Posted by Dale Buss on January 30, 2012 02:04 PM
Walmart certainly has taken a step back from its heritage with the revelation that it's removing greeters from the graveyard shifts at its U.S. supercenters, in the first reversal of a 30-year-old tradition that helped define what the folksy chain was all about in its early years.
"It's risky," David Strasser, a Janney Montgomery Scott analyst, told Bloomberg. "Consumers have been going to Walmart for years, and greeters have become an expectation. To a degree it defines Walmart."
And starting in February, the mega-retailer that Sam Walton built plans to pull daytime greeters — often retirees — from the lobby entrance area into the stores to help with customer service, according to the Los Angeles Times. Next, we'll find out that Walmart is going to wipe that smiley face off all of its advertising forever.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 13, 2012 02:02 PM
You may get to see just how fast a fast-food chain can be.
Burger King is testing out if providing delivery service will help increase sales, according to Bloomberg News. The pilot project is currently available in a handful of the chain’s locations in Maryland and Virginia, and will be expanded to 16 locations by Jan. 23.
The service is only available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and deliveries add $2 to orders which must be more than $8 or $10, depending on the location, according to Burger King’s BK Delivers website. However, customers can’t order fountain drinks, milkshakes, coffee, and breakfast foods.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 9, 2012 04:04 PM
After everybody blows their budgets at holiday time, consumers generally go into a brief hibernation of sorts. They eat at home and start scraping their pennies together again for the next time they need to show some consumer confidence.
USA Today takes note of how fast-food establishments are going to do everything they can to keep those consumers coming out and spending their dollars, though “a key indicator for the industry, foot traffic, was down 0.6% in the third quarter of 2011,” according to a new report from NPD Group, and “restaurant visits in the first half of 2012” are projected to be “flat.”
So what tactic will the industry pull out to lead hungry Americans their way? Deals!Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on January 6, 2012 03:55 PM
Following botched holiday web orders and a scathing media critique about the brand's strategy posted Monday on Forbes.com (title: "Why Best Buy is Going Out of Business Gradually"), Best Buy has been feeling the heat lately.
The consumer electronics retailer's CEO, Brian Dunn, today posted a frank (and rare) response on the company blog to address critics and reassure employees. Dunn apologized for the web ordering errors ("We worked to make amends with customers whose holidays were made less happy because of our mistake, and we're working diligently to make sure it doesn't happen again") and defended the company's strategy, including the need to create a seamless customer experience between physical and digital transactions.
He concluded, "we fully expect to receive our share of criticism – we’re a big company and we don’t always get everything right. But this is one of those times when I felt it was necessary not only to acknowledge our shortcomings, but to set the record straight on issues where facts are being obscured by rhetoric."
Read the embattled CEO's full letter and the responses here and tell us: Good move? Does Dunn come off as transparent or defensive?
Posted by Shirley Brady on December 6, 2011 08:10 PM
After American Airlines threw him off a flight today for refusing to stop playing Words With Friends and turn off his iPhone, actor Alec Baldwin tweeted this photo with the hashtag, #theresalwaysunited. Below, see how the saga unfolded on Twitter.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on November 15, 2011 02:02 PM
Starbucks just lost a small source of income, thanks to a chance purchase this August by Barbara Anthony, who happens to be the undersecretary of consumer affairs for the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation.
Anthony purchased a partial bag of coffee beans at a Starbucks and was dismayed to find that she was charged an extra $1.50 that wasn’t mentioned in the store itself or on her receipt, the Associated Press reports. So her office got to work and discovered that this wasn’t an isolated incident. It was happening across Massachusetts. Anthony asked friends and relatives to inquire about the surcharge in other states; sure enough, it was lurking elsewhere, too.
“People have the right to know how much they are paying for a commodity,” Anthony told the AP. As a result, the state of Massachusetts fined Starbucks $1,575 for overcharge violations at five stores, prompting Starbucks to abolish the practice nationwide on Nov. 7.
The Seattle-based coffee company justified the surcharge was “to cover the extra labor and packaging” involved when employees need to break open the presealed one-pound bags and measure out a lesser amount for consumers. The decision to stop dinging customers comes as the coffee giant rolls out its new holiday campaign.Continue reading...
no kidding around
Posted by Mark J. Miller on October 19, 2011 11:01 AM
If you’ve got luggage that is extra heavy, you’ve got to pay extra bucks, right? Starting in March of next year, if you’ve got extra weight on your body, you’ll need to pay out some extra bucks, too.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that AirTran will ask “customers of size” to buy a second seat starting in March. AirTran — whose slogan ("Go. There's Nothing Stopping You") might need updating — was purchased earlier this year by Southwest Airlines, which has such a policy in place.
Who is too big for just one seat? That distinction will be at "the carrier's sole discretion," AJC reports, so be sure to wear something that makes you look slim when you get to the airport.
AirTran parent Southwest defines customers that need more than one seat as “those who encroach upon any part of the neighboring seat[s],” the Journal-Constitution reports. (Have they flown economy lately?)
For those who have been affected by the rule on Southwest – fewer than one half of 1 percent of the airline’s customers – they are given the option of a refund on the second ticket if the flight isn’t full.
Southwest, of course, is famous for hassling the likes of director Kevin Smith about his size, a PR black eye that doesn't seem to have deterred them from eyeing passengers' girth. At least they're no longer threatening to eject customers from "too narrow" seats — just make them pay for another.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Barry Silverstein on October 5, 2011 01:02 PM
Friendly Ice Cream Corp., which operates a chain of Friendly's restaurants primarily in the northeast US, has filed for bankruptcy.
This comes as no surprise to me. In August 2010, I wrote about my experience at a Friendly's restaurant during which, it seemed, time stood still. I was heartened to learn at the time that the slow-serving restaurants were to be revitalized. Part of the plan was to open smaller "Friendly Express" locations.
But now instead of expanding, Friendly's is closing 63 locations, keeping 424 restaurants running as it restructures. In a statement, CEO Harsha V. Agadi said, "We have made a lot of progress, but our company continued to face significant financial challenges. This was exacerbated by the weak economy and rapidly rising commodity costs that have impacted the entire restaurant industry."
True, restaurants have taken a hit in the recession, but some have managed to reinvent themselves. Not so with Friendly's.Continue reading...