My Food Journey – The Sorry State of Customer Service

Part 1 of a multiple blog series: My Food Journey – what started as a terrible customer service experience with corporate America, has transformed into my personal journey to explore new options in food sourcing and shopping for my family in the Myrtle Beach area.

Perhaps, I’ve been in New England too long, but these past two weeks I’ve been wicked spoiled by local America. I spent the better part of two weeks in Vermont and New Hampshire, relishing in truly local flavors, foods and, believe it or not, friendly customer service. I suppose this exposure taught me what is better for me and my family.

When I finally returned home to the apathetic South, I had the most unfortunate customer service experiences with corporate America at both Walmart and McDonald’s.

Since, we have an unfortunate lack of choices in our area for groceries and we often end up shopping at Walmart just for the low prices and the vast options of products. We also have an abundance of Walmarts in our county – seven, I believe. But as my dad always said to me; you get what you pay for. Getting what you pay for is exactly the case at Walmart. Walmart may have low prices but they just don’t care about anything else. They don’t care about the arrangement of their stores, they don’t care about the quality of their products and they definitely don’t care about customer service. I’ve never had a truly excellent, over the top shopping experience at Walmart. Have you? So why the heck are we shopping there?

This past Sunday was the last bad Walmart trip for our family. When I was looking for the juice, I asked three Walmart employees for the location and none knew the answer. Did they offer to help me find it? Of course not! Yeh, I’m not surprised about that either. When the bathrooms were on lock-down at the back of the store because they were all out of order, which was truly inconvenient when you needed to change your toddler’s diaper. Then, the arrangement of the store was just chaotic. When the socks aren’t even displayed near the shoes, you know someone didn’t plan well for this retail space. Did I tell you they were out of everything and had all their employees stocking unnecessary items during a Sunday afternoon rush of people? Talk about bad timing! The entire experience was annoying, exhausting and I think I just wanted to smack every person who ran into my shopping cart.

So now it’s Monday and back to the grind. One of my friends wanted to meet me for coffee so we run by McDonald’s for our usual. While in the drive-thru, I noticed that the price of my regular iced coffee went from $1.89 to $2.59. Hmm….that’s not good. Then at the receiving window, I noticed that my coffee color doesn’t look right. Yes, I know my iced coffee so well that I can tell if it’s the right color for me or not. I tasted it and sure enough, it tasted like watered-down bitter cold coffee. Bleh! While still at the drive-thru window, I told the McDonald’s employee that my coffee didn’t taste right. She snatched it, yes I said, snatched it, and disappeared. She returned about 5 seconds later and shoved it at me and said, it’s just the taste of the iced coffee and closed the window. What???? Did that lady just taste my coffee and give it back? Barf! It sure seems like it. I wanted to throw the iced coffee back at her pretty little head. After a little cool down and a phone call to the corporate office, who also didn’t seem to care about that attitude experience in the window, I marched back into McDonald’s in person. At the counter, I put the iced coffee down on the counter with my receipt and said as sweetly as possible, “This coffee tastes like shit, I’d like my money back, please.” Without an apology or any sort of expression from the manager, I received my money back. Satisfied, I left knowing that I wouldn’t ever return.

If you ever learn anything out of my ranting, know that customer service is so vital for the survival of a business. It definitely broke it for me when I received poor customer service at both corporate stores. I don’t think absence of business will make much of a difference for their bottom line. But either way, I’m strangely thankful for my personal terrible corporate experience because it was an unfriendly reminder that maybe I should strive to support our local businesses, instead. Or maybe just not support big box stores and fast food monsters. I’m not really sure, but this is definitely a journey I’m willing to explore. So since every Sunday my daughter has cheer practice, we will end up doing our weekly grocery shopping. Next Sunday, we are going to try Lowes Foods and opt for the gas rewards they offer. If we have to buy groceries, we might as well find a rewards program.

Just before this blog post, I seeked feedback from my friends on Facebook about grocery stores and here are some of the responses:

  • Lowes Foods for meat, BiLo for center isle stuff (plus fuel perks). Sugarfoot Farms for fruits and vegetables.
  • SAMs club for meat, Kroger for produce and Walmart for dry groceries because they are so much cheaper. But when Publix opens in NMB that will replace Kroger and some Walmart.
  • Kroger is the cheapest if you catch sales and digital coupons right. Plus, cheap gas. Their generic cheese stays good for a long time and has a good flavor (except the preshredded mozzarella…it’s awful).
  • love the Kroger in Carolina Forest! Their prices are reasonable, it is aesthetically pleasing (they just remodeled), they have a great organic and all-natural food selection and they have everything I need. Huge Kroger fan!
  • Lowes foods is my fav. Local produce and shelf items, shelves labeled for speciality items: local, gluten free, vegan, organic, etc. Non-juiced-up, cage-free, grass-fed meats that are not so hard on the wallet. And gas perks.
  • Publix has great customer service, great BOGOs but can be expensive. Walmart is the pits but I think if you can go when they aren’t very busy then it may be tolerable although I loathe having to go there. We like Target too – not the greatest grocery selection but has the basics and decent prices.
  • Publix is nice. Reminds me a little of an upscale Harris Teeter. I actually like Aldi myself. Big saving, lots of recycling due to how it is stocked. I enjoy shopping at stands for vegetables but lately I have been shopping in the Hancock garden.


the author

Originally from Virginia, Jennifer C. Sellers is passionate about sustainability and conservation in South Carolina and throughout the world. She earned her BA in English from Coastal Carolina University and her MAS in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver. She is a university sustainability coordinator that implements programs and teaches people about going green and being sustainable. Follow her on Twitter @MyGreenGlasses

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