EDitorial ± 8-Dec-2003

Not So Super Market

How was your weekend? Cold enough for you? Really ought to get around to finding my gloves and unearthing my winter coat from the uncharted depths of the coat rack. No matter: earlier today I popped this letter into the postbox.

——— start of letter ———

Sainsbury's Supermarkets Ltd
33 Holborn
London EC1N 2HT

Dear Sainbury's,

On Saturday 6th December 2003, I was walking back to my car in Ipswich town centre. I knew that my pay-and-display hour was nearly up, but I thought I had the time to nip in & out of your Upper Brook Street store. This was to be a costly decision.

In accordance with the provisions of section 112(2)(b) of the road traffic regulation act 1984 you are required to supply the full name and address of the driver of the vehicle at the stated time even if this was yourself. Oh yes.

Now, this was around 4.35pm, and the store was fairly busy. I found what I wanted — one box of doughnuts, 69p — and headed to the checkouts. Each line appeared to be two or three deep, so I joined the closest one. And waited. And waited. It was unfortunate that the person being served at that moment had bought a DVD, the actual disc for which had to fetched from who-knows-where. And then I glanced up to see a Sainsbury's sign:

Quicker queues! We're opening more tills to ensure you have a magical Christmas.

(I'm paraphrasing here, by the way.) Anyway, this was hanging over an unmanned checkout, i.e. no-one serving. I don't know about you, but it irritates me when companies say one thing and do another.

Pointing out the sign to a couple of your employees, I asked if the sign was meant to be ironic. They didn't comment and walked away. Still, I had a jolly chat with the chap behind me, and it only took another ten minutes to pay.

Can you see how the story ends? I got back to my car just before 5pm and spotted the Notice To Pay Excess Charge envelope under the wiper. This had been written out at 4.52pm according to the official ticket. Naturally I'll be coughing up within 7 days to reduce the £40 penalty to just £15.

Who knows, I may well have got back late anyway and still incurred the fine. And perhaps another time I'd have sailed through the tills. But I do know that on Saturday, I did not feel that Sainsbury's were "making life taste better".

Thanks for reading - I feel slightly better now,

Ed Broom

PS This letter is also at http://www.freston.net/edit/2003-12-08.html

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I'll keep you posted with their response.

Be seeing you!