Fine print that keeps the Legal Department happy: I currently work for Fred Meyer, however the opinions expressed herein are entirely my own and do not represent those of Fred Meyer, The Kroger Company, nor their associates.
Friday the 13th may seem like a terrible day to try new things on, but that didn’t stop me from trying several firsts on it. One of Portland’s many car share programs is called Car2Go, a program I’ve had a slight interest in since moving here. The rates are reasonable, the fleet consistent, and most important in my book, you can end a trip anywhere in the home area. Well, almost. It still has to be a legal parking space and metered for an hour or more.
When TriMet and Car2Go partnered to offer free memberships and 15 minutes of drive time because of the 1st Avenue project, that sounded like the perfect time to finally join to me. It also sounded like a good excuse to take Fred Meyer’s ClickList for a spin. I work at the Portland Main Office, and while I don’t support all of ClickList, I do support the networking aspect. It’s one thing to read about how something you support works. It’s an entirely different thing to see how it works.
So, put together a need for groceries and two new services to test out, and you get my evening of Friday the 13th. While the ClickList ordering process was painless and quick, unfortunately for Car2Go, finding a car wasn’t. The joke that there’s always a Car2Go when you don’t need one and never one when you do? That’s true, sadly. On the upside, when I did finally find a car in downtown, it was right up the block from a bus stop, so that worked out nicely.
Pro tip for using the Car2Go app: it really doesn’t like to run on Xfinity WiFi. Once I turned WiFi off, getting in the car and starting my trip was no problem – except the radio wouldn’t shut up, and as I would find out the hard way, muting the radio wanted to mute the GPS in this car too, and that was a very bad thing when you don’t normally drive in Portland and Car2Go’s GPS is horrible. Thankfully, before too long, I made my way to an area I knew and the street I wanted to be on to get to the West Hollywood Fred Meyer. I used Siri to get me home.
My arrival in to the parking lot of West Hollywood was uneventful. I’d walked to the store many times from the bus and knew exactly where to go. What I failed to take into account, however, was how short and small a smart car was. This was my first time driving one after all. That said, the ClickList call box was a little bit high for the car, and I did have to lean out the window to reach it.
I quickly discovered the associate assisting the person ahead of me in the pickup area was the only associate on-duty for ClickList that day, as the check-in callbox started ringing endlessly with no answer. I had my phone in-hand, ready to call the store manually as well as the KSC in case the callbox continued to ring. Thankfully, it was answered as soon as the associate returned inside. I gave my name and was directed to pull into the pickup area. My order was out in seconds, and my smart car was small enough that the SUV behind me could fit in the pickup area too.
My order was neatly packed and my credit card swiped on an iPad without any issues. Getting the trunk open, however, was an issue. Other than the button on the keyfob, there was no way to open it, and I quickly discovered the hard way that on a Car2Go with a bike rack, the truck simply does not open. The glass part does, but I’ll come back to that. After I moved my laptop bag out of the way, the ClickList associate carefully placed the bag with my order on the floor of the passenger side of the car. I turned the car back on, pulled up Siri to get me home, and was on my way shortly after.
My next issue with Car2Go arose when I had parked back home and attempted to end my trip. There was a faint mumble of “trunk” from the car when I tapped the “End Trip” button. I exited the car and waited for the 15 second countdown to start. Except, it didn’t. I checked the door and parking brake again; they were fine. So, I whipped out my phone and called customer service. After a couple of minutes of waiting, I explained that I was having trouble ending my trip. The agent asked me to give both car doors a good swing shut again. Thankfully, a random passerby on the sidewalk noticed the glass of the trunk popped a bit when I shut the door, “The trunk’s open, mate!” I quickly figured out what the mumbling car meant by “trunk” and gave the glass a good open and close. Finally, the countdown started and I ended my call with customer service and my first Car2Go ride.
Despite the slightly rocky experiences, they’re ones I’d absolutely do again. My ClickList experience was painless and the associate on-duty checked me in and brought out my order with the friendly enthusiasm I’ve come to expect when shopping at Fred Meyer – and I say that not as an employee, but as a regular customer who has visited several different stores now.
As for Car2Go, considering I’ve taken a handful more trips now that have been going increasingly painless, it’s definitely handy and does work pretty well. The experience of a smart car is very different from a Hyundai Genesis though, but I’m getting used to it, and even without a backup camera, a smart car is a hell of a lot easier to parallel park.
Bottom line, both ClickList and Car2Go are brilliant. The costs are very reasonable, the customer service fantastic, and they are both quite convenient and easy to use.