Just about everybody in San Francisco shops at a Safeway every now and then, and many of us quickly regret the decision when we take our place in a lengthy check-out line. We are taunted with signs promising new registers will open if the line is longer than three customers, as we take our place as the seventeenth person in line and wonder why there’s no self-checkout. Why is Safeway like this? An unauthorized Safeway manager explained it all in a fascinating Reddit “Ask Me Anything” session this week.
SF Weekly has not verified that the author actually works at Safeway, and the author — clearly well-informed on the inner workings of Safeway — remains anonymous for obvious job security purposes. “Not gonna give too much info,” the author explains. “Not trying to get doxxed. I just realize a lot of people probably have questions about what the hell is going on.”
We should note that we have edited many of these answers for grammar and spelling purposes. We should also note that the manager’s responses are a little off-color, particularly when explaining why the checkout lines are so long…
“Because some guy in corporate probably smoking crack said, ‘Hey let’s not hire anybody and then put those Three’s a Crowd signs back up because we are already in the most densely populated region in the United States,’” the manager says.
This manager recommends complaining to Safeway directly instead of to employees. “Just use surveys and social media if you are going to offer advice please,” the manager writes. “They listen to pressure far more than employees.”
Why don’t more Safeways have self-checkout machines? “The SCO [self-checkout] machines are infamously bad,” the manager says. “The machines break down on a regular basis.”
“Our machines are quite literally still running Windows XP,” they continue. “I don’t know if it varies by store but it is embarrassing. They need completely replaced, by a new company.”
Why are inexperienced employees assigned to the more challenging express line? “We’d like to have the A-team on express, but the lack of resources to properly train means a lot of new people get shoved on express.”
Why aren’t Safeways better-staffed around busy Thanksgiving and Christmas? “A lot of people will call off to or won’t show up those days and it makes everything ten times worse because holidays are busy as fuck,” according to the manager. “Christmas Day we closed at 5 p.m. and we’re turning people away at the doors non-stop because people just kept coming.”
Any little-known tips or tricks for Safeway shoppers? It turns out that you are allowed to sample grapes and other produce.
“It’s actually a seldom known store policy that you are allowed to sample anything in the store,” the manager says. “Not all employees know this.” (Thought the policy does not apply to medicine or alcohol.)
And most importantly, will Safeway Monopoly return again?
“Fuck Monopoly season,” the manager gripes. “Such a waste of paper. We always have obscene amounts [of tickets] and give them all away at the end. We probably didn’t make any money off donuts or bagels for five months.”