Curbside grocery service is great for customers, but these Kroger workers say they don't feel safer (2022)

As early as April 8, the United States Labor Department recommended that any stores with the capacity to do so should transition to either drive-through or curbside pick-up as a way to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus through social distancing. It's a service many U.S.grocery store chainslike Kroger and Ralphsalready had in place,but according to some store employees the increase in online orders hasn't left them feeling any safer.

"It's literally impossible to keep up," said Don B., a Kentucky-based Kroger employee.Don requested that his full name not be used because he feared losing his job during the pandemic. "We went from doing an average of 45 [pick-up] orders a day to 280."

To place a Kroger pickup order— or Clicklist, as early adopters first knew it —customers browse online, add items to a virtual cart, select whether or not they will allow staff-chosen substitutionsif items are out of stock. Then they choose a future one-hour pick-up window, during which they will park in a designated area in front of the store and wait for an attendant to load the groceries into their car.

During a normal week, customers often could have their orders filled within a few hours — and rarely had to plan morethan a day in advance —but now orders have spiked as customers try to stay out of retail stores, and wait times can go up to seven days. Additionally, as in-person shoppers have seen, a sustained rush of panic-buying after the novel coronavirus was first classified as a pandemicrendered some grocery shelves bare or struggling to stay stocked, meaning that when pickup orders are fulfilled, they are sometimes incomplete.

As a result, it's becoming increasingly common to see complaints about the system online (just type "Clicklist sucks" into Twitter for a sampling).

"But this system wasn't designed for a pandemic," Don B. said. "It's flawed, orders get misplaced."

Additionally, Donsaid, the space at his store where employees receive and compile the online orders was not set up for social distancing.This makes sense; Krogerbegan rolling out the service in 2014, and many stores were retrofitted to accommodate it.

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A photo of the room taken before the pandemic that he sent showsDon and four of his coworkers standing shoulder-to-shoulder, each holding up a candy bar. It's compact, filled with stacks of milk crates, a refrigerator and freezer, multiple computers, and video monitors that stream footage of the parking lot.

"Our desk and two computers are probably about three feet apart," Don B. said. "Again, not designed for a pandemic. And no one could have seen this coming, butI feel like corporate needs to cut back on the amount of orders we can do."

According to Don, this has led to a tremendous amount of tension in the store as employees fear for their own health while also being pushed to accomplish more and more throughout the day.

"It's impossible to keep the social distancing protocol right now, no way we can stand six feet apart," he said. "I have a prescription for Xanax and I've had to use it a lot."

Kroger did not respond to Salon's request for comment.

Across the country, grocery store chains arenavigating multiple needs that are sometimes in conflict: serve anxious customers who are eating more at home now safely and quickly,while making sure employees are physically safe and fairly compensated.

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As Salon reported on March 18, multiple states — including Minnesota, Vermont and Kentucky — have designated grocery store employees as "emergency personnel," meaning that these employees can access free, state-provided child care so they can continue to work, which was a commendable start.

In the subsequent month, both activists and unions have petitioned big box stores for hazard pay for employees whose day-to-day tasks put them at risk of exposure to the coronavirus. In early April, Kroger announced that they would be implementing a $2 raise for front-line essential workers. They dubbed it "Hero Pay" and it will be applied to hours worked March 29 through May 2.

According to a release from the company, "the premium will be disbursed weekly to ensure associates have access to additional cash. The Hero Bonus follows and is in addition to our previous commitment shared on March 21, which provided a one-time bonus to frontline associates."

Heather Jacobson, a former Kroger employee from Columbus, Ohio, says that doesn't feel like enough compensation for the day-to-day risk employees face.

"Most employees had maxed out at $10 or $11 an hour," she said. "So 'hero pay' doesn't even get them up to $15, which is the compensation that feels fair to me during this health crisis."

Jacobson, who is immunocompromised, said shewas being pulled away from working thedeli counter to fulfilling pickup orders —a "less customer-facing position," she says — but she quit three weeks ago when she realized that working the pickup orders meansshopping alongside customers who aren't necessarily adhering tobest practices for social distancing.

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"There were still crowds of people pouring in daily, many of which just wouldn't be wearing masks or gloves," she said.

Kroger has since announced additional safety protocols aimed at in-store shoppers: customer capacity limits, protective barriers between cashiers and customers, and floor markers to encourage social distancing.

ButJacobson said one of the best things supermarkets could do to protect their staff is convert stores to pickup-only facilities.

"That way we could use the entire store as space to fulfill orders without having to be in contact with customers all day, too," she said.

Kroger is currently testing this model with one of their Greater Cincinnati stores; according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Kroger is not considering pickup-only at other regional stores at this time as "company officials said the switch was due to a noticeable surge in pickup orders in the immediate area."

Another small way supermarkets and customers could demonstrate their appreciation for curbside grocery delivery employees during this time is embracing a tipping protocol. Tipping isagainst official company policy — per Kroger's website and Twitter, "while it is appreciated, our associates do not accept tips" — but several employees with whom I spoke reported an increase in customers leaving envelopes of cash in their trunks or inquiring how to Venmo or Paypal them a tip.

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"I'm not going to say 'no' to that right now," said Shannon P., an Atlanta-based employee. "There's one man who also has been leaving cold sodas in the back for associates, which is nice. There was also a woman who left us a lasagna, like in a dish, for us to eat — which was weird, but honestly, everything is appreciated."

Update

On April 26, Kroger announced that it would be mandatory for all employees to wear face masks. According to a news release, employees working in some parts of the store were already required to wear masks.

These will be provided by the store or "associates are also welcome to bring their own suitable masks or facial coverings to work, if they prefer."

"As an essential business, we've been balancing our most urgent priority to provide a safe environment for our associates and customers with open stores, ecommerce solutions and an efficiently operating supply chain, so that our communities always have access to fresh, affordable food and products," wroteKristal Howard, head of Kroger corporate communications and media relations, in an email.

She continued: "Additionally, we also encourage all our customers to wear a mask when they visit our stores, or alternatively, consider one of our ecommerce options available atkroger.com."

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Wearing masks, however, is not mandatory for customers,except in states where face masks are now required to be worn in public, like Delaware(there are no Kroger locationsin the sevenother states that currently require masks).

But since COVID-19 can be spread bypeople interacting in close proximity, even by those who are asymptomatic—hence social distancing recommendations — it would make more sense for both customers and employees be required to wear masks.

This is being billed as a new safety measure to further prevent the spread of COVID-19, but if the goal is genuinely to protect both customers and employees, everyone in the store would need to adhereto these recommendations.

FAQs

Do you tip for Kroger curbside pickup? ›

Are tips accepted for Pickup? While the gesture is appreciated, our associates do not accept tips.

How much do you tip for pickup at Kroger? ›

Kroger store employees don't accept tips, saving you 5-10% over Instacart or Shipt. Unlike Instacart and Shipt stores, Kroger doesn't accept tips for grocery pickup services. This is money you don't have to pay compared to an Instacart-powered store like Publix or ALDI.

Is Kroger doing well? ›

Earnings Improve For Kroger

However, they have been improving the past few quarters. Longer-term growth is better, with earnings rising an average 26% over the past three years. Analysts see full-year EPS falling 2% in fiscal 2023 before returning to 6% growth in fiscal 2024.

What happens if Kroger pickup is wrong? ›

If you discover a problem after you receive your order, you can return any wrong or unacceptable item directly to your local store or contact us by phone at 1-800-KRO-GERS (1-800-576-4377) or send us a message by clicking here. Proof of purchase may be required.

Do you tip Kroger ClickList employees? ›

Do you tip when you pick up click list? No. As a Kroger associate, they are not allowed to accept tips. They get paid to do those tasks.

Do you tip Kroger drivers? ›

Are tips accepted? With Kroger Delivery, your smile is our reward. No tipping please. Third-party partners like Instacart can accept tips.

Can you be late for Kroger pickup? ›

If you're late to pick up your order and the 1-hour window has passed, the order will be automatically canceled, and the items will be restocked in store. Kroger does not hold pickup orders; therefore, it is important to arrive at the store during your selected pickup time.

Are you supposed to tip when you pick up groceries? ›

You should tip as generously as possible; 20 percent at the very least.

What is Kroger error code RV9547? ›

Please contact the Customer Service Center at 1-866-544-8062 (Error Code RV9547. Account blocked for 24 hrs cause their under impression suspicious activity going on.

Which company is better to work for Kroger or Publix? ›

Publix is most highly rated for Compensation and benefits and Kroger is most highly rated for Culture. Learn more, read reviews and see open jobs.

Who is buying Kroger? ›

Berkshire Hathaway first took a stake in Kroger in the fourth quarter of 2019, when it bought 18.9 million shares. The company added shares early in 2020 and then bought 26 million shares over two quarters, lifting its Kroger holdings to 51 million by the end of the first quarter 2021.

What company owns Kroger? ›

Kroger is the United States' largest supermarket chain by revenue and the third-largest general retailer behind Walmart and Amazon, as well as the seventh largest American-owned private employer in the United States.
...
Kroger.
Kroger headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio
FounderBernard Kroger
HeadquartersCincinnati, Ohio , U.S.
18 more rows

Can I return groceries to Kroger? ›

Family of Stores can accept returns of items purchased at any Kroger Company family of stores location within a 30-day window of purchase. Returns with receipt: There are two receipt options: paper receipt or digital receipt. Returns will be refunded to the same payment method that was used to make the purchase.

Can I return something to Kroger without a receipt? ›

Kroger's return policy states that you can return an item within 30 days of purchase or delivery for a full refund or exchange. Here, you'll need to present the original receipt to receive a refund or exchange. If you ordered the items online, you can return them in-store or via the mail.

Does Kroger still have scan right guarantee? ›

It is still in effect. The guarantee is as follows: If an item that is $10 or less scans at the incorrect price, the first item should be given to the customer for free and all subsequent items should be charged at the correct shelf price.

Is Kroger having trouble with their website? ›

Kroger.com is UP and reachable by us.

What does Error Code 1369a mean? ›

If you are a user of the grocery delivery app and you get the error code 1369a on Instacart, this means that you have a problem with your payment method. Check to verify if your payment method is up to date. If it isn't, update it then try your purchase again.

What is Kroger alternate ID? ›

The Alternate ID that you entered is what you'll use as your virtual card number online & in-store.

Who pays more Publix or Kroger? ›

Salaries. Of the top 3 common jobs between the two companies, Publix salaries averaged $1 higher than Kroger.

What is the highest paying grocery store job? ›

High Paying Grocery Jobs
  • Grocery Store Manager. Salary range: $44,000-$65,000 per year. ...
  • Wine Manager. Salary range: $39,500-$59,000 per year. ...
  • Bakery Technician. Salary range: $35,000-$55,000 per year. ...
  • Meat Manager. Salary range: $38,000-$50,500 per year. ...
  • Bakery Manager. ...
  • Head Baker. ...
  • Meat Department Manager. ...
  • Brewery Representative.

Which grocery store is the best to work for? ›

Forbes just released its annual report ranking the best companies to work for in 2019. In the anonymous survey of 50,000 working Americans, a grocery store topped the list. The winner is Trader Joe's, known for its delicious frozen foods, small market charm and high-quality curated products.

Who owns the most stock in Kroger? ›

SHARES(16,889,831)
CompanyShares% Out
The Vanguard Group, Inc.81,040,58911.33
BlackRock, Inc.72,945,02510.19
Berkshire Hathaway Inc.57,985,2638.1
State Street Global Advisors, Inc.37,777,1785.28
16 more rows

Does Warren Buffet own Kroger? ›

Berkshire Hathaway first took a stake in Kroger in the fourth quarter of 2019, when it bought 18.9 million shares. The company added shares early in 2020 and then bought 26 million shares over two quarters, lifting its Kroger holdings to 51 million by the end of the first quarter 2021.

Does Kroger own Publix? ›

And Publix earned $2.6 billion in the first nine months of 2021, more than Kroger's $2.1 billion, despite generating a third of Kroger's sales. Already tempted to buy some Publix stock? You can't—unless you work there. Publix is owned by employees, board members, and the founding Jenkins family.

Does Kroger buy from China? ›

The Kroger Co. has partnered with Alibaba Group Holding Ltd to sell its products in China, in what will be the Cincinnati-based supermarket chain's first-ever international grocery venture outside the United States.

Where is Kroger meat from? ›

Though some of the grocery stores get their meat from old and retired cows, Kroger gets its All Simple Truth Organic Grass-Fed Beef from the cows born, raised, and slaughtered in Uruguay, a country where cows get their grass year-round.

What are the sister stores to Kroger? ›

The Kroger Co. Family of Stores includes:
  • Baker's.
  • City Market.
  • Dillons.
  • Food 4 Less.
  • Foods Co.
  • Fred Meyer.
  • Fry's.
  • Gerbes.

Can you return a watermelon? ›

Return it! If you get an unripe or over-ripe melon home, take it back and get another one or your money back. I called 4 local grocery stores today (Wal-Mart, Hy-Vee, Fareway and Dahls) and they all said they would refund or replace the melon. It is best if you have your receipt with you.

Can you return unopened food? ›

Yes, you can return expired food to the grocery store, depending on the situation. Having your receipt is important in a situation such as this one because it will help determine whether you can return the food. If you purchased the food after the expiration date, it can usually be returned.

Can you return prescription medication Kroger? ›

9) Can I stop an order or return a prescription? An order can be cancelled during processing, but cannot be cancelled during delivery. All medication order statuses can be tracked via www.ppsrx.com under “Prescription History.” No orders can be returned after delivery.

Can you return unused gift cards to Kroger? ›

Once a gift card has been purchased and shipped the card is not refundable.

Can I get a copy of my receipt from Kroger? ›

Simply select your order on the Past Purchases screen then choose the Receipt link or icon. If you have questions, please contact us at 1-800-576-4377 or online.

Can you return wine at Kroger? ›

If your wine is damaged, please call our Customer Service Center at (855) 858-4013, Monday through Friday 9am-8pm (ET) or email help@wine.kroger.com so we can assist you. How long does it take to process a refund? Our Customer Service Center will process a refund within 48 hours.

Does Walmart price match Kroger? ›

Walmart will match any local competitor's advertised price. Walmart does not require customers to have the ad with them to honor a competitor's ad. Items purchased must be identical to the ad (size, quantity, brand, flavor, color, etc.)

Did Kroger get rid of scan and go? ›

Kroger officials confirmed the pilot project but offered no further comment. The company, which frequently tests new technology in limited stores, is still testing its "Scan, Bag, Go" pilot in a few stores, which allows shoppers to use personal scanners as they shop.

Does Kroger price match Krogers? ›

Kroger doesn't have a price match policy. Like many grocers, Kroger has chosen to forgo the hassle of price matching in favor of its own coupons and discounting policies. Kroger doesn't offer price matching because they believe in providing the lowest prices on their products every day.

Should I tip the grocery pickup person? ›

The same goes for grocery or alcohol delivery. If you're picking up from a restaurant that started offering curbside pickup in the wake of the pandemic, leave a tip.

Should you tip for curbside pickup at Walmart? ›

You simply order your groceries online, reserve a time slot to pick up and a Walmart employee shops, bags and bring your groceries out to your car for you! They'll even load them into your car and the best part is this service is absolutely free. No need to tip or pay an extra service fee either.

Should I tip target curbside pickup? ›

Shoppers do accept tips! If you're happy with the service you've received, we encourage you to tip your shopper as well as rate them.

Do you tip the person who brings groceries to your car? ›

Do you tip for Curbside Pickup? You do not have to. And in fact, MANY stores will not allow their workers to take tips. The only exception is if a store manages their grocery pickup platform through Instacart – then those workers do accept tips.

Why is Walmart out of everything? ›

A representative for Walmart wrote, “This is not just an issue isolated to Walmart, it is affecting every chain—it's an industry issue—from impacts due to COVID absenteeism within the supply chain due to quarantine requirements by employers in supply chain, as well as school and day care closures tied to COVID, and ...

Can Walmart employees accept tips? ›

Walmart store associates do not accept tips for Pickup or Delivery, but you can show your appreciation with a positive review on your customer survey after you receive your order.

Do you tip Walmart plus? ›

Tips are optional and 100% go to the driver. You can choose to tip before or after placing your order or after delivery. You're free to edit your tip amount for up to 24 hours after delivery.

Do Walmart delivery drivers see tip? ›

Yes, Walmart grocery drivers can see how much you tip. Using their third-party delivery service's mobile app, delivery drivers can view their delivery history and delivery earnings, including the tips left for each delivery.

Does Walmart grocery pickup keep food cold? ›

This ensures that your food doesn't sit out a long time waiting for you to pick it up. In the times I've used the service, I've never ended up with mushy ice cream. So, does Walmart Grocery Pickup keep food cold? I would definitely say, “Yes.”

Do you tip Sam's curbside pickup? ›

Members need to check in when they arrive, and an associate will bring their order. Tips are not allowed for Sam's Club pickup.

Do you tip Shipt drivers? ›

Tips are not required but are greatly appreciated. If you choose to tip, you can add a tip when placing your order by choosing a preselected or custom amount. You may also tip in cash or within the app after you receive your delivery. No matter which method you choose, 100% of your tip will go to the shopper.

How much should I tip my Target shopper? ›

With trusted stores like Target, CVS, and Costco, Shipt makes it easy to get everything you need—from household essentials to groceries—delivered straight to your door. Although tips are optional, you should tip your Shipt shopper at least 15% and increase it to 20% if you receive exceptional customer service.

Should I tip Shipt shoppers? ›

Tips are not required but are greatly appreciated. Show your shopper some love and appreciation by tipping any amount of your choice! You may tip in cash or within the app after you receive your delivery and 100% of your tip will go to the shopper.

Can you tip grocery store cashiers? ›

Most grocers don't allow their employees to accept gratuity. They pay them an hourly rate because they are not relying on tips to make an hourly wage. However, during this time, they may change their policy.” If you notice a tip jar at the end of a cashier's register, drop a few extra dollars or your remaining change.

Should I tip Instacart pickup? ›

Tips are optional but a great way to show your shoppers appreciation and recognition for their excellent service. 100% of your tip goes directly to the shopper delivering your order. The default tip is 5% or the percentage you chose for your most recent order, whichever is higher.

How much do you tip Instacart? ›

Instacart recommends a 5% tip which is less than the 15% to 20% recommended tip in the restaurant industry. So if you paid $75 for your groceries, you should at least, leave the Instacart Shopper a tip of $3.75. Leaving at least a 5% tip is considered good Instacart tipping etiquette.

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