As Trusting as Trader Joe’s

by Angela Clark

I bought a jar of peanut butter at Trader Joe’s about two or three months ago. I had a jar still in use, so I placed the new jar on the pantry shelf. A few weeks went by – receipts got tossed, I had my back-up peanut butter, and life went on merrily.

One day, it came time to open the new jar of peanut butter and I couldn’t get the lid off. I asked my husband to try. He couldn’t untwist the top either. Secretly that made me feel better because I like to think of myself as strong and capable, but let’s face it – he’s a guy and is stronger than me. Enough said.

So we decided we would take the jar back. Meaning, I would take it back. I always dislike doing that job.  I feel like they will not believe me or think I’m trying to scam them.  Needless to say, another month went by and although I was at Trader Joe’s from time to time, the jar was always “accidentally” forgotten at home. Then one morning I was going and my husband said, “don’t forget the jar.” It had to be done and clearly I was going to do it. In all honesty, I needed to do it (for my own sake). It’s just a jar of peanut butter, Angela!

So I went to Trader Joe’s, jar in hand so everyone could clearly see that I was walking in with the jar; that I did not find the jar with a warped lid on the shelves that day to get my money back; that the defective jar was mine, and I was merely trying to return this defective jar for a jar that could be opened.

I went to the “desk” area and the guy told me if I was planning on shopping, I could return the jar at the cashier, and they would handle it. Okay, I thought.  I put the jar in my purse, picked up a few items, and got in line.

When I got to the cashier I was ready to give a long explanation about this jar of peanut butter, how I didn’t have my receipt because I bought it so long ago and that it was the backup jar, that my husband couldn’t get the lid off, it wasn’t just me. When I opened my mouth I got as far as, “I need to return this jar of peanut butter, I couldn’t open it, the lid looks a bit warped… even…”

“Okay,” was the cashier’s response.

“Okay?” Really? No twenty questions? No skeptical looks? Really? This is okay?

Wow. How unexpected and trusting. The fact that their first response was one so compassionate – they trust their customers to be honest with them.  Hmmm.

I learned two things from this experience. First, this does not feel like the norm these days; to have someone believe you right from the beginning and it’s a shame that’s the case. Second, it’s amazing how much goes on in the mind before you even get to the point.


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One Response to As Trusting as Trader Joe’s

  1. kathie von ankum says:

    I had a similar experience when I returned from a Trader Joe’s shopping trip and discovered that I had left several items I had paid for in my shopping cart back at the store. I called and was told that I should just come back and get the same items again–no questions asked. I remember thinking to myself, “yea, right…”–but that’s exactly what happened–and I got that warm and fuzzy “I’m glad I live in Brooklyn” feel.

    It’s probably a well thought out corporate marketing strategy–but hey, it’s nice being able to screw up and not have to pay for it.

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