Saturday, February 14, 2009

Tesco fail to impress on environment and health

At the other end of the car park from my local giant supermarket Tesco at Langstone, there is a recycling facility. At the store end, they seem to be encouraging consumers to take home as much NON-recyclable packaging as they can.

This morning I went in for some croissants or pastries to eat with a cup of coffee, my occasional weekend treat. On the bakery counter, there were loose pain au raisin at 55p each. It is regrettable that the bags to take them away are plastic and not paper, but that’s what I’d expect from Tesco.

On the rack underneath there were plastic packs ofthe same pain au raisin pastries at 89p for two. That’s a 21p difference for exactly the same product, almost 25%. I didn’t mind the idea of buying two on this occasion, as I was thinking I would have one tomorrow. However the thought did cross my mind that single people were being somewhat disadvantaged here and why anyway was I paying less for a product with more packaging?

I paid for my purchases and afterwards took them to the customer service desk to point out the problems. The assistant there agreed it was unfair, stupid but pricing was out of her hands. She also mentioned that she normally worked on the tobacco counter where 2 x 25g packs of rolling tobacco were cheaper than a single 50g pack.

Aren’t we supposed to be discouraged from eating fattening foods and smoking? I tried hard to get it through to her that the reason I was complaining was as much to do with the packaging issue as with the price, but I was getting nowhere.

The insult to injury came when I got home. I had failed to notice that the sell-by date on the pastries was 24 hours past and they hadn’t been removed from sale. They were stale and not very pleasant and went in the bin. More waste and strain on my pocket.

The same Tesco management team were asking the local planning department a year ago to expand the store to a huge and unsightly building to include more clothing and non-food lines so they can compete with local rival stores Asda and Sainsburys. No-one in the area wanted it, but somehow councillors were persuaded to agree to it.
Fortunately, later on, Tesco pulled the plans or at least put them on the back burner saying that this store had been taken off their re-building list.

In the meantime they had gone back to the local council to make some changes to the plans such that would have to go through at least part, if not all of the planning process again and I’m wondering if they were told that those changes would not be well received because of the protests it would re-start and the cost to the council. They claimed that the re-planned store would be ‘greener’. It's a larger store, with more parking so more cars. The traffic nearby already gets seriously clogged at busy times. There was talk once of a dedicated slip road from the A27 main road, but this disappeared from the plans.

If they are so dedicated to being environmentally friendly, why are they encouraging their customers via their prices, to buy items with MORE packaging rather than less.

Do I have anything to thank Tesco for on this visit? Yes, their women's underwear is good value :-) Knickers to Tesco.