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Kroger is the Absoltue Worst

From: wayne+blog@waynewerner.com
To: everyone.everywhere.all.at.once
Date: Tue, 06 Feb 2024 13:29:42 -0600
Subject: Kroger is the Absolute Worst

Normally I let frustrations slide, but today I had an experience with Kroger that has left me absolutely infuriated. I mean, I have such an unholy amount of rage at Kroger that I'm surprised I didn't burst into flames.

The only reason that I did not leave my selection on the self-checkout and leave the store never to return is because my partner was feeling under the weather and had a strong desire for some Strawberries & Cream Dr Pepper.. Like, that's it. That's the only reason.

Some back-story: about the only place in town to get Dr Pepper Zero in other flavors is Kroger. It's too strong to say that I hate the store, but it's not too strong to say that I have zero respect for the store, since 2003 when the Kroger Plus Card was introduced. Or their their anti-union stance. But since there's no ethical consumption under capitalism it's just kind of the weary acceptance that has me shopping at the store — and at least here in my local town it has better prices on some things. And theoretically they support local farms. So that's cool.

We did succumb to the loyalty program (that actually increased prices), but we just used our phone number (ugh). Even after (or especially after) they introduced their app.

A few weeks ago they had a nice "discount" on some sodas, including Dr Pepper Zero (Strawberries & Cream, Cream Soda, and Cherry, yum!) so we got several. And yesterday my partner really had a hankering for the Strawberries & Cream variety, and I missed getting them. So I headed there today and they had a "digital coupon" that required using their app. Instead of $8.99 it was $3.99 per 12-pack, so instead of 75¢ per can, it's 33¢ per can (which is honestly probably still more than 9¢ profit per can). That price difference was enough that I decided to finally download the app and the experience was beyond frustrating. It was infuriating. So much so that I came to write this post. I don't thik I've writen a blog post for a long time, that's how full of rage I was. The Kroger app had me seeing red.

Let me describe the absolute rage inducing process, that as a currently-former direct contributor to fortune 500 company applications, I probably have pretty good insight into why it is the way it is. The first step was downloading a 100 MB file from the Google Play store. lolwat. 100 MB? What in the world is in that? The .deb for the Opera web browser is 104MB. A WEB BROWSER. This contains literally enough tooling to access the entirety of the World Wide Web. You know, like loading a complete development environment with a GitHub codespace. Or watch YouTube videos. Or Netflix, Hulu, and every other streaming platform IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. Why, exactly, does your rewards application need to be that large? Because my phone number is the only thing that you actually need and you don't really even need that. On top of that, when I just uninstalled that garbage fire I discovered that the installed size was 480MB - fully one half of a gigabyte of data. I've installed complete operating systems with a smaller size that the Kroger app.

Now that I've downloaded a complete web browser/operating system, where a phone number will do, I'm presented with a screen where I can put in my phone number. Oh. No. No I'm not. I have to create an account with my email address.


Kroger, I don't want you to know anything about me. I just want you to carry goods at a reasonable price. You're not alone in this - every company that wants to create a digital profile of me can get yeeted into the Sun, thanks. But also? YOU ALREADY HAVE AN IDENTIFIER. You don't need another one. Not for any technical reason. Oh sure, if I need to recover my account for some reason WHICH I DO NOT NEED TO EVER DO BECAUSE I ONLY HAVE A PHONE NUMBER WITH YOU.

So I signed in with my partners account because it didn't actually say whether or not you can use multiple accounts with the same account or how any of that works. Where I'm promptly asked to enable push notifications, but push-notifications are a gaping security hole and my only two options are "Allow" and "Maybe later" instead of "TAKE YOUR PUSH NOTIFICATIONS AND PUSH THEM UP YOUR..." which the actual button I wanted to press.

Of course, I have the app so that I can make it easier to scan my rewards card, so that's a prominent feature on main screen of the app, like it is with Casey's mobile app, right? AHAHAHAHA no. You wish. It's hidden in like three clicks deep or something. The only things that you can see on the main page are "give us more of your data please hahahahahaha".

Get. Bent.

I digress - the real reason I had to download the app is so I can uh, "clip" the digital coupon, and at least there is a little barcode thing that allows me to scan a barcode, and shocker of shocks when I scan the QR code on the price tag it at least opened my web browser that redirected to the Kroger App and "clipped the coupon" which I could uncip. For some reason. Well, now it's time to go check out. I know that some people love the self-checkout but I don't. I accept them as a useful evil. If I got paid the amount that the store is saving over paying an actual human to do what I was doing, instead of the store pocketing the difference, I'd feel differently. But I'm paying Kroger and Walmart and everywhere else a fee that they pay their cashiers. But now they're paying their executives instead. So... see the previous paragraph.

It was a choice on my part to hit the self-checkout — this time. And now I'm looking for the barcode in the app because it should be front and center, right? But I can't see it and now I'm even more angry, because on top of having to download a web browser instead of using my web browser, just so you can spy on me and mine my data instead of offering compelling prices, now I have to hunt through your bleeping app to find the barcode that isn't front and center. And where in the world have my coupons gone? The app doesn't say I have any, and after scanning my barcode it doesn't show up on the checkout terminal. So where are my savings? WHERE ARE MY SAVINGS KROGER???!!!

At this point, my blood has probably reached a boil. This is impressive, because the boiling point increases with higher pressure and my blood pressure is probably through the roof now. Furious only begins to cover it. I'm seeing visions of Genghis Kahn, and being bathed in the blood of my enemies. I'm so angry that I will never set foot in another Kroger ever again in my entire life and I will pay the Dread Pirate Bezos or Walmart or go directly to Dr Pepper and buy my own gorram truckload of soda. That is the level that my rage is.

I don't swear very often. I burned my fingertips on a hot toner roll and "SON OF A BISCUIT!" was my pained cry. "Forking shirtballs" is another one I use. There are so very very few occasions where I find a swear appropriate. And when writing it's even easier to edit myself. I explain all of this so that the full force of my next paragraph can be appropriately appreciated.

I fucking hate Kroger.

Will that change in the future? Maybe. But my experience today doesn't leave me hopeful.

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