Is Online Grocery Shopping Worth the Fee?
Two things hitting my pocketbook hard these days are gas and food. So I thought getting my groceries delivered could help cut down on my daily gas binges. I recently explored the food delivery services offered by Giant and Safeway. I also looked at Harris Teeter's drive-up food service, which doesn't solve my gas problem (no pun intended here), but does free up some time I would otherwise spend navigating the store. Here's what I learned:
-- The more you order and the more flexible you are about when the food gets delivered, the more you'll save on delivery fees. With Giant's Peapod service, you pay $6.95 for orders more than $100 and a dollar more than that if you spend between $75 and $100. If you dip below $75, you'll be paying nearly $10. You'll get a whole $1 knocked off if you schedule your delivery during a time when Peapod is in your neighborhood. With Safeway.com, you pay $12.95 in delivery fees for orders less than $150. But you'll get $3 knocked off if you choose a 4-hour delivery window or you buy at least $150 worth of groceries. But it's one or the other. You can't get a $6 discount if you order $150 worth of food and select a 4-hour delivery window.
-- Harris Teeter's Express Lane service allows you to place your order online and then four hours later it's ready to be picked up at your nearest store. The service, which runs about $5, lets you pull up to the curb and wait as a Harris Teeter employee loads up your trunk with your order. The prices online are the same as in the store and they're updated every Tuesday to match the store's weekly circular.
-- Peapod's prices are different than Giant's. First of all, you won't get the sale prices listed in Giant's weekly circular when you shop Peapod. Peapod offers the disclaimer: "The prices of Giant groceries purchased through Peapod may be different from the prices in Giant retail stores." I found that the prices do vary. A 14-ounce box of Cheerios cost $4.19 on Peapod and $3.39 in the store. A jar of Smucker's strawberry jelly was $3.39 on Peapod but $3.19 in the store. The online store does, however, have its own sales.
-- Plan on spending at least $50 at Safeway.com and Peapod. Otherwise you can't get them delivered. Harris Teeter's service has no limit.
-- Expect to pay a fuel surcharge if you're using Safeway.com and Peapod. The fee, which is calculated based on the average cost of gas each week, is currently $1.58. So if either store is close to your home, you likely won't be burning that much gas.
-- Safeway.com requires someone to be at home when the food is delivered. Peapod does offer unattended delivery, which means an insulated cooler with your food will be left wherever you want them to leave it. Just make sure you return the container or you'll be charged for it.
-- Both sites sell alcohol and tobacco but someone who's old enough to buy these products will have to be at home to sign for it.
-- Safeway.com drivers and Harris Teeter Express Lane employees do not accept tips but Peapod's will.
Have you ever gotten your groceries delivered? Have you ever used Harris Teeter's pull-up service? Is it worth the money? Speaking of money, how is your pocketbook being squeezed these days? Post a comment below.
Fiscal Fast Update: As many of you know, I'm right in the middle of a fiscal fast, which means I'm not spending any money for seven days. It's day three and I just ran out of milk and I have only a few diapers left. Plus I'm starving for a Target run. This is hard! How is it going for you? Let me know by sending me an e-mail at email@example.com. Words of encouragement are welcome.
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