I spent Tuesday hanging out with Safeway executives and other Northern California bloggers, learning about the relaunch of the Just for U online savings program. I was happy to hear them say they have fixed a lot of the problems that the system had before, and have more improvements in the works. I’ll detail what they report fixing with the relaunch in the minute, after I tell you something super exciting:
There is a giveaway for two $50 Safeway gift cards at the end of this post!
Take a moment to gather your wits, please. Ahem.
OK, then. Here is what Safeway told me that they’ve done to improve the Just for U experience: They’ve brought the infrastructure running it in-house, which should speed everything up and make problems easier to fix. They’ve also done a lot of training of store managers, courtesy clerks and checkers on the program, so they should all be able to help solve your problems. Here are specific improvements you should notice:
- Deals should now be active within 5-20 minutes of loading them to your card using either your computer or the smartphone app. This a huge improvement and means that you should be able to load deals while you are shopping, and have them work by the time you get to the register. As long as you don’t shop too fast — and as long as you’re getting good reception in the part of the store you’re in.
- After you use a one-time deal, it will disappear from your online interface and your shopping list, so in case you forget you used it, you won’t be expecting to get that discount.
- Personalized deals should now be good for an entire product line, not “select varieties.” Safeway now realizes that if this is a personalized deal, and there are no shelf tags, there is no way for the shopper to figure out which varieties are included!
- If you bring in a digital manufacturer’s cents-off coupon and you have a manufacturer’s cents-off coupon loaded onto your card, the register will accept whichever is a higher value. If the paper coupon is a higher value, the checker will accept it and leave the digital coupon on your card. If the digital coupon is a higher value, the register will apply that and the checker is supposed to hand you back your coupon. Example: You load a coupon onto your card that says “50 cents off Tidy Cats litter.” You also clip a coupon that says “40 cents of Tidy Cats litter.” The register should apply your digital 50-cents-off coupon, the paper 40-cents-off coupon should beep, and the cashier should hand it back to you.
- When you build a shopping list, a little U icon will appear next to the Just for U items so you can distinguish them from other items you may have added.
And one change that you might not like as much:
- Refunds for Just for U discounts that fail to come off at the register may no longer be as easy. In the past, it’s been very easy to get a refund — just show your printed list or smartphone screen to either the cashier or the service desk, and in my experience you get the cash back just like that. Now that Safeway is confident that most deals should work as promised, they’re not going to be so quick to hand over refunds. The service staff is now trained to examine your receipt and account and try to figure out what went wrong. Safeway has given stores a Just for U hotline number, and the first time I complained about something that went wrong, since last week’s relaunch, the employee said she was going to have to call. At that point, of course, my kids were getting wild, so I decided to just return the item to get out of there.
* I have not had time to test all these features since the relaunch. This is all based on what they told me at Tuesday’s event.
OK, GIVEAWAY TIME!
SORRY, THE GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED
We’re going to play a game. After Safeway briefed us on Just for U, they handed out $50 gift cards and put us on a limo bus to the nearest Safeway (which by the way turned out to be my neighborhood store back when I lived in San Francisco 6 years ago). We got to try out using the new and improved Just for U with high-ranking Safeway executives, PR people and social media experts on hand to help. Also, while being filmed by TV cameras. It was the most glamorous grocery run I have ever done.
This is what I bought. I did not spend my whole gift card.
If you would like to win a $50 Safeway gift card of your own, enter your guess for how much I spent on all this in the comments section. One comment per person, please. I’ll pick the two guesses that are closest to the real amount I spent.
Hint: The strawberries, lettuce, plums, peaches and cherries are organic. The grapes and tomatoes are not.
This contest ended on Friday, July 20, at 5 p.m. Pacific Time. The two winners will be notified by email.
Thanks to Safeway for providing the gift cards for this giveaway, and the gift cards and other consideration they gave me for attending their event.