Wednesday, October 26, 2011

At the grocery store today


While rushing to check out at our local Coop grocery store this morning, I found myself in line behind a woman arguing for a refund in broken French. I slowly emptied my cart of its contents--amazingly fresh organic vegetables and fruits--onto the conveyor belt and listened.

The woman explained in broken French that she had purchased six yogurts, and six yogurts only, and she felt she should be paid out SFR 80. The checkout girl, who was obviously Swiss German speaking,  nodded her head, filled out a yellow slip, and answered the woman in even worse French.

One thing was for sure. This discussion was not going to end soon, and as I glanced at my watch, I realized I would be late for my appointment. So, I placed my produce back into the cart and stomped over to the next lane, uttering complaints under my breath. When I spotted a neighbor in line, I said something about continuing to shop at competing grocery store Migros, which has a customer service desk. While unloading my cart yet again, I peered over to the next lane and felt smug. The two women were still talking.

It's true. Migros has a "Kundendienst" or a customer service desk that deals with complicated matters such as refunds. This avoids customers having to wait in line too long. These desks also sell taxed garbage bags, household appliances, printer cartridges and electronics. Coop also has a similar desk, but it is a high-volume sales kiosk, selling alcohol and cigarettes. I heard from a friend that Migros won't sell alcohol and cigarettes in its stores for ethical reasons.

Competing grocery stores Coop and Migros account for about 70 percent of the market share for food and drinks in Switzerland. A little online research showed that Migros had better customer service, but Coop had better produce, especially organic selections. So there we have it... exactly my experience today.

2 comments:

  1. I'm a Coop fan myself, but I have to admit the customer service leaves something to be desired... can't say I haven't been yelled at a time or two in Swiss German and had no idea what I'd done wrong!! Oh well, the produce is better :)

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  2. Thanks for your comment. I've been yelled at for doing the wrong thing: i.e. not having my dog on a leash, getting rid of recycling on a Sunday, mowing my lawn on a Sunday... The Swiss find nothing wrong with policing each other.

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