Low prices are good, right? I like low prices- especially these days, when we aren’t exactly rolling in the fat income-tax brackets. We’ve been bombarded by ads for this new-to-our-town chain, and the PR and buzz in the papers is good- this company supposedly is employee-owned, supports American producers and offers a no-frills experience so they can undercut Voldemart. I’m down with that. Let’s go check it out.
David, Abby and I head off to the new market. It’s been open a few days, so I really wasn’t expecting a mob-scene. People were stalking shoppers in the parking lot for a space; we skipped that, and took a spot in the south forty. There were no grocery carts anywhere, but surly there must be carts inside, right? Nope. There was a line of angry, scowling, cold people eyeballing anyone with a cart- and heaven help you if you laid your hand on an empty cart and asked the kindly old lady if she was done with it- I’m lucky I still have fingers. So, no carts. None. Nada.
David thinks we may as well try and go in, cart or not, and he carries Abby. On entering the store, the aisles are set up like cattle queues- you can only go one way. And it is wall-to-wall people. You can’t move. Over the heads of the people, I see a sign that says “Cheetos 98 cents” Oh wow. That IS cheap! But there is no way to get them. David makes a break for it and wiggles his way to the check-out counter- only to find it is an hour wait to pay.
Forget it. Now I’m ticked. I drive half-an-hour to this mess of a store, only to have no carts, a million people, and an hour wait to pay for cheap junk food? Nope. I don’t need it.
So a week goes by, and I think, hey, maybe it’s better now. I’ll give it a try. If I can pick up some treats for half what Voldemart charges, cool. I’ll give it a second shot. So last night, after the kids were in bed, I tossed my cloth bags in the car and gave it a second shot.
The parking lot was much better- and I parked easily. There were plenty of carts in the queue, and the crowds, while still there, were much smaller than last week. Excellent. I make my way through the maze of food. Cheerios for $1.49, bananas for 19 cents per pound, Kraft Mac n’ Cheese for 50 cents a box. All very good deals- I load my cart, continuing to meander through the maze.
At the register, check-out Dude tells me WinCo does things differently, and I will be bagging my own groceries, to save them money. OK, no biggie. I brought my own bags anyway. He also tells me they don’t take cards, only cash or checks or debit cards. Oh. Uhh…. Well, I never carry my check book, but I do have my debit card with me- only there is no money in that account. I call David, and he transfers some money, and we should be fine.
Only, they can’t run the transaction straight. They can only run it debit. And, since I never use it debit, I have NO FREAKING IDEA what my PIN number is. Don’t get me wrong- I use the card all the time- for gas, for groceries, for stuff- but I always just run it through. Never use a PIN. Not in years.
So there I am, piles and piles of groceries around me, half of them bagged and back in my cart already, and no way to pay. I call David back, and ask him his PIN number- he doesn’t know either. I tell him to go look in my other purse in our closet upstairs, because once upon a time, I had a scrap of paper from the bank scrawled with my PIN- and while he complies, Checker Dude rings through the next person, and the next.
No luck. David can’t find the paper. Helpful Checker Dude now suggests I use the ATM they have in the foyer to get cash from my credit card. Dude, you think I know the PIN that card, but not this one? And that I’m going to pay cash-advance fees on my cheap groceries?? Helpful Checker Dude also tells me they do take Food Stamps, if I want to pay that way. Oh &# %&*%, Checker Dude, it’s ON.
I walked out. And I plan on never, ever walking back IN.
Two trips, more than four hours of my life I will never get back, cheap prices on some food I didn’t even get to leave with, horrendous aggravation and frustration, crowds, and inconvenience. Hmmm… they make Voldemart look almost appealing. Almost…