Can a Frequent-Shopper Program Save Lives?

There was a message on our answering machine when we returned from a trip this weekend.

Hello, this is your local Fred Meyer store with an important announcement. We wanted to alert you that you may have purchased Private Selection 10-ounce Shelled Pistachios that have been recalled. You should not consume the product. You may return the product or receipt to a store for a full refund or replacement [the speaker then gave a phone number for more information, and continued]

This message is possible because you are one of our loyal shoppers, and used your shopper’s card to make this purchase. Thank you for being a Fred Meyer customer.

Turns out there’s been a recall of pistachios because of a salmonella outbreak. And we had some in the cupboard.

It may be a little creepy that they’re keeping such close tabs (note to self: do not use Rewards Card when purchasing murder weapon), but this is a real benefit to customers who might otherwise suffer some serious health consequences. Fred Meyer handled it beautifully:

  • Gave an exact name of the product so it was easy to figure out what to look for
  • Gave sufficient reason to stop eating it (it’s been recalled) without creating undue alarm
  • Gave a toll-free number to call for more information
  • Offered a full refund without onerous restrictions — you can bring back the product or just the receipt
  • Reminded customers that this is a benefit of using the Rewards Card
  • Thanked us for shopping at Fred Meyer

It does raise an interesting question, though:

This procedure works perfectly for a relatively innocuous product  — a husband isn’t likely to be upset if his wife hears a voice mail about the pistachios he picked up on his lunch hour. But the store sells other items that might require a little more delicacy.

Would they leave a similar message in the event of a condom recall?


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