The third and final reason that my shop at Coles takes so long is that they never seem able to get the price right. It doesn’t seem to matter how carefully I check, I almost always get to the register and discover that something is twice the price I thought it would be. Yes, I am one of those annoying people who will query it, and yes it irritates me that they make me stand there like a criminal while Garry runs down to check the price. The queue of shoppers glaring at me as they are forced to wait longer because there aren’t enough checkouts open, the 16 year old check out chick looking down her nose as if to say ‘Are you happy now, you’re going to save $2?’ When Garry eventually returns he might say, ‘Yeah, it was wrong, give it to her at the lower price’, to which I have to say, ‘It scanned up wrong, I’m actually entitled to get it free’. Begrudgingly, 16 year old will call her manager to get approval. Or Garry might return looking smug saying, ‘It was in the wrong spot’ or ‘You must have read it wrong’, like it’s all my fault. Well it’s not my fault you have a useless shelving system that it unclear and that things are so often in the wrong place.
Some of you may not remember this, but back in the good old days the price was placed on the product with a pricing gun. When shoppers got to the register they would wait as each price was individually typed into a cash register that would add up the total. This was a time consuming and costly process at both ends. When stock went on shelves it had to be individually priced, and at the register manually entered. When barcodes were introduced in Australia in the early 1980s they were hailed as the greatest thing since sliced bread. Customers wouldn’t have to wait as long, it was a fantastic new system. Consumer groups weren’t convinced and as a result the Australian Scanning Code of Practice was imposed. This still states that, if an item scans up higher than the price displayed at the shelf, the customer is entitled to receive that item free. Unfortunately, many of us have forgotten this, or perhaps we are just too busy to argue because supermarkets have made it so difficult and unpleasant an experience to stand our ground. I do argue the case, however, on principle. Because they might only be ripping me off by $2, but the frequency with which it happens to me, multiplied by millions of transactions equals quite a tidy profit on Coles’ part.
I got so sick of this scenario, which was a common one, that one day I decided that I just couldn’t bring myself to shop at Coles any longer. So I resolved to quit and I couldn’t be happier. Now you may think, come on, that’s hardly fair, at least give them your feedback and allow them to make amends. Well, I did on at least three occasions, in writing, and numerous times in person. I had one pro forma response that essentially told me thanks for your feedback, we don’t really care. My other feedback letters, despite, requesting a response, received no acknowledgement. So I think I’ve been pretty fair, and pretty forgiving and pretty stupid to keep taking their unsatisfactory customer service, their cheap marking tricks and their appalling ads. I’m so dissatisfied that my only option has been to stop shopping there.
So I traded Coles in for Aldi or local specialty shops, some food companies that deliver such as Aussie Farmers, Hello Fresh and Lite n Easy. And on the rare occasions I still find that I really have to do a shop at Coles (because just like the ‘I Quit Sugar’ diet I discovered it’s impossible to give up Coles completely) I make sure I have a list, I know exactly what I want, I only buy what’s on the list and then I get the hell out of there. It’s been a long process. At first I found it difficult to trade in the shiny, plethora of options offered by Coles, but I realised that I wasn’t gaining anything, only losing. I was being beaten over the head by ‘Buy 2 for $5’, ‘Save 30 cents’. Buy 5, buy 10, buy more stuff! When all I wanted was to buy the things I need. I didn’t want to buy things that I didn’t need and would rot in my fridge. I also didn’t want to pay a fortune, because, yes, Coles has gotten mighty expensive of late.
So, I Quit, at least, now I’ve gone from shopping at Coles 2-3 times a week, to less than once a month. When I shop there I probably only spend around $50 per shop, whereas before I was spending usually at least $100 per shop. I’m also saving money. Not just because I’ve traded in over-priced, over-promoted Coles for local, fresh, specialist, but also because now I just buy what I need, not 20 because they are on special. I quit Coles, and you can too.