/ Home & Energy

Coronavirus pandemic: tell us your consumer concerns

We’ve been publishing key information around COVID-19. But in this unprecedented situation, you can help: what consumer issues matter most to you?

Get all the latest news and advice from our coronavirus hub

27/03/2020: The impact on your life

Thank you to everyone who took part in the polls on 17 March – the results help inform our research and shape our advice content.

Today we’ve added three more questions in the polls below. Please do let us know how the situation has impacted on your day-to-day life in the comments.

How often are you shopping for groceries during the lockdown? (either online or in store)
Loading ... Loading ...

Are you able to find all of your essential items when grocery shopping?
Loading ... Loading ...

Taking into account the government's announcements about financial support, how worried are you about your personal finances?
Loading ... Loading ...

17/03/2020: Are you clear on the latest advice?

Yesterday the government announced that everyone should avoid ‘non-essential’ travel and contact with others. But are you clear on what the new advice means for you?

Answer the questions below as we continue to address how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting people’s lives.

These polls have now closed.

13/03/2020: Tell us your consumer concerns

Experts from all corners of Which? have been putting their heads together to ensure we’re giving you the key information you need to protect yourself, protect your money and make important decisions.

You’ll find more information on how to manage the consumer impact of the pandemic across which.co.uk, including:

How you can protect yourself and others

What each supermarket is doing to manage and avoid supply issues

What the pandemic means for mortgages, savings, and other investments

What it means for your travel plans, or if events are cancelled

Guidance for parents whose children may be affected, including infant pain relief, taking a child’s temperature, and how to identify a rash

Which? Members can also get tailored one-to-one legal advice from Which? Legal

We’ll keep updating this list as more advice is added.

What questions do you have?

We need to know what you want to know. Tell us how the coronavirus is impacting you, especially:

Your travel plans: are you still planning your holidays? Had issues with rebooking for later, or perhaps have had to cancel?

Your experience of the pandemic: are you spotting price gouging, shortages, dodgy products, or other issues online or in shops that aren’t being reported?

Self-isolation: what problems or challenges are you coming up against whilst staying in doors? How are you managing your finances? What information would you find useful?

Any other consumer questions: what would you like to know that you haven’t found an answer for yet?

Paul Barrow says:
20 March 2020

The government quite rightly advises not to visit pubs, restaurants, theatres, clubs etc. in order to maintain social distancing. However, nothing has been mentioned about the potential disaster of visiting supermarkets. They are packed with people all day in close contact; this is asking for trouble and the government must act quickly to remedy the situation.

I think the point of social distancing is to avoid unnecessary exposure to other people.

Arguably, food shopping is an essential and unavoidable activity but going to the pub is not.

Yes, and supermarkets are doing precious little to minimise the risk….
No spacing in queues (as in Italy),
no hand gel for checkout staff – just contaminating each successive trolley from the first infected item/cash,
no face masks/ safety specs so checkout staff will infect customers as they incubate, then go off sick leading to more queueing. Sadly checkout staff are often elderly making them even more vulnerable.
No attempt to decrease customer density by for instance serving certain surname initial letters in timeslots (varied weekly, to give everyone a fair time)
Insufficient progress on increased home deliveries – bring back carrier bags during the crisis and recruit drivers/vehicles from mothballed or closed companies.
No priority deliveries for vulnerable groups.
Pretty poor response, which will cost lives.

I tried the Leek Morrisons Pensioner hour last week 9-10 unfortunately they opened at 8 so the shelves were almost bare, have they no idea?
I shopped this morning Monday and got some items and they were using alternative checkouts, no queue spacing though, and no signs of sanitising any trolleys or card machines, in fact anything! No sign of toilet rolls either, ah well there’s always Boris’s picture on the front page.

I ventured out to collect prescription items that I had ordered online, but Morrisons had received nothing from the GP surgery yesterday afternoon. I decided it would be best to phone the pharmacy before making a return visit. I could not get through despite repeated attempts. Fortunately I found the pharmacy number via the NHS and confirmed that my items were awaiting collection.

I have now stored the pharmacy number on my phone.

John Tturner says:
20 March 2020

Right now I want to know if my incoming mail is likely to be contaminated: I don’t mean contaminated in China, I mean contaminated right here in town. The word is out that four staff in the local Royal Mail sorting office have gone off sick with Covid19, and our local normal deliveryman (yes, he’s a he as it happens) has vanished to be replaced by various other people.
Now what? We are trying to selfisolate.

Jill Fenn says:
20 March 2020

I don’t know if the mail is contaminated but to be on the safe side I am wearing rubber gloves when I picked up the post removing and binning the outer wraps and then binning the gloves and a final soap and water wash for my hands and as I walk with a stick give the handle a wipe.

You don’t need to bin the gloves; simply immersing them in pure bleach for a few moments will do the job.

There is no point in throwing away the gloves Jill and you might regret it when they run out. With the gloves still on, wash your ‘hands’ thoroughly with soap and water as recommended and then take off the gloves and let them dry until they are needed again.

If using (chlorine) bleach, one part in ten parts of water is more than adequate to destroy viruses and kill bacteria, and even one part in 100 will do the job, although it takes longer. Here is an article endorsed by the World Health Organisation: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK214356 It is important that bleach is fresh, so just dilute a small amount and discard it after use.

Dot Cartwright says:
20 March 2020

I cant get a online shopping delivery spot even though I’ve been using the system for years at the same supermarket. I am 64 and disabled. My husband is self employed, so will have no income whatsoever.

Richard says:
20 March 2020

Hi I’m over seventy but still working and now have self isolated at home . have partner aged fifty and still at work , also a son that should be flying back from holiday in Cape Verde this weekend Do you think he should self isolate for 7 days before returning to our home

Graham Robert Gibbs says:
20 March 2020

I am 80 years old, & whilst I appreciate virtually all supermarkets now putting aside an hour or so a week on certain days for people such as myself, as I have been told to self isolate for the next 12 weeks, I am not at all sure how this will benefit me.

David Bradley says:
20 March 2020

We were due to flywith Jet 2 to Grand Canaria On Tuesday the 17th, We got the news on Saturday the14th that Jet 2 were cancelling all flights to Spain and we received an email from Jet 2 notifying us of the situation and a full refund would be paid as soon as they could bearing the situation in mind. A full refund was paid to my bank card on Thursday the 19th. What brilliant customer service. Highly recommended.

Laurie Hughes says:
27 March 2020

Nice to hear this 😀

Please can any one suggest ‘anything’ to interact socially with a group of lonely, not very active nor expert with I.T., seniors whose twice monthly activities have just been cancelled. I’m anxious to organise something to stop them failing/fading away.

Guided walks at a sedate pace could be an answer. The only issue is that you’d have to do them in an area where you wouldn’t encounter other people. For inactive seniors the more activity they do the better as it reinforces the immune system.

Mr Kuldip Dhaliwal says:
20 March 2020

I would love to self isolate but as I work in courts as a court clerk I am expected to carry on working. I have meet the solicitors , interpreters, witnesses, the appellants and their friends , greet them and take to court. As the Judges have issued that they would like to ensure they have little or no contact with the public I have to bear the brunt of social interaction. We have 20 courts and things will happen to us that govt hasn’t considered as if we were immune. I just cant comprehend.

Phil says:
22 March 2020

I’m a signaller. As long as the government decide to keep the railways running I shall be expected to be at my post. We’ve been told keeping our particular line open is the No.1 priority for the area because a lot of London’s rubbish and waste passes along it to the landfill/EFW plant. Obviously I work shifts and it’s difficult to arrange shopping so I rely on home deliver. It’s proving increasingly difficult to arrange time slots and more and more stuff is not-available.

At least I am alone for most of the time at work.

I am hoping that as the panic buying subsides, and the logistics industry gears up for the changes in work patterns, normality will return to the shops. Railway signalling is a vital occupation and the nation will become dependent on people like you staying at their post through these difficult times. If you explain your situation to your usual groceries supplier they might be able to give you priority time slots for home deliveries.

Tarby says:
20 March 2020

Considering that the goverment has shut the country down , I was thinking what happens when a post man /lady has been in contact with an infected person then goes on to deliver the letters which may carry the virus. Should it be that he/she should wear gloves at all times

From what we know, the main risk is by inhaling tiny airborne droplets from others. With no requirement for postal workers to wear gloves at present, anyone concerned can wear gloves when opening letters and wash them after use.

It would be helpful if those visiting shops etc. would wear gloves.

Christine MacLeod says:
22 March 2020

So, let’s say the postman coughs or sneezes onto your letter and puts it through your letterbox ……it won’t matter whether they’re wearing gloves or not, it’s what you do with your mail that matters.

What. I am doing is to open the envelopes empty the contents, put the envelopes in the paper bin and then wash my hands. I’m hoping that the postman does not turn up with something that won’t fit in the letterbox!

We have made it a 2-person job. One opens the mail and the other removes the contents and reads it. A decision is made whether the contents need keeping and if so are placed in a box until hopefully any germs are dead. The rest go straight in the recycling bin.
Then WYH. ♻️ 🚿 🤲

The postman is probably happy to leave larger items on the doorstep. They don’t want to catch the virus either.

I’ve just come off the ‘phone following a very interesting conversation with a member of the Sainsbury’s technical assistance team. I took me more than an hour waiting to get through.

For more than two weeks, Sainsbury’s order slots in the North Wales area have been full for three weeks ahead; in fact, they’re empty of anything other than a dash, but the technical help chap assured me that meant they’d been booked. I was on to ask him two questions:

1. The Sainsbury CEO has said in an email that ll the over 70s will be given priority access to slots. I asked him, given we have never provided our ages to the company, how will they identify the over 70s?

2. Why is Sainsbury the only supermarket in the entire North Wales area to have fully booked slots for three weeks? Waitrose, Asda and Tesco have availability. But not Sainsbury.

In answer to the first question he told me all would be revealed on Monday. Apparently, on Monday morning we will all be told everything we need to know.

On the second question, he clearly didn’t have a clue. Now, when you don’t have a clue, it’s best to be honest, I’ve always found. So when I asked him about when the following day’s slot would become available he told me at midnight. But he then added that “Don’t forget, there will be at least ten million people trying to book that slot.”

Given that the entire population of Wales is only just above three million, and North Wales only numbers in the hundred thousands, that was clearly in error, but there was no backing down on his part, although the fluster meter did kick up a few notches.

I suspect Sainsbury, despite the high-sounding promises from its CEO, is making a mess of this situation. I don’t believe all the slots were taken for one moment; when a smaller shop like Waitrose can maintain availability, even in the short term, then there’s something not right about the way Sainsbury’s is working.

However, if he’s right, then all will be revealed on Monday. I wouldn’t hold your breath.

I agree with you, Ian. I think Sainsbury’s handling of this has been most unsatisfactory. It seems to me that they have prevented their regular on-line customers – who mostly had genuine reasons for needing a home delivery – from placing any orders, even small ones, whereas they have let others, not necessarily regular Sainsbury’s customers, plunder and ransack the shelves to the great disadvantage of elderly, hard-up or vulnerable customers as well as emergency service and other shift workers. It has caused considerable distress and resentment among the community. I am just hoping they will redeem themselves on Monday for the sake of those who are in great need of replenishment and have to have their groceries delivered.

Today is it still impossible to book a slot with Sainsbury’s in North Wales. However, part of yet another email from their CEO was quite interesting:

Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, all our supermarkets will dedicate 8am – 9am to serving elderly, disabled and vulnerable customers, as well as NHS and Social Care workers.

I decided to email Sainsbury with the specific questions. Here it gets very interesting. There is no obvious way that one can do this. They offer ‘phone (with an ensuing hour’s wait at least), twitter, Facebook or BSL. We will not use Twitter of Facebook, for many reasons, and there is no email facility.

At times like this we learn a great deal about our society and people in general. One thing that’s becoming glaringly obvious is that Sainsbury is utterly failing to cope at a time when it ought to be leading the pack.

It says a lot when Asda, Tesco and Waitrose are streaking ahead in the way they treat their customers.

I tried to order from Ocado last week and from Tesco for two days, without success. I’m not sure what to do next. A friend brought some milk but I have little fresh fruit & veg left.

I’ve been lucky so far, and have enough basics for a week or so. By then, I hope the panic buyers will have expended all their cash and gone away. I will go to the shops when I have to as on line shopping is probably useless both in what’s available and deliveries. I’m also not going to let the car sit on the drive for weeks on end and decay, but I don’t anticipate any long journeys or passengers. Fortunately my neighbours -in their eighties and nineties – have good family support and don’t need my help. Despite advancing years, I’m able to help out in the community if asked, but for now keeping away from the virus means one less hospital patient to deal with.

Agree about Twitter, Facebook et al. Many firms make it difficult to contact via e. mail. I’ve had to search sites in the past and use inappropriate e. mails to get through to where I need to go. I hate answer phones that don’t answer; such a waste of time. I still stick stamps on envelopes but think that the instant electronic mail should be a part of any business. They are quick enough to bombard our in boxes when they want something or to send cost free adverts. Grocery choices for you, on the mountain, must be limited, and I send my sympathy. I doubt whether Sainsbury or any other grocer will want to be quizzed about their operation at present, but the way they handle this crisis is something that should be challenged when it’s over.

Ps. If there is a rash of profiteering and people selling scarce goods at high prices, there needs to a record kept of each and every one of these as they appear. Government and firms are really good at gathering all our data for their own use and this should not be difficult to do. Later, these people should be held accountable by law, but not by public action.

I’m planning to carry on using the car too, and I won’t be taking passengers except in emergency. There are plenty of local places to go for a walk without coming into contact with others.

I have been turning out cupboards and found plenty of jars and cans. In the run-up to Christmas I had stocked up on non-perishable food in case Brexit led to shortages of some products.

For the time being I am welcoming a friend into the house and I will have to pay a visit to try to sort out a computer problem. We are both trying to keep away from others. I’m an asthmatic and she is at risk being in her early 70s.

I will miss visiting the micropub in town. I have not been near a pub for two or three weeks. Both the charities I volunteer with have suspended all activities until further notice. 🙁

To continue the Sainsbury saga, last night at 1201 precisely, I logged into Sainsbury’s and attempted to book a slot. There wasn’t one. Now, I am certain that they couldn’t all have been taken in a matter of seconds. I firmly believe Sainsbury is making a pig’s ear of the collection and delivery system and I believe they’re not being honest, either.

The latest email from the CEO – ‘Mike’ – says this:

Many of you have written to me in the past 24 hours to tell me that you like the idea of priority shopping for NHS workers and for elderly and disabled customers, but that these should be at different times

Now there’s a surprise. Mixing those most likely to be infected with the most vulnerable wasn’t the brightest idea in the first place. But the burning question of how they will identify the vulnerable customers was, at least, partly addressed:

We have been able to identify a number of customers as elderly and vulnerable based on the information they have given us previously. These details would include date of birth and if you have ever used our vulnerable customer helpline. For all of these customers, we will email you today (Sunday) with information on when slots will become available.
If you do not receive an email and you consider yourself to be vulnerable, please visit our Groceries Online website on Monday for information on how to contact us.

So the sorry tale of hopeless mismanagement in Sainsbury looks set to run a while longer.

I received the message from the CEO as well as an e-mail telling me I was a priority customer and would be able to book one delivery a week from Monday onwards and visit a store on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings during the priority hour [but we are not likely to be doing that].

I am in the over-70’s category but I am not sure how they worked out my status; I don’t think I have ever told Sainsbury’s my date of birth, and I don’t have any of the critical conditions that designate me as vulnerable. My wife is possibly at slightly higher risk but she has never been the customer so they have no age or health records. I don’t know what would happen if she had to place the orders – presumably register and disclose her personal details.

Kevin says:
22 March 2020

Anyone using a storecard or online shopping will have given the supermarket a huge insight into their social condition. They use this along with data from other sources to cross reference and target their users with adverts and vouchers for products they think have a high probability of selling. They can make a pretty good guess on how old and inform their customers are.

They could also use these systems to manage hoarding. I’m not sure of the data protection/GDPR implications of this, perhaps the Information Commissioner should be providing some guidance. The thought that you might be outed as a hoarder or moved down the priority list for deliveries may be a deterrent to some even if no actual restrictions are implemented.

Your comment has unlocked the mystery, Kevin. I have had a Nectar card for a long time. Sainsbury’s was one of the founders of the Nectar scheme and it is likely that my age was registered at the time of joining. The same might apply to the Tesco Clubcard which half the population seem to have.

The curious thing is that we have a Nectar card for years with Sainsbury’s but they don’t seem to know our age. Likewise we pay by card, but they still don’t know our age.

Anyway, the long-awaited Monday morning, at which point we were assured that all would be answered, had arrived. I started the log in process t see the exciting news we had been promised and lo and behold, this appeared:

“We’re having a problem with the site at the moment”

quickly followed by

“The site is currently down for maintenance.”

Looks as though the saga of Sainsbury’s ineptness is set to continue.

The fun continues. The site has finally appeared an now bearing the message

Have we got it wrong?

We’ve already been able to identify some of our vulnerable customers through the information that we have about them. But we know that we haven’t identified everyone.

We’re working hard, alongside the government and retail industry, to identify more of them.

They also helpfully provided a freefone number to call. We called it. BT answered and told us the telephone network was currently down.

Well done, Sainsbury’s! You’re playing a blinder,,,

After three hours I managed to get through on the number provided. Sainsbury provided the number specifically so we could register as vulnerable or elderly. Except when you finally connect, that’s not an option.

I’ve encountered some appalling management in my life, but nothing has been as badly handled as this by Sainsbury. When W? next does a supermarket comparison survey this should be remembered.

I received the e-mail telling me that bookings for deliveries for priority customers were now open and I have been checking from time to time during the morning. No time slots are being shown as available over the next three weeks. The following message is displayed – “Because of high demand, you might still find it hard to book a slot. We’re doing everything we can to make slots available, so please keep checking back“.

We are required to book a slot by the end of today but I am not optimistic.

I know that Sainsbury’s normally operates twenty or more delivery vans from the store that services our area and they cover the period 0700 – 2300 in two shifts per day with about thirty drops on each van round. They can do more drops at peak times so the capacity is considerable. Given that Sainsbury’s are not accepting bookings from new customers and there are restrictions on the number of purchases I find it remarkable that the system is so stretched; perhaps it is the picking resource that cannot cope rather than the vans.

There are only a few things that we need for the next week or two so I am going to walk to the nearby store tomorrow morning and see what I can get. If there are long queues or other problems I shall come back empty-handed but the walk might do me good.

Someone is down voting our comments, John (I’ve reversed yours) and hasn’t got the courage or decency to post why. But in North Wales we have a fairly small population and it’s become very clear to me and to others who’ve tried that Sainsbury’s has made a colossal mess at a time when they should be looking after their customers.

I’ve just tried the useless ‘phone number they gave us to report that we were vulnerable or elderly or both, but which has only the usual options the normal ‘phone line has, and it was–of course–busy.

These are honest observations and the people who downvote them but who clearly lack the courage or ability to defend their their downvote must get some perverse pleasure from ticking the little boxes.

We’ve now written Sainsbury’s off as a shambles, and we’re lucky since Asda, Waitrose and Tesco are performing flawlessly.

It seems we are not alone, John.

As can be seen, Sainsbury’s rating on Trust pilot has plummeted over this issue. Which?–guys, someone needs to make a call to their HQ. Coming from Which? it might actually get a response.

I don’t see any thumbs needing repair.

So far I have not found anyone who will offer me a delivery slot for an order. I have had a few items handed in by a friend but don’t have much fresh food left.

The phantom thumber strikes again.
Minus comments from his “pen”.
Hidden from view he/she prods and pokes
Censuring all our comments and jokes.
Gleefully watching the hurt replies
Rubbing hands as reasoning tries
To fathom what was said so wrong,
To warrant that proscribing gong.

Of course the thumber has no skills
No rhetoric or thought instils.
He/she just jabs and passes
“That’ll teach them silly asses.”
Reasoned thought and comments wise
Are simply fodder to despise.
So, if you get the minus mark.
It’s him or her who’s in the dark.

Thanks Vynor.

Just a thought, but perhaps these comments have been read by someone working in Sainsburys who is doing their best in very difficult circumstances?

A thumb might be easier than a reply.

I am lucky as I have a regular weekly delivery slot and asked to do the order in one go. I usually start it then revisit to add things as they are remembered so will have to keep a list for the following week.

Try the online supermarket again wavechange, you might be lucky now.

I eventually booked collection slot with Morrisons on 8 April but somehow my order was not associated with this date by the time I completed it. Phoning did not help and I now have a collection date of 11 April. Hopefully there is a limit to what people stockpile and life will become a. little easier.

I was a bit disappointed yesterday that Sainsbury’s promised delivery slots were unavailable but I logged on this morning and, lo & behold!, there were time slots for deliveries tomorrow. I placed what I hope was a responsible order – most of the items were not high demand products and I have opted for substitutions on many more things. Fingers crossed. I am hoping we can keep going with a fortnightly order topping up in the interval at M&S.

I think the limitation policy is a good idea and should stop the ridiculous overstocking that was occurring. It should have been implemented earlier but this has all been a big learning curve. Now that we have all been told that we cannot go anywhere or do anything I suppose there is a risk that people will lie around at home gorging themselves. I am going to get the paint brushes out and redecorate the second bedroom.

You have done better than me, John. At least I will get the opportunity to take the car for a round trip of a few miles to collect my groceries.

My current outdoor project is painting the garage doors.

alfa says: Today 06:45

Just a thought, but perhaps these comments have been read by someone working in Sainsburys who is doing their best in very difficult circumstances?
A thumb might be easier than a reply.

I’d considered that, Alfa, but my comments relate purely to the overall management of the company. Front line workers do tend to get the worst of the flack, and people can be both thoughtless and unpleasant, but I have nothing but praise for those working in supermarkets.

No; my criticism has always been about the appalling way Sainsbury’s has reacted to this crisis and, from what I’ve been seeing, it’s a view shared by a lot of people.

In effect, this gross mismanagement is not only letting elderly and vulnerable customers down but it;s also betraying the very staff on which the company depends. I suspect it’s time for a change at the top.

Once again, no delivery slots are being shown and when one dials the number provided, ‘the network is down’. Only, it seems, for that number, however; for all other numbers the network is fine.

Sainsburys is one supermarket that I have not considered. We have plenty of the small convenience shops and the only large one is a 30 mile round trip. I have never seen one of their vans round here, so I doubt that they will deliver. I hope you get sorted out soon, Ian.

Thanks, Wavechange. In fact, Waitrose, Asda and Tesco also serve the mountains, and do so perfectly. Which begs the question: if they can do it so very well, what’s stopping Sainsbury’s?

I didn’t ask to go on Sainsbury’s priority list for the over-70’s and vulnerable people but having been granted that privilege through their analytical processes it does help in complying with the government’s latest rules so we are taking advantage of it.

We managed to get through a lot of Merlot last night so I was delighted to see that it was on offer at £8 instead of the usual £11 a bottle. I elected to receive the maximum prescription limit of three bottles just to replenish the stock.

Wavechange, glad you now have a slot, hopefully the initial panic buying is subsiding somewhat.

I just had an email from novablooms who are now doing fresh fruit and veg. I haven’t actually used them but last year they took over the orchid company I always used to send fresh flowers.

Thanks very much Alfa. I’ve just been speaking to a friend who told me that some of the companies that do boxes cannot meet demand. I have started a folder with useful links during our present troubles.

Edit: Order now placed. 🙂

A number of factors should soon start to improve the delivery process:

>The shops are seeing what the ongoing demand is from their priority customers and restricting them to one delivery a week.

>Priority will be given to previous customers and there is a restriction on taking on new customers for deliveries.

>The managed release of delivery slots is restraining demand.

>The availability of people at home all day is relieving the pressure peaks and allowing more efficient delivery rounds.

>Delivery slot pricing is incentivising customers to use the full delivery bandwidth.

>The limitation on purchases will reduce order volumes and might deter over-stocking.

>The reductions in the number of lines and product options should speed up order-picking and customer handovers.

>The military will be assisting with deliveries to vulnerable customers relieving pressure on the system.

>The supply chains and logistics companies are ramping up production and performance to meet demands for essential products.

>External carriers could be used for deliveries of non-chilled/frozen items and van pooling is being discussed by the retailers.

>More staff are being recruited into the warehousing, picking and delivery functions to optimise turn-round times.

It was notable that management of the 2001 Foot & Mouth Disease outbreak was transformed as soon as the Army got involved. I hope lessons will be learned from this experience that will lead to greater resilience, better emergency and contingency planning, the availability of strategic resources, and investment in UK production to reduce reliance on imports. The import shortage wave has not hit domestic requirements yet but cannot be far away.

Hope it works out OK wavechange.

Having achieved a slot is far from being the end of the home delivery problems. My Sainsbury’s order is due later this afternoon but I had a notification this morning informing me that roughly half of the items on the order [and some were multipacks of baked beans, yogurts, etc] were unavailable. We will not be getting 54 out of 107 items. I was anticipating an amount of unavailability and built in some contingency items in case and that has worked. I expanded the substitution allowance but not for products for which we prefer specific brands or types, and that has been the major drawback, although we won’t starve.

I should have been more flexible with regard to bread because we will not be getting any of the loaves I ordered to go in the freezer nor the bread flour and yeast I ordered for home baking – I bought a fresh loaf at a craft baker in Norwich this morning which should be enough for this week. My order had been intended to cover a fortnight but now I shall have to get another delivery slot next week in an attempt to fill the gaps in the cupboards.

This country must be on the point of a tidal wave of cleaning as nearly all the cleaning products – including things like window and glass cleaners and shower cleaning spray which I would not have thought were susceptible to panic buying – are unavailable; again, possibly because we were specific as to the make. I have noticed that shops like Savers that major in that sort of household product have sold out of many lines.

There does seem to be something wrong with Sainsbury’s supply system despite the fine words of the Chief Executive about there being plenty to go round. People obviously do not believe him as the shelves are being emptied as soon as they are filled. It is odd that an order placed on Tuesday night from the on-line stock list shows a 50% failure rate by 11:00 am on Wednesday; that is either a weakness in the ordering process or in the fulfilment function, or more likely a bit of both. The question has rightly been raised by a previous correspondent: should goods be set aside to meet pending delivery orders? Given that the delivery policy has been modified to prioritise the elderly and/or vulnerable and NHS staff, should not the fulfilment function be altered to match the intentions? At the moment those who swoop on the stores first thing each morning are getting an unfair advantage over those who are confined in their homes; by the time the order-picking for the afternoon deliveries commences many lines are unavailable or reduced in stock to such an extent that further rationing has to be introduced over and above the purchase limits already applied. Let’s hope things improve over the next week or two when the system should have shaken down and the over-stocking has stopped. I can appreciate the anxiety that many customers who have no choice but home delivery must have over potential food shortages; most probably cannot afford to buy enough food and provisions at a time to keep them going for a fortnight.

My order of two [replenishment] bottles of wine on special offer has gone by the wayside! Should there be deep discounts [£8 instead of the usual £11 a bottle] at a time like this? Tesco don’t think so but clearly Sainsbury’s hasn’t woken up to what’s happening.yet.

@alfa – A follow up about NovaBlooms. I ordered a fruit & veg box, which was supposed to be delivered yesterday by Yodel. After lunch there was still no tracking information, so I rang NB to make them aware there might be a problem. I rang again 15 minutes before they closed and they said they would send another box.

My box of fruit & veg is just veg and has two iceberg lettuces – one of which should have been a cauliflower. Nevertheless it is very good to have some fresh veg. Thanks for your help and have you any recipes involving lettuce? 🥗🥗

I’ve never really understood the appeal of lettuce – it has little nutritional benefit and is largely taste-free [although I do quite like Romaine lettuce] so I see it as mainly for bulk and ornament. It can make a radish look appetising.

Glad something turned up wavechange. 🙄

Seriously though, have you tried cooked lettuce? I have had what was probably something like little gem cooked (not by me) on a bbq or flamed and it was surprisingly tasty.

What might be interesting is to wash and dry the lettuce, roll it up (maybe with a skewer) a light spray of oil and bake it in the oven for a short time oven.

Use it as a boat for tuna and sweetcorn.

Lettuce soup or smoothies 😖.

My husband’s suggestion is to get a rabbit !!! 🐰

I was planning to have a go at cooking the lettuce but I’m not sure about the rabbit. I’ve never cooked one. 🙂

John – I have long wondered about the appeal of lettuce and come to the conclusion that people eat it to compensate for eating unhealthy food and/or large portions.

Lettuce does tend to complete a salad. I agree with John and only buy Romaine as it has some substance. The funny thing is . . . Romaine lettuce is much better quality in the winter when you don’t really want it.

Further to specific news about Sainsbury’s, yesterday I visited my local Sansbury’s store and observed aqedate stock levels in most sections. They even had a good selection of different packs of toilet roll.

I have been able to do another on-line order from Sainsbury’s for delivery on Thursday.

It is not so easy to spot gaps in the on-line stock list as it is to see gaps on the shelves in the store, but it seems that there has been quite a bit of rationalisation of products taking place and some cleaning products are not shown suggesting that many people have been catching up with their cleaning regime [or intend to]. There are usually alternatives to favoured products so allowing substitutes will probably produce a more complete delivery.

I shall be interested to see whether our favourite red wine will come this week. We do, of course, have contingency reserves so will not be reduced to a state of pitiful desperation.

John, thanks for the update.

Good to hear that you will soon receive a delivery. I do hope you receive your favourite red.

I must confess that yestrday, while shopping for my car-less friend, I allowed social distancing and the avoidance of pickers’ (and their trolleys) to influence my choice of a bottle of wine for her. So I grabbed the nearest one, instead of working my way down the entire isle and then choosing the one I fancied best. As I recognise the important of the sterling work being done by all pickers, I was doing my best to keep out of their way.

I’m keeping my distance from others and so is a friend who lives alone in the village, a mile or so away. Each day or two we meet somewhere between our houses and exchange food, including samples of baking. I managed to rehome my second iceberg lettuce and a couple of surplus courgettes. 🙂 We then go for a walk, keeping three metres apart.

Today I came home to find a leaflet offering to collect food, post mail or just to have someone to speak to. It’s good that people are prepared to help.

Perhaps supermarkets should let pickers do their job first thing in the morning, before the doors are opened to the public.

Christine says:
20 March 2020

I’m a 64 year old widow and work 30 hours a week as a shop assistant, I also have asthma and high blood pressure, I suppose I should self isolate but simply can’t afford to. Bills still have to be paid, I cannot survive for 12 weeks without money coming in.

Barbara Johnstone says:
20 March 2020

I am a 65 year old female with a 70 year old husband, no relatives younger than I am, in a rural community with mostly elderly or adults with children around. I wonder how we will get food and neccesities without going out if either of us gets Covid19. At the moment our local large supermarkets have bare shelves of the most basic needs, so I drive around trying to get enough ingredients to get 2 dinners with another 2 for the freezer. I fear for the future in Northern Ireland.
Wine in short supply now! THE END!

Pat Pettigrew says:
20 March 2020

I look after my 78 year old husband with dementia Parkinson’s doesn’t walk talk have to give him food and drinks and medication he has 8 carers a day who just have a plastic apron and gloves how do I keep myself and husband safe?

Mike King says:
20 March 2020

My wife & I are over 80 and both have health concerns not of our making. So it’s important that we avoid the C19 virus at all costs! But we still need to go and get fresh food and other household and grocery needs because all the home delivery systems in our area are struggling and those who do use them are not always getting what they wanted or poor substituting. So when are the Government going to crack down on the current looting of stores by the wealthier people who are still packing their cars with stockpile goods and blow the rest of us? It’s no good appealing for better behaviour, these people are probably also the same selfish greedy people who usually operate “me first” in most situations – including their “get out of my way” attitude when driving. We need authorative action NOW – to prevent needier people going without. The other big problem is medication and important repeat prescriptions. The selfish looters have grabbed all the paracetamol and hand sanitiser etc from all the stores in our area. (To sell for profit on ebay when more get the virus?) Our Government has been woefully prepared for this emergency and should have planned to protect supplies of essential drugs. Too much consideration has gone to helping wealthier people and not us poorer people!

Hand sanitisers and frequent hand washing could be a serious problem for those with eczema: https://eczema.org/blog/advice-on-coronavirus-covid-19-for-people-with-eczema/

The rest of us could have problems with dry skin, skin irritation or even develop eczema. It’s important to rinse hands thoroughly after washing to remove soap. Wearing gloves makes hand washing unnecessary and if they are waterproof gloves they can be washed in soap and water before taking them off to remove virus contamination.

Mike says:
21 March 2020

Can you please ask Government to do something to prevent wealthier people from grabbing all the popular and cheaper food, household necessities and medicinals (even all the toilet paper!!) as soon as stores re-stock? An acquaintance told us of a supermarket that opened early for the benefit of the NHS, Emergency staff and the vulnerable and elderly – only to be mobbed again by the selfish bulk buys acquiring siege supplies! Can they make it easier for us who need essential repeat prescriptions to get a reliable supply? If the pharmacy has a problem, or the electronic prescription has not been sent to them, it means another wasted and risky visit to the inundated chemists and a need to go back yet again and more risk, until the prescriptions are ready and fully complete. Plus since none of us can now get paracetamol – how do we fight flu and colds that could get worse or even the C19 virus? We are not allowed to contact the GP or NHS 111 for help with these things – unless we are already seriously ill with the covid virus or other conditions! The lack of sensible planning to deal with these side issues of the emergency needs to be addressed. Patients still need to be able to talk to their Doctors about other conditions, prescription problems etc., and just chucking all enquiries on to the internet wont suffice. Thousands of needy and older people are not on line Boris!

Kevin Dawson says:
21 March 2020

Well said Mike Was at Tesco yesterday and still saw people with trolleys full of loo rolls e tc The government should man up and issue rationing books for essential items because the supermarket is not doing what is is telling everyone Its no good leaving it up to people as some don’t act responsible and think of the bigger picture

Denise harmer says:
21 March 2020

Hi, my concern is , myself and husband are self isolating at the moment. My husband has progressive ms . I work about 7 1/2 hours on a customer service desk in tescos. Do you know if as a carer I am able to take the 12 weeks off as my husband is a vulnerable person.
The other thing is there is no guidelines to what mild corona symptoms are like, do they include a sore throat? Thank you so much

Colette watson says:
21 March 2020

Can anyone tell me if I can go back to my husband in the U.K., he has copd and uses oxygen to help his breathing I dont have any signs of virus and am flying back today from Thailand following a family emergency thank you for you help

Alan D says:
21 March 2020

My wife (79 years old) is suffering from terminal thyroid cancer with a serious sarcoma and nodules on her lungs. Her underlying condition is such that if she caught Covid-19, she would soon be dead. I am her carer, 80 years old. We are alone together on lock-down, self-isolating and could perhaps get a supermarket delivery slot IF there were more delivery vans (eg available from closed restaurants), delivery drivers (from people not presently at work) and IF vulnerable people like us were given some kind of priority in getting slots. If family & friends were to go into quarantine for 14 days, we would be helpless unless I were to go into a supermarket. But then I would risk bringing the virus back home, which would kill my wife.

Specific attention needs to be given to the many vulnerable old people who share our plight.

It’s very important that supermarkets develop a policy on this subject. Presently no slots are available right into April where I live.