Sunday, 9 October 2011

Price Checking

My 'local' choice of supermarket is Tesco or a small Co-op. The nearest competition to Tesco is in Perth or Dundee where all other major supermarkets are available.

Now and again in Tesco I take a written note of the price of my favourite coffee and certain favoured tipples because, if I'm going to the city, I like to shop in Morrisons and a price comparison can help towards diesel costs.  I've yet to be harrassed by staff or management for doing my market research but that's maybe it's because in my local Tesco it's nigh on impossible to find a member of staff except at the checkout.

However, it's not the same in all Tesco stores.  A Guardian journalist, in a Tesco somewhere in London, was writing down the prices of bottled water when his action initiated the presence of the deputy manager, followed closely by a manager.  You can read his experience here.

The Guardian chap obviously hasn't acquired the skill of the invisible shopper.

Being vertically challenged - or as I prefer to say 'wee' - I've lost count of the times I've hovered in aisles waiting for a member of staff to appear and assist me by reaching a product on a top shelf.  Usually, out of frustration, I either forget about the purchase or accost a taller shopper for help.

There are other occasions when I feel invisible or at best an irritation.  Not so long ago I needed two bottles of cider vinegar for a chutney recipe and there was only one bottle on the shelf.  Off I strolled to a checkout to ask if someone could check if there were more in the back stores.  Eventually a young chap appeared and insisted I show him the shelf which had proudly held the bottle which I'd been clutching in my hand for the past ten minutes.  After checking the empty section of shelf didn't contain another bottle by running his hand up and down the empty space, followed by a series of mmm's and frowns, he reluctantly agreed to check the stores. You can guess what happened next can't you?  He was never seen again.

So dare I suggest to Patrick Collinson that he should sub-contract his mother to do his market research.  Women of a certain age are of little interest to Tesco, especially when they have a laden trolley, a harrassed expression and an obvious inability to read even the largest print on labels. It's men in suits who concern them. Especially ones with serious looking notebooks.


RantinRab said...

Tesco are losing market share. They seem to have lost their way a bit and don't know quite what they are about. Saying that, they are still hugely successful.

Staffing in supermarkets is being cut to the bone, sometimes too much.

Asda seem to have plenty of staff, but their shelves are always empty.

subrosa said...

If anyone knows about supermarkets it's you Rab. I think Tesco's aggressive attitude has put so many against them. Haven't been in an Asda for a couple of months so couldn't say about Perth or Dundee.

English Pensioner said...

I would have thought that the Guardian could afford a decent bit of kit which would enable the reporter to scan the prices or record them Doesn't an iPhone or one of these modern gadgets do this sort of thing? I'd use a mobile phone which can record, it would simply appear that you are telling a friend the prices.
I've also recently been blogging about Tesco, as pensioners we dislike their "BOGOF" offers, we don't want two of perishable goods. "Two for the price of one" really means "Two for the price of two" but if you only want one, you pay twice what you should.

Apogee said...

And Tesco do not seem to be carrying the same level of stock as a couple of years ago. Also read the shelf labels very carefully,price and quantity, sometimes they are not quite what they seem, and check the packet quantity! Asking trainee managers questions of where to find,and is there stock,oh dear.Had the same experience on a few occasions, till I realised the ones to ask are the ones that look like workers, they know where things are,and usually don't mind helping.
And this latest "points" fiddle is in my opinion just that.look at it and also that there is no 2 for 1 offers any more and you realise Tesco is saving money,a lot of money, and guess who isn't?
I'll have to get out more, get a life, there is another four supermarkets in the town so think I will become an explorer !

Allan said...

Tesco are not the only retailer to pull the "It's Illegal to write things down or take photographs here" stunt. There's a story doing the rounds that Braehead ejected a mother and child for taking a picture of the child at one of its food outlets.

RantinRab said...

Thing is though, it's their gaffe so it's their rules.

I've ejected people for numerous reasons. Sometimes because I didn't like the look of them. *shock/horror*

Brian said...

I always write down the prices on my shopping list as I go around filling up my half trolley in Tesco. I keep a running total so I buy only £40 or £50 per transaction in order to maximise the discount from £5 money off coupons. I've never been stopped but then I've never been invited to sample the free new foods they sometimes promote: I must be invisible.
Re my very successful Dukan diet, I buy tins of value tuna by the tray (a great, cheap source of protein). So imagine my surprise when I received a money off coupon for catfood at the checkout - the loyalty card algorithms thought I was a cat owner! Now, I'd consider cat as a source of protein, but feed one? ;-)

JRB said...

Well, I must be honest here and sing the praises of my local Tesco store, sounds as though they are deserving of an award for being friendly, pleasant and most helpful.

My secret – the ‘doddery old bloke’ routine.
Supermarket staff expect all females and young to middle-aged men to be capable of coping with the vagaries of supermarket shopping. But when it comes to ‘doddery old blokes’ a softer, more sympathetic and caring instinct comes to the fore.

Not so very long ago, at one of my weekly shops I found myself at a certain section with notepad and calculator trying to work out what from the vast selection of pack sizes and special offers what was really the best value for my money.

I was soon joined by a young female assistant who kindly offered her help. Then we were joined by a passing junior trainee manager. I am not totally sure if he was trying to impress me, the customer, or the young female assistant, but between them, the two Tesco employees had all my queries sorted and virtually did my shopping for me.

I still get a smile and a “how are you” or an “everything OK” or a “need any help” whenever I see either of them in the store.

So, for the best of in-store service, it has to be the 'doddery old bloke' routine.

Joe Public said...

I can't understand why the Guardian 'journalist' gets his knickers in a twist for a cheap story.

If he wants to know Tesco or other supermarket prices, just sit at home & access their on-line web store.

Joe Public said...

As JRB states, the need for paper + pencil + calculator it to work out the best value of their confusing offers.

subrosa said...

EP he could even use a dictaphone or are these things obsolete now?

subrosa said...

My local Tesco's is rather like yours Apogre but I've given up trying to work out offers.

subrosa said...

Doesn't surprise me Allan. All these places seem wary of us more questioning customers.

subrosa said...

Oh Rab :) I must remember to behave if I ever visit your place.

subrosa said...

I've never been stopped either Brian, but then I so seldom see staff out with the checkouts. Good luck with your diet. so pleased to know it's going well.

subrosa said...

JRB I'm sure it's nothing to do with the old man image. Much more likely they recognise a clued-up pensioner.

subrosa said...

Joe I don't shop online but I'm told few offers are made on internet.

Apogee said...

The doddery old routine works but if you also are polite and friendly and gentlemanly, that works extremely well.
Remember that regardless of the problem you have, its very unlikely to be the fault of the person you are talking to, so talk to the person as a friend and you will get the help you want.

petem130 said...

I think one of the biggest lies ever perpetuated by businesses of all shapes and sizes has been “the customer is king”. It isn’t the case as we all know. It’s our fault since we rarely complain.

Anonymous said...

I think Tesco's aggressive attitude has put so many against them.
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