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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Stuff Supermarkets REALLY Need to Work On

The weekly shop is the bane of my life. (Apart from the ironing, that is.)

I usually go on Mondays, straight after the 4yr old's swimming lesson in the morning. I could go on my own on Tuesdays when the 4yr old is at daycare - iPod headphones in, the music from Glee keeping me company (my current fave listening) - but I don't like to give up my 'day off' (note the inverted commas) to food shop. I know. I'm a top parent like that.

Seeing that I'm quite the seasoned visitor at such establishments, I've come to realise there are a few things that really bug me about supermarkets that I think requires IMMEDIATE attention. I've put together a list. (I'm helpful like that.)

I think supermarkets should:

1. Service their trollies. Why is it, that I always end up with the trolley that wants to go right, and I spend the whole shop trying to correct it. Why?

2. Install 'facilities' in supermarkets. Why can't supermarkets have their own toilet? Just one is all I'm asking for - a Family toilet, say - so that when I get mid-way through my shopping and my 4yr old announces he NEEDS to go wee-wee and he JUST CAN'T WAIT, I don't have to abandon my trolley and make the mad dash one floor down, all the time praying he doesn't wee all over the floor. Seriously, they can fit in a gazillion freezers stacked with crap, preservative-filled food but can't fit in a measly toilet? It's just not right.

3. Stock the full range of one brand. Why is it that, for example, I can purchase Bickford's Diet Lemon and it's Lemon & Lime cordial in Coles, but I can NEVER get it's plain old (and rather traditional) Lemon? Diet Lemon, yes. Normal Lemon? Nope. I can get Lemon in Woolworths - just not in Coles. Why is that? It's very inconvenient. I end up buying another brand, because I'm not going to do the rounds of all the supermarkets within my vicinity to get what I want. Who has time for that?!

4. Provide an explanation chart for milk. Why are there SO many different types of milk? Seriously, do we really need that many? I remember when lite milk was exotic. These days? Bah! If we do need all this milk, a chart detailing all the milks' details would be handy. I'm just sayin'.

5. Use their modern technology if they have it. Every. Single. Week. I head to the deli counter to pick up my 300 grams of double-smoked ham, and the counter has one of those electronic boards where you take a ticket and wait until your number comes up on it. Except, that the shops I frequent, they NEVER use it. First, I waste time taking a ticket at all, only to realise they're not calling numbers. Five minutes later. Then I end up stressing myself out trying to work out who was there before me, and who came after. She was definitely here before me. So was he. Oh, wait...was that lady here already, or did she just arrive? I can't remember. No. She DEFINITELY came after me. Hey! She's inching her way closer to the front and trying to push in! Hmph. The cheek of it all.

6. Educate its employees that time is of the essence. Some check-out staff are great. They whip my shopping through so fast, I can barely get it on the check-out counter fast enough. Others, however, act as though, Oh, I can't be bothered and geez...this is SO bo-ring (*studies her nails*), I can barely make myself pick up these products and put them in the bag. Yawn. It literally takes all the strength I can muster to not: a) roll my eyes in frustration; and b) ask them to HURRY UP, DAMMIT, before my 4yr old requires another toilet stop!

7. Explain to their check-out staff that recycled bags are not necessarily easier to lift. Most of the time (except when I have a ditzy moment on occasion and forget), I take my recycled shopping bags with me when I do the food shop. I love that they don't fall apart - overflowing with groceries - when I lift them in to the car. I love that they are environmentally friendly. HOWEVER...why do check out staff think they should be able to load them up so much? I mean, have they ever tried to lift a recycled shopping bag packed with two 3 litre milk bottles, a 2 litre bottle of orange juice and a 2 litre bottle of apple juice. Huh? Have they?! Perhaps they've figured I've already done my back in birthing three boys, so what the hell. Let's finish her off, I can almost hear them thinking.

8. Get rid of the self-service check-outs. I've tried them. Multiple times. Every time I do, SOMETHING happens and I need assistance. And then I wait. And wait. And wait. And I'm starting to see that the line I was going to join has moved much faster than I have, and the lady I would have been in front of - had I not left my spot for the self-service option - is now collecting her bags and leaving. GONE! All because the 4yr old thought it would be FUN to scan the shopping and I thought it would be FUN to let him do it. But it's not fun, because he scans the item, then puts it in the wrong place, or scans it twice and it soon becomes apparent that WE'RE NEVER GONNA GET OUT OF HERE because we need assistance. Again. Oh and now the 4yr old needs to pee. Again. Just brilliant.

How about you? What annoys you about the food shopping? Got any ideas how supermarkets could improve? Don't hold back. They're definitely reading this. *cough*



Looking for Blue Sky said...

My kids would hate it if they got rid of the self-service checkouts....and would never help me with the shopping again. Apart from that, I'm definitely in agreement with you.

So Now What? said...

Those trolley wheel designers must be having a laugh hey. I reckon they have us all on CCTV and sit and watch over their lunch breaks laughing at us trying to control a chockas trolley from taking out old people as we wheel it to our car. Seriously, it's their one job in the whole world, to design a wheel that makes a trolley move where you want it to. xx Agree Jodes.

Ami said...

Seriously LOVE this post! Couldn't agree more with everything you've said. Especially the loading of the recycled bags. It was even worse when I used to shop with Sophie in the baby bjorn. Not only was I lugging around an extra 6kg or so, but then trying to lift those bags into the trolley... not my idea of fun. Once when I was shopping with Soph in the pouch, I had a lady who had lined up behind me insist on unpacking my trolley and then put all my bags into the trolley as well! I could have hugged her! Great post. xx

Maxabella said...

Internet shopping. It's the only way out...

Marg said...

Amen sister! Especially on the self service checkouts. Yesterday I went in and was only getting two items, but had to call for assistance twice! Grrrr.

bloggingmumof3 said...

i'd love a supermarket with trolleys that scan your item as you put them in, even if they are bagged as they go in the trolley. i find it's a pain...put the object in, take it out, put back in trolley, take out to put in car.

and i agree with point 7. how many times ive nearly broken my back lifting 10 tins of dog food at once

Marg said...

They used to have that self scanning technology when I lived in the UK more than 10 years ago. Every now and again you would have to get checked and unpack everything, but most of the time you packed as you went around and that was it. It was fabulous!

Hi I'm Rhonda. said...

I'm with you on the cart (trolley) thing! I am always getting an upper body workout with it. Also we have bathrooms in the market over here! I couldn't imagine not having them.

Mrs BC said...

Please forward your list to Woolies HO.

My pet peeve is the checkout person asking if I want larger items in a bag. Fucking YES!? I have bought enough bags with me, why would I want to juggle a jumbo pack of toilet paper & a 20ltr tin of olive oil up my back steps while carrying empty bags??

Also - Shhhh...I hate the self service too but a friend of mine who works at Woolies recomended that I put bananas ($15 kg) through as watermelon ($1.50kg). I haven't done it, but I'm just putting it out there....

Holly said...

Point number 6 - so true! Last time I was in Woolies the checkout lady actually examined each item I was buying, including opening my egg carton to make sure none of the eggs were cracked. Nice of her to care but I had already checked when I chose my eggs and with two impatient kids I just wanted to get out of there ASAP!

Naomi said...

Yep, it's the fact I need to go the THREE different supermarkets to get the brands I want. Not little, obscure brands either.

And what is with the overloading the shopping bags? HAve they not seen my scrawny chicken arms?

Jen said...

All so perceptive. My area for improvement would be the pesky chocolate stand right near the 12 items or less checkout. Serious torture to parents of young children!

Megan Blandford said...

Supermarkets are SO annoying. I tried online shopping but then realised it's way more expensive than my local, not-Coles-or-Woolworths supermarket. Unfortunately.

Yes to the toilets - very annoying being anywhere with kids when there aren't toilets around!

The trolleys are ridiculously horrible things that make me grumpier and grumpier the more aisles I have to push it around.

Thea said...

LOL.....LOVE it!!
What annoys me about food shopping? What you said and more. Everything! I hate supermarkets!!

Hubba says he loves it, I just don't understand.

Kel said...

One word that changed my life: Aldi. One choice of most things, so you don't waste time deliberating, v. cheap fruit and veg and the checkout operators are scarily fast.

I also spend, on average, $100 less than I spend at Coles.

Jodi @ The Scribble Den said...

Oh God! I agree with all of those things including the not using my 'day off' to grocery shop!
I do a combination of internet shopping and the old fashioned.
I get my heavy stuff like dog food, canned goods, laundry items via the net and then do the rest on a Friday morning.
This way I find I can lift the bags, fit it all in one trolley, get fresh stuff I like to choose and it takes less time!

Mama of 2 boys said...

This is hilarious Jodie. Amazing that all of these things I can relate to only too well. It's like the universal plea of mother's ;o)
The self serve checkouts are good and bad I find. I have mastered the art of them now and usually get through without too much drama, but I do know what you mean, you can be left hanging, if certain little fingers decide to touch the sensor area, making the computer think you're putting things in your bag that you didn't scan! Um, yes, actually they are pretty frustrating come to think of it ;o)
Send this post as a petition to the supermarkets, I'll sign it for you :o) xo

Jen at Semantically driven said...

I always have a trial run of the trolley but shouldn't have to!

And I will NEVER use a self-service checkout. NEVER. Tried once and guess what, I needed assistance. I also figure I'm helping pay for those checkout operators so why not make use of them.

River said...

With your permission I'll save and print this and take it to work.

#6. I'm speedy gonzales at the checkout, many people tell me they come to my checkout because I get them through quickly and others say gosh you're quick as they reach for their wallets.

#7. We do lift those bags, off the bag rack once they're packed and over to the side where you then pick them up again. I've taken to splitting the weight putting one heavy item in then topping it off with smaller or lighter weight things. I have my own back troubles so know how it feels!

@Mrs BC; we ask because many people don't bring enough bags and even if they do they'll sometimes say "don't put the big things in bags, just put all the smaller things in and spread the weight".

Melissa said...

There are way too many dodgy trolleys in circulation and I totally agree on the need to have toilets in the supermarket - too many times I've had to abandon a trolley mid trip to rush a pre-schooler to the toilet. Actually, agree with everything... Great post!

Mrs B said...

oh my, I could have written all of that, except instead of a 4yr old I have a 3 1/2yr old, plus the tantruming 18mth old in the seat trying to push my hands off the trolley so she can push (yes, figure that one out and let me know ok!).

One thing I can add to your list...

FIX THE BLOODY SEAT BELTS!! Ugghh so damn frustrating when you are fighting with a toddler to get them into the seat (and believe me, she might not be big, but she is feisty) only then to not be able to get the damn clips together cause they have been squished beyond all recognition. Yes I know, I should check the belt clips BEFORE I get her into the trolley, but hey I shouldn't have to.

Ohh sorry, rant over. Thanks for letting me get that out hehe ;)

Jade said...

Ahh, Jodie, I agree 100% on all of the above. Another great post! x

Liz said...

Oh all so true!

I would add, if something is on special PLEASE put it with the other items of that type.

Please DON'T put it at the end of an unrelated aisle halfway across the supermarket and have none in the actual place where it should be!

I don't walk every aisle therefore skip whole ends (gasp!) and WILL avoid the back-track with the 4 year old dragging relentlessly toward the matchbox cars and the 2 year old performing acrobatics in the trolley seat due to the lack of working seat belt...

Sam-O said...

All this and more! Like, there really is no need to reorganise the entire shop every few months...

These are the reasons (oh and the 13 stairs to my front door) are the reasons I shop for groceries online.

BS said...

Dear Jodie,
I am in complete agreement with all five; particularly 1 and 3.

[Do you know what the difference is between a blond and a shopping trolley? A shopping trolley has a mind of its own.]

3pmPimms said...

Hallelujah AMEN.....except for the self serve check outs....time is the essence and sometimes i am faster....just not with the kids they drive me mad..XXLoving your work Jodie as always!!!!

rambling mum said...

Oh wow! I agree with so much of this and so many of the comments. I'm glad I pack the shelves at night & don't have to cop the wrath of the shoppers as much as the day staff do. Now, before that comment irritates anyone, I am one of those shoppers who gets frustrated at the queues, the staff packing shelves who are in the way (if you ever shop at night, I am one of those staff members) the kids needing to go to the toilet, the trolleys that won't go straight (they don't go straight filled with squashed cardboard boxes at midnight either believe me. If the bags are too heavy for me I take stuff out & ask the register operator to put them in another bag "because this one's too heavy". My hubby doesn't understand why I find grocery shopping so exhausting - it is a physical workout. Occasionally I will do it online but he thinks I am being lazy and paying too much. He can't see that it reduces impulse buys & makes me more organised in regards to what we actually need. Shopping makes me so frustrated. For a light hearted look from a nightfiller's perspective, check out his post a did a while back: http://ramblingmum-mummabear1970.blogspot.com/2010/10/nightfillers-perspective.html

Susan @ Reading Upside Down said...

I don't tend to be too traumatised by my trips to the supermarket. My only real issue is that there is often inadequate checkouts open. I understand that they need to keep costs down, but those of us with meat, dairy and frozen items would prefer to not stand in line for 15 minutes before being served.

MaidInAustralia said...

Agree with all of this. The supermarket we used to shop at in NZ had a loo. But it was for men and women and was so disgusting the kids refused to use it even if they were busting.
And check-out people who examine everything you buy, ask what it is, and is it any good. 'Um, it's an apple. They're crunchy. Yes, that's milk. Yummy'.

slightlynutz said...

Once upon a time (when I was a teenager & worked as a Coles checkout "chick") staff in supermarkets were supposed to be polite, cheerful & educated.I have noticed that more & more checkout operators have their hair hanging over their faces & occassionally a mumble will come from underneath when they require you to pay. Cleavage seems to be a necessity to scan groceries these days, as does exposing a whole lot of bum & back crack, so long as said cleavage & crack are adorned with tattoo's, body jewellery, & a glimpse of a fancy bra or g-string. Checkout operators no longer ask how your day has been, or smile politely & bid you farewell with a "Have a lovely day". Sometimes I get the feeling I have interrupted something important & have found myself actually APOLOGISING on numerous occassions for things that the operators are expected to do, for example; asking for another bag to replace the one that just split, wanting cash out after paying with my atm card, wanting to buy my groceries in two separate lots, etc
I have overheard many inter-checkout conversations about weekend activities (some which I am certain are illegal) that have taken place over my head whilst I rudely stand between the two checkouts, intruding in the conversation, as my groceries are scanned.
Yep, supermarkets these days SUCK. You are made to feel like an inconvenience. If they would like to make more money & beat their competitors I suggest that they start making us customers (the people with the cash) feel comfortable and welcome. Those "checkout chicks" may soon go the way of the Dodo if they don't smarten themselves up, because I for one will be shopping online (where there's not a wonky trolley or screaming, urinating toddler in sight)!

Janelle said...

I'm a bit slow in catching up with my blog reader, have only just seen this post, but yes, yes and more yes!!

If you're doing a full week's worth or more of groceries, then by the time you navigate your way through the aisles with your wonky trolley, dodging other grumpy shoppers and staff getting in the way, trying to choose from the gazillion choices of deodorant, you're looking at spending maybe 1.5-2 hours in that hell-hole, so would a toilet be too much to ask?!

My pet peeve is the stupid clingy plastic freezer bags that you're supposed to put your fruit and veg in. They rip when you try to pull them off the roll, and then you have to lick your fingers, the same fingers you just touched the germ-ridden trolley with, to get the bloomin' things open. AARGGHH

I don't mind the night-shelf-packing staff in the aisles, as long as they are understanding and give me room to move past them. More often than not, even if I'm the only one in the aisle with them and there's no chance that they don't know I'm coming up towards them, they ignore me and continue to block the aisle until I'm forced to stop in front of them, cough, and excuse myself to get through.

And yes, customer service on the checkouts died a long time ago.

Wow, supermarkets make me cran-ky!