I Love/Hate Dierbergs

I am a big supporter of local businesses. That is why it pains me to see Dierbergs becoming one of my least favorite places to go.

I get it. The economy is bad. Staffing is expensive. But really, guys, if you are going to tout customer service as something that sets you apart from those national chains, and expect me to pay a premium for it, then you gotta give me some customer service.

The past 5 times (yep, I started counting after the 3rd time in a row) I have had to bag my own groceries. Not a single time in the past 5 times did a courtesy clerk or “bagger” come to help me. In most cases, the store was simply understaffed but there was a case when I was bagging my own groceries and a clerk was standing at the checkout lane next to me, waiting for her aisle to get a customer. Last night, there was nary a bagger in sight.

I am aware that I sound like some sort of entitled-yuppie-high maintenance-overly demanding jerk by even writing this post, but seriously, come on. I could easily save $20 off my biweekly grocery bill if I shopped at a store that requires you to bag your own stuff. Part of the reason I am willing to pay more at Dierbergs is the perceived better customer service experience. Besides, as someone who did a brief stint as a grocery bagger when I was 16, I know that it is an added value to the customer.

I mentioned my dissatisfaction to a clerk at the courtesy counter. She replied by saying she didn’t know if management would do anything about it, but would pass along the message anyway.

It's like high school all over again.

I smiled. I was nice. I was polite. I wasn’t even irritated. I honestly just wanted to let them know that it was an ongoing issue so they could rectify it and hopefully not lose any customers. Really. I walked out of the store, confident that the kind lady at the counter would pass the message along and glad that my feedback would help them be a better local business in the community I love.

I dodged the minefield of carts strewn across the parking lot to get to my car and unload my groceries.

Then, I noticed something peculiar. Two young men, in their official yellow cart-collecting vests, standing in front of a cart corral filled to the brim. They were looking at something. As I got closer, I realized they were playing some sort of game, downloading an app or possibly checking their Facebook profile on an iPhone. They stood there right next to me the whole time I unloaded, clearly oblivious to the fact that I was watching them with a disapproving look.

Now, I was annoyed.

I finished filling my car and walked back in to the store. I went up to the same woman I had approached earlier and said, verbatim: “Hi there. Once again, like I said before, I don’t want to be rude. But I just wanted to let you know…I think you might not have an understaffing issue at all. It seems that the courtesy clerks are simply playing on an iPhone in the parking lot. Perhaps they could help bag some groceries when they’re finished with their game?”

Here’s the thing. Apparently I am not the only one this has happened to recently.

My husband was not surprised. He is a die hard Dierbergs fan, a “Dier Hard” Fan, if you will. (I crack myself up.) In fact, he is the one who converted me to Dierbergs years ago. As one of their traditionally biggest fans, it is sad to hear him talk about how much they have fallen short lately.

I told my coworkers the story at lunch, and they were not surprised at all.  In fact, a couple of them said they’d had similar experiences at Dierbergs and decided that instead of bagging their own groceries and paying a lot for them, they started shopping at another store where you get a discount for bagging your own stuff.

I really, really love my neighborhood Dierbergs. I want my local businesses to do well. But at some point, I gotta look out for me, right?


  1. I agree totally. I had one time not long ago where I waited in line late on a Friday night, it was the only line open. The night manager was bagging . When we (my wife and I) got to the line we were the fourth custmer in line. the manager called for someone to come up to open another register. They got there and took the people behind us. We had done our weekly shopping so our cart was full, the other customers had small amounts. When we finally got to checkout the manager was bagging our order when halfway through someone came to the line next to us wanting cigarettes. That checker told the manager that he needed a pack of cigarettes so he just stopped bagging our order and walked away, he didn’t say anything, sorry, I have to do something else, or hell with you. We had waited in line for over 15 minutes and this person came to his line and was waited on right then, a pack of cigarettes as opposed to $150+ worth of grocery’s that we had been waiting to pay for and have bagged. I finished bagging myself and went to that manager telling him that was the rudest treatment that we had at Dierbergs, his reply was “So”. When I got home I went to Dierbergs website and emailed a complaint about this manager telling them everything that happened. I got a return email a few days later saying they were sorry and would forward my concerns to the store manager of this Dierbergs store. I never heard from that store manager to explain or apologize. We do pay more at Dierbergs for “better service” and it has fallen off greatly lately.

    • So? So, that is a shocking (and sad) reply! I hope that he wasn’t really a manager. Perhaps the real manager was in the parking lot helping an elderly woman unload her cart into her Oldsmobile? Gosh, I would like to imagine that was the case.

      My husband once complained to a manager at a well-known chain restaurant that we had waited an hour and 45 minutes for two cheeseburgers, the waitress was, well, incoherent, and then they charged us for some stuff we never ordered. The manager’s response was, “Come on, man. Give us a break. We’ve only been open a few weeks.” It was shocking to the point of comical. Sadly, even some managers don’t get it.

  2. Well, after a less than satisfying response from the store, social media wins again! I sent a link to my story to the Dierbergs Facebook page and within hours had recieved a response. The social media person is following up to make sure my comments get to the right people. With any luck, next week I won’t be bagging my own groceries.

    And here we are again with another example of a business that “gets it” when it comes to social media. Kudos to Dierbergs for helping me out and following up with a response!

    I’m still a Dier Hard Fan.

    (Seriously, I crack myself up.)

  3. Oh yes he was a manager, it said it on his name thing clipped to his shirt plus the cashier told me that he was while I was bagging our groceries. I love Dierbergs also but have been disappointed in the way we have been treated lately. Although some employee’s there are really nice and helpful. It just seems that if you point out to the top people where they have a problem that they would listen and acknowledge
    the concerns. I was apologized to by a secretary at headquarters but told that my concerns would be forwarded to the Store Manager of the location of the store I shop at. I was ignored by that person. A lot of companies these days do not understand that there is competition out there that would love anyones business week after week. Again, We really like Dierbergs but the fact is there are other stores thet would love to have us shop with them. I can get treated bad anywhere.

  4. Ever since the son took over the business the store has lost its family feel. Its all about how much money the greedy son can make. The co-workers are way over run and they don’t have any reason to care anymore. Its quite sad, they used to be so family oriented. I’ve switched to schnucks because of how much dierbergs has changed.

  5. I, personally have shopped Dierberg’s for years. The “fresh” food always seemed to be a better quality…until recently. When the blackberries were 10/$10, I attempted to purchase several pkgs. The produce employee was rude and said there was none in the back (this was around 9:00 p.m.. On another occasion about a month ago, Dierberg’s had Egglands Best lg eggs on sale for $2.99 (I purchased 4 dozen). When I opened the cartons they were ALL SMALL eggs. Then, recently, the meat was on sale for $5.00 a pkg when you purchased 3 or more. I purchased 5 pkg. of meat, including 2 pkg of chicken thighs. The next day I was going to divide them up to freeze. These thighs looked like the chicken was difinetely NOT FRESH. This chain is loosing ground. In agreement with another reply, the service is also going down. Unfortunataly, I will searching for another place to shop.

  6. I use to shop a Dierberg’s! Their Deli department sucks the one in Arnold Mo. Every time I got lunch meats they would go bad in 2 days? Very slimy!! I go to Schnucks now they never pre slice their lunch meats? They slice to order!! Dierberg’s lazy Deli’s!!!!

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