Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Management Ethics

Ian Kirk
PO Box 2775
Olympic Valley, CA 96146
January 9, 2013
Customer Service Center
Safeway Inc. - M/S 10501
P.O. Box 29093
Phoenix, AZ 85038-9093
Dear Customer Service Center:
Although I find it an unpleasant task, I feel that I must bring to your attention a problem I am had with your manager, Russell at The Tahoe City CA location.
Being new to Tahoe City I have enjoyed shopping at the local Safeway for all my grocery needs.  On my visit on January 9, 2013 I asked a teller if Safeway cashed pay checks from the ski resorts, because I was new to town and didn’t have a local bank where I could make the deposit, and she didn’t know so she told me to ask Russell the manager.
Russell directed me over to another counter and asked for my check and if I had ever cashed a check at Safeway before, I reply, “No I have never cashed a paycheck at Safeway before.”  He told me to type my social security number into the ATM/Credit Card Scanner machine at the counter.  For some reason we had to redo the process again because something didn’t go through, and Russell again asked me if I had ever cashed a check at Safeway before where I responded, “No I have never cashed a Paycheck at Safeway before.”  After retyping my social security number into the ATM/Credit Card Scanner it endorsed the back of my paycheck.  Russell then told me to sign the back of it over what the machine had printed on the back of the check.  I asked him for a pen and he went and got one from the produce stocker because he didn’t have one on him or at that counter.  Upon looking at what was printed on the back a fee of over $10 was going to be taken out of my check for cashing it at Safeway.  I calmly ask Russell if this was correct and he informed me that yes it was a check cashing fee.  I asked Russell why he didn’t tell me that there was going to be a fee involved and he said, “I do so many of these I just figured you knew that there was going to be a fee involved.”  I responded by saying, “I told you I had never cashed a check at Safeway before three times.  Do you think it is fair that you charge me a fee without disclosing it to me first?  Russell responded with a demeaning tone, “ I don’t know where you can cash a check without  a bank account without paying a fee.”  I calmly responded by informing him that I could have taken it to the Casino’s or to Bank of the West and they don’t charge a fee to cash a check and now that you have endorsed the back of the check without disclosing that there was going to be a fee I can take it to either of those places to cash it now.  To which he turn to his coworker Kelly and told her that I was requesting that the fee be waive since it was not disclosed to me by neither him nor the ATM/Credit Card Machine I typed my Social Security Card number into.  Kelly just shrugged her shoulders and mumbled something to the effect that, “yep 2.50 per 100 dollars that right.”  I said to Russell well how about just giving me a 10 dollar Safeway gift card since I do all my grocery shopping here anyway and we can forget the fact that you didn’t tell me there would be a fee for cashing my check.  He informed me that NO he could not and would not do that and told me, “You were born in 1977 you should know better than to think you can cash a check without paying a fee.”
Now I don’t know what type of managers training that you as the Safeway Inc. use but I would hope it does not include belittling long term customers in front of other employees when the management fails to disclose a fee attached to a process the customer is unfamiliar.
I don’t know how you as Safeway Inc. would like to resolve this situation but I am interested to find out because after taking my other check to Bank of the West, which is less than a mile down the road, and telling the teller what had happen, she ask if it was the short stocky manager?  I responded, “Yes it was, his name is Russell.”  To which she responded, “That’s not surprising he is a real ________.”   Let’s just say she used an adjective that should not be used in a professional business letter, and if you choose to want to contact her to verify this incident I would not want to get her in trouble with her management for a slight slip of the tongue speaking off the cuff and from experience. 
In conclusion I appreciate your prompt attention to this matter and look forward to whatever resolution you choose, and sharing that resolution with the local chamber of commerce, the entire staff at Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, the Better Business Bureau, and all forms of social media.  It’s not the events that happen to us that shape our outcomes, but the reactions we have to those events that shape the final outcomes in our lives, businesses, and relationships.

Ian Kirk

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