Monday, November 07, 2005

I-PASS: I'll Pass

Eric Zorn has a great post on grocery store self-checkouts and other related gripes. A Jewel store self-checkout is his starting point. We’re lucky (?) enough here in Springfield to have a couple of Jewels available for our food shopping pleasure as well. I frequent one of them because it’s close to where I live and sometimes I’m too lazy to go where there are better prices and a better produce section. I even use the self-checkout sometimes.

Be that as it may, there is one thing that really bugs me about my Jewel: I-PASS. I-PASS allows users of the Illinois Tollway System to pass through toll stations without having to stop and pay. Instead, an I-PASS device in your car is electronically read and you are charged accordingly without the inconvenience of having to stop and throw coins in a basket. It’s a fine program. And you can maintain your I-PASS account at Jewel stores. The Jewels here even advertise this service with storewide audio and visual displays. One problem: THERE ISN'T AN ILLINOIS TOLLWAY WITHIN 200 MILES OF SPRINGFIELD!

It really makes me think Jewel doesn’t have any idea what going on down here. Is their corporate structure so unyielding that they can’t exempt Springfield stores from looking foolish by hawking something no one here can use?


Anonymous said...

Same thing with their ad flyer that comes with the paper, or occasionally in the mail. More than once I've seen an item advertised and thought, that sounds really good, I want to get that. Usually it's a fresh item from the deli or bakery section. But when I get to the store, the item is no where to be found. Upon inquiring at the service desk, I learn they only stock it in the Chicago area stores. Ar.

Actually, I don't care for most of their bakery items. It's my belief that they ship pre-mixed batter to Springfield where it's formed and baked for the Springfield market. Most of it tastes much different than what they sell in the Chicago stores. Although, if you order a cake for later pick-up, I think they actually make it from scratch here because the ones I've had taste pretty good.

I just want to mention another thing, since you used to live in Chicago and you might appreciate this. I used to go to the store on Division and Clark. It was convenient for hopping off and back on the subway on the way home from work. I don't know if it's still there or not. Anyway, as you know, that locale is about halfway between the Gold Coast and Cabrini Green. I used to marvel at the people standing in the check-out lines. There would be a Gold Coast lady, wearing her pink silk tank top, tailored summer weight wool slacks, Gucci purse, looking regal and relaxed, buying fresh caviar at $50 an ounce (or whatever the exorbidant price was back then). And right next to her would be a Cabrini Green lady in her Bulls tank top, baggy sweat pants held up with a length of rope, shoes that were obviously too loose, looking haggard beyond her years, buying a 50 pound bag of rice for $2.79. The two ladies, brought together for that short moment in time, were so close geographically, but their worlds might as well have been galaxies apart. It was a fascinating place to observe people.

Dave said...

I actually did shop at that Chicago Jewel a couple of times. It's been a dozen years so I don't remember much other than it seemed crowded (like everything else in Chicago). I had better shopping alternatives and didn't venture up there much. But even living in the South Loop area I did see a lot of mixing of classes as you describe.

Anonymous said...

In response to I-PASS being advertised in Springfield Jewels:

Though it may not be a conscious decision, Jewel could be simply offering a product to all of their Illinois customers that can be used in almost a dozen states, including the tollways in the Chicago area. The I-PASS will work on any tollroad using E-ZPass. Granted, these are mostly out east, but Indiana will have E-ZPass towards the end of 2006 and except for the Ohio turnpike, a driver will be able to take I-90 from Chicago to Boston, without having to worry about change for tolls.

It may be a bit annoying (most supermarkets are) but it's not nearly as big a travesty as the tollroads themselves.