As you know, my many beloved readers, I only write about the BEST of Laguna Beach and, while there are still plenty of “bests” to get around to writing about in this blog, I simply refrain from writing about certain entities that don’t make the cut for you. And once in a very rare long while, I’ve got to speak straight about certain disappointments.

This AM, I’m going to do a very short entry on a grocery store I used to love that might now be marked from that list. It’s the Albertson’s in South Laguna Beach. For 7 years now, I’ve passed other stores closer to me to go to Albertson’s because their people and pricing were the bomb. Seriously, their staff seemed to go out of their way to be friendly, especially recognizing and remembering details about their loyal locals. Further, even with the onlsaught of Montage visitors crowding in, they handled our crowds quite efficiently.

This ground to a halt about 3 weeks ago when management began “renovating” the Albertson’s store. While we locals were initially OK with bumbling around for product that had been moved from this aisle to that aisle, we were less OK with the unveiling of the “self check-out” lanes, coupled with the complete removal of the “Express Fast Lane.” Very bad karma. (Note: The old display banners stating, “If 3 people are in a line, we’ll open a new checkout lane for you” have also disappeared because, apparently, it’s not about great customer service anymore for Albertson’s.)

This morning, I discovered it had gone from bad to worse. I tossed in to pick up a few items and discovered that Albertson’s (this is only the South Laguna Beach branch, to be fair), didn’t have ONE single lane open for checkout – our only option was the self-check out lanes. Wow. I flagged a checker to confirm the pomposity, and he assured me – our only option was to trundle through the self-check out.

Granted, I can see this being an option for someone who wanders in at 4:00 a.m. in search of potato-and-chorizo frozen burrito, but at 8:00 a.m. on a WORK DAY?

Sorry, but most of us have somewhere else we need to be and, judging by the disgruntled looks of several fellow shoppers (most all recognizable local residents), most of us were already LATE getting to wherever we needed to be. We had a serious line-up at self-check, and no one employed at Albertson’s seemed to care.

Now, I’ve used self check-out before, but I’ve no desire to bumble through my own check-out of 20 items (Last time I checked, I didn’t get paid union dues to do so, for one thing). I got frustrated enough that I finally just shelved 3 items on a nearby counter and gave up the fight. I then found the manager and told her that this wasn’t entirely a great idea. She blinked at me, expressionless, like a robootron.

Her customer-oriented response promulgated this rare blog entry.

As a single girl, I don’t spend buckets of money at Albertson’s in South Laguna Beach. In fact, my electronically filed taxes today reflect receipts for about $9,000 at said Albertson’s in 2010. Not chump change, decidedly, but certainly not what many other locals and tourists spend at Albertson’s in South Laguna Beach annually. Frankly, I’d be willing to go to another Laguna Beach grocery store to simply restore the ease and efficiency. I wonder how many others are thinking the same. . . .

And on that note, onward to happier, “Best Of” reporting.

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