Monday, November 17, 2008

Shopping trolleys

Shopping carts or shopping trolleys are available in supermarkets for our convenience when we buy our groceries and cart them to our cars or taxi stands. We take them for granted and when we cannot find one available, our blood boils and our grocery shopping becomes more unpleasant. Some how, we feel that it is our right to have a trolley when we need it. How often, we get cross when the trolley is wobbly and has a mind of it own, and goes to a different direction from the one you want to.

Many years ago when I was in Singapore, the supermarkets decided to impose a S1 rental in order to use them. There is a small mechanism where you slot your dollar coin which will unchain your trolley from the trolley in front of you. When you have loaded your shopping to your car, you push your trolley back to the supermarket’s trolley bay, and retrieve your $1. Customers complained about this pettiness. It was inconvenient to wheel your trolley back to the bay especially when you had a taxi or a bus to catch. Who will watch over your purschases when you return the trolley?

Supermarket management were unfazed, the system helped employees from running about for shopping trolleys left all over the place, and worst still from being stolen by a small community. Each trolley cost them over one hundred dollars, and the supermarket management reported that many trolleys were stolen per week. The expatriate community wrote in to the forum of the news paper to complain, that no where in the world did shoppers have to pay for use of the trolleys.

This rental system has since been introduced in some European countries, though in USA, Australia, Malaysia and New Zealand, I can still use my trolley without this cumbersome system.

This reminds me of over thirty years ago, I was a student in a university in Canada. There was no public bus to the nearest shopping mall. Students used to push their purchases in the shopping trolleys and then dump them at the hostel corners. The supermarket management would send boys to retrieve them.

When I was in Singapore, I used to shop in a certain up market supermarket. If you purchase more than $150 of grocery, they will deliver without charging you a delivery fee.

I remember once, supermarket boys will push your trolley to your car, load it in your car boot and then take the trolley back to the supermarket.

In Australia, the supermarkets have storage facilities with freezer and chiller for your icecream or meat. The idea is you go to the mall, do your grocery shopping when you are less tired, go galliavanting in the mall, have a cup of coffee. Then you pick up your purchases without worrying that your icecream has melted or meat gone off.

It’s the same everywhere, in Singapore and in New Zealand. You walk around the neighbourhood. There are abandoned trolleys at every nook and corner. Some people use it for their laundry basket on wheels, others a convenient way to transport their barbecue meat. Some are blatant vandals, and dump the trolleys in creeks, beaches, landfill or other people’s front yard. Some leave trolleys so they run into cars. Such people have no social conscience.

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