less than stellar Customer Experience at Lee’s Food Fair, Red Hills Road.

I had a most unpleasant experience this evening at Lee’s Food Fair Limited, Red Hills Road branch.  I am a regular shopper there, have been for years.  I also shop at their Washington Boulevard Branch from time to time.  I find their prices to be reasonable, they have a nice enough fresh produce section and their meat offerings are fresh and competitively priced.  But this evening…
I had picked up the children and needed to buy some groceries having just returned from an extended stay overseas. I had put in a full day at the office, the kids likewise had had a long day at school and we just wanted to get the grocery shopping chore out of the way and head home to deal with homework, have dinner and prepare for the coming day.
I left them in the car, and headed into the grocery store.  I started at the left hand side of the store, where the fresh produce section is.  I wound my way efficiently up and down the aisles, picking up just what I needed.  I eventually made my way to the opposite end of the store, to pick up what were supposed to be the final items on my list: chilled meats…you know, boneless chicken thighs, perhaps and piece of beef pot roast, maybe some pork depending on price.  The shelves were empty.  Nothing. No meat. No sign. Nobody.  I looked around in wonderment, tired, slightly confused and became aware of rising irritation levels.  I inhaled deeply and then pushed my trolley to the door to the supermarket’s back-room.  I asked if I could speak to someone from the meat department.  I really needed boneless thighs.  I had promised my son to make garlic chilli chicken for him after he hugged me on my return and told me that he really missed my cooking.  After almost 5 minutes, a gentleman in a butcher’s apron sauntered out and informed me that “the fridge nah work”. Duh.  So can I get two trays of boneless chicken thighs please?  “Mek mi see…mi nuh tink we have none”.  Waiting…waiting…waiting…while he disappeared behind the doors. Enough is enough.  I headed to the check-out area.  While the cashier rang up my items (sans boneless thighs), I requested to speak to the Manager.  “They are all in a meeting”.  Businesses in Jamaica keep forgetting that the Customer is the reason why they are in any meeting to begin with; if we don’t buy what you are selling, you have precious little to meet about.  I refused to budge.  I spoke with two customer service reps behind the front counter and explained that I needed to speak to the manager, please tell him/her that I am waiting, and will continue to wait.  I was determined to speak to a manager.   
After 10 minutes, a lady approached me having descended the stairs.  I will spare you the details of my rant.  I will spare you a replay of my emotions that were out in full force.  I will summarise my issues as follows:
1.        How dare Lee’s not demonstrate respect for the Customer by advising them that some core products will be unavailable by way of a simple sign at the entrance to the supermarket?  Give us the option to shop or not.  Do not treat us like a captive audience, taking our time, energy and money for granted.
2.       Mrs. Lee (I asked her her name after I introduced myself…she did not think it necessary to introduce herself to me.  Perhaps she thought she knew me?  Or that I knew her? ) said that no one told her that the fridge had broken down. Top management has FAILED, if their Supervisors did not find it necessary to advise them accordingly. Top Management has further failed if not one supervisor could summon up initiative to get a sign in place.
3.       Too often simple back-office fixes can result in a way more pleasant experience for Customers.  There were other fridges/freezers functioning in the supermarket.  All it would take is for someone with just a little energy to rearrange some of the items in these functioning freezers, and use freed up space to merchandise the now displaced offerings from the chill area, ensuring that signs in the malfunctioning zone pointed valuable customers to the new location, complete with an apology for the inconvenience.

Mrs. Lee apologized, but I feel strongly enough to take the time to document this entire episode.  My time is very valuable.  I felt taken for granted.  I hope Lee’s finds out why their supervisory staff have demonstrated such a laissez faire attitude towards the business that pays their salaries.  I hope the person in charge of operations is made to answer for the lack of a work-around to a very real problem that the business experienced today. The Customer has options.
So disappointed with what happened to me at Lee’s today.

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