A few months ago, myself and a friend discovered a Tesco Extra a good 40-50 minutes away from my house. We’d been walking around aimlessly, as is tradition in Reading, when we stumbled upon it. We didn’t need to get anything at the time, so we carried on past it and wandered elsewhere.
On one of my first walks with Snorlax, I decided to find a distant place on a map and walk there. Walking around by yourself without a goal in mind is tougher than it seems, so I picked the Tesco. It was close to an hour from where I was at the time, so it seemed like a reasonable location to walk to.
Given that it’s in quite an inconvenient place relative to the town, I wasn’t expecting to find much. Hell, they even had some of those handheld scanners you used to get, which allowed you to scan your food as you shopped and pay the bill at the end without the need to stick everything in front of an assistant. They were really popular in, say, 1995.
So the boonies Tesco has an incredible US import section. Incredibly expensive, too. pic.twitter.com/uWAOVeVWvV
— Chris Walden (@EuricaeriS) February 16, 2015
Suffice to say, I wasn’t expecting them to have a small American convenience store in the world foods aisle. It was also one of my 600 calorie days, so no matter what I wanted to stick in my face, it would have to wait until lunchtime the following day. Tesco certainly seem to realise that there’s a lot of money in import foods, so the prices were as ridiculous as you might expect. £5 for a box of Lucky Charms. £7.50 for a box of Twinkies. The £1.50 Gatorade was perhaps the most reasonable thing there, and that was both on sale and 50p more than I’d want to spend on that kind of thing. It was amusing looking at all of the Pop Tart flavours, but ultimately I walked away without any goodies. I did pick up some Dorayaki from the Japanese section, though.
Earlier this week, I was looking around for the closest store that might sell some nuts. I needed the metal, hexagonal kind, and strangely there wasn’t anywhere nearby that I could think of that would sell them in the size I needed. There happens to be a Wickes about 40 minutes away from my house, so I chose to head there. The bonus of doing this is that I walking in an area of Reading that I’d not been before, so I figured it was a good opportunity to explore a little.
I found the Wickes after getting a little lost, but what I didn’t realise until I’d arrived was that it was on a retail park. There was also a Homebase, a KFC and some other stores I didn’t particularly care for, but it did have a B&M. For those unfamiliar with B&M, you could liken them to a Lidl or any other cheapo store. They opened one fairly recently back home, and while I’d only bothered to go in there once, shortly after it opened, they did seem to have a lot of interesting little oddities. Not so much foreign or off-brand foods like Lidl tends to have, but foods you thought were long out of production, or brand foods discounted because they were going out of date in a few months. That kind of thing.
I dossed about the store, picking up a few sauces and other bits, when I found the sweet aisle. I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting, but it was absolutely loaded with American foods, and at reasonable prices, too. I bought two types of M&Ms, peanut butter and pretzel, for 60p a pack. They had those £2.50 Mike and Ike sweets that Tesco had for £1 a pop. Granted, I indulged myself while I had the opportunity.
I left the store feeling pretty happy about my discovery. I mean, £22.49 for some bits I’d get from Tesco and some sweets I’m probably going to pick at across a few months? Wait, why was it £22.49? I was sure I didn’t pick up that much.
I couldn’t stop thinking about it as I was walking through the car park to start heading home, so I took out the receipt. Lo and behold, something wasn’t quite right.
Behind the scrawl is a mystery purchase. Blow a Kiss Katie? It definitely sounds like a toy, but what was that doing on my receipt? Even if it was a weird product name for a product I actually did buy, there was nothing in my basket that should have cost £7.99. While at the checkout, I noticed that they didn’t have the little till screen that tells you what was just scanned and how much it cost, so there was absolutely no way I was going to notice a problem without either questioning the price prior to paying, or looking at my receipt after paying.
The problem with this is that I was served by a very bubbly old man, and I’d made idle conversation with him while he didn’t question the silly amount of chocolate I was buying. While it was likely an honest mistake, I was of course thinking about the possibility that is wasn’t. What if this guy had popped it on my bill in the hopes that I wouldn’t notice? I’ve heard of this being done before, and perhaps the fact that I considered that to be a possibility talks a lot about the kind of person I am.
I went back into the store only a few minutes after originally leaving and waited at the refund counter while trying not to let the old guy notice I was back in the store. Regardless of whether he’d done anything or not, I didn’t want to scare him by looking like he’d caused a problem.
Eventually I was seen, and after hearing my story and looking at the receipt, the lady reached into my bag and pulled out some Butterfinger cups. She explained that this wasn’t the first time this had happened, and she even pointed out there was a number written on the back of the chocolate so that the cashiers could put it in manually. The guy who served me either didn’t remember to do that or didn’t know about it, and the barcode brought up some toy instead of the chocolate.
Drama over. Regardless, it turns out that the Tesco has their American food prices beaten, hands down.