Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Five Rules for Supermarket Shopping

It is easy to assume that a large western looking supermarket will function pretty much the same way everywhere in the world.  But that is not the case.  When I go back to the UK after some time in the US I stand at the checkout with my shopping being scanned and piling up past the cashier.  There is no-one there doing bagging, that is the purchasers job, so I end up hurriedly grabbing a bag and trying to get my bagging caught up with the cashier.  In some countries the same system applies as the UK except they wont provide bags unless asked, so goods pile up and there is nothing one can do except stuff them in pockets and hope you can hold the rest in your hands.

Anyway, Atyrau supermarkets have their own rules too, provided here to help you avoid embarrassment.

1.  Enter by the Entrance.  That is usually a small gap at the end of the cashiers.  The large gaps around the cashiers are exits and must on no account be used to enter or you will be shouted at by security and directed to the entrance.  Last time this happened to me I confused the security guard by simple walking away in the other direction and not entering the store at all.

2.  Do not carry shopping into the supermarket.  There are lockable cupboards provided by the entrance for you to secure your bag in while you shop.  Don't forget to collect your bags after finishing in the supermarket, the key with a giant size key-tag usually helps.

3.  Do not take photographs, this is considered spying and can get security quite worked up.  They will want to see your pictures and ensure any of the shop are deleted before they let you go.  As some will have seen I have some pictures posted in earlier blogs (I think I may sell them to Safeway, they need a bit of help in the new retail trade.)  The photos I have taken are sneaked when nobody appears to be looking, though I worry I will be spotted on an in store camera (if they have them) and a squad of security guards will rush out and escort be away behind the butchers section to extract the truth and the names of my operators.  I did get caught by a plain-clothes security man.  I don't think it fair that some of them don't wear the blue or orange or green or whatever bibs, that identify them as enemy agents.

4.  Present your loyalty card before the cashier processes any purchases, and be ready with it because the cashiers are fas and will have put the first item through before you can blink.  They slow down after that. And "yes" Ram Store has a card; we don't know what it does, but it feels good and western-ish to show a card.

5.  Don't try to give the exact amount and don't expect your change to be the difference between what you give and the price of the shopping.  There are rounding errors and adjustments for although goods are priced down to the exact Tenge, this  is too small to bother about, so they don't.  And depending on the store, this principle is extended up to fairly respectable amounts (sometimes based on the reasoning that they don't have any change, so won't be giving any).  Yesterday I bought something for TG 4,935 and did not get any change from my TG 5,000 note.  That TG 65 is about 40 US cents.

There are other interesting things that happen in the supermarkets.  We were especially amused by the lone yoghurt tub.  There was a single low fat yoghurt with the other/s of its two/four pack apparently missing.  Just like cans of beer and coke become separated from their siblings.  We took it to the cashier, who looked at it said something and put it on the side, we could not buy it.  Not terribly commercial, but if those are the rules, so be it.  Then the next day it was back on the yoghurt shelf, still single, with no matching tubs, so I tried to buy it again.  I got the same treatment.  I tried again the next day, same thing.  I must remember to look for it today, though it may have gone past its sell by date now, if they bother with those.

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