Archive for the ‘Supermarkets’ Category


July 1, 2008



Last night  (24th June) at  about 9 p.m. I visited the Horsham branch of Sainsbury’s to try and speak with Chris LaForte who had telephoned me to deal with my previous complaint concerning an incident on Sunday May 11th 2008.


All my previous efforts to telephone the store had failed because the telephone was never answered – day after day. Yesterday I spoke to Mat Rownsly at your Head Office on extension 54356 about this. He had told me the store would telephone me yesterday, which it didn’t. Hence my personal visit in order to progress this complaint issue.


Imagine my astonishment  when the Horsham store exhibited yet another example of how to alienate customers and behave seriously badly. This is what happened.


I went to the customer service desk, where I politely enquired if Chris LaForte was in. When I was informed he was on annual leave, I commenced explaining why it was I needed to speak to him in the hope someone else could address this matter.


In the course of that explanation I mentioned it referred to my complaint about a previous incident at the store where  had been erroneously ‘ banned’. I said to the member of staff I was speaking to, that as I thought she had been present at that previous incident, she would probably remember it. For some curious reason I do not understand she denied being there and said she had no knowledge of me being ‘banned’.


Informing her that I would then wait until Chris LaForte was back at work, I went off to buy just one item, some cream. 

As I was peering at the cream shelf, a man dressed in a Sainsburys uniform sidled up to me and said “I’m going to have to ask you to leave the store immediately’.


When I attempted to talk to him in a perfectly normal manner he behaved in a similar manner to the previous Store manager – Matt Engell. 


He refused to talk to me, he was aggressive and confrontational and behaved in a manner which would wind any person up and instantly make them feel completely abused and very, very angry. 

Every time I opened my mouth to say anything at all, the Store manager  behaved as though I was assaulting him or otherwise being violent or abusive. He was incredibly confrontational, in other words, and quite determined not to engage in conversation of any kind. This kind of behaviour can only be considered thoroughly abusive and an intentional effort to generate conflict. It was stunningly ignorant behaviour.


I imagined Sainsbury’s would be training staff on how to avoid and defuse conflict rather than gratuitously generating  it out of thin air.


Actually, I was being exceptionally civilised, calm and polite in every sense – and not yet angry, but trying very hard not to become so. And as I saw how he was behaving in a ludicrous manner which would guarantee to be extremely offensive towards anyone, I stopped myself being wound up and sucked into his ridiculous mindset of violent anger and confrontation towards me. It took a great effort on my part to avoid this store manager achieving his obvious intention of being offensive, winding a perfectly civilised person up without good reason, and generally attempting to cause a major confrontation.


In his defence, I have to say it subsequently became obvious that  his behaviour is entirely a product of both his training and the apparently aggressive ethos among staff at that particular Sainsbury’s store.


Remaining very calm and speaking quietly, I had to repeat myself many times  to ask him if I could speak to him, as he was deliberately preventing any conversation taking place by simply continuing endlessly to angrily  tell me to leave the store, and continually talking over me and telling me he would not speak to me and asking me to be quiet and not to speak to him.


Eventually, when he saw I was going to continue to be calm and polite, he deigned to reluctantly allow a conversation to take place. I asked him what on earth he was on about asking me to leave the store without any explanation and without allowing any normal conversation to take place.


He then told me the customer service woman had spoken to him over the internal communications system.  He informed me I had just told her about my spurious banning and the complaint I had made to Head Office etc which is why I had come to the store to speak with Chris LaForte.


That is why he had come over to me to tell me to leave – on the instructions of this service counter woman who had told me she knew nothing about me being banned when I had asked her, and had only been told about the matter by myself a few moments earlier.


This duty store manager then told me he had been present at the previous event concerning Mr Engell, and because he had been told by the unbelievable security woman who caused the problem in the first place that I was ‘violent’, he had assumed  I was going to be violent when he spoke to me and asked me to leave the store.


As the situation at that moment began to calm down as, with great difficulty, I persuaded him to allow me to speak to him as you might normally expect, he then sheepishly apologized to me for being so confrontational and clearly indicated he was acting on the basis of instructions relating entirely to the previous incident and the erroneous idea that I was somehow a ‘troublemaker’ of some kind. 


He then explained that now, as  we were having a polite and civil conversation ( which he said he ‘had not expected’) he no longer felt it necessary to be confrontational in the manner I have previously described. 

It then became utterly clear to me that I might equally be speaking to Mr Engell who had behaved in an identical manner the previous occasion. Then,  on the instructions of the slightly lunatic security woman who had shrieked at me that I was (previously) banned and had pressed a panic button.


The point here is that both Mr Engell and this second store manger (a Mr Serotas, I think) both behaved towards me as though they automatically assumed and expected me to be violent and abusive when in fact I had never been so on either of the two occasions.


In fact, both these store managers were effectively acting on the instructions of the security woman who had accused me of being banned and pressed a panic button.


At the time of the first incident, when I was trying, but failing, to speak to Mr Engell ( he was refusing to allow me to say anything at all to him and was just repeating his instruction to me to ’get out of the store because I was banned’). The lunatic security woman had shouted at me and Mr Engells she had banned me ‘for being rude to her’.


I distinctly recall the security woman aggressively shouting at me the precise words – the very first words she uttered – “you’ve been banned from the store, I think, haven’t you ?”


Bearing in mind that some huge percentage, 60%, I think, of communication is non verbal, I can tell you this woman’s non verbal communication to me with this hesitant question was exhibiting her extreme uncertainty as to who I was, or whether she recognised me or, indeed, whether I was actually banned. 


She was clearly asking me for corroboration of the information that I had been banned, because she was not at that time in possession of it. She actually clearly indicated she had absolutely no idea of whether I had been banned and was expressing obvious doubt in her mind as to whether it was merely a figment of her imagination or not.


It is not entirely clear to me what she is talking about and it seems monstrous to me that your customers can be treated in this disgraceful manner by some demented security woman with a personal grudge of some kind.


That all the Sainsbury’s staff fall into line behind one demented woman with some personal grudge about ‘me being rude to her’, and fantasizing that I had been banned from the store,  is quite beyond my comprehension.


That the Customer Service  woman sees fit to inform the store manager of her conversation with me in order for him to throw me out on the second occasion, essentially on my own say so, because I had mentioned the banned word to her, is utterly unbelievable.


I had, in fact, been shopping in the store after the first incident several times, as the Sainsbury’s head office Mr Rownsley had told me quite clearly there was no record of me being banned anyway. It was clearly confirmed by Mr Rownsley that it was a complete fairy-tale, as I already knew.


The fact is, I am a normal civilised , sixty year old, well educated ‘middle class type’ person who frequently goes to your store with his nine year old son to shop for domestic items – not to engage in abusive incidents. And I certainly do not go there to be abused by manic security shrews obsessed with their inflated egos and Television Cop and car chase films.


In the course of my conversation with Mr Serotas on that second occasion, he also told me he thought I had pushed my shopping trolley at Mr Engell on the occasion of the first incident, leaving my shopping in the trolley, and that ‘I had stormed out of the supermarket’. 


I was completely astonished when I heard this because I have never done anything of the kind or engaged in any form of physical aggression at Sainsburys – ever.


What precisely happened is that while I was  being thoroughly abused by Mr Engells, and reduced to a state of extreme shock and sheer humiliation by all this extraordinary behaviour, I picked up my one carrier bag containing just £5 worth of purchases, and walked to my car with it, rather than take an entire trolley with just one small bag in it.


I did, indeed, leave the trolley where it was as I was in no state to be concerned about finding a home for it as Mr Engells and the security guard were shoving me around and ‘elbowing’ me out of the store. It was quite clear I had no option to park this trolley anywhere under such circumstances.


It is quite ludicrous of the second store manager, Mr Serotas, to  describe this as me ‘abandoning my shopping and pushing the trolley at Mr Engells, which is precisely what Mr Serotas did say to me. This is pure fiction.


All this seems to indicate quite unequivocally that your staff at the Horsham store are unpleasant and aggressive and contrive to conjure up incidents of confrontation where none exist in the first place. I am really shocked at this experience. 


As I have seen other members of the public  being treated with unmitigated aggression by security and car park staff in particular, I know my experience is not an isolated event, but just one of many others concerning other people.


On one famous occasion I was in my car in a long queue of cars unable to get out of the car park because the car parking staff refused to raise the barrier to a woman who was refusing to pay £10 as she had bought less than £10 worth of goods. 


So while the parking staff were obtuse and bullying, deliberately humiliating this woman,  every other customer trying to get home  was kept prisoner for a long time. 

This is disgusting.






July 1, 2008




When, many years ago, my Father was a Councillor in this town and as Chairman of the Council was intimately involved in trying to prevent Sainsburys’ and other megalomaniac big businesses from wrecking the then pretty country market town with massively destructive ‘redevelopment’, he would have had absolutely no idea how nasty these big businesses like Sainsbury’s would become.

Since I knew the town as a boy, the Sun Life Insurance company and Sainsbury’s have  together been instrumental in conniving to persuade the Town Council to raze down vast amounts of the then attractive centre of the town and browbeat the Local Council into agreeing to close off most roads into the centre of town and build an ugly motorway-like ‘inner ring road ‘bypass’ around the centre of sleepy little town, preventing any normal access to it.


Both  these business organisations built monumental and modernistic ugly buildings over the centuries old town centre roads, killing of the historic town at a stroke. No doubt Sainsbury’ and Sun Life persuaded the Council it would be a good thing as they would be bringing lots of local jobs into the town.


But it has had  the effect of preventing any of the local residents from getting at the town centre to do any shopping and empty shops now  lie abandoned and boarded up forlornly as a result. 


Shops and other traders still struggling to make ends meet as the Council extorts gigantic parking charges, hugely exceeding the costs of paying an average monthly mortgage for a house, never mind a bloody car parking space, can only watch grimly as turnover falls and they go out of business one by one.


Fewer and fewer residents bother to overcome the sheer trauma and hassle of being milked by unreasonable parking charges and endless threats of £90 parking tickets followed by bailiffs at the door adding hundred and hundreds of pounds to just one parking ticket, then threatening householders with the legalised theft of their house contents if they don’t pay up immediately.


Pedestrians are artfully provided with their own obstacle course to get into the town centre too. Nearly the entire local population has to brave an artificially contrived and utterly inappropriate and unnecessary urban motorway, carefully conceived by dimwitted ‘planners’ to make getting into the town centre on foot as unpleasant as possible for virtually everyone.


Hence, the town is dying on its feet; a slow strangulation that has already turned a really busy, attractive mediaeval market town into a nasty little empty urban desert in the middle of of what used to be some of the most stunningly beautiful landscape in the World.

It is now a noisy sprawl of ring roads and Orwellian building development designed to look as revolting as possible.


But Sun Life has fallen on hard times as more and more people realised the life insurer plundered their pockets and business has slumped. So the predatory business has now gone, having done its job of sucking the life out of the two like the parasite it is.


Sainsbury’s too is no longer in the centre of town, bringing the extra shoppers and vibrancy it had solemnly promised all those years ago. 


It’s old low rise utilitarian shed like architecture is now a shoddy enclosed shopping centre, identical to any down at heel shopping mall anywhere. Completely without character and wildy unpleasant to visit, most shops offering standardised high street cloned tat.


Sainsbury’s supermarket itself, even more sophisticated in manipulating and dictating to local town councils all over the country, has purloined most of the one time garden of a fantastically elegant classic manor house in the one small remaining bit of the original town by the ancient Church that still remains. 

The Manor House is no longer fantastically elegant as it was bought by the RSPCA for it’s headquarters, and then sold at a massive profit to developers who built bits on everywhere and turned it into a warren of poky little ‘town houses’ and awkward apartments in the once elegant original building.


The town is is now ugly and bereft of the soul it had. The centuries of hustle and bustle of a busy English country market town have gone. The old coaching inn, once the focal point,  is boarded up and decaying listlessly. In the evenings and on the weekends, the town is dead and empty, except for a few loitering youths, often mindlessly drunk.


It is not the pleasant, friendly place it once was. Instead it is a place to hurry away from before a black cloud of depression descends about what modern life is like .


June 17, 2008


I recently visited Sainsbury’s in a Sussex market town on a Sunday to return some boys shorts bought the previous day which had been incorrectly labeled and were, therefore, the wrong size.


I had done a major shop the previous day and didn’t need to purchase anything else other than about £5 of milk etc.


When I paid the cashier I asked her to ‘swipe’ my car park entry card in order to allow me out of the car park because I had probably been in the store for very slightly more than the half hour allowed for ‘free’ parking.  


Without swiping the card I would have incurred a parking fee of £10 for the privilege of being forced to return a faulty product and make a minor purchase.


The cashier made the assumption that because I had bought such a small number of items I must have been in the store less than  half an hour. When I told her I had also spend a considerable time dealing with my exchange of shorts she held on to her mindset of me being within the half hour. 


She refused to swipe the card, saying she ‘couldn’t’ swipe it if I had been less than half an hour and ‘couldn’t’ swipe it if I had been more than half an hour because I had only spent about £5 and not the minimum of ten pounds.


Never the less, I asked her to swipe the card because should I have been in the store for just slightly more than half an hour I would be refused exit without paying a ten pound fee, and I would have blocked the exit to the car park for all the other exiting shoppers while I either paid the fee or had the unpleasant experience of arguing the matter with the intransigent Sainsbury’s staff.


Although this discussion was ludicrous, there was no personal difficulty or rancour in the discussion other than the cashier explaining to me her wish to obey her management instructions not to swipe cards in my sort of circumstances.


The cashier then hailed a passing ‘supervisor’ and asked her to take the card to the customer service point to have it swiped. An amicably reasonable solution to the utter lack of initiative the Sainsbury’s management deprive cashiers of using.


I would stress that despite my slightly acid description of events, there had been no unpleasant exchanges between the cashier and me. I recognised she was following the management instructions to her and our exchange was perfectly polite and civilised in every way.


I merely told her I insisted the card must be swiped as I did not want to block the car park exit. And It seemed complete lunacy to gamble on whether I had been in the store 29 minutes and would be freed, or 31 minutes and would be trapped causing every other exiting shopper to also be trapped behind my blocked car.


There had been no disruption or ‘argument’. It was a perfectly normal exchange, with a perfectly amicable solution as the cashier instructed the supervisor who gaily tripped off to swipe the card  without further ado.


Unfortunately, just as the supervisor walked off with the card, a hatchet faced woman with a Sainsbury’s uniform and  with a filthy expression of intense anger on her face shrieked at the top of her voice to me ‘You’ve been barred from the store.’ 


At the same time she slammed her hand on a ‘panic’ button to set off a loud alarm and shouted for security staff to forcibly remove me from the store.


Amazed and utterly nonplussed, I replied to her that I had not been banned. The supervisor taking my card to be swiped turned around and handed the card back to the cashier who then handed it to me, unswiped. I handed it back to the supervisor in a dazed state as the screaming harpy was continuing to shriek loudly at me that I was banned and shouldn’t be shopping at the store at all.


This was news to me as I have been shopping at the store every few days for five years uninterrupted by any ‘banning orders’ imposed by screaming harpies shouting abuse at me at the top of their voices.


The supervisor with my card walked with me to the customer service point where the card was swiped by her without comment. 


Meanwhile, a burly security guard appeared who told me I couldn’t leave the store. He kept shuffling up to within a very few inches of my face every time I tried to keep a reasonably normal distance from him, breathing his foetid breath straight into my nostrils as he followed his training instructions to intimidate people by ‘invading their personal space’ in an overtly threatening manner by standing abnormally close to them.



I was a prisoner of Sainsbury’s, not allowed to leave the premises by this threatening security guard.


I was completely stunned at being screamed at for absolutely no reason at all by this maniac of a hatchet faced harpy woman employed by Sainsbury’s, and then kept prisoner and prevented from leaving by a threatening ’security guard’ who clearly implied he would use violence to prevent me going about my lawful business.

Meanwhile, my nine year old son appeared to be in a state of increasing terror at what was happening to his Father.

A  duty manager, then appeared and asked the security guard what was going on. The guard replied he had no idea other than the shrieking Sainsbury employee has said I was banned from the store and had asked him to throw me out. 


A slightly unnecessary procedure as, armed with my now swiped card, and having paid for my shopping, I was more than anxious to remove myself from  this screaming madhouse where the Sainsbury employee’s continued shrieking had attracted a wide audience of at least a hundred people looking to see what the fracas was all about.


The manager did not speak to me, indeed refused to do so as he asked the security guard what the fuss was about. I was insolently and rudely told to be quiet by the manager when I greeted him as a possible saviour from this growing insanity and attempted to start explaining to him what had taken place. I imagined that, naturally, the manager would wish to speak to the polite and diffident customer being kept prisoner and prevented from leaving the store by a security guard. 

Not so. When the security guard had finished telling the Duty Manager he had no idea what was going on, the manager simply refused to speak to me and told me brusquely to leave. I replied that was what I was being prevented from doing.


The manager’s response was to behave in an extremely confrontational and aggressive way, and also following his training on how to deal with violence, proceeded to do the same as the security guard and shoved his face within inches of mine. Together the manager and the security guard ‘herded‘ me out of the store in a brutally uncivilised and unnecessary manner, not allowing me to leave  normally and willingly as I was entirely intent on doing.


It occurred to me the pair of them must have been watching too many American Los Angeles Cop and Car chase type TV films and were completely confused about what was American television fantasy and what was real life in a quiet Sussex market town as a sixty year old, inoffensive,  middle class resident went about the daily business of domestic shopping with his nine year old son.


I was followed into the car park by the security guard at a distance who waited to see which car I approached. He then wrote my car number in biro on his hand in a thoroughly dramatic manner, no doubt still living the fantasy and taking his cue from all those America Cop movies he watched when not harassing innocent shoppers in the local supermarket for a living.

Supermarkets – The Modern Robber Barons

May 28, 2008

I was standing at the cashier in Sainsburys the other day trying to persuade the cashier to swipe my Sainsburys car park card so I could leave with my shopping.


She was refusing to do it because you have to spend a minimum of ten pounds on your shopping, otherwise Sainsburys charge you ten pounds for their car park instead. I had only spent about five pounds. Not enough for the greedy Sainsburys robber barons.


Actually, I hadn’t even wanted to spend even five pounds really as I had only been forced to return to the supermarket to exchange shorts I had bought for my nine year old son that had been incorrectly labelled by Sainsburys. They were the wrong size for him; therefore, utterly useless unless I went back and swopped them for the right size. That was the only reason I had had to go to Sainsburys in the first place.


So they were going to charge me ten pounds for the privilege of correcting their error of sloppily labelling their clothes, forcing me to return.


Anyway, I  was politely insistent about refusing to pay a ten pound car parking charge for less than a hour in the Sainsburys car park just in order to visit their supermarket. So the cashier gave my parking card to a passing supervisor and asked her to go to customer services, where they could swipe it as they had ‘the authority’ to do it and the cashier didn’t have ‘the authority’.


Isn’t bureaucracy a wonderful thing ?


As I heaved a sigh of relief at managing to  have the problem sorted out, there was a sudden shriek from a harridan dressing in the Sainsburys’ uniform. “You’re banned from the supermarket”, she shrieked at the top of her voice.


A hundred people around me at the busy tills froze as she slammed her hand on the panic button and shouted for security men to throw me out of the supermarket.


Can you believe it ?


I can’t !

Supermarkets Rip Us off

May 23, 2008




I noticed in the supermarket today that the only loose new potatoes were Jersey Royals at £1.99p a kilogram. There were no other loose new potatoes at all.


When I asked an employee at Sainsburys why they  were not still selling the Cyprus new potatoes they had been selling for weeks at less than one pound per kilo – that’s half the price of the Jersey Royals – he said that Sainsburys always stop selling the cheaper Mediterranean new potatoes in order to force customers to pay twice the amount of money for the much more expensive Jersey Royals when they come onto the market.


Is that a rip off or what ?


If you want to buy loose new potatoes at the price of less than one pound a kilo that you have been already paying for weeks, Sainsburys deliberately make sure you have to pay twice as much for the Jersey Royals, which are exactly the same type of potato. It is just that one lot is grown in the Mediterranean and are cheaper, and the other lot are grown in Jersey and are more than twice the price.


Paying two pounds in money for one kilo of potatoes is ridiculous. Many types of meat can cost only about two pounds per kilo weight. Ordinary chicken, for one.


We must be really stupid to let supermarkets get away with this kind of rip off manipulation. They are just plain nasty.


That reminds me. I was in Waitrose supermarket the other day and I saw their ‘Select Farm’ chickens at £1.93 per kilo. The size was described as 4-5 servings and the weight was 1.792 kilos. Then I saw a row of identical chickens at £2.90 odd per kilo. Except they weren’t exactly the same size; they were all one serving size smaller and described as 3-4 servings each.


When I asked a member of Waitrose staff why identical chickens (excepting one type being one serving larger) were two entirely different prices, one type being more than fifty per cent more expensive, they said they larger size chickens were ‘on offer’ and the smaller and more expensive chickens were not.


What do you make of that, then ?


Could it be even more manipulation. It’s a really good way of completely confusing customers and detaching any concept of prices for anything from reality.


Do you think this is why supermarket do it ?