/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Your view: is your supermarket gripe in the top three?

Half price supermarket offer

There are too many gripes to mention from our last supermarket debate, so I’ve summed comments on the three that just keep coming up – self-service check-outs, multi-buys and under-stocked shelves.

Let’s kick start with the obvious one – self service checkouts. If doing a big shop, SeaQuin isn’t too keen on them:

‘Generally my complaint is shortage of open checkouts. We are expected to use self-service tills which are useless when I have a relatively large basket or trolley.’

And Lyn is against them altogether:

‘Self-service checkouts are my main gripe. When badgered by staff to use them I always reply “Thank you but I don’t do self-service”. If they persist I smile, give them my shopping and walk out.’

While Colum just thinks they need a little more work:

‘I am happy to use self-service check-outs and also contactless payment for a faster check-out, but I hate where I get errors which ends up delaying me longer – “unexpected item in bagging area” or flashing red lights is not a good experience. More work is needed to make these solutions a smooth experience.’

Do we really need multi-buys?

Multi-buys were another top grip. Wavechange explained:

‘Multi-buys on fresh produce irritate me and are unhelpful for single people. They encourage waste of food and increase the chance that food could be consumed beyond the ‘use by’ date. Some of the examples are ridiculous – in my local supermarket, cucumbers were 90p each or two for £1.’

Alfa agrees:

‘Multi-buys on products with a short life are unfair and wasteful. Products on offer are a good opportunity to try something different, but you are not going to try 2 or 3 of them.’

But Malcolm R wasn’t in the same camp:

‘No one forces you to buy a special offer. If it benefits you, fine. If not, then don’t buy it.’

Where’s that been moved to now?

Ever found yourself lost, wandering around the supermarket looking for something? Under-stocked supermarket shelves are Tony’s issue:

‘Forever moving items on shelves around. Newsflash: it is bloody annoying!’

This is no more the case than when you cross town for something, as Richard told us:

‘Being told the store you’re in doesn’t stock the item you want but their other store does! Going to the other store purchase item then discover the other item you wanted is only available in the store you first were in’

It’s not all bad

It was good to hear that it’s not all doom and gloom. Sophie is fairly happy with her supermarket:

‘I must be very lucky with my local Tesco. Most staff are friendly and helpful, there is no unbearable piped “music”, the shop is clean and tidy, plenty of tills open, busy but well managed self-service checkouts, fresh produce, shelves well stocked and so on.’

Are these gripes enough to stop you going to the supermarket? Have you moved to online shopping to avoid self-service checkouts?


We do most of our shopping online at Ocado these days. They have an amazing choice of products far superior to any of the other supermarkets.

I think my biggest gripe is lack of choice in most supermarkets and being forced to buy a supermarkets own brand. Schwarz produce the best herbs but Tesco now only sell their own brand. We bought a Tesco herb recently and it had no smell whatsoever and even less taste.

Supermarkets own brand generally means lower quality. It must be very difficult for the many excellent small food producers to survive. I would like supermarkets own brand products to be restricted to give other producers a chance and the customer more choice.

When shopping in supermarkets in the USA, we always notice there is always a much wider choice of products with fewer own brand products. Take Agave Nectar, in a USA supermarket there were about 20 to choose from, in the UK you are lucky to find just one.

George says:
12 March 2015

I will never use Tesco again – for anything – since I had a row with my local store regarding their selling of Halal products!

Apparently, they didn’t even know that they were selling them (yeah, right!).

Ashley Kingston says:
4 January 2017

whats the problem is selling Halal products ?

Ashley Kingston says:
4 January 2017

[Sorry, Ashley, this comment has been removed as we do not permit promotional content on our community, as stated in our guidelines. https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/ Thanks, mods.]

George says:
12 March 2015

I have so many ‘gripes’ its unreal – but maybe its an age thing?

Gripe number one: My partner is a florist – a bl**dy good one at that! So why should she have to compete with the local supermarket which only pushes flowers at specific times of the year?

Can supermarkets provide personal wedding/funeral services? No!

Special products for your gran? No!

Supermarkets thrive on us being idle and wanting to save time/effort.

Also, when was the last time you took a busted T.V. back to a supermarket and got it fixed? Correct – never!

In my opinion, NO-ONE should be able to sell a product that they cannot provide service/repair on! And that includes the likes of P.C. World, Curry’s, etc, etc!


I share Sophie’s view [in the intro]. We are fairly satisfied with both the superstores near us – Sainsbury’s for preference, Tesco within walking distance so handy for top-ups. Both stores are well-organised, clean and tidy, and with happy friendly staff and no music. Good range of non-food products in both. I rather like the newer or refurbished Morrisons with the chilled vapour wafting over the fresh vegetables and their range of pseudo market stalls [twenty miles to the nearest unfortunately]. Our overall favourite is Waitrose but at 25 and 30 miles distance they’re too far for weekly shopping but if we’re passing we always get a larder load.

It’s a pity Alfa’s local Tesco doesn’t stock Schwartz herbs, spices and seasonings and I hope that isn’t going to be the norm. Ours has a large Schwartz gantry racked out with all the jars and the fantastic thing is – they’re in alphabetical order. How about that Alfa? Alphabetical Order! [regular readers will have had to endure my frequent whinges about the lack of correct order in product placement, canned fruit and cereals being the main offenders].

We don’t like self-service checkouts so we don’t use them; we don’t think queueing at the staffed checkouts has got any worse.

I personally dislike it intensely when these vast shops reposition stock without putting up a sign to say where it’s gone so you have to go on another hunting expedition, but at least the staff are always helpful when I ask; however, I do wish they would have an index and category locator available for customers to use. The major supermarkets nowadays seem to have dedicated aisles or gondolas for seasonal products which does mean less repositioning overall [I shall be glad when Mothers Day is over – it’s affecting virtually every aisle at the moment].

JMG says:
12 March 2015

Other than a small Tesco convenience store I only have a Co-op. They are forever withdrawing items which I rely on, instead promoting an alternative which I don’t want. When I ask about this I am told they have no say in the matter as head office in Manchester decides what they will stock. I do wonder what the manager’s role is in the running of the store. I am not just speaking for myself, there are many, many of us feel the same way.

Jane Frost says:
14 March 2015

Sainsburys is bizarre online in Wales.

If you fill up your basket, you learn that you are now paying for compulsory plastic bags 40p.

And if you don’t want any plastic bags ….because you care for the environment ….that’s tough.

Sainsburys says it’s because shoppers in Wales have to pay for compulsory bags. Not true.

Shoppers have the choice. And no other supermarket makes you buy wildlife killing bags on a compulsory basis. I’ve tried to explain this to Sainsburys but it fell on deaf ears.

So naturally I’ve just gone to another eco- positive supermarket.

I’d like recycled paper bags in all supermarkets – by law.

It would encourage recycling , support an industry and help wildlife.

Other than that. Sainsburys seems to be going downhill, like Tesco did before.
Stuff missing on the shelves.

Waitrose is still a tad expensive and Lidl’s and Aldi don’t seem sell anything but basics. ie low salty salt. Asda is about the best for prices but it’s hell getting round the isles.

The serve yourself machines are ok but I don’t think I’ve ever got through one without calling the assistant, like a child in class. ‘Please Miss’…so it rather defeats the purpose.