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.