H.E.B. Comments/Suggestions

I’m pretty sure that the box labeled Comments/Suggestions in the breakroom in H.E.B. is a lot like the stickers that drivers are forced to put on their cars that say: “How is My Driving? 1-800-247-8393”

Neither H.E.B. nor the person driving the stickered car really want feedback, they just have to appear to want feedback. Which is fair enough.

I understand that a lot of being a business is being professional and making hard decisions and awkward calls. I get it. In fact, I think I get I get it a lot more than others my age. For instance, at H.E.B. you get one fifteen-minute break for any shift under six hours. Five hours and fifty-nine minutes: fifteen minute break.

For a shift between six and seven hours and fifty-nine minutes, you get two fifteen minute breaks.

For a shift over eight hours, you get two fifteen-minute breaks and a half-hour lunch break.

I routinely have to work five hours and forty-five minutes, which I like time-wise. Not too long, you still get a break, I make about forty dollars for a few hours’ work–I’ll take it.

A lot of my coworkers that are my age are offended by the injustice that H.E.B. does to them. They say, and I agree with their logic, that they work us as long as possible while still only having to give us one break. Understand? Five hours and forty-five minutes, with one fifteen minute break, is just about five and a half hours of work. They get five hours and thirty minutes us work from us, with one break.

But, if they worked us for six hours, then they would have to give us two breaks. So, they don’t, they work us for five hours and forty-five minutes. If they worked us for six hours, they would get roughly five hours and thirty minutes of work from us (six hours minus two, thirty-minute breaks), but still be paying us for six hours. If they work us for five hours and forty-five minutes, then they still get five and a half hours of work from us, but don’t pay those extra few minutes on the clock.

Is it anal? Yes. Is it annoying as worker to only work either five hours and forty-five minutes, or seven hours and forty-five minutes? Yes.

But, is it good business? Absolutely. I would do the same thing. The owners and managers of H.E.B. aren’t hiring us to do us favors, they want to use us as efficiently as possible, and I understand that. Part of being a business is doing uncomfortable things because you have to. They have to do some things they don’t like (like asking for feedback), and some things we don’t like (like goofy shift hours).

So here’s my feedback!

My suggestions for H.E.B. that I will turn in tomorrow, typed and intimidatingly presented.

1. I think customers who bring in their own bags, plastic or tote (which is much more common than reusing plastic), should get a 5% discount on their total order. Discounting these orders would encourage customers to buy these tote bags, and H.E.B. sells them, so we would make profit off of that. Also, it is much better for the environment. I am a bagger and see how many plastic bags are used frivolously and unnecessarily. Finally, H.E.B. would save money on purchasing plastic bags. I know they are inexpensive, but in the long run we will be recognized as taking a stand for the environment, and doing so in a business-efficient manner.

2. In the bulk foods section, customers should be allowed to bring their own containers from home. I personally like bulk refilling my peanut butter, but I like to refill an old peanut butter jar. In many co-ops and at Whole Foods, they have a system designed just for this. The customer weighs his container (terra weight) and writes that number on a piece of tape which he or she then puts on the jar. They then fill the jar with whatever product they want. Then, they reweigh the jar and write the final weight. Either the customer or the checker in line can do simple subtraction to find the weight of the material in the jar. Also, the PLU code would be written on the tape stuck on the jar so the checker can easily identify what product is in the jar.

I think that bulk-use recycling is good because bulk foods are popular because you save money, but also because you cut down on waste used in packaging. If I had to get a new plastic container to put my product in every time, I would not use bulk-options because I think that it would be just as bad for the environment as buying a new jar of peanut butter. I know that there is a trust issue with hoping that customers write the correct weights and PLU’s on the jar, but there are ways to ensure they do, and Whole Foods and local co-ops have done so. It is possible to make sure that the customers are being honest. Also, most customers appreciate having that option so much that they are honest and trustworthy. As a bagger, I have seen many, many customers confess that they forgot they had something in their pocket, or their daughter ate a bag of chips in the store; I have even seen customers come back into the store, after having left, to pay for something that the checker missed. People at grocery stores are oddly honest, and I think that would carry over to bulk-food recycling.

Finally, I think that if you use your own jar, you should get a 5% discount, because it saves H.E.B. money. Co-ops and Whole Foods both practice these methods, and I know we’re not competing with them yet so much, but if H.E.B. hopes to expand even more into the health sector of the grocery business, bulk-foods are a very easy way to solidify customer trust and loyalty.

3. I think H.E.B. should carry the product “wheatberries.” It is not a manufactured product, it is the whole grain from a kernel of wheat. When wheatberries are ground, that is what becomes flour. However, they are also commonly used whole, especially in baking. You could put them in the bulk-foods aisle, or carry some packaged varieties.

4. I appreciate that H.E.B. has begun to focus on local foods and carries more organic foods, but I have another suggestion. I think you may already do this to some extent, but I think it would benefit H.E.B. to focus more on seasonal foods. I see that you focus on seasonality a little bit, especially with fruits like watermelon and strawberries, but I think you could do more. I think if you tout the benefits of eating seasonally, such as enhanced taste and less food-miles, people would want to eat seasonally more. Everyone wants to eat what tastes best, and you would sell more of a product if it were in season and featured. Also, perhaps have recipes for how to cook certain foods when they are in season, that way people can try new things.

#send me your suggestions so I can turn them in

H.E.B. Comments/Suggestions

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