Wednesday, July 17, 2019

The Poisonous Atmosphere At Whole Foods Market, Beverly Hills

- You've repeated so many times that in our extreme form of capitalism in each transaction buyer and seller are enemies that I was going to ask you to stop, when this happened.
- What?
- This was in Whole Foods Market in Beverly Hills, now owned by Amazon, one of the largest companies in the world. In the last few months I've been noticing, almost every day, customers, often daily customers like myself, being accosted and accused of stealing and a receipt demanded of them to prove they weren't. Today I had a little talk with the store manager, 'Oscar', on the subject. I asked him first whether it was the store policy to accuse everyone of stealing who holding store products passed out of the store without going first to the cashier, based only on, not probability, but possibility they were stealing. They could have after shopping and paying gone back into the store to get a napkin, a plastic spoon, a teaspoon pack of soy sauce, to eat some of what they bought in the dining room, or to look for a product it turned out the store didn't have. The manager answered:
- We're not accusing anyone. We're only asking for a receipt.
- But you must believe the customer was stealing if you asked for a receipt. After all you're not asking everyone to show a receipt. Don't you think it is wrong to be treating people as thieves who have been customers many hundreds of times?
- We're protecting our stock.
- Without any concern you are acting as enemies to the people who come not to make war on you but to shop? Are you admitting you are accusing regular shoppers?
- They steal too. You'd be surprised. Most people we ask to show receipts are understanding, they don't care like you.
- They're being polite. They're angry, disgusted. I'd guess you won't find them in your store for months in the future, or maybe never.
- Why should anyone care about showing a receipt if they aren't stealing?
- Because now entering the store they know they are being watched, suspected of being thieves, by every store employee who it seems you have instructed to spy on the customers, even authorized to accuse without evidence or any sort of investigation.
- That's it?
- It's not enough? Ok then. This is from you, five years ago:
As you enter you see painted on the floor in giant letters "VALUES: No artificial flavors, additives, preservatives". But maybe your value is no artificial people? Sorry, you'll have to shop someplace else. Look to your left. Behind the counter is the surveillance staff, watching you enter. They watch you as a possible loss of income or a possible gain. They don't know which. They have to watch. You have your values, they have theirs. You value additive free food, they value humanity-free profit and loss. They're allowed. It's a free country. Or no, not so free. Not if you don't want to be hunted while you shop by the surveillance staff. And not if you don't want to be subject to the empty politeness of customer service staff. True, the ritual respect of How are you today, sir? makes for a more efficient shopping experience than being hunted by the surveillance staff. But there is, or was, another kind of experience than shopping? Was there? What was that?
Further Reading:
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