Tuesday, July 5, 2011

But We Keep All Our Shopping Carts!

I visited the Ross Dress for Less Store in Santa Cruz, CA on Saturday, to assist my sister-in-law with her shopping. I hadn't been to a Ross store in years. Moreover, I normally don't like to shop, and aim to get in and out of stores as quickly as possible. The latter two points are both especially relevant given the experience I relate here.

We grabbed two shopping carts and proceeded to complete our shopping. While paying for our purchases we were informed that the shopping carts could not be removed from the store (they had long poles affixed to them), so we'd have to remove our packages from the carts and carry them to our car.

I'm usually very willing (and able) to carry packages to my car, but this policy struck me as ill-conceived and short-sighted. What about packages that were too heavy or awkward for the customer to carry? Or if it was raining? How would people with disabilities manage? These scenarios, among others, raced through my head, along with the prospect of people in these circumstances having to move their cars to in front of the store to load their packages (and the scene that might ensue).

The sales attendant at the receiving end of my curiosity/irritation about this shopping cart policy could only respond, somewhat curtly: "Well, we're the only one (retailer) around here that keeps all our shopping carts!"

I don't care if Ross keeps its shopping carts or not, much less whether this "success" resulted in some supposed competitive advantage among local retailers. That's their business (and no doubt a bottom-line concern), not mine. My goal is to have a quick, efficient, and pleasant shopping experience, which includes the ability to transport my purchases from the store to my car as effortlessly as possible.

I'm no expert on shopping carts; that said, other options exist that protect retailers' property from theft and accommodate the need for consumers to use them in the immediate vicinity of the store. It's too bad Ross neglected to consider these options, instead putting shopping carts before people--and, at least in my case, losing a future (albeit sporadic) customer.

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