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Mr Grumpy v British Supermarkets

By Mr Grumpy - Thu 19th Jul 2012

I’m sorry, but after a recent trip to a British supermarket, I am struggling to comprehend what, if anything, is so “Super” about them.

Almost all of them have something to learn from the smaller and more personal shops, which may cost a little bit more for certain items, but can teach them all a thing or two about quality produce, customer service and value for money.

If anything, they are “Crap”markets and I am seriously considering taking legal action against Johnny Sainsbury and Billy Tesco under the auspices of the trades description act.

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Which sad, friendless and faceless bunch of senior executives decided that they spoke for the nation as a whole and ruled that “Super”markets should become money-grabbing arseholes with little thought or regard for what their clients actually deemed important, or wanted ?

Just a few issues that niggled me as I dodged the plethora of stressed out teenage mums, screaming at their many offspring were the following :

* Carrier Bags : Gossamer thin and carrying a manufacturers guarantee to split if I carried anything more than a toothbrush in them. “Saving the environment are we ?” – Bollocks ! - “Care to pay a few quid to upgrade to a hand-woven hessian bag, lovingly made by a commune of Hippies ?” – No ! What I would like is for you to provide me with a means of carrying the goods that you have overcharged me for home, without “taxing” me, or charging me extra under the feeble excuse that you are “protecting the environment”.

* Given that you are “protecting the environment” why do none of you “Super”markets allow your customers to make use of the cardboard boxes that the goods are delivered to the store in ? This seemed to be a common thing up to the 1990’s : Maybe some accountant in his Ivory tower decided that being that environmentally friendly isn’t profitable. I noted that if I wanted to buy 6 bottles of wine, I could buy a box to carry them home in for just £1.50. I might be missing something here, but I’m pretty sure that they must have been delivered to the store in a box, then unpacked for the shelves. Why charge to sell me the self-same box back ?

* Why the hell does every box, package or container bow and scrape to every tree-hugger who wants to know every last nutritional detail; where the product was born/grown/boxed/ baked; whether it was gluten/wheat/ peanut/lactose free; how and where the packaging can be recycled and the time and date of Manufacture ? - Every single detail has seemingly been covered... All except decent portion size and flavour.

* I was in the “Super”market the other week and asked the vacant shelf-stacker where I could find some Suet mix to make some dumplings with (How retro am I ?). He directed me to some Jamie Oliver endorsed freshly made arty-farty overpriced dumplings. I explained that I actually wanted to make them and not re-heat them.

The concept was alien to him. Why would anyone actually want to make anything themselves ? I could buy 10 different varieties of oak-aged Balsamic vinegar, and processed Spaghetti in the shape of half a dozen cartoon characters, but heaven help me if I want to get all left-field and actually try and prepare a meal myself from scratch.

* 3 for the Price of 2 deals, BOGOF, two for a tenner, 25% extra free.... why should I be penalised If I just wanted to buy the ONE pack of 5 donuts instead of the second at half price (Which, incidentally all have to be eaten within 24 hours, according to the best before info) ... Thanks very much for single-handedly contributing to the UK’s escalating levels of obesity.

* Don’t ever make eye contact, smile or say hello to strangers or help old ladies reach objects on high shelves – not only should that be the task of one the many teenagers chatting up their colleagues by the week-old rotisserie chickens, but you are likely to be branded a weirdo. I say this from personal experience.

* Fast track – Isle : Hang on a sec – you want me to scan and pay for my own things – without offering me a discount for doing half of your work for you ? – Fine, what do you want me to do next ? stock the shelves myself ? Sweep up after myself ?

* What happened to actually being helped with your packing as opposed to having a stroppy student sarcastically ask if I need packing with my single-item purchase ? And then why draft in a load of Boy Scouts or whatever to blackmail me into letting them pack my purchases for me – which I then have to pay a quid for – when it is the “Super”market’s job anyway ?

Comment on this Blog

 
It's just dawned on me that they always place the fruit & veg isle right at the entrance - so everything can get squashed by the heavy stuff you buy later
Mr Grumpy - Sat, 1st Sep 2012
Don't talk to me about Paracetamol ! : Like many expats I wanted to bulk buy and stock up on a few items at a uk supermarket but was refused sale of "more than 2 items containing paracetamol" : My daughter had to forego her junior disprin just because some Nazi deemed it possible that this may represent a suicide risk..... Yet they still sell sharpe knives and 2 for 1 deals on cheap vodka !
Mr Grumpy - Sat, 21st Jul 2012
My favorite is the Snickers bar effect. Over several years they have got smaller and smaller then have the cheek to charge extra for a large one which is the same as the original size was years ago!! Or how about paracetamol which give the side effect warning 'May cause headaches' !! Snickers? What am I talking about... they are MARATHON bars for the love of god!!
Ed Bishop - Fri, 20th Jul 2012

Ah yes, Maxine - the old "Goods may settle in transit" chestnut...

And Carol, I also don't think that you would be permitted by law by to carry your own purchase home (for your own consumption) by hand, without wrapper in the UK - clean, reusable hand or not. Can you imagine how many consumers would sue the Supermarket if they caught a stomach bug through forgetting to wash their hands and then eating their purchase ?

Injury Lawyers for you : "Have you ever suffered a stomach upset through your own stupid fault, and looking for someone else to blame ..?"

Mr Grumpy - Fri, 20th Jul 2012
Ha ha yes indeedy. What about the bag of nuts that is labelled 'may contain nuts'... my tried and trusted tip... over-labelling-defining of ingredients may be overcome by forgetting your specs. Just off to the Panadería to buy some real bread - which contains only bread - and carry it home in my reusable hand.
Carol Byrne - Fri, 20th Jul 2012
Agree with every single point! Just a couple of extra gripes: 1. cereals in boxes "sold by weight not by volume" so the box is 50% bigger again than what's inside. 2. Overpackaged goods (vacuum packed, in an outer plastic bag, covered with cardboard sleeve and then admonish the consumer for not recycling!
Maxine - Fri, 20th Jul 2012

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