A slew of grocery retailers have been criticized for keeping shoppers in the dark on savings.
Kroger, Albertsons and Stop & Shop are among the stores that have been accused of using “digital only” promotions that do not cover their entire customer base.
Now, consumer advocacy groups have reached out to the chains demanding those promotions be made available to all shoppers.
He cited the fact that the “digital only” discount is available to customers who have smartphones and internet connections.
These types of discounts often require a loyalty program or the download of a specific app.
But many low-income and elderly shoppers may not have access to these resources.
“This is digital discrimination, and the most vulnerable people are being left out of these online discounts at the worst possible time given record high inflation,” said Edgar Dworsky, founder of Consumer World.
“Large supermarkets need to provide an offline alternative to the digitally disconnected so they can reap the same savings that connected shoppers enjoy.”
Dworsky cited 2021 data from the Pew Research Center, which showed that 39 percent of consumers over the age of 65 do not own a smartphone, and 25 percent do not use the Internet.
Last week, Consumers World — along with several other consumer organizations — banded together to send a letter to the three companies, Smart & Final, and other individual regional companies, Supermarket News reports.
Consumer World argued in the letter that even digital-only coupons can be confusing to customers — especially those deals that need to be downloaded and saved to loyalty programs.
A survey by Consumer World found that nearly a third of 950 shoppers couldn’t tell how to find and use digital deals.
“We believe that the use of digital-only offers, as many chains have implemented them, may constitute an improper act under the Federal Trade Commission Act and similar state laws,” the letter said.
Albertsons put out a statement and claimed that it is working to fix the problem.
“While we primarily offer [special pricing for loyalty members] Through our website or our banner store ‘For You’ app on smart phones, many of our stores also allow individuals who may not have digital access to present the weekly circular to the cashier for the discount. Register,” the company said.
“We will continue to provide support to users of the rewards program in store to help ensure they get the best possible experience and value.”
The US Sun has reached out to Albertsons, Kroger, Stop & Shop and Smart & Final for comment.