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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Safeway's New Just For U Savings Program May Not Be 4 Me

If you shop at Safeway, you can't help but have noticed the big gimmick push for the roll-out of their new Just For U Saving's Program.  They're pushing it hard.  They have tables set up to sign you up, and clerks walking around the stores and check out lines with laptops signing people up and I found out via email.  So I signed up to see what all the fuss was about.

I've never been a fan of "club cards".  That's a gimmick that just doesn't need to happen.  Just give me lower prices please...pretty please?  I don't feel special because I belong to your "club".  It's an extra layer of information sharing, and fall-DE-rall that I've never been showing the love to.  So when this program came out, I was groaning just a little louder.

I'm all for savings, so I bit.  Visit the website to get all of the information about the program and you can sign up online if you're interested.  I'll give you the basic overview as I understand it, and my limited experience with it so far.

If you shop at Safeway, chances are there are one or more paper ads in your newspaper each week to check for specials with your "club card".  With this new program, there are three types of savings that you can glean at the same time.  First you sign up (it's easy).  Next you can scan the "Coupons" link.  When you find something you like or would like to use, you click "add" and that savings is added to your "club card' and to your online "savings list".  Next you can check the "Personalized Deals" which are said to be "savings you won't find anywhere else".  Click "Add" for any of those items that interest you.  Then you peruse a list of "Your Club Specials" which are said to be items that your purchase history shows you purchase on a regular basis that are also on sale.  Click "Add" for any of those items.  Then you can print your "Saving's List" and take it to the store with you or keep it for reference as you compose your grocery list.

In theory, I like the idea of having some items personalized so that I can get discounts on things I purchase regularly.  So often, sales in the paper or the club prices are on items I rarely purchase.  This part of the deal appealed to me.  However, I would prefer one link for all items.

I have trouble remember to grab my reusable grocery totes, my list, and any other coupons I might have, along with any plastic bags I wish to recycle.  I always create a menu and a shopping list each week, and the first week of this program, I simply forgot to go online to check for my additional deals.  Remember to put that in my routine is gonna be tough.

I was also told (FYI and after the fact) that there can be up to a 15 minute delay between when you make your choices and when they are loaded onto your "club card".  Usually, that won't be an issue by the time you leave your house, make your choices, stand in line and check out...typically, that will ALWAYS take longer than 15 minutes.

I made my menues, list, savings choices and printed my savings list the night before I went to the store this week.  I then made my regular shopping trip and did end up buying a few more of my regular items than I needed because of the savings list (which I'm sure is what they're hoping for).  The savings, overall, are rather small.

When I got home, I put all of my groceries away, and then sat down with my glasses on to compare my receipt to my printed savings list.  There were 5 items that were not discounted at the register, totally about $3.71 cents in savings I did not receive.  I was miffed.  It's extra work to get the savings in the first place (like I said, I would far prefer just having store-wide sales that require no club cards or special action on my part).  I decided to go back to the store and ask a customer service representative about it.  I'm also taking into account that the gas it costs me and the time spent in line twice on a busy weekend sort of nixes my "savings".

The customer service rep was very kind, had no idea why it hadn't given me the discounts, and really had no idea what to do about it.  So he figured up the savings lost, and gave me a cash refund.  Good, see how this just isn't working for me, can't you?  I'm not willing to go over my receipt and savings list with a fine tooth comb every week.  There needs to be a certain level of assumed trust that items will be rung up correctly.  At this point I'm undecided if I will continue bothering with this "Amazing" savings program.  What I will encourage you to do, is to go over YOUR receipt (after being sure you printed your savings list).  If you are using a phone ap, I'm not sure how you compare and contrast your list with your receipt.

I've been a tad disillusioned with my local Safeway lately anyway.  So this wasn't helping.

  • Seems every week, one or more products that I regularly buy have been discontinued, never to be seen again.

  • I don't think their prices are very good overall.

  • Recently, they eliminated the receptacle for recycling plastic shopping bags at the entrance I always use.  Now the only receptacle is on the other end of the store.  I asked about it, and was simply told that there was only one now.  Not a very satisfactory answer.  Why can't there be two?  The last time I was in the store, entering in my usual door, I carefully set my plastic bags to be recycled (which I always tie in a knot so they aren't so fly-away), on the floor where the old recycle receptacle used to be.  I thought that might give them a hint to return it.  What did I happen to see?  The store MANAGER, walked over to those bags (obviously looking like plastic bags to be recycled), and he threw them in the GARBAGE!  See?  Not even HE wanted to walk clear to the other entrance to the only receptacle.  Way to recycle, Dude!
  • I get very Scrooge-like about the constant barrage of fund-raising at the entrances and at the check out ("Would you like to add $1 for breast cancer, prostate cancer, Muscular Dystrophy, special Olympics.... ?"  I have a slow to adapt temperament, and I'm an introvert.  I want to be left alone when I shop, and I want to decide when and how to make donations in my own time and space.

I had been doing all of my grocery shopping at Wal-Mart (hey, don't judge me).  When they started reducing and eliminating their selection of natural and organic products, I switched to Safeway (and a much increased cost).  Now it's happening there too.  My only other real alternative is go shop at the health food store with even greater prices and far reduced selection.  I really do like one-stop shopping.

To their credit, Safeway has some very friendly employees who are always quick to help with whatever you need.  They're good people.  I think there are some problems on the corporate level that the workers and store managers don't have a lot of say in.  They've gotten a little too big for their britches and are losing sight of the individual customer.

I wrote to the store manager with my above concerns, and I wrote to corporate with the same concerns.  I've done that before, several times with Safeway.  The most that's ever happened is a few coupons were mailed to me.

I know this wasn't a very positive post.  I'm not sure how to make a concern/complaint post with a positive spin.

How 'bout this:  I'm grateful that I have food.  I'm grateful that there are stores with such abundance and I feel a bit snobby for even complaining when the variety dwindles.  Overall, we have amazing choices.  I'm grateful that at least for now, I can afford food, in a wide variety (or at all).

I'm having trouble feeling grateful for the Just for U savings program at Safeway.  It could just be that it is Just Not 4 Me.

Weigh in on how this new program works for you, and if your receipts consistently match your savings list.  If enough people are loving it, I might give it another chance.


  1. I did pick up a few things yesterday (after my stint at being one of those annoying people at the entrance asking for donations, LOL). I did check my reciept and got the savings I signed up for, but I agree, the savings are minimal.

    I also use Walmart for most food purchases, but I like a lot of the Safeway select dinners (cuz you know this gal don't cook) and like their produce better, and I do take advantage of Club deals when they are of something I usually buy anyway. But I have so far been underwhelmed by the Just for U program. Crossing my fingers they take note of complaints and improve it.

  2. Oh so glad to hear that JK! Keep me posted. I'll keep trying it but will keep a very close eye on it. I'm not sure the savings match up to the extra work (and certainly not if I have to return to the store to correct errors).

    My mother in law commented that she felt sort of compelled to buy more of the sale stuff she uses, or buy it even it she wasn't out of it. That is probably what they count on, and I feel into that trap too. So I will be more discerning next week, and buy it ONLY if it is on my list to buy, OR only if the price is so good it's worth stocking up.

  3. Yeah, I left the store without most of what was on my list because I didn't need it yet, and the coupon is good for a little longer. While this may sound like I have lots of self control, it was really a matter of I only needed a few items and I wanted them to fit in the one bag I brought.

  4. I so can't afford to shop at Safeway right now, but one of my LEAST favorite things is when they say, "Would you like to donate $1 for breast cancer?". Really? No. No, I would not like to donate any money to any disease. Please ask me appropriately (breast cancer RESEARCH) Shoes, who also shares my annoyance with junk language, continues to deadpan to the clerks, "Yes. I would love for more people to get breast cancer. Can I donate more?" (Morbid, yes.)

  5. I think I would like this "Shoes" fellow. Any chance I'll get to meet him one day?

    Yeah, I hear you on the price of food!

    I admit with sheepishness that being barraged for donations bothers me more than junk language...which I'm sure I'm guilty of without knowing it.