Saturday, July 4, 2009

Publix and Sembler are gangbanging downtown St Petersburg

Publix and Sembler are fleecing downtown St. Petersburg.

On Thursday August 13 I went downtown to Publix, stopped in for a couple items, then walked over to Starbucks for coffee. I had done the same thing several times in recent weeks. When I got back just after ten my vehicle had been towed by Sembler, the landlord.

The tow cost 120 dollars, cash only. I had to forgive a small debt and pay some gas to a friend, bringing the actual cost to 150. And what price the monstrous aggravation? After several emails and phone calls, I was recompensed with two fifty dollar gas cards. Hmm, one hundred dollars when I’m out 150. I’ll bet they thought I was satisfied with that, and that they probably made me happy.

Those came in the mail Saturday morning, August 22. When I got home from work that night my neighbor came over and told me that I wasn’t going to believe it, but his coworker, a friend that I used to work with, had gotten towed from the Publix downtown parking lot the night before. I spoke with her today. She went to Publix, picked up a birthday card, walked to her friend’s house a block away to drop it off at a party, got back to the store half an hour later and had been towed. She said she noticed guys in lawn chairs that seemed to be eyeballing the parking lot.

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BULLSHIT!?!?

I was told by store manager Shannon Prodey that they were taking fifty cars a week, my friend was told it was 400 a month. At 120 cash only per tow, that is between 25 and 50 thousand dollars a month. Upward half a million a year in vanishing cash. This is an EVIL ENTERPRISE. You have a lot of balls calling yourself PUBLIX, then running our purses through your Greenwise juicers! You want the economy to recover then you fucking kick it while it’s down. You want downtown to thrive then drive everyone away. What a crap disservice to society. Are you going to wait until some gets RAPED in more than their wallet before you understand the magnitude of the problem you’re creating? Do you wonder if someone already has?

Publix and Sembler, two multi-billion dollar companies, running this wicked, shit nasty racket on the public.

How do you greedy pricks justify yourselves when you lay down in bed?

Here is a list of corporate names at Publix. The email addresses is firstname.lastname@publix.com I'm sure any other name you come across is likely the same.

Carol Jenkins Barnett
Hoyt Barnett
Jane Finley
Charles Jenkins
William Crenshaw
Todd Jones
Randall Jones
Allan Romano
Nick Collins
Sue Ward
Karen Bivens
David Phillips
Laurie Douglas
John Attaway
Maria Sastre
Kelly Norton
E Vane McClurg
Howard Jenkins
Sherrill Hudson
Joan Buccino
Maria Brous
Teresa Olinger

Sembler does their email addresses exactly the same way. first.last@sembler.com

Here's a couple names there.

Lilly Crane (a particularly rude shrew)
Hank Thomas
Lily Heimburger


Here is the letter I sent to Publix and the manager’s response.

My Nightmare at Publix store 00028.

My name is Bob Charest. I shop at Publix regularly, and by that I mean at least once and more often twice a week. I sometimes visit the store in Pasadena, the new store on 66th near Tyrone, and your store, depending on the convenience of the moment. I sent an email about this matter to the Publix online contact form, but received no reply.

Lately I’ve been visiting your store about once a week, and it’s developed into a little routine. I arrive in the early evening, stop in the store for a whatever things I need, then leave my car in the parking lot and walk over to Starbucks. Not that it matters anything, but I write books, and when I go to Starbucks I sit for a while and edit manuscript. Depending on how involved I become in my work, I can be there for a couple of hours, which is why I always stop in Publix first.

On Thursday, August 13, I went to Publix, then to Starbucks, then returned to the store shortly after ten to find my truck gone. I know the store had only just closed, because one of your employees was gathering up the last shopping carts from the parking lot, and he buzzed the door and the manager was still there and got the number for Sembler for me. I also noticed that there was NO sign in the entrance warning customers about the dangers of leaving a car in the lot for more than fifteen minutes. Was Sembler stalking the parking lot, or did Publix call and report a wallet ripe to be run through the Greenwise juice machine? If there was a major event, like first Friday, that would be understandable, but the parking lot was half empty when I pulled in, and there were only five cars there when I returned to it, so I wasn’t interfering with ANYONE or ANYTHING and was inconveniencing NO ONE. The law was being applied for the sole purpose of shaking out my wallet, simple and plain. And if I ran your business, I’d be more than happy to let a customer park there and wander around downtown. In fact, I’d find a way to encourage it in such a way to increase revenue.

In anticipation of your defense that Sembler owns the property, and you have nothing to do with their handling of it, which is what the manager told me on the night of the 13th, a little snoop around the internet reveals that Sembler and Publix have a rather extensive business relationship dating back at least to the eighties. Sembler owns Publix stores at Bayside Lakes, in Palm Bay, FL, on Mulberry Lane in The Villages, FL, a building in Land O Lakes, Lenox Marketplace in Atlanta, as well as these Publix locations found at the Sembler website: Piedmont, Acworth, Charleston, Powder Spring, River Crossing, Seven Hills, Ponte Vedra, Deltona, St. Cloud, Palm Valley, Shakerag.etcetera. And here’s a couple quotes found online. The Sembler Company opened four Publix shopping centers in Atlanta and Georgia in 1999. And from an August 1, 2000 article “Sembler adapts very well to our changes," says James Leckey, Publix director of real estate in Lakeland, Fla. With an extensive business relationship dating back many years and involving many stores, you cannot tell me that the issue of towing from Publix parking lots has not come up between the two companies. So Publix is either getting a cut, either directly or in the form of an adjusted rent, or is turning a blind eye. I know enough about business that if you insisted they not remove cars from your lot for risk of offending your customers, they wouldn’t.

Let’s do a little math. Publix reports income of 23-25 billion a year. Last year they paid 500 million for 49 Albertsons stores. Sembler likewise is a multi billion dollar company. Bob works in a restaurant on the beach. Due to the combination of this crippled economy and it being off season for tourism, I’ve been scaled back to three shifts a week, and the restaurant is slow. This week, ending yesterday, Saturday August 15, my three shifts yielded 56, 73 and 45 dollars (which includes my hourly pay), for a total of 174 dollars. The tow itself cost 120 dollars, but that was only the beginning of my expense. In order to retrieve my vehicle I had to call a friend, and in order to get him to come out that late on a work night I had to forgive a debt of twenty dollars he owed me, and to give him ten dollars for gas. Add the twenty I spent at Publix and a couple dollars at Starbucks and my seemingly innocent trip to your store cost me almost to the penny exactly what I made last week. And that’s before you put a price on my time you wasted and the AGGRAVATION, both retrieving my vehicle and writing this letter.


If you think I any way lie or exaggerate, I was also in your store on July 15 and July 23rd, both times stopping in Publix, leaving my car in the lot then walking over to Starbucks. I can prove it. On July 15th I stopped in the store picked up a few things and inquired about the in flier coupon for ten dollars off the BP and Shells 50 dollar gift cards. I’m sure you remember that. It was the last day of the offer. You were out of stock, and I was given a rain check that expired on Thursday July 23rd, which I thought was odd. A couple days later my neighbor and I were talking about it, and he showed me the rain check he received from the new 66th Street store. It was the actual coupon from the circular with the store name and address stamped on it, with ‘no expiration’ hand written in the margin. I happened to be downtown on July 23rd, and stopped at your store for a couple of things on my way to Starbucks. I also tried to redeem my raincheck. I was told that the coupon had turned into a company fiasco, that you had not gotten any more gift cards in stock, and that ‘sorry,’ but the rain checks were not being extended by your store. And when I explained about the rain check I had seen from the other store, I was told that the store managers had been instructed to choose how to handle it on an individual basis. The reason I know exactly how you handled that ordeal is because I was THERE on the 15th to get a rain check, and THERE AGAIN on the 23rd to find out that it was worthless.

Let’s do a little more math. I moved to Florida in October of 2003. Let’s pick a number, twenty five dollars a week (conservatively speaking) that I spend at Publix and multiply it. That’s 1300 hundred dollars a year, times five and half years is over 7000 dollars. If I never set foot in Publix again, you do that math.

I used to work at Shells on St Pete Beach. Between the restaurant, the hotels, the nearby bars and the beach, monitoring the parking lots was an enormous headache. One evening they inadvertently towed a car belonging to people who were dining at Shells. Naturally, they were furious. The manager bent over backwards apologizing, their car was returned within half an hour, their check was comped and they were treated to drinks at the bar while they waited. You or Sembler should reimburse me at least the 150 dollars the whole crappy episode cost me, and one billion dollar company blaming another billion dollar company is not going to evoke any understanding or sympathy on my end.

And if you choose to do nothing thereby saying you don’t give a crap about my business and somehow justify screwing me, I’ll never be able to shop at Publix again, not only because I’ll hate the place, but because I’ll be afraid to park my car for fear that it will be gone when I come out of the store. Then from now on whenever you see a smiling ad proclaiming Publix to be a friendly, neighborhood, service oriented place to shop, know that the ad is a patent lie. And the next time you hear it said ‘do unto others as you would have done unto you,’ know that you don’t.

If you do happen to decide to address this, I’d prefer it be done by email.

Bob



Manager Shannon Prodey’s response

I spoke with Shannon Prodey about the matter. I’m assuming that, anyway. That’s the name on my receipt from the University Village Publix and a woman named Shannon called me on Monday. I’ll be honest, I was not only dissatisfied with our conversation, but offended.

At one point in our conversation I mentioned the BP Shell gas card ten dollar coupon from the second week of July. I mentioned it only as a way of proving that I had been shopping in her very store on July 15 and again on July 23. She went off on some tangent about vendors not honoring 7.95 and 8.95 rebates and blah, blah, blah. Why do I even care about that? I got a rain check for two gift cards, then found out that the rain check was never going to be honored anyway, so why is she babbling to me about that business nonsense about gift cards I never got when I’m concerned about the hundred and fifty bucks your parking lot cost me?

Now here’s the part that blew my mind. She said, and I quote: “I have the cash here in the store, and I could reimburse you today, but I’m not going to. The point is that Publix and Sembler haven’t yet figured out how to control the parking lot.”

What? Are you kidding me? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Do you have any clue how offensive that sounded? She all but said: “Nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah, nyeah.” She also said she didn’t want to get off the phone with me being dissatisfied. How on earth is that possible without giving me money?

When she should have been reimbursing me for the tow with a profuse apology, and a couple gift cards to show how valued I am, she instead gave me Lily at Sembler’s number and told me to take it up with her. She then told me the district manager would be calling me. No one ever did. I told her I preferred to communicate via email. She never wrote back. I sent a second email to the Publix contact form. No response.

I’ve always enjoyed shopping at Publix, and I’ve spent thousands of dollars there since I moved to Florida in 2003, but wow. This last experience was way overpriced, extraordinarily inconvenient and left an obscenely bad taste in my mouth.



An email I sent to the form that received no response.

I appreciate your calling me today about my vehicle being towed, I guess. I thought I’d give you an analogy to mull over. I explained that I work in the restaurant business. What if you came to my restaurant for dinner one evening, afterwards walked a couple blocks down for ice cream, then came back to find your car had been towed. And what if, when you brought it up to me, I told you that it was a recurring problem at my location that I was well aware of, and that I had the cash on hand and could reimburse you on the spot, but wasn’t going to, and instead gave you the number of the people responsible for the tow and told you to take it up with them? Would you come back to my restaurant? Would you tell your friends? Would you care that I was well aware of the problem and had never properly addressed it?

And for what it’s worth, I hate speaking on the phone, and do so as little as possible, and use net10, which is a pay per minute cell plan, so factoring in my conversation with you this afternoon, the total cost of that tow now stands at 153 dollars.

2 comments:

  1. Lol Dude you are as stupid as you think Publix is . I had the same Problem brought up to me from another customer but after i informed the towing company that they went to CVS (across the street) to gather their prescriptions and shopped at Publix, they got my car back with no problem besides waiting 15 minutes. Publix does NOT own the property nor do they own the parking lot. So all your ranting about how shitty Publix is is from a lack of information on your behave. Did you not read the many of signs that warned you if you leave your vehicle and go somewhere else IT WILL GET TOWED? or did you just think it was lying? If anyone is at fault it is the towing company. You gotta be blind to not see not 1 of those signs. Publix and Sembler make no money off of the towings. Why would publix allow people to park and leave? the parking lot fills up then no more customers can come and park. You dont seem to be so smart just really pissed off that you didn't read the sign and had to learn the hard way.

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