Inspiration from Meghan

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Rotten Grapes and New Jeans


Fruit photo courtesy of:

Last Monday I was at my local farmer's market to pick up some fresh greens.  The arugula had been attacked by some bugs and was full of holes. They were offering it at a 50 cent discount and I didn't think twice about it. Had I bought that holey arugula at the store and saw the state of it once I returned home, I would have been annoyed that I hadn't noticed it, but I doubt I would have returned it.

Do you return bruised or rotten produce?

Riding my bike to the market to get my groceries means that bruised fruit is part and parcel of the mode of transportation I have chosen. I have, however, come home to find that half a head of cauliflower is kind of browned or I'll cut into an onion to find a whole half of it completely rotten but I have never returned produce.

This is why.

My mom used to shop at Pusateri's, a hotsy totsy, fancy shmanzy grocery store uptown, where people pay a premium for a pretty store and a policeman to hold up traffic while you enter and exit the parking lot. My mom had come home from a routine grocery shop and as she was unpacking, realized the grapes she had bought were rotten. She went back a few days later with the intention of exchanging them.

She did her shopping, filled her cart and when she was at the check-out, she explained about the rotten grapes. The cashier wouldn't do nothing about it and called over the store manager. The line grew behind my mom and the exchange would not be made. Furious at the poor service and the growing embarrassment that came from the store making a big stink about a few rotten grapes, my mom left the store- her grocery cart full in the checkout line, and never went back.

This was about ten years ago and since then and because of this poor service, the store has likely lost tens of thousands of dollars in business from my mother and now I have this thing about returning stuff... That is until my jeans ripped. They were essentially deteriorating and so I called Aritzia, the store where I bought them. I was very apologetic about the whole thing,  but as I could no longer wear them I wanted to know if I could contact the manufacturer to let them know their jeans fell apart and if there was anything they could do.

Without any hesitation, Aritzia offered me a brand new pair of jeans if I brought in my thread bare ones. They were incredibly helpful, gave me a whole bunch to try on and I left with a brand new pair of jeans and a $25 credit as my new jeans cost less than the pair I was returning. That is outstanding service and I didn't feel the least bit bad about making the return.

Why I am okay with returning clothes but not food is a mystery to me. Food is the tools with which I do my work. If I built houses and my hammer broke, I would surely take it back. Something about returning food is just challenging to me.

I am interested in your take on this issue. Thoughts? Comments? Experiences to share?

19 Responses to “Rotten Grapes and New Jeans”

  1. nikki said…
    I never have returned food. I don't know why. My husband worked at a Trader Joe's and he said people returned stuff all the time. I still can't bring myself to do it. My husband told me about this one elderly man who would come in to his store with a half eaten loaf of bread and would complain it was moldy. They'd exchange it for a new loaf. After some time, the cashiers and managers started to recognize him and they caught on that the man was just looking for a free loaf of bread every week. No more free bread for him.
  2. I have a hard time returning food, regardless of whether it's bad or because I accidentally bought the wrong thing, because I know it gets thrown out. Most stores can't even donate shelf stable items to food banks or shelters due to the possibility of contamination, or so I've been told by certain stores. When it comes to produce, I can normally make use out of some of it: bruised fruits & vegetables, mostly. There's not much you can do about wilted or pathetic looking greens/lettuces, sadly. I have the same issue about returning clothes, too. In fact, I had my mom return a sweater for me a few weeks because I washed it once and it was completely unraveling. I'm 23 years old and still can't bear to argue with a salesperson!
  3. I am now kind of tempted to go to my local store, dig through for something that is off, buy it and return it the next day just to see what their return policy is... I'll keep you posted! Thanks for all your great responses.
  4. I definitely return or tell the manager if I purchased rotten produce (sometimes it isn't convenient for me to get back to the store for a few days, and I really don't want to hang onto the rotten food!). What I do is before I start shopping, I talk to someone in produce and inevitably get the produce manager. They then usually let me get a replacement item and they usualy just say to tell the cashier that item is free per a damaged good; thus far no problems.
  5. Taryn said…
    Oh my! So this summer, I waved goodbye to my old corporate job and have been fortunate to work at a local business that offers my cute little northern town beautiful produce (most especially fruit). We offer a 100% guarantee on all of our produce (which thankfully is mostly organic, and for the first time there are also a few fair-trade items!). This isn't just guaranteed not to rot instantly, it is guaranteed to be delicious!! Each and every customer is reminded of this, and on top of that, we work on the honour system. Even if there is one slightly weird peach in a bunch, we'll not only replace it, but, we always over-compensate and give you extra. Sigh. Can you imagine how awesome it would be if you could walk into any grocery store and taste everything before you purchased it? I am sure you all can tell that I love my job about now. I think that it is especially important to return bad items, always. Produce, clothes (I dislike trying them on, go figure right? this has resulted in some ill-fitting items in the past), supplements, etc. I've got to say though, I dislike making life more difficult for others, returning items is certainly apart of that. So, especially with food served in a restaurant I always attempt to choke it down unless it is incredibly sketchy. Also, just one more thing to add to my novel sized comment. I actually have lower expectations for produce that I buy in the chain stores. There is no face, or voice behind this produce. All I have to go off of is the smell, touch and the looks of it. I have no idea how long it has been sitting there for, not to mention how long it's spent in transit, the workers surely have no idea. So I wouldn't readily return these kinds of items due to the fact that the store is basically (silently) promising me a shit product to start out with. I can only imagine that the cashier at Pusateri's had died a little inside. GAAAAASSSSP, our grapes? Rotten? How dare you!! Well I never... I fully support boycotting when faced with appalling customer service! All right, I'm done now. I swear.
  6. Christy said…
    I recently had my first experience with returning food. I bought some pita bread from the A&P (now Metro I guess). Two days later all the pitas except the one I had eaten had mold on them. I took them back to the customer service counter found a different brand and completed the exchange. I did have my receipt and the lovely cashier never even batted an eye at the request. In fact there were a number of other people lined up behind me also returning items. I shop at this store all the time and I feel even more confident now since I know returns are extremely painless.
  7. Barbara W said…
    I have definitely returned packaged items that were rotten, but I usually don't return produce. I usually eat a one of the grapes if I'm looking to buy some... but I only buy one or two of other items if I'm not sure about the quality. If the quality is good, I'll return to buy more. If not, well... it was a gamble that didn't pay off.
  8. Venus Doom said…
    I think the reason I do not return food produce (even though many times I have wanted to) is because I am not at the store every day. If I wait until I am next there again, then the food would have spoiled even more by then and I wouldnt look believable. I refuse to drive back to the store and waste my own gas and energy to take something back. But I do get cross about it.
  9. Jaclyn said…
    Aritzia is awesome about accepting jeans that have ripped or become unsewn and offering up a new pair on the spot. As someone who has had a few pairs of designer jeans rip in the crotch, I really appreciate this! Reason enough to shop there!

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