It's hard to buy organic chicken in the hood in a hurry. So when I don't have a lot of time to shop I head for Union Market, on Court Street, where I still buy three things: their organic, Murray's and occasional rotisserie chicken, garlic-stuffed olives, and their ancho peppers. I am not a fan of their service, their high fresh produce prices, and their frequently yellowed salad leaves. The unfriendly, sometimes uncouth service just perplexes me, and I assume it comes from the top. Trickle down. Are they treated poorly, paid badly? Or does the ownership just not give a toss about customer service?
I had sworn, after Vince was actually shouted at by a guy in the bakery, that I would never shop there again. Then I crawled back. For that bloody chicken. Quite bloody, as it turned out.
So, I'm there, and I head for the chicken counter. No more organic chicken in sight, and Smart Chicken has taken the place by storm. Ugh. There is nothing smart about Smart Chicken. There is one row of Murray's chicken. I pick up a packet of wings in which the juice and blood seem rather more copious than usual, and look at the Murray's sell-by date, as I always do, at least since the beginning of the Chicken Wars, with Key Food. [that link is worth visiting]
I can't see the Murray's date, because the Union Market label with its own sell by date and price has been stuck right over the Murray's date. Hm. I pick up another packet. And another. I look at six, seven packets. Every single one has the original sell by date completely obscured by the store label.
So I peel the Union Market label back.
Beneath it, the Murray's label says the sell by/use by is January 27th.
The Union Market store label says the sell by is February 3rd. Six days later.
I go to the butcher counter and ask to see a manager. Why? asks the butcher abruptly. I explain. Loudly. Wordlessly, he goes to the chicken fridge, scoops up every packet of Murrays, and dumps them all on the counter behind his work station. He pulls on a pair of latex gloves, snap! looks at the waiting customers and barks, Next!
Excuse me, I say.
Yes? Pissed off.
I would still like to see a manager.
Wordlessly, turns to his wall phone: Manager to meat counter.
I wait. And wait. And wait.
Does he have to come from far, I ask, politely, and with only one eyebrow raised.
I paged him!
Please page him again.
Manager to meat counter!
You should wait by the cash registers, says the angry butcher. Why? I ask. He'll get there faster, he says. The cash registers are about 40 feet away in direct line of site. I watch them.
Finally a man in a white coat makes his way towards the meat counter. I intercept him. Brief annoyance on his face until he hears my story. He is very polite. He says he has only been there two weeks and it was an accident, that the Smart Chicken labels and dates had been put on the Murrays, and that they would be removed at once.
Really. So...it's an accident, he is aware of it, and nothing was done about it?
So...interesting that the labels have, without exception, been pasted exactly over the original sell by date, I tell him. I mean, I have never seen that. I can always see the original label. That is the reason I still shop here.
No response to that one.
He still insists, still politely, that it was unintentional.
I don't believe him.
February 18th: Note response from Union Market in comments.
Previous Union Market Story:
I can't help you, I'm busy [...also worth reading]