More often than not one of the following things happens to me at either one of the Gristedes on South End Avenue:
1. I get overcharged egregiously on a single item.
2. I bring home something that is way past its due date.
3. I do not find what I’m looking for at the supermarket.
So when the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs released a damning study that one out of every two supermarkets were found in pricing and tax violations — it was hardly a surprise.
According to their press release today:
“It’s a supermarket’s responsibility to ensure that its products are accurately priced and its customers are correctly charged, but with half the supermarkets in the City receiving violations, it is clear that they are failing their customers,” said Commissioner Jonathan Mintz, “Because thousands of New Yorkers continue to be overcharged, I’ve directed our inspectors to double the number of inspections in the coming year.”
Dear. Mr Mintz can you send a couple over in our neighborhood? One for each of the Gristedes? This is something Battery Park City residents have been experiencing for years.
Neighborhood resident and Foursquarer Michelle D. had left a tip after checking into Gristedes,
“Lines are long, cashiers are rude, items are almost always scanned incorrectly versus the sticker or sign prices, items are at times spoiled or stale. I hate this place with a passion.”
This frustration over our supermarket reflects a need for fresh and affordable groceries. It isn’t a case of how our needs are not heard — for the addition of the seasonal greenmarket and to some extent the 24-hour fruit vendor on the corner of Albany street often helps, although in a more renegade style. The inspectors may be the type of regulation we need to help to alleviate this situation.
The supermarkets in violation could face more than $380,000 in fines to the City. These violations include inaccurate check-out scanners, lack of prices on individual items, taxation of items that are not taxable, improperly weighed food, and unavailability of scales for customers.
Also according to the report, the most common violation was lack of item pricing, for items without price tags. This immediately brought me back to Gristedes last week when I purchased a bottle of capers for an astounding $4.99 — for a bottle that is usually $1.99. When I asked the cashier if that was the right price, her response was, “yup.”
Some people may just respond, “Go to Whole Foods” or “Order from Fresh Direct,” it doesn’t seem to be the right answer, although these are both options i frequent. For residents who live on South End Avenue it’s a lose lose situation. By virtue of how estranged our neighborhood is, Gristedes wins — in essence cornering the grocery market, at least south of the Marina.
So although I started this piece on how the report was not a surprise — it is still a welcomed acknowledgement. That is, if we can get one of the inspectors up in our neighborhood…