Central Market: Trial By Tri-Tip


Central Market and I have grown up together.  I remember walking around the North Lamar store with The Silver Palate cookbook in my cart, buying a cartload of groceries for one meal.  I remember touring the Westgate store with a group when it was still just a gutted mall, because people were that excited about a grocery store.

Nowadays, I’m more likely darting in for a Bota Box and wondering why people can’t meander a little faster.  But I’m still irrationally fond of the place, and while I’m not shopping there regularly I do appreciate it being there.

So when the tri-tip incident happened, it was a grocery betrayal.  DH was mad, but I was sad, because I am that kind of person.

Tri-tip is a cut of beef we often cook, and it’s not cheap because DH always goes to CM to buy it, where it’s $10.99/lb.  Since he’s the one shopping and cooking, he gets to pay what he wants (Costco and TJ’s have it cheaper)(Cheepie tries not to look at his receipts). On the day in question, he came home with three tri-tips, because we were having company.  

When he went to put them in the marinade, he realized that there was a huge layer of fat on them, which is not usual. They’d been fat side down in the case, so looked like the usual cut until he got them home and unwrapped the paper.  Not a little fat–a brisket-level layer a half-inch thick that I had to dissect away from the meat because our grilling method doesn’t allow for a giant layer of melting fat.  All told it was 1.6 lbs of fat (of course I weighed it, am I some kind of heathen? I wanted numbers!).  

Dinner was lovely, the meat was delicious. But I’m Cheepie, and the disappointment stuck with me. I might not be tossing the dinner parties, or even shopping at all the way I did when I was in my 20s, but I didn’t want to have to break up with Central Market!  We’d made crackers! I’d spoken to fishmongers! I’d been given a jillion pounds of bruised tomatoes once to make me go away!

So I went to their website and sent an email detailing what happened, and let them know that I thought that if they were going to change the way they cut something, letting buyers know when they purchased it would be polite. I sent it off figuring it would go into a black hole of internet complaints, but feeling better that I’d at least gotten it off my chest.

Three weeks later I got an email.  The customer service rep was very understanding, and wrote that she’d shared my email with the meat department and they’d gotten it cleared up.  She also told me they’d refund the amount we’d spent on the meat, and would like to also give me a $20 gift card.  

That’s how you do customer service!  I’m still amazed. It’s easily the best customer service I’ve ever gotten.  Acknowledgement of the problem, and more than making up for it.  Central Market and I will be going steady for the foreseeable future.