I am … astounded at how complacent shoppers have become

Dan Dibbelt
Smoky River Regional
Economic Development
The other week I need to run out to the store to pick up a couple things.

It was an odd list and it was a Sunday night. I needed milk, eggs and potting soil I admit to a moment of weakness, as I always try and support smaller shops, locally owned, and where the money stays in the community.

But I was faced with a dilemma as this was an unlikely combination and I really did not want to have to go to more than one store.

I caved-in and headed to one of the big retailers. Now I hadn’t been in this store for a few years but I was pretty positive they would have all the items I needed and indeed they did. So, the convenience was great, the experience was not.

I wasn’t terribly surprised when I needed a loonie to get a cart. I always avoid going to any store that requires me to insert a coin to get a cart so I can spend my money there. True, I get my loonie back, but I also take exception to jobs lost because the consumer returns the carts to retrieve their loonie.

I was a bag boy in my youth. We used to bag the groceries for customers and we always took their groceries out to the car. We also hauled grocery carts back in. It is a great job for someone starting out. I equally do not like self check out. One the cost jobs and two, I like customer service.

Anyways, I tootled over to the till to get change for my cart and was told by the cahier, she couldn’t open her till to give me change, I needed to go to customer service. I guess the store doesn’t trust their cashiers.

Back in line at customer service and soon I had a shiny loonie and could retrieve a cart and with it the honor of spending my money at this fine establishment. Despite the massive size of this store, I was able to find my unusual mix of items and headed off to the cashier. She was friendly, processed my items and soon I was pushing my rental cart toward the exit.
Low and behold, there was another line-up of customers with rental carts lined up to leave the store. I did not realize that this store now stopped all customers and checked their till receipts to compare with their cart’s items. So, oblivious to this new change, I circled around the gaggle of shoppers and headed out the “In” door.

Quickly a melodic voice called out to me “Sir, I need to check your receipt and cart before you go.” It took a moment for me to register that the clerk (I’ll call her Sheila) was talking to me and I looked at her somewhat dumbfounded. Sheila repeated her demand to me. “Sir, I need to check your receipt and cart.”

Without missing a beat, I looked at Sheila and replied, “It’s okay, I didn’t steal anything.” Well Sheila was quick to advise me that it was company policy and apparently clearly posted somewhere in the store.

I appreciate Sheila was just doing her job and I didn’t want to cause her grief, but I hadn’t stolen anything and quite frankly I take exception to the notion that they automatically assume I had.

I smiled at Sheila and told her I was happy to have her check my receipt and cart and told her where I was parked and invited her to come and check out there and went happily on my way. This story does not end with me being tackled to the ground by some store security guy or the police showing up at my house door to haul me off to the hoosegow.

How it does end is I loaded my car and drove off with a firm commitment to never return. So, what is the point of this story? It is very simple.
Can you imagine this type of customer treatment at a local store in the Smoky region? I can’t. I can’t imagine Gary stopping me at the Falher IGA and asking to see my receipt. I am however, astounded at how complacent shoppers have become.

This store and others like it are basically saying they do not trust their customers. I appreciate shoplifting is a problem – it is a problem at all shops yet not all stores implement this policy. And in our little rural area, no one does this.

One more good reason to shop at your local shops. Store owners treat customers with respect.

As for me, well, the plant I was repotting died anyway. I blame it on the potting soil.

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