Pricewatch: Readers’ queries

A loyal customer comes to the defence of Superquinn

Superior market: Superquinn is well known for its bakeries and well-trained staff – can the same be said for SuperValu? Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Superior market: Superquinn is well known for its bakeries and well-trained staff – can the same be said for SuperValu? Photograph: Aidan Crawley


Customer unhappy about criticism of Superquinn
There has been a lot of talk about supermarkets in recent days. Our take on Superquinn prompted a Wicklow reader, Tony, to get in touch. “As a long-standing, loyal customer of Superquinn, I think you are being a little harsh and unfair on Superquinn as it is today,” he writes.

“Yes it was truly super under Feargal Quinn, who was constantly innovating and, of course, crowned the customer,” he says, adding that the store “was – and remains – superior in fresh breads (no one else has real in-house bakers and bakeries), fresh meats, vegetables and delicatessen and, importantly, well-trained, helpful staff.”

He accepts that, after Select Retail Holdings took over, there was “a bad period when standards fell not only in the overall offering but in the condition of the stores. However, in recent times Musgrave has put a lot of money into the stores. For instance, my local Superquinn in Bray has recently been upgraded, with a huge amount of money spent on it. It is now truly super again – modelled on the Blackrock flagship. Indeed, if you are ever out that way it is worth a visit; it is that good.”

He says staff have all been given new uniforms, the car-park has been redone and, all in all, the shopping experience is very good. “What puzzles me is why Musgrave ploughed that money into the stores (and they are still spending) if they knew the stores would all become SuperValus in less than a year. And what concerns me (and many other of the SQ faithful it appears) is what the change in 2014 will really mean to the existing stores and staff.

Tony has been in SuperValu many times – “and the standards of their stores, the training of staff, etc, are noticeably lower than Superquinn – these are the fears for the future. Not sure why I am getting excited by a supermarket but I do think Superquinn is different and special. And the sausages still taste good.”

Taking ‘every little helps’ to extremes?
A reader, Declan, is irritated. “We have been buying Tesco’s own-brand wheat biscuits, and it is irritating to note that it is cheaper to buy two 24-packs, which cost €1.45 each, as opposed to €3.29 for the 48-pack.

“Surely it is more
cost-effective to buy in bulk and save on packaging, etc, or is this Tesco’s of way catching the consumer out who would naturally buy the larger pack, assuming it is better value?”

In response, Tesco said it was “never our intention to cause confusion or mislead customers . . .

“Anomalies, similar to the issue highlighted, do arise from time to time. It is planned to adjust the price of the 48 wheat biscuit pack.”

Water, water, everywhere, is usually cheaper than here
Kevin Gorman has just returned from his summer holiday in Portugal and he is not pleased.

“Among the many cheaper items that I noticed on sale there, the one that stood out for me was bottled water,” he writes. He sent in a receipt for a five-litre bottle of water that cost him 42 cent.

“This was from a local convenience store, not one of the large multiples. Why is bottled water so expensive in Ireland? The cheapest I’ve seen it here is €1.29 for a five-litre bottle in Lidl. ”

Please hold while your credit runs out
“I’ve wasted too much mobile credit waiting for businesses to respond while I’m left on hold,” writes Deirdre.

“Some offer a call-me facility online – Electric Ireland stands out,” she says. “I complained officially to Danske Bank for holding for 12 minutes. I got an apology, but I do wonder what improvements have been made.”

She wants us to find the best call-me company. “Let’s reward good behaviour.”

Any takers?