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June 16, 2004 12:01 AM

Broken: Albertson's Supermarket Keytags

Dave Price writes:

I left my keys in the ignition of my moterscooter outside of a large office building in Denver, Colorado. A well-meaning security guard at the building took the keys off the bike and brought them inside. Fortunately, I had a spare set.

After realizing I was not coming to get my keys, the guard decided the best way to get them to me was to bring them to an Albertson's Supermarket, because my keychain had a preferred customer keytag, which read:


I wound up going to two different Albertson's stores before I got my keys back, and in both of the stores, the "Lost and Found Box" contained 20-30 keychains.

While I am not concerned with the abuse of demographics assocated with preferred customer cards, I do find the "please return to" statement misleading, as the the store clearly does not care enough about their customers to try to return their missing property.

I should note that from time to time Alberston's does have little banners at the checkout stand reminding me that I will automatically be enterred into a drawing to win a vacation cruise, or similar prize, when I use my preferred customer card; I wonder how they plan to notify me when I win.


The last part was funny. :)

Posted by: kwyjibo at June 16, 2004 08:16 AM

the middle part was funny. :)))))

Posted by: z1on0101 at June 16, 2004 10:11 PM

You wrote: "I wonder how they plan to notify me when I win."

They'll wait until you lose your keys again and then surprise you when you come pick them up. (grin)

Posted by: James Craig at June 17, 2004 11:48 AM

Huh? I live in Portugal and we have those kinds of tags on our keychains but to get them we have to fill up a form, so the number associated with that tag is connected to your data. So if you lose it they have your address to return it.

Don't know how that works though. I never missed my keychain.

Posted by: Bruno Figueiredo at June 18, 2004 11:37 AM

"I wonder how they plan to notify me when I win."

It's usually an instant-win type thing that happens when you scan your card at the checkout.

Posted by: ron at June 18, 2004 12:16 PM

Bruno: We do that here too, the poster's point was that Albertson's didn't USE that information to return his keys.

Posted by: jesus X at June 21, 2004 04:58 AM

Since I am the person who helps the stores link up the lost keys with the appropriate individual, I take a bit of exception to this complaint.

The reason the stores had boxes of 20-30 keys is NOT because we didn't try to return them, it's that the stores hate to toss keys. What, you say? Let me explain. The stores contact our office daily with lost key card IDs. Since we are safeguarding YOUR personal info, only two people in the office have the capability of looking up the numbers and then contacting the customer. If we do not have information in the system, the stores keep the keys for up to 2 months "just in case" the information gets entered at a later date (we have an external vendor who inputs the application data, and sometimes it can take that long to get the info into the system the first time).

I personally have spent over 30 minutes on Google and other websites trying to find out one individual person's info (when they provide an address but no phone for example) so I can reunite them with their keys. We regularly remind the stores to contact us promptly when they receive lost keys - but with 72 stores in our region and 100 associates per store, compliance with this at the store level can vary.

We certainly apologize that this happened to you, I would say that this is definitely not the norm. I wish I could show you all the thank you letters we've received from customers we have reunited with their keys.

As for sweepstakes notification, if there is no name or other personal info attached to a card, we obviously have to move on to an alternate winner, which is sad. We try to make both telephone and written contact, and even then, some folks actually TURN DOWN prizes because they don't want to pay the taxes. But that's a conversation for another day.

Posted by: Albertsons Lost Key Person in Denver at June 22, 2004 12:25 PM

Clearly this experience is different from store to store. I lost my keys and received a call from Albertson's within a couple of days. Most of the keys were unusable -- having been run over by a car -- but I still appreciated getting them back.

Posted by: Sandy at July 6, 2004 04:17 PM

Albertson's is the best grocery store of all. I live in Florida and there is several in Manatee county in which i live,(palmetto) all of them are excellent and make for a very pleasant visit. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Louise at August 20, 2004 11:42 AM

I work at an Albertsons. When a customer turns in a lost Albertsons card (just the card, no keys or anything else) I throw it away. If someone turns in keys, all we do is through it in our lost and found basket. We have NEVER called corporate to try to locate the owner. It is seriously a joke. Every month we throw away tons of keys, not to mention the other stuff like cell phones and ATM/Credit cards. If we had a way to look up the owner's information in the store, we would definitely try to locate the owner. But we can't. Every month or so, someone will come in the store with a sets of keys or a wallet trying to get the owners information, but all we can say is "too bad" because there isn't much we can do.

Posted by: Albertsons Customer Service Clerk at April 14, 2005 07:04 PM

I used to work as a bookkeeper and courtesy desk clerk for Albertsons. When I recieved lost keys and tried to contact corporate office they would not give me the information to return the keys, which didn't really make sense since I had access to a lot of other personal information. The only person they told me that could get the information was the store director, but they are always so busy, I don't see when they have time to look up all the customers that manage to lose keys. And how do all the customers leave the store anyway without their keys?

Posted by: Ex-employee at April 21, 2005 01:02 PM

"And how do all the customers leave the store anyway without their keys?"

I have two sets of keys, one that just has my car keys (door, ignition, and lockbox keys), and one with _everything_ else: house keys, garage key, deer lease key, warehouse key, two storage unit keys, parent's house and garage keys, sister's house key, three keys for the office, two safe keys, and a large key that I don't remember what it's for anymore, but am reluctant to get rid of.


Posted by: guywithmanykeys at April 25, 2005 11:00 AM

Hehe. I used a sharpie to black out that little notice!

Posted by: Kevin at March 7, 2006 06:12 PM

I am a checker at an Albertsons in Fort Collins, north of Denver, and it's true that we can't really do much to return keys except keep them in our lost-and-found and wait for them to find the keys. I personally HATE the preferred card system. All it does is waste both the customers and the employees time, making the customer rummage around for it and the employee struggle to scan/read the code on weathered cards. For what? So we can track your purchasing habbits and give you lame coupons that go with what you buy often? And don't say it's to make more money... I'm not sure about the other albertsons, osco, jewel, acme, or sav-ons around the country, but I and all my co-workers scan cards for people anyway if they don't have one or don't want to use theirs. I just hope that the new owners change things so we don't need the cards, like how they got rid of the stupid extreme buy! WOO! I also hated those, and many customers complained about them too. Another thing that bugs me is the register screen, it shows the item at normal price, then deducts the sale price under it, forcing you to do the math to see if something came up on sale... and if you scan the card at the end of the order, you are screwed as to seeing if something came up at the right sale price until the recipt prints. You could do a 15-Signon, but that wastes paper and time. (sorry to all you non-checkers that have no idea what I'm talking about) Transactions could go a LOT smoother without the card, and everyone got the sale price automatically... who agrees that grocery stores should banish savings cards?

Posted by: J.H.D. at July 13, 2006 03:03 AM

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