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This page is about the U.S.-based Safeway supermarket chain. The techniques described are applicable to Safeway stores in California. They may or may not apply in other parts of the United States. Specifically, they apply to stores which have both the "Just For You" (or "just for u" or "just4you" or "just4u") program and have a "price accuracy" guarantee, which gives the customer a free product (up to a certain value) if the wrong price is charged. (In California, the limit on the free product is $5, over that amount, you get a gift card for $5. Also, they will only honor one free item per transaction.)

Some people will object that it's not "right" to rip off Safeway or any other store. And if it happens that you have some reason for disliking Safeway, then you just shouldn't shop there. I'm not suggesting that people should take unfair advantage of Safeway. I'm suggesting taking advantage of flaws in their "Just For You" program that actually harm customers. (The "Just For You" program is evil in many ways, and it would be evil even without these flaws, but these flaws put Safeway customers who participate in the "Just For You" program at an unreasonable disadvantage. On the other hand, if they choose not to participate in the program, then they're simply getting overcharged.)

a brief description of the Just For You program

To participate in the Just For You program, one must be a member of the Safeway loyalty program by completing a Club Card application. When you make a purchase, you identify yourself by scanning your Club Card or providing your telephone number.

After you have your Club Card, you can sign up for the Just For You program. Among the benefits provided by the Just For You program are "personalized deals". When you login to the safeway.com web site and go to the "personalized deals" section, you are presented with a selection of these deals. Generally, the deals are good for about a month, and new deals are presented on a monthly basis.

You select which deals you want. You can sign up for as many deals as you want, but only those you sign up for will be activated. The deals are only available in your "region", and they should be available as soon as you have activated them.

Most of the deals can be used as many times as you want through their expiration date. A few are single-use offers.

some simple suggestions

After you're done selecting your deals, it's a good idea to print them out and take it to the store so you know exactly which products the deals are for. Of course, it's also handy if you don't get the price you expected. The printout will provide a description of each product, whether it's one-time or unlimited use, the expiration date, and the price.

Later on, if you print your selected deals, any deals which have expired will be removed. However, it's believed that one-time use deals will continue to show even after the deal has been used.

things get dicey

Because these prices are (supposedly) "just for you", there are no shelf tags to identify the items. It's up to you, as a shopper, to match the item with the description. If you have an offer on Progresso "vegetable" soups, you might have to guess if "French Onion" qualifies. Even better is when the offers says that it's good on "selected varieties".

How could you possibly know what are "selected varieties" when there aren't any shelf tags? Easy. "Selected varieties" are the varieties you selected!

springing the trap

Just because you selected a variety, that doesn't mean the variety is in the computer at the "Just For You" price. And if it's not in the computer, you'll be charged the current Club Card price. If you're fortunate enough to have this happen, don't dispute it with the cashier, just pay for the purchase, then head over to Customer Service.

At customer service, show them your receipt and your "Just For You" printout with the lower price.

Most likely, they'll tell you that you didn't pick the selected variety, but they have ABSOLUTELY no way to know that, because a list of the specific participating products (e.g. precise description or UPC codes) isn't available to store personnel. And the response to this objection is easy, you had no notification of which varieties were "selected", and this ambiguity is Safeway's fault.

You're entitled not merely to get the price offered by the "Just For You" program, but to get the product free (or if the price is over $5, to get a refund of the overcharge plus a $5 gift card).

How good they are at honoring the price accuracy guarantee will vary from store to store. It seems like at some stores, the personnel feel it's their job to prevent customers from getting the benefit of the promises that Safeway makes, instead of abiding by the program that Safeway's management has instituted. (For instance, when there's a wrong price in the computer and you make a claim on the price accuracy guarantee, you might expect that they would attempt to get the price corrected as quickly as possible. What seems to happen most of the time is that the wrong price remains in the computer through the end of the sale period.)

dealing with dissidents

When employees refuse to honor the Safeway policy, the obvious thing to do is ask to speak to the manager. However, it may well be the manager who's responsible for the bad attitudes that employees at a particular store have, so you may find the manager is just as reticent as the employees are. If sometimes it seems like Safeway employees are "tag teaming" to deny you the benefits of Safeway's price accuracy guarantee, they probably are.

Your next choice could be to contact Safeway's corporate customer service (1-800-SAFEWAY). In my experience, the customer service person was supportive, seemingly acting as a customer advocate. But you'll be left to go back to the store where Safeway denied your rights. Not to say you won't get the amount you're due, but you may wind up dealing with the same manager who refused you in the first place.

Other possible approaches are to contact local government agencies. In California, most counties have an "Agricultural Commission" with a "Weights and Measures" department that would have jurisdiction.

summary

This is a lot of effort, the opportunities to get free product from Safeway are admittedly pretty limited. If enough people do this, it should break Safeway of its bad practices, but in the interim, there are some chanches to "rip them off".

The "Just For You" program has made things seriously more difficult for customers who want to control their costs. It doesn't seem a difficult concept that customers should be able to know how much something is going to cost them before it rings up at the checkout. It's worth the effort to hold Safeway to its obligation to make sure that customers have the pricing information they need to make their purchase decisions.

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Revision r1.2 - 01 Oct 2012 - 06:28 by EliMantel web search for EliMantel
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