Letters to the Editor

Whidbey commissary baggers lack service skills

Norman Hamrick (Letters, Aug. 27) asks us commissary customers what it is we do not understand about commissary baggers. I’ll tell him. I don’t understand why most of them don’t have any customer service skills. In seven years of military life, I’ve only been greeted twice by a bagger; the rest of them just stand there, stone-faced, bagging the groceries or chatting with the other baggers.

I also don’t understand why some of them sit there, smacking their gum, counting their wad of cash in public. I also don’t understand why some cashiers have told me that they used to be baggers and they made more money then! I’ve met a couple good, friendly baggers, but I can count them on one hand. I cannot count how many friendly baggers I’ve met in a Safeway or Albertsons.

It would be one thing, Norman, if the baggers were off to the side waiting to be called over to service. But we don’t get that option. They are just there, bagging away, whether we asked for them or not. I’d be perfectly fine if the commissary went to the policy some larger food mart stores have of customers bagging their own groceries. And I don’t make a habit of carrying cash in general, and the Navy Federal debit cards only work like credit cards (who knows why?) so you can’t get cash back -- it’s just inconvenient and annoying to scrounge up a couple bucks for a service that by all other standards, should be free to customers. My wife dreads going to the commissary for the sole reason of baggers who work for tips only.

We get friendly, helpful baggers from the civilian grocery stores in town, with no tip expected. It’s an ugly transition why the commissary tries to save itself a few bucks just to pass on the responsibility of paying these workers to the customers. But the commissary doesn’t care about customer service because they know that no matter how grumpy or unprofessional their workers are, we’ll still shop there because the prices are so much cheaper. The civilian stores still have to try to win our business. Baggers should be paid employees. And if not that, they should be optional for customers.

Steve Peck

Oak Harbor

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