Publix, Are You Listening?

We are growing more and more dissatisfied with our nearest Publix Supermarket in recent months, weeks, and now more today. I’ll preface this complaint with our as yet undying loyalty to Publix since we were 16 with my wife even working as a cashier, front office, AND back office customer service for 4 years getting through college. That said, it becomes more clear how much it takes to tick us off about Publix.

Our particular location was pretty good to get to and from our house. That is until they opened the mall across the street and it quadrupled the traffic and eliminated the U-turn we used to get home quickly with our cold food. Since then, we find ourselves avoiding certain times of the day and days of the week because of the mall situation.

More recently I have noticed that the pharmacy manager is a complete waste of customer service primordial goo. I have seen him sitting there doing nothing, pushing papers around the counter 3 feet from a customer and never acknowledging their presence, and this week he took a very long call and mumbled something to the cashier who had to turn away from me to ask what the mumbling was about. The worst part about his entire demeanor is that the customers are not important enough to receive a nod, wave, or a “we’ll be right with you” after standing at the counter for 3, 5, even 10 minutes. There are two checkout computers, but they only use one because he won’t help “the women,” as that attitude seems clear to me.

Today the whole experience took the cake and riled my wife up to the point that we are planning our next trip and our responses to insane questions and possible policies. I will be speaking to the store manager this week if I manage to make a special trip in. Here’s the skinny on today:

  • We are planning on using our vending machine bills and coins to pay for everyday items, such as supplies, bathroom products, and our groceries. We rolled up the change into 3 $10 quarter rolls, 1 $5 dime roll, and had about $26 in bills as valid U.S. cash tender. Cold hard cash.
  • My first stop was to the customer service desk to receive cash for my rolls. She said that they don’t do that and that coins go in the coin counter, which takes 8% of your deposit as a “service” fee.
  • I knew that was bull honkey, so we waiting until checkout to just pay with our legal tender.
  • The girl held them like they were a cordless phone that had her mom on hold with the police, over her shoulder and all.
  • She got the bagger to go get some bills for those rolls: and out popped the same girl that told me to use the coin machine and repeated her suggestion to me again. I said, “I ain’t payin’ an 8% fee for that to count coins that we already counted and rolled. This is cash and you have to take it as currency. We didn’t just plop down a bag of loose change and were being quite civil about our civil rights toward our money.
  • Just as the customer service manager was headed over to see what the stink was, our first cashier asked us, “is this the only money you can use to pay us today?” For the moment we said, “no, but that is the method we are going to use because that is legal tender in the United States and we are not going to be charged for any kind of processing of these rolls. The processing has already been done.
  • The manager told us it would be best to come to the service desk to get cash back. Yeah – right. She apologized for the situation, almost as if the other person was wrong or because she was doing the Publix manager thing: overrule the office staff to keep the customer happy. My wife saw it happen oft-times daily.

As we walked out, drove home, walked upstairs to change for the pool, while at the pool, and after dinner, we were really ready for round 2. Here are just a few of the retorts at our disposal:

  • These $77 are buying all of our groceries, but it’s so minute, we don’t track this money coming into our budget. It’s just change– $77 in change.
  • “Is this the only way you can pay today?” No, my debit card is only for situations when I don’t just have spare, loose money laying around to pay for our everyday needs. You see this? It’s $35 in coins. Coins! More than your shift will pay you this afternoon. This is how we want to pay for this stuff.
  • “Will you take $2 in loose change to pay for cereal? Will you take $5 in rolled change for batteries? What is the limit where we have to stop buying with change? We can purchase these as separate orders of $2-$5 if you’d like, because this is cash.
  • “Is this the only was you can pay today?” – “How many hours do you work per week? Yeah, I thought so – we have more saved up than you’ll earn this year at your pace. We can pay, and this is how we’ll do it.”
  • You know, I am good for over $2,000/mo at the pharmacy and $400/mo in food, so if you’d like to push me away to the waiting arms of Walgreens pharmacy and the soon-to-open Sweetbay 2 minutes from our house then keep this crap up.

What we’d like to know is whether this was a new Publix policy or just a stupid front office girl. If they are worried about tricks, you can take a roll out of the register that came from the bank and weigh it against ours in 2 seconds – like my wife used to. Open them and dump them into your register for all I care. Be sure they’re really what is marked. Don’t care! It’s called cash, and I’m pretty sure we don’t have a problem jamming up the cash registers for 5 minutes every week with this stupid policy until Sweetbay opens.

  • http://richardkrenz.com Richard Krenz

    Hello valued customer!
    I’m unaware of the particular Publix you frequent, or what area it is in. However, I do know that the Customer Service Staff you encountered must have not been properly trained, or the store you go tot set it’s own policy for rolled coins. There is no set corporate policy for rolled change accepted at the register, though it is typical for us to do exactly what you said and weigh the offered coins against those given to us by the bank, as Publix reserves the right to verify all forms of tender. This usually isn’t possible at the regular registers because they don’t carry extra rolls of coins in their till. Approaching the Customer Service counter, like you originally did, is the best course of action. I apologize on behalf of Publix as a whole, and hope you don’t come up against any more issue with your chosen form of payment.

    Thanks for your time,
    Richard Krenz
    Customer Service Staff

  • http://richardkrenz.com Richard Krenz

    Hello valued customer!
    I’m unaware of the particular Publix you frequent, or what area it is in. However, I do know that the Customer Service Staff you encountered must have not been properly trained, or the store you go tot set it’s own policy for rolled coins. There is no set corporate policy for rolled change accepted at the register, though it is typical for us to do exactly what you said and weigh the offered coins against those given to us by the bank, as Publix reserves the right to verify all forms of tender. This usually isn’t possible at the regular registers because they don’t carry extra rolls of coins in their till. Approaching the Customer Service counter, like you originally did, is the best course of action. I apologize on behalf of Publix as a whole, and hope you don’t come up against any more issue with your chosen form of payment.

    Thanks for your time,
    Richard Krenz
    Customer Service Staff

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

    Thank you for your reply, Richard. My dad did point out to me later the difference between the requirement for accepting legal tender at banks and by merchants, but since my wife had worked behind the register, front counter, and back office for 4 years, we were familiar with the policies as of 2 years ago.

    I really appreciate you clearing that up so we don’t feel as bad if we go in with $20 in quarters again, though I suspect we will be using the bank for deposits as large as we had this week. 😀

  • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

    Thank you for your reply, Richard. My dad did point out to me later the difference between the requirement for accepting legal tender at banks and by merchants, but since my wife had worked behind the register, front counter, and back office for 4 years, we were familiar with the policies as of 2 years ago.

    I really appreciate you clearing that up so we don’t feel as bad if we go in with $20 in quarters again, though I suspect we will be using the bank for deposits as large as we had this week. 😀

  • Brankica

    Just happened to stumble upon this rant by accident… I’m office staff at a Publix in Tampa and every time I am approached by a customer with rolled coins, I politely weigh them against the bank rolled coins and if they match, I give them the money. I have had instances where people did not count their change right and I have had to take it out and recount it, which is a tad annoying, so make sure there is $10.00 exactly and not $9.75, or $10.25. Also, there is one customer who brings in her change unrolled and doesn’t separate her dimes from her nickles, etc. and still asks for the money. That can be extremely annoying (especially when the front office line is really long) but she is mentally handicapped and seems to not have a lot of money, so I make an exception in that case. So, I think that this Publix that you go to has a different perspective on rolled coins, but I think if they were looking out for the best interest of the customer they would have taken your rolled coins the first time. 🙂

    We don’t all suck,
    Brankica

    • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

      Hi Brankica! Thanks for writing. Yes, my wife confirmed that weighing them is what she always did at the counter, but what used to get her mad is that before the coin machines, they had to take loose change. People would bring in a jar or sack of coins and they HAD to count them. So what got me pissed is that we rolled them and they were being treated as loose change is now: “go to the change machine.” We’ve since decided to pick our battles and go to the bank for the coins and I’ll concentrate on getting our pharmacy manager the attention he deserves. I’m sure the people under him will appreciate it, as I’ve been told by the temporary helpers from other stores who come in after people leave.

      I’m sure you have some annoying lottery people too. Too bad that’s not automated. 😀

  • Brankica

    Just happened to stumble upon this rant by accident… I’m office staff at a Publix in Tampa and every time I am approached by a customer with rolled coins, I politely weigh them against the bank rolled coins and if they match, I give them the money. I have had instances where people did not count their change right and I have had to take it out and recount it, which is a tad annoying, so make sure there is $10.00 exactly and not $9.75, or $10.25. Also, there is one customer who brings in her change unrolled and doesn’t separate her dimes from her nickles, etc. and still asks for the money. That can be extremely annoying (especially when the front office line is really long) but she is mentally handicapped and seems to not have a lot of money, so I make an exception in that case. So, I think that this Publix that you go to has a different perspective on rolled coins, but I think if they were looking out for the best interest of the customer they would have taken your rolled coins the first time. 🙂

    We don’t all suck,
    Brankica

    • http://www.perfectlypetersen.com Jesse Petersen

      Hi Brankica! Thanks for writing. Yes, my wife confirmed that weighing them is what she always did at the counter, but what used to get her mad is that before the coin machines, they had to take loose change. People would bring in a jar or sack of coins and they HAD to count them. So what got me pissed is that we rolled them and they were being treated as loose change is now: “go to the change machine.” We’ve since decided to pick our battles and go to the bank for the coins and I’ll concentrate on getting our pharmacy manager the attention he deserves. I’m sure the people under him will appreciate it, as I’ve been told by the temporary helpers from other stores who come in after people leave.

      I’m sure you have some annoying lottery people too. Too bad that’s not automated. 😀