Unhappy Fresh and Easy Customer: An Open Letter

fresh-and-easy

Some of you may or may not be familiar with the grocery store Fresh and Easy.  They’ve been sprouting up all over southern California like weeds.  They are taking a different approach to grocery shopping.   Rather than being a big box grocery store like Vons, Ralphs, Albertsons, etc… they are taking a smaller more intimate approach. The best way to describe it is a poor-man’s Trader Joe’s.  Both Fresh and Easy and Trader Joe’s dub themselves as “Neighborhood” stores (Fresh Easy – Neighborhood market, Trader Joe’s – Your neighborhood grocery store).

A few months ago when the Fresh and Easy’s started popping up they offered these great $5 off $20 worth of groceries.  My girlfriend and I started shopping there because of these coupons.  She really got hooked on the store more than I did.  It was kind of cool since you could save a lot of money with the coupons, but then later on they stopped offering them, so I wasn’t as crazy about the store anymore.  My girlfriend still shopped there…until Fresh and Easy did her wrong one too many times.

The main thing that got her mad / doubting Fresh and Easy was she bought bread that spoiled way too fast (before expiration date) and then had a few run ins with spoiled deli meat.  It’s the first time we’ve seen deli meat that would expand the bag it was wrapped in.  That’s right it the meat inflated the bag before she even opened it.  A little research revealed that bacteria was eating way at the meat and producing gases.   Once again this happened before the expiration date.  As you could imagine this did not please her one bit, but she still decided to give them another shot (cause like a junkie she was hooked on their “stuff”).  Well it happened again which prompted her to write the letter I have pasted below:

Dear Fresh and Easy,

I know you haven’t heard from me in weeks, and I just wanted to let you know that I have not forgotten about you. I told you I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to come back to you- You just weren’t fulfilling my needs. I’ve gone out to explore what my other options are, and I am still unsure.

How can my feelings be so torn for you? Do you feel the same about me? I often wonder if you’re thinking about me… If you’re missing me like how I miss you.

We’ve had so many ups and downs that my thoughts are clouded now. You have left me unsure of my choice. Sometimes I think we’ve had more sad times than happy, but I can’t be sure.

I miss the sweet taste of your unique apple oatmeal in my mouth. I miss the packaging of your sandwich sliced pickles. I miss the convenience of your self check out stand. And most of all… I miss the vast choices of the abundance of cheese selection you have to offer.

But I simply cannot forget how you wronged me! How you offered me spoiled deli meat countless times! I can still feel the harshness of your whole wheat bread tearing at my mouth… Tearing at my heart… I just cannot forget all the deceit and lies you put me through. You just don’t understand the concept of expiration dates!

At this point, I honestly don’t know if your cheese and oatmeal would be enough for our relationship. I’m not sure you can offer what I need to make this work.

I hope you can understand my decision. I will continue to look at other markets. Vons, Ralphs, and 99 Ranch all beckon to me. But none can hold their place in my heart like you once did.

Until we meet again…

We’re curious to see if they will actually respond, or how they will respond.  Maybe they’ll give us a bunch more coupons…though I don’t know if that’s enough to lure her back to her Fresh and Easy junkie ways.   I’ll end this post with Fresh and Easy’s slogan…Fresh should always be this easy…

fresh-is-easyI like my version better, “Fresh should always be this easy…if we cared to serve you fresh food…”

Comments 19

  1. Fresh & Easy Buzz wrote:

    Hello Ben:

    We write and publish an independent Blog about Tesco’s Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market, its competitors, and related topics — and issues in the food and grocery retailing business, as well as how the business impacts on consumers.

    We’ve published a piece today highlighting your post, including links to it and your Blog, as part of our sometime “Bloggers-At-large” feature, where we publish posts written by other Bloggers about Fresh & Easy and related topics.

    The post is at: http://www.freshneasybuzz.blogspot.com
    at the top of the Blog.

    Below also is a specific link:
    http://freshneasybuzz.blogspot.com/2009/02/bloggers-at-large-tao-of-ben-blogger.html

    Title:
    Bloggers-At-Large: The ‘Tao of Ben’: Blogger Ben Tao Voices Dismay With Tesco’s Fresh & Easy; Posts ‘Dear John’ Letter His Girlfriend Sent the Grocer

    We suspect you might get some “fresh” hits and attention from the post since we have a very broad readership.

    Feel free to comment on the post as well if you like.

    Regards.

    Posted 03 Feb 2009 at 5:46 pm
  2. chris wrote:

    I too was quite please when F&E moved into our area. The coupons were definitely the icing on the cake.

    Have seen some weird freshness issues too. Most notably a pineapple. It was marked down, but even so, when I went to pick it up I could tell it was soft and mushy. This was a whole uncut pineapple. I don’t know how anyone would have thought this was okay to eat. Clearly it was beyond bad.

    Fresh and Easy is on Twitter. You might want to try and get their attention there (http://twitter.com/fresh_and_easy).

    Posted 03 Feb 2009 at 6:51 pm
  3. ben wrote:

    Thanks for the info Chris. Sorry to hear about your “bad apple” story. I’ll definitely forward the twitter link to my girlfriend. We’ve been trying to find someone to contact via email, but unfortunately we haven’t been able to find any email address for anyone there. They hide themselves well!

    Posted 03 Feb 2009 at 6:57 pm
  4. jessie wrote:

    I’ve had spoiled meat there twice, PLUS expired soda. Seems like a health department issue.

    Posted 03 Feb 2009 at 7:19 pm
  5. ben wrote:

    Expired soda? That’s horrible…”Spoiled and Easy” is more like it…

    Posted 03 Feb 2009 at 7:45 pm
  6. oakley wrote:

    Hey ya. I too am a fan of the store. And yes, I’ve encountered stuff going bad before its time. A friend of mine got a bad chicken recently; however the store happily replaced it for her. I didn’t know that or I would’ve taken back many things.

    Their lack of preservatives might just contribute to stuff going bad before its time. My friend used to complain that everything from their seem to have a very short life span. Well, they don’t add stuff to it to keep it “alive” longer. That should be a good thing. But I can totally understand your frustration.

    F&E people are very receptive to the comments. You should definitely send this to them.

    Posted 04 Feb 2009 at 9:13 am
  7. Cass wrote:

    I for one am a real fresh and easy lover. They have some amazing quality fresh foods at fantastic prices.
    Shopping the reduce to clear items on the last day of code means you need to eat these items right away. if you buy them, take them home and leave them, then of course they will eventually spoil.

    Posted 04 Feb 2009 at 9:56 am
  8. Sandy wrote:

    Hey Cass,

    Actually I would buy deli meat way before the expiration date. I would leave it in my fridge(Keep in mind that the bag is still sealed and never opened) and would find it spoiled a few days later- WAY before the expiration date!

    Although F&E would gladly exchange the product, this has happened one too many times. F&E made me realize that I should be more concerned with quality- not just quantity.

    These products should have never passed through the quality assurance team. Something is obviously wrong with their operations.

    Posted 04 Feb 2009 at 2:01 pm
  9. bill wrote:

    I always buy the 50% off food, Once in a while, something goes bad. It seems to me that if you don’t add hormones and or preservatives to the product, yes it may go bad faster. but of course, I’m sure everything at the other stores never go bad, only for the fact it is lace with crap.

    Posted 04 Feb 2009 at 7:41 pm
  10. Donald wrote:

    I am a Fresh & Easy employee. I work everyday in a store, not in an office. I have happily worked for F & E for over a year, in a couple of locations.
    With that being said, the store does our best to maintain freshness. Without any preservatives in our food, it is obvious that perishable items can spoil. And also with natural food, not every piece is perfect.
    A tip for all shoppers, look at what you buy, BEFORE YOU BUY! if it looks bad, say something to us. We check the dates of the entire store, everyday. We are human, and sometimes a “bad pineapple”gets missed. i hate to find something like that, and always wonder why no one says anything.
    And to end my rant, i would just like everyone to try and understand the concept of fresh and easy. Shop for less items, more frequently and faster and easier. which means, don’t buy steaks for saturday night on monday morning, of course its gonna spoil!! buy what your going to eat, and eat it fresh. cheers!

    Posted 05 Feb 2009 at 7:44 pm
  11. SallieB wrote:

    Hi Ben and Ben’s Girlfriend!

    Sallie from F&E here. Sorry it took me a bit to get back to you about your concerns.

    First off, let me just say that we are so appreciative of your thoughts, concerns and suggestions. We take all of them seriously and use them to improve our store. So keep your thoughts coming! Our official comment area can be found on our website at http://www.freshandeasy.com/yourthoughts.aspx where we take all of the comments and input very carefully. We are also on Twitter, as Chris said, where you can get a rapid response and a real person on the other end. (www.twitter.com/fresh_and_easy)

    We are sorry that you both experienced spoiled foods. We do our very best to make sure that all our products are circulated through the store at the right speed. As Oakley mentioned above, our products do tend to have a shorter shelf life because we insist on not using preservatives in our products unless absolutely necessary. The result is food that is less messed around with and not full of chemicals.

    That being said, we believe in our products, so much so that if you are not satisfied with any of our products, we will offer you a full refund.

    I hope this answers some of your questions and your concerns. Thanks again for being so open and honest.

    Wishing you the best,
    Sallie

    Posted 09 Feb 2009 at 5:15 pm
  12. IhateFreshAndCrappy wrote:

    After hearing many wonderful comments of F&E when it first came out, I too thought the quality of their products reflects their wonderful customers. Unfortunately, I found way too many Spoiled and Crappy hoochi-mamas who aren’t worthy to hear my hormone bursting pick up liners.

    Sincerely
    One Unsatisfied Customer

    Posted 24 Feb 2009 at 10:06 pm
  13. linda wrote:

    I really like F&Easy. They have the best yogurt! I do not purchase their lunch meat. I have purchased fish, chicken and sausage, and it was fine. The sparkling lemonade and the pumpkin seeds are better than other places as well.

    Posted 25 Feb 2009 at 9:07 pm
  14. ben wrote:

    I haven’t tried the yogurt before. I normally buy yoplait yogurt from Costco…..how does it compare? I’ll have to give it a try.

    Posted 25 Feb 2009 at 9:12 pm
  15. Gisele Boyd-Snee wrote:

    Don’t you have any coments from happy customers to post? or do you only post the unhappy ones? we have a new srore in my town that just opended today…With all the negative comments, I wonder if I want to shop in a store that has bad product.
    I would like a word of reassurance because the prices are really good, with items other stores don’t have and the store here is open and bright.

    Posted 29 Jul 2009 at 11:23 pm
  16. ben wrote:

    I post all the comments so long as it’s not spam or really really inappropriate. Personally I’ve had good experiences and bad experiences. So I guess people here are just venting their bad experiences. If you are happy with it, then you should continue shopping there…

    Posted 29 Jul 2009 at 11:28 pm
  17. John wrote:

    Fresh and Easy is turning stale. You’d figure after a year and half to get it right, they would be much further along. Well that is not the case. My gripes:

    Fresh: Not always – I refuse to buy most vegetables as they spoil rather easy. On the salad side, spoiled leafs taint the package while still on the shelves.

    Easy – not quite. I’m looking for a one-stop shop of sorts. The problem: F&E does not have the selection nor do they stock their shelves well. That forces me to shop at another store. After I’m all said and done. I could have shoped at the larger grocery market and saved bundle as well (even with the coupons).

    Pointers: The stores are poorly laid out. The extra shelves make the place look cluttered. Some items are outreagously expensive. It’s scary to think that Whole Foods is cheaper on many items than F&E (I.e: $1.69 for a plain broccoli head weighing 7 ounces versus $1.99 per pound for organic broccoli at WF; or $3.69 for 9oz of asparagus at F&E versus $3.99 per pound for organic aparagus at WF; and both vegetables appeared and tasted better at WF); 3 year old Regiano costs less at Traders than the 18 month rubber cheese that F&E sources.

    The pre-prepared meals are loaded with salt and fat.

    Frankly, F&E had an opporunity to bring real convenience, with a european gourmet flair and competitive prices. They’ve failed on all counts. I am the only one in my circle of friends that still shops occasionally there. Most think that it’s a poor substitute for Trader Joes. It’s just plain bland like a 7-11.

    As for convenience, self-checkout is a plus. Vons and Albertsons are beginning to offer that as well.

    I say, when F&E reaches $500MM in the hole, Sir Leary will have no choice but to sell or liquidate the company.

    It’s too bad. I know some F&E higher-ups that are working their butts-off to make it happen. But the business model is just wrong to begin with.

    Posted 02 Sep 2009 at 5:05 pm
  18. ben wrote:

    Hey john, thanks for the extra insight into Fresh and Easy woes. Didn’t realize they had some stuff more expensive than Whole Foods…that’s pretty surprising.

    Posted 02 Sep 2009 at 5:46 pm
  19. christy wrote:

    I was very excited when we heard F&E was coming to P-town until I shopped there , same story took meat back two times everything I got was bad a couple days later, what a waste just cash in the trash I have not been back since the last time I got bad meat two months ago and I won’t go back, I can’t believe they are still open I suspect very soon they will be gone.

    Posted 08 Sep 2011 at 5:48 pm

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