‘I swoosh, therefore I am…
the World’s Expert on Listerine.’
This is what I said on Sunday. In public.
Supermarkets are funny things, they bring out the worst in me. I only EVER pick up a wire basket because I will not be in there long enough to fill a trolley. I have written about such things before. This habit was all very well when it was me and two dogs. Now there are children. They grow and wish to grow more. This requirement demands an unceasing quantity of food and much frequenting of aisles of the supermarket variety. I try to go to smaller shops when possible, I like the Co-op wine section, but the food is a bit of a worry. They don’t have wire baskets there either, instead they have giant black crate things for customers to lug round. I constantly pick up two stuck together, without noticing, and then nearly die of shock by the bread when the bottom one in the stack falls to the ground with a great clattering thud. So, although I prefer the Co-op on principle, I don’t actually shop there much.
Sainsburys is the nearest (well not as near as the M&S BP) so I do end up there more than I want. It’s very expensive and, lately, the merchandising has been shoddy. It was the case of the Listerine at the weekend that tipped me over the edge. Basically, because when I come to think of a form of words to explain myself it all sounds very boring, I picked up Listerine marked on the shelf as 50% off – so £2 something instead of £5 something. This was a proper discount, not one of those fake ones supermarkets go in for. Reader, it went in the basket. At the till? 5 quid and more.
I was going to let it go. It’s not the first time I’ve been caught out by the store putting items in the wrong place, over a bogus offer. You need a law degree and a good pair of glasses to read the small print sometimes. However, it was pouring with rain and I was on foot. I thought I’d kill some time by pointing out the mistake to customer services, but prior to that I’d check the offer again. It’s at this point that you realise you have a problem, isn’t it? But, I reasoned, it was not about the money, it was the principle and I thought, at least I could save the next Listerine-swilling shopper a shock at the till.
I retraced my steps to the shelves. It’s at this point I now realise you need a photo of the product placement. I don’t have one. Supermarkets don’t like you taking photos in their stores. You may not know this, but Listerine mouth wash comes in many colours and sizes all with multifarious magical properties that will guarantee glossy gnashers and gums until your ticker throws in the towel, or whatever. They’ve got absinthe green and pale green, blue, yellow, purple, silvery, red, orange. I swear, Listerine comes in every colour of the rainbow and more besides. So the shelf merchandisers just lob it all on, shuffle the price tags around into a vague approximation of the actual price on the system and bugger off home. A bit like this.
My problem was that the Total Cavity Guard Listerine in Sainsburys was not only over the wrong price label, there was no right label at all. And it was this that I pointed out on Sunday. The customer service assistant didn’t seem to think that this was a very big deal, or that customers were terribly interesting or intelligent or that service really was her thang. The combination of her ill-chosen words, and nonchalant non-verbal communication drove me to make the outrageous World’s Expert on Listerine claim. I also told her I would be back the following day to check that this was sorted out. (Of course I forgot to because, actually, I am not really a crazy middle-aged old cow with nothing better to do than hector supermarket workers about fucking dental hygiene products on a Monday. ) The assistant eventually offered to refund my money to the ‘advertised price’ but I seized what I liked to think of as the moral high ground and refused. It’s not the money… it’s the principle, I opined. What a twat I can be. Anyway, it had stopped raining by then, so I walked home. But I was not so secretly a little bit pissed off, with the attitude and the sloppy merchandising and the general trickery perpetrated on unwitting customers that they go in for in that bloody shop.
The post script to this is that I was back in there yesterday and I couldn’t resist checking the Listerine shelves. This time, all the products were priced, up but the offending item of Sunday was still placed over the wrong price tag – you’d still be picking it up expecting to pay two quid summat and be hit for over a fiver at the till. Still, it was an improvement, at least the correct price tag was there, just in the wrong place. I could have just swapped all the merchandise around, but I didn’t. I trekked back to the customer service desk and then, assuming my World’s Expert role once more, took them to the shelves and pointed it out, again. The original customer service bod from the weekend recognised me and dived for deep cover. Another lady accompanied me to the display and very solemnly swapped the Listerine bottles into their correct places on the shelves. I told her I would be keeping an eye on this…
It’s official: I have gone mad.