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Supermarkets Putting on the Touch


dcs
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Does it annoy anyone else that Whole Foods and Safeway ask you to contribute to their favorite charity du jour at checkout (I generally use self-checkout at Giant so I do not know if they have this practice as well)? I have nothing against the charities, per se, but I am unaware of any other type of retail establishment that strong-arms its customers in this fashion. I know they are not forcing you to contribute, but I think they set up the pitch in a way to try and make you look like a miserable cheap fark to the rest of the people in line if you do not give. I wonder how much they are giving to these causes.

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Does it annoy anyone else that Whole Foods and Safeway ask you to contribute to their favorite charity du jour at checkout (I generally use self-checkout at Giant so I do not know if they have this practice as well)? I have nothing against the charities, per se, but I am unaware of any other type of retail establishment that strong-arms its customers in this fashion. I know they are not forcing you to contribute, but I think they set up the pitch in a way to try and make you look like a miserable cheap fark to the rest of the people in line if you do not give. I wonder how much they are giving to these causes.

Giant has done stuff like this in the past, but I always use self-checkout now too.

It annoys me a little but not as much as some other things I encounter while grocery shopping. I always say "Not today." I don't really care what other people in line think, but saying that seems to resolve the matter pretty quickly.

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It does annoy me and I've always just said no. I don't know anything about the charities they support and it bothers me that the whole implication is that I should just trust WFM's supposedly good intentions. On the other hand, when I go to Petsmart I usually do give a few bucks when they ask if I want to donate to animal shelters. So maybe it's just a matter of preference.

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My 2 cents:

1. I've always wondered if Giant/Safeway etc get a tax credit. Certainly a 39 cent donation won't be itemized in the shopper's next tax submission - so does Giant get that? They certainly take the PR credit...

2. I usually say "I'm glad you asked - my beautiful 4th grade daughter has a chronic disease that is likely to someday cause her death. I'm super excited about giving to other charities, including Giant's chosen charity, once my daughter is cured. Would Giant have any interest in supporting my quest, even just to round up to the next dollar?" OK, maybe in not so many words....

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To be constructive:

Giant/Petsmart et al should instead have little "charity" kiosks throughout the store. The kiosk or even little machine would allow you to push a button for any of the following:

- a "round up" donation

- a $1 donation

- a $5 donation

etc.

Then the machine would print out a barcode you'd take to the register. Scanning that code would make the donation happen. The machines could be as small as the little coupon machines that hang from the product shelves.

Yes, I get that the 'hit rate' wouldn't be anywhere near what it would be at the register. And on the whole, I bet Giant customers actually like the register thing, because for a painless $.50 or so, they leave the store feeling good about the donation.

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We used to do this during holiday season when I worked at Williams-Sonoma (for St. Jude Children's Hospital). People were surprisingly generous.

To be constructive:

Giant/Petsmart et al should instead have little "charity" kiosks throughout the store. The kiosk or even little machine would allow you to push a button for any of the following:

- a "round up" donation

- a $1 donation

- a $5 donation

etc.

Then the machine would print out a barcode you'd take to the register. Scanning that code would make the donation happen. The machines could be as small as the little coupon machines that hang from the product shelves.

Yes, I get that the 'hit rate' wouldn't be anywhere near what it would be at the register. And on the whole, I bet Giant customers actually like the register thing, because for a painless $.50 or so, they leave the store feeling good about the donation.

This is a cool idea. PetsMart does a similar thing on the credit card swipe pinpad -- gives you the option to donate $1, $2, or $5 (or maybe more) to a local shelter. No one knows, the cashier doesn't have to ask, and you can do or not do as you see fit (and are financially inclined).

Our local Harris Teeter has options to give to the local schools, but they don't push it -- if you see the donation coupon, great, and if not, no one's the wiser.

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The ones that bug me are when they ask you to purchase food to donate -- at their full retail price. Glad they'll still make their profit off my donation. I have seen similar setups where the store "matches" your donation out of their profit, but they don't say how much that will be.

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I don't have a problem with it, and usually give a little something. Makes me feel good, I don't go looking for charities so if one pops up that looks interesting, that's nice. I am always so busy and self-absorbed that giving is not first and foremost in my mind.

I also appreciate the fact that WF allows me to donate old cell phones and old eyeglasses and recycle plastic bags and the funny numbered plastic yogurt containers nobody else will take.

Safeway, Giant and the other main stream grocery stores collect food donations for food banks.

Pet stores collect for homeless pets.

Yes, maybe, it's feel-good, do-good, but to quote Elvis, "what's so funny about peace, love and understanding?"

And if you gave already in the way you prefer to give, you can just say no thanks. I doubt anybody is judging you.

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Come to think of it:

One time in a Weis I was checking out and the PIN pad gave me an option to donate. I was in a stressful situation that day and wasn't paying close attention. I just clicked a few things, misunderstanding what I was doing - and matched my ENTIRE grocery purchase as a donation to charity X. My bill was only $35 to make $70 total - not a huge amount, but donations like that weren't typical for the store. The clerk pointed this out - "are you sure you want to do that?" (no, transaction voided, etc...) Then she mentioned - "Yeah, because that would have put me way over my quota."

wha??

I confirmed in discussion that the clerks are measured on the donations they 'sell'. I didn't dive deep into the reprocussions of not meeting quota - but it was still dished out to them as "quota."

I shook my head and loaded the steam cleaner into the car, hoping I could get the 1/2 gallon of used cooking oil out of the carpet before the house went on the market that weekend :(

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