• Report: #7844

Complaint Review: PUBLIX supermarket chain

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  • Submitted: Thu, November 15, 2001
  • Updated: Wed, April 21, 2010

  • Reported By:Tempe Arizona
PUBLIX supermarket chain
, Florida U.S.A.

PUBLIX supermarket chain, deceptive pricing, misleading labels, frequent mistakes over-charging customers for groceries

*UPDATE Employee: Undercharged? No problem!

*Consumer Comment: Something is fishy here. . . .

*Consumer Comment: Publix does RIP YOU FF

*UPDATE Employee: I Love Publix

*UPDATE Employee: I Love Publix

*UPDATE Employee: I Love Publix

*UPDATE Employee: Maybe U R Misinformed I am a proud loyal employee

*Consumer Suggestion: Monopoly??? ..not monopolized by Publix

*Consumer Suggestion: Monopoly??? ..not monopolized by Publix

*UPDATE Employee: Strong Accusations

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October 12, 2001

Hon. Timothy J. Muris, Chairman
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.,
Washington, D.C. 20580

Dear Chairman Muris:

The Commission should take action to protect the public from the ongoing, continuing and harmful violations of the Federal Trade laws by the Publix Corporation, 1936 George Jenkins Blvd, P.O. Box 407, Lakeland, FL 33802-0407.

Anticompetitive actions: price-fixing, price gouging, price-collusion, frequent and ongoing deception of consumers. The perpetrator, Publix, exerts its market control at over 230 locations. In the areas where the perpetrator operates, consumers are often excluded from competitive markets, goods, and services while would-be competitors are muscled out of the areas. The perpetrator firm has acquired market domination amounting to monopoly in many neighborhoods and areas of the southeastern United States.

The perpetrator, Publix, is responsible for systematically defrauding consumers by price switching at the cash register, deceiving consumers in shelving areas, and exploiting senior citizens unable to read tiny OCR price labels on the distant bottom and top shelves.

The process of switching prices against consumers is particularly detrimental to the elderly, the vision-impaired, those with poor memory, and the handicapped - people who may be unable to read an electronic cash register display (showing the prices actually being rung up) or consumers may be unable to crawl on the floor to read the Publix price labels on the lowest shelves.

Mr. Chairman, the perpetrator has imposed a far more wide ranging system of market dominance and control over local prices than did the Von's Supermarkets. In the Von's cases, the Commission acted vigorously to protect the public from practices. I look forward to the Commission carrying out its responsibilities promptly and effectively.

Sincerely,

Tim Hunter,
North Palm Beach, Florida
Senior Economist (GS-15),
Interstate Commerce Commission, ret.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/15/2001 12:00 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/PUBLIX-supermarket-chain/Florida/PUBLIX-supermarket-chain-deceptive-pricing-misleading-labels-frequent-mistakes-over-cha-7844. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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REBUTTALS & REPLIES:
0Author 10Consumer 0Employee/Owner
Updates & Rebuttals

#1 UPDATE Employee

Undercharged? No problem!

AUTHOR: RKrenz - (United States of America)

To the individual who claims Publix never undercharges:

Would you return to the store to complain if you were ever undercharged for anything? No, you would take it as a good deal, or that you must have misread the price! It's not that Publix never makes the mistake in the opposite direction, it's that customers don't come back if they are charged less than they anticipated.

When blocking/leveling the shelves, we make sure that if we can't find the exact place for an item, the it is at least placed behind a tag that displays the same price or higher than the items true price. That way it will at least scan lower than the tag price it is behind.

Daily we give away free product to customers for pricing discrepancies. And probably 50% of those occurrences involve dishonest customers. But we are here to satisfy our customers because without them we would have no business to operate.  

Publix is FAR from guilty of any of these practices, and there are many competitive businesses that operate close to all Publixes.

Be well, my friend!

Customer Service Staff
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#2 Consumer Comment

Something is fishy here. . . .

AUTHOR: John - (U.S.A.)

I prefer the rebranded Kash N Karry's (now called SweetBay) in our town, and Publix recently has crowded some of its parking lots with free-standing Starbucks or banks. That being said, our family shops mostly at a nearby Publix simply because of its convenient location.

In our hundred-plus Publix visits, we can't recall any "price-switching" occurring to us or our fellow shoppers. In addition, Publix has gotten some of the highest customer satisfaction scores in a recent national consumer magazine. Again, Publix is NOT my preferred store.

While the poster here may have worked for the government, it's obvious it was not in investigating violations of the (anti-monopoly) Sherman Act. The only way Publix could have a monopoly would be (1) if they prevented competitors from moving in. Hmmm, Publix versus Wal-Mart or Sweetbay (owned by a huge multinational company)? Or (2) if Publx systematically underprices its competitors solely to force them out. (The opposite of the main charge in his complaint. . . )

I think that there is some connection with these anti-Publix posts. (There are two recent threads.) One posting from N. Palm Beach, another from nearby Boca Raton. . both without any evidence to back up the complaints. One comment from Hastings-On-Hudson NY, another from nearby Riverdale NY.

I would like to hear from the original poster(s) what stores are preferred, in areas that Publix competes. . . .
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#3 Consumer Comment

Publix does RIP YOU FF

AUTHOR: Thompson - (U.S.A.)

It seems the people defending Publix are either deluded or perhaps they are on Publix Board of Directors.Notice they NEVER UNdercharge you "by accident" on your reciept.I am no fan of Walmart,however Walmart prices are much lower and quality actually higher.It is a pathetic situation when a horrible company like Walmart is better than PUBLIX.
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#4 UPDATE Employee

I Love Publix

AUTHOR: Kathy - (U.S.A.)

True, some items do scan incorrectly at the register. The cashiers do not enter the price of each item --my, but that would require a GREAT memory!--the item's UPC, or a code # entered, "tells" the computer the price.As stated, the Publix Promise is in place at each register and can be taken care of immediately upon the customer's noticing the wrong-scanning price.
If the receipt is examined after the sale is complete and the problem is found, the same Promise can be accomplished at the Customer Service Desk. There's no need to delay your trip home with frozen/cold items; bring the receipt in next time you visit and present it to the Service Desk for the same Promise.

The shelf pricing problem simply has no solution. The pricing tags are either above or below the item-where else COULD they be? Many customers tear any sale tags off the shelf thinking they are coupons. Again, if you have problems: ask, at the service desk, for a Personal Shopper to assist you as you shop or ask any employee to read the tag.

Yes, Publix prices may be a tad higher, but the cleanliness, friendliness, quality and service bring our daily and weekly shoppers coming back...ASK THEM !

The Publix mission is: To be the premiere quality food retailer in the world. I think it is well on the way!....9 years straight in the top 10 best places to work & the ONLY grocery store!

A satisfied customer and employee.
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#5 UPDATE Employee

I Love Publix

AUTHOR: Kathy - (U.S.A.)

True, some items do scan incorrectly at the register. The cashiers do not enter the price of each item --my, but that would require a GREAT memory!--the item's UPC, or a code # entered, "tells" the computer the price.As stated, the Publix Promise is in place at each register and can be taken care of immediately upon the customer's noticing the wrong-scanning price.
If the receipt is examined after the sale is complete and the problem is found, the same Promise can be accomplished at the Customer Service Desk. There's no need to delay your trip home with frozen/cold items; bring the receipt in next time you visit and present it to the Service Desk for the same Promise.

The shelf pricing problem simply has no solution. The pricing tags are either above or below the item-where else COULD they be? Many customers tear any sale tags off the shelf thinking they are coupons. Again, if you have problems: ask, at the service desk, for a Personal Shopper to assist you as you shop or ask any employee to read the tag.

Yes, Publix prices may be a tad higher, but the cleanliness, friendliness, quality and service bring our daily and weekly shoppers coming back...ASK THEM !

The Publix mission is: To be the premiere quality food retailer in the world. I think it is well on the way!....9 years straight in the top 10 best places to work & the ONLY grocery store!

A satisfied customer and employee.
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#6 UPDATE Employee

I Love Publix

AUTHOR: Kathy - (U.S.A.)

True, some items do scan incorrectly at the register. The cashiers do not enter the price of each item --my, but that would require a GREAT memory!--the item's UPC, or a code # entered, "tells" the computer the price.As stated, the Publix Promise is in place at each register and can be taken care of immediately upon the customer's noticing the wrong-scanning price.
If the receipt is examined after the sale is complete and the problem is found, the same Promise can be accomplished at the Customer Service Desk. There's no need to delay your trip home with frozen/cold items; bring the receipt in next time you visit and present it to the Service Desk for the same Promise.

The shelf pricing problem simply has no solution. The pricing tags are either above or below the item-where else COULD they be? Many customers tear any sale tags off the shelf thinking they are coupons. Again, if you have problems: ask, at the service desk, for a Personal Shopper to assist you as you shop or ask any employee to read the tag.

Yes, Publix prices may be a tad higher, but the cleanliness, friendliness, quality and service bring our daily and weekly shoppers coming back...ASK THEM !

The Publix mission is: To be the premiere quality food retailer in the world. I think it is well on the way!....9 years straight in the top 10 best places to work & the ONLY grocery store!

A satisfied customer and employee.
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#7 UPDATE Employee

Maybe U R Misinformed I am a proud loyal employee

AUTHOR: M - (U.S.A.)

I am a proud loyal employee of Publix Supermarkets for over 14 yrs.The reason I continue my employment with this company is because it truly is a "Pleasure" working there.I believe in my company,my store,my co-workers,my management team,& the warehouse to effectively do all it promises to do.The system of checks & balances the company has in place has always been there for all people~from the employee to the customer.

Now to address this gentleman's issues:

Sir,

I apologize to you if anyone in our company made you feel the way you do about us. If you ever return to any Publix Supermarket and you have trouble reading any tag, signage, or anything we have in our stores upon entering the store simply go to customer service and request someone to assist you in your shopping.

Each employee works for Publix so regardless of their position in the store someone will indeed shop with you reading, reaching, or locating anything you need assistance with.

We have a policy if anything rings up incorrectly you will receive that item for free, if you purchase 2 of that item you will receive 1 for free and the 2nd item at the correct price. We do have an exception which include cigarettes, wine, alcohol, lottery tickets, & gift cards.

If you continue to have problems for any reason each store will gladly give you the correct mailing address, email address, or phone number to contact ditrict mgrs. or warehouse.

As for the Monopoly issue , well that is illegal and I don't know why you feel that way when Winn Dixie, Albertson's, & Wal -Mart each operate in close proximity to each Publix.

You have the right to shop elsewhere. I think if you do you will find no one else can beat our customer service & that is what we pride ourselves on.

Well just so everyone knows I am not a mgr of any sort. I am just a meat clerk .
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#8 Consumer Suggestion

Monopoly??? ..not monopolized by Publix

AUTHOR: Jeanne - (U.S.A.)

I think Mr. Hunter has too much time on his hands. First of all, The area he lives in is not monopolized by Publix, they also have Albertsons and Winn Dixie and a few other stores. The same holds true for the area I live in.

The price tags on the shelves are no different in size than that of Winn Dixie, Kash N Karry, Albertsons or Food Lion. The previous poster is correct about the lighting. I shop at several grocery stores to take advantage of sales and Publix, by far, has the best lighting, which DOES make their tags easier to read. depending on what part of town I am in, I have shopped at several Publix stores in my area and even the oldest store has great lighting.

As for the ringing up at the register, EVERY store has a problem at one time or another of an item not ringing up correctly. A computer is only as good as the HUMAN who programs it. I have had no more of a problem with Publix than any other store I have shopped at. If nothing else, K-Mart is the worst for not ringing up at the shelf listed price.

As for the elderly or disabled, the same would hold true at ANY grocery store. The top and bottom shelves are going to be the hardest to read wether you are in a wheelchair, have bad eyesight or if you are too short or tall.

When you mention the elderly with a bad memory, that is what shopping lists are for. Take a pen and youir shopping list with you and WRITE the prices down as you shop (I do) and you CAN tell the cashier not to start ringing up until you are ready. It may hold a line up, but you have that right.

Consumers DO have rights but they also have responsibilities. Stop trying to blame others for problems that do not really exsist and put measures in place if you are so afraid that you are being ripped off.(such as taking someone shoppiong with you or take a magnifying glass if your sight is that bad) Out of all the grocery chains that I shop at, Publix is by far one of the best. And, NO, I am not an employye!
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#9 Consumer Suggestion

Monopoly??? ..not monopolized by Publix

AUTHOR: Jeanne - (U.S.A.)

I think Mr. Hunter has too much time on his hands. First of all, The area he lives in is not monopolized by Publix, they also have Albertsons and Winn Dixie and a few other stores. The same holds true for the area I live in.

The price tags on the shelves are no different in size than that of Winn Dixie, Kash N Karry, Albertsons or Food Lion. The previous poster is correct about the lighting. I shop at several grocery stores to take advantage of sales and Publix, by far, has the best lighting, which DOES make their tags easier to read. depending on what part of town I am in, I have shopped at several Publix stores in my area and even the oldest store has great lighting.

As for the ringing up at the register, EVERY store has a problem at one time or another of an item not ringing up correctly. A computer is only as good as the HUMAN who programs it. I have had no more of a problem with Publix than any other store I have shopped at. If nothing else, K-Mart is the worst for not ringing up at the shelf listed price.

As for the elderly or disabled, the same would hold true at ANY grocery store. The top and bottom shelves are going to be the hardest to read wether you are in a wheelchair, have bad eyesight or if you are too short or tall.

When you mention the elderly with a bad memory, that is what shopping lists are for. Take a pen and youir shopping list with you and WRITE the prices down as you shop (I do) and you CAN tell the cashier not to start ringing up until you are ready. It may hold a line up, but you have that right.

Consumers DO have rights but they also have responsibilities. Stop trying to blame others for problems that do not really exsist and put measures in place if you are so afraid that you are being ripped off.(such as taking someone shoppiong with you or take a magnifying glass if your sight is that bad) Out of all the grocery chains that I shop at, Publix is by far one of the best. And, NO, I am not an employye!
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#10 UPDATE Employee

Strong Accusations

AUTHOR: Nicole - ()

I was employed by Publix Supermakets, Inc. and worked at different locations (even GA stores) from 1992-1997. I was a cashier, an office cashier (so I would have been aware of customer problems), a front end manager, a stockman in all different sections of the store, payroll clerk, deli-clerk and a produce clerk (all required for management training). Publix changes prices, Advantage Buys, and advertisements once a week (every Thursday).

In no way are these price changes deceptive. If there ever was a problem that an item rang up incorrectly, Publix has a system in place (since about 1993) that you receive that item for free. That hardly sounds unfair to me. Also, in response to the allegations that the tags are difficult to see and read for the elderly and visually impaired...I have been to other supermarkets.

All have the same size shelves and shelving tags. Publix has always been the cleanest, most reasonably priced supermarket. In fact, their lighting is superior to any other grocery store (which should help the visually impaired). I still have 'green blood' and will be a Publix shopper for the rest of my life.

I am passionate about it and hope to have a job as a cashier with Publix when I retire. My husband worked for Publix for 7 years, my mother-in-law for 20 and my brother-in-law for 12 (he is currently a manager in a Georgia store). Publix is truly a wonderful grocery store to work for and to shop.
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