Tuesday, 1 November 2016



It's the 1st of November, when apparently you're supposed to say "Rabbits" for good luck, I generally forget however :)

Today I shall recount my experience attempting to get some shopping a couple of weeks back.

Shopping has become this wonderful thing that can be done many different ways - once upon a time, you needed something from a shop, so you went to the shop, found the object in question, picked it up, took it to the till (aka checkout for our American friends), paid for it, and the job was done.

Now, there are many amazing options!  Would you like to order it online and have it delivered to your house?  Or to a drop off centre near your house?  Or somewhere else entirely?  Or would you like to go to the shop, pick your items, then go home and wait for it to be brought round?  Or would you like to order online, and then go to the shop to collect it?

All these options, and I'm sure some more, are available in this hyperconvenient shopping world.

You may recall that we had a brief caravan holiday the other weekend, well ahead of going away we needed to get some supplies to take with us.  My son wasn't well so I was staying home with him, when I had the bright idea of using one of these many shopping options.

I found that, using my favourite supermarket, I could order all the shopping online and then drive round and pick it up - this seemed like an ideal option, as although my son was up to a quick car drive, I didn't really want him to have to face a walk round a big supermarket.  The ordering went very well, and I arranged to collect it between 12pm and 2pm on the day before we were going away.

I showed up at the appropriate place, QR code in hand (and the order number should there be a problem with the QR code), parked up next to this fancy automated locker system which, upon recognition of the QR code, would release my shopping

I scanned the QR code, and the helpful little machine decided, rather than to release my shopping, to give me an error message.  I tried typing in the order number.

No luck.  The machine have me an error message saying say it was the "Wrong Order" and that I should ring their customer service line.

Ringing the customer service number, I spoke to an operator who explained that all she could do was to rebook the shopping for the following day - which wasn't ideal, as I really wanted some of the stuff that dinner than evening, but like a fool I accepted, and went home to do some studying, lunch break used up on the unsuccessful trip.

Getting back home I noticed on the new confirmation email that the price had increased - I wasn't desperately pleased with this, so I fired off a quick complaint, and the price did come down again.

Later on that evening I checked the emails that I've received from the supermarket, and I was perplexed to see that they made reference to "delivery" rather than a collection, and my favoured QR code was nowhere to be seen.  A veritable mystery!

Looking further into it, I noted that the delivery address for the shopping was the supermarkets address, which made no sense to me.

So in the morning, I rang the store itself, to try to establish whether my shopping would be sat in a locker waiting for me and my QR code (which I hadn't yet received), or whether it would be dropped off at my house by a cheerful delivery driver.  After working my way through somewhere in the region of seventeen automated options ("Hi, and welcome to ShopQuick. Press 8 if you'd like to talk to the HR operative in charge of employee flexible spaniel leave"), I finally spoke to someone, who didn't know what was happening with my shopping, but took my details and said that they'd get someone to ring back right away.

Three hours later, I'd gone out to get some medicine for my son, and decided to swing by the store just to say how things were progressing with my particularly challenging shopping order (which I'd received emails for, confirming that it was being picked in the supermarket, and being prepared for delivery, again to the supermarket).  After a sufficiently long wait, someone came to me and confirmed that yes, the order would be in the lockers between 2pm and 3pm.  We went home, satisfied.

At 2.30pm I showed up, at the locker, order number ready (still no sign of that ubiquitous QR code), typed it in, and....

Got the same "Wrong Order" error message as before.

Going back to the supermarket's customer service desk, the customer service assistant started looking into it for me, and told me "It's down to be delivered"
 "But when I came in this morning," I said, with that particular combination of rage and triumph that I think only an English person can feel, when they absolutely know that they are correct, and have also been sufficiently inconvenienced, "I was told that it would be in the lockers."
 The assistant then said "Ooh, there's a delivery van at the lockers NOW!" and sent me back out to the lockers.  Perhaps I could catch the delivery van in the act, and wrestle my shopping out of their hands.

At the lockers was two delivery guys, manfully trying to handle a series of people who couldn't get their shopping out of the lockers.  Eventually they got to me, and were very certain that I simply hadn't typed in the order number right.  I typed in the order number.  It didn't work.  The delivery guy typed in the order number.  To his consternation, it didn't work, even with his magic touch.

One of the guys happened to have the mobile number of someone inside the store who was involved in home deliveries.  He rang, and spoke to his colleague, explaining the situation.  He turned back to me.
 "If you go to the drop-off point at the front of the store, he'll bring your shopping out to you."

And so finally, after three visits, several phone calls, and at least one barely contained explosion of destructive anger, did my shopping show up.  I loaded it as quickly as I could into my car, worried that the store manager might appear, explain that my shopping couldn't be simply given to me in this way, and that I'd have to go home and wait for it to be delivered.

Most annoyingly I used the supermarket in question because my wife always goes to a different supermarket and I wanted to show her that we could use a different supermarket to get our shopping - as you can imagine I well and truly lost that argument!

There's just a week left on the Robin Hood's Bay roadtrip campaign, so if you're thinking about spending £1 (yes, just £1) to sponsor us, head over there now!



  1. Another example of automation out of control, "a bad moon rising." I hope the rabbits can save us.

  2. You should have said your "Rabbits." No wonder you have the shopping blues. I just go to the store and get what I need. I don't trust automation when it comes to ordering my dinner.

    1. I know, I've been given a £15 voucher towards a future online shop as an apology for my difficulties but I don't know if I dare use it!

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