Why People Go to Waitrose


People we have got to know, or bump into, in our new life in the UK, tell us:  “You ought to go to such-and-such a market”, naming various places in the vicinity where “fresh” fruit, veg and produce are available.  The other day I did.

I approached a well stocked stall where the proprietor was standing talking on his mobile phone.  After about a minute, he lowered it and said “Yeah?”    “Six bananas please”    With his phone clasped violin-style  under he chin, still talking he roughly grabbed six loose bananas and crammed them into the bag a couple at a time.  “Summing else?” he deigned.  “Six Cox apples and four Conference pears”.   The same rough procedure follows, the apples and pears going in the bag. “Yeah?” he asked.  “That’s all”, I said.   He mentally added the total still talking on the mobile.  “Four sixty”, he said.  I gave him the cash, which he took without a word, carrying on his riveting conversation.  The bananas weren’t much cop and I had to throw away two of the apples.

We tried a “Farm Shop” one afternoon.   “You only just caught me”, the woman welcomed us with, “I was just closing”.   We bought a few items, but none was either fresh or “farmy”.  She seemed as pleased to get rid of us as we were to go.

To Waitrose, where one of the seemingly ever happy and helpful staff give me a little card suggesting I contact a central point (HQ?  Head Office?   Computer?) to tell them what I think of the service and people at Saxmundham branch.  I think this is a good idea, because they are 99% of the time marvellous.  I decide not to call the 0845 number because I hate waiting and pressing those wretched “For this, press 1. For that Press 2.  For ‘owt else, Press 3” buttons, but to do it on the web.  The Waitrose customer research site comes up quickly and shows me that I must enter the number on one of their till receipts to play the game.  I do this.  Several times.  With several receipt.  Each time the WR website tells me they are invalid numbers.  I checked doubly carefully that I had followed instructions correctly, which I had.   I shan’t try again.  I shall, instead say thank you personally when I feel like it to the staff at their store.

Waitrose, in the six months we have been back in the UK, has become a pillar of daily life.  Eight minutes walk away, its produce is second to none.  I can say this with well over fifty years’ experience of hunter-gathering the food we cook and eat at home.  But the training of the staff, their demeanour and apparent work satisfaction are an added incentive to shop there.

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