The problem with doing the bare minimum

01Nov12

Getting groceries delivered is a huge time saver. Combined with a strategy of limiting those deliveries to the heaviest or least-overpriced items, it can be budget-friendly as well. However, there’s one issue that I’ve found hard to overcome: sometimes, the delivery service will bring you products with laughably short expiration dates.

For instance, I received a delivery last week that included a bunch of yogurt. Every one of the containers had an expiration date that was about 10 days out, which seemed awfully short to me. I happened to be in a local grocery store later that morning, and decided to check when their yogurt expired. Sure enough, every container I saw carried a date more than two weeks further out than the ones I received from the delivery company.

So, I called up customer service and explained the issue. They were incredulous and refused to issue even a partial credit. How did they justify this? The rep claimed that their policy is to follow the USDA guidelines for dairy products, which supposedly only require expiration dates to be 7 days out.

In other words, the delivery company told me that they only seek to do the bare minimum. If the government regulations allow them to sell products that no sensible consumer would buy in a retail store, then it’s good enough for their customer service guidelines. I guess that’s the company’s decision, but I think they’re being a little shortsighted. After all, groceries are a competitive market. I can easily get the same product across the street and never buy it from the delivery service again. Sure, it might not be as convenient as having the item delivered, but no amount of convenience can make up for receiving an inferior version of the product that the customer may have to throw away before they get to use it.



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