Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Safeway's War On Families Continues ...

... in Everett, Washington, where a security guard detained a 4-year-old girl for eating some dried fruit from a bag, and then putting it back on the shelf. (We know: Ick, right? But the kid's dad didn't notice.)

The guard "told the father that the girl could face criminal charges" -- she's four, mind you -- then took her to a room and made her sign a piece of paper"acknowledging she wasn't allowed to enter any Safeway stores." We're impressed that she could sign her own name, because -- did we mention this? -- she's four years old.

All this follows the Honolulu incident, in which parents were arrested and temporarily lost custody of their preschooler after the same sort of innocent mistake.

The Safeway chain announced that it had fired the guard in Everett, saying it was "appalled" by his behavior, and was going to re-examine its policies. Pretty much what they said after the Honolulu incident, which gives it a less-than-convincing sound.

The supermarket industry is reasonably competitive; unless you're in a very small town, there are almost always other stores to patronize. If there were a Safeway within a thousand miles of us right now, we would have already abandoned it in favor of KrogersShop-RitePriceChopperA&P or whatever. The funny thing is that what the stores are competing for, by and large, is business from families with children. So if Safeway wants to delay its inevitable swirling around the drain, it really needs to start thinking about ways to attract the parents of small children. Here's a hint: more "How can we help you," and less over-the-top bullying.


Anonymous said...

A close friend worked the night shift at a local Safeway in November 2011. A totally opposite experience. He was forced by policy to watch people steal food and leave with it. The most he could ask was if he could help. If they declined and walked out, he had to simply do...nothing. He was breaking his back, and hands, at a low paying job to pay for the very food these lowlifes were pillaging. Store security only watched one door. The other was like a free pass. The store is famous among the homeless as being the best place to steal a meal. So the "war on families" might be quite local.

Father Anonymous said...

Local, maybe, in the sense that managers in each store may have some leeway in setting policy -- I have no real idea. But this blog post referred to the second high-profile overreaction to low-level theft at a Safeway in a couple of weeks. The first, as I recall, was even more egregious. An overstressed couple forgot to pay for one item among several, and actually lost custody of their child overnight.

Still, I'm glad your friend worked at a place where the management considered losing a few sandwiches less problematic than arresting children.