Tuesday 3 April 2012

Supermarket stupidity

From the Telegraph over the weekend...

SIR – Last weekend I went to Sainsbury’s to buy some miniature cigars, but found the display shuttered. Upon asking what cigars they had, I was told that a new law forbade them from showing or telling me the brands, or even how much they cost.
Whatever justification is given for this censorship, the fact that someone would be breaking the law by giving me information about items that are perfectly legal to buy is a step too far off the road of democracy.

Graham Crispin
Southend-on-sea, Essex

Has anyone else had this experience? I haven't visited a supermarket tobacco kiosk since the ban came in. Is this really the law or is it a case of poorly trained staff gold-plating foolish legislation?


Anonymous said...

Yes in the Co-op, my daughter asked me to pick her a pack up the other day, she normally smokes whichever happens to be the cheapest out of 3 different brands. The woman said it was illegal for her to let me see any of the display or to tell me prices unless i actually purchased them. needless to say I walked out and bought from a little newsagent where I could compare prices.
Why dont they put little pictures of the packs with price on the shutters... it's illegal to display packs not pictures of them. That would help the staff know where they are and allow the customer to make an informed choice.

Jay said...

It's poorly-trained staff. The law allows for:

"Recognizing that some customers might like to see a particular brand of cigarette packet before buying it, the Act permits ‘requested’ tobacco displays to an individual aged 18 or over.

It will be an offence under section 21, for a shop assistant to display tobacco products to an individual aged under 18 following a ‘request’ by that individual. However, the Act provides that, for the purposes of such an offence, it is a defence that the person making the display (e.g. the shop owner) believed the individual was aged 18 or over and either had taken all reasonable steps to establish the individual’s age, or from the individual’s appearance nobody could reasonably have suspected that the individual was aged under 18 years."

Ref doc here: www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05242.pdf

Jay said...

PS: Sainsbury's hates smokers. This is well-known.

Curmudgeon said...

It was my understanding that they were allowed to display an A4 size pricelist in plain black and white type. But I could be wrong.

It might be quite fun (although unfair on the hard-pressed staff) to go along and waste their time by asking for a succession of non-existent brands.

David said...

Truth is, that road was grubbed out years ago. And I don't anticipate it'll ever be reinstated. Most people under 40 seem to have no idea it ever existed.

Young lad behind the counter at our CO-OP told me they face a £5000 fine if they leave the shutter open for longer than absolutely necessary.

God, what a shit hole of a country.

Anonymous said...

In my nearest - a Morrisons, on Sunday a rather embarrassed and indeed vocal about it assistant had a "prepared for her" speil which was almost the same, except that she had left the small ring binder with the printed price list of "goods hidden behind the doors" on the counter.

I noted when I was back there yesterday that the ring binder was no longer to be seen and it was a different assistant - but like her colleague she was spending a lot of time explaining how they thought it was a complete nonsense and of course how fed up they were with customers giving them grief about "the complete nonsense" and that it hadn't escaped their attention that the Sainsbury local - about 100 yards away - was a small enough establishment that it fell outside "the new regs" so their staff weren't having to play "see if you can guess what is behind these doors, and if you guess right, I can sell you some ..."

JJ said...

I just can't understand why if you can't see the tobacco products they would have to be in plain packets as well. Kids can't buy these products if they're under age and usually get older friends to buy them, so there is no sense in any of this ill thought out draconian nonsense.

How far is it possible to push people before there comes a backlash. Perhaps spying on and invading private homes will do the trick.

Dr Evil said...

My evil administration would get rid of this bollocks about display, reinstate advertising on TV and allow smoking in smoke rooms in pubs. It's really just common sense since tobacco isn't illegal.

Curmudgeon said...

The document that Jay linked to says:

"These regulations recognise that retailers need to be able to communicate with customers about tobacco product prices, and therefore allow shops to display a price list of the tobacco products they stock as well as shelf labels; but to ensure that price lists and shelf labels do not become advertisements or promotional tools, the regulations include stipulations on size and design."

Anonymous said...

Why can't anyone admit that these inane sliding door requirements are simply designed to make purchasing tobacco products more difficult? It's exactly the same as banning vending machines. I guess though they will need much bigger sliding doors to cover up the alcohol sections in supermarkets, which is the next logical step in this government's cow-towing to fake charities. Welcome to the UKSR!

Anonymous said...

My mother says she has seen such a list, in Sainsbury's. Not exactly on display but available for customer perusal. I haven't, because I don't (and shan't ever) buy tobacco in this country.

Rob said...

Thank you, Britain. Every time that I think that things here in the U.S. have become unbelievably stupid, your lot over there demonstrates that things could be even worse. (On the downside, though, the stupidity that takes root over there seems to eventually end up getting done here as well.)

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me why SWERCOTS, a partnership of 15 local authority trading standards services, http://www.swercots.org.uk/SWERCOTS%20public%20site/Tobacco%20control%20activities/Tobacco%20control%20homepage.php is a) supporting tobacco control measures (what exactly has it got to do with them providing laws are not being broken?) and b) supporting the plain packs campaign??

hyperCRYPTICal said...

Ah the wonderful black shuttered (non) display of evil tobacco products at my local Co-op led to my recent post - there is a link to here.

Anna :o]

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! In the country of John Stuart Mill... How could you allow things to get so far?

Lou said...


Answer to Swercots.

Stephen Williams MP for Bristol West and the Chairperson of the committe that came up with this as well as plain packaging.

Gave him a workout a couple of months back http://www.tichtich.com/plain-packaging-stephen-williams.html

David C said...

ASDA on Sunday morning had everything shuttered except a section for cigarette papers and other non-tobacco items. There was a price list on the counter, A4 size as suggested above, which meant very small print was necessary.

Anonymous said...

Surely it is every smokers duty to be a pain in the arse in these supermarkets ? I go to Asda every day and ask for cigarettes that don't exist, if offered the 'list' I complain that I cannot see the writing, I ask to read the pack when they eventually find a brand that I ask for (just in case they have changed the ingredients) and then I decline to buy anything.
Meanwhile the lottery queue behind me dwindles as people don't want to wait, and as the cigarette counter is the same as the 'customer services' the wues are enormous.

Curmudgeon said...

Actually a determined group of smokers could cause quite a bit of disruption by taking the piss out of these regulations (in a similar way to how motorcyclists defeated the Dartford tolls).

Similarly, it could be fun to get a group of big rugby club lads who are obviously over 18 but not over 25 to buy trolleys full of frozen food, add a couple of bottle of beer, and then abandon the whole lot at the checkout when asked for ID ;-)

Anonymous said...

A few years ago in Dublin I went to a supermarket for cigarettes and was shown a card with miniture packet fronts of all the available brands. I thought it was ridiculous then but trust us to make it even worse. Doesn't bother me though I have never bought cigarettes here since the ban.

Anonymous said...

Latest News from Tesco----
The nice lady told me that from Friday she will only be allowed to open the doors for customers who ask for a brand by name!
Customers will be provided with (plain) list of products and prices displayed by each till.
The rest of her comments were a) not printable. b) could have got her the sack c) quite flowing about Government interference and d) certainly not PC.
Also today, a nice lady gave me an echocardiogram. She was self employed with her own £56,000 piece of kit (far better than that of the Local NHS and explained she had reduced waiting lists from 18 weeks to 2 weeks at a lower cost. After mentioning SmokeFreeSouthWest using £1/2million for propaganda instead of treatments smoking was mentioned and her comments were so refreshing - She condemned the misuse of valuable funds and suggested smokers were old enough to choose whether to smoke and, anyway, they pay 10 times more into the system than anybody else!!
This from a health professional.

Two very different real people both condemning the Nanny State. Maybe there's more support than we realize.

Anonymous said...

Sainsbury's, yes they certainly hate smokers, so do some of their staff.

Last year after I'd finished my shopping I stopped outside by the bin to have a ciggie, up comes one of Sainbsury's good little soldiers and told me I shouldn't be smoking, it's bad.

I growled my reply:

Not as bad as poking your nose into other people's business.

He literally run away from me, and I mean run, you couldn't see his arse for dust.

These people are so used to the majority of smokers bowing down and taking their crap they think they can say/do as they like.

I wouldn't encourage the likes of Sainsbury's etc., by buying cigs there. I very rarely buy cigs here, only when I run out, and if I have to get them from behind a screem then I rather buy them froma man in a van.

They will not make tobacco illegal though, no matter what ASH and the prohibitionists want. Lansley, in reply to a letter informed me the the government or NHS will NOT support a ban on tobacco. The reason, he believes that smokers should be free to choose. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry on reading that.

About time smokers grew a backbone and started fighting back.

Anonymous said...

I was in Sainsburys last week and asked for my usual 24 Royals from the "secret stash". The assistant opened the shutter but there were no 24 packs available. Thats okay i said, just give me 20. Looks again - sorry no 20s we only have 10's. I must have looked a little incredulous and I made an inane comment about "living in a fascist dictatorship"...
She looked around carefully - there was no one else in the queue - and said "you havent seen me do this!" and proceeded to get a sleeve of 24 pack Royals out from under the counter, take a pack out for me . scan it and sell me them. Turns out as its not a 24hour store they can't stock the shelves during opening hours. She could technically have lost her job for doing this. This is the level of insanity that the UK has finally reached.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Snowdon

Time to teach spineless big business a lesson.

If you can't see it, don't buy it.

Buy from corner shops instead, or cheaper parts of the vile empire.


Curmudgeon said...

I happened to be at the customer service desk in ASDA today and spotted that the next-door tobacco counter had a couple of plain A4 sheets showing the prices in very small print sellotaped to the surface.