as sample based)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: salsailsa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      be thankful you've never had to be in the position where you have to make that decision....you don't know what you would do until you're actually there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Just yesterday we saw a middle age average dressed woman take an expensive bottle of organic juice off the shelf opened it and took a few big swigs then set the bottle on a shelf and walk away. As I went past I picked up the bottle. When I saw her starting to have her groceries checked I moved up to the check out woman and handed her the bottle and said "here, this woman drank from this then she put it back on the shelf". The woman check out stared at the other woman with contempt as did a dozen other shoppers. The shopper behind her said in a loud voice: "This is the reason why our groceries cost so much". The woman was basically shop lifting. She just stared straight ahead and said nothing. Then left the store with her groceries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      WOW! I don't know that I would have the courage to follow her like that... good for you! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ah, who doesn't love a good public shaming.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Ha, that is great... I know a lot of people who said "mind your own business" but I think that is the problem with society these days. People think they can get away with whatever they want because no one will say anything about it. Everything has become "acceptable" in the eyes of the person doing these kinds of deeds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          At Walmart (don't shop there often but happened to be checking it out one night) these people knocked over 3 jars of tomato sauce. Not a big deal, it was an accident. But, they decided to put them back on the shelf even though one of them was cracked and had started leaking sauce on the floor. They didn't tell anyone and just walked away. Now, another customer could have come around and grabbed that jar and cut themselves. I wanted to confront the people who broke the jars but I just decided to tell the staff person about it who was literately 10 ft away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Did she buy the rest of the juice?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I wish I felt I could do this kind of thing, but I happen to live in a community where that kind of public shaming could get you shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. I haven't seen anyone open up a container of blueberries but I have seen people eat a grape (not packaged) and I didn't say anything. However, if they were opening up containers I may say something.... But, I am the type of person that will also confront someone for littering, people that leave their carts wherever they want in a parking lot (i.e. 2 feet away from my car just after I drove around trying to find an area free of random carts), etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I did see a staff member put their bare hands into a bulk bin and pick out some food for snacking. More than one bin too. Now THAT was disgusting and I realize it probably happens quiet often. I am pretty much turned off bulk items now unless they have those "turn the wheel" designs. I did report the staff person to the manager of the store, I didn't see the point of confronting the staff person directly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought this thread was about people buying "discounted" food items ("for sale")... I was thinking "what is wrong with that " :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I had a recent experience which I thought I'd share in this thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Last night I was running the usual errands and got the strongest hankering for gum ever - I really try to stay away from the stuff because the sugar alcohols wreck havoc on my digestive system but I think I was just really hungry or something and had to have it. It was the first thing I grabbed and I was very tempted to rip it open and start chowing down but it just didn't feel right. Even running to the checkout to buy it and then eating while in store for some reason didn't feel right even though it would have then been purchased (I have this uncomfortable feeling as well when I often consider bringing in drinks or other things from the car into the store to consume as it might confuse other shoppers or employees that I am eating unpurchased goods). Anyway, I waited until check out and then kindly asked the cashier to hand me the gum. I just thought I'd share as I can't really identify what would make me feel so uncomfortable about eating in a store, but it just didn't feel right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I feel that way if I buy a sweater or something from a particular store and, while wearing the sweater, consider going back to the store to buy another piece. I'm afraid I will look suspicious with a brand new sweater from the store.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  whereas I figure I look like a loyal customer....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have, on more than one occasion during my career as a salesperson, had to dash into a shoe/clothing store to buy a new article of clothing or pair of shoes, due to some malfunction or another. I clipped (or more frequently, gnawed) the price tags off and wore the item to the checkout (because I was just in a fitting room with a shred of privacy and a mirror), handed them the tags, and explained my predicament. Got a few chuckles at the explanation of WHY I was doing this, but never got so much as a hairy eyeball for doing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. A story.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                About a year ago, I was standing in a long line to check out at the grocery store. A teenage boy was standing in front of me. He waited patiently. When it was his turn, he put an apple on the counter. That's all he wanted. The cashier told him the price and he couldn't afford it. Before any of us knew what had happened, the boy left the store without his apple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                We all felt terrible, including the cashier, who said she would have let him have the apple. The rest of us in line would have purchased it for him. Here is a nice teenage boy, waiting to buy a piece of fruit. One person ran out to find the kid but he was gone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                On clementines. I never took back the bad clementines. I got over it and I just didn't have time. They started to smell like old citrus in the garage so I threw them out. No matter. I have gone through two more of those big boxes since then and am starting to worry about my clementine habit! It has exceeded my love for grapes, which I no longer taste before buying.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But I did ask an employee of mine, who used to be a cop in Evanston, Illinois, what he thought of the grape issue. He has told me so many gruesome stories about his experiences (I egg him on and he loves it). Funny, because he looks like a sweet young boy, innocent, all american. He laughed and said the grape might technically be stealing but they wouldn't have time to deal with it. He did say that excessive grazers were shoplifters and sometimes got booked.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My final comment on this thread (you hope).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When I was a kid I had a book called "If Everybody Did." Every two pages was a different example of something that was only slightly wrong if one person did it, but devastating if everyone did it. It was a great book. I remember it fondly. If one person picks a daisy in a park, the park still looks the same. If everybody picks a daisy in the park, the flowers are gone. And so on.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I think that is the answer to whether it is right or wrong to eat a grape in the store without permission.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Good book. And I bet it taught you to never eat a lot of fudge or sqeeze a cat. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Willa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    >When I was a kid I had a book called "If Everybody Did."
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the adult version is the Critique of Practical Reason, by I. Kant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: psb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Okay, this is why the new design seriously needs that "like" button!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Yesterday we went into a grocery store. We had parked a distance from the store. Out of habit or dumbness I noticed I had a granny smith apple in my hand as we approached the store. I saw an employee doing something outside the store. "Excuse me, but see this apple? I'v brought it from the truck. When we go through the checkout if I need to I'll get you to tell whoever that I brought the apple into the store right?".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Puffin3

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      You clearly put a *lot* of thought in your grocery shopping experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Had you initiated the public shaming mentioned above, you'd probably be putting a lot of thought into the apple in your hand too ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: foiegras

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yep. Thankfully, it's not nearly that involved for me '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. The thread title is a bit odd; if supermarkets were free, would they ever have anything in stock?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another way to look at it- yes, after I buy something, I reckon I'd eat it too...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BuildingMyBento

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Food for sale = NOT FREE SAMPLES SET OUT EXPRESSLY FOR THAT PURPOSE. Duh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. The other day, I was at the bakery section at my local market. A middle aged woman opened a pack of cookies, ate one, and put the pack back on the shelf.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Appalled, I muttered under my breath, "seriously? no (bleep)ing wonder you're so (bleep)ing fat..." It was almost like a reflex, I swear. Didn't even think that she'd hear me, given our distance.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But she had indeed heard me. She turned around, gave me a death glare, all red faced, and put the pack back in her cart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It was embarrassing for the both of us, but... Oh well!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: nomnomnoms

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          >It was embarrassing for the both of us, but... Oh well!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          you should have given her the international sign for "I am watching you" ... but otherwise, Well Done!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. If I'd decided not to say anything there, then I wouldn't be saying anything here. We're talking about character. Yes, I would have said something there, with a little sensitivity. If they had responded rudely I'd have just walked away. I'm not the food police, and I don't like to meet rudeness with further rudeness, since character was the whole issue in the first place.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All people hate confrontation. If that is your weakness, you could decide on a plan to politely mention things when people are being crass and actually stealing, challenging yourself to show up and communicate. If you were so ticked off, my experience of it is that it is more about you, than it was about them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. the whole foods markets near me all have security guards and managers on duty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            i would NOT have tried to handle it myself, but definitely would have reported it to a guard or to the manager.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I saw somebody fix a big salad at the salad bar then stand there and eat it. No, I never say anything. Yes, I think it's awful. Are these people starving and desperate for food? I doubt it---my guess is that it's some kind of perverse game for them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I was reading this thread the other day then after that I was standing by the salad bar (high-end market in nice downtown Chicago neighborhood) when a man came strolling by pushing his cart. He didn't even slow down or miss a step, just reached out as he went by, grabbed a whole hardboiled egg, put the whole thing in his mouth, and kept on walking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. The customer who buys that container of blueberries is getting cheated because the box won't be re-weighed at checkout and is already priced---and some of the fruit is missing. I would have spoken discreetly to the manager (part of his job is dealing with theft, after all). With x number of crazy people now going armed, God help us all, it might be safer not to confront strangers about their aberrant behavior.