Tag Archives: supermarkets

Christmas Hell

Going to have a wee bit of a moan, about the not-so-sunny side to Christmas.Nativity-Scene

Christmas is supposed to be a time for celebration.

But what of?

It surely isn’t celebrating the endless queues, pushing and shoving or the last-minute panic buying on what the media inform us is the retailer’s annual busiest day of the year!

Why is it that year in, year out Christmas becomes less of a celebration of peace, love and hope, and more a blind alleyway leading to stress, anger and bankruptcy?

We get stressed out worrying that we haven’t bought enough food, or presents, or the right presents for the kids so they can keep up with their friends. All that pent-up stress gets released during the annual Christmas row about 11 o’clock as you have realised you didn’t put the sprouts on in April and therefore they won’t be done in time! And we spend so much on food and presents that we end up paying for this 1 day for the next 12 months!

Is the UK the only country in the world (clearly of those that celebrate Christmas) that has scenes of pandemonium and people queueing at 6 o’clock on Christmas Eve morning (or even last thing before they close) to get into the supermarket or the shopping mall for those ‘last minute essentials’?

IT IS ONE DAY IN THE YEAR – the shops are closed for at least 1 day, at most 2!

Why the sudden onrush to buy things like they are going out of fashion, or you are stocking for a  2 month siege?

In December, for the media at least, it seems that the run up to Christmas is all that happens in the world. As every day is this years busiest online shopping day, or busiest retailers shopping day, or busiest weekend buying day, or busiest day when men go shopping, or I could go on.

But is it only in the UK? Is it like this in other countries, say France, or Canada?

Or is it because, like most things, we, in the UK, do it to excess?

We over-eat, over-drink and over-buy (just in case some long-lost relative you haven’t seen or spoken to for the last 12 months suddenly turns up, uninvited on your door-step)

Talking of over-buying, why do we write Christmas cards to people who we haven’t seen or spoken to in the last year. If we haven’t bothered to keep in contact – it’s not difficult these days, with email and Facebook, and yes, I know it takes two – why bother writing a card, promising to keep in touch or meet up, when the next thing you will do is remember to write another card to them 12 months hence? It’s just an observation.

And Secret Santa – not even going there!

Also, why is it that in Soapland you can never have a happy Christmas? It’s always doom and gloom, someone dies, someone breaks up, another gangster fight breaks out!

I know things like this happen in reality, and at Christmas, but we don’t really want to be reminded whilst we’re having a ‘wafer thin mint’ after saying that we couldn’t eat another thing and lounging on the sofa, exhausted from eating too much!

And yes, I know soaps are supposed to be real-life based , but I think that idea went out the window a long time ago, so therefore why can’t everyone for once have a happy Christmas!

Another mince pie, anyone?

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Supermarket Sweep – Part 2

A couple of final comments about supermarket shopping – namely internet shopping and stealing!

Internet Shopping

I used to do shopping by the internet whilst I was pregnant. Not because I was too lazy to walk round the shop, but for the fact that the smell made me nauseous. I won’t say which supermarkets I used but there might have been a hint of orange, but then every little helped. Generally, things were OK. 9 times out of 10 the groceries arrived when they said they would. But when they get it wrong, boy do they get it wrong.

I had one delivery driver refuse to take my shopping into the house, due to that famous “elf and safety” despite the fact that I was visibly pregnant and all he had to do was step through the front door (not even a step) and deposit it in the hall. Now, you’re probably screaming why couldn’t you do it, but my response would be that every other driver did and I was paying for delivery. One complaint later and delivery fee refunded.

Occasionally my shopping was seriously late to the point I had phoned up customer services several times and was getting to know the person who answered the phone. Little tip I would like to impart – if your shopping fails to turn up within its allotted slot and is much later than half an hour after the deadline then you complain and ask for a full refund – I did and got it. Twice! (Complimentary bunch of flowers the second time) So never forget you have the right to complain.

The other thing that can be very amusing is the substitution option. Generally this means that if they don’t have the item you specified, the shopper uses his/her discretion to pick a substitute item, usually a different brand.

Or so you would think!

One week I ordered a packet of spaghetti – the long stuff you put in a saucepan to boil. When the delivery arrived the driver told me what was substituted, as this generally gets put in a different coloured bag. That’s OK, thought I, any other type of pasta would be fine. Little did I know until I unpacked the shopping that “Dopey” from the “Snow White” had actually been packing my order. Can you guess what they gave me as a substitute? 

No? 

A TIN OF SPAGHETTI HOOPS!  Grrr, yet another phone call to customer services.

One final thing is to always check use-by and sell-by dates. Obviously when shopping yourself you check dates very carefully. Internet shopping doesn’t work like that. You see them going round the stores, picking out frozen stuff first, so it thaws before you’ve finished and then gets sent to you and just picking up items without checking whether it’s in date or broken, etc. IF you receive goods that are use-by the day you get your shopping or the following day. Phone up and complain, you may be able to get a refund on these items.

My final gripe, is one that does happen all too frequently. Supermarkets are aware it happens and yet are powerless to do anything. STEALING.

And it’s not who you would generally stereotype this kind of person to be. All too often it is a nice middle-class person. I have witnessed this offence on several occasions, only to be told by the supermarket manager that they can’t do anything about it.

Why not? Stealing is stealing in whatever shape or form. It doesn’t matter who you are.

Stealing is against the law.

You may not think you are doing anything wrong as you wander round the supermarket and feed a bread roll to your screaming youngster – but if you don’t pay for it you are.

Similarly is you pick up a bunch of grapes eat a handful and then put them on the shelf a few aisles further on YOU ARE STEALING.

Ditto those who take bars out of boxes. Taking stuff and not paying for it is ILLEGAL.

Yes, yes, yes, supermarkets make so much money they won’t miss a few grapes, etc. But supermarkets do actually lose quite a lot of money each year due to theft, even though it’s absorbed by the huge profits they make.

My argument still stands, if you don’t pay for it you are stealing and no better than someone who steals a car, or breaks into a house and steals anything they can get there hands on.

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Supermarket Sweep – Part 1

Mmm, supermarkets! Love ’em or loathe ’em, they are essential establishments for the vast majority of us. What would do without BOGOFs, buy one get second half price, not to mention the “they’re a bit past their shelf life but if you’re game they’re cheap!” and in all fairness the choice?

Having said that, however, there are several things that can leave one feeling a little exasperated! And the next couple of posts I shall get these little irksome annoyances off my chest 😉

Checkouts

Why is it shoppers seem to think it’s OK to try to put a trolley load of shopping through the “10 items or less” checkout? This is not as daft as it sounds. I actually witnessed a woman with a mountainous trolley push her way in front of me and proceed to empty the stuff onto the “10 items or less” conveyor belt. Cue a volley of abuse when the checkout staff politely pointed to the sign and asked her to reload her trolley and go to another till. What part of “10 items or less” did this woman fail to understand? Why did she deem herself to be immune from this particular little detail of the checkout in question? She may have been in a desperate hurry, who knows. But even in a great hurry, one would have thought she would have the intelligence and the courtesy not to be quite so arrogant, or alternatively had the foresight to plan one’s shopping trip to leave enough time to pay for such a huge amount of shopping.

I do, however think that some supermarkets are over-zealous in their attempts at keeping 10 items or less to just that. I have been in the supermarket and have seen people turned away from this till with 11 or 12 items and made to stand in the large trolley queues whilst the “10 items or less” remained empty and void of shoppers. I think that when the shop is not busy it would be appropriate for checkout staff to exercise discretion if there are only 1 or 2 items over 10.

The other thing that slightly irritates me is the paper/lottery/cigarette tills at the front of the store. Please supermarkets, leave them as just that! When the shop is busy this queue becomes the longest in the shop and an extension of the “10 items or less” till for those that have the couple of items over 10. If you want a paper/lottery ticket/cigarettes get them before you do your shopping or after. I appreciate that the great British past-time is queuing but I only went in for a paper I don’t want to have to queue for as long as I do if I’m doing my weekly shop! Is that too much to ask?

Oh and whilst I’m about it, how about re-opening a cash only till. I know cash is very much an alien concept these days, but sometimes I just don’t feel comfortable using a card for 2 items that cast me precisely £1.47!

Finally, self-service checkouts. Innovative, yes. Annoying, definitely. The great thing about them is you get to scan your own shopping. Fantastic. Less queuing time, generally, and you don’t have to pack like a madman because the shopper behind is encroaching in your own personal space whilst you are trying to pack and tut if you go slow! (Oh, I just love that, I purposely slow right down to the point of having a conversation with the cashier just to annoy ;-)) BUT, how annoying is it to get the “skip bagging item” or the beep because the weight device didn’t actually feel you pop the item in the bag because you put it on top and you have to ask for assistance and feel like the IT duncehead because you’re asking every 2 minutes. And whilst I’m on the subject of the assistants, is it part of the job description to look at everyone like they are some kind of master criminal about to leave the shop with a hot can of baked beans?? Finally design-wise leaves a lot to be desired, if I’m using cash I want to know my change is going to appear somewhere in the vicinity of where I put my money in, not from a hole that looks like a reject from a Las Vegas one-armed bandit, ditto the receipt. Aside from this though I do recommend self-service especially if you have a small child in tow, getting them to help with the scanning makes it much more fun!!

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