Introduction

Golden Days

Kroger was a great company. We had more variety, fresher produce/meat, and better service than Walmart in about every way. We went out of our way for customers, even willing to lose money to keep them. Our customers were happy to pay a bit more for a great experience. Kroger's workers were very experienced (years to decades), highly diverse, had great benefits via our union, and often promoted from within. At least one executive started on the bottom himself. Some of us, like me, were heavily cross-trained as jack-of-all-trades they'd send to support or fix arbitrary departments or stores. The company highly praised all such people. Although always top-down and control freaks, the Corporate Office seemed like they just kept tight reins on a strict, highly-professional workforce that got results. That I know, only Publix was better with us otherwise on top.

Things Changed

(Note: I was in Oakland, TN when this happened. I don't know when. Dave Dillon was CEO and Tim Brown President at the time.)

Kroger started cutting staff big time: no stockers, cashiers, or baggers. To compete with Walmart better, they put almost the entire store on sale, too, instead of being selective. Slim margins make justifying costs, such as labor and equipment maintenance, harder. Plus, the cuts were arbitrary with seemingly no logic. The local Walmart in Oakland had more stockers and cashiers than us. We protested that we who charge more for a better experience needed enough workers to provide that experience. They told us to produce it out of thin air by outworking every competitor. We had to multitask, too, where our competition didn't.

The results were bad: shelves emptying, long lines, customers bagging their groceries, and phones that never got answered. We thought they'd reverse the cuts. Instead, they sent teams of 10+ people to do "process walks" seeing if we "followed the corporate processes." They had checklists with every rule, performance requirements, etc. Being control freaks, Kroger always had rules for almost every detail of the store. Now, top performers were marked failures in every area of the business due to no staff. Multiple failures led to our bosses getting threatened individually, bosses + department heads threatened at division-wide meetings, workers getting threatened on conference calls of many stores, and (being union) transfered around to "solve" the problem. They also kept increasing micro-management and requirements over time while reducing staff. Turnover began climbing. They got antagonistic where it's like they were graded on how many failures they wrote down.

Conclusion

That's the actual situation. Kroger has a high management/corporate-to-worker ratio, constant staff cuts of production workers, no ability to stock/checkout/pick/deliver at required performance on most days, and that problem worsens with a growing number of side jobs that they enforce with equal or greater priority. After years of complaints, I just stopped shopping at Kroger a few years ago. Aldi, Costco, and Piggly Wiggly are well-stocked in comparison at the time I write this. There's trade-offs to make. I don't know which do Pickup or at what quality. I'm just writing this so our customers know the truth. They deserve to be able to make decisions based on honest information.

Recommendations

1. Shop elsewhere if you can. Let them know why on the way out. That's because they've done this for years straight. Maybe enough lost sales will cause them to act like they have sense.

2. Put highly dissastified on every trip with [provably-]unnecessary out of stocks, waits in lines, or delays for Pickup orders. Mention in the comment that those are the specific reasons for highly-dissatisfied. Please compliment any local workers doing a good job, though. Keep it fair. Their bonuses are partly due to customer satisfaction. This might incentivize them to fix their issues.

3. Some call the corporate office with complaints asking for a discount, or credit. They usually get about $15. If you do it, please be firm and persistent, but not abusive. Remember that the call center people have nothing to do with it. Also, the credits themselves have been unreliable with some customers in Pickup telling us they didn't get their order on time or the credit they were promised. I have no further data on that. Just watch out for it.

4. Maybe do charge-backs if you're not too worried about future orders. It's one of best benefits of a credit card. I caution you to use that as a last resort with the worst sellers (e.g. Kroger).

5. Take action via Better Business Bureau, state agencies, or courts.

All I can offer for now. Other than praying for you all as I already do.