Essay: When the web site comment form still doesn’t result in customer service.

I don’t expect a lot from Fred Meyer. They have made their choices and I know what I’m getting when I go there. If I want to talk to a knowledgeable (and even cheerful!) employee I will go to New Seasons, but at Fred Meyer I am on my own. However, recently I was infected with a bit of curiosity and turned to the company website for an answer. And now I know not to expect much from that venue, either.

Fred Meyer, for those of you who don’t live within its reach, is a combination grocery and variety store which was founded in Portland and spread across the northwest before being bought by Kroger. I grew up shopping Fred Meyer in Boise, Idaho and today in Portland, Oregon, a lot of my paycheck is spent at the store that is four blocks from my house.

Recently, I was buying crackers and I noticed the generic brand of Triscuits was not on the shelves. This was unfortunate, as I liked that brand and it reliably cost less than standard Triscuits. There are never employees available to answer questions in the grocery department, so when I came home I went to Fred Meyer’s web site and sent a brief note enquiring as to the status of the generic Triscuits.

A week passed. I received the following email:

Dear Ms. Collins:

Thank you for contacting Fred Meyer. Regrettably, I am unable to say with any certainty as to whether or not this product is being carried at your location. Please speak to your local store director regarding product availability as our office does not have access to inventory/ordering information. They can check inventory at other locations and will be able to advise if the product can be stocked and/or ordered. In addition, I have forwarded your request to the store manager for further review. Please do not hesitate to contact us at888.247.4439 if you have further comments or concerns. Thank you for your patronage and have a great day

Sincerely,

Brandee Powell

Consumer Affairs

Reference: 11429548

So Brandee Powell was able to tell me that 1)She has no idea about my local store and 2)I should contact the store director directly. She was not able to tell me what the store director’s name was or how to contact her or him, but was able to forward my information to said director for further review. What have I learned from Brandee Powell? That Fred Meyer’s web site is pretty much useless for answering questions and that Consumer Affairs employees can’t do a bit of research to find out what products their own stores carry, or even direct me specifically to a company employee.

So it’s been a week since I received the above email filled with the opposite of information, two weeks since I emailed the original question and that question still has not been answered. It’s not a life or death detail, and I can certainly live never knowing what has become of my generic brand snack crackers. But if you are going to have a feature on your web site offering customer service, it might be nice to actually have customer service by answering the questions submitted.

2 thoughts on “Essay: When the web site comment form still doesn’t result in customer service.”

  1. I fear this is the reality of our modern era. Customer service is on the way out. At least with big corporate monoliths…

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