Whidbey commissary baggers’ work is appreciated

Steve Peck (Letters, Sept. 3) would have us believe that there are no options when shopping at our local commissary. He would also have us believe that the sheer volume of shoppers on any given day at the commissary compares to our civilian counterparts. In contrast Steve, the civilian stores only hire a few customer service representatives to handle their customers’ needs. Whereas the commissary has over 70 baggers (military family members) to assist their patrons as demand dictates.

Steve Peck (Letters, Sept. 3) would have us believe that there are no options when shopping at our local commissary. He would also have us believe that the sheer volume of shoppers on any given day at the commissary compares to our civilian counterparts. In contrast Steve, the civilian stores only hire a few customer service representatives to handle their customers’ needs. Whereas the commissary has over 70 baggers (military family members) to assist their patrons as demand dictates.

I will now take this opportunity to clarify a few points for Steve of seven years’ military service and his enduring wife. First, you are right that the customer service skills of some of the baggers need to improve. There is no denying that customer service should always be a top priority. However, I offer you this thought to ponder, if their customer service skills were impeccable would you go out of your way to ensure that you or your wife had a couple of bucks in your possession to tip them for their services? Only you can answer that truthfully.

Second, in my 20-years plus of military service, I have learned that there are always options. For instance, I can now do self check-out at my commissary. Whereby I bag and take out my own groceries (tip yourself). I may also inform the cashier that I would either like to request a particular friendly bagger or that I appreciate the bagger service, but I would rather bag my own groceries and take responsibility for any items that may be damaged in the process. Yes, the baggers have their own insurance fund that they contribute to in the event that they have a mishap with your groceries.

Third, one of the reasons why the commissary is cheaper than our civilian counterparts is that they do not have to pay over 70 military family members a minimum wage plus potential benefits. Consider this, there are as many baggers working on any given day as paid store employees. So, I ask you are you willing to pay higher prices? Are you willing to take away a service that is not only convenient and cheap, but is also helping our own military families with a job that meets their scheduling demands that other jobs my not be so inclined to do?

Lastly, I know for a fact that our commissary cares about customer service. I have never met nor heard of any individual not receiving the commissary’s full attention in all matters concerning their patrons. I would suspect that there will always be those of us who complain about anything and everything, but I, for one, respect and appreciate the hard work that these baggers and commissary employees undertake day in and day out, because some of us can be downright unpleasant no matter what side of the bed we wake up on.

Norman Hamrick,

USN (RET)

Oak Harbor

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