LIFE IN NEW JERSEY: OK this is one of my whinge-fests.
I haven’t done one of these for a while so I hope you will indulge me and keep reading. At least it does me a lot of good, to get this off my chest, so here goes.
Like many people, I hate shopping for groceries. It is up there with toilet cleaning and cooking family meals as one of my most unpleasant household tasks. Buying groceries by itself is not actually that bad. But when I think about what’s ahead, that is when I would love any excuse good enough to avoid it. So in no particular order, here are at least 6 things about grocery shopping in NJ that drive me crazy:
1. People who leave their trolleys anywhere they feel like it
Why am I complaining about this you ask? It’s not actually new nor is it something special to NJ. The reason this drives me nuts, is that selfish people who leave their trolleys everywhere clog up parking spaces and risk other people’s cars getting scratched by run-away trolleys.
Really, is it that hard to just walk a bit further to put your trolley away? After all, your mother isn’t here to pick up after you….
It’s a given that some will have a valid excuse for not putting their trolley out of harms way for obvious reasons. But in most cases it’s just pure laziness and carelessness on the part of shoppers. What does seem to be worse here versus Australia though, is how ridiculously lazy some people are.
They can’t be bothered even walking a few feet. Some stoop to leaving their trolley just where they had placed it while unpacking their groceries, next to another car.
Convenience grocery shopping in NJ. Unpack and just drive away…Unbelievable….
2. When My Favorite Brands Get Replaced with Supermarkets’ own Home-Brands
Also not new nor unique to NJ or USA, is how big supermarket retailers will replace a brand with their own ‘home brand’ of the same item. What makes me so mad, is that the consistent purchasing done by us, the consumers, is what makes the segment so attractive that the retailer wants to enter the market in the first place. But instead of leaving my brand there (the one who spent all the advertising and research/development funds on the product in the first place), these retailers punish my favorite brand by removing it completely. In its stead, they give me their own home brand, maybe assuming I am too dumb or undiscerning to notice. Well I do notice-every single time and what’s more I won’t have it. This is not only highly unethical to me but consumer abuse.
Although I refuse to support home brand takeovers like this, I still end up suffering because my brand is now kaput! I thought retailers were here to listen to our needs…..
3. Retailers Who Pretend Claim to Listen to their Customers but Don’t in Practice
I have lost count of the number of times while grocery shopping in NJ, I have read notices in supermarkets that say something like:
If there is a product not available on-shelf that you would like, please tell our staff, so we can get it in for you.
Sure. I’m gonna get right on it.
As soon as I’m not fuming about the last point or one like this.
Picture my very choosy family, with kids who only eat a particular flavor or type of food because they just won’t eat anything else. They don’t like other products for one reason or another- … it’s not the same… it’s gross… I only like this one…..and so on. I am sure you have heard this all before if you are a parent who ever has to prepare a meal. Maybe I’m being self-indulgent but I think this is pretty common.
So, if this is a given consumer purchasing habit, why then don’t retailers realize this and provide stock of what sells, not excess stock of products they mis-forecast when stocking inventory? When I get to the shelf-facing and see ten rows of one product flavor that I cannot use, presented in the space where my and other popular products normally sit, it does make me rather cross. I either have to take the unpopular product and try and hard sell it to my kids, or I miss out and have complaints about how empty the kitchen is. What a choice. One supermarket I used to visit did this repetitively-forcing consumer purchase to overcome their over-inventory issues. Is it just me or is it too much to expect what you want to be on-shelf regularly?
4. Lack of Environmental Awareness about Plastic Bags
Most supermarkets here have reusable bags. That though is about where it stops regards helping the environment and encouraging plastic bag reduction. In fact, it is obvious here that plastic bags are a long way off being banned or becoming the exception to other packing methods. One thing that doesn’t help this includes the very poor quality of the reusable bags available.
Initially when we arrived, only one supermarket retailer sold these bags and not only were they more expensive but poor quality. Now more stores sell them but materials used are weak, flimsy and the bags don’t have a long life. I am still using my Coles bags from Australia and they do a great job (6 years on). Supermarkets try to encourage token reusable bag use by giving a discount for each bag. However, since it is only 5 cents per bag, no one really cares enough to make a difference.
Paper bags are available, and if I run out of reusables, I try to get paper used instead of plastic. When you ask for paper bags though, staff often ask ‘With Plastic or Without?’ At first I thought they were joking but soon realized this was serious. When grocery shopping in NJ, paper bags are frequently used with plastic bags as outside liners. This is to ensure that the paper bags don’t break. Call me crazy but doesn’t this defeat the purpose of paper bags? It seems that fear of angry consumers due to paper bag breakage sadly outweighs the importance of the environment.
Unless I check every paper bag is without plastic, they often use them regardless. I can only imagine that this whole situation reflects what customers or management request. A much bigger problem to solve.
5. Staff who Comment on My Shopping Purchases
While this doesn’t happen often, it is still rather annoying. I have had register staff who have discussed the healthiness of my grocery choices. Sometimes they recommend what I could buy instead of what was on the conveyor belt. As if this isn’t discomforting enough, I have also had staff who held up my purchases to show someone standing two aisles away.
OK, I don’t buy much clothing from grocery stores. On the odd occasion when I have, it is dismaying to be seen standing next to a piece of clothing waved in the air while someone talks loudly about it. Who would have thought the supermarket was the best venue to have a personal review?
6. People who do ANYTHING to Get their Car parked closer to The shop entrance
By now, if all or even some of the above have happened, I may not be feeling too charitable or tolerant of others’ misdeeds, intentional or not. Understandably, when I walk to my car and start unpacking groceries, I do not welcome the sight of a car waiting near me to take my spot.
This is a common occurrence in parking lots here. Even when the car park is only half-full, if your spot is somewhat closer to the exit or entrance, where people have to walk to go somewhere next, then your spot is up for grabs. It doesn’t matter that perhaps there is a vacant spot two cars away or in the next row. It doesn’t matter sometimes if the rest of the car park is empty. The closest spot is the best, and no matter if they have to wait, they will park their car right next to you. Don’t bother trying to wave them away, they don’t take notice.
Even if you have your car doors open while packing and thus blocking a spot, if it is considered a better spot (one more car slot closer than another parking spot), people will drive into the spot and force you to close your doors for them to park. On one such occasion, I even tried suggesting politely that there was another spot just across from me that no one was using or packing next to it. I was told unequivocally “ I can park my damn car anywhere I choose to”.
So what is the moral of this story? If you are the lucky person who doesn’t do the grocery shopping in your house, remember to treat your partner kindly after they arrive home. Shopping is not all it’s cracked up to be.
What things do you dislike about grocery shopping in NJ ?