5 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Family Dollar Employees
Past employees say the company has some secrets shoppers may not know about.
When it comes to bargain shopping, few stores are more recognizable than Family Dollar. With more than 8,000 locations across the U.S., the chain serves as a source of everything from groceries to daily essentials for customers on a budget. But for all the convenience and savings the company may provide, it isn't without its share of problems—including some issues regular patrons may not even know about. Read on for warnings that ex-Family Dollar employees have for shoppers.
The stores may not offer the best deals on food.
Part of Family Dollar's appeal to shoppers is access to an affordable supply of their favorite foods. However, some ex-workers of the company allege that the store may not be the best source for groceries.
"As far as produce: We had NO fresh produce, and even the dry and canned goods were not actually cheaper than the stuff you can get at the local grocery," Reddit user and former Family Dollar employee DoctorCrasierFrane wrote in an AMA. "We had deals on detergent and some hardware and automotive products, but you should not shop for food at any dollar stores. Except for a few frozen products, everything else ranged from comparable pricing to more expensive."
The company is currently struggling with an overcharging lawsuit.
Shoppers often turn to Family Dollar in the hopes that they'll be getting the very best price on the items they need most. But some former employees have warned that the store may be taking more money from its customers than it ought to.
In a job review posted on Indeed.com, one former cashier wrote that they "would not recommend working at Family Dollar" because "they disrespect employees and customers," alleging that "they overcharge for the merchandise." And while this may seem like an isolated incident, recent developments show these accusations may have had a basis strong enough to take to court.
In Nov. 2022, the Auditor's Office in Butler County, Ohio, issued a news release warning consumers about pricing problems at Family Dollar stores. Price verification checks of 13 different locations found that all of the investigated stores were routinely overcharging 12 to 84 percent more for products at the register than their listed shelf price. Ohio State Attorney General Dave Yost subsequently filed a lawsuit against the company alleging the chain was using deceptive pricing.
When previously contacted about the Butler County report, Kristin Tetreault, the chief communications officer of parent company Dollar Tree Inc., told Best Life that Family Dollar is "dedicated to serving the needs of [its] shoppers and providing them with great values on the products they need and want." She added, "We are committed to operational compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws."
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Family Dollar isn't the best source for clothing and jewelry.
Family Dollar employees have a better understanding of the quality of the store's products than arguably anyone else. In many cases, this is because they also pick up items they need after their shifts. And according to one former worker, it might be best to skip past the clothing aisle when you're shopping.
"I bought these sports bras once, and they had zero support," former Family Dollar employee and Reddit user lechicalisa said in an AMA. "I guess [their] clothes aren't the best quality. And we don't get brand name clothes."
The same may be said for jewelry. Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst with DealNews.com, said in an interview with Kiplinger: "At best, you can expect the pieces to break; at worst, these trinkets might actually discolor the skin they come into contact with or even cause allergic reactions to those with sensitive skin."
The company has struggled with health and hygiene issues in the past.
It's no secret that Family Dollar has made headlines a few times in the past year—and often not for good reasons. In February, the company issued a wide-ranging recall on items it sold after one of the store's distribution centers in West Memphis, Arkansas, was found to have "insanitary conditions" during an investigation brought on by a customer complaint. Regulators found "live rodents, dead rodents in various states of decay, rodent feces and urine, evidence of gnawing, nesting and rodent odors throughout the facility, dead birds and bird droppings, and products stored in conditions that did not protect against contamination."
However, it appears as though these hygiene issues aren't relegated to just one location. Former employees have described experiences with the company that outlines serious problems with cleanliness.
In a Quora discussion thread, a former assistant store manager with the username CJ Boyer said upper management once sent him to another location during his time with the company to help handle an issue while it was temporarily shuttered. "The sign said we're closed because a water pipe burst. Well, we go inside, and the reason they closed is because the mouse problem was horrid," they wrote. "A health inspector should have shut that place down. Mice in the walls, mouse poop on the shelves: It was sickening."
Other employees have reported similar conditions. One former store manager in Arkansas said they laid out adhesive rat traps after employees complained about rodents in the store's stockroom, Insider reports. When workers went to retrieve the traps days later, they found snakes stuck to them.
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They're often woefully understaffed.
Many companies that rely on retail and service workers have recently struggled to find and hold onto decent employees—and Family Dollar is no different. Some workers complain that they're often very shorthanded while on the clock, making their work harder, their days longer, and their jobs ultimately riskier.
"The supervisors in this company expect too much from the understaffed stores," one former assistant manager wrote in a job review on Indeed.com. "They want trucks writhed within three days. Most of the time, there is only one employee working. In the evenings there are two employees. There is no work and life balance. If you need help with your benefits, good luck: HR is impossible to get a hold of."
Last year, a group of former employees in Lincoln, Nebraska took matters into their own hands when they staged a walkout and left a sign on their store's door announcing the entire staff had quit. According to Breanna Faeller, one of the store's former assistant managers, workers became frustrated after the location's air conditioning kept breaking down and the bathroom remained out of order for over a week.
"The working conditions were so bad because it was a never-ending cycle of trying to play catch up with everything," she told Fox Business. "We had five employees, max, at all times. You can't run a whole store with five employees."
NOTE: Best Life only includes information from social media and job boards when there is corroboration from multiple sources. These comments have not been independently verified, however, and are the opinions of the people who posted them.