As a working mom, I am always trying to find ways to save time while doing what’s necessary to keep the house running. Back in the day of Grocery Gateway, I was super-excited to try the service, until I realized that Longos priced the Gateway groceries differently than the in-store prices. The increase in price didn’t make it worthwhile – plus delivery was expensive. Busy or not, being frugal is high on the priority list, and when Loblaws came out with a system that would honor their sales prices, and give you the option to have someone else pack them for you, I was on board.
I have tried this service about 5 times now since it started, and have ultimately decided that it isn’t worth the aggravation factor. I tried them when they were new, then a few months later, and then a couple of times recently (now that they have been in existence for a couple of years, and should have worked any major bugs out).
Here are my thoughts. Let’s start with their intro:
So this would make you believe that you can get the same deals online that you can find in the flyer. Assuming that many people shop the flyer specials, let’s try to add a few things to our cart from the front page of this week’s flyer.
So – when I clicked on the beef tenderloin, or the watermelon, or the salmon, or the chicken or the strawberries, I would get the little note above the flyer. Could the store be sold out of everything? Is watermelon that popular this time of year?
Substitutions: when you check out, you have the option of picking substitutions. However, there is no price guarantee. One visit I chose yogurt drinks (pack of 6) that were on sale, and was told when I arrived that they had to substitute them. They said it was a pack of 8 instead. I asked if it was the same price, and they said yes. When I got home, I realized that I paid almost double the sale price for an extra 2 yogurt drinks. They weren’t the same price at all. They had done the same thing with peppercorns (double the price). Those two items added over $10 extra to my bill.
Lack of allergy information: If you have any people with allergies in your house, it is nearly impossible to find any information on what the grocery items may contain. Many breads may contain sesame. I know this brand happens to have this warning, but it was nowhere to be found on the ingredients listing. Even more troubling, was that there was no disclaimer warning people that allergens were not listed.
Errors: I usually buy the ‘Free From’ chicken. There were FF whole chickens on sale one week, and I asked the attendant if the 3 chickens packed were the Free From variety. They assured me they were, but when I got home, they were the regular chickens.
Wait times: This is hit and miss – there have been times it has been very quick, and other times I have sat in the pickup parking spot for 10-15 minutes waiting for someone to come out.
Quality of items chosen: They do a good job of choosing produce – this is a worry when you are used to picking out your own things. But I have been happy with the quality of items received.
Ease of use: The website has undergone a lot of performance improvements over the last year. The first year of two it was painfully slow, and very frustrating to use. You could search “pear” and hundreds of choices would come up. Searching is much more concise now. They have clearly put a lot of money and effort into making this part much better.
To wrap up, I would not recommend the service. If I have to go into the store to buy items that show as ‘not available’, then it defeats the purpose. The number of items this week alone that I couldn’t buy were high, and as a mom who shops for sales, these items would be key for me, as I would likely be planning a menu around what was on sale. The frustration of having to check for expensive substitutions, and worrying about what mistakes I will find in the bags when I get home is not worth the convenience. I am going to stick to shopping in person, where I can read labels, make sure that the products I am buying are what I intended to buy. It’s a great concept, Loblaws, and I really wanted to love it! A+ for effort – I’m sorry it’s not quite there yet.