The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

 
 

By Lee Revis
Editor, Valdez Star 

Bye-bye bargains: personalized deals axed for Alaskans

Safeway personalized e-coupons e-clipped after mistake

 


But for some web-savvy shoppers, the deal on premium ice cream was just the tip of the iceberg. Precut lettuce-in-a-bag only cost 99 cents. As word spread about the “personalized deals” available by linking the store’s traditional “Club Card” savings with the chain store’s website, customers paraded out of the town’s only grocery store with cases of water (normally costing S7.49) and paid only $2.69. And don’t forget the Oreos at $2.52 and generic paper towels for 64 cents.

Unlike the regular “Club Card Savings” discounts offered to consumers, the personalized deals were not marked on the store’s shelves and were available only if you added personalized deals, such as bananas for 49 cents a pound, to your online Safeway account.

For a town with only one grocery store within a hundred miles of the road system and $6 for a three quart bottle bleach is considered an “everyday low price” - cheap prices like a pound of Lucerne butter for only $2.68 is irresistible. Especially when there are no posted limits.

Valdez shoppers stocked up.

Pages dedicated to Valdez bargain hunting on the social networking site Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree. Happy shoppers proudly posted photos of receipts bragging of huge savings and pictures of grocery purchases with teeny-tiny totals. One user went a step further and posted an online tutorial to teach technology-challenged bargain hunters how to sign up for “personalized deals” at Safeway.com. To sweeten the deal, Safeway offered a free dozen eggs just for signing up.

But even e-coupons have expiration dates and Safeway’s personalized deals were definitely for a limited time only.

The personalized savings from the website that allowed shoppers to buy a 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade for only 86 cents was a special that frustrates many in the far north – not available in Alaska. A glitch in the chain’s website allowed Valdez shoppers with Club Cards to take advantage of the program. The promotion was supposed to be available only in limited markets in a handful of western states where there is a lot of competition for a share of consumer grocery budgets and the Safeway Club Card is considered underutilized. It was definitely not intended for non-competitive Valdez market.

Valdez Star graphic

A screen shot of fine print on “just4U” section of a Valdez Safeway website user. International “no” symbol from the Valdez Star.

News of the pending ax swinging down on the deals was met with much mourning on Facebook.

A similar Alaska-specific program may be coming soon store managers said when notifying customers that the program was being shuttered for Valdez consumers.

Shoppers can still load e-coupons to their Club Cards by signing up at http://www.Safeway.com . For instance, a digital coupon for $1 off of a bag of Starbucks coffee is currently available. If you add that coupon to your account and go to Safeway and buy a bag of Starbucks, the coupon will automatically deduct $1 off of your purchase price at the register. This is on top of any special price you might receive by using the club card.

As of Tuesday morning, the Ben and Jerry’s was $5.19 a pint, but for those that got it at the personalized price, the spoonfuls of Cherry Garcia will be that much sweeter.

 

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