Feature: I can’t wait forever
Like most men, I loathe shopping. But I do the grocery shopping for the family because I can use my HSBC credit card and get points for free (wellalmost free) flights on PAL.
What amazes me is the time it can take to actually reach and then pay the cashier in local supermarkets.
When one shops in Hong Kong, Singapore or Australia — and even in some supermarkets in Manila - the shops have conveyor belt counter tops to quickly move the purchases along to the cashier. But not here.
And overseas it usually only takes 5 to 30 seconds to pay by credit card.
But not here. In Bacolod, it can take five minutes or more. And when I hear the dreaded "for a while Sir" from the cashier, I know it’s time to take out a book or newspaper from my bag as there’ll be a long wait.
In a recent survey among Filipino supermarket shoppers the biggest complaint was the time it takes to get to the cashier. Clearly, I’m not the only one who gets fed up with all the waiting.
I’ve often wondered why big international stores like Walmart or Tesco do not have branches in the Philippines. I believe it’s because foreigners are barred from owning and operating retail stores leaving the market wide open for a few local players. What a pity. If the big international stores were here, they’d certainly give the big local chains a run for their money.
If there was international competition, I’m sure consumers would be better off, prices would be lower and the selection of products much greater.
But, surely the big boys here make enough money to modernize their stores and employ more cashiers to make life easier for shoppers. Or maybe they don’t really care as they know we have little choice.
As for express lanes in supermarkets here - forget it. I was shopping last week and had one item so went to the basket lane. In front of me was a man and his wife doing their month’s shopping. I’m sure they knew this was the express lane, but chose to ignore it as it suited them to use that lane.
Never mind about other customers. Or maybe they spoke no English so did not understand the sign indicating this was an express lane.
Supermarket managers should train their staff to politely say no when some inconsiderate person tries to dump a month’s shopping in an express lane.
But there are bright spots. One store where it is relatively easy to get out of quickly is Lopue’s Mandalagan. The staff there are quick and efficient.
And shopping in a wet market is usually a more relaxed experience than in a supermarket. I’m a regular at Burgos Market. I rarely have to wait and the vendors are a friendly bunch - and one can even haggle.
Online shopping with home delivery is in its infancy, but I look forward to the day I can do my week’s shopping on a computer, pay online and then take the rest of the day off and go fishing.*