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Our local supermarket: a cautionary tale
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notstoppin


Posts: 32
Joined: Jun 2009
Post: #1
11-11-2011 06:27 PM

Does this ring a bell with anyone else?

I've just returned from a shopping expedition at Sainsbury's in Forest Hill. My first port of call was the meat and fish aisle where I looked at a couple of 'price-reduced' items - a fillet steak and a free-range chicken. Although 'reduced', both seemed surprisingly expensive but it was hard to check the maths as the 'reduced' label was placed over the original one in such a way that the original price was obscured. Nonetheless, a quick bit of mental arithmetic ( per kg x weight) confirmed that something was amiss so I carefully peeled back the 'reduced' labels to find that the starting-prices were actually much lower than those claimed - so much so that the actual 'reductions' were minimal.

Intrigued, I checked a few other items and found a number of similar 'errors'. In each and every case the original price was over-stated (never once under-stated) and the actual 'saving' minimal or non-existent.

I sought-out the duty manager, explained what I had found and asked him for an explanation. He was very apologetic but insisted that there was a simple explanation. He said the items I had found were all items that are priced individually according to their weight. The member of staff who had reduced those items must have misunderstood this. Consequently, having correctly reduced one item - a chicken, say - they had then printed identical labels for all the other chickens being reduced, rather than re-pricing them individually.

Clearly this 'explanation' could only be true if the errant member of staff had 'accidentally' reduced the heaviest and most expensive steak / chicken / salmon fillet before re-pricing all the others. Otherwise, I might have found items whose original price was HIGHER than that stated on the 'reduced' label. (Needless to say, I didn't.)

Anyway, having I hope made my point - by threatening to report the matter to Trading Standards and insisting that the items in question were taken away and re-labeled - I resumed my shopping. Before going to the check-out, however, I returned to the meat and fish aisle to see whether the items I had found had been re-labelled with the correctly-reduced price. They weren't there so I can't say - but this time I found three newly 'reduced' organic, free-range chickens, of differing sizes and weights but all reduced from 13.04 to 8.79. Again, the 'reduced' labels masked the original ones. But when I peeled-off those 'reduced' labels I found that none of the chickens had originally been priced as high as 13.04. In fact the largest had started out at around 10 (so the actual reduction was pretty minimal) whilst the smallest had actually been priced at 8.50 originally and was therefore marginally MORE expensive after being "reduced".

This is by no means the first time that I have found goods (and not just 'reduced' goods) wrongly-priced in Sainsbury's - and I have yet to find a single 'error' in the customer's favour. Is it just me or have others had similar experiences?

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
11-11-2011 10:52 PM

I have found some odd things sometimes but nothing really significant apart from 2 years ago when they were restocking the ice cream shelves with ice cream that had been taken out of the freezers as they had broken down, stored in a cold store( it had defrosted and was kept at temps higher than freezing) and then put back in the ice cream freezers in the shop floor to refreeze. I found this out when I went to buy some and found it to be completely melted. I was pregnant at the time so was outraged to find them restocking the shelves with this defrosted stuff- it could have caused serious illness. There was no real attempt to conceal it either- the staff confirmed everything and said they were instructed to do it.
I stayed to watch as the shop assistant unloaded the shelves again, moaning at me for making his life harder. hopefully they really did ditch the stuff but after that I am very careful now about dates etc. I did formally complain to both trading standards and Sainsburys head office but never found out the outcome.
I have frequently buy chicken fillets only to find them stinking out the house the next day due to bacterial growth due to poor storage conditions. Its not good enough but I suspect that it happens in most supermarkets.

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shzl400


Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #3
12-11-2011 09:52 AM

Definitely with you on the stinking chicken. Been there! Yukkkkkk!

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Bt


Posts: 160
Joined: Jul 2003
Post: #4
12-11-2011 10:20 AM

When I lived in FH and shopped at Sainsburys (and Savacentre) I was always very worried about their storage conditions. I frequently had cartons of milk go off within a short time despite the dates on it. in one case by the next day before it had even been opened.

Since moving to Norwich and shopping in Tesco a 4 pint carton of milk easily lasts until its use by date, often a week from purchase. In 6 years I've not had a single carton go off.

Sainsburys FH stock rotation often leaves a lot to be desired. I once found a whole shelf of bottled salad dressings that was 6 months past its Best Before date.

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #5
12-11-2011 11:04 AM

I just threw out some stinky chicken from the Sainsburys in Sydenham.

I do a big shop at the beginning of the week and I now put all the fresh meat and poultry straight into the freezer unless I'm going to use it the same day. Otherwise it will be off within a day or so, whatever the sell-by date. I was beginning to think there was something wrong with my fridge. The fridges in the Savacentre are extremely cold so something is going wrong with the storage further up the line.

With meat it's easier to see if it has gone off before you open the packet and if that happens I take it back for a refund. I'm going to contact Sainsburys head office and suggest other people with the same experiences do the same.

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Jane_D


Posts: 189
Joined: Jan 2010
Post: #6
12-11-2011 12:17 PM

I've had so many experiences of buying 'off' meat from Sainsburies, well before its use-by date, that I don't buy it there any more. I took organic chicken back several times and the staff seemed absolutely unconcerned about the health risk, although they were happy to refund the money.

Maybe it is time to report them to Trading Standards, but I don't have any recent evidence to offer.

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nottinghillbilly


Posts: 458
Joined: Dec 2010
Post: #7
12-11-2011 09:58 PM

somebody should just send a link to this post to Sainsburys head office

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roz


Posts: 1,790
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #8
12-11-2011 10:09 PM

When I spoke to environmental health about the stinky chicken they did advise that a health risk if cooked properly was unlikely as most people cooked chicken well and the bacteria would be killed easily and the chicken would taste normal. They seemed to suggest that this was a common complaint with both savacentre and Forest Hill.

I have found that mince changes colour ahead of time but have also been reassured that that is the normal colour- meat is usually only red if it is specially packed in a sealed environment with some sort of preservative gas injected into it. if this hasn't been done well or it leaks then the colour change is more rapid. I won't however eat this meat as it just doesn't look appetising!

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Bt


Posts: 160
Joined: Jul 2003
Post: #9
13-11-2011 09:21 AM

Roz

Its not so much the bacteria as the toxins they produce that can make you ill. Trading Standards should know better than to tell you to eat 'Stinky' chicken. Cooking will indeed cope with the normal levels of bacteria in fresh chicken or other meat but once it starts to smell that's the warning that bacteria levels are already far too high. No amount of heat will kill the toxins.

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dbboy


Posts: 201
Joined: Feb 2009
Post: #10
13-11-2011 11:39 AM

Having bought mince from Sainsbury's on Dog Kennel Hill, on getting home to find it was GREY inside. I took it back and got a refund. Seems like it is emdemic to Sainsbo's.

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #11
13-11-2011 11:56 AM

Have just sent a link to this thread to Sainsburys.

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Bt


Posts: 160
Joined: Jul 2003
Post: #12
13-11-2011 02:53 PM

Quote:
Have just sent a link to this thread to Sainsburys.


Probably worth doing but from my experience, it won't do a lot of good.

I once bought some cartons of spread which were only part filled. Obviously a manufacturing fault but the duty manager was rather rude when I suggested that perhaps they should check the remaining stock, implying that perhaps I would like do do his job for him.
Contacted the manufacture who was most concerned and sent me compensation and their assurance that they would take it up with Sainsburys themselves.

On another occasion in Savacentre they refused my Credit card for an electrical purchase saying that it had been declined when they phoned for authorisation. They also declined a couple of other cards for the same reason. Very Embarrassing in front of a number of other customers.When I went into Barclays they checked and told me that they hadn't received any authorisation requests on my cards that day, so I can only assume that the phone calls were never made. I spoke to the duty manager who said the assistant concerned had now 'gone home', and I never did get any further response.

Tescos Customer Service on the other hand I can't fault. On a recent occasion there was a slight problem with my Online shopping and when I phoned they accepted my complaint without question gave me a full refund and a 5.00 voucher in compensation.

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hillsideresident


Posts: 148
Joined: Jul 2010
Post: #13
13-11-2011 04:05 PM

Excellent work by notstoppin. Especially impressed with the mental arithmetic! I think it's worth posting these sort of occurrences every time they happen. If Sainsbury's know there's a good chance of it appearing here within a few hours, it might happen less often.

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notstoppin


Posts: 32
Joined: Jun 2009
Post: #14
13-11-2011 05:43 PM

I've also had a number of experiences with food from Sainsbury's (always the FH branch) that deteriorated well before its due date. At first, I assumed I was just unlucky (after all, these sell-by dates are based on pretty inexact science) but it happens so often now that I'm beginning to supect them of a little surreptitious re-labeling.

Other favourite ploys I've noticed recently include putting things on a Special Offer shelf when they are not actually on offer. For example, the clementines are on special offer but the box is actually full of more expensive satsumas; or vegetable soup is half price but the 'Half Price' label is placed in front of the chicken soup which is full-price. (How carefully do we check our till slips? I now do it routinely and it's amazing how often I end up at the Customer Service desk because someone has 'made a mistake'.) These ploys are sneaky rather than illegal (unlike the scam I mentioned at the beginning of the thread) but at a time when many families in Forest Hill are trying hard to stretch the budget a little further, this practice of pretending that items are reduced when they are not strikes me as pretty contemptible; every bit as bad as the shoplifters they complain about. (And no, Brian, I'm not defending them either!)

Incidentally, I didn't report the store to Sainsbury's because I fear they will either do nothing or, worse still, make a token gesture by disciplining the store manager or whoever re-labeled the items. In truth, I suspect the problem lies with senior management and a company culture that sets impossible targets and doesn't really want to know how they are achieved.

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shzl400


Posts: 729
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #15
13-11-2011 07:46 PM

Quote:
Other favourite ploys I've noticed recently include putting things on a Special Offer shelf when they are not actually on offer.


May not be entirely Saino's fault - I've seen people swap the contents of their baskets for the reduced items, leaving the full price item on the reduced shelf.

This kind of behaviour is possibly also partially to blame for the stinky chicken - customer takes chicken out of chiller, wanders around shop for indeterminate time, with chicken warming up, changes mind at some point and abandons chicken, possibly at the till, but could be anywhere. It then takes another x hours for the chicken to get back to its place in the chiller, during which it's thoroughly warm and a breeding ground for all sorts of nasties. Sainsburys should routinely bin any item found out of its chiller.

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #16
13-11-2011 08:14 PM

I can't imagine that the odd customer changing their minds can result in me finding that almost all meat and poultry I buy there goes off rapidly. Am I just being unlucky and always picking up the packs that have been out of the chillers? I doubt it.

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #17
13-11-2011 09:41 PM

I've started a similar thread over on the Sydenham town forum (http://forum.sydenham.org.uk/viewtopic.p...255#p54255). It looks like this is a wide-spread problem. I will be forwarding the responses there to Sainsburys head office too.

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IWereAbsolutelyFuming


Posts: 531
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #18
13-11-2011 10:59 PM

Dont think I've ever had a problem with their meat. I do regularly find massively out-of-date stock on the shelves though. As suggested, the staff seem indifferent to it as was a passing manager one time I pointed out that I was aware that there were fairly hefty fines per item found if reported via the appropriate channels.

You do seem to have had a lot of bad luck rshdunlop...are you sure your own fridge is ok?

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rshdunlop


Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #19
13-11-2011 11:23 PM

I have checked my fridge, as I initially thought it must be the problem - the thermometer shows the correct temperature. And it is only meat and poultry from Sainburys that goes off. I don't have the same problem with any other retailer.

The thread on the Sydenham Town forum shows other people are having a similar experience to me. I wonder if there is a problem with whoever does the deliveries to Sainsburys in South East London.

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IWereAbsolutelyFuming


Posts: 531
Joined: Oct 2007
Post: #20
15-11-2011 04:55 PM

give me Sainsburys and stinky chicken any day...

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