Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Cautionary Tale...

When you're in a bad mood, it's never a good idea to wander around tescos with a debit card in your purse and no shopping list! I can almost guarantee that when you stagger out of the store over an hour later, the heavy bags you're lugging back home won't contain anything to replenish an empty grocery shelf or re-stock the depleted loo roll supplies. Instead, you'll be the proud new owner of numerous clothing and/or shoe items, a truck load of things to make you smell utterly gorgeous and enough chocolate bars to ensure you eventually throw up. You have been warned.....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ear, ear...

Along with the usual essential grocery items on my list, this week I'd written down 'headphones'. Whenever I'm on a plane I like to watch the in-flight movie or listen to one of the music stations to help alleviate the tedium of the journey, but the last time I used my trusty tesco-cheapo-phones some of the black foam edging ended up coming off, leaving me with filthy-looking ears - much to everyone elses amusement. To be fair, they'd been a godsend up to now, and had long been overdue for retirement, so with another overseas holiday on the horizon it was time to get a new pair. Despite the fact that the electrical type stuff had been moved around since I last needed to venture down that way, I eventually located several racks of them near the mobile phones. To begin with, I couldn't find anything within my price range of a tenner or less, and after forking out a small fortune for the actual trip I was in no position to pay out megabucks for something which only ever gets used to and from holiday destinations. No, I didn't want high-tec professional DJ style headgear, nor did I want anything in any lurid colours, just something small and cheap that I could simply stash in my hand luggage until it was needed. Then, hurrah! For the princely sum of £6.97 I discovered some dinky little 'sports' headphones which fit neatly around each ear and come with different sized ear buds....perfect. I had to laugh at the blurb which said "Secure in ear hanging headphones for active use," as the only 'activity' I'll be doing while wearing them is munching my way through the in-flight meal or possibly stretching my legs with a wander to the loo. Thank you tecos. I can now look forward to my holiday, safe in the knowledge that I can enjoy whatever blockbuster First Choice are currently offering, or listen to the Motown channel, safe in the knowledge that the other passengers won't be taking the mickey out of my 'dirty' lugholes this time...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Every Cashier Helps...

As a complete techonophobe I find it utterly impossible to use any form of 'useful' gadgetry during my shopping trips. When the self-service checkouts were installed in my local supermarket I really did try to embrace the speed at which you can allegedly complete your transactions. However, the whole experience of having an invisible woman dish out instructions from somewhere inside a mechanical device, and then give you warnings that you have placed something you shouldn't in the bagging area was just too much.
Yes, when it was proclaimed a new and easy way to shop I signed up for the hand-held scanning device which tots up your bill as you trundle around the aisles and allows you to pass quickly through the checkout without having the hassle of having to unload your trolley, however, I have never actually plucked up the courage to use it.
I'm of a certain age, and I like the old fashioned customer service of having a proper cashier scan each item while I pack my 'bags-for-life' at the end of the conveyor belt. Someone to 'help' me with that final act before I leave the store with all my new purchases. Admittedly, I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century when chip & pin became an essential procedure for anyone wishing to use any type of plastic payment card, but there'll be no more 'wizardry' for me.

Essential Reading...

After the irritation of the over-charging episode the other day, Tescos has redeemed itself with the free June-July 2011 issue of Real Food magazine. Instant gratification came in the shape of fabulous coupons on page 3 (always a 'stunner' in my opinion). Not only do I have the opportunity to win one of five £100 Tesco giftcards, I can also get 40p off kitchen roll or £1 off various food items. The abundant recipies are lost on me (I'm no Delia) but the photos of well-presented meals are nice to look at, although I almost hurled at the thought of Coca-Cola bbq sauce. More coupons are scattered within the pages, including several quid off a selection of booze (hooray!) The free cinema tickets don't interest me, as I never go to the movies, however I expect it'll appeal to many others. All in all, a particularly pleasing publication, and what's more, on the back is a competition to win a year of fine foods worth £700.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Maths Lesson...

Luckily, I managed to find a small trolley today (not wishing to buy more than I can physically carry home, uphill), and once I'd negotiated my way around the mountains of BBQ charcoal and beer (Fathers Day on Sunday), I arrived at the milk. Now, for the past coupe of weeks I've noticed a bright yellow '3 for £3' label on the shelf and has assumed (wrongly as it turned out) that this applied to my usual 2-pint bottles. On closer inspection it actually referred to the nearby 4-pint giants. The smaller bottles were, in fact, '2 for £3', and individually the 2-pint bottles were £1.69 with the 4-pint ones at £1.49. Maths never has been, and never will be, my strong point, so there I was, in the middle of the aisle, trying to work out which was the better deal! In the end I chucked 3 of the larger 4-pint bottles into the trolley and simply hoped I'd made the right choice.

Managing to stick relatively rigidly to my list (albeit with a small lapse to buy a £1 can of air freshener) I was back at the toilet rolls again. After my umming and aaahhh ing the other day I'd decided that if the deal was still available, the next time I did the weekly shop I'd opt for the 9-roll packs at  £3.99 each with the '5p off a litre of fuel' offer if I bought two lots. However, once I was back home and had checked my till receipt to make sure that all was as it should be, I wasn't particularly impressed to find that my £3.99 packs were charged at £4.15 each! I'm not amused...

Monday, June 13, 2011

And Relaxxxxx...

I hate the phrase 'retail therapy' almost as much as I hate the phrase 'school holidays', however, I reluctantly have to admit that when various annoyances at home or in the workplace put you in a thoroughly grotty mood, there's nothing quite like a leisurely stroll around a large open space filled floor to ceiling with bargains to bring a hint of a smile back to your face. This is an especially rewarding feeling when it's one of those days where all of the idiots and screaming kids are nowhere to be seen, leaving you to browse in peace without having to negotiate abandoned trolleys, suffer large groups of people blocking the aisles for no good reason or have your nerves shredded with the high pitched wailing of yet another spoilt brat.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Mystery Shopper.

Just like the world and its wife, I too have a facebook account, so it was obvious that sooner or later I would 'like' the tesco page. Now I can sit at my computer and be told of all the latest deals without having to physically move - heaven. However, the downside is that when you see announcements such as 'Flash Sale - 50% of women's clothing for 2 days only' you're out of your pjs and into your jeans before you actually realise you neither want nor need any new clothes. Desperate to think of a reason to make use of this superb but time-limited offer, I decided that my scruffy and distinctly smelly old slippers had to be replaced asap, but I made a mental note to myself that under no circumstances was I to buy anything else. Once in the store my cynical side took over as it seemed to me that the new rows of fashion tops (at 50% off) were a tad over-priced, which actually helped me to focus on the task of choosing my lovely, comfy half-priced footwear. As I walked out of the store it suddenly occured to me that tescos had 'done it again!' Although my £7 slippers were reduced to £3.50 I was still £14.75 lighter in my purse, and that was despite handing over a £2.50 clubcard coupon at the till! So.... quite what happened between the shoe department and the till I can't actually recall.... other than to say that I lugged two heavy carrier bags back home and now have a fridge full of 'bits & bobs' that I honestly had no intention of buying when I left the house an hour earlier.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Trolley Folly...

I just knew it was going to be one of those days when I arrived to find no small trolleys near the entrance. No matter how intently you stare at your shopping list, a big trolley means you buy more stuff - end of! Already miffed at being lumbered pushing a juggernought around the store, it soon became apparent that my front right wheel simply wasn't going to play ball. I suppose I could've abandoned it in the aisle and gone out to fetch a replacement, but I decided to persevere in the vain hope that things would improve. They didn't. Within minutes there was the ear-splitting sound of some brat screeching it's lungs out, and thus the tone was set for this particular expedition. I managed to get round relatively quickly, despite my wonky wheel, but as I stood next to the bubble baths, excited at the prospect of Radox at £1 per bottle, I heard a peculiar whooshing, rippling sound. For a moment I wondered if it was a form of tinnitus  induced by the earlier high pitched screams, but no... from a speaker in the ceiling I could hear the distinct sound of the ocean!! Clearly, Tescos were trying to instil a sense of calm into my shopping experience, but to be honest it was just a bit too weird  Heading towards the tills I caught sight of the latest loo roll promotion for 5p off a litre of fuel if you buy two 9-roll packs. For 20p less I could get an 18 roll pack, but if I bought the two 9-roll packs to get the coupon would my other half actually remember to use it? Why am I even thinking about this? We don't even need loo rolls! And then I remembered - I'm pushing a big trolley.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Coupon Crazy...

It has to be said, I do like a coupon, and this is something which Tescos particularly excells at. I get them at the tills, in the mail, in the magazine and on in-store leaflets and I love it! However, why is it that every time I top up my mobile at the till I instantly get one giving me 100 extra points if I top up £10 with O2 in the next two weeks?! I JUST topped up! I don't actually use my mobile very much, so by the time I need to top up again my 100 point coupon will have long since expired. While many are suspicious of the whole Big Brother concept of a supermarket keeping track of every transaction you've ever made there, I applaud it. How else will I get coupons for things I actually use on a regular basis? So, bearing this in mind, wouldn't it make far more sense to give me my top-up coupons about a month after I last topped up? Also, why is it that I occasionally end up with coupons for things I last bought several years ago, and haven't purchased since? Doesn't the fact that the product fails to appear on my record since 2001 tell Tescos that I actually no longer want or need that particular item?!

Fathers Day...

The stampede for lobelias and petunias has now made way for the celebration that is Fathers Day. Tescos, along with every other shop on the planet, has clearly stereotyped 'fathers' as beer swilling, slipper-wearing, car drivers who are all sports mad judging by the selection of gifts currently on display. While I appreciate that commercialism dictates that every opportunity to sell more stuff has to be mercilessly grabbed, there are certain occasions which would benefit from a sensitive alternative option available. For example, for those of us who have lost our father, this in-your-face reminder of the fact is a very unwelcome jolt to the system when you're focussed on quickly popping in to grab a loaf and a pint of milk. Maybe there could be a small section of a shelf dedicated to cards of a sympathetic nature, alongside photo frames in which to hold paternal memories...? 

Sandals and Sandwiches...

Despite my peroxide blonde locks and a penchant for watching SATC re-runs on Comedy Central, I'm actually not what you'd call 'girlie'. Subsequently, the very thought of going clothes / shoe shopping fills me with abject horror. Thankfully, jolly old Tescos seems to have come to my rescue in the form of their extensive clothing department. Here I can grab a nice new t-shirt while also choosing my veg, or I can find some fluffy slippers at the same time as checking the price of bacon. No need to panic, no need to catch a crowded bus into an even more crowded town centre, just a quick and painless wander off the beaten track will allow me to amble around jeans and undergarments while still within visual contact of the bread aisle. The only downside to this is the inevitable and somewhat painful static electric shocks you get from the combination of a ton of nylon, small plastic trolley wheels and laminate flooring. However, those of us who are savvy to such annoyances have long since learned to place hands well away from the metal parts of the trolley. It won't stop all the nasty stings but it  definitely helps. 

The Joy of Shopping...

It’s probably not a good idea to use retail therapy to cure the blinding headache which was inflicted upon you by a 20 minute phone call from the tax office, however, good ideas are hard to come by ……and I needed to buy some anadins and milk.

Suitably wrapped up against the arctic conditions outside, I grabbed my faithful shopping trolley (sophisticated black, not OAP tartan) and headed off to the nearby tescos.

As I struggled to free myself from my thermal outer-wear, ready to face the sub-tropics of the supermarket foyer, I spied row upon row of Valentines cards. Personally, I’ve never been able to make the mental connection between spuds and romance, but in this consumerist society every whim has to be overly catered for, and tescos is no exception to the rule….. especially when it comes to spotting the potential to make a fast buck from those who easily succumb to emotional blackmail or peer pressure.

As an ardent fan of people-watching, it amused me to witness that in matters of the heart, it really does take all sorts! Directly in front of me stood a very nervous-looking adolescent male, who sheepishly selected three different cards, all announcing “To the ONE I love!”

Beside him, was a frail little old lady, sporting a rather hefty pair of bifocals, carefully reading every word……. she’ll probably still be there at teatime.

I witnessed several ‘drive-thru’ events. Obviously these unsung heroes, who juggle their roles of housewife, worker and mother with the same faultless precision as a full-blown military manoeuvre, had simply added the word ‘card’ to their gigantic shopping list, and grabbed the nearest one they could reach, regardless of price or appropriateness. Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, I needed milk.

I got the distinct impression that a local infant school must be closed today. ‘Little Linford’ was racing up and down the slippery floors at breakneck speed with all his playmates, terrorising those of us who simply wanted to buy stuff without risking accusations of child abuse from some chav-type when the inevitable happens and the aforementioned small-person nose-dives under the wheels of your stationary trolley…. while the unmistakable wail of bored, tired tots assaulted my ear drums from just about every direction. Hmmm….I had gone shopping to de-stress, however my plans were thwarted and I had no choice but to accept that I was now in Hell.

As a woman with no discernable maternal bones in her body, I’d struggled dutifully to raise all three of my daughters to the best of my limited mothering abilities, however, I have absolutely no tolerance whatsoever of other people’s ‘little dears’, especially now that my babies are now independent young women.

For reasons known only to themselves, I swear that half of the adults in there today were on some sort of a wind-up. Why else would a ‘normal’ human being discard a full shopping trolley sideways, in a narrow aisle, and then take a wander to the far end of the supermarket?

Why would any couple choose to have a loud domestic dispute right next to the milk crates, and then give everyone else the evil eye for trying to reach round them for some semi-skimmed?

What possesses people to panic-buy deodorant? Is there an imminent shortage that nobody told me about?

Why do people use the largest shopping trolley they can possibly find, if they only want a frozen curry meal for one and a bottle of blue stripy plonk?

If it wasn’t for the fact the poor chap is no longer with us, I’d have expected Jeremy Beadle to jump out at me, right by the Andrex.

I’d long since given up on the prospect of any peace and quiet by the time I reached the tills with my bargain-laden trolley. Of course, that’s when you find out that you’ve chosen the checkout with the girl who is serving her long-lost relative, and they simply HAVE to catch up on 10 years worth of family gossip.

Eventually, the penny drops that this is not a social gathering, and that they can talk til the cows come home, if only they’d exchange phone numbers.

Glad that cousin Dawn finally had a healthy baby after such a long and painful labour, and that Grandad’s gout is much better now he is on those new pills, I was finally able to pay for my groceries and get the hell out of there.

Re-wrapped in my multiple layers of cotton and polyester mix, I slowly dragged myself back along the same path I’d practically jogged along an hour earlier. I am, after all, only human, and the temptation of all the BOGOFs and big yellow labels proclaiming “half price” and “1/3 off” were just too hard to resist. Subsequently, not only did I fill my trundle-truck but also 3 rather heavy carrier bags.

By the time I reached my front door my arms were visibly longer and my patience visibly shorter. It was only after I’d unpacked £40 worth of “just a few bits” that I realised that in my haste to avoid being trapped a moment longer than absolutely necessary, in that child-infested, haven for the romantic consumer, and playground for the terminally insane, I’d forgotten to buy any headache pills!