Customers left questioning supermarkets’ integrity

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Despite a new report claiming that shoppers trust bricks-and-mortar retailers more than online sites, one major supermarket has been left red-faced this week and another has gone back on its word.

Woolworths was caught with its pants down when an inquiry from an ABC News journalist asked why the grocer did not have locally canned beans on its shelves.

The question, asked via Twitter, elicited this tweet from the supermarket giant: “Hi Emma, we’re sorry to hear about disappointment towards our tinned beans. We aim to provide the best quality products to our customers and sometimes this means supplying imported products as they’re far superior.”

The response drew quick condemnation and left customers questioning the grocer’s integrity, as it was seen to be at odds with Woolies’ protracted efforts to embrace Australian produce.

Victorian Farmers Federation vice-president Brett Hosking said he was stunned by the tweet.

“I was actually quite shocked that they would have come out and said that, to imply that overseas products are superior to local products,” Mr Hosking said.

“Both major supermarkets have put a lot of work into extolling how much work they’ve put into working with growers, and how much they want to support Australian growers.

“Then to set a statement like that that completely contradicts all that rhetoric, it’s really disappointing.’’

The grocery chain went on to issue a statement apologising for saying that Australian products were of lesser quality than imported ones. It added that the earlier tweet did not “reflect our view of Australian-grown products”.

“Sometimes we do need to source products from overseas, but it’s always our first preference to source locally,” the statement said.

And in another backflip, rival supermarket giant Coles has put a small group of stubborn customers’ wishes ahead of its own stated environmental concerns.

Coles has said it would continue to hand out free thicker plastic shopping bags to help customers adjust to the scrapping of single-use bags.

“Some customers told us they needed more time to make the transition to reusable bags,” a Coles spokesperson said.

The decision has alarmed environmentalists who say that the thicker plastic bags are a greater hazard for the environment than the single-use ones because they take longer to break down in waterways and other habitats, putting wildlife at risk.

Environmental group Greenpeace said Coles’ decision was bad for the planet, ABC News reported.

“Coles have caved in far too quickly to a small but vocal minority and there is absolutely no doubt Coles will be punished for this decision by customers who don’t want to see plastic bags littering their beaches and killing marine life,” Greenpeace campaigner Zoe Deans said.

When Coles first announced it would phase out the lighter plastic bags, it explained: “We are committed to phasing out single-use plastic carry bags by 1 July 2018 across all our stores because we believe it is the right thing to do for the environment.”

But yesterday, Ms Deans observed: “[Coles] talked the talk but haven’t walked the walk.”

Meanwhile, Monash University Business School’s Consumer Retail Trust Index 2018 found consumers see online retail as less trustworthy than physical store-based merchants.

More than 600 shoppers were quizzed about which retailers deserved their loyalty and supermarkets came out on top. Next on the list was pharmacies, followed by retailers of sporting goods, technology, department stores, homewares, clothing and footwear.

Do you think it was wrong of Coles to cave in to a minority of customers who haven’t been able to adjust to the plastic bag phase-out? Do you believe Woolworths’ slip-up over imported canned beans reveals that supermarkets really do not take Australian produce seriously?

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Written by Olga Galacho

129 Comments

Total Comments: 129
  1. 0
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    You too can be permanently outraged – bash the big banks, bash the big supermarkets, bash big government – in fact, bash anything that moves.
    Now that I know that yourlifechoices has partnered with getup, what else would one expect!

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      True NAB but at least they give us a forum to speak our mind.
      Yes, this is a Labor platform – but it is well mannered and has a lot of logical thinkers.
      Comments written on this forum are read outside YLC and it does make a difference. 🙂

    • 0
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      NAB membership of GetUp and YlC is not compulsory. As Rosret says both provide a voice for people who don’t have a voice. I’ve no idea If YLC is a Labor platform because we aren’t asked who we vote for! I think you may be very surprised if you looked up the membership of GetUp! Yes, many are lefties but there are also prominent right wing names. The Save our ABC campaign supporters include past LNP ministers and other conservative ex-politicians – many from National Party Heartland.

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      As maybe, Puglet – but not me.
      Yourlifechoices should nail their colours to the mast and declare, upfront, their memberships and affiliations.
      As I recall, originally, it was formed by an insurance company grouping.
      So, come clean, mylifechoices, who owns/controls you and to whom are you affiliated.

    • 0
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      Not a Bludger, no Australian person, company, business or media, which includes the Your Life Choices magazine journalists, is now, or ever has been, required to stand up and state their political preferences – that is why we have closed ballot boxes which does save a lot of brawling and also a lot of bloodshed at polling booths around the country.

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    Why do we need to import canned vegies ? Better quality? . I don’t think so.Its just another aspect of the Great Australian Cringe. “its from overseas, so it must be better”. When the hell will Australia learn to stand up for itself in the world. In many aspects we are still “tugging the forelock” to our so-called betters. Insist on local. I will never buy imported if Aussie produce is available.
    As far as Coles and their bags go , issuing free bags is a mistake. The Gov. passed legislation to ban single use bags so suck it up. If any shoppers have a problem with this talk to their Gov rep. The more useless plastic they ban the better. And don’t even start me on some of the packaging rubbish.
    And yes we need to be permanently outraged when we find out how we have been conned from all sides by big business, big banks and specially big government. Viva la revolution!!

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    According to Skynews, its the river systems in Asia and Africa that pollute the oceans, whilst our plastic bags actually help stabilise landfill. The only advantage of the thicker plastic bags is that it will make a huge profit for Coles and woolies and be good for the mum and dad shareholders. Incidently I saw an ad for Noni-B where they made a huge thing out of going bag free. So it browsing my wife decides to buy a new evening dress, what is she to do, stuff it in her handbag. Get real Noni-B and other retailers.

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      Just flip it over your shoulder, tags and all! No one will know whether it has been shop lifted or purchased. Its an idea that won’t last long.

      This of course is Noni B who pays the overseas workers a $1 for a $100 polyester dress? Who has a shop in a Mall that has no windows, is air-conditioned and lit like a football stadium 7 days a week.

      The hypocrisy never ceases to amaze me.

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      mike – I sympathize, I absolutely agree with your first two sentences, and I gave up shopping at “Best & Less” a long long time ago for the same reason.
      Cheers, have a good day

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      If NoniB and other womens retail outlets expect me to put a brand new item in my own bag they will not get my business.

      If I am spending big bucks (which is rare) on something I expect it to be at least put into a paper bag which is what they did prior to plastic bags.

  4. 0
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    Your Life Choices partnered with GetUp? AWESOME!!
    PS: people should take responsibility for their own behaviour, Coles and Coles customers who can’t be bothered to remember to take more environmentally friendly bags to shop there….Shame on you!

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      I recently went to put an article YLC and Microsoft stepped in and gave me a list of over 50 cookies attached to the site.

      I see it this way. We have the ability to get our thoughts out there under a pseudonym and debate arguments logically and pleasantly no matter what our political persuasion.

    • 0
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      Rosret I don’t understand much about cookies but what annoys me
      on YLC is the continual pop ups usually on boat trips or finance, I’ve complained but never received an answer

    • 0
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      I agree with you, Shelley.

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      Well trood if you start looking up holiday travel our you read their Saturday edition they see you as someone who just might like a holiday on a cruise ship.
      All you have to do is accidentally click on an ad and heaven forbid how you will get bombarded.
      I go up to history (the three vertical dots in the top right hand corner) and delete any page I accidentally click.
      Every now and again I delete all my history.

    • 0
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      Agree Shelley….mine now permanently placed in my “boot” after unpacked, easy – a new habit.

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    We buy our vegetables fresh from the local farmers market, failing that from a greengrocer where the items are much better than from the multi-national supermarkets.
    As for the plastic bags – if people were unable to accept no plastic bags with more than one months notice they will never accept it. Cloth bags are available from market stalls, or make them yourself, they are easy enough, and will probably outlast most of us without damaging the environment.

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      Now tell me what’s the difference between getting free bags from Coles and me having to buy rolls of bin liners instead. Nothing changes for the environment but the supermarket makes a 15c extra per bag. Get rid of those take away coffee cup first, the bags I use for my bins, bathroom and kitchen, about 6 a week. Good on Coles for reversing that stupid decision. Let the greenies pay their 15c at Aldi.

    • 0
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      AutumnOz – Coles and Woolies are not multi-national supermarkets. Most of superannuation holders are shareholders in both companies.Wholly German Aldi you can call Multi, all over Europe and America and here.

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      Cowboy Jim neither Coles nor Woolies are Australian owned companies, nor are they the same companies we knew 50 years ago as G.J. Coles and Woolworths the names sound very similar but they are not the same companies as those who owned and operated the originals.
      Check it out.

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      Cowboy Jim, Greenies don’t buy plastic bags at all, (& certainly not from Aldi). We bring our own re-usable bags & have done so for years.

  6. 0
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    pedro the swift and Shelly53 I couldn’t agree more.
    Stores should not have made those ‘reusable’ plastic bags available. If people didn’t know the ban was coming they must’ve been hiding under a rock for at least 12 months. What lazy, first world entitled people we have become! We really can’t tolerate the slightest inconvenience.
    If you’re going shopping for clothing, how about taking your own bag – might slow down the impulse buying a bit!

    • 0
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      I disagree. These supermarket plastic bags are durable and can be used over and over again.

    • 0
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      They’re not that durable, KAL, the ones I had were used perhaps 3 or 4 times or less and developed tears. I now have cloth ones and they really can be used over and over again.

  7. 0
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    Remember the days before supermarkets. Had to take your own shopping bag or basket. Go to the High St, and visit so many shops eg. butcher, greengrocer, fishmonger, dairey shop. Gave us a bit of exercise too. And with no refrigerator you had to go every couple of days.
    What happened to string bags, you could squeeze them up to virtually nothing and carry them in your pocket. Looking at the world today I think we were a lot more virsatile then.

    • 0
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      I am not that old casey.
      They always provided paper bags and even gift wrapped some purchases with tissue, paper and then a bow.
      The cheap supermarkets provided cardboard boxes.

    • 0
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      And the paper bags provided were much stronger than the one use plastic bags that often fell apart before reaching the car.

    • 0
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      Unfortunately we allowed ourselves to be seduced by one-stop-shop supermarkets and chain stores and malls so we lost all those high street shop keepers. Sad.

  8. 0
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    Ban plastic bags. Just do it.

  9. 0
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    Coles is a business with share holders. I am willing to bet sales have temporarily dropped.

    I know myself that I am constantly watching how much I buy against how many bags I have with me. If its stopping me impulse buying or even buying as much as I normally would then I suggest there are many more like me. That 15c is nothing to the loss in sales.

    They have said it was a temporary convenience. It is not law. So let them run their business and see what can be done to clean the oceans to our north where there is actually a problem.

    • 0
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      As a bloke I do not carry a handbag and stuffing plastic bags in my pockets is a no-no. When I see things I like to buy then I do it and I do not go ‘shopping’ with a purpose. I do it on impulse and that is where I will buy a bag; if the bag is free so much the better. Really a single or a couple can easily buy a bag.

    • 0
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      Sales may have also dropped as government charges, fuel rise and retail and hospitality wages fall as well as some rebates.

      I know I no longer buy any products not essential as I’m in saving mode once again. The Government did me no favours in any of their last five budgets.

      I’ve also noticed the meat prices at Coles is slightly higher than the butcher except for pork and chicken so have returned to the butcher for beef and lamb and the fish monger is much cheaper than Coles or Woolies now.

      Fruit and veg is better quality at the local produce store and the same price as the majors.

      It might be transport costs or something else.Or shareholders or the cost of all that automation and shoplifting going on.

      Even the Metro beats diesel pricing by 12 cents a litre against the Coles, woolies fuel partners now.

      Comparative shoppers may be voting with their wallets.

    • 0
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      Rae and I are lucky to have butchers and fish mongers still; one green grocer I have still left. Most of my mates a bit further out are lucky to have a supermarket in driving distance. Had everything close in Melbourne, most of my stuff was bought at Victoria Market. Wish I was near one of those where I live now.

    • 0
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      May have been kinder to customers (us) as they are in USA….free paper bags there.

    • 0
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      Yes Cowboy a central producers markets in each region would be a terrific idea. Wouldn’t suit the supermarkets though and as we know Business is King and Queen these days.

    • 0
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      You’re right, Rosret. If people aren’t “ready” for the revolution by now, they won’t ever be ready.
      I avoided Coles when they crumbled to the Plastic Bag Brigade, just out of principle. Anyway, I only go there when they have really good specials on things I can stock up on, which is rare.

      For Rae & Cowboy, just Google “Farmers Markets” in your local area. Unless you live in the Outback, I’m fairly sure you’ll find some great, fresh, local produce nearby. There’s a revolution going on in our communities, so get on board! The more we support local markets the better the service they’ll give us.

  10. 0
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    we always try to buy Australian but more often than not the goods are more expensive than imports. IE tinned tomatoes from Australia can cost double those from Italy. As budgets feel more strain from outrageous power bills etc. less and less Australian products will be bought until they will disappear from supermarket shelves.

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