Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Every little s**t helps themselves

Apologies for my lack of blogging last week, I had a nasty case of man-flu, or what unsympathetic woman call “sniffles”, piss off - you get grumpy once a month that’s your thing, we get ill with the “sniffles” ok. It’s all fair. Anyway here’s what I would have talked about if I hadn’t been in my bed dying – that’s right dying! Get well gifts welcome.

Last week’s news was dominated by lots of important stories, from the death of Colonel Gaddafi to the reformation of Steps, approximately none of which I have picked to talk about this week. Such is life. The story that perked my interest was one showing the worst of human nature (no still not Steps), as a horde of (presumably soon to be obese) people descended on Tesco’s stores around the country desperate to buy up every single Terry’s Chocolate Orange in the place.

For those of you who missed this news, basically Tesco’s accidentally placed a number of special offers on Terry’s Chocolate Orange all at the same time, it was one of those accidents that when you read about in the paper, you instantly despair at the story and go “How could this happen?”. Yet all of us could probably have easily made a similar mistake, due to our society’s dependence on simply shoving random numbers in a computer and hoping for the best in the completion of all tasks. The advantage of modern technology making it possible for less people to be employed to do simple tasks, like pricing up confectionary objects, is countered by the disadvantage of there being less people to go “Hang on a minute, are you sure this is a good idea?”

Anyway fun as it to rant about the insatiable march of technology that will eventually lead to us all having our brains replaced with iBrains and instead of learning new skills we’ll be downloading them from iTunes (still it’d be simple than salsa lessons in the local school hall). I’m instead going to side step that important issue and concentrate on the thing that grabbed me about this story. And that is the nature of the people who took advantage of this offer, as word spread across the internet faster than pornographic shots of Emma Watson dripping in baby oil. Facebook groups appeared and internet discount sites tweeted that £2.75 Terry’s Chocolate Orange were now available for 29p each. Excited by this news people appeared to go stark raving bonkers. According to The Sun (which is a bit like saying according to a badly translated fairy tale recited by John Prescott whilst under the influence of class A drugs, but let’s go with it anyway), people were taking photos of their massive haul and posting them on Facebook. As if they’d won it big on the Premium Bonds and these were piles of cash they had sprayed round the living room. Not as was the real case, that they’d just bought a lot of chocolate and have little going on in their life. Some of them even journeyed to multiple stores to clear them all out – really? Have you nothing better to do?

One shopper, apparently, loaded their trolley with 192 individual Terry’s Chocolate Oranges, apparently saving £471. Amazing, but you’ve still spent £57 on Terry’s Chocolate Oranges that’s a lot of money to spending on chocolate, what the hell are you going to do with them all, build a bloody house?! Place them all in a bingo machine and recreate the National Lottery Draw in your own living room, but with more tasty consequences?

You could eat them all, of course, except that these 192 oranges weigh in at 176,640 calories (or about 3 Burger King Whopper meals) - which is equivalent to your daily calorific intake for THREE MONTHS! And that’s not mentioning the 10kg of fat (equivalent to FIVE MONTHS allowance). So presuming you aren’t planning an Eamonn Holmes tribute act, or intending to gorge them all and hibernate for winter, you presumably bought them for some other reason. But what? What is the point of having nearly 200 Chocolate Oranges in your house?

Some papers reported that people had been selling them on and making a profit, but who buys second hand Terry’s Chocolate Oranges? Is there a black market for them? Are people really going out to the back of a pub car park or heading onto eBay for chocolate? Is this black market frequented by people trying to work their way onto heroine but starting out at lower levels? In fairness having tired the Popping Candy version of the Terry’s Chocolate Orange I strongly suspect there is something deeply narcotic in that. The other alternative is that you’re buying them as a Christmas presents, now whilst I think it’s reasonable (especially in these tough economic times) to try and make some savings whilst doing the Christmas shopping, this might be a step too far. Suspicions will arise if everyone around the tree opens their presents from you to find all they have a single Terry’s Chocolate Orange, particularly if one of them is nut intolerant and still that’s what you’ve bought them. I for one know that if I open a Terry’s Chocolate Orange this Christmas my first thought is going to be “cheapskate”, who probably ironed the wrapping paper I gave them last year and has wrapped this cheap gift in the said old paper.

This all of course completely overlooks the moral issues that I have with shopping in this way. In fairness I know no one else is going to agree with me. Having recounted stories where I’ve returned to the till to ask the cashier to charge me for an item I’ve noticed they’ve missed on the bill - friends and colleagues have only ever replied to this admission with gasps of horror which suggest that such behaviour is on a par with organising an orgy in a branch of the Early Learning Centre. However surely all these people knew Tesco were not intending to charge 29 pence for a Terry’s Chocolate Orange otherwise they’d have signs up advertising the fact (they’re quite good at advertising apparently), so is it okay to take advantage of their mistake? I’m not sure that it is, sure you may have accidentally bought some and not realised the vast saving you were making – in which case it isn’t your fault, you don’t need to rush back to the shops with them. But clearing the shelves into your trolley, as if you’ve realised the apocalypse is coming and the only way to save yourself from the ensuing fireball is to hide in a vault constructed entirely of confectionary products once advertised by Dawn French. That seems a bit different. I mean if there was a charity cake sale, and you noticed a horrendous pricing error in your favour would you take advantage? Would you? If an old lady was selling her house in order to fund her retirement and you noticed the decimal point was in completely the wrong place, would you still buy? Now I’m guessing if you’re not a cold heartless bastard (or a Conservative MP) you’d say no. Because it is immoral. But surely the whole point of morals is that they apply equally regardless of the people affected, if it’s wrong to take advantage of mispricing by a little old lady it’s also wrong to do the same against a large multi-national company, because it’s the act that is wrong not the victim. And if not, what is it that Tesco does that makes it ok to take advantage of their mistake, as I’m aware they’re a company that tries to provide you with cheap goods to save you money and keeps a lot of people in employment. Yes they make a profit, as all companies attempt to, but it’s not as if every tenth customer is shot in the kneecaps, or for every Clubcard point you earn, a live rabbit is dipped in a deep-fat fryer. One of the quotes in the newspaper was from a woman who said 'I only bought 42 as that's all they had on the shelves. I wish I asked for more, but then I'd be worried I would be banned, having bought all their stock.' – sounds like you think what you are doing is wrong doesn’t it? As otherwise why would Tesco ban you?

Of course this isn’t the first nor probably the last time something like this has happened. Every now and again we hear stories of people fighting in supermarket car parks over crates of beer accidentally being sold for £2, or huge queues forming at cash machines which have accidentally been dispensing twice the amount of cash people have been withdrawing. In our enlightened, civilized society, where we’ve reached some impressive moralistic heights it’s good to have your faith in humanity restored in the knowledge that should you make a mistake people will not point it out but instead queue up to take advantage of your cock up and milk you for every penny they can. Welcome to modern day Britain.

Oh and whilst we’re on the subject of supermarkets I was in the computer games and DVDs aisle (see I’ve spelt ‘aisle’ right this week) of Sainsbury’s recently when I saw this on one of the display cases:

Yes that’s right this computer game says on it “To buy me, please take me to the till.” – I’m sorry but what products in the store does this advice not apply to. Are all products without this label fair game to shove under your top and wander out of the store with? Not the Chocolate Oranges of course, you don’t want to miss out on the discount. Worse of all this ridiculous sign is on the one product in the store you can’t take to the till to buy. No, as I’ve found to my cost if you take this to till they will laugh in your face as if you’ve undertaken the most cretinous act in the world since The Daily Mail last wrote a headline. This item which proudly claims, that unlike all other items in the store you should go to the till with them, is lying. In fact you have to take it to the customer service desk where another more qualified member of staff will poor scorn on you using advancing techniques for having the audacity to ruin their day by expecting them to get the key and open the drawer with the computer games in. I’ve had a bad experience ok!


Anonymous said...

Hooray for the return of the blog! Tres amusing.

Rup said...

Quite clearly someone is buying Lego,Pirates of the Caribbean! very funny

Matt said...

Who wouldn't be buying LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean?