Penny Ante

Last night I went into Zupan's for a few groceries. A bottle of tonic and a lemon, if you must know. With a pandemic of swine flu on our way, now is not the time to start taking chances with malaria and scurvey.

At the checkout stand, I was informed that I would no longer be receiving the customary ten cent rebate for using my own bag. The new store policy is to give the refund only for bags sporting the official Zupan's logo.

All along I had assumed that the refund policy was a form of social engineering designed to reach one or both of the following goals:

(a) Encourage the use of reusable bags in order to reduce waste and conserve energy and natural resources; or,

(b) Cut operating costs by reducing the number of paper bags used. (Zupan's does not use the ubiquitous plastic handle bag).

Why would Zupan's discriminate against unsanctioned bags (mine happened to be from Fred Meyers)? To sell more reusable Zupan's bags? To spread the use of bags with the Zupan logo as a marketing strategy?

I suspect the truth is that an accountant gave owner Mike Zupan a report on how much was being credited each month, and he said, "zounds!" and decided that the damned policy was hurting the bottom line and was not sustainable under today's economic conditions. (By "sustainable," I mean it was hurting his own pocketbook).

This isn't a huge deal for me, though I estimate that I have saved $36.50 over the past year thanks to a daily ten cent discount. (I live on top of a Zupan's store so a daily visit is not unheard of). I guess it's just another sign of the times. I'll know we're in real trouble when Les Schwab quits fixing flats on tires that weren't even purchased there.


Anonymous said...

Greedy bastards.

David said...

Les Schwab not change tires that weren't purchased from them? Unthinkable! It's got to be the greatest PR + marketing + advertising + customer-development idea of all time.

MightyToyCannon said...

On our current vehicle, Les Schwab has fixed leaks in three tires without charging a dime (the tires are the originals). Each time, the message is, "You'll come back and buy some from us when it's time." You bet I will! Brilliant customer service.

Stephen said...

My company- Elephants offers a discount on any reusable bag... even if it says Zupans!
I love your blog!
See you at The Red Dress.

Unknown said...

Interesting that it was the big guy, Fred's, that really kick-started reusable bags in Portland. They did a huge push a year or more ago, giving out free bags -- as I recall, you could get four at a time -- and even now their bags cost considerably less than the ones at the boutique groceries. Of course, Fred's paper and plastic bag costs must have been enormous, so this was a canny business decision. But they did it, and it made a huge difference. I don't happen to shop at Zupan's (it's not in my building!), but I take my Fred's bags to New Seasons and Whole Foods all the time and nobody blinks. Fred's for basics, NS and WF for produce and meats and cheeses and breads, and my Fred's bags go with me all the time. Zupan's is making a mistake.

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