Dear HEB Bunker Hill

I’m sorry, but it’s over.

Since you opened, on many occasions, I’ve driven past many other stores to choose to shop with you.

I hit my frustration ceiling this morning, however, and would like to let you know what you did to lose me as a customer.

  1. Your equipment malfunctions and nobody cares. The pricing machines in your produce section often do not work. I like the convenience of weighing my produce, keying in codes, and getting a bar-coded label with a price. I have to think that both your cashiers and your other customers behind me in line appreciate the time I take to do this, too, as it speeds the check-out process for everyone.When I go from scale to scale to find one not working, one out of stickers, one is jammed, and one simply won’t accept codes, and all your employees can say when I alert them to the broken machines is “yeah,” I get a little grumpy.
  2. Clerks on the floor seem wildly unfamiliar with your products and disinclined to provide actual help. I’ve never had an easy time finding an employee who could help me locate items in the grocery section or bulk food section, and when I have, they are almost never actually helpful.This morning, for example, I asked for help finding two items, a garam masala spice mix and harissa. While not something you’d expect to see in a store in rural middle America, perhaps, these are two ingredients a reasonable person would expect to find in a Houston grocery store that also stocks ghee and halal chicken. I found someone. I asked for help locating the items. We found a section of Indian-inspired spice mixes, not exactly what I had hoped to find, but close enough. When I asked about the second, no luck. Turns out, that clerk usually works at a different HEB.An HEB where, apparently, no one ever thinks to find another clerk with greater familiarity with the stock when he or she cannot locate an item.
  3. The baggers cannot bag.I know, I know. I’m repeating myself. But what else can I do? I can say it until I’m blue in the face and it will still be true. Yogurt with an easily-punctured tinfoil lid simply cannot be packed at the bottom of a bag that also holds canned chickpeas. Bread does not magically un-flatten after it has been pulled out from under cartons of soy milk and bottles of V8.What’s more, I could not possibly be the only person bringing my own bags for the groceries, but it sure seems that way when you watch how your staff reacts to them. They are stronger than your paper or plastic, true, but my bags are not magical sacks from another planet that can hold an unlimited number of canned goods, milk cartons, and meat.If I have a full cart and 5 bags, I fail to see why you can’t divide that cart’s worth of groceries into those 5 bags. Stuffing everything into 2 that I cannot even lift makes no sense. Trust me, I won’t be offended if the tomatoes and cilantro get their own bag. Please don’t put them in with the milk just so you can give me back one empty bag. Please.

I’ve been to the store at peak hours, and I don’t expect everything to stop while I get my shopping done, but the fact is that most of the time, I shop during non-peak hours, often when staff and stockers outnumber shoppers by 2 or 3 to 1. It shouldn’t be such an imposition to expect some customer service at those times.

You may think you know me, you may have me pegged as an obnoxious, demanding, rude customer, but let me assure you, I am not.

I have worked at a convenience store, and I have washed dishes, so I’ve done the kind of low-wage, no-appreciation-from-the-public jobs your staff are doing. Because of my experience, I go out of my way to be polite, to say thank you, to ask how someone’s day is going, to be pleasant and patient. I put things back where I got them if it turns out I don’t want them, and I return my cart to the cart area or one of the cart racks in the parking lot.

All I ask in return is a shopping experience that includes a modicum of customer service.

When I had to move all of my items from the conveyor belt back into my cart to move to a new register because the machine wasn’t working, it might have been nice if the manager or bagger or cashier, all of whom were watching me, offered to help me re-load the cart and then unload if for a second time. Maybe there’s a rule against touching my groceries, but at your Buffalo Market, I’ve had expediters help unload my cart, so I kind of doubt it.

Honestly, I’m done. Fiesta’s service has always been exceptional, especially at the Dunlavy store, so I’m going back to them as my primary store.

Yes, yes, I know, you’re about to move in across the street now that Wilshire Village is another Houston memory. It’s like Houston Chronicle v. Houston Post all over again.

Well, have fun trying to run them out of business. If you have to rely on your store staff to deliver superior service to lure Fiesta’s customers away, however, you’ll have a l-o-n-g wait.

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One Response to Dear HEB Bunker Hill

  1. DMS says:

    Gosh, I could have written this!!!! today is 7/20/11. The machines work better but still break and CS seems a tad better. The store is just crazy busy and I think the store employees need to park in the back of the lot bc I can NEVER get a front parking space. EVER.

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