What Happened at Ralph's?
We received a tip from a Ladera resident who shared how several of our neighbors came together to protest what they believed to be the shortcomings of our largest neighborhood grocery, Ralph's in Ladera Center. It turns out, many people agreed, including Ralph's ownership. Here's what went down according to local resident and Financial Coach, Gregory J Sneed (published with his permission)
What was wrong at Ralph's in Ladera Center?
Over the last 5 years or so, the quality of merchandise, level of customer service, store cleanliness, and adequate staffing had been declining. This decline was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. Late summer/early fall, this rapidly accelerated with extra-long lines sometimes exceeding 30-minutes to check out. There were reports of rude employees and managers.
What did our community do about it?
One of our neighbors posted Ralph’s Customer Service email and 800 number to Nextdoor inviting our community to complain directly to corporate. Other neighbors quickly chimed in and joined the campaign to let Ralph’s and Corporate parent, The Kroger Company, know of our dissatisfaction. Our community made scores of calls and emails to Customer Service.
What did Ralph's do about it?
At first, we all received the auto-responder emails with thanks for contacting Customer Service and a number to call with more information if desired. Within a matter of days, the Corporate employees in white shirts and ties and women’s dress jackets started to appear at the store en masse. They did not just come one day, they seemed to be there every day for about 2-weeks, taking notes, pointing out improvements to make, and talking with in-store customers. Inventory levels started to return to normal, more cashiers were at the checkout lines, staffing at the Seafood and Service Deli increased. We certainly got their attention realizing they were losing customers and of course losing out on money.
Are we good now?
Now, this is a great question. For some, yes, they were encouraged to return shopping at the store. Others will probably never return or may do so in time after the initial response time goes by. Many of us have seen a dramatic improvement. There is a new Store General Manager and several new department managers. The chances of a store being 100% problem-free are pretty slim. Yet, by active, ongoing participation from our collective neighbors, we have the opportunity to keep the pressure on, let our voices be heard, and have the comfort of shopping in our own neighborhood, without having to sacrifice quality and service.
What do you think, Ladera, did Ralph's do enough to keep your business? A big thank you goes out to our neighbors who stood up for the rest of us.