Why do people argue in Asda?

I was walking in the aisles of our local Asda the other day. It is quite a small supermarket and has no George clothing range to make the visit more interesting. Just a few sad racks of pants and socks. But it has the unmistakable Asda aura, that indefinable something that makes a shopping trip just that little bit less bearable. I had just popped in for a few stop-gap items before the next weekly shop, which we usually do in the Tesco five miles away.

Now I will apologise to all Asda staff in advance. What I am about to say does not have anything to do with you, most of the time. Everyone I ask a question of is very helpful, and I have only once had to interrupt a clearly vital conversation about someone’s intimate love life just to be pointed in the direction of the gravy granules. But am I the only person who comes out of an Asda feeling a veil of misery coming over me?

On the day in question I hadn’t got past the fruit and veg aisle before I was faced with a harassed mother trying in vain to control three children under ten , struggling with the weekly shop at the tail end of the school holidays. I hope she has found some peace at last.

Round the corner into the chilled section and there was, as in every supermarket, a bun fight over the reduced items. Here though real bargains seemed few and far between and hardly worth batting an old dear out of the way for. Sausage rolls with a  ‘Whoops!’ sticker on them, suggesting you could have 10 for 50p if you could eat them all by morning; slightly squashed pots of extra creamy coleslaw and a few yoghurts. One glance from the back row of the scrum and I steered clear.

Oh dear - what do they see in him?

Drifting up and down a couple of peaceful rows of tinned things and pots of jam I came to the sweet aisle. ‘God’ teeth!’ I thought as I pushed past a group of spotty teens buying up for a sleepover (I imagined) – although if God ate the basket load of crap they had collected he would have a few fillings. Why do sweets that make little ones hyper fail to inject energy into 15 year olds? Only Justin Bieber making a personal appearance behind the ciggie counter would have shifted them.  Eventually I made it to the back wall, along which is ranged a variety of breads and cakes. Our store is too small to have a bakery so everything is a bit pre-packed; but apart from there being no lovely smell of new baked loaves to disguise the scent of human fear that pervades every Asda in my experience, that isn’t a problem. However, on this day it was, apparently. A man and woman, presumably husband and wife, literally yelling at each other in an argument caused it seems by little more than a sliced white. Actually, I shouldn’t poke fun, it was not a laughing matter, for them anyway. It was actually like a scene from a 70′s sitcom – a stereotype of a 60 something hen-pecked husband and his domineering wife. Shame on you woman, for your behaviour in public and the language you were using!

By this time I had had enough, and hit the gin and vodka in a smash and grab raid (no, it’s OK I queued and paid…) and made a speedy exit. I felt tense and irritable. The weight of humanity’s problems bore heavily on my shoulders and I couldn’t wait to escape. OK I exaggerate as usual, but I was really glad I didn’t put myself through that every week.

So why does Asda have this effect when other supermarkets only leave you mildly irritable with loved ones and more willing to stop and browse the shelves in a relatively relaxed fashion? Is it the smell? The singularly unattractive black and lime green uniform? The big garish signs? Or is it because Asda is far less sneaky about the way it manipulates you into buying things you don’t need? ‘Come and get it – two for one on high fat items you can’t eat by the sell-by date’. A packet of salad for 50p because it will turn into mush in the bottom of the bag overnight. Could it be that where in other shops it is only when you unpack that you realise you have been hoodwinked into spending more than you need, whereas in Asda it hits you squarely between the eyes as soon as you walk in?

Does anyone like shopping at Asda? I am prepared to listen to alternative perspectives as always. But if we hate it, why do we shop there? Why do we let them think it is fine to sell milk at less than cost price, swindling farmers and customers alike? To pack their low fat or extra special products with large quantities of sugar? To slap their bums in the adverts as if that is where everyone keeps their small change?

I suspect it is just because it is there, and we can’t be bothered. What is an hour of aggravation, irritation and stress when the alternative is a two hour wander up the local high street? What indeed.

Photo Dominic’s pics kindofadraag

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14 Responses to Why do people argue in Asda?

  1. Kirsty says:

    I’m guessing you’ve never shopped at Morrison’s? That has the same depressing feel, but it’s grubbier around the edges.

    Interesting that you feel Asda are less ethical than Tesco, IMO they’re both as bad as each other. I think the most ethical supermarkets are Waitrose and the Co-op (having said that, I do get the vast majority of my groceries delivered from Tesco – my wallet is more important than my ethics at the moment.

    I actually used to work at Asda as a student and I really enjoyed it. I was on the deli counter, which meant pleasant contact with regular customers, which was a bonus. These days I only tend to go into Asda Living, as they occasionally get the clothes just right.

    • keatsbabe says:

      Oh no, I don’t think Asda are less ethical than Tesco. It is the shopping experience that I take issue with. My comments at the end are really an outburst of vitriol against supermarkets in general. However, having said that I too have to look to my purse rather than my ethics at the moment and hold my hands up as a hypocrite on that one.

      Do people argue in Morrisons too?

  2. Louise says:

    Personally, I have always favoured Sainsburys…

    • keatsbabe says:

      A happy medium there perhaps? Sainsbury’s isn’t as posh as Waitrose but it isn’t as garish as Asda. Sort of nice really, though Jamie Oliver is a bit hard to take sometimes…

  3. In short…. Thats Asda Price!! *spanks self on money filled pocket*

  4. Sarah says:

    My OH says they use 60 watt lightbulbs in Asda and the shoppers have tattoos with spelling mistakes! He also had a slight run-in with an Asda goon when he posted a pic of a warning sign (see here http://imaginarium42.blogspot.com/2009/11/stupid-direction.html). I always feel slightly grubby when I come out of there.

    We rarely go to Morrison’s, the DS has informed us it’s thoughtlessly laid out because they don’t seem to have a coherent system, so we don’t go there!

  5. Jane Earthy says:

    It’s the smell! Yuk. Really unpleasant atmosphere to shop in. However, it IS cheap if you go in for essentials and don’t get sucked into the offers. Asda veg and fruit always goes off quickly but then nowhere else has red peppers for 30p! Ultimately, as with everything, you get what you pay for. I, therefore, mostly pay for the absolute opposite shopping experience in the Waitrose across the road, which is always a complete joy to be in. (Especially when the Yum Yums are reduced to 29p!!) It only makes Asda look even worse. Sorry but I’m a supermarket snob!

  6. Nettlefairy says:

    I tend not to shop in any supermarkets, as I find them all very anxiety inducing! However, Asda definetly has to be the worst, it really is awful and very depressing!!! I get an organic veg box delivered, and shop at my local farm which costs less than supermarket prices anyway, I find! Although I will say, Dave and I went shopping in Asda once and had alot of fun, but I think that was because someone had spiked us, which is what usually happens :)
    I like your blogs by the way,
    nettlefairy xxxx

  7. Grace says:

    think you’re being a bit harsh about Asda- ours is ok & staff are really friendly- (and I’ve never heard an argument) – but I am a bit biased as 2 of my sons work there part-time in holidays. They are trained that if a customer asks them for a product, they should stop what they are doing & politely take them to it- which is more than they do in our local Tesco, where at best you get a curt ‘aisle 30′ and a vague gesture in the general direction. And as for Morrisons- a friend’s son works there & they are not particularly nice- and their freezers are full of crumbs & old food- Yuk! I’ve found Morrison’s & Sainsbury’s to be the worst offenders for gone-off fruit & veg. Our Asda reduces date out items so much that they are sold before they get a chance to go off. In any supermarket I suppose a lot of the atmosphere depends on staff training & how bosses treat their ‘colleagues’- if the staff are not treated well, it will reflect in their attitudes to customers. But if you want to see some REAL horrors, Google ‘Walmart people’ – those Americans have bad taste down to a fine art!

    • keatsbabe says:

      Aha – it may be individual Asdas I suppose, and if you know people who work there then you are going to have a different perspective. The fruit and veg in our Asda is rubbish – can’t get away from it, and if you don’t get a chance to eat it before it goes off it isn’t cheap. Turnover maybe?I think supermarkets in general are difficult places to feel comfortable – Waitrose is far and away the best for customer service but you pay for it in the prices.

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