Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Because of Winn Dixie

We have a bar code story that happened to us just yesterday and, wouldn't you know it? Today turns out to be Bar Code Day! Google is celebrating "the 57th anniversary of the bar code patent." What a coincidence.

For some years, now, She Who Must Be Obeyed has insisted on nothing but 20-ounce polystyrene thermal cups for taking along a cup of coffee on her daily commute.

She likes her cups big and she like 'em strong enough not to lose their shape when you pick 'em up and put 'em to your lips.

Now, as it happens, the grocery store in Gulf Breeze is the only supermarket in the Pensacola Beach-Gulf Breeze vicinity that carries big, strong, 20-ounce polystyrene thermal cups. Unlike the inferior brand sold at Walmart, the brand sells has little 'give' in the sides and it doesn't collapse in your hand, spilling coffee all over the clothes.

However, for nearly three weeks, now, the shelves at the Gulf Breezehave been bare of the 20-ounce cups. It has become nearly a daily ritual for us to stop in and check the shelves at only to be disappointed, time and again. Nothing but little dinky cups and over-priced, soft-sided cardboard containers.

Where had the 20 ounce cups gone? Finally, we collared an on-site manager. "Could you please be sure to order the 20-ounce cups?" we pleaded.

"Inventory replacement is done automatically by corporate headquarters," came the reply. "They'll be on the truck Thursday."

We checked back that next Thursday. Still no cups. And that was nearly two weeks ago. We continued to check, almost daily. Nothing doing.

Then, last evening -- just hours before the 57th anniversary of Bar Code Day (although we didn't know that at the time) -- we stopped by again. This time we discovered there are almost no cups left of any size or description. Here's a shot of the pathetic cups shelf at the Gulf Breeze as of last night:

So, we spoke to another manager.

"I know, I know," he said. "The cups didn't come in. We have asked, believe me. But Corporate is telling us they can't send any 20 ounce cups until we tell them what the UPC bar code is. And we don't know because, of course, we're all sold out."

"So, find out. Tell them the bar code!" we urged. "Call another store and ask them to read it to you."

"I'd like to," the manager answered, "but Corporate shorted us on staff, too. Right now, we're supposed to have six in management. But we have only two. We just haven't had the time."

So, what did we do? The sensible thing, of course. We treated like a charity case. We got on the cell phone and called anotherstore, elsewhere in Pensacola proper.

"Do you carry 20-ounce polystyrene thermal cups?" we asked.

"Sure do. Very popular," came the reply.

"Would you be so kind as to read us the bar code off the package?" we asked.

There was a long pause. "What's going on, here? Is this a test?" asked a trembling voice. "This is Corporate calling, right?"

"No, we aren't Corporate. Look, the idiots at Corporate are telling the Gulf Breeze manager they need the bar code before Corporate's centralized inventory control system can replenish the stock on the shelves that's been sold. But the store managers don't have time to call because they're short handed. So we're doing it for them. Think of us like volunteer labor helping out the less fortunate."

The Pensacola manager breathed a sigh of relief. "So, what you're saying is Corporate headquarters doesn't know the bar code and the store managers can't get it, either. And you are --- ?"

"We're just a customer who'd like to buy some cups. But nobody at seems able to sell them to us."

"Yeah, I see," came the reply. "That makes a certain kind of sense, at least around here. Sure, I'll get the bar code for you."

And so we were able to deliver the bar code numbers to the Gulf Breeze within the hour. Now, let's see what Thursday's truck brings.

Meanwhile, Happy 57th Birthday, Bar Code. Wish you had made life easier all around, but because of Winn Dixie.......


Anonymous said...

you can get it at publix

Anonymous said...

very funny, timely and a welcome relief from seriousness.

BLehman said...

"Winn Dixie can ensure that products are price accurately, stock stock levels are maintained and customer payments autorized."

The usual lies. Very funny, P.R. Dept.

Anonymous said...

I chuckled all day thinking about the story. Well done! said...

What namely you're saying is a terrible mistake.