If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Faux chumminess

There's so much wrong with this sign (above the fruit and veg section in my local Tesco).

For one thing, it reinforces the 'five a day' message in the minds of shoppers. While eating a decent amount of fruit 'n' veg may be good for you (and I certainly feel better when I do), it's yet another nanny state intervention in my life, which I can well do without. It reminds me of the daily alcohol limits which were comprehensively debunked in 2007 when a member of the RCP working party that produced it admitted that the figures were plucked from thin air because they felt they "had to say something". Oh, and the 'red wine is good for you bad for you good for you bad for you good for you bad for you good for you" debate. I've got to the point where I don't trust anything like that any more. And if it comes from an establishment 'doctor', so much more so. After all, 'scientists' gave us Global Warming Climate Change Disruption, didn't they?

For another, it's a blatant attempt to get you to buy more stuff. After all, an apple could be reasonably judged to he a 'handful', but what about peas? Could you imagine eating a whole handful of peas (look at the amount of grapes in the picture)? Or sweetcorn? You wouldn't be seen for a week. It's an upsell, pure and simple.

But the thing that really grips my spleen is that one word ...

"Well ..."

Supermarkets can't just sell you stuff you need any more; they have to be your best mate, too. They think a conversational tone is more likely to break down your suspicion that you are in a temple to capitalism whose only purpose is to part you from ever more substantial amounts of your cash. That's what supermarkets are, and nothing wrong with that, so why try to mask it in fawning chumminess? (Even worse are those 'hip' internet sites that don't display error messages, but give you things like 'Oops, we goofed! Hey, no-one's perfect, right?')

Actually, it's more than that, because the tone isn't matey at all. It's the voice of a primary teacher explaining something to a dim six-year-old.

"Why do I have to wear my wellies to go out and play?"

"Well ..."

I got heartily sick of that tone of voice when I was about ten. I do not want to hear it again, now that both my parents are dead and I have grown-up children, thank you very much.


  1. I think it's a thing of beauty, that sign. They got all the apostrophes right!

  2. Fair play, Julia, you always give credit where it's due.

    (Slightly out of shot: '10 items or less'.)

  3. No-one is allowed to say "We're here to make money. We want to maximise our sales to you so that we make as much money as we can. We think we can do that by offering lots of stuff that you really want at prices that tempt you" Whilst that would be honest, it would run directly contrary to the left-leaning Statist world-view that generally prevails in this country. Look what happens when a company make a big profit - they put themselves in the firing line for all sorts of criticism. Profits are just an invitation to go on the Today program and be accused of profiteering - as if there were no difference between the two.

    So we end up with the ridiculous sight of Tesco pretending to be your mate, pretending to be there just so that they can kindly give you what you need in order to stay healthy. To each according to their need and all that. It is deceptive, but understandably so. Tesco have seen what happened to Vodafone, and do not want to upset the lefties that shop there.

    The real problem is that at least half the population don't understand that if Tesco have something I want, are are selling it at a price that tempts me, and I buy it, then we have both come out of the deal better off than we were before. They think that the fact Tesco have profited from trading with me is evidence that I have lost out, that I have been taken advantage of. They simply do not understand that the root of Capitalism is mutual benefit for all the parties involved.

    To them, life is a zero sum game and if I am happy, it must be because I have taken away their happiness. What a miserable life that must be.

  4. Patently, you are absolutely correct, and I hope I didn't suggest otherwise in my post. Tesco do well because they have stuff people want, and they do better than Morrison's (in this town at least) because they have better stuff and are more reliable at stocking it. Nothing wrong with that. I still hate going there, but that's because I hate shopping.

  5. Re Tesco, I used to have a local "cheap convenience store" that opened late and closed early, attracted yobs, sold rubbish not particularly cheaply and which frequently ran out of stock and was staffed by idiots. I only used it in emergency, ie when I had run out of milk and had drunk a bit of scotch.

    It was taken over by Tesco, it now opens at 6am and closes way past my bedtime, it sells good stuff at reasonable prices, rarely runs out of stock, employs security and well trained staff. What's not to like?

    And, on a further bright note, yesterdays Telegraph reports that caffeine is awash with heart attack busting free-radicals so a pish upon your blueberries.

  6. I thought the free radicals were opposed to Tesco opening, and went to violent lengths to prevent it. No?

    As to your 'convenience' store, have you been in a Co-op after visiting a Tesco? It's like going back to the 1950s, with surly staff, Soviet-style half-filled shelves, and tumbleweed blowing down the aisles.

    No, I am glad Tesco are there. I just need to limit my exposure.

  7. "Could you imagine eating a whole handful of peas" - Absolutely! One of the few pleasures of summertime (I HATE being hot...). As soon as Sainsburys gets some peas-in-the-pod I will be down there every day.

    And before you ask - I don't have many friends.....You've probably gathered that by now!

  8. I was thinking of frozen peas, to be honest. A whole handful on the side of your plate would be a bit much. Now fresh peas ... different again. I love them, straight from the pod. But even then I think a full handful would cause me to do the old sourapple quickstep for a day or two.

    Never mind. Jet propulsion is a very efficient way to get around.

  9. My Shopper Experience of the Co-Op is varied, the one just off the High Street stinks of piss and/or sour milk, does not stock their full range depite being quite large but that's drug addicts and cider-heads for you.
    The ones in the leafier suburbs are fine.

    Oh my, fresh peas squeezed from the pod, childhood memories return, mostly sweetness. Now that is someting I could do about.

  10. No Richard, you certainly didn't suggest otherwise!

    Peas... did you know that during WW2, it took months for the RAF squadrons to persuade the catering units to offer something other than mushy peas and beans to aircrew for their evening meal? Gas expands at altitude, which can be very uncomfortable indeed - especially when you're trying to pilot a Lancaster during a night raid over Berlin. British bureaucracy at its best!

    After some thought, I've decided the most irritating thing about the sign is that it can be roughly translated as:

    "Are you too stupid to work out how big a portion is? Well, lamebrain, it's about this big. Duh?"

  11. Bang on. I notice you use the patronising 'Well ...' as well. There's no escaping the sheer condescension of it all.


Comment is free, according to C P Scott, so go for it. Word verification is turned off for the time being. Play nicely.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...