fred meijer is watching

I just got back from shopping with Clementine and I have a question. Do you know how, when you checkout at the grocery store, the person running the register usually hands you a few coupons after you pay? (At least this generally happens at Meijer’s, the big mid-western chain that I often shop at. (I shop there because, unlike other stores, Meijer’s doesn’t insist that you use a store loyalty discount card when you shop, that tracks all your purchases, etc.)) It’s never really bothered me too much, until tonight. Until tonight, the coupons that I’ve been given have always been for products like those in my cart. For instance, if I was buying fake sausage from company A, I might get a coupon from one of their competitors. This company, I would imagine, had paid Meijer’s something for the opportunity. (Or, perhaps you’d get a coupon for another product by company A.) At any rate, it never bothered me. While I rarely used the coupons that were handed to me (I’m pretty loyal to my brands), they didn’t bother me. I could see how it might be a good thing for some folks, and it didn’t really concern me that they were running my purchases through their system for analysis (so long as they didn’t store that information in a file with my name on it). Which brings us to this evening.

This evening, I went grocery shopping with Clementine. For the most part, I bought produce. I also picked up a can of refried beans, some corn tortillas, and some cheese. There wasn’t anything unusual about my purchase. More specifically, there wasn’t anything baby-related in my cart (except for the baby)… Which brings me to why I’m posting this. You see, as I was paying, the machine printed out a coupon for Enfamil baby formula. While I suppose they could be printing these out for everyone (in hopes of reaching a few people with babies), I believe it’s the first time I’ve ever received a coupon that wasn’t somehow tied to something that I’d purchased. At any rate, there it is. Maybe I’m making too much of this, but I think it’s possible that they’re profiling their customers… So, if you know a cashier at Meijer’s I’d appreciate it if you’d ask them if they somehow enter demographic information about their customers as they approach the checkout counter.

I don’t know that I’d be completely against it if I found out that this was the case, but I’d be interested to know how the system works, and what they’re looking for. Personally, I don’t think it would cross my threshold of tolerability (like loyalty cards do), but I’d be curious to know what kinds of things they track. (I’m in marketing, so these kinds of things really interest me.)

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42 Comments

  1. Andrew
    Posted January 19, 2005 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Not to be nitpicky, I believe that the Meijer chain was founded by Hendrik Meijer; and not Fred. Although, I understand there is a grocery chain out west called Fred Meyer that is not at all related to “our” Meijer. Confusin’, ain’t it?

  2. mark
    Posted January 19, 2005 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

    Although founded by Hendrik Meijer, it is Fred Meijer, his son, I believe, that is credited with modernizing the company and growing it to its present size

  3. Andrew
    Posted January 19, 2005 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    I humbly bow in your direction, O great one. And, I share your dislike for those loyalty cards, too.

  4. Posted January 20, 2005 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    As a database programmer I know the counter-value of bad data.

    Every time I fill out one of the customer forms I lie.

    My Kroger card, for example, is filled out as William Jefferson Clinton, address: 1600 Pennslyviania ave.

    Lie early, lie often.

  5. Posted January 20, 2005 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    Kroger thinks I live at 1000 Center in Ypsi. Of course, there is no Center in Ypsi, but enormous chains like Kroger don’t know anything about the towns they locate in.

    Meijer is evil. I’ll bet they track your purchases with your credit card number. They probably sell the info they collect too.

  6. Posted January 21, 2005 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Credit card purchase? we’re all in a Star Trek world now with those crazy colored plastci blocks and “Credits”.

    You didn’t buy Boca Sausages did you?
    Meijer and Boca are unfortunately very Red companies. Not that you can avoid the 3am Mejier run for diapers.

  7. mark
    Posted January 21, 2005 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    I eat Morningstar Farms fake sausage. I know absolutely nothing about the company that produces it though. (And please don’t tell me that they suck, unless you know of another company that makes something better. I’d rather not know.)

  8. Posted January 29, 2005 at 10:46 am | Permalink

    I know this is kind of a dead thread, but I saw this story on Slashdot this morning and thought of your Meijer happy funtime.

    A firefighter was arrested for arson because his shopaholic card showed he had bought the same kind of fire starter that was used to start the fire. The only reason he’s not in jail now is because the real arsonist came forward.

    Luckily, most grocery stores have ATMs…

  9. mark
    Posted January 29, 2005 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Un-fucking-believable. Thanks for leaving this comment, George….

    And, as long as we’re back at this thread again, I should mention that I went to Meijer’s yesterday after work, without the baby, and, at the checkout, I was given two coupons. Neither of them were for baby products. As is usually the case, both were directly tied to things I’d purchased… I should have asked the cashier, but I was in a hurry to get home to start mixing drinks.

  10. Roseanna
    Posted February 3, 2005 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    I work at Meijer. To answer your question as to whether or not they profile their customers? The answer is no. The company that they use to spit out the coupons for the formula is Catalina and it randomly spit out the formula coupon every so many customers. But here is good news..the enfamil coupon is a hot commodity and if you look on ebay you will find many of them up for bids. The coupon will also spit out if you purchase Carnation baby formula.Every once in awhile Meijer will ask for a zip code at the end of your purchase (once a year they do this)to see where the majority of their patrons are coming from.It is a marketing technique and I guess in some ways is profiling. As far as Meijer history, Hendrik started the company, but Fred and his wife Lena built it to what it is today. Now his sons are running the company with Fred in the background. All I can say about that is I wish Fred was still in control. He was a good man to work for. I stumbled on site and want to tell you I enjoyed the reading!!!!

  11. mark
    Posted February 3, 2005 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Thank you very much for the information, Roseanna. It’s appreciated…

    Hopefully, it won’t hurt your feelings if I say this, but I’m kind of wondering if it might be possible that you’re not really a nice midwestern woman named Roseanna at all, but a yung intern working at a PR firm somewhere in New York who’s been hired to cruise around the internet looking for references to Meijer’s and saying nice things about the company… I’m sorry if I sound suspicious, but there’s been a lot of that kind of stuff going around lately.

  12. Brian
    Posted February 4, 2005 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    I’m with Mark…this sounds to fishy!

  13. Roseanna
    Posted February 6, 2005 at 5:31 am | Permalink

    Mark,
    I don’t blame you at all for feeling that way and I take no offense. I am not a young intern living in New York, I am a however, a nice midwestern girl who lives downriver. I have worked in their Loss Prevention department for over 10 years and for the most part like the company I work for. I don’t spend my work hours writing nice things about Meijer all over the internet, but was simply addressing questions that I read here. Most of my work hours are spent looking for shoplifters, prosecuting those who bounce large amounts of rubber checks, and responding to medical issues that arise inside the store. Hope this clears up my intentions for the first post.

  14. mark
    Posted February 6, 2005 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Sorry for doubting you. You sound like a very nice woman, and I

  15. mark
    Posted February 6, 2005 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    One more thing… speaking of shrinkage… and Enfamil… I’ve heard before that one of the most stolen items in stores like Meijer’s is powdered baby formula, because it’s used in the manufacture of crack cocaine. Is that really the case? If not, what is the most stolen item, and why?

  16. Roseanna
    Posted February 6, 2005 at 11:16 pm | Permalink

    Mark,
    Baby formula is definately one of our most stolen items. As far as it being used to manufacture crack cocaine, that I am not sure of. What we do know is this is an easy item to fence. Some of our other big theft items are razor blade refills, DVD’s, and batteries. After all these years of doing this job I have found that nothing is off limits to shoplifters. Everything from Lawn furniture to Sausage is fair game! Is sure does make for some very interesting days.

  17. Jack
    Posted February 7, 2005 at 12:19 am | Permalink

    I’ve also been extremely wary of customer loyalty cards. As far as Albertsons is concerned my name is Bronislaw Malinowski. There was a great interview on ‘Fresh Air’ on 2/3 with Robert O’Harrow, Jr. a Washington Post reporter who just finished a book called “No Place to Hide”. I flipped through it at the bookstore and it seems like an interesting read. The scariest part is how the government is contracting these huge data-mining companies to gather and store data for them. Big Brother isn’t watching, he’s hiring hitmen.

  18. Katherine
    Posted June 1, 2005 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    So, does Fred/Hendrick Meijer own the Kroger stores now or is it the other way around? I heard one bought the other and can’t remember which.

    Katherine

  19. Trick E.
    Posted June 8, 2005 at 5:50 am | Permalink

    Mark~
    To compete with Wal-Mart, Meijer has become Wal-Mart. Instead of Blogging do a little research. Meijer has saddled up with a consulting firm CapGemeni, which was founded by a CEO of Wal-Mart. This in turn has spewed out one of the top freight handler in the country, FHI. By the way, now has the Meijer contract. COLOR ME SUPRISED!!! It is the cost of doing business in CORPORATE AMERICA. I know I have been employed there for some time. I have also received similar coupons, don’t sweat it. By the way Meijer was suppose to be in Wisconsin in ’02 until Wal-Mart made an aggressive attack upon Meijer. Please read The Grocery news.Wal-Mart is now the #1 employer in the world, they will now effect life for all.

  20. Posted June 8, 2005 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I’m just glad that there isn’t a Meijer or a Wal-Mart near me, so I don’t feel the need to go to either place. Unfortunately, I do shop at Kroger as they’re more vegetarian friendly than the Farmer Jack right across the street. Of course, I do all of my produce shopping at the Dearborn Farm Market – a nice independent store and buy my cheese and other expensive gourmet food yuppie type items at Merchants Warehouse – also independently owned.

  21. Posted August 11, 2005 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    I’m glad there IS a Meijer within three miles of here. And whenever I travel, I rediscover that I miss them in the rest of the country.

    They’re clean, low-price, 24-hour, and unionized. Good produce, friendly policies, wide range of quality goods. As a nightowl, I’m awfully glad they’re always open. Espresso beans, hacksaw blades, dog food, sneakers, lawn furniture. . .

    Hendrick was actually a socialist, which is probably how the unions originally gained a foothold. Fred, in his younger days, was sort of a Democrat, although I don’t think that’s true any more. In any event, they pay much better than Walmart, and provide better benefits. The people I know who work at Meijer always complain about it, until I ask if they’d take a job at Walmart or whatever.

    I’d say Meijer is almost on the same level of corporate goodness as Costco. I live in the Lansing area, and I’ve never heard anybody object to Meijer building a store nearby; I think people realize what a good deal they are, for shoppers, employees, and the community.

  22. Jake
    Posted August 23, 2005 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    I just finished my last day as a cashier at Meijer about 3 weeks ago. No, we do not enter demographic info on customers. Those Enfamil coupons usually only come up when you by something baby related, but sometimes I’ve seen things come out randomly, too, or the cashier forgets to give the person in line ahead of you their coupons, and just involutarily gives you them. I’ve only been mandated to do demographic tracking once, when Meijer had us ask for customers’ zip codes for a week.

  23. Tom
    Posted December 31, 2006 at 2:47 am | Permalink

    I work at Meijer, and the reason you got that baby coupon was just a coincidence. Yes, you will get coupons related to things you purchase, because as they run an item over the scanner, the computer recognizes that you bought sausage (for example) and thus will give you sausage coupons. It’s not accessing your profile and printing coupons according to that, because such a profile is non-existant.

  24. Joel
    Posted April 25, 2007 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    I also kind of stumbled upon your site, it’s great. I myself worked as a Store Detective/Loss Prevention at Meijer, and then (1999-2001) was an awesome place to work, and I truly miss it. Even though I hate retail, meijer was an ok place to shop and work- and I truly believe they do not track their customers (besides the zip code thing) :) And, I also do not work at a PR firm, :)

  25. Tony
    Posted August 19, 2007 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    Hey,

    I aso work loss prevention at meijer, and I just thought I’d post since I’ve noticed a couple more on here. I dont think that meijer keeps track of what you’re buying, except your current order, I mean. I’ve gotten baby formula and baby food coupons from the catalina machine before, and I have NEVER bought baby food. So, no worries about that one. Oh, and about the powdered baby formula and crack, I’m not sure… What we find most people steal the stuff for is the resale value on the streets. Selling them to all the young mothers out there that can’t afford paying ten bucks a can, or whatever they cost. Other than that, though, the most frequent thing stolen from our store is liquor, DVDs, and other baby merch.

  26. jack
    Posted December 1, 2007 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I work at Meijer in there corporate office and yes they do track every thing and also switch around prices at the store level to only raise them and make it look like a good deal.

  27. Dirk
    Posted December 3, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    We just spent $400 at Meijers and they bagged our groceries in flimsy plastic bags. It’s pretty greedy of Meijers to supply customers with the cheap ass plastic and them offer to SELL cloth bags at $.99 each. How greedy can they get? They can’t afford to give them to customers that spend a lot of money at your store?? In addition, now they have so many quick checkout lines that they force the grocery shoppers who spend a lot of money as opposed to the quick checkout shoppers to walk all the way to the other end to get to a checkout. I wonder if Mr. Fred knows how they are treating his customers. We are thinking to start shopping at Kroger where they treat you right. Shame on them!

  28. meijer is nightmare
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    meijer sucks ! they are no differnet than walmart in fact there worse they track every thing. do you know as a shopper your worth one point to loss prevention and if you work for them your worth 2 points and if the loss prevention dosent reach a number they are wrote up and even fired ? belive me they are tracking you like a dog !!
    the worest thing was when fred truned it over to his boys. meijer has become a nightmare. in fact there have started a case count system in the deptments in the store. do shoppers even relise when you ask a worker for help you are cutting in to his case counts. if he dosent meet his case counts he or she is wrote up or even fired ? now thats thanking care of of shopper at the price of the workers. the bean counters say that in a 1 hour ship that 2.7 minutes will be taking care of a shopper. what a joke i know i worker at meijers for over 25 years and the best day of my life was getting the hell out of meijers !

  29. Posted March 5, 2008 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

    At least you’re not bitter.

  30. mark
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    LOL.

    [I’d like to point out, that is my first use of “LOL” ever… Dr. Cherry deserved it.]

  31. mark
    Posted March 5, 2008 at 11:05 pm | Permalink

    [Was I wrong to use a period after LOL? I’m not aware of protocol.]

  32. joooles
    Posted March 6, 2008 at 2:28 am | Permalink

    Ah, I so miss Meijers. We have awful, awful grocery stores here in Seattle, like Fred Meyer (which is owned by Kroger). We do have some nice “Natural” grocery stores where the rich healthy folks get their food. Every time I shop at Fred Meyer I think back fondly on Meijers, where the prices were cheap and there’s lots of choices, you can find anything and everything there, and they’re open 24 hours!

    When asked what I miss about Michigan, Meijers is it. (well, except family and other wonderful people like Mark Maynard)

  33. Sandra
    Posted May 23, 2008 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I’ve worked for Meijer for 10 years and find that it’s not a bad place to work (no worse than anywhere else in retail, certainly better than Wal-Mart, I think). They’re very liberal with time off if you need it and their benefits are pretty good. I went this week to their Service Recognition Dinner (you get invited to one every five years). It was held in Grand Rapids which is quite a ways from where I live. Because of the price of gas, Meijer chartered buses to bring people to the dinner and Fred Meijer stood up there and shook hands with every one of the couple of hundred people celebrating various anniversaries. The man is 89 years old. I have to say, that impressed me.

  34. Posted May 23, 2008 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    “I eat Morningstar Farms fake sausage.”
    Morningstar Farms is owned by Kellogg’s. Thanks for supporting Michigan based businesses.

  35. Posted May 23, 2008 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    “They can’t afford to give them to customers that spend a lot of money at your store??”

    Just ask for paper then. It’s much better at holding up then the plastic. The only trouble is that it doesn’t have handles, but then you could always ask for paper inside plastic for the benefits of both.

    “In addition, now they have so many quick checkout lines that they force the grocery shoppers who spend a lot of money as opposed to the quick checkout shoppers to walk all the way to the other end to get to a checkout”

    At my store, there is one set of quick lines, as in just two lanes for quick, and the rest are for more than 20 or so items at one end. The other end has only one quick lane, the fast lanes, and the other 11 lanes don’t care what you have.

    “they are no differnet than walmart in fact there worse they track every thing.”

    Worse? You make me laugh. You’re a Wal-mart lover and can’t stand for Meijer to do better.

    “do you know as a shopper your worth one point to loss prevention and if you work for them your worth 2 points and if the loss prevention dosent reach a number they are wrote up and even fired ?”

    Two words. Bull. Shit.

    “belive me they are tracking you like a dog !!”

    As a cashier, the only thing personal that they might enter, is your credit card number if it doesn’t swipe or your ID if they have to do your check manually. They don’t get anything personal on you otherwise, so quit your whining.

    “meijer has become a nightmare.”

    Not really. If Meijer was a nightmare, then why would some stores be able to hit 100% friendliness or even above 80% checkout easiness?

    “in fact there have started a case count system in the deptments in the store. do shoppers even relise when you ask a worker for help you are cutting in to his case counts. if he dosent meet his case counts he or she is wrote up or even fired ? now thats thanking care of of shopper at the price of the workers.”

    Can you please SHUT THE FUCK UP! Before you start posting crap, get your facts straight. There is no such thing as a case count and we definitely don’t get fired for not meeting some number.

    “the bean counters say that in a 1 hour ship that 2.7 minutes will be taking care of a shopper. what a joke”

    Taking care of the shopper is a joke? Please go to the other side of the world before I kill you.

    “i know i worker at meijers for over 25 years and the best day of my life was getting the hell out of meijers !”

    If you hate Meijer, then why did you even work there for twenty-five years? It would seem to me that you’d quit before then.

    Also, your grammar reeks of a little kid. Are you sure that you’re old enough to even work for Meijer?

  36. Angry Shopper
    Posted August 26, 2008 at 11:28 pm | Permalink

    I made what I believe will be my last visit to Meijer tonight.

    After reviewing all the ads from the grocers in my area I chose to do my monthly chore at Meijer due primarily to the “great” sale on Pepsi 2 liters; 10 bottles for $8.00. So, after three hours of shopping I finally arrive at the checkout with 2 carts full and $300 cash in my hand. I have 40 bottles of pop, cashier tells me I can only buy 10. I say your paper does state that nor does the sign in the aisle. She offers to call the grocery manager who very coldly tells me he will not allow me to buy this pop. I explain to him that if this is his decision he will be restocking my entire order and losing a customer for life. He bids me goodnight.

    I am now furious but I am not one to cause a scene. (Usually) So I go to the parking lot to have a smoke and call the store and speak with the store manager. I will say that at least this guy was apologetic for my trouble and stated that he did value my business and didn’t want to lose me as a customer. However, he did uphold the grocery managers decision.

    So, I get back home and look up a phone number for their corporate office. Guess what, they do not post one. However, a little trick to use when companies don’t like out give corporate contact numbers, I look for a link for investors or business to business level services (Mark, I hope you don’t go warning your clients about this trick!) and I get a phone number. The gal that answered was very nice but had no authority to intervene. She did take my name and number with a promise to pass it on to the store director. I will have to wait to see just how much Meijer really values their customers; unfortunately I am getting the impression that it is not very much. Sad thing too, because I did like the Meijer store and they often won my business with their pricing.

    I really don’t why I am wasting more of my life writing about this other than maybe to help stew others that are disgruntled with the company. I guess maybe I just to pass around the misery because I am still too upset to go to bed. But alas, I am running out of cigarettes so I bid you all goodnight and perhaps I will remember this blog tomorrow or next week to see if anyone has appreciated the extra fuel I have thrown on their fire.

    Is Fred Meijer related to Satan?

  37. clarissa
    Posted August 28, 2008 at 2:07 am | Permalink

    Can you please SHUT THE FUCK UP! Before you start posting crap, get your facts straight. There is no such thing as a case count and we definitely don’t get fired for not meeting some number.

    actually ur wrong there is a case count they just started it befor i quit in march. yes you will be wrote up for not meeting quota and possibly fired.

  38. WisGirl
    Posted September 19, 2008 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    I moved to Michigan from Wisconsin, and I have yet to see what’s so great about Meijer stores. Compared to what I’m used to, Meijer is much more expensive and their produce is NASTY! They also don’t have much for an electronics department. I can’t say that I’m fond of the policies of “big box” stores such as Wal-Mart, but I can honestly say that I wish there was a supercenter where I live. Supposedly, they’re going to build one. I can’t wait! No more shopping at the hell hole known as Meijer, and I won’t be so broke after grocery shopping :)

  39. jeff
    Posted May 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    lady ur nuts

  40. don carlos
    Posted June 30, 2014 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    [I have 42 years in Meijer.]

    Regarding tracking sales, I was told that big data is compiled and tagged to the profile of a credit card user, but the information sold to interested parties remains anonymous. I don’t have a reason to think differently. Pay cash, if you crave invisibility.

    I work at a unit that measures grocery stocker productivity. After many years of soul-crushing agony, the only people disciplined are the managers. The system wastes resources and time. The management generally lacks the discipline to enforce standards equitably. Measured production always ceases when the responsible department is staffed by general merchandise employees.

    According to a steward, many new stores never count cases.

  41. dabustle
    Posted June 1, 2015 at 2:25 am | Permalink

    I will NEVER shop at Meijer again. I am a 60 year old professional and they do not let people shop in peace. They are so intrusive and ridiculous. I can barely walk and I lean on the cart. They followed me down every aisle and then they closed all the aisles and I had to check out myself. I about passed out by the time I finished. I almost left, but there was no way I could have walked through another store. I was insulted and I plan to tell everyone I know.

  42. George Pivnicka
    Posted October 4, 2015 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    After working at Walmart for 10 years and Meijer’s for the last 3 , I can say that I had better benefits at Walmart, but better pay at Meijer’s . I am treated better by management at Meijer’s than at Walmart ( so far) . As to which is better ,it’s a matter of choice….the bottom line is that they are BOTH “BIG BOX RETAILERS” so make your own call……

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