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The quality kept dropping, the subsitutions got more and more bizarre, not to mention more expensive, and I have to admit I'm an Ocado convert now! I still shop at a real world Sainsburys but the virtual one has lost its shine.
[Update: I was considering removing a star after the week before last's attempt to substitute balsamic vinegar with malt vinegar (?!?). Not possible in my view. My 49p was credited promptly. But today's order was perfect and 15 minutes early so I think it balances out on the whole.]
[Update: Only the title really. I realised that it would make no sense unless you read the op and that my attempt at recreating the horror of queue standing music could just as easily pass for 'Flashdance' as 'Dancing on the Ceiling'. Still pleased with the service but more substitions most recent time. But it still beats going to do the grocery shop in person!)
If there's one thing I loathe, it's grocery shopping. I enjoy other types of shopping - books, girlie trips to Boots or department stores, and shoes are all fine and even a pleasant way to while away the time. But grocery stores wind me up and stress me out unbelievably. Is it the depressingly slow music which is an attempt to keep me lingering at the shelves longer than necessary? (Are 'easy lovers' the target market? Or is that just my local Safeway?) Is it the garish attempt to create a 'shopping experience'? I don't want to buy a televsion, I want some milk. And don't even get me started on my problems with basket/trolley rage! (The time I deliberatly crashed my trolley into a display of tuna tins stands out as a personal favourite.) But this isn't about grocery shopping. It's about how I've come to avoid it almost completely.
I've been using Sainsbury's to You shopping service for a few months now. Why Sainsbury's instead of the competition? For one, Waitrose won't deliver in my area. And for two, I have managed to get my deliveries free most of the time using a combination of vouchers scavenged from various newspapers and magazines (usually picked up for free on the train - so there is one benefit to commuting!) and Sainsbury's online offers. The later are based on how much you spend. For example, before Christmas a total spend of £50. or more got you £5. off (i.e. the cost of delivery). This was great because I then topped up my weekly order in such a way to stock my holiday wine cellar and get extra holiday treats. Now, a total spend of £60. or more nets the £5. refund. The only drawback is that this offer can only be used on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Not a problem for me as a part time and freelance worker. I make my own hours and can easily clear a two hour window. The vouchers you can use anytime. Just fill in your name and address and you'll be credited when he or she returns to the store.
The Online Shopping Experience
Ah, I love this bit! Log in at www.sainsburystoyou.co.uk. Once you register the site remembers your details. You can enter your Nectar card details and earn points every time you shop on the site without even thinking about it. Pick a time convenient to you to have groceries delivered. These are in two hour blocks, 10-12, or 2-4, for example. Once your time is booked it's saved for a couple of hours while you do your shopping.
The first time you visit you'll have a blank slate. There are a couple of options to get you started. If you have a list you can simply type in the names of all the things you want and the site will guess what you mean and assemble a virtual list. I've not used this but it seems it should work in theory. I prefer to use the 'Aisles and Shelves' method.
This is just as it sounds. Click on an aisle and you'll get a list of options to narrow the choices down. 'Dairy' thereby becomes 'Cheese' becomes 'Goat's Cheese', etc. You'll get a list of all the options with special offers highlighted. (NB: you need to have booked a delivery time to see them!) Click on the little red offer box to see the details. These are the same as in-store offers and could be multi-buy offers, extra Nectar points, or just money off offers. Be aware that these offers may not be available on the day of your delivery and act accordingly. There are few things as frustrating as thinking you're saving money only to find that you aren't!
Enter the amount of items you want and click on update trolley. The item(s) appear in a virtual trolley to the right. You can keep tabs on your order throughout if you can work out what the scrunched up abbreviations mean. Also good is a running total at the bottom which recalculates every time you update the trolley. Great for keeping in budget or trying for a free delivery!
You can also search for individual items by name using a search box. I've had mixed results with this.
The site is easy to use if occasionally a bit clunky. As you shop a few times you'll build up a favourites file called 'Your Usual' which lists all the things you've bought before. This is somewhat useful but not completely so. For example, I have mince pies at the top of mine. Great in December but useless in February, especially as they're not currently available and there are no alternative suggestions. But this is a minor quibble!
Once your virtual trolley is filled up you can check it (in fact you can get a non-abbreviated list at any time during the session), add or delete, and make sure the total is plausible. This is much that same as any online shopping trolley. It is far nicer than standing in a queue with other disgruntled customers with Lionel Ritchie blaring over the speakers. I'll give him 'Dancing on the Ceiling' as I'm crawling up the walls. And then remembering you've forgotten the coffee or the milk or the special thing you promised to get for your beloved!
No, this is far nicer. Once you're sure, enter your password - the site remembers your payment details, click and you're away. I always keep a printer friendly copy to refer to until the delivery actually comes. If you have forgotten something, the order can be changed until 4 p.m. the preceding day for morning orders (before 2 p.m.) or until 9 p.m. for other orders. You'll get a confirmation e-mail almost immediately verifying the date, time, and contents of the delivery. This also gives instructions on how to change the order if necessary.
The Delivery Experience
This bit is pretty good, too. Instead of hauling myself down to the shop, listlessly filling a trolley, bashing into other customers with this very real trolley (why don't they MOVE!?), and then carrying the stuff back (no car), I can sit myself down at my PC, do some freelance work to pay for the groceries, and wait. With a nice hot mug of coffee. I'm doing it now. Yes, it's Sunday afternoon, and instead of doing all of the above, I'm warm and cosy and writing a review of this fine service while waiting to experience it. I've even filled in my voucher already. Sometime between 2-4 my shopping will be done. Life is good sometimes!
All of my many deliveries have arrived within the two hour slot. One was right on the button at the end of the span but usually they're earlier than that.
Someone else hauls the stuff up to my flat on the 2nd floor (no lift). I have helped on occasion just because I feel guilty but most of the time they manage to get everything up in one go. The delivery people are friendly and helpful. They never complain about the stairs so they must be super-fit.
Any substitutions are listed on a separate sheet. You have the option of accepting or returning. The alternate choices are usually quite logical. Some have been more expensive than my original choice but some have not. I'm generally happy with the substitutions. I haven't turned anything down yet. Call it a spirit of adventure or more likely laziness.
I will caution that the groceries, therefore, aren't always exactly what's been ordered. Myself, I don't care, but if you're the least bit picky you might want to consider trying the service once or twice to see how it is. I tend to use this mainly for the 'big shop' of heavy staples and tinned things which can't really go wrong. I haven't had any trouble with fresh foods but I can see that there is potential for things to go wrong or not be quite the right thing. Again, I'm not picky (and I've been spared the experience 'what a fee-ee-ling' of dancing on the ceiling) so I'm happy.
But wait, it's 1:15 and the doorbell has just gone.
Back in a tick!
Yes, it was Sainsbury's - delivering my stuff early! Just as well - I was nearly out of coffee!
And, I've got everything I wanted. No substitutions! Bananas to bath soap, it's all here.
LOL re the substitution. In that case I'd prefer they don't bother which they normally don't. I had one most unimpressive magazine substitution a while back. On the other hand, they've failed a couple of times to think of a substitute re sliced bread, cat litter and toilet paper - a different brand would have done just fine. Luci
babajane32 18.05.2003 15:29
I keep saying I'm going to use these,presently I'm using tescos delivery,but they would have substituted balsamic for a pack of tissue!! I sometimes wonder why I keep using them.....time for a swap I think
pink jane xx
Floon 15.05.2003 17:24
An excellent op. I live only half a mile from Sainsbury's but every time I go in I end up buying far more than I meant to. Even at £5 delivery charge I'd probably save a fortune. Thanks...Les