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Tesco Online Ordering: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Yesterday, my tesco picker forgot the difference between white bread and malt bread and where I had ordered “Seeded Malt Roll”, I was sent something made with white flour, which I refused and had sent back. I don’t understand how someone doesn’t know the difference, given that the ONLY search result on Tesco.com for “Seeded Malt Roll” is this:

A further search on Tesco.com by clicking on “view rest of shelf” on the Malt Rolls shows this item listed directly under the Malt Rolls:

This is called a “Seeded Spelt Roll” and appears to be what I had been sent. Now, in the picker’s defense, I could understand not knowing what Malt or Spelt meant. However, if I did not know, I would look it up or ask the people in the bakery department. It’s not a huge problem, I just refused the item and had it sent back. It did mea I was out some rolls for my Lunch, though.

But the biggest problem from yesterday was the driver forgetting an entire tray of chilled foods, including milk. The total amount missing was £14.62, which is a pretty decent chunk of our weekly groceries, considering this was all of our dairy products (milk, butter, yoghurt, cheese) and salad items (lettuce, tomato, spinach, mushrooms).

The driver couldn’t bring me the items but he was going to see if an afternoon van had space. Unfortunately, the afternoon and evening vans didn’t, and my only option was if his supervisor was *willing* to bring me my missing items in the afternoon. Like I said on Facebook, we live nearly an hour away from the grocery depot, so I couldn’t imagine the supervisor being willing to take over two hours out of his day to do this. When I received no call back, I rang up customer service and got a lovely woman named Tammy (wish I knew her last name!) who rang the store while I was on hold and unfortunately came back to tell me I wasn’t getting the items yesterday and was going to get a refund for those items. BUT, Tammy would put in an order for the missing items with a delivery for today, refund the delivery charge, and send me a voucher for the trouble it caused me. When I spoke with Tesco on Facebook, they also decided to give me a voucher as an apology for all the confusion this has caused.

You’d think that would be the end, right? Items would arrive, all would be well….you’d think wrong.

Tesco driver, Ashley, rang to tell me he was running late and would not be delivering my groceries until 10:30. I immediately contacted Tesco through facebook again to tell them, and I was offered another voucher for the problem.

When my order arrived…guess what? THEY SENT THE WRONG ROLLS AGAIN!! I was annoyed, but what puzzled me more was the grocery total. £25.32 when it should have been at the most £19.46. What happened? OH, apparently several of the items I had ordered were on a special offer that had expired yesterday. Fortunately, another phone call, this time speaking to a man named Alister, fixed the problem and got the delivery charge refunded.

In the end, Tesco sent me £30 in vouchers, plus refunded delivery charges. I think this is above and beyond anything I expected and I truly thank Tesco…because honestly? It’s the £30 in vouchers that is going to keep me a customer. Knowing that Tesco cares about their customers enough to go the extra mile is what will keep me coming back.

Thank you, Tesco. Thank you Jamie, Tammy, and Alister. But could you teach the pickers in Cleethorpes what Malt rolls look like?

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Grocery Tracker: January

I created an Excel spreadsheet to track our grocery store spending throughout the year, and my first month is complete. We have spent £173.18 this month on groceries ONLY. I filter out of the total delivery charges (£17.50 for the month), toiletries (nothing, bought everything at Boots or Wilkos), household goods (laundry soap, etc. £15.21 this month), pet supplies (£2.29 this month as all Prudence needed was a box of wet food), alcohol (£0), and misc (like if we pick up a DVD at the grocery store. £0 this month)

I’m debating about adding onto the sheet all times we go shopping for toiletries (boots/wilkos/etc), as I am interested in knowing what we spend on those things. I might still have my receipts from this month, or I can price things out individually and work out the total. It was less than £25, but more than usual because we ran out of everything this month including Tim’s aftershave.

Still, £173 isn’t bad. We’ve always aimed to spend less than £200. And yesterday was the most expensive delivery because we defrosted the freezer and needed to restock it.

Paying for delivery annoys me sometimes, but I can justify it, easily. If Tim isn’t available to drive me to the shop, I’d have to take a bus at £4.80 Return. Delivery fees hover between £3.50 and £4.50, depending on how fast I book it. Petrol would be negligible, since we live fairly close to most of the shops (though I bet Asda would be more in petrol than the delivery fee), but when you think about how much time you spend in the grocery stores…..the delivery fee is well worth it!

Here’s hoping I can do better in February, though. Ideally, I’d rather groceries be down in the £125-150 range for the month, especially since we will have houseguests in April and May that will add extras! (Dear houseguests: No, I am not asking you to buy groceries while you are here! Stop thinking that!!). We also are going on holiday in June, so groceries become a little iffy then, too. Even with camping, we still wind up doing a daily shop and it can add up since you never have a stocked pantry to work with.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Tesco Can’t Deliver on Time

I need a new iron. The one I have been using was Tim’s from bachelordom and he no longer has the manual for it ,nor can one be located online. Plus, I wanted an iron with the ability to steam upright. After loads of looking online, I settled on a Morphy Richard’s model and ordered it from Tesco Direct (mostly for the points!). Tesco has two delivery options – The first was £5 (or was it £3?) and was for a 12-hour slot of 7am to 7pm. The second option was £6.85 and lets you pick your own 2 hour time slot for delivery. I paid the extra and set my delivery for today from 3pm to 5pm.

I’m writing this at 5:57, and there still is no sign of my iron. I rang Tesco around ten past five because I checked the online status and it says my item is going from the warehouse to the store, NOT out for delivery. The woman I spoke with was very nice. She said it should be out for delivery and she didn’t know why it hadn’t arrived yet, so could I hold on while she rang the store it was coming from (Cleethorpes). I waited, and she came back on the line to tell me that no one was answering the phone in the delivery department, but she spoke to store customer service who told her that was because they were done for the day, and the store had no way of contacting the driver.

This is a bunch of crap, as they have always been able to ring the driver if he was running late — and on several occasions, the driver has rung me to tell me he was running late.

The only thing the woman could tell me was to wait until 7PM and ring back tonight or tomorrow morning to reschedule delivery, but she would refund my $6.85. I told her I was not interested in rescheduling my delivery because I would not be available tomorrow, I was available today from 3 to 5, which was why I paid extra to book the slot. She urged me to wait until 7PM just in case the driver was running late.

In the meantime, I’ve found the exact same iron at Argos. It is £7 more than Tesco but it will even itself out because Tim can collect the item before work tomorrow and we can avoid a delivery fees. For whatever reason, Tesco Direct will not send items to Lincoln, and always insists we need to pick things up in Cleethorpes, which for those of you who don’t know, is about a half hour to 45 minute drive away from us!

Overall, I’m very disappointed with Tesco today. There is absolutely no excuse for not delivering an item on time, let alone not ringing to state it will not be on time. I seriously doubt there was ever an iron on the delivery van for me for today, given the online status of my order, too.

(I’m pressing publish on this at 6:15pm, and still no delivery. They have 45 minutes.)

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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Extreme Tesco

In the US, a new show on TLC has been raising eyebrows everywhere called Extreme Couponing. I’ll link to one of the blurbs for an episode below, but you can very easily search for Extreme Couponing on YouTube and pull up loads more clips, including personal videos by some of the people on the show where they give extensive “tours” of their stockpiles. If I linked to every single YouTube video I’ve watched, it would be a very long list. The show isn’t available in the UK (or if it is, it’s not on the channels I get), so I have to watch the segments on YouTube.


Link: http://youtu.be/FORB0P3hSiI

The show has been also raising eyebrows all over the blogosphere, too (yes, those are all separate links). Lots of legitimate couponing sites (again, google for more) have been blasting the show’s policies, including the people on the show using coupons for the wrong items in order to lower their bill.

The idea behind the show is to save as much money as you can on your grocery bill, by ANY means possible, even if it means buying coupons online for $70 or dumpster diving for discarded coupon inserts.

I love saving money as much as anyone else, but there’s a reason the show is called “extreme”!

In the UK, couponing isn’t a big deal. Every once in a while there might be a coupon for something in a magazine or through the post, but there are no Sunday inserts — most of the grocery stores don’t even put out weekly fliers. But every time you walk around one of the shops with your grocery list, you’re bound to find at least half of the items on your list on special offer, and if you are really pressed for funds, you can purchase things off of the ultra-value line, where cans of soup cost 17p. I get a little thrill when our total is shown as £58 and then the cashier scans our clubcard and the total gets reduced to £35.

A few weeks back, Tim and I went to Tesco armed with £9.50 in clubcard vouchers and whatever loose change we had in our pockets (well, and our debit cards). We set ourselves a goal of spending as close to £10 as we could.

Here’s a copy of our receipt:

As you can see, we spent £1.49 out of pocket.

I consider this an awesome shopping trip, but was it extreme? No, probably not. For one, we didn’t deliberately buy things just to get them “for free”, and in fact we added the Red Leicester cheese and the Lighter Cheese (on an offer 2/£3) just so we would definitely spend more than our vouchers.

But take a look at some of the other things we purchased:

Wholemeal Bread 47p
Tinned Pineapple 43p
Chocolate Hazelnut Spread (Generic Nutella) 86p
2L Sparkling Water 16p

All of the above items came from Tesco’s “value” range. The jar of chocolate hazelnut was larger than the largest jar of Nutella and the Nutella was over £3. Fortunately, we had tried the Tesco brand before, and actually like it. I can’t tell a difference at all between it and Nutella. And it’s less than £1. Sparkling water? Sure, I could have gone for one of the brands, but in my opinion, water is water. I’m going to pour it into a glass and top it off with some fruit squash, so does it really matter? The same with the pineapple – it’s an ingredient in another recipe. The value tin came in syrup instead of juice, but I’ll rinse off the pineapple before I use it. The bread probably wasn’t the greatest. It’s really thin slices of bread, but it doesn’t taste bad.

Granted, on a regular shopping trip, we probably would have picked up Nutella, Buxton brand water, and Kingsmill bread, but we were deliberately trying to see what we could get for approximately £10 and I wanted to try out some of the Tesco value line products.

What I learned? The value products really aren’t bad. And if it means I spend only £20 on weekly groceries, I’ll take it.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, or the RSS feed(s), please notify me.

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A Taste of Philly

I don’t get homesick. Honestly. But I do on occasion miss things from the US, and it gives me something to experiment with in the kitchen when what I miss is food.

For ages, a friend of mine kept telling me I could get something similar to Steak-Ums* at Iceland**, but I never spotted them, so I had kind of given up on the idea of trying to make a cheesesteak sandwich. But last week, I really wanted a chicken cheesesteak hoagie (sometimes also called a California chicken cheesesteak). I could practically taste it, I wanted one so badly.

When is a cheesesteak a hoagie? When you add onto it mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato (sometimes also oregano and pickles, depending on the shop). Now, some people will argue that chicken does not belong on a cheesesteak. To them I stick out my tongue. I have never been a fan of beef, being unable to properly digest it most of the time, so I tend to avoid it (I even was vegetarian for many years because of my dislike of meat, too).

Last week, I ordered an item from Tesco called “pork for stir-fry”. It turned out to be small strips of pork, so I thought if I bought chicken for stir-fry, it would hopefully be the same style. I checked the Tesco website, and it isn’t. Chicken for stir-fry comes as cubes, not strips. Back to the drawing board for ideas. My second thought was to order some “mini fillets” – if I pounded them down a bit flatter I thought it just might work. I even went so far as to wonder if sliced chicken lunchmeat would work!

But then, I was at ASDA on Saturday with my MIL and SIL and in the poultry section they had something called “turkey steaks”. I know, I know “steak is supposed to be beef”. But the package looked interesting, and the “steaks” looked the same way regular steak looks, just made of turkey. I thought I’d give it a go and purchased 2 submarine rolls along with lettuce and tomato. Don’t ask me what kind of cheese I used, though. I have a big block I got on offer at Tesco a few weeks ago that I just keep shredding whenever something calls for cheese. Sadly, no Cheeze Whiz (though I understand it is available in some ASDA stores).

Today was the day. I was going to attempt this, and if it didn’t work, Tim and I would be screwed for Lunch.

I decided to grill the steaks on the George Foreman. There wasn’t much fat in them to begin with, but I just like the way things come out on the George. The steaks only took about 8 minutes. I wound up slicing the steaks (though not nearly as chopped up as an authentic cheesesteak) so they would fit easier in the rolls. Topped the steaks with a small bit of shredded cheese, lettuce, tomato, and a small sprinkling of cheese, then put them under the grill*** (the regular oven’s grill) until the cheese was melted and the bread was toasty.

Served them up with some chips (US: fries) and a can of Dr Pepper Zero. While not authentic, they were really good on their own, and I can see myself making it again. Tim liked it too, which is always important when I play around in the kitchen. Next up? Trying to make soft pretzels. Okay, maybe not, but now I’m on this Philly food kick…

Sadly, no photo. I thought about it after I was almost done the sandwich!

*Steak-Ums, for those of you unfamiliar with them are very thin bits of steak you grill or fry and then put in a sandwich to make a homemade steak sandwich.

**No, not the country. There is a shop called Iceland that primarily sells inexpensive frozen items.

***In the US, I would use the broiler.

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A Day Out

I took the bus into Lincoln today because I had a few errands I needed to run.

I got off the bus at the “top of the hill” near the Cathedral, as my original plans were to talk to the people at the pub we want to use for the reception in person, but that didn’t work out. As I was walking down Steep Hill (yes, it’s called that) I happened to spot a volunteer sign in the window of the Cancer Research charity shop. Since my application for OxFam must have been rejected (never heard back from them!), I was still looking for some place to volunteer, both as something to do, and as part of the new requirements for seeking citizenship in the UK. I walked in, asked about volunteering, and 10 minutes later I was “hired”. I’ll be working every Thursday from 1-5PM, which goes nicely with my other activity on Thursdays – an all-female Barbershop group (part of Sweet Adelines).

After landing the “job”, I went to Primark to replace some of the items I accidentally shrank in the wash* and then to Boots (drug store) to use some coupons that expired at the end of the month, and to place an order for photos to be printed to go with my insurance claim form. Then, it was the trek over to the other side of High Street to Argos to make a return. Right as I got to the barriers for the train, they went down, so I sent a text to Tim. He called and played “big brother” on me by looking at me through his CCTV! Item returned and new item purchased (I needed a new small crock pot), I walked back only to get to the crossing right as the barriers were going down again.

I met up with Tim and we went shopping for Mother’s Day cards and Birthday cards and then decided we’d just go look at eyeglass frames at one of the discount stores. I found frames for both regular and sunglasses that I liked (and they were only £70) and so we asked about making an appointment, and there happened to be an opening right then, so this afternoon I had an eye exam and got new glasses and sunglasses! I pick up the glasses on Thursday.

We also did our weekly run at Tesco, and now I’m busy (at midnight) finishing roasting a chicken so I can use it tomorrow in a stew I’m making for Tim’s grandad.

I just need to keep my eyes open for another half hour….

*Last week when I did the wash, I forgot that temperatures were in Celsius and I set it for 60…..60C is a hot water wash, not the lukewarm water wash I thought it was.

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Finding Inexpensive Travel Deals

I ♥ travelocity. Let me back up. I ♥ moneysavingexpert.com.

Moneysavingexpert.com is a UK site for cheap bargains. I signed up for the weekly newsletter in the hopes that I’d find some good deals for Tim and I…and I have.

First, I discovered that for every £10 in Tesco vouchers we earn, we can trade it in for £40 in hotel vouchers instead of using it at Tesco. £10 off your groceries is nice, but if we can get a hotel room for free, we’ll take it! On our last Tesco statement, we had earned £12 in Tesco vouchers (which Tim used to get money off his groceries now that I’m back in the US), so we should be able to get ourselves £40 in hotel vouchers once every three months (Tesco earnings come out quarterly).

It also had deals on things that don’t apply to us, like credit card deals, deals on Sky+, etc. But this week, it had a link to their section on travel and tips on finding inexpensive hotels (which apply worldwide, btw). Since I have an upcoming trip to Ireland in September, I’ve been hunting for an inexpensive hotel.

I opened all their suggestions in tabs and compared it with the hotel I had already found (a self-catered place for ~US$250/3 nights). Travelocity found a fantastic deal. The Ardmore Hotel for only US$48/night! The hotel is a few miles from both the airport and the ferry port, as well as the train station. There’s a bus stop right in front that will take you into the city center….and the hotel has decent reviews on TripAdvisor. The other great thing about Travelocity is it will charge in USD, so we won’t have to worry about a currency conversion fee.

The minus to staying at the Ardmore is going to be that it’s NOT self-catering. It’s iffy if breakfast is included (hotel site says it’s available, but a review claims it cost €12 (~US$17) and apparently a cheaper breakfast can be had in town at Debenhams for €7 (~US$10)), but there IS a hotel restaurant/bar and they have daily dinner specials for €10 (~US$14) as well as room service, so if we can’t find anyplace else to eat, we can use the hotel as a fall-back option. But I can’t see us spending more than ~US$150 on food for three days (the price difference between the Ardmore and the self-catered place is ~US$150, and that’s before we’d have to shop for food for meals, too.)…if even that. Especially if I still head to a Tesco when we get there to stock up on some non-perishable snacks. If we eat a big breakfast at Debenham’s in the morning and pack snacks for the mid-day, as long as we eat an early dinner, we might be able to skip lunch (Tim and I did that frequently when we were traveling).

Do the discount websites work? Well, not always. And it’s always best to compare several in different windows or tabs to ensure you are finding the best deals. When I was searching for our flights I managed to find flights for $100 less through Priceline than even Kayak or Cheap Tickets was linking to (and those sites are my first stops for cheap air fare)! I also always open a direct link to the hotel or airline website to make sure there isn’t a better deal through booking direct. And if you’re looking at hotels, make sure you read the reviews or check Trip Advisor. Sure, a hotel for under $40 is nice, but is it going to be clean?

I also try to take advantage of membership cards. Obviously, airlines have frequent flier cards you can earn miles on for future trips and even spend buying other things. But did you know that many of the hotel chains have their own rewards system? Some even as easy as stay three nights in any of their hotels, get a one night stay for free!

Inexpensive travel is out there. You just have to be willing to search for it!

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Groceries US vs. UK

Tonight, my mom and I went over to the Weis Market in the Manor Shopping Center (Lancaster, PA). We usually grab one of the mini-carts and put our reusable bags on the bottom half while we shop. As we walked in the door, the security guard stationed by the door tried to tell us that we needed to leave our bag(s) with the customer service desk while we shopped. We explained to him that they were our grocery bags, and his comment back to us was “people still could use them to steal stuff”. The overall impression I got off this security guard was that he somehow thought Mom and I were going to steal groceries and that’s why we were bringing in bags. I’ve never felt so offended before going grocery shopping. If this is going to be a trend with that store, we simply won’t shop at it anymore!

And then when we were checking out…it seems to me that if you bring in your own bags, the cashier doesn’t make any moves to assist you with packing up your purchases. Even if they have finished ringing you up and you have paid and the remaining items are out of your reach. No, you must stretch yourself to try to push them down to where you can reach them.

I compare this type of service to the service I regularly received at Tesco in the UK. Never once were we stopped by anyone for bringing in reusable bags, in fact, they encourage reusable over plastic and offer you 3p off your order for every bag you bring in. If you need plastic bags, you need to ask the cashier to give you some. Also, as soon as you start packing your groceries, the cashier always asks if you need help packing and will do their best to ensure that you can reach all your purchases.

I could be looking at grocery shopping in the UK through rose coloured glasses, but I never came across a rude cashier or stocker in any of our trips to Tesco. Matter of fact, I even received help finding an item in the store from an employee who was off-duty doing her own shopping when she heard me tell Tim I couldn’t find an item off our list!

I wish Weis was more like Tesco (and I wish they didn’t charge over $7 for the tiniest bottle of Ribena you can get for under £1 in the UK!). I’ve also sent in a complaint via the Weis Market’s website. I had wanted to speak with the store manager, but there was a long line at customer service and only one woman behind the counter. I didn’t want to cause a huge fuss asking for a manager to complain to when clearly, they needed help dealing with all the customers.

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