Why I Don’t Shop at Price Chopper

It all started with one little tweet.

Price Chopper sent me a tweet inviting me to a baking class.

Daniel B got the pot a stirring with his tweety thread which was filled with some entertaining theories as to why I don’t shop at one of our local grocery chains.

My reply and their following response was here. Basically, a thanks but no thanks since I don’t shop at Price Chopper stores (I don’t know what it is, but I hate not responding to direct invitations). Their response was along the lines of “Bummer, sorry about that! How can we do better?”

I feel like I owe you all more of an explanation on why I don’t shop at Price Chopper, since there was so much interest in the subject. It’s actually pretty simple.

I don’t shop at Price Chopper any more because of multiple poor experiences in-store, followed up by rude customer service responses. I know that sometimes retail folk can have their off days, and that’s when having a solid customer service team can really help repair a situation.
Unfortunately, every time I’d called/emailed/passenger pigeoned Price Chopper, the response from their customer service reps were always the same. Essentially a “Well, you did XYZ. It’s your fault it happened and we fully support the decisions/actions made by the store members.” kind of response. Somehow, it seems that taking customer complaints personally isn’t something new with Price Chopper.

I’d probably still be a Chopper Shopper if their initial customer service responses had been something along the lines of “We’re sorry about XYZ, please know that we value your business and will try to make your next experience better.” Maybe even a coupon if you really wanted to get crazy with things.
Cheap, cheap words to make a customer feel valued. Who cares if you don’t actually care with what the customer said? As long as you see in their records that they don’t call up eight times a week screaming that they were possessed by a succubus you put in your products, maybe your first steps should be a little bit of chillin on the hubris and trying to ameliorate any problems.

The first tweet response from Price Chopper I thought was quite nice. It was a tone I’d been hoping for as a response from previous calls to customer service.

Then I noticed another tweet that said they’d have someone else contact me to follow up. Did I want a follow up from customer service I’d previously been unhappy with? No, but I figured I could just ignore the email any way. I mean, I ignore all of the promos I get from Albany PR for Price Chopper.

It turns out, I almost tossed it in my junk mail, but I opened an email from incredibly generically-named sender Consumer Response, and titled CASE ID:263767. I was expecting the usual flattering prose from a lady or gent in Africa in need of transferring millions of dollars to the US with a princely reward, all for the simple request of my bank account number. Or maybe I’d won the Irish Lottery I never knew I entered. These folks are getting creative, I thought.

Instead I was surprised (and yet somehow, not surprised at all) to see a generically worded and addressed:

Dear Price Chopper Customer,

We are sorry that you have experienced a problem with customer service at Price Chopper. As we do not have record of you contacting us previously, please provide us with details regarding your concern, your name, and contact information, and we will certainly look into it.

You can reach our customer service team at 1-800-666-7667 (option 3), 8:30 am to 7:00 pm Monday through Friday, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm Saturday and Sunday, or on our website at

Wow. Really personal, hunh? Especially since I’m not a Price Chopper shopper. To be honest, this made me less likely to want to shop at Price Chopper again. Not only did they send me an email I never wanted in the first place, but it was an email with a chore. It was also a different tone than their lighter tweeting, way more Corporate Machine.

So here’s the thing – I appreciate that there is some kind of effort being made, but I’d have much preferred interacting with better-trained customer service reps right from the get-go.

  1. Mr. Dave said:

    I just don't get why customer service is so important to people, especially at a grocery store. Unless an employee smacks my wife or throws a potato at me or something, I am perfectly comfortable with a gruff attitude. Actually, I kind of prefer it to fake-store-nicey-ness.

    For example, when the Meat House in Stuy. Plaz. first opened I almost puked. What with all the niceness and can I help yous, bah.

    Unless they overcharged you and didn't refund or sold you rotten eggs and wouldn't exchange them, I don't really see any reason to be all bent out of shape.

    I think this urge for “friendliness” and “good customer service” is a uniquely modern, American, self-entitled kind of thing.

    Be as rude as you want to me (within reason), if you provide an excellent product or service than I am with you.

    I forgive Price Chopper a lot of faults as they are our indigenous Grocer and I have been going there forever (who remembers when the stone turtles where outside the Madison-Chops?), so take what I say with a grain of salt. I would say the prices and, perhaps, the meat/fish selection could use a little work before I would ding the customer service.

    That being said, they have always been pretty nice to me at the locations I frequent most often (Guilder-Chops and Slinger-Chops). When I used to live downtown I would go to the Delware and Elm Avenue-Chops. I didn't go in there expecting happy funshine out of the staff there due to the particularly eccentric nature of the cliental.

    Which Chopper did you go to and what was the nature of their offense, if I might ask?

    • You obviously wouldn’tB care if someone took a dump on your head. You’d probably enjoy it. Some of us have shopped at stores where common sense and politeness are appreciated. That would exclude the Price Chopper at 1706 Western Ave. Products are misspriced, the deli is one person serving a dozen people and the customers are rude to each other. You should shop there. You can waste your time waiting at the deli and you can be overcharged for stuff. A masochist like you would love it. I’d rather be treated with respect but to each his own.

  2. I don't shop there anymore, either, and for similar reasons. I can put up with quite a bit, but the rudeness and poor customer service, and then the attitude when I sent them a letter explaining the situation, made me decide that I would not be spending my money in their stores ever again – especially since I've never had a single problem at either Hannaford or Aldi (where I used to also shop, and now pretty much shop exclusively, with a few forays to other markets.) If they don't care enough to at least send me a civil and personalized response to a very serious issue I had in their store, then I will take my money elsewhere where they seem to value my business.

  3. My answer to why I don't shop there is simple: They cost more. They're consistently the most expensive grocery store we've got — sure, they offer a few good deals if you have their special card with you, but they more than balance it out by jacking up the prices on everything else. Why should I play their game and pay more when I can just go somewhere else?

  4. I'm not a fan of Price Chopper, but I've been shopping there because of proximity. When I was living in Albany, there was half a dozen Choppers for every one Hannaford, and even that place was far away.

    As for high prices, you can say that about any supermarket. It depends on what you buy, how you buy it, and the sales.

  5. B said:

    I think this urge for “friendliness” and “good customer service” is a uniquely modern, American, self-entitled kind of thing.

    This this this.

    The goal of a grocery store should be to provide you with food and sundries that you want. It's absolutely not in anyone's job description to also be cloyingly nice. I don't care if the cashier greets me and smiles as long as they don't fuck up the ringing up of my stuff. Why should they have to act like my friend when they're not? It's demeaning.

    I don't know what the specific offenses were, maybe they were serious. But Dave really hits a couple of nerves for me, some people just have ridiculous expectations.

  6. Valerae said:

    I wouldn't say that I'm looking for people to be overly nice to me at a store, but when I've gone to Chopper I always feel like my mere presence is an inconvenience to the employees. I've had cashiers who have THROWN my food to the other end of the conveyor belt or been so involved with conversations with other people they don't even pay attention to their task at hand. I've been to the store on a Saturday, probably the busiest day of the week, and the employees are stocking shelves and blocking the ailes. When it's time to get out of the store it almost always takes 10-15 minutes of time in line. I also agree that it's more expensive than Hannaford. For these reasons I stay away from Price Chopper.

  7. Chelle said:

    You should tweet this post to the Price Chopper twitter account.

    @Mr. Dave – You're self-entitled if you expect courtesy from a business you are patronizing? Now I've heard it all.

  8. Jenna said:

    I recently had a few back to back to back bad experiences there and also emailed customer service. I first rec'd a canned response and then another semi-canned response saying the store manager would call me (hello, 2 different stores) which, frankly, I didn't want. Now I have to talk to some guy or gal and explain AGAIN what happened? I didn't feel like playing that game and really, it doesn't matter what I felt like. No one ever called or emailed me again.

    The trip that clinched it for me; a tower of giant bottles of vegetable oil toppled over around me (I was about 3 feet away and no one had touched it) and ended up waiting around for about 20 minutes trying to get enough paper towels to swab myself (legs, handbag, hair, eyeglasses and shoes covered) just so I could walk out of there. I was obviously upset and the manager didn't seem phased in the least.

    I'm not looking for hugs and first name familiarity when I go into a store. But I would like attentive, polite service, both in the store and from their customer service dept.

  9. Kerosena said:

    Does anyone go to the Chopper on Western Ave and Johnston Rd? It's been my main Chopper for about a year and a half, and I love the service there. The selection isn't as great as Slingerlands, but it's pretty easy to get in and out. Staff has always been helpful when I ask for assistance (which admittedly isn't often), and when it gets busy on the weekends, management always seems to have all registers open.

  10. christine said:

    I'm a Price Chopper gal because the store is less than a quarter mile from my house so it's convenient. Also, my teenager works there part time- again, it's close enough for her to walk.

    Having said that, I am often times annoyed with the poor service… cashiers talking to each other as they work, kids who have no idea that bread and cans of tomotoes should not be bagged together, chewing gum loudly and once a cashier was texting while she waited on me. When I approach a cashier, I expect at the least a “hello”. I've had cashiers who never even look up at me, they just scan the groceries and take my money, sometimes not even telling me how much I owe and forcing me to look at the computer screen to figure it out for myself.

    So, Mr. Dave, while I agree that I don't need the help to take me out for coffee or shake my hand I think it's reasonable to expect regular common social skills from these people we encounter on at least a weekly basis.

  11. C said:

    This should not be an acceptable excuse, but I really think the custom service you receive really depends on what Price Chopper you are going to. I refuse to go to any of the ones within the city limits of Albany. Thankfully, the closest to my home is the one in Slingerlands. I've never had a horrible experience there where I've felt the need to bring it to the attention of a manager. I actually really enjoy the service from the one gentleman in the seafood department.

    Then again I don't have very high expectations for any of the grocery store chains in this area. I grew up with Wegman's and I know nothing compares to that store and their products and service.

  12. Haha, I got all of your dander up. You all sound like my wife who is the queen of getting indignant at “bad” customer service.

    We will all just have to agree to disagree.

    Nobody will ever convince me that getting all self-righteously butt-hurt over some teenage grocery bagger not devoting their rapt attention to you is something to be upset about.

    I am sure that as the center of your own universe you are all infinitely attractive and interesting and should be handled with kid gloves during any social interaction, but I just don't take my self that seriously. I guess the indignation reflex is (blessedly) absent in my persona.

    Say what you will about the Golubs. They started in Schenectady, they give scads of local teens their first jobs and the money (for the most part) stays in the area. Hannaford is a European conglomerate I believe. Anyhow, for me this is reason enough to shop there despite the perceived high cost. To tell you the truth, I don't really see that much of a difference among local grocers (except for Aldi and Save a Lot which are sort of different).

    Anyhow, commentators, mayhaps you should do some honest self analysis. How are you as a customer? Just because a business is set up to make a profit off of your patronage does not mean that you yourself do not have some societal responsibilities to be a polite and considerate human being.

    If you are haranguing some hapless, adolescent, produce clerk about the relative quality of the proffered Bibb lettuce and get a little lip, I chalk this up as justified and you should go stick your head in a lake.

  13. Sarah said:

    Do I like going into a store and being asked 'can I help you?' every five steps? no. I'm one of those shoppers who prefers to be *left alone* unless I aks for assistance. But, and here's the critical thing I think, I do expect that when I ask for help, when I'm at the register cashing out, when I'm at the customer service desk and it's finally my turn, I expect that I will have the attention of the clerk, that they won't be unreasonably distracted by non-work related things, and that they will be polite and courteous. I don't care if they smile or ask how I'm doing (although it is nice) so long as they're getting the things I need done.

    Customer service is something that can distinguish your business from the competition. Customers are more likely to go someplace that they feel is responsive to their needs in a situation where you have several options of relatively equal balance. That said, 'responsive to their needs' can mean different things to different people, which is why Albany Jane, Mr. Dave, and myself all appear to have own ideas of what's acceptable.

    Anyway, I tend to agree with Jane that pushing the problem back onto the customer is a crap way of dealing with things, and that ye olde PChop was in the wrong there. That's not how you retain customer loyalty.

  14. What Sarah #13 said. That whole first paragraph- totally agree.

    I'm the quiet sort and I have little need or desire to talk to anyone about anything while I am feeling up my melons in the produce aisle. But when I get on line and I am about to hand over my hard earned money a simple hello, a relaying of my total and not throwing the aforementioned melons down the conveyor belt go a long way towards customer loyalty in my eyes.

    And in the rare instance that I need special assistance and I approach an employee, I expect that employee to try to assist me to the best of their ability and to not be surly. Again, we do not need to exchange BFF necklaces but courtesy is expected.

    Also, I find it a little condescending to take the approach in an argument that we little women must surely be entitled whiners for expecting decent customer service.

    And lastly, I find the Meat House to be over the top as well and not what I seek in any customer service situation. I do not want to be walked to my car, that's just weird.

    A happy medium is all I ask.

  15. @sweetlytart

    I was not being gender specific with my (somewhat rude and condescending, I will give you that) commentary. I was being gender immaterial, I only mentioned my wife because she is the most familiar subject to me.

  16. jb said:

    Like most grocery shoppers, I basically just want to get my groceries and be on my way. I don't really mind if no one greeted me, or say hello. I do mind if they're dishonest or rude. Many years ago, at the Guilderland Chopper, I went to get some salmon. At that time, they had this commercial on tv that says, we cook your seafood for free. I asked the guy to fry it, inquired how long it'll take, did my round and went back to pick up my fish. Walking to my car, I checked the tag on the seafood. A full 1 dollar more/pound than the sign in the display case. I walked back in and asked the guy why the price/pound is different and at first, he just stared at me as if trying to decide what to answer, then just said that's the price per pound. When I pointed to the sign inside the glass case, he then said, bec he had to cook it. I told him they're supposed to be cooking it for free, as they said in the commercial and I'd also seen some ads in newspapers. He told me he cannot change the price bec it already went to the register so I had to line up at the customer service and wait for my turn. When I told the person at the counter what happened, he just shrugged his shoulders. I never bought another seafood there. Still, I gave PC a chance, and the needle that broke the camel's back is when the lady at the self-check-out counter got angry with me bec I do not know the code to a produce item. Heck, that's what she's there for. If they do not put a sticker on each produce, then they should expect shoppers to know the code. I took the produce, put it on her dais, left the store and never went back.

  17. MiMi said:

    Wow. Like Kerosena I shop at the small PC in guilderland and I've never had a problem. In fact I've had over the top great customer service in that store. Don't know where you guys are shopping.

  18. B said:

    I expect that […] they will be polite and courteous. I don't care if they smile or ask how I'm doing (although it is nice) so long as they're getting the things I need done.

    I guess I just have different life experiences and expectations. Some of the most effective people I know, the people who just get shit done, and do it well, are also some of the rudest, harshest people I know. But, and this is the important part, I expect them to get that shit done and they do, which is what matters. Polite and courteous? Sure, it's nice, but it's usually a) disingenuous and b) a time-waster. I don't go to the grocery store expecting to have my ego stroked, I go there expecting to get food, and as long as I leave with that food I'm generally happy.

  19. -S said:

    > I think this urge for “friendliness” and “good customer service”
    > is a uniquely modern, American, self-entitled kind of thing.

    So so true. When I moved to this country I was seriously taken aback the first time somebody bagged my groceries. I really didn't know what to do, I considered tipping the guy even. It was embarrassing that he would find me lazy enough that I couldn't bag my own goddamn grocery. 10 years later, I still try to bag my own or at least help out a bit.

    So yeah, customer service in a grocery story is pretty irrelevant to me. I think my rule of thumb is the less I would want to have this job, the less service I expect. I really don't care you are polite to me, I'm already grateful you are giving me turkey until 10pm.

  20. Anonymous said:

    Some of the most effective people I know, the people who just get shit done, and do it well, are also some of the rudest, harshest people I know. But, and this is the important part, I expect them to get that shit done and they do, which is what matters. Polite and courteous? Sure, it's nice, but it's usually a) disingenuous and b) a time-waster.

    Sometimes how you say something, how you behave can make a world of difference–and can actually make someone more effective. I think in some situations–say a customer with a legitimate complaint–could escalate into a nasty situation that consumes more time than if the situation was handled politely.

    I don't work in the food industry, but my job requires me to provide some “customer service” and I find that if I treat people respectfully and genuinely try to understand their complaint, I am able to handle the situation much more effectively than colleagues who lack patience in dealing with such complaints.

    I also think that gender plays a role–a female employee who is rude to a customer would likely be called a bitch and then potentially jeopardize their job.

    To comment on Price Chopper–I opt not to shop there–yes, they have some great sales–but non-sale items are just so overpriced (easily 30-40% higher than Hannaford)–why bother? I don't want to spend time going to a few different stores hunting for sale items–my time is valuable!

    Whenever some criticizes Price Chopper, there are always a few people who chime in and say it's great that they're local and they give back to the community–as if people shouldn't air any complaints about price, service, or the overall experience.

  21. Anonymous said:

    Shop-Rite is coming to the Capital District….Price Chopper beware.

  22. Kerosena said:

    “Some of the most effective people I know, the people who just get shit done, and do it well, are also some of the rudest, harshest people I know. But, and this is the important part, I expect them to get that shit done and they do, which is what matters. Polite and courteous? Sure, it's nice, but it's usually a) disingenuous and b) a time-waster.”

    How does being rude save time? How does it help a business or individual 'get shit done?'

    I'm just not clear on how it serves anyone, in any encounter, to be rude. In my line of work, I have been successful in achieving desired outcomes by treating others with respect. Please note that I don't equate “respect” with “ass-kissing.”

    So yeah. Price Chopper is fine with me. Outward hostility or disrespect, in the interest of saving time or otherwise, is not.

  23. Anonymous said:

    Dude, you sound like a bitch. They aren't missing your business, lololololololololololol.

  24. Anonymous said:

    i have no problem with PC customer service. i don't go there for CS.
    why i hate PC is their insulting our collective intelligence when they continually offer HALF-PRICE items, and BUY-ONE-GET-TWO-FREE items…at ridiculously inflated prices. (like when their 1 lb. butter is offered at HALF PRICE…@2.39).
    also…they promote double manufacturer coupons for any value UP TO 99 cents. those who clip and use coupons know that VERY FEW COUPON OFFERS are for less than $1. so PC pretends to offer me an 'advantage'…when in fact they (once again) are doing very little for me.
    finally…that BIG BROTHER advantage card deal. why would anyone want a local corporation to know what they buy? if i want to buy condoms and KY…i don't want my parents to know that, and i sure as hell don't want PC to have a clue about who i am, what i do, or what i choose to eat.

  25. rick said:

    i heard that they are going to change the name of the company to PRICE INFLATORS. i used to shop there, they are right down the road from my home and across from where i work. i just got so tired of being raped by their chopped (inflated) prices…that i could no longer stand the pain of shopping there.
    gotta spend a week’s salary to get cents off a gallon of gas.
    gotta put up with fake sales and promotions
    gotta look through pages of their weekly flyers hawking 10 for 10 items that are worth about 80 cents each.
    bye price chopper…i’ll take my $$ to your competition. at least sales at shoprite are actually sales.

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