Posts Tagged ‘Supermarkets’


December 12, 2008

Leaving a comment on another blog about home cooking and yummy recipes by someone who really enjoys cooking this morning, got me raving on about how hardly anyone bothers to cook proper food for their families anymore. I thought I would turn it into a post for my blog as it is something that makes me very cross. So here it is.

Hi – again. I’ve just woken up – late, overslept, my boy is LATE for school. And just I’ve tottered up to turn the computer on because I’m so overexcited at the huge (6000) number of my blog views yesterday thanks to alphinventions and already over 2000 today.

I still don’t quite know what this really means though, as I have a feeling all these people haven’t really actually read my blog at all. If they had, I would be amazed.

Anyway. As your blog with my comment was the first thing I came across I thought would reply to your reply to my first comment just to help wake me up. Anyway, there’s something about you blog – I don’t know quite what- that grabs my interest.

I think it must be that your approach to food. It sounds odd. Unfortunately it is odd. BUT only because the vast majority of people (particularly here in the UK) are such nerds about food and most are quite incapable of cooking anything. This is why we substitute this almost total lack of cooking with looking at other people like Jamie Oliver cooking for us on television as a substitute for actually doing it ourselves.

How pathetic is that !

It came as a shock to me to realise I could use the word odd to describe your enthusiasm for cooking good food because such enthusiasm is so unbelievably rare and that is quite ridiculous when you think about it.

We all have to eat. That means someone has to cook it. Here in the UK we are collectively all so lazy and very, very stupid, that most of us seem to buy ready made meals in supermarkets for instant microwave re-heating and trudge off to greasy take-away food places that produce the most filthy, overpriced rubbish you could imagine.

It is common to find the poorest of families describing how they NEVER cook and eat nothing but takeaways and supermarket microwave ready garbage.

So a family of four might typically spend £6 each or £24 in total for each evening meal on this sort of nasty rubbish. This adds up to £168 a week. It costs just a third of this to eat the best of home cooked food if you bother to do it yourself.

The myth of not having enough time to cook is completely exploded if you calculate the amount of time spent queuing for takeaways etc.

As the enjoyment of eating good food takes precedence over every other aspect of life ( I mean without food every animal, including us, gets hungry and loses complete interest in everything else – sex, sleep, making money, working, rocketscience and philosophy even), this widespread disinterest and contempt of cooking is a ridiculous, bizarre nonsense.

I cook proper food for me and my boy too – every day. It has never occurred to me to do otherwise. And every time I have standard takeaway rubbish (like on motorway journeys) I generally feel yucky and bilious afterwards ! Sometimes, just to emphasise the point, I throw up because what I ate was contaminated with vomit inducing bacteria from the poor hygiene; you can just imagine what goes on, can’t you ! .

In fact this reminds me of the very first time I had a McDonalds hamburger. It was twenty five years ago in London. My wife had just given birth to my second daughter in the Whittington Hospital in Highgate. I was left in sole charge of our other daughter who was just two and a half years old.

As my wife and newborn had to stay in hospital for a few days life at home was a bit chaotic. It always is when you are suddenly left alone for the first time to look after a toddler of two and a half. You can have absolutely no idea of what they can get up to and how much time they consume if it has never happened to you.

So cooking became somewhat disorganised and in our rush to get back to the hospital one day I thought, ‘sod it’ we will get a hamburger on the way. I mean, it’s a treat for a kid, right ?

That’s what I said to my little daughter, just like I had been brainwashed to do by the whole fast food industry relentlessly brainwashing the entire population from the moment we are all born and right through to the bitter end of our lives.

You probably find people on their death beds being brought takeaway meals from the likes of McDonalds as special treats by the visiting family members who can’t think of anything better !

So, we both had our first ever McDonalds hamburger on our way to visit Mum and the brand new sister in hospital !

Guess what ?

Just as we arrived and said hello to a rather exhausted looking Mum and rather yellow coloured, cross looking newborn baby, both my two and a half year old daughter and I threw up all over the place. It caused a bit of consternation, as you might imagine.

But, boy oh boy, did we both feel better afterwards- having disposed of the disgusting, poisonous and very contaminated food we had just eaten. It was a positive relief just to be hungry again instead of feeling really, really ill.

Oddly, hamburgers have not featured greatly in our lives in the twenty five years since. In fact, I don’t even have to eat a McDonalds hamburger to feel ill. Every time I see that awful McDonalds logo I feel instantly bilious as it comprehensively completely puts me off the idea of eating any food at all !

‘Nuff said. I could ramble on and on for hours about food. I used to own a restaurant once too. That was an interesting story,

Anyway, I got so carried away rambling on I thought I would turn this into a blog post for my blog.

Good on you for the cooking thing, and keep up the good work. We cooks are a dying breed and we need people like you to stop home cooking becoming completely extinct. It already nearly is in the UK, I think.



November 2, 2008

Treating it’s Customers With Complete Contempt – As Usual !


Today I bought a couple of pairs of pyjamas from Sainsbury’s for my ten year old boy. That was a bit of a mistake. I never seem to learn my lesson. Sainsbury’s ownbrand TU clothes for kids is a just a byword for tat. It’s just not worth bothering to buy at all as every time I do, things just have to be returned because they’re so useless.

They should alter the brand name to TAT instead of TU. That would be a more honest description of the utter rubbish they sell, and at least we customers would know exactly where we stand and be properly warned of the withering contempt with which Sainsbury’s obviously views it’s customers.

Just about every time I buy a Sainsbury’s TU brand of kids clothes I just have to take them straight back again because they are so incredibly badly made they are completely unwearable.

The pyjamas were Sainsbury’s TU ownbrand BBC Dr. Who pyjamas that come with a ‘sound chip ‘ which gurgles ‘exterminate, exterminate’ in a monotonous electronic voice when you touch it. It is a fairly large thing – about two square inches of soft rubber – sewn into a sort of pocket dangling at the bottom of the top part of the pyjamas just where the top ends at the wearer’s waist.

It is quite bulky and would be really uncomfortable for the child wearing the pyjamas in bed as they would be sleeping on a huge great lumpy thing digging into their waist. It would also come to grief in the wash as hot water, detergent and a washing machine continuously bashing clothes around to clean them is not exactly the best environment to expect electrical or electronic things to survive. Water and electricity are not friends at the best of times.

To be fair to Sainsbury’, there is a label somewhere which says you should remove the sound chip before washing and sleeping. But the problem is, there is no way of removing the sound chip which looks as though it might be intended to be in some sort of open pocket which would actually allow it to be removed.

In actual fact, the pocket has been completely sewn up in a permanently closed position, probably by simple carelessness in the manufacture. So, the only way of removing the chip – which has to be done if anyone expects to be able to sleep in the pyjamas or to wash them – is to hack open the pocket with a pair of scissors.

However carefully this might be done, it is unlikely to be possible to put the flaming sound chip back without it falling out immediately, and the likelihood is that the pocket will be so damaged, it will simply rip apart in the wash and have to be completely hacked off the garment anyway.

Well done Sainsbury’s ! Another victory in the great battle to force us consumers into buying complete rubbish of the lowest possible quality        ( and the highest possible profit to the supermarket).

Guess where the garment was made ? Why, China, of course !


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.




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 ?