Customers who like Price Chopper on Facebook may have read Tuesday that the Schenectady-based supermarket chain will no longer be accepting pennies at its registers, effective May 1.
If they were reading with Tuesday’s date in mind, they would have quickly chalked the news up to a bit of harmless old April Fools’ pranking.
Of course, as these things go on social media, the joke quickly attracted backlash from unaware customers who declared they would be taking their business elsewhere.
The post, accompanied by a crossed-out penny, read: “Attention Chopper Shoppers! Due to numerous complaints from our customers regarding excessive spare change as well as stray pennies lying in our parking lots & stores, we will no longer be accepting pennies at our registers effective May 1st.”
Seven hours later, the post had gained 415 comments and 449 shares. The reactions varied swiftly from “haha, good one” to “not funny at all” to one person declaring it a “sadistic joke” worthy of being sued over. Price Chopper responded to the first dozen or so comments with “Happy April 1st!” but customers soon took over by demanding the oblivious get a clue and the outraged loosen up.
This wasn’t the first time Price Chopper got cute with its customers on April Fools’ Day.
“We do one every year,” said Heidi Reale, director of shopper and digital marketing at Price Chopper. “We try to come up with one that will catch people off guard and make them smile once they learn the joke. Last year, we put up a post that said we’re going back to our old retro uniforms, accompanied by a picture of this old uniform. We got more of a reaction out of our employees that year.”
One year, the supermarket Photoshopped a picture of a giant rabbit next to one of its stores and encouraged people to come out and get their picture taken with the Easter Rabbit.
“It was an actual rabbit, blown up to be the size of the store,” she said.
Another year, Price Chopper informed readers it would be shutting down its social media pages after a bunch of company executives got together and decided social media wasn’t really catching on. And another year, it told customers it was going to start using helicopters to fly in hydroponic tomatoes grown on New York City rooftops.
“This one got a lot of notice,” said Reale of Tuesday’s post. “I think there were a lot more shares on this one than previous ones and there were a lot of smiles that came out of this post after a long, cold winter. There are a lot of companies that like to do something to make people smile. Part of our strategy is to connect and engage with our customers.”
Price Chopper may be surprised to learn that its joke actually has a solid base of support. A good number of commenters said they were aware the post was a joke, but would still “100 percent support” the plan. Besides, Canada’s already doing it, so why not, eh?