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Archive for May, 2010

Well I survived my first week back in full-time employment.

Things that have changed since I left The West in 2007.

*The side gate I used to use as a shortcut to the foyer is now locked. Padlocked and covered in cobwebs, in fact. I felt pretty daft marching around to use it, then marching right back again.

*There’s still next to nowhere to eat. Maybe I should buy a Jiffy food van?

*Sky News has a reporter in residence. I wondered who the pretty girl was who was talking to herself; then I realised when I stuck my head past the partition she was doing a piece to camera. It’s amazing the set-up she has and apparently it doesn’t pick up all of our noise.

*For a whole day I wondered why they had only hand sanitiser in the toilets, the stuff you don’t use with water. Then I realised the soap dispensers were built-in next to the tap. Like they had always been.

*It’s not a good idea to go to the loo around lunchtime. That’s when they are closed for cleaning.

*The editorial computer system is far more user-friendly (though some users found it hard to believe I’d said that) and the internal message system has gone.

*You need to dial 0 to get an outside line, not 9. Or you end up ringing random people in sport by mistake. I think.

*That it’s a good idea to tell switchboard you’ve returned to work, or they accidentally tell people you don’t work there anymore.

*Home -baked goods are embraced and encouraged – although I was a bit shocked to overhear one colleague saying my Chocolate Crackle Top cookies looked like dog poo circa when dogs ate bones. She thinks I didn’t hear her because I was on the phone several rows away. Ha!

*Travelling reporters can borrow a Dell netbook and wireless USB modem. Amazing! I’m testing one out tomorrow.

*I received mail from a movie company on my third day, before I had changed my address with them. I realised that mail had probably been coming in and going in the bin since 2007. I hadn’t realised because I also get their mailouts by email.

*I could spend several weeks explaining how long I was gone for and why I am back.

There’s nothing quite like a newsroom, especially when you started working in one aged 17. Only newspaper people really understand newspapers and newspaper people ¬†– to this day I’ m pretty sure 75 per cent of my non-media friends have no idea what I actually do. Actually some media people probably don’t either, since my round is TV but I’m not on it ūüôā

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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.

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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.

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I’m foolishly trying to read four books at once.
Eat Pray Love was one of our book club books that I and apparently half the club struggled to finish.

Books I'm reading

Books I'm reading

With the film version starring Julia Roberts soon to hit our screens, lots of people are having a second stab at reading it and two people have asked to borrow it this week alone.
It’s my “car book” – for the times I am sitting in the car waiting to collect the kids.

Having taken the car book out of the car, I found myself in Subiaco on Sunday with 45 minutes to kill and nothing to read. So I went to Dymocks and bought The Carrie Diaries. I’m a big Sex and the City fan and have read that and several of Candace Bushnell’s books, so I expect it to be an easy read.
Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet is being filmed in WA at the moment and I am surprised I haven’t read it. Not surprisingly the backlog to get it from the library is enormous. Even more frustrating is the cheapest place to buy an Aussie book is from Book Depository in the UK or US – my favourite online book store.
I had at attempt with the audio book version earlier this year but there was something like a dozen CDs and they were 1Mb each so wouldn’t fit on the iPod!
Last but not least, The Sisters Antipodes by Jane Alison is the book club book I was supposed to have finished last night but only made it about a third through. Shame on me. I will finish it because I hate leaving things unfinished (that’s why I won’t ever walk out of a movie).
Somewhere in the middle of all this I also read Manhattan Dreaming by Anita Heiss, reawakening my desire to go to New York and frequent Manhattan cupcake bakeries.

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