With the launch of Safeway's online-shopping and delivery service, Giant's Peapod.com is not the only game in town when you're too tired or too busy to push a cart up and down the aisles. Can you trust either to do the shopping for you?
We ordered the same 12 items from each--including eggs, steak, lettuce, fruit, milk, and ice cream--and had them delivered the same Saturday to see how the services compared in promptness, freshness, reliability, and quality. Prices were comparable.
Ordering: Navigating via Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Apple's Safari browser was no problem. There's no personal-shopper feature to customize orders, although distinctions are occasionally made between "ripe" and "regular" fruits and veggies. Minimum order $50; delivery fee $9.95 or $6.95 for orders over $100.
Delivery: Delivery window designated: 9 to 11 AM. Groceries showed up at 10:14. Delivery man courteous. Tips accepted.
Food: Our "ripe" avocado wasn't; ditto the mango and peach. The tomato, at least, was ripe. "Thin-sliced" deli ham slices were thicker than we'd prefer, while the steak was thinner than we like. Nicest touch: a bubble-wrapped carton of eggs.
Verdict: For most vegetables and most other nonperishables, sure. But we're dubious about ordering fruit, and we'd just as soon get our meats elsewhere.
Ordering: We had problems navigating Safeway.com with Safari. Internet Explorer and Firefox were fine. Delivery available only in select Zip codes. Minimum order $50; delivery fee $9.95 or $4.95 for orders over $150.
Delivery: Delivery window designated: 10 to noon. Delivery man called at 11:54 to say groceries would arrive in 5 to 10 minutes. They arrived at 12:10. Delivery men were courteous. No tipping allowed.
Food: The "request to your personal shopper" feature turned out to be a partial success: Though the meats arrived as ordered, the avocado was rock hard. Most other fruits were days from ripeness. Lettuce, meanwhile, was brown-edged, and the Italian parsley was so funky that most of it had to be thrown out.
Verdict: Though we love the no-tipping policy and chance at customization, we wouldn't order fruits, vegetables, or herbs. But we might consider putting in an order of steaks and deli meats.