Off to M&S to get some pork and alcohol

Wiggia says:

This is creating quite a stir -

And here -

The comments in both and other sites cover all , but for me the mere fact that another small gap is being jemmied open in our way of life through fear of saying enough, and the ridiculous political correct attitude to all things Muslim says all about the way this country is going.

If it happened to me I would as many have said simply leave my basket there and shop elsewhere, there’s no need to do anything else.

I looked at all this now and thought hmmmmmmm. I’m not crazy about pork and can tolerate ham in sandwiches with pineapple and/or cheese but maybe once in a fortnight. Gammon steak is OK occasionally. No religious reason, just the taste. Crispy bacon’s nice though.

However, in the light of this, I’m quite inclined to pop down to the local M&S, find some leg ham, go and get some wine and find the checkout queue which has a Muslim serving. Then I’d proceed as per Wiggia.


Actually, there’s another war going on as well and that’s the war against barcodes. Most times in the supermarket, I choose the item unbarcoded or where it’s been put on wrongly, around a corner etc. then, with ten to twelve items in the basket, cheerfully approach the checkout.

When my turn comes, I ask, especially at ASDA, “Are you about to close this till?”


“Oh, that’s good because most times I get to the cashier, she puts out the little flag saying this till is closed. I thought it was store policy.” [Nonplussed look] “That’s fine, let’s begin. Don’t mind me.” [My sweetest smile]

Then the unbarcoded and other unreadable items come up and I stand, stony-faced or maybe look to the person behind and apologize with my eyes.

The girl by this time has had two or three lads go back to the aisles to find the correct prices, she apologizes and I say, “No, for heaven’s sake, don’t apologize. We have all day. It’s not your fault that the store does not barcode its products correctly. Must make it very difficult for you.”

Detecting the sympathy in my voice, she and I are now buddies, I quickly pack my goods, pay and get away, saying to the person behind, “I always like not to hold up the person behind. You wouldn’t believe the number of people who don’t even have their money out at the till and as for credit cards … well!”

What I didn’t mention was how supermarkets move things around. So I’m looking for loo roll and the overhead sign says loo roll and kitchen towel but it’s not there.

So I call the woman over. “Excuse me, ASDA loo roll – it says up there it’s in this aisle but I can’t find it. No doubt you can.”

“Er, it’s not in this aisle, we changed it yesterday afternoon.”

I appreciate her joke. “Oh, I see, confuse the customer game, eh? It must get boring for you all, customers finding things where the signs say they are.”

“No, no …” she begins.

“No, it’s not a problem, don’t worry, I’ve a sense of humour, I adore being mucked about when I’ve little time to spare. It’s my stupidity really. If it says loo roll in this aisle, then of course it’s three aisles along.” And I chuckle to show no hard feelings.

“We haven’t had time to change the signs.”

This is true. Staff get X minutes to do a dozen jobs and are marked down if they don’t complete them so it’s time to let this poor person go. I don’t want to hit her, I want to hit ASDA Inc.

Further into the store, I ask another lady, “Could you tell me where the bread is please.”

“Right beside you.”

“Yes but I can’t find the rye bread.”

“Oh no, you’ll be wanting speciality, exotic, pay-through-the-nose bread.”

“Silly me, thinking in my slow-witted way that items labelled “bread” would be where the bread is. Do you get many customers as stupid as I?”

“We’re told to put all the continental things up there.”

“Ah and in which aisle is this speciality, pay-through-the-nose bread please?”

“Aisle 24.”

“And we’re aisle 17, a considerable distance away. I expect most customers know instantly to race up to that aisle for that bread and then to aisle 33 for another bread.”

“Well that’s where it is.”

“Thank you for being so helfpful.”

“Would you like me to go with you and show you?”

“No but thanks for asking. I don’t want to take you away from what you’re doing.” Then an afterthought. “Sorry to keep you but could you tell me who makes these decisions about which aisles things are shuffled around to without customers having the foggiest it’s happened?”

“The [Whatever] Manager.”

“And is it possible to gain an audience with such an exalted being? I was hoping for a little chat for a few minutes.”

“Well you go …” [followed by directions].

“And is it possible to report to anyone excellent service from one of the employees, namely you?”

She blushes and says how it’s done. Before I leave the store, I don’t bother with the [Whatever] Manager but do go to praise the girl. They tell me I have to go online, which most times I remember to do.

Trouble is, they have a complaints section but nowhere really we can praise people.

10 Responses to “Off to M&S to get some pork and alcohol”

  1. microdave December 23, 2013 at 13:28 Permalink

    Ah yes, the great “Let ‘s move everything around to piss off the customers” game. Sainsburys are good at that, and when this tactic fails to have the desired effect they have another trick up their sleeves – open the absolute minimum of checkouts, to try and force you to use the self service ones.

    Strangely, they manage to have them all open in the few days before Christmas, so why not at other times? My guess is they rely on the traditional British reluctance to complain. Although I find it difficult to see how deliberately reducing the number of customers able to get through the store per hour can possibly be more financially advantageous than employing a few more staff on minimum wage.

    As for tackling the Manager – don’t bother, I’ve tried many times, and he just holds his hands up and blames national store policy. Yet when I sent a 3 page letter to Justin King he (or rather a minion) suggested I contact the store mangager….

    James, I strongly recommend you try Aldi or Lidl – they don’t have huge ranges of things that most people don’t buy, but concentrate on a few of each type. I haven’t seen much evidence of moving things about, and you can’t have failed to notice that both companies are winning many awards for the quality of their stock. And there’s no mucking about when it comes to pay – they only accept cash or debit cards, and no time is wasted with loyalty cards, or money off coupons.

    I would really like to see them put the likes of Sainsbury’s and Tesco out of business – Asda I rarely visit, and Morrisons are actually quite good.

  2. JD December 23, 2013 at 15:34 Permalink

    The story of Alcopork


  3. Mark in Mayenne December 23, 2013 at 16:02 Permalink

    What??? Anyone who refuses to sell me something because its consumption is against their religion gets walked out on without any hesitation.

  4. James Higham December 23, 2013 at 16:29 Permalink

    Mark and JD – yes.

    Microdave – quite a few people have told me Aldi and we have one closeby. I’ll experiment. Iceland are pretty good for the customer too.

    Although I find it difficult to see how deliberately reducing the number of customers able to get through the store per hour can possibly be more financially advantageous than employing a few more staff on minimum wage.

    Absolutely – so it’s either shortsightedness or this Themist policy coming down through their bigwigs to make the austerity hurt.

  5. ivan December 23, 2013 at 16:34 Permalink

    Archbishop Cranmer has a good rant on because the CoE has backed M&S over this.

  6. James Higham December 23, 2013 at 17:30 Permalink

    Oh my goodness.

  7. Woodsy42 December 23, 2013 at 18:39 Permalink

    I wonder what the reaction would have been had M&S decided they would no longer sell alcohol and pork for fear of scaring away muslem shoppers? Maybe they are saving that for next year?

  8. James Higham December 23, 2013 at 18:43 Permalink

    Think they’re getting the message though.

  9. richard December 23, 2013 at 20:04 Permalink

    Last year in Tescos I joined the queue with a six pack and a bacon joint. A simple diet, but not to a muslim’s taste. Imagine my surprise when the muslim in front of me, whose wife was in charge of an immensely full trolley, kindly offered his place in the queue since I had but two items. What a gent, however his wife looked daggers at both him and me. Since it’s a man’s world in Islam he probably didn’t care.

  10. wiggia December 23, 2013 at 20:40 Permalink

    I asked elsewhere what would happen when the demographics of say Bradford, were such that virtually all the staff were Muslim.
    Would if pushed by the same “religious” intolerance of pork and alcohol, M&S or similar be forced to stop stocking such product, not as far fetched as may seem ?

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