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Haggen Facebook

When the going gets tough, the bankrupt store covers its ears and goes “la la la!” – at least on social media.

As soon as it declared bankruptcy earlier this week, the troubled grocery chain Haggen took steps to ensure that no one would vent about the move on its social media sites. So the store that once courted customer comments, began deleting and disabling them instead.

Now, if you visit Haggen’s two separate Facebook pages, for its Northwest and Southwest divisions, you’ll find cheerful posts about a “game-day faves” 3-day sale and “Beer Lovers Day” – but no mention at all of that pesky bankruptcy. And only positive, constructive, completely not bankruptcy-related comments from visitors are allowed.

“We are heavily moderating comments right now, because so many of them are completely unconstructive, uncaring and unnecessary,” a Haggen representative wrote in a Facebook comment, sidestepping any actual mention of the elephant in the room. “We’re making every effort to keep this page for the customers who shop our stores and are interested in finding news about their local stores, sale items and community events.” Haggen’s dual Twitter feeds are also devoid of any mentions from customers, negative or otherwise.

In a way, that makes sense – if someone came to your house just to make disparaging remarks about you, you’d probably kick them out, too.

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But in our social media age, consumers have grown accustomed to publicly airing their complaints and criticisms about a company, where other customers are most likely to see them – on the social media sites of the company itself. So if that company disables or deletes comments, there can appear to be something shady about it.

Even before its own recent bankruptcy filing, A&P and its owned stores were among the few grocery stores that did not allow anyone to post comments to their Facebook pages. All the better to avoid giving voice to critics, since many of the stores don’t rank so well on customer satisfaction surveys. Customers could still comment on the stores’ own posts, but then none of the A&P stores have actually posted anything since the day of the bankruptcy filing in July.

Of course, allowing complaining customers to have free rein on stores’ social media sites can sometimes backfire, too. Earlier this year, Kroger’s Facebook page was overrun by a gun debate, over the retailer’s policy regarding customers carrying firearms in stores. Safeway’s Facebook page was similarly hijacked for a time, by nonstop comments from anti-GMO activists.

Maybe it’s just as well, then, that Haggen is sanitizing its social media sites. There’s plenty of commentary and criticism to be found elsewhere online, about its troubles.

So now customers who aren’t interested in hearing or talking about their local grocery store’s financial woes, can flock to Haggen’s social media sites for “news about their local stores, sale items and community events.”

But then, if enough people had done that before – maybe the company wouldn’t be going bankrupt.

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