Props to Giant’s Customer Service

A reader sends a great experience he shared with yelp about the Columbia Heights Giant:

Look, you’re not on yelp to look for a review of this grocery store, because you know what to expect when you go into any chain supermarket; that’s how these stores are designed. The effusive purple and yellow of Giant is ubiquitous; it permeates the aisles, the uniforms, and the signs throughout the store. You know where to find jelly, magazines, and the occasional rib-eye (but only if it’s on sale). You have your Giant card memorized and can probably find seven different means of egress in the event of a fire. Sure, each individual store is different: longer lines in some places, uninformed staff in another, but if you need groceries, and this joint is within walking distance, you’re going here, because the entire neighborhood does. Now, this isn’t the best stocked Giant I’ve ever been to, nor are the deli workers particularly fast about their meat slicing, but I am writing this post specifically to relay a story of customer service done right.

Continues after the jump.

I recently moved to Columbia Heights after a four-year stint in Dupont, and had been sleeping on a full-size mattress that was about as comfortable as steel coils covered in gossamer strands of cat hair and spiderwebs. After four months of tossing, turning, and maneuvering myself between two springs, I broke down and bought a mattress at Sleepy’s – its proximity to my new residence being a huge factor. I was waiting for a friend to help me carry it to my place (now, before you ask “Why didn’t you just get it delivered to your door?” keep in mind that home delivery is $99 and showroom delivery is $29) when I received a text that he would not be able to make it. My best Ultimate Warrior impressions failed when the mattress dropped directly on the top of my head. The four-block walk would be nigh impossible, so, I went to search for a dolly.

I went into Giant and explained my situation to the manager. After asking me why I just didn’t get it delivered to my house, he called over an employee stocking strawberries in the front of the store and had him fetch a U-Cart (those dollies with the handles that look similar to the ones porters use in high-class hotels like The Radisson). This employee walked with me to Sleepy’s, helped me load my mattresses, brought my mattresses to my stoop, and helped me carry them into my place. All the while, I thought back to what the manager had said moments after I explained my peculiar predicament to him, “Well… we’re understaffed tonight, but let me see what I can do…”

Sure, there will always something to complain about, because this is a grocery store, and customers don’t always treat everything with care, but this situation not only made my day, but was a great example of how communal Columbia Heights is, and what good customer service can do for a store’s image.

45 Comment

  • Thanks for sharing. They have some great people there, including a certain cashier who works Saturday mornings. She’s like a ninja bag packer – everything magically fits and nothing is damaged.

  • wonder if the manager and employee will get reprimanded for wasting company’s time and using company’s equipment for other purposes.

  • As a regular shopper at this Giant who gets tired of hearing people whine about how awful this store, it’s great to see this encouraging story. The place isn’t perfect, but then neither is the world. It says a lot about this neighborhood.

  • This makes me very happy to hear. I started going to the Harris Teeter on Kalorama recently out of some frustration with crowds at this Giant, but maybe I’ll rethink that. Good customer service and a community-based attitude trumps a little extra wait in the line

  • I love that Giant. When ever I go to the Customer Service desk, I get the best treatment. Much better than the Customer Services Center at Target.

    • greenroofgoddess

      +1 Giant customer service desk is always great–esp. for rain checks, returns, coupon issues. In comparison, Target customer service has been super rude the past 3 times I’ve had to return something, even though I had a receipt, etc.

  • Am I in bizarro world? In what universe is it OK to buy something at one store and then go into another store and ask them to help you get the item home? I get that you’re a regular customer there, but that’s shitty behavior in my book.

    • How is that shitty behavior? The guy was obviously in a pinch and Giant is a place that would have a dolly to use. It was super nice of the people there to help him out. It’s not like he went in there asking for someone to bag and carry his Harris Teeter brand food home.

    • Meanwhile some poor sap was standing around the produce section of Giant wondering why they were out of strawberries.

  • That’s rad, but doesn’t make up for Giant’s prices being almost on par with Whole Foods.

  • While it may not be the best grocery store in the world, the people at the Columbia Heights Giant are extremely friendly and helpful. They pack your bags as if they were packing their own.

    I hope you generously tipped whoever helped you do that. I think it is a little coo coo that you had a Giant worker help you carry a mattress. Why not just cough up the extra $$ for delivery once you realized your friend couldn’t make it?

    • “I hope you generously tipped whoever helped you do that.”

      I’m assuming Giant has a policy similar to other grocery/retail stores, and if it was found out the employee who helped him accepted a tip they would be fired immediately

      • Um.

        I bet Giant also has a policy that forbids management from making their employees haul mattresses (or anything that they don’t sell, for that matter) for random strangers.

        This isn’t the same thing as taking groceries to an elderly person’s car.

        What a load of shit.

  • Haha, I saw these guys walking east on Kenyon while I was in my car waiting to go west yesterday. It was a perplexing scene…. Kind of “which of these things doesn’t belong”. Glad to have the happy story explained.

  • I wonder if he’ll only get them in trouble by thanking those guys publicly for using up equipment and manpower. I do think it was nice of them, but a post on PoP might not be the best way to thank them.

  • I hope that you gave that guy a tip at the end of the delivery. I have had nothing but positive experiences at the Giant. The Deli crew is always the attentive and it’s nice to be remembered and what cold cuts I like. My only gripe would the fluster cluck it turns into during peak times.

  • FYI to all:

    When buying a mattress you can always negotiate free delivery. Haggle on the price of the mattress and when they won’t budge any more you say “ok, I’ll buy at that price if you give me free delivery”.

    • I was sort of surprised to hear that delivery wasn’t free in the first place. I guess that’s how they keep their prices low.

  • austindc

    Giants are great for moving mattresses.

  • I hope you give the guy who helped you carry the mattress some $$. That is not part of his job, and his boss can’t order him to do it. It was super nice for them to help you. I hope you repaid them at least in booze if not some cash.

  • to be honest, if i was the employee, i’d be thrilled to be outside doing something different. i wouldn’t have thought about getting a tip.

  • So they were already understaffed and made themselves even more so. I guess I understand why everything always takes so long there and at busy times the lines back up halfway down the aisles, employees are encouraged to do random crap that isn’t their job.

  • I would probably have asked to borrow a dolly too. I’d have offered to leave my ID and promised to be back in 30 minutes, or something like that.

    On the other hand, I really am the kind of person that would have helped this guy carry the mattress if I saw him flailing down Kenyon, so maybe that’s why I think it’s okay to ask for help. What is the point of living next to 600,000 people if we all want to pretend to be strangers? Surely going to overpriced bars cannot be the height of our urban existence.

    Everyone who thinks that the mattress buyer did something wrong must not have old people in their lives. Grandparents talk about cap like this all the time. It seems to have been pretty normal to help others until this country became litigious, overpopulated, self centered and profit-seeking. I think that happened in the 80s but I don’t know why. Probably bad parenting by the baby boomers. But what do I know, I’m 26. My grandparents are 83 though and would to this day force me to help anyone struggling with a mattress on 14th street.

    • Thank you for this reminder. Seriously. This is the way things used to be done (…from someone 2 decades older than yourself) and is the way things should be. Your parents and grandparents taught you well.

    • Not bad parenting by the baby boomers but bad BEHAVIOR by the baby boomers. They’re the ones who started the ills that you cited in the 80s. The greed is good generation.

  • What a nice story! I love the staff at the Giant. They are always quick to help me find something or to look for things in the back, and I know most of the checkout people by now. The store is not perfect, but I don’t think it deserves nearly the hate it gets in these parts.

  • Emilie504

    I have mixed feelings about this story. It was great for the Giant folks to help out, but what about the people at Giant that may have needed his help? I think the mattress buyer should have ponied up the money for delivery or found someone who was not currently working at a different store.

    I also hope the Giant folks don’t get in trouble for this act of kindness and that the mattress buyer gave the guy that helped out a generous tip.

    • What about the people who needed his help??

      I’m sure they survived. Good grief, people, lighten up. He was probably gone 15 minutes.

      • +1
        I just worry about those poor souls who had to spend 20 minutes trying to find paprika while 1 out of the 50 employees was out of the store.

  • This store attracts a lot of whining. Biut this is DC and that happens a lot. Since the neglected but servicable 8th & O Giant closed, I’ve spent more time at Whole Foods and have come to realize that most of WF’s produce is also at Giant and Safeway but costs more at WF and is just as likely to be flavorless and past its prime. The bakery stuff often looks better than it tastes and I’ve gotten some pretty subpar cold cuts from the deli, so its nice to see some love for a regular supermarket rather than some braindead cooing for an overpriced Harris-Teeter or a Whole Foods.

  • Hey, so I’m the “mattress buyer” here and I want to shed a little light on some comments:

    1. I don’t want to disclose whether or not I gave the man a tip for helping me, as I wouldn’t want any potential administrative retaliation to get back to him. (I worked at a Stop and Shop in NY when I was younger, and I’ve seen people fired for accepting customer tips). However, I’m a firm believer in a little common decency…

    2. I had it delivered to Sleepy’s bc the price difference was $70 and I live 4 blocks away. My friend was supposed to be available to help me, but he bailed at the last minute.

    3. I explained my situation to the manager knowing that there would be a 1% chance of him not laughing in my face.

    4. Maybe I should have haggled free delivery, but I didn’t. I was in a bind, and Giant came through in a huge (pun intended) way.

    • Make your buddy reimburse you for the tip… in booze!

      And props to the staff at Giant!

    • Make friends with working musicians. Most have hand trucks and/or dollies for moving equipment. A lot of them don’t work during the day and have time to help you move. Tip of the day for all of you!

    • Hi Sean -

      This is the manager at Giant. And let me tell you that everything is just fine. George, your helper, is a great guy and willing to help anytime. Whether or not you gave him a tip is unimportant to me and Giant – it is certainly not worthy of any reprimand. We want to be the best neighbors we can be in this community. Some days are more challenging than others, that is true. But helping others really makes my day and most of my staffers feel the same way.

      Thanks for the nice comments about my store and my staff (some of the hardest working people I have seen in my 32 years with Giant)

      • Thanks for the update – the Giant in Columbia Heights is my go-to grocery store and I’m glad to see it’s gotten some appreciation from PoPville

      • Jack –

        Again, thank you! I was in Giant this morning and wanted to approach you in person, but you were on the phone.

  • I am also glad to see Giant get some love. I have always been treated really well by all of the employees at the Columbia Heights Giant. I am also happy to spend my money at a store where I know the employees get paid a living wage and have healthcare. It proves when you treat employees well, they will treat your customers well.

  • Love the anti-bureaucracy and humanity of it all. After all, life is short, be nice, and lend a helping hand whenever you can! And don’t be afraid to ask.

    Good thing the helper didn’t throw his back out or tear a muscle or break his neck falling down the stairs, that would have been fun to sort out….

  • Nice story to hear. It’s nice to hear of a person in a bind getting some help. Of course the idea that this one incident shows “how communal Columbia Heights is” is fairly ridiculous (would CoHi be “not communal” if the Giant guy had said “no?”).

  • Thanks for sharing this Sean. I moved to CH a few weeks ago after 5 years in Logan and I can say the sense of community here is much more noticeable than it was in Logan. In Logan when I said hi to people I passed on the street, they’d act like I was going to stab them. Here, they smile and say hi back.

  • Not trying to rain on the parade. People in CoHi can be very helpful in a pinch. I’d take 365 days of good customer service I now get in Dupont that I never got at Giant.

    Just saying because I haven’t ever had to go back, my stress level has significantly diminished and my quality of life has improved dramatically. (I still get up at 8AM to go to the grocery store out of habit, knowing it’s the only time I’ll be able to get in and out in a reasonable time).

    Still good to hear that you can lean on good people (just because they’re slow/uninformed/etc doesn’t make them bad).

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