You're grounded: A shocking update at Giant

These days, customers may be getting less of a charge out of shopping at the Pantops Giant but that's a good thing.

As the Hook reported in April, some patrons of the grocery store suffered painful shocks, especially when they touched their carts and the store's metal shelves simultaneously.

"In the winter I had a couple of shocks that deadened my arm for a bit," wrote Giant shopper Dan Moseke. "I thought it was static from my swishing George Costanza jacket, but it has kept happening into the spring."

A Giant manager said the shocks could have been caused by "electricity generated from disturbing the earth during construction of the store."

And electrician Guy Cohen suggested looking into electromagnetic energy. "Go up there with a compass," he said. "If it points north in error, you've got your answer." The compass worked just fine.

According to Giant spokesperson Jaime Miller, the source of those shocks is likely good old static electricity.

An electrical certification company came in, Miller says, and found that "everything was installed correctly." Based on that information, Giant attached to each cart a "grounding wire"a slim metal thread that hangs from the bottom of the cart and prevents a charge from building up.

In addition, the store has changed its cleaning solution to one that imparts a negative charge another shock-busting maneuver.

Is it working?

"At this point, yeah," Miller says. "There's been a reduction in complaints."

Emmett Boaz, who buys most of his groceries at Whyte's in Earlysville, says it's unlikely the fix would bring him back to the store.

"I was violently shocked by the prices," says Boaz, "I never had any electrical problems."

But Moseke says Giant's plan has worked for him. "I haven't noticed getting shocked," he says, "so I guess that would be an improvement."