Good customer service: Trader Joe’s

Re-usable bags
Creative Commons License photo credit: chippenziedeutch

Trader Joe’s is one of my favorite stores. You get free entertainment for the kids (find the stuffed animal and win a lollipop, balloons, the snack of the day), great prices on both organic and natural products, and some of my favorite pantry items and treats; all rolled into a friendly, easy on the budget shopping experience.  Many of our staples are purchased monthly at TJ’s as we lovingly call it. It’s definitely not one stop shopping, but well worth the trip every few weeks.

Sadly last time we went to TJ’s they were out of stock of my favorite toothpaste. At Trader Joe’s you have the benefit of having an AWESOME customer service staff behind the desk. If you ask about a product they know where it is on the shelf, when they should be in stock again, and how many fingers you are holding behind your back. (ok I made that last one up)

Imagine my disappointment when I was told they no longer carry it because it wasn’t selling well. Where else was I going to get a non minty, fluoride free, kid friendly toothpaste for $1.99? (I’d soon learn nowhere.) I lamented to the guy behind the desk, and he apologized. I went home sad, sadder than any toothpaste should make a grown woman. I tweeted about it, of course. I thought that was the end of it, and have spent the last week trying to convince my kids that the $6 tube of toothpaste that I bought to replace TJs toothpaste really is good.

This week I went in to get a few things, and BLAM! there was my toothpaste back on the shelf! I literally jumped and said, “woo hoo!,” I know so mature. I went over to the desk to ask if I needed to buy all 40 or so tubes, since you know that would be something my husband would be thrilled with.

Guess what they said? There was such an outcry from customers when they took it off the shelves, they brought it back! While I was a fairly loyal TJ’s customer already, this just seals the deal. Did my single tweet help? Probably not, but I’m happy to know I am not the only green, budget minded mom who would hug a bottle of toothpaste.

Where do you get good customer service? If you have your own business do you good service?

Kelly

I wish I could say this was a sponsored post, but Trader Joe’s doesn’t know who the heck I am. This post was inspired by The Pioneer Woman who told me to write about anything, even my tube of toothpaste. I don’t think she meant that literally.


About Kelly Whalen


Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

  • averageEconMajor

    this should be a good lesson as to how business works. If a company has a chance to make a profit they should take it. You said yourself that there was a demand for the product.   Or even if they take a slight loss, the cheap toothpaste keeps you coming back to shop at the store. It’s not that Trader Joes has exceptional customer service it’s just a common sense business plan that a four year old could have thought of.

    And the stuffed toy gimmick is nothing special. Companies know that parents are more likely to shop somewhere where their kids will be happy. Another very commonplace practice. Why do you think McDonald’s   built so many play places, has the happy meal for kids and offers toys?  

    it’s cute you think that the company actually cares about how you feel and less about how much money it makes. I wish we could all live in the same naive world you do

  • Niri

    Kelly check out the natural dentist range as well. They are perfect for non-minty but natural toothpaste. whole foods stock them too. We love Toms but the minty is too much for them to handle.  

  • http://www.joetaxpayer.com JoeTaxpayer

    I am a TJ fan as well.
    http://twitpic.com/m6tuy is just one shelf in my pantry with a good selection of TJ items. That Satay peanut sauce will help you make a great chicken satay in no time.
    I agree, their customer service is top notch.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      I just had that satay sauce for the first time! It's fantastic.

  • http://www.joetaxpayer.com/ JoeTaxpayer

    I am a TJ fan as well.
    http://twitpic.com/m6tuy is just one shelf in my pantry with a good selection of TJ items. That Satay peanut sauce will help you make a great chicken satay in no time.
    I agree, their customer service is top notch.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      I just had that satay sauce for the first time! It's fantastic.

  • Vicki S

    I love TJ’s! I’m a native Californian but recently moved to St Louis. I told my husband that we can thank our smooth transition from Californians to Mid-Westerners to TJ’s. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself without TJ’s! I LOVE their product and their prices.

    Here’s a tip that I got from one of the helpful sales people. If you like products that are prone to sell out (like their holistic dog food) you can call ahead and they will hold those items for you until you pick them up. How handy is that?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      Thanks for the tip. I will definitely keep that in mind.

      I love that you credit TJs with a smooth move.

  • Vicki S

    I love TJ’s! I’m a native Californian but recently moved to St Louis. I told my husband that we can thank our smooth transition from Californians to Mid-Westerners to TJ’s. I wouldn’t know what to do with myself without TJ’s! I LOVE their product and their prices.

    Here’s a tip that I got from one of the helpful sales people. If you like products that are prone to sell out (like their holistic dog food) you can call ahead and they will hold those items for you until you pick them up. How handy is that?

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      Thanks for the tip. I will definitely keep that in mind.

      I love that you credit TJs with a smooth move.

  • http://www.observingcasually.com/ kosmo @ The Casual Observer

    A couple of years ago, when my daughter was an infant, I had her along while Christmas shopping.

    So I’m in this store where I buy a couple of bags of elephant related gifts for my wife.

    As I go to leave the store, I have my daughter strapped to my chest in an infant carrier and both hands carrying bags. The proprietor (probably 20 years older than me) notices that my shoelace is untied. He quickly assesses the situations, drops to his knees, and ties my shoe.

    Needless to say, this was the first time anyone had tied my shoes since I was a toddler. The gesture left a very positive impression.

    (Have to removed CommentLuv from your site? It doesn’t seem to show up on my home computers, but it does show up on my work computer. Sorry for any issues it might cause – I suspect that my employer’s proxy server might have cached some of your site’s files at some point.)
    .-= kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Are College Football Coaches Worth the Money? =-.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      Wow, that is some great service! I bet you will remember that forever!

      Hm, might be a browser issue. I'll look into it.

  • http://www.observingcasually.com/ kosmo @ The Casual Observer

    A couple of years ago, when my daughter was an infant, I had her along while Christmas shopping.

    So I’m in this store where I buy a couple of bags of elephant related gifts for my wife.

    As I go to leave the store, I have my daughter strapped to my chest in an infant carrier and both hands carrying bags. The proprietor (probably 20 years older than me) notices that my shoelace is untied. He quickly assesses the situations, drops to his knees, and ties my shoe.

    Needless to say, this was the first time anyone had tied my shoes since I was a toddler. The gesture left a very positive impression.

    (Have to removed CommentLuv from your site? It doesn’t seem to show up on my home computers, but it does show up on my work computer. Sorry for any issues it might cause – I suspect that my employer’s proxy server might have cached some of your site’s files at some point.)
    .-= kosmo @ The Casual Observer´s last blog ..Are College Football Coaches Worth the Money? =-.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      Wow, that is some great service! I bet you will remember that forever!

      Hm, might be a browser issue. I'll look into it.

  • http://SweatingTheBigStuff.com Daniel

    Gotta love Trader Joe’s. I have one about 4 blocks from my apartment, which leads to many trips back and forth. But they were out of pasta sauce one time (how is that possible? It’s got to be the most popular product.) Anyway, after about 2 minutes of standing there, staring at the empty shelf in disbelief with 2 other people, in the hopes that this was just a joke and it would magically appear, the guy came around the corner with one last bottle. I felt bad for the other guys, but you gotta love that sauce.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      I love that you got the only container! That's hilarious. If they were closer I'd be in trouble. They are about 20 minutes from my house, but totally worth the drive.

  • http://SweatingTheBigStuff.com/ Daniel

    Gotta love Trader Joe’s. I have one about 4 blocks from my apartment, which leads to many trips back and forth. But they were out of pasta sauce one time (how is that possible? It’s got to be the most popular product.) Anyway, after about 2 minutes of standing there, staring at the empty shelf in disbelief with 2 other people, in the hopes that this was just a joke and it would magically appear, the guy came around the corner with one last bottle. I felt bad for the other guys, but you gotta love that sauce.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      I love that you got the only container! That's hilarious. If they were closer I'd be in trouble. They are about 20 minutes from my house, but totally worth the drive.

  • http://www.suburbandollar.com Kyle

    I am not fortunate enough to get to shop at Trader Joe's. I would love the opportunity to be able to pick up some two buck chuck on a regular basis. I can't really say that I have gotten any good customer service anywhere lately.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      Sadly Kyle they do not sell liquor at our TJs. Otherwise I would be there more often

  • http://www.suburbandollar.com/ Kyle

    I am not fortunate enough to get to shop at Trader Joe's. I would love the opportunity to be able to pick up some two buck chuck on a regular basis. I can't really say that I have gotten any good customer service anywhere lately.

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      Sadly Kyle they do not sell liquor at our TJs. Otherwise I would be there more often

  • http://www.girlymama.com melissa

    i don't know – trader joes is pretty hard to beat! loft in paoli has really nice, helpful salespeople who are very patient and helpful at grabbing things for me when i'm stuck in a dressing room with my kids ;-)
    and the lady at the drive thru at McDonalds in Malvern is positively delightful! She chats, always has a huge smile and a big "Have a great day!!" when i pick up my coffee — its so refreshing to see someone so cheerful in the morning!!

  • http://www.girlymama.com/ melissa

    i don't know – trader joes is pretty hard to beat! loft in paoli has really nice, helpful salespeople who are very patient and helpful at grabbing things for me when i'm stuck in a dressing room with my kids ;-)
    and the lady at the drive thru at McDonalds in Malvern is positively delightful! She chats, always has a huge smile and a big "Have a great day!!" when i pick up my coffee — its so refreshing to see someone so cheerful in the morning!!

  • Jennifer Y.

    Do all TJ's do the "find the stuffed animal" gig? I had no idea. I shop at the one in Gateway sometimes. They have interesting things to try.

    I just had some great customer service today! I have a Five Star binder for my coupons and a piece of wire popped out along the spine. I cut my finger a few times, but was trying to ignore it because I didn't feel like dealing with it. I decided to contact the manufacturer (Mead), and they were very nice. They are going to send me a new binder! [Hmm... having a strange deja vu moment here. Anyone else remember that movie "Summer School"? Mark Harmon get all the kids to write letters about a product. Remember the cool guy sunglasses??]

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      I think they all do, at least all the ones we have been to, which is maybe 4?

      That is awesome service! Summer School? Can I pretend I'm too young to remember that one? LOL

  • Jennifer Y.

    Do all TJ's do the "find the stuffed animal" gig? I had no idea. I shop at the one in Gateway sometimes. They have interesting things to try.

    I just had some great customer service today! I have a Five Star binder for my coupons and a piece of wire popped out along the spine. I cut my finger a few times, but was trying to ignore it because I didn't feel like dealing with it. I decided to contact the manufacturer (Mead), and they were very nice. They are going to send me a new binder! [Hmm... having a strange deja vu moment here. Anyone else remember that movie "Summer School"? Mark Harmon get all the kids to write letters about a product. Remember the cool guy sunglasses??]

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/CentsibleLife CentsibleLife

      I think they all do, at least all the ones we have been to, which is maybe 4?

      That is awesome service! Summer School? Can I pretend I'm too young to remember that one? LOL