[The system did kick in after another 24 hours had passed, and we have gotten our initial personalized discounts. Click here for the update.]
Has anyone actually gotten the dozen free eggs promised by Safeway as the first benefit of signing up for their new personalized coupon system?
Hawaii is the market where they are beta testing this system. It looks very promising, although the tracking of your shopping habits may raise some privacy concerns. But it’s a good thing there’s only a limited roll-out. The system seems to need a lot of tweaking.
We’ve tried to use it, without success. We felt like the guy in those bank ads. You probably know the one.
Q: “It’s free, isn’t it?”
A: Define “free”. Pause. Then tiny waive. “Have a mediocre day.”
After getting home following our small experience of failure, I went to Safeway.com to submit a comment, but feedback to the grocery chain doesn’t seem to be enabled anywhere. So instead of a private message, I figured a public missive might get the point across.
Safeway is one of five stores where we regularly do our grocery shopping. Even before we signed up, we overheard staff talking about people’s accounts not being properly linked to their cards.
But we managed to register online early this week. That part seemed relatively easy, although it took Meda a couple of tries. Yesterday I popped back to Safeway.com, signed in to the “Just for U” system, and checked out the personalized coupons. There were some good deals in addition to the free eggs. We added three other special coupon deals to our shopping list–fat free milk, chicken thighs, and bananas, along with the promised free eggs–all at good savings. The system then let us print the shopping list, and the instructions said that the special prices would kick in when you swipe your Safeway card during checkout.
The first problem was that half the items were not available in the Kaneohe store yesterday. No Lucerne fat free milk. And no chicken. But we did pick up the eggs and bananas, along with our other regular items (cat food, cat litter, etc., etc.).
Then to checkout.
The items rang up at regular price, but the clerk said not to worry because the adjustments would come when the sale was totaled. That’s the way their liquor discounts are taken when you buy 6 or more bottles. So we waited. But when the total came, we scrolled back through the list of items. No free eggs, no inexpensive bananas. So we returned those items and were directed to a table set up and the front of the store with a couple of laptops and a store employee available to assist in setting up these accounts.
So I logged on to our Safeway account, and sure enough–there was our shopping list showing the discounts we were supposed to have received.
Ms. Safeway was puzzled, then said it could take up to 24 hours for our personal shopping list to actually get processed into their system.
The FAQs on the Safeway web site say they should show up “as soon as 30 minutes” after registering. Well, we registered days ago.
So the problem wasn’t resolved, and wasn’t really explained.
I guess that’s what it can happen during a beta test.
Back in 1999, I caught Safeway shorting customers during a promotion offering a special 5% discount. In that case, Safeway admitted the error (which hit customers in Northern California and Nevada, in addition to Hawaii) and made a $5,000 donation to charity “as a gesture of good will.”