EDITOR’S NOTE: Like all posts on Aldi Reviewer, this piece is the opinion of its respective authors. Also like all posts, comments are welcome, although we ask users to be mindful of our Community Guidelines.
No one likes recalls. I sure don’t. If an item I’ve purchased at a store gets recalled, I’ve got to do something about it. If it’s a product, I have to decide between either dragging the item back to the store for a refund or cutting my losses and just tossing the product. Do I sacrifice time or money?
And don’t get me started on appliance or automobile recalls.
As much as I don’t like recalls, I do appreciate knowing about their existence. Recalls are, first and foremost, about safety. If something I have is a danger — if my fruit has a dangerous bacteria or my appliance has a defect that could cause a fire — I need to know. That’s crucial information.
I’ve taken note of how different industries handle recalls, in part because of what the law requires. When automobile recalls are involved, for instance, I invariably get a letter in the mail explaining the recall and the process. That step always happens because, simply, it is mandated by law.
What about grocery recalls? To the best of our knowledge, a press release alone appears to be sufficient enough notice. So a grocer can post a press release on a recall page, and perhaps post a sign in store, and call it a day.
In my experience, that’s exactly what happens. Walmart, Target, and Kroger have dedicated product recall pages, but it’s up to the consumer to check in regularly on those pages. We are on the email lists for those stores, and we’ve never seen any sort of recall email. I’ve also looked at the social media accounts for these stores and could find no evidence of recall chatter.
Aldi doesn’t appear to be any different. Aldi has its own recall page but that’s where the information pipeline seems to end. We’ve never seen an Aldi recall announced via email and we can’t find any Aldi recalls on social media. We do check in on the Aldi recall press page from time to time, but oftentimes we don’t find out about recalls until days have passed, usually when we’ve stumbled on something from a news outlet or have gotten a news tip from a reader or someone we know. If we, as Aldi writers, don’t know about these things right away, that probably doesn’t portend well for average shoppers.
While all of this is presumably adequate in the eyes of the law, as a consumer it’s unsettling. It would be nice if grocers had a better way to alert customers about problem products.
That’s why we can’t help but notice that there is one grocer we know who does make some effort to publicize recalls.
Trader Joe’s does have recalls. Not long ago, it had several in a short period of time. TJ’s, like other grocers, has a press page announcing recalls. It does not stop there, though. Trader Joe’s also sends out an individual email each and every time the store has a recall. Every time. We’ve gotten plenty of them.
An email seems like a small step in dealing with a recall. But it doesn’t have a small effect. It’s reassuring to know that if we buy a Trader Joe’s product, we’ll get an email if that product has a problem. It’s the kind of communication that, counterintuitively, builds trust.
It’s never fun to have a product recalled. It’s also no fun to get sick or hurt because of a recalled product, particularly one where a recall was issued but a consumer didn’t find out about it. We think there is good business sense in being proactive with customers when a recall happens, even if it’s just an email, in communicating a defective product. While Trader Joe’s is a company that does that, few, if any, other grocers do. That includes Aldi.
This is one area where, we think, more companies would do well to think like TJ’s.