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Marketing and more: asking for cash-back costs you cash at Ralphs

Relocating from New York, my husband and I were used to supermarkets with names like Waldbaums, A&P and Pathmark. It always makes us laugh recalling our early days in the Southland and the time I left a note that I was going to Ralphs and would be back soon. Hmmm, my hubby wondered, “Who is Ralph and why is Robin visiting him?”

That incident recently came to mind when shopping at a local Ralphs supermarket and requesting money back. To my surprise, there is now a 50¢ cash-back fee.

Why would supermarket giant Kroger (owner of Ralphs) unveil a new slogan and announce that the store is “celebrating its love for all customers and associates” when at the same time start its nickel-and-diming those very same customers?

Perhaps the Ralphs slogan should change from “Fresh for Everyone” to “Nickel-and-diming for everyone.”

LA Times business columnist David Lazarus contacted Vons, Albertsons, Pavilions, Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Lucky, Stater Bros., Gelson’s and Whole Foods for his Dec. 20, 2019 column and reported that NONE of the other supermarkets are planning to start charging a cash-back fee.

Since Ralphs wants to charge for the nano-seconds it takes to hand a shopper cash back, here are other suggestions Ralphs can employ to continue its nickel-and-diming campaign:

  • Finding an item – It can take several minutes for a clerk to show a shopper where an item is located. Time is money so charge several dollars for the task. And if the shopper is too short to reach a high shelf, tack on another dollar!
  • Paying by check – Customers writing checks take longer than someone paying with a debit or credit card. (Especially those who slowly write their check, scribble down the amount, then deduct the amount from their checking account balance to calculate a new balance – all while everyone waits.) Customers who pay with a check should easily be charged a fee.
  • Issuing a rain check – This task can take at least one full minute. Surely Ralphs should charge a fee for running out of an advertised product.
  • Getting change – There should be a fee when cashiers must give change, especially to customers paying with large bills.
  • Buying liquor or cigarettes – Cashiers must see proof of the customer’s age. If the driver’s license is buried in a purse or wallet, the transaction might take several minutes so surely that’s worth a fee.
  • Wrong item – The customer picked the box with six widgets, but their coupon is for eight widgets. Now a clerk must run around the store to find the correct sized item. Ralphs should charge for this service.
  • Using different shopping bags – Customers with big purchases who bring a variety of different sized shopping bags should be charged a fee simply because it takes longer to pack the items.
  • Buying postage stamps – If Ralphs is not in the business of giving out money like a bank and needs to charge for the service, surely the supermarket is not a post office and should charge when customers want a book of stamps.

This is where capitalism comes in. Shop at Ralphs? Don’t shop at Ralphs? In our capitalist society where there’s a lot of competition some shoppers who are unhappy about the new cash-back fee might do their primary grocery shopping at a competing supermarket. Others might not care and will continue shopping at Ralphs.

Capitalism works!

Capitalism breeds competition and the results benefits everyone. Just ask Communist Sen. Bernie Sanders. Sanders didn’t get a real job until his 40s and had a lackluster political career until he campaigned against Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2016 Democratic Party primary. Today he is a multi-millionaire. According to Forbes magazine –

Sanders … has amassed an estimate $2.5 million fortune from real estate, investments, government pensions – and earnings from three books.

When attacked for being living proof that capitalism works much better than socialism/communism, Sanders has responded, “I wrote a best-selling book. If you write a best-selling book, you can be a millionaire, too.”

Exactly! In a capitalist society, if you have a product or service that other people want to buy, you will reap the financial rewards.

Of course, in a Sanders or Warren communist/socialist administration, an author of a best-selling book would have to share profits with those who sat on their tuchas and didn’t write anything. That would only be fair.

Sanders is poverty stricken compared to Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Her net worth is pegged at $12 million.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who sleepily has gone around the country apologizing for much of his 44-year political career so he could lurch left in his presidential campaign, has a reported net worth of $9 million. Not bad for a guy who spent his entire career working in government and got his son jobs that paid five- to six-figures per month solely because Hunter had the last name of Biden.

Depending on the source, President Donald Trump has a net worth between $3 and $4 billion. Unlike Democrats who think success is a dirty word, President Trump celebrates his achievements, wanting all Americans to have as many opportunities to be as rich and successful as he is.

Capitalism works, which makes you wonder why Bernie, Lizzie or Sleepy Joe think they can win an election promoting socialism or communism.

That brings us back to Ralphs supermarket. Within a few months, Krogers will learn if their colorful billboards and glossy mailers promoting its “Fresh for Everyone” marketing campaign is successful or if customers only remember the tacky new 50¢ cash-back fee.

Click here to read the full article by LA Times business columnist David Lazarus about Ralphs being the only supermarket charging a cash-back fee.

Orange County Breeze got scooped! We stumbled onto the new cash-back charge when we popped into our local Ralphs to purchase a couple of loaves of La Brea Bakery gluten-free sandwich bread. That Ralphs is the closest source of the La Brea Bakery product. When we went through self-service checkout, we discovered the new fee and asked about it. The person supervising self-service checkout told us that “Ralphs was just the first. Everybody will be charging cash-back fees.” That didn’t sit right, so we began asking at our regular places of trade. So far, no other vendor has said that it will soon become company policy. Congratulations to David Lazarus for bringing this to everyone’s attention!


  1. Hi Robin, The Biden Crime Family syndicate is worth a lot more than 9 MILLION. Let’s say BILLIONS! This will be revealed soon enough.

  2. I’m not going to drive the extra mile to Ralph’s because it is no longer worth the extra gas it would cost me.

  3. Excellent story. We need more people like you who care enough to research/publicize these things. Maybe people will wake up, and say “we’re not gonna take this.“ Thank you!

  4. Well said. Nickel and dime todeath.

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