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Kirsten Larson (left) and Mai Xiong (right) surprising Judy (middle) with groceries.

Whole Foods Surprise

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It was Kirsten Larson, a Frontline Specialist at Choice Bank’s Bloomington location, who first got the call. A woman introduced herself as Judy. She sounded frustrated.

“I’m at Whole Foods right now and my debit card is not going through,” Judy said.

Kirsten pulled up her account. Turns out, she had enough funds in her account but there was a glitch in the system. She worked with her to get her card working again. Everything seemed good to go. Thinking the problem was solved, they hung up.

A few minutes later, the phone rang again.

“It’s still not working,” Judy said. She was still standing at the cashier line, with her groceries in bags, and a line forming. She had already tried putting back a few groceries to see if it would work.

Jack Campbell, a Frontline Specialist, checked in and realized it would be a while before the card automatically updated. He told Judy he had to make a call to request an update. Could she please hold?

“Yes, but I don’t know for how long,” she said, with a tired sigh. Jack overheard her ask the cashier to store the bags while she figured out the situation. Apologizing, he hung up the phone and called his team together.

Emily Hill, Deposit Services Specialist overheard what was going on.

“When your card gets declined, it’s a terrible feeling,” Kirsten said. “You’re trying to get it fixed at the register, people are waiting…”

“We knew it was a terrible inconvenience and we wanted to make it right,” Emily added.

Emily realized that their offices were not far from a Whole Foods. Could it be THE Whole Foods…?

She looked up Judy’s account, and could see where Judy’s debit card was being used.

Sure enough, Judy was only a few blocks away.

The team jumped into action. As new Choice Bank employees, they had recently learned about what a Choice Bank Premier Experience is all about — this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

“I thought right away about the Premier Experience, “Kirsten said. “And I thought, Let’s go buy her groceries!”

Emily and Jack needed to stay on the frontline, so Kirsten grabbed Mai Xiong, an HR Specialist and explained the situation. Mai was all in. The two jumped in the car (it was cold out, ok?!) and headed around the corner to Whole Foods.

But when they got inside, Judy was nowhere to be found. They even had her name called over the intercom. No Judy.

Finally, Mai called her number while Kirsten asked the cashier to see what happened.

“Hello, Judy? This is Mai from Choice Bank. Are you still at Whole Foods?”

“Oh hello — I actually just left,” she said. Mai’s spirits sank. “Well, actually I’m in the parking lot.”

A step closer to victory!

“Ok, would you be able to come inside? We actually came here to meet you,” Mai began to explain. Judy brushed it off. She thought they were just going to talk and apologize about the card.

“No, it’s really ok, I understand,” she said.

“Well, we’d love if you just stopped inside, we are at the customer service desk at the front of the store,” Mai paused. “We have a surprise.”

Judy was quiet.

“Oh… ok, I’ll come in.”

Kirsten had found that Judy’s groceries were being held at customer service. She paid for them with the Choice card so they were all taken care of. When Judy came in, her groceries were being bagged. Judy looked first at Kirsten and Mai, then at the groceries.

“We knew this was a big inconvenience,” Kirsten said. “We took care of the groceries — on Choice Bank.” Judy’s eyes widened, then filled with tears.

“I’ve… I’ve never had anyone do this for me before,” she said. Overwhelmed, she gave both Mai and Kirsten a big hug.

They helped her carry the groceries to her car and said goodbye. Judy drove off, shaking her head and smiling at what had happened.

The next day, Judy came into Choice Bank. Jack was there working on the frontline.

“Hi — I was at Whole Foods yesterday,” Judy explained what had happened. “I just wanted to come by and pay them back personally,” she said.

Jack smiled. “Oh actually, it was me that you spoke to over the phone,” he said. “You don’t need to pay us back. That was a gift from us to make it up to you for the inconvenience.”

At that moment, Mai and Kirsten returned from their lunch break. When Judy saw them, she gave them each another warm hug.

“This is just unheard of for a bank to do something like this,” she said. “I will always maintain my accounts here.”

Recounting the story, Jack, Mai, Kirsten, and Emily couldn’t help but smile at how it all came together.

“It was the perfect opportunity to show her who Choice is,” Kirsten said. “And to show her that she matters.”