An open letter to Dominick's CEO
(I wrote this as a response to Armymom's post in another thread about a Dominick's cashier refusing to accept an Ocean Spray coupon that she picked up from a Dominick's in-store display today.)
To Dominick's executive team - Steven A. Burd, Diane Dietz, and Robert Edwards:
Almost every month, I see articles in the Chicago Tribune about Dominick's trying to gain market share from Jewel. This week, Dominick's spent tens of thousands of dollars for a full-color Dominick's wraparound ad on Section 1 of the Tribune. Around Chicagoland, you're remodeling Dominick's stores from the top to the bottom while closing others completely.
Your loss of sales isn't due to a lack of advertising or unattractive stores. It's the lack of a standard, written coupon policy available to your shoppers and enforced the same way in all of your stores, and a customer service team who, more often than not, interprets your coupon policy on a whim, refusing coupons, making up coupon "rules," even berating customers for using coupons.
Do you enjoy the thought of customers leaving entire cartloads of groceries in the checkout lane and walking out of the store because a cashier is refusing to accept valid, legitimate coupons -- even coupons they just picked up from dispensers in that same Dominick's store, as one shopper told me happened to her today?
Coupon incidents at Dominick's happen regularly -- much more so than at any other store in our area. In September, 2008 I had such a ridiculous incident with a Dominick's cashier that I didn't set foot in one of your stores again for over seven months. (That cashier refused to take coupons I printed from your own website, dominicks.com, and I left over $90 worth of groceries on the belt and walked out of the store.)
When there are several other supermarkets in Chicagoland who will take coupons without issue, guess where your shoppers will be? How many times will a customer subject themselves to frustration and angst while simply trying to shop for groceries on a budget, before they give up on wasting their time at Dominick's and simply shop somewhere else where their coupons are easily and happily accepted?
I read an article last week that 95% of people used at least one coupon last year in 2009. Dominick's may not think they need to worry about "a few coupon shoppers..." but guess what. Those coupon shoppers comprise 95% of your target market. Without a standard policy enforced and taught to all of your employees, your customers WILL be shopping elsewhere.
Those 5% of people who didn't use coupons last year are not going to sustain your corporation's bottom line much longer, especially in the current economy, where the vast majority of shoppers are watching their food budgets very carefully.
Last fall, a Safeway/Dominick's corporate staffer attended one of my Super-Couponing workshops and was astounded to hear the Dominick's horror stories that the 100+ shoppers in the room were sharing with each other during the question-and-answer session.
At the conclusion of my class, she asked me if I regularly came across other shoppers who felt this way. I assured her that I do - every week, and their stories are the same. At the time, I wondered if anything would come of her visit -- perhaps focus groups with shoppers, surveys, or anything to raise the level of customer service to coupon shoppers at Dominick's. Instead, it's more of the same -- more ads, more remodels.
As one of my blog readers so eloquently wrote when her Dominick's underwent a recent remodel:
Quick show of hands... how many here have thought, "I'd shop at Dominick's more if only they had wider aisles, brighter lights and a nicer floor!" What? No one? Hmmmm, wonder what the problem IS then... (LOL)
Closed for remodeling? What's the point? It's like re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
I'd love to open a discussion with you on this topic. I speak firsthand with over three hundred of your customers, in person, every single week at my coupon workshops, and I converse with thousands more online regularly. And I can tell you why they're not shopping in your store... or why they dart in and out for just a few things, breathing a sigh of relief if their coupons are actually accepted.
It looks as though others were talking about expired products on 1/20/10. That is over a year ago. This has nothing to do with expired coupons!
The Dom in Gurnee has the friendliest staff. I do all Jill's deals there and rarely have a problem with my Q's.They have taken stacks and never say a word. Only twice have I had a problem with the cashiers commenting about the amount of coupons or the expired coupons.I just avoid those cashiers now. I hope they continue with expired Q's, because that is their advantage now. Keep up the great customer service Gurnee!!
I have to say I have saved alot of money at Doms since Dec. when I started couponing. The staff at Doms have been nothing but helpful. The customer service desk and the two cashiers I run into each time. They explain and help me if needed. They are so helpful. The shelves are usually stocked. They have been out of a few things that have been on sale, but they always have a sign explaining why and when the next truck will be there. The store is clean. I enjoy going here.
I had a cashier tell me they couldn't accept more than one computer print coupon per order. After much wrangling and complaining, she took all of mine anyway but then showed me some memo saying only one per order. I told her I would be happy to make each coupon item one order and pay for things one at a time (I had 12 computer print out coupons), she said that wouldn't be allowed either.
When I wrote to Dominick's hq about the situation I had to exchange several letters with them only to find out that they really ARE supposed to only accept one print out per order!!
Although I do super-couponing, my grocery budget is very large per month (big mouths to feed and some things just aren't coupon items). I would love to spend my grocery dollars at Dominicks instead of Jewel as I actually DO like the ambiance in our local Doms better - but there's no way. I use Dominicks for just a few items a week (up to about $25) then spend my REAL money over at Jewel. And now a Meiers is opening up by us too that is nearer to the Jewel so I may not go into Dominicks at all, I'm so frustrated from even my exchange with their headquarters.
I'm a single senior citizen and am annoyed when Dominick's has a buy two sale on gallon milk. You must buy two gallons to get the sale price. Seems disciminary for those who do not have families to use two gallons in a timely manner. I usually buy milk elsewhere.
I am relatively new to couponing (since about September) my wife actually told me about a woman she works with that saves hundreds a month on groceries. Well to make a long story short, I am now addicted to couponing and saving in the neighborhood of $400-500 per month!
I have shopped at Dominick's all of my life and was thrilled when they opened a store a block away from my house 13 years ago. We shopped there for everything and were loyal customers, until we started couponing. It turned out that in comparison, the sales and coupon policies at Dominick's are no match for those of Jewel. Recently, I needed a few quick things so I stopped at Dominick's (since its across the street), I had a few Register Rewards from Walgreens that I want to use before they expired, at the end my total was around $12.00 (after coupons) and I had $10 in RR's in various denominations, the cashier says "we do not accept those" of course I asked for a manager who came over, studied the RR's for about two minutes and then said, "we normally don't take these but you can use ONE this time."
I was frustrated! I decided that I would never shop at Dominick's again unless A) I can actually make money on a transaction or B) They start understanding and honoring the value of coupon shoppers.
I now drive past Dominick's every day on my way to Jewel!
ooo - I can't wait to hear the details!!!
Every Wednesday I cannot wait to run to the end of my driveway to pick up the paper and browse the grocery ads. I start with Jewel first, second is Meijer, and then reluctantly Dominick's. Then I repeat this ritual again on Sunday. I wish that I could just stop looking at their ad, but they do have some fabulous meat deals. I actually wait until Wednesday night to shop at Dominick's if I plan to shop there at all so that I can see if Meijer or Jewel will have a price that I could live with in the next sale to avoid going in there. This week was not the case, but for the first time they had everything on my list, the cashier did not triple examine my printables, and she adjusted the burger meat because my flyer was for the Crystal Lake store (I shopped in Algonquin or LITH not sure). Here is another tidbit for the executives at Dominick's. Why do you have sale ads that have different prices for stores that are near eachother? I can understand the regional thing, but come on. I may live in Crystal Lake, but the stores on Randall are much closer.
Although tonight's experience was pleasant, I will continue to try not to shop there. No one has ever been directly rude to me like in some of the posts, but I really wanted to call it quits when I went back to get my 3 boxes of cereal that came to $0.45 with tax. The self checker monitor person was reading each coupon 3 times because she thought I was ripping them off. This would not have been the case if they had it in stock when I bought my other items, but more noticeable when they were the only items.
Kudos to you Jill!
I think Jill will get (A) the generic letter saying that they value her feedback and (D) the $10 coupon on her Fresh Values card with a min $20 purchase. Loved that post!
Nice letter, Jill. I hope you will get a response and we see some changes or at least some coupon policy in print.
The last time I tried using a bunch of different Kellogg's coupons, I got a lot of grief from the cashier and the manager. When I showed that each box was covered by an appropriate number of coupons, they said that I was tripling up and taking advantage of them, because of the good sale and that I had some expireds in the pile. I tried to explain to them that they take expireds, so that's why I brought them. I also asked for a coupon policy so that I could bring it home and be better prepared for the next time, but they did not offer anything to me. (Unless you count a sour look!) I don't feel bad, because I spent something like $9 on about 20 boxes of cereal, and there was even a $10 jeans rebate. Money maker! : ) I felt bad for the lady behind me in line, but I gave her a $1 Frosted Flakes coupon that she happily took.
Oh a positive note, I was rushing to get home before the ice storm, and didn't notice 'til I got back that I only bought 4 juices instead of 5 for the promo. When I called the store (Higgins and Meacham) to ask if I could either come back tomorrow to return the 4 or purchase another juice to get the promo price for all, the lady at customer service was as nice as could be and said it would be no problem. What a nice surprise!
This is one of the best letters I have ever read. I was one of those shoppers who was chastised for using coupons, how humiliating with a line full of people. Left the cart. They have evil people working there, and should realize what their shoppers want and need. Maybe this will get the ball rolling, but I won't hold my breath. Thanks Jill for taking on corporate America.
Well I am happy that you wrote the letter. Dominicks lost my business a long time ago because the self check out LADY made me feel like a piece of "Sugar Honey Ice Tea" Because I had a coupon for every item I purchased. That was almost 1 year ago.
Again Jill Thank You. You are the BEST :)
I hope you get a reply. If you actually get some kind of dialog going with them please tell them how dirty the C'Ville store is. The shelves are dusty and so are the products on the shelf. And there are so many expired things on the shelf. I just posted I found Juicy Juice that expired August 2009. This week in the same trip, expired Kraft mayo from October 2009 and expired Pizza Rolls in the frozen..... ready for this one? Expired January 2008! There was some kind of contest printed on the package that you had to enter by June 2007 to win a trip. holy crap.
That Carpentersville store is notorious for expired product - sad but true. My friend Amy once went through that store, finding so much expired stuff that, on a whim, she and another friend of hers walked the aisles and filled an entire shopping cart with expired food and took it to the customer service counter... where the customer service lady just shrugged. Par for the course, I guess.
Sounds like that and scales that aren't accurate would be worth a call to the city health department and weight and measures department. ;)
I go to the Rte 38 and Randall Road. I always go at night and all the employees are so friendly and the manager is GREAT at going out of his way to accomodate couponers. He special orders for me whenever I ask. And the irony is it is an old junky store, but I love it and am very loyal. I think corporate people forget customer service is what keeps people coming in, not new floors and sushi bars.
... that I went to this week to get my juices & other stuff. Indeed, they were excellent. And I agree with what you said -- I don't care whether the store has shiny new floors or a sushi bar -- I want a pleasant shopping experience. I got one at that St. Charles Dominick's this week.
that is the St. Charles store - you would NOT have a pleasant experience at the Geneva store! LOL (maybe because it's 'prettier'?)
You know, I was heading back from Geneva when I stopped there, and I guess I thought that was still IN Geneva... far be it from me to mix up an old Dominick's with good service with a remodeled one with bad service..! I just corrected my first post.
To the staff of the ST. CHARLES Dominick's... keep up the good work.
(Isn't it funny though how everyone knows which Dominick's in their area are good... and where the ones to avoid are?)
I saw a few things I would actually want in the Dom's ad this week BUT...I just didn't want to deal with the HUGE hassle from the same cashiers at the Geneva Dom's. Same discussion EVERY TIME. St. Charles is better, BUT I really don't enjoy the feeling in my stomach when I have to prepare my arguments IN ADVANCE so I can purchase an item(s) using a coupon(s).
Guess what? Didn't shop at Dominick's. Went to a coupon-friendly grocery store.
I went to Dominicks today to pick up salad dressing, Chewy bars and tater tots. I received a very interesting catalina when I checked out. It said "save even more with coupons" and it had the Dominick's logo, nothing else. Quite ironic after reading this post. BTW, the Elmhurst store on Rt. 83 is usually pretty good. Just don't try to use more than one IP per like item.
You know what's funny, the "no more than one like printable per item" isn't even a written part of their policy anymore (it used to be - link to current policy here) and even then, it stated only one unique IP per item.
ALL generated IPs are unique. Even if they're for the same product, they have unique identifiers and serial numbers. When you can print 2 like coupons from Dominicks.com but only use one in the store, that's a problem.
Or worse, a situation like someone posted last week, where their cashier said because they used a printable for one brand of cereal, they could not use a different printable for Quaker oatmeal because that was "also a cereal," and "only one cereal printable per transaction?"
Again... it's time for Dominick's to adopt and enforce the SAME policy in all stores. When you call corporate and get a line like "we allow our managers to determine the rules for their store..." it's impossible to know whether any particular store will take our coupons if they can all make up their own rules on a whim.
I've even tried two distinctly different IP coupons. One from SS and one from coupons.com. They looked nothing alike and were for different values. Didn't matter. Now I don't even bother to try. It's not worth the frustration. If I have two IPs for the same item, I do one trip, go to my car, go back in for another. Of course, it must be a pretty good deal for me to go through the extra work. I love Jewel :-)
wow, jill. you are so eloquent, can't wait to hear their response.
I went to Dominick's on St. Charles Rd and Route 83. Cashier took everyone of my coupons. I even had two expired coupons for the EXACT same thing. No questions asked. I really could not believe it. She did not say good morning but hey, I am happy. I spent $23.61 for the following:
4 Juicey Juice
2 Boxes of Chewy Quaker Bars
2 Wishbone Dressings
1 V8 Fusion
1 12 oz Caribou Coffee
1 18 pack Eggs
2 Gallons of Milk
8lbs Frozen Chicken Breasts
once in awhile from a Dominick's employee??? That couldn't hurt either. They all seem so crabby all the time. Great letter, Jill. I hope they respond.
Hey, if the Dominicks stores actually start making it easy for shoppers, where will all the new drivers go to practice?
My eldest daughter is driving on her permit and this post made me HOWL!!!! Thanks for the afternoon laugh!
this one!!! you really made me laugh!!! after my day at Dom's..(<:
My husband and I have both left our Dominick's on separate occasions, with groceries on the belt, because a cashier wouldn't accept a coupon. I actually had a cashier scoff at me when I handed him some Dominick's store coupons I received in a "Welcome to the Neighborhood" mailer after moving into my new home! I quickly learned my new local Dominick's was not worth my time, which is a shame since I pass it twice a day on my way to and from work. I drive out of my way for Jewel and don't mind one bit. It's worth it everytime!
I feel the same way. Been shot down so many times it is not worth it. A couple weeks ago there was a funny post here, about strategy for Dominicks, and someone said "Step 1, throw Dominicks flyer AWAY!"
I haven't seen a user on here named dominickslover
hmmm wonder why????
I would like to volunteer and I'm sure Armymom would join us. As I mentioned in one of the threads last week with the electronic coupons, I intend to write a letter and I appreciate your doing one for us at this time. I've shopped Jewel and Dominicks over the past forty years and I like having choices and not have one store rule the area. But if Dominicks is going to make life difficult, why bother? Hope they respond in a positive light.
What an awesome email! If I had a cocktail in my hand, I would be saying here, here in response. Please let us know what they respond.
I think that letter is very well written and very deserved. Lets take a poll:
How do you think Dominicks will respond?
A) A genuine, well-thought-out letter, with the proposed actions they will be taking to remedy their situation (including an offer for Jill to come and 'train' their CEOs, store managers, cashiers, etc.)
B) A generic stock letter stating something like "Thank you for your correspondence. Your comments are valuable to us . . ."
C) A desparate-sounding letter stating something like "But have you seen how pretty our new stores are?"
D) An offer for a $10 coupon to be loaded onto Jill's Fresh Values Card (with a minimum $20 purchase required, of course).
E) No response at all.
F) Mention that they're installing a sushi bar in select stores.
They seem good on attempts to lure customers in with visuals then flub it with execution when it's time to pay.
My coupons are on the sushi bars...
Jill you are eloquent as always. But you're spot-on right. I can picture a conference table full of suits making $100K a year with their charts and graphs thinking "well if we just install hardwood floors in produce department, that will raise our sales 14%."
Dominicks needs to get to the heart of the problem and you nailed it. Customer service. Let us know what happens.
I'll be surprised if you receive a personal response from Dominick's CEOs..they do owe you the common courtesy of a response. However, it will probably be a form letter written by a paid staffer. The key to any successful business is customer service. It seems as though that's lacking in America today . This does not only apply to the grocery business. I must defend the customer service I receive from my Fox Lake Dominick's store. Like anything else there's good and bad in everyhting. The managers and staff at that particular store are fantastic!
And I'll bet those "suits" make a LOT more than $100K a year.