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May 5, 2014

It's Official: HEB Ends Fresh Or Free May 5, 2014

Well, it looks like the rumors are true -- while HEB has yet to update their website with the news that Fresh or Free has ended, a customer service rep did confirm the discontinuation of the program via Facebook this afternoon.

In case you can't read the screenshot to the left, here's the pertinent info:

"Effective today, HEB will not offer a free replacement item for out of date products.  As always, we stand by our commitment to quality and freshness, and offer a full refund to customers on any purchased item, with a receipt, that they are not completely satisfied with."

There's no word yet on how HEB plans to handle removing expired food from the shelves going forward.  

Under the previous policy, customers participated in that process, since they were rewarded with a freebie still in date when they found an expired item on the shelves.

As always, I encourage shoppers to voice their opinions directly to HEB -- so feel free to reach out to HEB directly via their Facebook page or Twitter account, and share your thoughts about this policy change!

See more HEB bargains and deals here.

23 comments:

  1. Very disappointing news. I had great respect for their commitment to quality and felt it was a win-win situation. Store management was alerted to items that needed to be pulled from the shelf and customer was rewarded for this service. I see so many customers just grab and go, and it makes me wonder how many will be walking out with substandard food or even unsafe food, putting their families health at risk in the process. I hope HEB will hire more employees to monitor use by dates to make sure these items are off the shelves and ensure their customers leave with only quality, safe products.

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  2. It is disappointing news. I was a grab and go customer, learned my lesson when I picked a box of cereal that was 3 months past the expiration date, I opened the box unaware it was expired just to find web and worms I was so pissed off I took it back and the manager just said return her money not even a sorry never shopped at that heb again always has expired items, not naming which heb.

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    1. Sooooooo disgusting!!!! Almost as bad is you got no apology. I have a feeling you wanted that as much as the money back. I kinda wish you had named the HEB, so people could avoid shopping there.

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  3. they will never have fesh items on the shelf...i have found things 3yrs past the expiration date numerous times in the stores...a lot of times when you would bring up the expired product you could go back in a week later and the item was still sitting on the shelf expired...they should consider keeping the policy and putting a limit on the number of items you are allowed to get for free...this will keep people from abusing the policy.

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  4. Hey, Jennifer. Just wondering if you were the "popular blog" one commenter on HEB's Facebook page blamed on the change in the policy. She said the blog was the reason for the spike in people using the Fresh or Free policy. Just my opinion, but shouldn't a policy be implemented for a good reason and not implemented so just a few would use it and HEB could pat themselves on the back and claim to be dedicated to providing superior products and customer service? If they were truly dedicated, they would support the policy because it was right regardless of how many people held them to it. So much about this change just seems wrong.

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    1. Are you kidding? I have worked at stores where people go on shopping sprees just for out of date products. I'm not saying that HEB is always the best at keeping their shelves free of expired product (hello, even major corporations are guilty of human error), the incentive was that customers received a fresh product in place of the one that was expired. It's a shame some people have decided to view this policy as their God given right rather than a HEB saying "oops, sorry, it's on the house." If you see that as "lack of dedictation" you clearly don't understand HEB's business model.

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    2. no offense cuz i dont know what store you work at but the store close to me was not good at keeping the expired items off the shelves and im sorry but when you find meat thats over a week old thars just nasty. I know these stores are not perfect and can not keep up w/every single item in the store but when something is sitting right out in front and it does not get picked up the store only has themselves to blame for people taking advantage and when you point something out to the store and the employees still do not go pick these items up...again its the stores fault...i dont know how many times i took an item to the register w/out picking up a free one and let them know there was more back there and went back in days later only to see it was still sitting on the shelf but like i said i know these stores can not keep up w/every item but atleast go pick up what someone has brought to your attention.

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  5. "There's no word yet on how HEB plans to handle removing expired food from the shelves going forward." Um, maybe the way it's always been handled: their employees? The Freshness Guarantee policy was put into place because it is part of HEB's mission to always keep fresh food on their shelves. If a customer happens to find an expired product on the shelf, it was replaced by the same product that is in date. This policy was not developed for customers to go on a freebie free for all to find all the out of date products in the store. HEB places high standards on their employees to do consistent product rotations. Yes, some product does go overlooked from time to time, and that was the initial purpose of the policy: to let our customers know that HEB always wants them to receive the freshest products available, if not, it's on them; but your statement infers that customers are the only reason HEB keeps their expired product at bay. This is simply not true. I completely stand behind the removal of this policy as it has been grossly taken advantage of by some customers who think that it is their inherent right to go on a out of date treasure hunt so they can receive baskets of free stuff; all at a store who prides themselves on customer service and satisfaction.

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    1. Maybe I didn't state myself as clearly as I should. My point was that someone had commented on Facebook that a popular blog was responsible for the change of HEB's policy because of the spike in people using the Fresh or Free guarantee. I don't know if that's true or not, but it shouldn't be because:

      A) It was HEB's policy. They instituted it for whatever reason. I just assume it was to reinforce their image as a store that wants to provide fresh products for their customers and base some of their advertising on this fact. They set the terms and set no limits on how many expired items the customer could bring to their attention and, in turn, get a fresh item in return.

      B) I was pointing out that if the poster on Facebook was right and the policy was discontinued because of overuse, then it would be a bad decision on HEB's part because there must have been a reason for setting this policy in the first place, and that reasoning should apply if one person has them adhere to it or if 10,000 people do the same. If they are dedicated to freshness and want to enforce it with this policy, then that should be the driving force on whether to have it in place, not how many (or how few) hold them to it. By the way, it is (was) the customer's right to have a company stand by it's own policy, whether it be for one item or a whole basket full. I myself did Fresh or Free shopping, and I'm happy to say that on an average I would spend 1/2 hour in the store and leave with only a few free items. I especially was impressed with Meat, Deli, Produce, and Bakery Departments for doing so well to keep only items within date on the shelf 99% or more of the time. Also my store was excellent about being sure to remove items from the shelves after I brought them to their attention, which I think was another reason the policy was instituted. I also want to commend the employees at my local store for being nothing but helpful and pleasant, whether I was paying for products or getting them free --- the same wonderful attitude. My problem is with a corporation that wants to back down on a policy that seemed to want to emphasize a commitment to freshness on their shelves.

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    2. ok nobody said its our inherant right to rcv these free items but it is our inherant right to be able to pick an item up off the shelf and it not be expired...as far as the employees being the ones to do their so called job thats a joke....if the employees did do their job there would be no expired items for the customers to pick up all these years and therefore there would have been no abuse of this policy.

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    3. Expired items all over my store tonight..I hadnt tried to get something free in a LONG time but after drinking three month expired milk last month and finding 20 or more items tonight I took at item up front tonight to get my free one...I was informed that the policy is no more......Now I know why there are so many expired items now......WHY NOT...they had great policies until they ran the other grocery stores out of town...Now we have to use them or drive a VERY long way......

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  6. Since the new policy is implemented now they have alot of expired items on the shelves and im saying this because I went shopping today and saw tons of things. I guess they don't care as much because their policy is no mre. VERY DISAPPOINTED!

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    1. same here i just went shopping today and saw a lot of expired items all of them sitting right out in front and some expired last month. They have no reason to be concerned about picking these items up now.

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    2. Walmart will get my business. HEB was not worried about letting people pull the expired items for
      Hours -then some cashiers acted as if they were the ones loosing money on the deal. It was not a
      Quick process so rewarding a customer with a free product is a small price to pay. Please check dates on everything you plan to buy. GOOD LUCK TO YOU HEB!

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  7. Just found out today that I went grocery shopping. Very sad news. A couple of weeks ago I found a butter that was 2 years expired. I was very surprised, but I was glad I was able to help them get it out of the shelf. I really loved this policy because like many said, it was a win-win situation. Very disappointed in the removal.

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    1. It was removed because people like to take advantage of the policy. As a former partner, I am glad to see it gone. There were customers who took advantage of the policy, and would spend 4 hours in the store fishing for expired items!! Sorry a few had to ruin it for the rest of you.

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  8. Last time Heb discontinued the Fresh or Free program for awhile and restarted it again. This was about five years ago. I went into a store after the program restarted up to find nats in the produce, my feet sticking to the floor and carrots that were so rotten when I picked up the bag they were dripping with goo. After the program started and I worked that store by holding them accountable for expired food they cleaned up and became a good store. Their program kept them accountable.

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  9. Freshness policy made me shop more at HEB, If I was going to have party I would order fruit tray and ect..... Because I did get so many thing free from HEB so it was a way to pay back. and all my grocery's for the week,
    . There policy set them apart from every other store! I say done mess with a good thing! BRING IT BACK AND WE WILL GO BACK!!!!

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  10. Yes indeed that Policy was effective it kept them accountable cause it hit them where it hurt!! Their pocket book that's why they stopped it! Now we the shoppers if we keep going there will suffer buying without knowing out dated products that continue to be in their shelves!!

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  11. Howdy,

    My name is Sean. I'm writing on here because like many of you, I was an HEB freshness guarantee shopper. What most people don't know is that I was most likely the biggest user of this policy. Last year I brought home nearly $25,000 in groceries. This year it was going to be slightly larger ($30,000). I kept the policy to myself because I knew that the more people knew, the more likely it was to be cancelled.

    This policy had a deep impact on the operations of the store. Specific departments would lose the value of groceries being guaranteed to customers. As such, departments were forced to keep fresh products on the shelf or they would have terrible quarters. This would lead to firing and a new manager who generally would take better care of his section. I know for certain now that this policy is cancelled that quality will be reduced because there is less accountability. Sure the stores should hold themselves accountable, but that rarely happens (one store actually had a great manager and I was only able to find 11 items in an hour and a half!). In order for a larger organization to be held accountable, they must have policies and controls to do so. Freshness guarantee was their control. I am interested to see if they add new managerial policies to make up for it, but I doubt they will.

    Moral of the story? Shut down this blog. Take advantage of it and don't spread the word. If everyone did it, no one could do it.

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  12. I had never participated in this policy, not for lack of trying, until today. I found some baby back ribs that were 3 days expired. I jumped with joy KNOWING that I had just scored $13 worth of free baby back ribs. Long story short, I take the ribs to the cashier only to find that the policy had changed and I wasn't able to receive the unexpired ribs for free. :(

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    1. You would have only gotten a pound free anyway....Once I found a Kidney expired...the Checker said the Kidney I got was over a pound...I said are you going to cut it in half...she said the Butcher will...I said Just keep it

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    2. You are wrong -- If the ribs were pre-packed and retail priced, you would have gotten a similar package free. The one pound rule only applied to items weighed at point of sale like deli cut meats & cheese

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