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Posted in Books, Food, Perth & WA, Travel, tagged Armistead Maupin, Barbary Lane, Bistro Vue, Circa, Cumulus Inc, eatdrinkperth, festival, Food, Mary Ann In Autumn, Masterclass, Melbourne, MFWF, Michael Tolliver, Movida, Nigella, Nigella Lawson, Perth, restuarants, San Francisco, St Kilda, Tales of the City on March 16, 2011 | Leave a Comment »
Last week was a great week. How often do you get to meet your literary and culinary heroes in the space of seven days?
On Sunday March 6 I finally met author Armistead Maupin, creator of the Tales of the City series. I own all of his books and have been lucky enough to interview him twice. Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Armistead when he visited Perth in 2007 due to being overseas, so the chance to hear him speak at the Perth Writers Festival about his latest book Mary Ann in Autumn was not to be missed.
Nor was the chance to have a book (or two) signed – and a photo.
I’m re-reading the original Tales of the City book for book club this month. It has been a long time – close to 20 years, since I first became acquainted with Mary Ann Singleton, Michael Tolliver and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane, so I look forward to renewing their acquaintance.
In my dream world, I’d get to see the musical of version of Tales that opens in San Francisco in May.
On Saturday March 12, I got to meet Nigella Lawson, whose cooking I adore. While some may focus on the fluttering eyelashes, sultry looks and flicking of the hair, all I really care about is Nigella Lawson’s food.
How to be a Domestic Goddess is probably my most used cook book. Nigella’s blueberry muffins, jam doughnut muffins, Victoria sponge, dense chocolate loaf are all favourites that never fail to appeal and to impress friends, family, kids and colleagues. Simply delicious.
Although I may have been able to organise an interview with Nigella through her pay-TV connections, the weekend trip to see her Masterclass with the supremely funny muso turned celebrity chef Anna Gare was pure pleasure. A chance to head to Melbourne for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and for a short while forget about TV.
My husband wasn’t entirely thrilled to be attending the Masterclass (tickets were hard to come by so when I managed to get through back in October I snapped up two) but he quite enjoyed himself.
He reckons he may even cook Anna’s Persian fillet of beef. I said I’d do the scallop ceviche, upside down potato salad and trip of tarts to go with it.
It has been a great month for foodies, with March featuring both #eatdrinkperth and #mfwf (I’m so used to those hashtags) and plenty of opportunities to eat.
I’ll soon, hopefully, get round to posting a few pix from the places we ate in Melbourne including Movida Next Door, Cumulus Inc, Bistro Vue and Circa The Prince. I may not have made it to many official #mfwf events but I did my best to eat in as many Age hatted restaurants as I could. And we walked just about everywhere so that helped keep the extra kilos at bay!
As promised, here’s an update on how my first online shopping experience went with Woolworths. Unfortunately, not well.
Looking back at my order, it looks like I ordered about 52 items. Of those, one was out of stock and I got an email alert. No biggie. But there were about 10 other things that went wrong.
I got beans instead of bean sprouts. One can of tomatoes instead of two – but charged for both. Ice cream and sorbet that were both melted enough to be oozing out of their cartons (possibly because they were delivered about 9pm, the outer limit of the 7-9pm window I requested).
Let’s see what else? Caged eggs instead of free range, two small chickens instead of one, a small box of green tea instead of a large bog of chai tea.
Less bothersome were the bake at home bread rolls sent instead of bake at home baguettes and the three boxes of hash browns instead of the one kilo bag on sale.
So in some cases I was overcharged and in others, such as being charged for one free range chicken then getting two smaller ones at a higher price, I was under charged.
After unpacking and noting all the errors I called customer service and could not get through. At that time of night I suspected they weren’t actually there (there were conflicting hours on the website and the order confirmation email).
So I followed up with a polite and detailed email. When I got no response, I called late on Saturday afternoon and was told I could have the problem items re-delivered but not for a few days. Or I could get credit. I went with the latter for the four items that were the biggest mistakes – giving me a refund of about $14 (the order was about $174).
I had hoped for a reply to my email but a week on and I haven’t heard a word. The customer service representative I spoke to said the service had been operating in my suburb for three weeks and would improve. She didn’t sound terribly surprised by the mistakes nor terribly sorry.
Compare this with my first Coles delivery a year or so ago where I alerted them to the rather trivial matter of frozen spring onions. They credited my account without question and were pleased to have been notified.
What seems most strange about this whole situation is Woolworths is playing catch-up in a market Coles has had to itself for about a year.
Why haven’t they done some homework and tried out the Coles service? Coles has better delivery windows for starters, not to mention giving customers an estimated price to take into account the final and actual weight of items like meat, whole chickens and fruit and veg.
Part of the problem is Woolworths appears to be giving its personal shoppers’ a computerised list of items to tick off with pencil but the final results, weights and prices are not being taken into account in the way Coles does.
It surely can’t be good business sense to give me two approx 1.2kilo chickens worth about $17 instead of one 1.7kilo chicken for $13.60 or to charge me $9.27 for 450g chicken breast that actually turned out to be $7.55.
Unable to secure a delivery window and not really having the time to take the risk with Woolworths, this week I went back to Coles. My delivery for 6-8pm arrived at 6.05pm with everything itemised and in their bags in good condition. As has become Coles’ habit, I also received some free samples.
Now that’s service. I think I’ll give it another few weeks or even months before I try Woolworths again.
Posted in Family, Food, Perth & WA, Society, tagged Aussie Farmers Direct, Coles, delivery, fruit, groceries, IGA, local, online shopping, Perth, shopping, vegetables, Woolworths on May 5, 2010 | Leave a Comment »
Many years ago, after the birth of my first child, I used an online grocery shopping service in Perth called Electrolley.
The food was fresh but it didn’t do many deliveries to my suburb. It no longer operates and I always presumed it had been too ahead of its time.
A year or so back I started to use Coles Online and have found the service to be very good, complemented by a Twitter account where shoppers can and receive give instant feedback.
The advantages to shopping online are numerous – not having to take the kids to the shop, only buying what you need, being able to use shopping time to do something else, like, erm, washing the car.
The service also has its drawbacks such as out of stock items and not being able to check nutrition and ingredient information.
One of the main reasons I didn’t use the service every week was the delivery charge and the delivery windows. Sometimes by the time I had decided to shop online that week, there were no convenient delivery times left.
Coles has recently addressed this by introducing free delivery and also increasing the delivery windows to include Saturday afternoon to early evening.
I also discovered quite by chance that part of the underlying motivation for free delivery throughout Perth was probably the arrival on the scene of Woolworths Online.
The arrival of Woolworths a month or so ago has been very low-key. No TV ads, no email alerts, nothing in the sale catalogues. I even asked the Woolworths Everyday Rewards team on Twitter and got no response.
Today I got a flyer among some sale catalogues but there still wasn’t anything about the service in the weekly sale brochure.
I have also tried registering for Aussie Farmers Direct to no avail. Although I have seen them delivering in my suburb, I must live on the wrong side of it. I have entered my postcode, been told computer says no, been referred to customer service, only to get an email five days later to say computer still says no.
I discovered Woolworths had started delivery to my area simply by creating an account and entering my postcode and address. When it was approved and I got to the delivery window screen I was still doubtful so-called the customer service line to check.
Excited, I tried for about three weeks to use the service to no avail because I couldn’t find a suitable delivery window. So I continued to use Coles or physically go to the shops.
This week I have secured a delivery window so will be trying the Woolworth service for the first time. Already there are things about it that are inferior to Coles. Like selling brocoli by the piece? What’s with that – why can’t it be by the kilo? And bananas are sold by the kilo in the shops, not by banana like online.
Also, once the order is placed there doesn’t seem to be a way to add to it or change it. Coles lets you do that up to about 11pm the night before.
Coles gives a price estimate based on the fact it can’t tell you online exactly how much your fruit, veg and meat with weigh. I have an apparently exact total from Woolworths and fear I’ll probably get about 400g of gravy beef rather than 500g.
So why don’t I stick with Coles all the time? Good question. Dumb answer – I like collecting Everyday Rewards linked to Qantas Frequent Flyer. No matter how much I buy, I just don’t ever seem to accumulate Flybuys points from Coles – reminding me of a certain amusing bank advert.
Like many working parents, online shopping is going to become an increasingly invaluable part of keeping my sanity and my pantry stocked.
But I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shop in one store alone, simply because not one store stocks everything I need.
Only IGA stocks Billington’s dark muscovado sugar, Nemar’s natural coloured 100s and 1000s and Eta 5 Star margarine – a staple for my daughter who has dairy allergies. IGA also usually has the best milk specials.
So my independent grocer really doesn’t have too much to fear from the multinational with the fleets of refrigerated trucks.