Ralph's Grocery Store

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Backpack policy
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NORTH HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA -- Recently, I went into my neighborhood Ralph's Supermarket (Magnolia Blvd. North Hollywood CA). I had patronized their store regularly for three years. One evening I was approached sheepishly by a security guard, who reluctantly told me that I now had to check my back pack at the manager's counter up front. I went through the checkout where the current nite manager was working and politely asked if this was true. He acted surly and with a 'put-off' attitude answered yes with no explanation or apology. I asked if this pertained to woman and their hand bags no matter how large or small they might be. He said no. I told him this is not fair. They could be as guilty of theft as anyone with a backpack. I also told him that I wasn't comfortable leaving my belongings in their care when all they were going to do to care for it was throw it on the floor behind a counter up front. He became rude and told me that they had no choice,"This is a BAD Neighborhood!". That was when I got angry and told him, "This is 'OUR' neighborhood!" and I motioned to the people waiting in line overhearing the two of us. Someone behind me yelled "Yeah!" in agreement.

The manager walked away from me and ignored my complaints, telling me to leave the store.
I came back to complain to a head store manager the following day. He did listen to me and told that the other manager did handle the situation wrong, but this manager fell short of apologising for his behavior. He upheld the new policy even though he had no answer for how ill-conceived I pointed out to him it was, and unfair to one particular customer.

I have also sent a complaint to coorporate Ralph's and they didn't bother to acknowledge my letter. This has been one of the least hospitipal or helpful grocery stores I have ever regreted patronizing with my buisiness. There staff for three years has been glum, surly and apathetic. If they are having theft problems at an epidemic level I believe they have brought it on themselves in not engaging their customers with more sincere and thoroughly consciensious service. As well as more thorough security efforts on their part. It shouldn't be an inconvenience on any particular customer part over other customers, to do their job in securing their store and products from theft.

I told them that I would be shopping down the street at HOWS where they are markable more committed to customer saticefaction.

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User Replies:
Txspike on 12/06/2007:
Call us at: 1-866-221-4141
Mail us at:
1014 Vine Street
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202-1100
jktshff1 on 12/06/2007:
Yea man...let your wallet talk..take the neighborhood back
Principissa on 12/06/2007:
I get your point. If they are going to make you leave your backpack then they should in turn make a woman leave a hand bag. I've seen women with purse's so big you could carry a refrigerator in it. So yes I agree with you, take your money elsewhere.
Anonymous on 12/06/2007:
What, exactly is so horrible about checking your backpack?

I can hardly fit anything *else* in my purse, it's stuffed with wallet, kleenex, eye drops, medications, etc.

If you have nothing to hide, why are you so upset?
MRM on 12/06/2007:
Its the store's policy to leave your backpack at the customer service station. If you don't like the store's policy then shop somewhere else, but I'm sure other stores have the same backpack policy.
Anonymous on 12/06/2007:
I've walked in fry's with a backpack before which is also a grocery store owned by Kroger in AZ. and they didn't seem to care.
Principissa on 12/06/2007:
See my problem is this, I have a small back pack that I carry with me when I take the kids to the store and out places. I keep everything I need in it like crackers, juice boxes, toys, crayons, paper, pull ups, wipes, medicine, band aids. I also have a messenger bag I carry as a purse during the summer when I don't have a coat. I have never once been asked to leave my back pack anywhere.

So why is it that this gentleman can't carry a backpack and I can?
MRM on 12/06/2007:
Perhaps customer fits the profile of a typical thief. No offense to the OP.
Principissa on 12/06/2007:
True MRM, I didn't think like that. If they were profiling someone instead of singling the one person out, they would make them all do it.
Anonymous on 12/06/2007:
That MRM is called profiling and it is not the American way!

Tom Rose makes a very profound description of what constitutes liberty. True freedom or liberty is more than just having a lot of money. Having wealth will economically enhance a person's lifestyle and give them more free time to do what they want, but that is only one aspect of liberty. True liberty actually has three main parts:
"Liberty is like a three-legged stool. It has three aspects, or legs: the Spiritual, the Economic and the Political. Each leg must be carefully preserved. If one leg is shortened or cut off, the stability provided by the other two will be hampered or lost, and the ideal of Liberty will come tumbling down."
MRM on 12/06/2007:
So, therefore, the stool must be built stronger with steel legs reinforcement instead of the wooden leg.
jktshff1 on 12/06/2007:
Again....spend your money elsewhere and encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Just let the store know why you are doing it (in a polite way, or course).
Slimjim on 12/07/2007:
Some stores have been doing this since the beginning of time. The fact evidently is, "poster's" neighborhood is robbing the store blind. He/she offers no real solutions for handling their theft problems while criticizing the store of inaction. Fact is, they made a policy they feel will help and asked this loyal patron to abide by it. If I ran the store, I would say fine then, go take that pack that you, for some suspiciously unknown reasoning refuse to check, and hit the road to HOWS.
killerklown on 12/07/2007:
I agree that the store has every right to require bag checks, but then they must have EVERYONE check EVERY bag that comes through the door, including purses.
bargod on 12/07/2007:
What Killer said.
Anonymous on 12/07/2007:
To avoid this inconvienence you can leave your backpack in your trunk assuming that you have a car, leave it at home. I myself have never had the need to carry one or carry a purse. I have been in neighborhood stores where the employees watch people like a Hawk WITHOUT backpacks. That is a lot more annoying to me. I walk out on them at times.
Anonymous on 12/07/2007:
Why does a man need a backpack?
Principissa on 12/07/2007:
killer those are my thoughts exactly. A woman with a purse/diaper bag is just as likely to steal something. So if they are requiring gentleman to check their back packs and murses (man purses) then they should require a woman to do the same thing. Every one means everyone not just men.
Purplemom05 on 01/23/2009:
Yes I've seen that in California also. woman can bring in big diaper bags, purses but a man can't wear his backpack. To answer why a man might have a backpack. Fathers do take there little ones out. some guys would like to use a backpack to carry stuff like a diaper back. I carried my purse and never had a problem just backpacks and men.
liquidbraino on 05/13/2011:
I did security at Ralphs & refused to enforce their backpack policy because I know it's illegal; sexual discrimination. What is easier to shoplift with - a bag which is UNDER YOUR ARMPIT for easy access and ALREADY OPEN....or a back which is ON YOUR BACK; hard to access - and usually zipped up? A backpack has to be pulled OFF your back in order to put stuff in it. Purses are general considered to be a female accessory & backpacks are generally considered to be a male accessory (because most men don't carry purses). And it doesn't matter what BS they say about "that's our policy" - the policy itself is illegal. If it WAS legal it would be documented in their SOP and would be official policy, it's actually NOT an official policy of Ralphs and is not documented anywhere (because if that documentation got into the wrong hands they'd get sued). But all it takes is for one smart person to realize they can make a lot of money by suing them. Go in with a backpack & a camera; film them telling you to put your bag behind the desk & then film all the women walking around with HUGE purses. And then ask to see the policy. Write to corporate and request a copy of that policy - there isn't one. So how can they enforce a policy which doesn't exist? They don't - because it's not based on a standardized policy. It's based on discrimination. And it's the REASON I got out of doing security for Ralphs, they refused to provide even ME (the guard) with a copy of that policy. It was all verbal & they TOLD me to discriminate. I saw men entering with duffel bags - not much different than a purse in size and shape; they were told the same thing.
liquidbraino on 05/13/2011:
And...(to add to my previous comment) if someone HAD sued Ralphs, they would have simply said "we never told that guard to enforce that; it's not our policy - talk to the security company" and the security company would have said the same thing "it's not our policy". Of course the guard would have no proof unless he recorded the conversation. So at THAT point - the two companies (which have both covered their own ass's of liability by placing it all directly on the guard) would offer as a remedy to this "problem" - termination of the security guard. Which wouldn't solve the problem - a new guard would then come in and continue to enforce the same unwritten policy. The first time they DO get sued for this - it will set a precedent that would probably force them to publish an official policy on personal bags (a policy which would have to specify that certain TYPES of bags are profiled). Believe it or not - profiling IS legal. You just can't profile against race or sex (etc), you can profile certain TYPES of bags and that's perfectly legal, but it's not what they are doing. A woman with a duffel bag doesn't get stopped, a man with one does. It really doesn't matter what you call the bag (purse or duffel) if they're the same general design (carried under the arm with two straps).

liquidbraino on 05/13/2011:
BnCLively on 11/02/2011:
I'm a 64 year old woman who always carries a backpack. I live in an urban area and walk often to run errands. I carry a laptop, book, wallet and other personal things. I find it quite handy. I've been asked on occasion to check my pack, and I always decline and take my business elsewhere. That's MY policy. When stores start checking everyone's bags (purse or otherwise), instead of discriminating, I'll rethink this policy.
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