Shopping in Tenerife – Be Careful of the Big Print

Posted: October 13, 2009 in Food, Life, Spain, Tenerife, Travel
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

They must hate me in the Al Campo supermarket in La Orotava. I’ve become a Victor Meldrew type pain in the culo stalking the aisles seeking out ‘mistakes’ and then when I spot one (not a difficult task it has to be said) pointing it out to bemused shop assistants who seem to be shocked that anyone should do such a thing and therefore don’t really know what to do.

In truth I don’t consciously stalk the aisles looking for ‘errors’ and I like shopping at Al Campo, it’s just that even if you possess the brain cells of an amoeba with learning difficulties you can’t help but spot the ‘inconsistencies’. On our last visit I notched up three.

Making You an Offer You Can Refuse

The first instance came in the guise of a TDT box which was €19.95 last week. This week it had gone up to €25. Nothing wrong with that, it’s their prerogative; however, it was the big yellow sign which read OFFER above it that amused me. On it was the ‘original’ price of €29.99 crossed out in red.

I don’t know about you, but a product which has gone up in price by €5 euros isn’t exactly bargain of the week, even if you write a ‘fictional’ higher price next to it.

This is an Al Campo favourite. Every week I see ‘offers’ which were cheaper the previous week. Are we not supposed to notice this?

We’re Going to Screw You and You’ll Be Pleased About It

The next little example of being ‘creative’ with the prices was in the fruit and veg section where I spotted packets of dates on offer for €1 (under another big yellow sign). It sounded good and a few people were throwing packets into their trolleys.

However, we’re wise to Al Campo’s various ‘offers’ and double check everything.
The €1 dates were for a 200g pack. I normally buy a 500g pack – price €1.85; a much better deal than the so-called offer which would have worked out at €2.50 for 500g.

If All Else Fails, We’re Just Going To Lie

The final piece of jiggery pokery involved croissants, the prices of which go up and down like a tart’s drawers (depending on who’s pricing them up I suspect). Two weeks ago 4 croissants were €0.99. This week the little label read €1.29 irrespective of whether they were butter or margarine (there’s usually a difference in price between the two).

Thankfully there are machines dotted all over Al Campo where you can double check the prices of items – a necessity as all too often prices don’t match those on the shelf.

The croissants were a perfect example of this. I scanned them and the price came up €1.49.  I tried the margarine ones – again €1.49.

I spotted two assistants from the bakery section and showed them the carton of croissants.

“This shows €1.29 and the machine says €1.49, they are all wrong, every one of them,” I told them.

“The machine? €1.49? All of them?”
One of the girls replied looking at the croissants, then the machine on the wall.

“Si, all of them,”
I confirmed.

She muttered to her friend and both scuttled off into the bakery.

I wandered off to join Andy getting some fruit and veg and kept an eye to see what they’d do about this ‘mix up’.

A few minutes later a supervisor appeared, stood in front of the croissants, scratched her head, shuffled a few boxes… and disappeared back into the bakery having done absolutely NADA.

Deliberate Scams or Plain and Simple Inefficiency? Take Your Pick.

I really don’t know if these common errors are just simple inefficiency or, in the case of the offers which aren’t offers, a specific policy. If it’s a policy, do they really believe people are so stupid that they’ll fall for it?

To cap it all, as I watched proceedings, or lack of, the bag of tomatoes I was holding split for no reason and half a dozen toms hit the floor – it was a dodgy bag (another common occurrence). I rolled my eyes and sighed under my breath ‘can anybody actually do anything right here?’

I know the island has a ‘mas o menos’ culture, but why in Al Campo does it seem as though it’s always ‘mas’ rather than ‘menos’?

  1. pegasus says:

    Hi There

    Carrefour just outside Santa Cruz is typical.

    The central computer running the check-out machines is largely out of sync with the offered price.

    Every 3rd time I shop there…. I spot that the scanned price at check out is more than the offer.

    So…… I take Great Delight in holding up the queue, shaming the assistant and vocally making my point to all and sundry within earshot.

    Great article and keep up the good work

    • dragojac says:

      Hmmm, it seems as though it’s part and parcel of the whole hypermarket shopping experience here. At least we’re wise to the ‘quirks’. I feel sorry for visitors who must be easy pickings for these places.

      I hope you’re more successful than I am. Most of the time my protestations are met with a shrug.

  2. Akualele says:

    Thanks for this article. I buy at the La Laguna Alcampo. I have also noticed disparities between posted prices and the price charged at the counter. So it´s either an institutionalized problem that may be deliberate, or the help there needs more training. But I will say this if I may, I personally criticize Canarian business culture for being non-responsive, for showing little to no customer service. But thankfully I have often been met at the counters at the La Laguna Alcampo with courtesy and friendliness. Thank goodness for that since I often experience very unfriendly, to incredibly dour attitudes at various businesses. However, try living in Italy, it is 10 times worse there. Surprised the hell out of me.

    • dragojac says:

      Totally agree about the Al Campo counter staff being friendly and polite… which makes it really difficult to be too annoyed at the ‘fluctuating’ prices.

      And, sad though it is to say it, your comments about the business culture here seem spot on as well.

  3. Bo says:

    “…croissants, the prices of which go up and down like a tart’s drawers…”

    That’s comedy gold!!


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