Saturday, 29 September 2012

September Blog Review

Earlier this month I started my blog and since then have dealt with issues from supermarket café service to moving static caravans, supermarket bargains to beauty buys and shared some random thoughts, loyalty card ratings and shopping sayings. Here’s a quick update and reminder of some of the highs and lows.

Highs –

Found some great bargains: £1 shower curtain from Poundland, it’s looking great, a big improvement on my old (more expensive) one; Tesco Everyday Value lunch bag £1.50 (great for my son’s packed lunch); Ella Valentine Free Range Baking Eggs, £1.29 from Sainsburys and Colgate pump pack toothpaste 95p at Wilkinson to name but a few.

Praised: £7 Dolphin SIM from Orange (15th September), Tesco Café soup and roll lunch (Soup and Roll Saga Continues 17th September), and Prima Magazine Subscription (Magazine Prices and Deals 15th September)

Launched my website with plans to add more pages in October.

Lows –

A surly manager and poor lunch at a branch of Greggs saw me sending a letter of complaint (Managers – Good and Bad 14th September). To date I still have had no response.

I bemoaned the changing price of the Doctor Who Adventures magazine (15th September). This week the price reached an all time high of £3.99. Yes, there were more gifts, but it’s the magazine my son wants, no gifts, better price.

K&Co have still not managed to react appropriately to my emails (More Haste, Less Sense K&Co 15th September), firstly reading all the right words in my email but apparently not in the right order, then responding correctly in words to my second, but failing to put those words into action. Still no Autumn/Winter Catalogue!

I wonder what October will bring? If you have any shopping or consumer highs and lows that you would like me to mention email me at

Friday, 28 September 2012

This Week’s Best Beauty Buys

Hooray, it’s that time again! Boots are giving away No7 vouchers when you spend £5 or more in store - £5 off No7 skincare and £3 off No7 make-up. Vouchers are valid until 7th October so now’s the time to treat yourself to those No7 goodies you’ve had your eye on. I recommend Beautiful Skin Hot Cloth Cleanser (£9.95, £4.95 with voucher), a creamy cleanser suitable for all skin types, which comes with a muslin cloth to give a moisturising, mini-facial, or for normal to oily skin, Beautiful Skin Foaming Cleanser (£9.00, £4.00 with voucher) if you prefer something that lathers up for a clean, fresh feel.

Also in Boots this week, Dove Shower Cream 500ml is only £2.65 (normally £3.99). I particularly like the Pro-Age formula.

Have just discovered new Jergens Daily Moisture Hand and Cuticle Cream, currently £1.49 in Superdrug. With a pleasant, fruity smell and light, soothing texture, it’s great for those rough ‘cold-weather’ hands.

Now’s the time to stock up on Colgate Pump Pack Toothpaste 100ml, as it’s only 95p at Wilkinson at the moment. That’s worth a smile surely!

Let me know your best beauty buys, email

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Static Caravans Can Move!

If you own a static caravan, you may think you are trapped at the caravan park where you purchased your unit, possibly one of the big chains. Allow me to dispel that myth.

Providing that you own your caravan outright, (are not tied in to any finance deal with the company) you are free to move. Some park owners may prefer you not to know this, and should you express a desire to leave the site, will probably offer the following suggestions:

a)    allow them to buy back the caravan from you. Translation: Offer a price bearing no resemblance to the price you paid them, or its current worth, so they can sell it on for only fractionally less than you paid when you bought it.
b)    Sell the caravan yourself on site. Translation: Selling must not involve any on-site advertising; the park owner will not assist in the sale in any way; the company is allowed to approach your potential buyers to sell them a caravan of theirs instead; the company will claim 15% commission when you sell.
c)    Sell for scrap. Translation: cut your losses and clear off.

Of course, I must point out that not every caravan park owner is as ruthless as this, there are some really quite helpful ones out there, who give better advice and help properly with selling your caravan, but there are those who adopt the attitude outlined above – shame on you,  you know who you are!

However, I am pleased to report that there are an increasing number of caravan parks that will allow you to site your own caravan and moving it is not as expensive as you may think, in the region of £350 for transport depending on the distance/area/etc. Of course, you do have to pay a disconnection fee at the site you are leaving, as well as a connection fee at your new site, but if you shop around these costs may be cancelled out by lower site fees at your new chosen park.

Unhappy with our original Park Holidays site, (rising fees, falling standards) we hunted around for a new ‘home’. Initially the parks we visited were either full or not quite what we were looking for, so we managed to put our caravan in storage (£50 a month) to save on site fees whilst looking around.

We have now found a brilliant holiday park, with great management and maintenance staff, friendly atmosphere, lower fees and better facilities. We are not obliged to move our caravan off-site when it reaches 10 years of age, as long as we look after it, nor does the company request a percentage of takings from hiring our unit should we wish to do so.

So static caravan owners everywhere, take heed. If you’re not happy with  your current site – take up your caravan and move!

Follow me on Twitter @shoppersjoy  

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Newly Discovered Products

Here are a few of the products that I've tried for the first time recently, and loved!

Marks and Spencer’s Half and Half Supersoft Loaf, £1.39. This is a great idea; the packaging opens at both ends, to reveal a white loaf at one end and a seeded loaf at the other. Great for pleasing everyone in the household.

Ella Valentine 6 Large Free Range Baking Eggs, £1.29 from Sainsburys. Don’t just use them for baking though – they’re brilliant for everything. I think the point is they are evenly sized, so that they work well in all your favourite recipes.

Cussons Pure Hand Wash, Soothing with Aloe Vera - £1 at Savers. Lovely scent and soft, clean, feel.

Dr Magic Snatch A Dye sheets, just pop one in your wash load to stop colours running from one garment to another, £1 for 20 sheets at Savers. (Other dearer brands are available, but appear to perform identically).

Tell me about any products you’ve discovered and loved, email me at email

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sainsburys Restaurant Poor Service Review

I have been to a great number of  Sainsburys Restaurants over the years and have found many offer tasty food and good service at reasonable prices.

One of my favourite branches is at Milton Keynes, where I was served the best-tasting Tikka Masala of any of their restaurants, by a smiling, friendly assistant. Also highly recommended are Thetford, Rugby and Great Yarmouth branches.

However, whilst travelling through Essex on the A12 last Friday (21st September) I encountered the worst ever supermarket restaurant experience when breaking the journey at Stanway, Colchester.

The signage outside the store informed us that the restaurant was open until 8pm Mondays to Saturdays. As we (myself and four family members) arrived at 6.30pm, we expected to be able to get a reasonable meal, up to the usual Sainsburys standards. How quickly that illusion was shattered!

First impressions of the restaurant were “muddled” to say the least. A strange arrangement of counters greeted us with no clear indication of a queuing system. The hot food section had a pile of trays at each end, yet again making it difficult to determine where to queue, resulting in customers trying to move away with their hot food colliding with those still waiting.

There were only three choices on the hot food menu, a strange vegetarian pie, chicken and chips, and ham, egg and chips. The explanation for this was that the restaurant had been busy earlier in the day (though there were only half a dozen or so customers when we arrived). This shows really bad planning – if a restaurant is open until 8pm then it should be able to offer a (reasonably) full menu until that time.

None of us really wanted the options on the menu, but the paninis and wraps, which were the alternatives, looked like they had seen better days. We were hungry and needed a break from a tedious journey, so against our better judgement decided to try the food.

My husband managed to get the chicken and chips changed to chicken and mash, whilst three of us opted for ham, egg and chips and one went without as there was nothing suitable on offer. My husband was served his meal immediately, but was told that the other meals needed to be ordered at the payment point, so off we went.

At the till we ordered the meals along with four pots of tea. I stood expectantly, tray in hand, but became puzzled when the tea didn’t appear. When I asked where it was, a disinterested assistant pointed over to a counter the other side and said, “over there!” My eyes followed the direction of the pointing finger where I spotted the pots and tea and cups plonked on a higher surface, from which I was supposed to load the tray.

On paying for our order, my husband asked if we were to be given a number (as in many Sainsburys Restaurants) for our food to be brought to our table. The (different) disinterested assistant informed us that we did not get a number, we were just to wander back to the hot food counter to see if and when the food was ready. This was when I snapped!

I stated that I felt it was extremely poor service and then did something I would never normally do. I gave the assistants a frosty glare and said, “I write about this kind of thing, and this will go down as the poorest service I’ve ever had!” (As you can see, I keep my word, rather than make empty promises.)

Give them their due, at this point both assistants underwent a complete expression change, and the next thing we knew our food was being taken to our chosen table, with reasonably good grace. Thank you for that, but what about all the other poor customers who are not given this treatment?

So to the food. The chicken was good, the mash acceptable, the eggs cooked the way I like them, the ham of reasonable quality, but sadly the chips were dry. It was lovely to have china pots of tea, as opposed to those leaky, old metal ones in some branches, but the choice of cold drinks was poor. My son had to settle for a fizzy drink as the only ‘still’ alternative was water. Where were all the bottles of Ribena, Oasis etc, available at the sandwich counter in the store downstairs?

Where this branch did gain some extra points was that it supplied bottles of ketchup instead of those irritating little plastic sachets, which deliver a minimal blob of sauce and must play havoc with the environment.

So Sainsburys Stanway, don’t let the side down. Get your house (restaurant) in order and bring your food and service up to the standards we’ve experienced in some of your fellow stores. In the meantime, do feel free to comment by emailing

Monday, 24 September 2012

Greggs Update... Or Not

Back on 14th September I related the unpleasant lunchtime experience that I’d had at Greggs. Suffice to say, I have not received any response in any way, shape or form from Greggs as yet, but live in hope.

For those of you have not read the blog, here’s a little re-run:

“This week I’ve really got the hump with a local branch of Greggs. It started with a roll and a bowl of soup and is yet to reach its conclusion.

Ordering the lunchtime soup and roll, I was told that butter was charged as extra. I pointed out that it had always been included when I had bought it before, but the lady serving me argued the point, whilst serving lukewarm soup with a strong resemblance to dishwater. I decided to complain further and was stunned to be told that the person serving me was in fact the manager!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I returned the food, got a refund (which the manager seemed to want to give me like a shot rather than remedy the situation) and went home where I composed a letter to Greggs’ regional office.

The ‘Guardian of the Butter” insisted it’s Greggs’ policy to serve scones inclusive of butter, but to charge extra when served with a roll. Ridiculous. It’s as daft as saying milk is included with coffee, but charged as an extra with tea! (Don’t go getting ideas Greggs).

I am awaiting Greggs’ response, so watch this space.”

Well we’re all still watching and waiting. To speed things up a bit Greggs, you can respond by emailing

Great Value Membership

Have had some great days out courtesy of English Heritage this year and recommend membership as a very cost-effective option if you enjoy visiting stately homes, castles, medieval ruins and other historical places of interest.

With joint annual membership currently costing £82 (cheaper single and over 60 options available) my husband and I can visit all English Heritage properties at no extra cost (with the exception of a few events) and are allowed to take six children apiece for free! (Shouldn’t really make that public in case friends, or even complete strangers start dropping their kids off to us for the odd day out). We usually just take our son.

Our favourite haunts include Audley End, Dover Castle, Kent (including wartime tunnels), Tilbury Fort, Down House (Charles Darwin’s pad), Lullingstone Roman Villa and Kenilworth Castle (amazing ruins and Elizabethan gardens). Recently visited Great Yarmouth Row Houses for the first time, which proved really interesting.

English Heritage has a host of properties nationwide, offering in our experience, a very friendly welcome.

Friday, 21 September 2012

I Love To Buy …

DS games from Amazon. You can pick them up in great condition for just a couple of pounds – but why don’t people delete their profiles before selling them on? Or do they just want to wave their high score in my face?

Reduced items at the supermarket. It’s a great way to stock up the freezer if you buy wisely. Remember to look out for casserole cuts of meat during a hot spell, barbecue-friendly products when it’s cold and wet, joints of meat midweek and bread, fruit and vegetables late in the day.
Perfume from Marks and Spencer. They stock a great range of scents to suit your mood, available in a variety of sizes and price ranges, from 10ml starting at £3.50 to 100ml starting at £12. Choose your favourite – mine is currently Butterfly.


Don;t forget to follow me on Twitter @shoppersjoy  

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Parking Charge Scandal

Parking charges vary drastically between car parks, venues and areas of the country, ranging from the reasonable (60p an hour at my local shopping centre) to the ridiculous (£25 a session) with every imaginable variant in between.

Of course, the more popular an area, shopping centre or attraction, the higher the charge often gets. However I was left completely speechless (well, for 3 seconds at least) when I arrived at the O2 for Alan Carr’s Spexy Beast tour last autumn. I stood dumbfounded amidst a gaggle of Alan’s fans, all similarly gobsmacked, staring in disbelief at the sign displaying a parking charge of £25!

I suppose the aim may be to discourage patrons from arriving by car, which is fine if you:
a) live on a direct public transport route to the O2,
b) can travel via said transport in a time, which is at least similar to, rather than, three times the length of the journey by car,
c) can be bothered.

Sadly none of the above applied to us, but it was a great show Alan, and the O2 is a fantastic venue – it’s just a shame about the parking fee!

Am soon to launch website, where you will be able to email your comments to me about this and other issues I've raised, as well let me know of some of your own. Watch this space!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

How Rude!

I’m not against Market Researchers in High Streets (consumers should have their say) or even the odd canvasser to an extent (business needs to be promoted), but what I really object to is when said researcher/canvasser can see I’m heavily involved in conversation with a companion, yet push their way in verbally or physically to ask an inane question.

There I am, strolling down the street with a friend, in full flow, when suddenly a figure appears blocking our way, even placing themselves between us, or leaning in almost nose-to-nose, spitting, “Have you considered changing your electricity supplier?”

My response is normally to stop in my tracks (what else can I do when faced with a human barricade?) and say firmly, “It’s very rude to interrupt.” Some of the more reasonable individuals mumble an apology and leave me to go on my way, but there are those who make really inappropriate comments either to my face, or my departing rear (an easy target the size it’s getting).

So please, canvassers and market researchers everywhere, only approach your prey, sorry your candidate for attention if:
a)    They are walking alone or at least clearly not speaking to their companion.
b)    Walking at a somewhat leisurely pace (rushing tends to mean they need to be somewhere and can’t stop).
c)    Are actually trying to catch your eye, in the hope of being approached (me when sampling chocolate is involved).

Note About Dealing with Doorstep Callers: When asked if you are the homeowner, say you are a tenant even if that’s not true. They retreat like a shot, as there’s obviously no business to be had.

Alternatively, display this verse:

All canvassers and salespersons,
Kindly DO NOT ring this bell,
I do not require your advice
Or what you have to sell.
You would be wasting my time
And certainly wasting yours,
So please kindly go away
And knock on other people’s doors!

This Week I’m …

Avoiding the ‘seasonal’ aisle in supermarkets (it’s nowhere near Christmas yet).

Stocking up on Napolina Tomato and Mascarpone Pasta Sauce, £1.02 a jar (half price) at Sainsburys.

Buying a new lunch bag for my son – Tesco Everyday Value £1.50.

Eagerly awaiting the last episode of ‘The Bletchley Circle’ (ITV1, Thursday 9pm) although I will miss watching it when it’s over.

Contemplating cosy jumpers.

Thought for the Day: The proof of the pudding’s in the re-enactment of ‘that scene’ from ‘When Harry Met Sally’. (Reference to heavenly chocolate dessert recently eaten by me in Wetherspoons).

Follow me on Twitter   

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Beauty Buys and Bargains

I love Olay Anti-Wrinkle Firm & Lift Day Cream + Serum (although it is a mouthful to say) It gives my skin a boost and leaves it feeling soft and fresh. Currently selling at £5.97 (half price) at Superdrug.

When it comes to body lotion, I like (well, need) something that firms the skin as well as softens, so I’m a big fan of Dove Firming Nourishing Body Lotion, currently £2.49 for 400ml (half price) at Sainsburys.

For dealing with those odd little extra dry patches that appear, I love Simple Derma Intensive Relief Cream – a little tube of softness, now £1.50 at Superdrug.

To create a smooth base for the application of eye shadow, I always keep Boots No7 Smoothing and Brightening Eye Base in my make-up bag, which retails at £7. However, I tend to buy it when I have a ‘£5 off No7’ voucher in my possession, paying only £2. These vouchers are issued in Boots from time to time when spending £5 or more in store. So next time the promotion runs, stock up on family toothpaste, soap, shampoo or whatever, and reap the benefits to treat yourself!

Shoppers’ Sayings

As a keen shopper (you’d never have guessed) and a lover of words, I thought it was time I adapted some well known sayings to suit the shopping community.

A stitch in time robs me of a new outfit.
All that glitters is probably covered in those annoying little sequins that shed a trail everywhere.
Look before you sign the 12-month contract.
Birds of a feather wear the latest fashion trend whether it flatters their figure or not.
Beauty is in the pot of ‘miracle’ cream.
Killer heels go before a fall.
A deal in the hand is worth two entries to the prize draw (at least).
There is a time and a sale for everything.

For more words of shopping (and other) wisdom follow me on twitter   

Monday, 17 September 2012

Loyalty Card Update

In my loyalty card Blog of 15th September I mentioned that my Iceland Bonus card was not performing well, partly due to lack of money-off vouchers received.

On a trip to my local store today, however, three money-off vouchers were printed at the till point with my receipt. It’s a pity that only one of them has only the slightest chance of proving useful to me!

Soup and Roll Saga Continues

In my 14th September Blog ‘Manager’s Good and Bad’, I bemoaned the stupidity of Greggs charging extra for butter with their soup and roll.

Although I am currently waiting for a response from Greggs, I am happy to report that I have tracked down a much better soup and roll deal.

During a lunch trip to my local Tesco Extra Restaurant today (I still maintain that I don’t spend all my time lunching out), I discovered that soup and a roll are served for £2.25 (Greggs charges £2.45), inclusive of butter. The soup was hot and creamy, the roll crisp and fresh, the butter plentiful – and all served with a smile! What’s more Clubcard points are awarded on the purchase.

I certainly know which side my bread’s buttered on – or whether my roll is buttered at all!

STOP PRESS! On the subject of Tesco they currently have some great half price offers in store, including Robinson’s squash, Branston Baked Beans, Shreddies and Walker’s crisps.

Customer Code

It’s very easy to complain about grumpy shop assistants and poor customer services, but we have certain responsibilities as a customer too. Yes, I really did say that!

A short time ago I was queuing behind a customer paying at a branch of Superdrug, who let rip at the cashier for asking whether she would like “any stamps or mobile phone top-up today?”

Now I know these parrot-fashion phrases can be very irritating (see below), but the poor assistants are drilled to say them, or risk reprimand or public flogging or something.

Anyway, there I was trying to placate the tearful, (painfully, in my eyes) young, assistant in the wake of the cruel customer’s outburst, assuring the girl that she was doing a good job and advising not to let the odd dodgy customer get to her.

Back to shops’ stock phrases, top of my list of most annoying are:
- “Did you find everything you wanted today?” used by a High Street fashion retailer (name begins with New and ends with Look). Very tempting to answer “No, do you have some jeans which make me look a size 8, a dress that makes me look 20 years younger (gracefully, not mutton-like) and the answer to the meaning of life”. Of course I usually just say, “Yes, thanks”.

- “Sorry to keep you waiting!” when I have walked straight up to the till, without as much as a glimpse of the departing rear of the previous customer. I usually reply, “I haven’t waited”, which usually elicits a sheepish look and a nervous giggle from the cashier.

Come on retailers; please coach your staff to only use these types of phrases when they are a) appropriate to the situation and b) likely to get a sensible answer.

A final thought on being a good customer. When faced with a really gloomy, grumpy assistant, smile defiantly throughout the transaction. There is great satisfaction to be had by cracking a smile on the grumpiest of faces – try it some time!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Bargain Books

I'm an avid reader always on the lookout for bargain books, so I half live in The Works. I was thrilled when I visited my local outlet branch to find that their paperback fiction books were retailing at four for £5 instead of just the usual three. Admittedly the books on sale aren't current chart toppers, but there are some very good authors featured, and the bargain price has encouraged me to try new genres of novel, that I may not have taken a chance on before.

If it is current chart bestsellers that you're after, however, pop to Tesco, where they have been featuring selected new titles for just £2.99 each!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Loyalty Cards – My Ratings

Oh how I love a good loyalty card! My purse is lined with a very colourful collection and some of them work really well for me. Others, however, could do better.

Strangely enough, it’s often the shops that are already offering the best prices who are giving the best rewards, so I don’t believe the rubbish spouted, sorry the statements issued by some stores claiming they prefer to offer low prices in lieu of loyalty cards.

Besides, it’s thanks to us shoppers that these businesses do so well, so why shouldn’t we be given a little thank you!

Here’s my rundown of store loyalty cards I use and how they work for me.

Tesco Clubcard – love it! A point given for every pound spent, but I’m forever getting extra points coupons that raise the total faster. Tesco often send me money off vouchers too, for items that I actually buy. When it comes to using my points, I get four times their value by exchanging them for family days out. We’ve not paid for a family outing in years!
Rating: 9/10, well nothing deserves a perfect score!

Sainsbury’s Nectar Card – confusing points system. Two points earned for every £1 spent, but it takes 2 points to make 1p, so it’s basically a penny per pound like Tesco. Technically this card not just usable in Sainsburys, but personally the only other place I occasionally use it is BP. The deals on point exchange aren’t great, so I tend to use the points in store to buy Tu clothing (especially when it’s a 25% off day). Rewards have to be used in blocks of £2.50, so even if you have a balance of £9.99 you can only use £7.50, as you’re a penny short of the next target. I sometimes get given coupons at the till, but they often relate to things I don’t buy or amounts I don’t spend.
Rating: 6/10, could do better!

The Co-operative Membership – share in profits scheme. This works a bit differently in that you get a so-called “share of the profits” based on the amount you have spent in store over a year. Each year vouchers are sent to the value of profit you have earned, which are then used to take money off your shopping. The rate is quite good, as I shop relatively little in the Co-op, but do manage to get several pounds return. You also get to vote for committee members etc.
Rating: 5/10, certainly different!

Iceland Bonus Card – bit strange this one. This has recently been revamped to include a savings facility where you put money on the card for future use. Not a feature I will use. Am feeling a bit bemused as to what good this one is doing for me. I could use it to have a home delivery (shopping not childbirth), but choose not to. I do get entered into the monthly prize draw when I use it, but I prefer to have a bite of the carrot, not just have it dangled in front of me. Finally, I am supposed to receive money-off vouchers every so often, which in my case seems to translate as once in a blue moon.
Rating: 3/10, oh dear!

Boots Advantage Card – good rate of points. Four points for every pound spent, and I get sent regular extra points and money off vouchers too. There aren’t very many extra point opportunities in store these days though. My one gripe is that when I want to exchange points for goods, I have to have the full value on my card, as they won’t accept a shortfall paid in cash. Annoying if you are only 50p short for an item, and end up having to pay in full for it. Come on Boots, think again!
Rating: 7/10, bit of tweaking needed!

Superdrug BeautyCard – a mirrored card! Awards the average one point for every pound, but with the opportunity for extra points deals in store. Gets the slight edge on Boots Advantage Card though, as points can be used in part-payment for goods (in full pounds) and the difference paid in cash, which I think is much more user-friendly. Superdrug offers good prices too!
Rating: 8/10, feel free to up the points.

Matalan (where’s the snappy name?) Card – not enough benefits. When I first signed up for this card I was sent a great money-off voucher, but it’s gone very quiet since. I apparently get entered in a prize draw when my card is scanned (dangling carrot syndrome again). I was told that if I put my email address on the application form, I would receive a gift on my birthday. Well, Matalan, it was my birthday last month (I share a birthday with Stephen Fry actually) so where’s my pressie? I do receive online newsletters of average interest (that’s me being polite) and did seem to get an increase in spam mail after filling in that form – co-incidence, obviously!
Rating: 2/10, starting to wonder “what’s the point”?

More Haste, Less Sense K&Co

Well done to K&Co for a speedy response to my email this week. It’s just a shame that the reply was so wrong!

It appears that in her zeal to reply promptly, the adviser obviously read all the right words in my email, but not necessarily in the right order.

As I result, I have just received a second copy of their Winter catalogue, but have yet to set eyes on the Autumn/Winter edition. I have bravely sent another email, with the hope of a correct response, but will I just receive my third Winter catalogue? Things do so often come in threes.

While on the subject of K&Co (or Kays catalogue as they were when I first started shopping with them), they now seem to operate a weird rewards (formerly commission) system. There are different levels of reward, which only seem to be applied on certain purchases (i.e. not sale goods, discounted goods, goods from certain supplements, goods they don’t fancy giving it on…). Bring back the old system of 10% cash or 12.5% goods on all items ordered, pretty please!

Magazine Prices and Deals

The Good Deal…
I recently took out a great value subscription offer for Prima Magazine, costing just £1 per issue for 6 months, continuing to save about a third on subsequent issues. What’s more I received a lovely toiletry bag containing Avene skincare goodies at no extra cost.

It was one of those offers that I had to read through several times because it seemed too good to be true, but there was no catch involved. I love the saving, the gift and the convenience of the mag arriving with a satisfying thump on my doormat each month.

Prima’s subscription offers seems to change from month to month, so keep an eye out for the best one for you.

The Poor Price…
My son is a big Doctor Who fan and loves to get the BBC Doctor Who Adventures Magazine – but sadly the cost leaves a lot to be desired.

Each week the price seems to vary depending on the attached gift (not a free gift then). In recent weeks I have randomly paid £2.50, £2.60, £2.75 and £2.99 – I never know what the price will be until it arrives in the shops. Even at its lowest cost, this is a weekly mag of fewer than 40 pages being sold at monthly prices. (I can get a good quality 70 page women’s weekly mag for around 90p.)

Even the subscription deal is poor, offering only a 10% discount, resulting in a quarterly charge of over £30!

As some of the gifts seem to be appearing for the second or third time at least, my son would rather have a gift-free mag at a more affordable price. Take note Immediate Media and BBC.

£7 Phone SIM from Orange

I’m loving my £7 a month (payable by direct debit) Dolphin phone SIM from Orange. The 500 texts, 150 minutes and 250 MB internet allowances are ample for my needs. My only gripe is that if I want to retrieve voicemails, I have to pay 35p a go. Why can’t I use some of my inclusive minutes to retrieve them? I always have plenty to spare. Something to think about Orange?

A word of caution – if you decide to sign up (a great deal if the allowance covers your normal usage) remember to say that you don’t want paper bills. These are charged at £1.50 a time, but you can easily view your bill online for free.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Some Random Thoughts

Where have all the shoe shops gone? There used to be loads in my local High Street, now we have about two. Since when did the demand for shoes get lower?

Please can Savoury Vinegar crisps be revived? I loved them when I was younger, much tastier than regular salt and vinegar. They were made by Smiths and you could also get Savoury Vinegar Chipsticks. So please bring them back, even though my waistline will suffer.

Why does toothpaste (except for that aimed at children) invariably come in mint flavour only? My soon-to-be teenage son can’t stand the taste and positively gags on it. The herbal varieties aren’t much better. So please can someone come up with a new flavour of toothpaste for adults?

Supermarket Smiles and Frowns

Thank you Tesco for making me smile. When my daughter rang the changing room bell in a local branch this week we were greeted with a cheerful Calypso. It really cheered us up!

Is it just me, or is anyone else fed up with those silly bits of paper Sainsburys issue telling me how much I have saved on my ‘branded shop’? I know. I purposely went to that store to bag those very bargains, whilst avoiding the higher priced goods. Perhaps if Sainsburys stopped issuing pointless bits of paper, they could afford to give us even more good deals.

Bargains of the Week!

I’ve never been a fan of pound shops, but a rare venture into Poundland this week saw me leaving clutching a bright, cheerful shower curtain. £1 for a shower curtain! I may have to go back for more.

With a household of five, I was struggling to find a decent holder for all the toothbrushes and the numerous preferred varieties of toothpaste, but I have found the answer. A £1 cutlery drainer from Sainsburys Basics range. Perfect!

Four British chicken legs for £1 at Sainsburys. Bargain!

£1 seems to be my new favourite price.

Managers – Good and Bad

The Bad…

This week I’ve really got the hump with a local branch of Greggs. It started with a roll and a bowl of soup and is yet to reach its conclusion.

Ordering the lunchtime soup and roll, I was told that butter was charged as extra. I pointed out that it had always been included when I had bought it before, but the lady serving me argued the point, whilst serving lukewarm soup with a strong resemblance to dishwater. I decided to complain further and was stunned to be told that the person serving me was in fact the manager!

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I returned the food, got a refund (which the manager seemed to want to give me like a shot rather than remedy the situation) and went home where I composed a letter to Greggs’ regional office.

The ‘Guardian of the Butter” insisted it’s Greggs’ policy to serve scones inclusive of butter, but to charge extra when served with a roll. Ridiculous. It’s as daft as saying milk is included with coffee, but charged as an extra with tea! (Don’t go getting ideas Greggs).

I am awaiting Greggs’ response, so watch this space.

The Good…

Morrisons’ management on the other hand is in my good books this week.

Following a queuing issue in the local Morrison’s restaurant (I don’t really spend all my time lunching out, honestly) I met a manager who actually manages.

For some strange reason, the day I visited, the lady at the hot food order point decided to ban customers who only wanted a cold lunch from bypassing the hot food point, as is usual practice, demanding a single queue was formed. I could easily have nipped in, chosen a sandwich and proceeded to pay before the hot foodies had finished pondering the difficult choice between beans and peas.

The appearance of the so-called ‘restaurant manager’ (looked about 14 and better suited to school uniform) mumbling about policy (my new most-hated word) did nothing to ease the situation.

Luckily a quick call from a lovely girl on customer service resulted in the appearance of an enthusiastic store manager, who assured me that the single queuing system was not Morrisons’ policy and normal service would be resumed. He left me striding away like a man on a mission to restore order.

So Managers Take Note…

Poor people skills by the manager of Greggs = chance of returning to said branch = 0

A manager at Morrisons demonstrating he valued my custom and opinion = I have already returned! What’s more I didn’t have to queue with the hot food devotees.

What is Shopper’s Joy?

A blog about the joys of shopping? In part, yes, but also about the not so joyous moments.

A pleasurable experience for shoppers? Well, that too, it certainly might help you bag a few bargains or know where customers are treated well.

Or is it a blog by someone called Joy ranting on about shopping? That could be one way of putting it. I am called Joy, I do shop (for necessity and pleasure) and I do like a good rant – but don’t we all given the chance.

My opinions and their strength have increased along with my years, and there are certainly a fair few of those. I’m a seasoned bargain-hunter, stickler for good service and a would-be champion for the consumer. I aim to highlight the good and bad of shopping, the great deals (or rip-offs), the friendly service (or not) and the experiences I’ve had, along with a few random thoughts that you may identify with.

So shoppers everywhere take note, the pleasures and pitfalls of shopping will be here for all to see!

Happy shopping!