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After leaving home a few months ago I found that one of the crappiest, most time consuming and most expensive things I had to do was go shopping. I don't hate it as such, but it's a waste of time and all those corporate ploys supermarkets use to make you buy stuff you don't even want work really well on me. For example, I popped into Kwik Save last week to buy two cartons of orange juice and a pack of cheese triangles only to walk out with thirteen pounds worth of shopping (which would have been much more had I not walked really quickly past the alcohol aisle).
Another problem I had was where to do my shopping, I tried Safeway and Tesco, which were too expensive, Kwik Save was filthy, Aldi's range is far too limited, Sainsbury's is way out of my league, Morrisions is great but too far away and to get to ASDA I have to drive through a village which smells like a sewer and it takes a good two hours to get round the damn shop.
So to overcome my problem I decided the best thing to do was shop online, I don't now many people who do it but I figured 'I buy everything else online, why not this'. Out of all the shop's I tried my favourite by far was Morrisons but as they don't offer internet shopping (at least in my area they don't) I plumped for my second choice, ASDA.
The site is well laid out and free from clutter. Coloured in Pale green, custard yellow and white the site is easy on the eye. The main shopping area has three sections, the aisles on the left with a keyword search at the top, the shelf contents in the middle and your shopping basket, with a running total on the right. At the top of the screen there are button for your orders, favourites and help. The customer service helpline is also displayed at all times in the top right hand corner of the screen.
The first thing you do when first visiting the site is enter you postcode to ensure that they deliver in your area, there's no point wasting time carrying on if they don't is there really.
After this you can sign up with the site or your can have a browse before you decide. During the sign up process they will ask you for details such as address telephone number and a pin number. The pin number will be used to access you details on the site whenever you log back in, much like a cash machine. Once you have logged in your are given the option to either book a delivery slot or go shopping.
ASDA offer one of the cheapest delivery services in the online shopping game at £3.50 a throw. They deliver seven days a weeks in intervals of around two hours; my main slot is Monday between 6 and 8pm. Delivery times are as follows: Monday -Wednesday: 12pm - 9pm Thursday: 10am - 7pm Friday: 9am - 10pm Saturday: 9am - 6pm Sunday: 3pm - 5pm
A slot is reserved for your before you check out for up to three hours and slots can be booked up to two weeks in advance. Orders can be changed up until 5pm on the day before your shopping is due. I usually book my slot on a Tuesday ordering the bare basics and then amend my order on the Saturday or Sunday when I know what I actually want.
The aisles, laid out on the left of the screen are arranged, as they would be in the shop itself (Bakery and deli, packets tins and jars etc). If you cant find the item your looking for by browsing through the aisles, you can use the keyword search and the top of the screen to help you. Items are listed out by brand, with the ASDA brand always at the top. When you find an item you want, enter the quantity and click on add, your basket on the right will then be updated to show the item, quantity and price of the item with a subtotal of all items at the bottom. The quantity can be changed or the item removed at any time.
There is a separate section on the left for special offers, clicking on this will take you to all the offers which would be available in-store (three for two, four for a fiver type things) and you can browse through them to see if anything takes your fancy. Some categories will show the special offers at the top of the screen when you are browsing with an icon beside each item included in the offer.
When you have completed your shopping you are taken to the checkout where you enter you card details, if you choose to you can have you card held on file for future reference (making the secrecy of your pin number quite important). ASDA will send you and email confirming your order, and that's it. Shopping done. Your order is sent to ASDA's head office in Leeds who cascade it down to the relevant store. When it is due the order is made up and the total is sent through to Leeds who debit your card. These means that you only pay for the order on the day you receive it.
Orders on sent in delivery vans which have a both a refrigerated section and a non-refrigerated section. Baskets are strapped securely in the van so fragile items like eggs are quite safe.
The first visit always takes a fair while but the use of the favourites section means week on week it is taking me less time to shop. The fact that there are no pictures was, and still is a cause for concern for me. You are buying blind; hoping what you're ordering is what you want. So far I've had no problems and take the suck it and see approach. I would also welcome the ability to see the labels of the products I'm buying. I was also a little concerned about the quality of the fresh food, which makes up the bulk of my shopping. I needn't have worried, as everything I have ordered has been perfect, better than I could've chosen myself. If a mistake is made with your order, you will need to telephone ASDA, the delivery men simply 'chuck it on the wagon' in the words of one of our delivery men.
My first encounter with ASDA customer services went something like this. The weeks shopping included two loaves of white bread (for my, im not eating brown bread, boyfreind)and a pack of brown rice (for healthy old me), instead I got two loaves of wholemeal bread and a pack of white rice. While ill eat the brown bread and he'll eat the white rice, its not really what i asked for, and the difference was fairly fundamental.
After ringing the 0845 number on the site I was greeted by a queue, fair enough. The queue then rang off to an answerphone system which tells me they'll ring me back.
Apart from the fact that I dont leave messages on answerphones of people I know, I didnt trust them to ring me back, so I just kept ringing until I got a real person.
The very nice man on the other end of the phone, asked me what the discrepancies were and how much i'd been charged for them. he then told me the money would be put back on my card and I could keep the items.
He didnt offer to have the correct items delivered, but thats ok cos I got free food and can pop into kwik save anytime really.
They've made similar mistakes on a few occasions. They always give you your money back with no argument and if you ask them they will arrange to redeliver the goods free of charge (free delivery, not free goods)
Every order I've placed so far I have received a telephone call at about 4.30pm telling me they're in my area and do it want it delivering now, I'm always at work then but the gesture is quite nice. Otherwise, they deliver in the time window they're supposed to.
The range offered online doesn't appear to be as extensive as the shop, but this could be down to the fact that it's not all in my face at once. There is an organic range, a low fat range and a Cheep and cheerful range (Smartprice) plus all your usual branded goods.
Some of the advantages I've found with online shopping are: If you spend a little more than you intended you can put things back without being embarrassed You don't have the temptation to buy things that you don't really want simply because they have been put out for you to see. They can't keep rearranging the aisles so you can't find anything, in a ploy to make you spend more.
So in short, i'm a happy shopper and will be sticking with ASDA for the foreseeable future.