(Photo : Creative Commons/Erik Derr)
Food buyer beware, because not all supermarkets are the same --- and even when the evidence suggests a store has significant problems, customers may not see improvements for a while, or ever.
That's the lesson of some West Coast shoppers have learned, nearly a year after a survey by consumer advocate Consumer Reports named 12 supermarket chains that shoppers say are downright nasty.
According to the findings, the nationwide Walmart Supercenters placed in the two worst shopping experiences, eclipsed only by the East Coast-only Pathmark chain.
The Consumer Reports poll received 24,203 responses from consumers who graded supermarkets from 52 grocery store chains in four categories: service (including employee courtesy and checkout speed), perishables (quality of food), price and cleanliness. Study participants were asked to pick one of five responses for each question --- "very satisfied," "fairly satisfied," "neutral, "fairly unsatisfied" and "very unsatisfied."
Based on the feedback, supermarkets were assigned a score from 1, the worst possible, to the best possible, 100.
The study results suggested one-stop megastores were in the sights of consumers. From several on-the-spot interviews Latinos Post conducted today with Walmart shoppers throughout California, the chain's megastores haven't shown a lot of improvement.
"Walmart Supercenters are some of the worst --- and the management knew about it," asked construction worker Tomas Leyva from El Monte, Calif. "Maybe it takes a little while for improvements to trickle down from the top, but I haven't seen anything change. They still got great prices, better than the local grocery stores, but customer service is slow and the shelves are oftentimes a mess."
Customer service is so bad at the Supercenter he patronizes in Rosemead, Kwon Du, an accountant from Alhambra, said he doesn't "even bother to ask the associates who work here any information about anything, because most if not all the time, they won't know. It's frustrating"
Eugene Lawrence, an engineer from Los Angeles, said the customer service at Ralph's, one of the other markets that made the list, is so unpredictable, he never knows if the staff will even smile at him if he tries to greet them. "I'm pretty sure they either weren't told about the '12 Worst' list or simply ignored what it had to say, because I don't see any improvements, generally."
Reports say King Kullen Grocery Company on New York's Long Island was the very first supermarket in the early 1930s to offer a one-stop grocery shopping experience for groceries. Walmart is currently the largest grocery in the country, with 22 percent of American food sales in 2010. Kroger, Costco and Safeway follow.
Here's the Consumer Reports list of America's 12 worst supermarkets in 2012 (will that change in 2013?):
12. Stop & Shop
Location: NY, NJ, MA, RI, CT, PA
Year Founded: 1914 as Shopmate, re-named Stop & Shop in 1947
Location: PA, NJ, DE, MD
Year Founded: 1891
Location: Southern CA
Year Founded: 1873
9. Pick 'n Save
Year Founded: 1872
8. Food Lion
Location: Mid and South Atlantic regions
Year Founded: 1957
7. Weis Markets
Location: PA, NJ, WV, MD and NY
6. Tops Markets
Location: NY and PA
Year Founded: 1962
Location: IL, IA, IN
Year Founded: 1899
4. A & P
Location: CT, DE, MD, NJ, NY, PA
Year Founded: 1859
Location: ME, MA, NH, RI and VT
Year Founded: 1860
2. Walmart Supercenter
Year Founded:Walmart in 1962/Supercenters in 1988
With 3,000throughout the United States, Walmart Supercenters stock everything from dairy foods to home ware. The giant stores received scorching reviews for service, food quality and cleanliness. Furthermore, at 32 percent, Walmart Supercenters had the highest percentage of shoppers who said they suffered three or more problems. Nonetheless, many of the same customers how found so much fault with Superstores said they were "highly satisfied" with the store's prices.
Location: DE, NJ, NY, PA
Year Founded: 1968/purchased by A&P in 2007
A subsidiary of A&P, Pathmark received "highly dissatisfied" reviews for its service, "mediocre" reviews on food quality and price, and "poor" responses for its level of cleanliness. About 75 percent of respondents complained about one or more aspects of the store while 31 percent named three or more problems areas.