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Mar 19, 2013 03:43 PM

Whole Foods (WFM) rant

I spend a fortune at the WFM in Friendship Heights. And each time I go there, I brace for the frustration of dealing with their inability to keep shelves stocked and products available. I realize that sometimes it is the manufacturer, but when it is a WFM product, why is it that the item is sometimes missing for weeks on end? Now it is the Early Bird Multi-seed Bread. First they claimed it was recalled. Funny, but it isn't listed on the WFM recall page. Now it is a warehouse problem. I've taken to "defensive buying" - when they have a product that is one of our standard items but that they seem to have trouble stocking, I buy a half dozen or even a dozen. Apologies to the rest of you, but its a jungle out there. But even when it isn't something unusual like this, they just don't seem to get that they can't sell what they don't put out on the shelf. Time after time, they stroll "to the back" or "to the freezer" and presto - the item is back there. They just didn't put it on the shelf. What is that about? And yet the aisles are always clogged with stockers putting items on the shelf, so I know they get the basic concept.

Don't they ever look at the data on what sells and how fast? Sheesh. Giant mastered this years ago. Giant was famous for re-stocking its stores overnight by looking at what sold the day before.

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  1. Not only that but the check out system at that store is ridiculous -- which is why I only shopped there once. People waited half an hour around noon on a weekday to pay for their snacks. I guess they're lucky that their regular customers puts up with such poor service. Once was enough for me.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Teddybear

      A chacun son gout. I actually like the snake line idea and even when the line stretches back to the greeting cards or beyond, I've never had to wait more than 15 minutes or so.

      1. re: Teddybear

        Never understood the concept of waiting in line to give people my money. If you can't get me in and out in a reasonable amount of time, I go someplace else. Or without.

        I always do my Asian market shopping at 8am on Sunday before the aisles get choked with everyone's grandma.

      2. Time after time, they stroll "to the back" or "to the freezer" and presto - the item is back there. They just didn't put it on the shelf. What is that about?

        That's Whole Foods speak for "personalized service" ...

        1. And while I'm on the rant, here's the reason I was there yesterday. Over the weekend, on my normal shopping expedition, I saw a sign on a produce bin saying "Murcotts." Aka honey tangerines. I love honey tangerines and I've been waiting all this time for them to show up in WFM. I've had to make special trips to Giant to buy them. So I grabbed a bag. In the back of my mind, I thought "hmm, these look too small and too orange to be Murcotts" but I just put them in the cart without looking more closely. I got home and saw that they were in fact Mandarin oranges imported from the EU (which I wouldn't have purchased even if I wanted Mandarins as I don't believe in dragging fruit and vegetables and other foods any further than is necessary). So I figured I had grabbed the wrong thing and as I had to run errands anyway, I went back to buy Murcotts. Guess what? All the bags were Mandarin oranges from the EU. They were simply mislabeled on the sign. The "assistant manager" - clearly the guy who draw the short straw when they called for someone from produce to come to customer service - had no idea what the fruit was and even when I showed him that the label said "Product of EU" he continued to tell me that they were from California.


          It is true that Murcotts are often grown on Mandarin rootstock, but they are hybrids of oranges and tangerines. The result is not actually all that similar to Mandarins, except that they are on the small size (but not as small as Mandarins).

          And those Clementines they sold all winter? Flavorless. WFM usually has good quality produce but not those Clementines. I tried them twice, thinking maybe the first time I got a bad bag. I mentioned this to a few friends and they said they also thought they were flavorless.

          Well, it was the first time I ever managed to walk into a WFM and not spend a single penny.

          1. Pretty sure this situation isn't unique to Whole Foods. It's why I don't even bother shopping at Giant anymore. As for the ridiculous checkout lines, that's why I gave up my Costco card. I'd show up and all the cashiers would be open and there'd be no line, but by the time I was ready to check out, half the cashiers were gone and the line was winding towards the back of the store.

            6 Replies
            1. re: monkeyrotica

              There is never a wait at Chevy Chase Supermarket -- my favorite supermarket by far. But I have never had trouble with lines at the Giant on Arlington Road -- certainly never anything approaching 15 minutes. I cannot believe people would put up with that on a regular basis when they are paying premium prices

              1. re: Teddybear

                I used to live down the street from the Chevy Chase supermarket. Lousy hours and talk about random stocking. Kind of like Rodman's. You just go in there knowing that the odds of their having something you bought there before are fairly slim, except for truly standard, common items. And even then...speaking of Rodman's. I go in last weekend. Not even two weeks before Passover. The guy on the loudspeaker is making such a tummel about all the Passover products. He says that the gefilte fish is on aisle one. Nope. I ask someone. They point me to the lox. OK, I try to find the tummler-in-chief and eventually someone tells me it is actually aisle 2. I go to look and yeah, they have a couple of jars of gefilte fish on the bottom shelf. Vey is mir.

                1. re: Just Visiting

                  Well all I can say is that our experiences are quite different. I've had nothing but outstanding service despite the (relatively) early closing.

              2. re: monkeyrotica

                I think it's store specific for each chain. I have two Safeways nearly equidistant from me and a Giant. I love the closest Safeway, but hate the other one (for lines and butcher selection).

                The Giant has decent service and the best butcher of the three but I hate the store layout. Though another Giant that's a bit of a drive is excellent on pretty much all counts.

                The WF near me is well stocked and has good service.

                1. re: Dennis S

                  +1 on the store-specific comment. The two Giants closest to us are like night & day in terms of variety and availability.

                  And I have no issues (well, very few) with the Whole Foods in Vienna. It's not the biggest one out there, but my experiences there are almost always good - except for the thousands of children running around on Saturday mornings (why aren't they watching cartoons? ;-)), but that's not a WF issue.

                2. re: monkeyrotica

                  But that's just because it's you, Moneyerotica. When they see you enter Costco, management broadcasts a "Code 73" over the intercom, and all the cashiers--except for the very new hires--head for the storage room and hide out until you're gone. Giant, Best But, and Home Depot all use the same system. I'm surprised you haven't noticed.

                  See, you've got a reputation for snarky comments, and while I personally often find them clever and amusing, clerks everywhere dread being on the receiving end of your biting wit.

                3. I shop at the WfM in Logan Circle because I can walk there and it is really the only walk able market besides the Capital!arket on 11th (which is totally random). I hate that WFM andam angry ever time I shop there.

                  We tend to try hard to shop at Wegmans and sometimes the commissary on base. But WFM is aaaalways out, poorly laid out, and no one working there ever knows the stock. Especially for the price. But people will always go there so there is no reason for them to improve.
                  Wegmans is the opposite.