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Kroger Police Dept. going after seniors

By J David Derosier

 

Kroger introduced its loyalty card program, called the Kroger Plus Card, in 2000. Ten years later they updated it and included Shell gasoline discount.

When a Kroger Plus Card is used during checkout, the account receives fuel points. For every $100 spent during a month, 10 cents per gallon discount is offered (up to $1 per gallon) at Kroger gas stations. Kroger has also been offering a 10-percent discount on Kroger products to seniors with a Kroger Plus Card, all day and every day.   Reportedly, this is the same discount received by employees.

My wife and I started shopping at Kroger when we moved here in 2005. The first record in my Quicken files is from October 4th 2005; just a few days after Hurricane Rita came through town. Since that time, Quicken tells me that we have spent over $50,000 at Kroger. This of course does not include the money paid by our health insurer for medications at the Kroger pharmacy.

My wife and I both qualify as seniors under the Kroger Plus Card which we have shared since 2005. The discounts on Kroger products and fuel made Kroger the price favorite, and have been the main reason that we treat Kroger as our primary source of groceries.

But now, the Kroger secret police have gone into action, and I am sorry to say that the relationship appears to have come to an end.

On a recent Saturday I purchased a few Kroger-brand groceries and when the order rang up there was no senior discount. When I asked, the manager said that a lot of people were complaining about that and I had to call the number on my Kroger Plus Card to get any answers.

I called the number and was told, very politely, that my senor discount was cancelled. That everyone’s senior discount was being cancelled without notice and they are only halfway through the list!

The first question in the interrogation was, “Is there anyone in the household who was born after 1955?” The customer service agent informed me that if there was, we would no longer qualify for a senior citizen discount on our groceries.

It seems that Kroger will no longer provide a senior discount unless the food is to be eaten exclusively by seniors. THERE CAN BE NO SHARING OF GROCERIES PURCHASED WITH A KROGER PLUS CARD SENIOR DISCOUNT.

And then she said that my wife and I can no longer share the same Kroger Plus Card for points toward fuel. We each have to have our own separate card and cannot pool our fuel points when buying gas from Kroger. It would violate the terms of the Kroger Plus Card if anyone other than the named individual used the card.

Think about how broad reaching these changes can be. For example, a housebound senior can no longer get her senior discount if her service provider gets the groceries. If she can’t come in person, she’s out of luck!

I hope that other seniors pay attention to their grocery receipts from Kroger because there is no notice given that your senior discount has been taken away. You should also be aware that you cannot have anyone else get your groceries for you if you want the senior discount.

And if you want to get your discount back, you need to be interrogated by the Kroger Secret Police. Just to make sure no one else gets to eat your discounted groceries.

Our daughter has been doing a lot of our grocery shopping for us for several years. If she continues to do so, no more 10-percent discount on Kroger products. And fuel points are now reduced by splitting into multiple loyalty cards.

In our case, we are going to re-evaluate how we shop for groceries and gas because the factors that prompted us to choose Kroger as our primary grocery store have gone away.

If my wife and I were to live another ten years, that could be $50,000 of revenue lost by Kroger because someone in marketing miscalculated how ridiculous and un-customer-friendly their new policy is. Of course, this pales in comparison with the $619 million in revenue announced by Kroger for just the first three months of this year.

On the other hand if 100 seniors take the same action, in only 50 of the 200 Kroger stores in the Houston Division, that’s a potential loss of $250 million in revenue – over time of course. If that happens in this Division, maybe it will spread.

Food for Thought!! (Please excuse the pun, couldn’t help it.)

 J David Derosier is a retired technology professional. Today he consults with small business on planning and marketing issues, and provides web design and hosting services. He can be reached at JDAVID@Strategy-Planning.info.