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Douglas Spencer

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That Asda story in full [Oct. 22nd, 2009|09:24 pm]
Douglas Spencer
Yesterday lunchtime some of you will have seen me tweeting "Asda are too stupid to have me as a customer.".

Now I've got a bit more time, so I've just gone to the Contact Asda page, and wrote (amongst other stuff) the following:
    I wanted to buy two twelve-packs of 200mg ibuprofen and a ten-pack of Beechams hot lemon, and was refused at the checkout with the till giving the message "limit:2". It's correct that there's a limit (by law) of two packets of ibuprofen, but there aren't any ingredients in common between the ibuprofen and the Beechams, and no reason in law why the two shouldn't be sold in combination. Apparently, to be an Asda customer, I have to choose between painful knees and painful sinuses, and can't solve both problems at once. This took place at Atlantic Village, Bideford -- but your staff there told me that it was a group-wide policy brought in to satisfy the relevant law. In fact your policy has misread the law concerned. I wonder if I should simply shop with some other retailer?

I left them with a basket full of other goods at the checkout, because one of the symptoms of being unwell is lack of patience. Were I in better condition, I'd have gone through the appropriate channels at the customer service desk in-store, but of course in such circumstances I wouldn't be seeking to buy two different medicines at once.

[User Picture]From: drplokta
2009-10-22 08:48 pm (UTC)
Actually, it's incorrect that there's a limit to two packs by law; the legal limit is 100 tablets of aspirin or paracetamol (but not ibuprofen). However, retailers are advised to have codes of practice which are more restrictive than this -- which means that it's up to each individual retailer exactly how their code is worded. http://www.hants.gov.uk/regulatory/tradingstandards/trading-images/medicines.pdf
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[User Picture]From: del_c
2009-10-22 08:58 pm (UTC)
Other supermarkets have done that to me, refusing me two packets of 16 paracetamol and one 16 pack of aspirin, on the grounds that that's three packets, or 48 tablets in all. There's no justification in law for this stupidity (nor was there justification for the stupidity of the legislation that actually did pass in response to concerns about paracetamol)
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[User Picture]From: cobrabay
2009-10-22 10:55 pm (UTC)
This is why I buy bottles of 100 when I visit the USA. Usually much cheaper too.
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[User Picture]From: ramtops
2009-10-23 06:20 am (UTC)
I get a friend to buy me 500 packs of ibuprofen and/or paracetemol on her regular trips to the US. They cost a fraction of what they do here, and those 500 last us literally years!
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[User Picture]From: del_c
2009-10-23 09:01 am (UTC)
I've never found them to be much cheaper either in Canada or in the USA, only a little cheaper, but it is a lot more convenient.

Unfortunately I went to Montreal this summer expecting to be able to get 500/1000 pills cheaper everywhere, and wound up finding nothing like that; the best I could get (when I was getting desperate for painkillers, having flown with none in my assumptions) was 100 at a little more than home prices.
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[User Picture]From: quercus
2009-10-22 11:28 pm (UTC)
Isn't it simply the case that Asda are, in all good faith, simply too stupid to implement this, as you suggest.

By checking, you know that there's no risk in combining Ibuprofen and Beechams. Now how do you expect Asda till staff to know that?

If there was clear labelling of "This box contains 100% of your daily shopping allowance of ibuprofen / paracetamol" rather than simply "a unit of painkillers", then it might be workable. As it is though, it's unreasonable to expect Asda's staff to know what is in "Beechams" (and as they make several products, I wouldn't even guess myself) and to know to the necessary level of defence against liability that it's OK to tally it separately from ibuprofen.

Besides which, Asda are Walmart, thus bastards anyway.
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[User Picture]From: alexmc
2009-10-23 06:55 pm (UTC)
I think the issue is that the cash register scanned the products and the machine determined that they should not be purchased together, not the cashier.

But yes, I see this as a company wide policy - not actually a stupidity of the staff.

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[User Picture]From: stevegreen
2009-10-22 11:33 pm (UTC)
I had the same hassle at Tesco once, when I tried to buy two packets of paracetamol BP and one of ibuprofen BP. There was no point arguing with the staff, because the till refused the sale.
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[User Picture]From: evil_mogwai
2009-10-23 06:01 am (UTC)
Tesco's specifically notify you at all points (the shelf and the till as you start scanning them) that you can only have two packets of "painkillers", doesn't matter what type. At least its posted clearly in our local one.

Asda also have me annoyed at the moment since they didn't tell me until AFTER I'd already scanned an old ticket and they'd printed my new one that Lottery tickets can't be bought on Credit or Debit Card and can only be purchased for cash. I had to leave the tickets there, leave the store to go outside and get cash, and come back with the cash for the ticket.
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[User Picture]From: jon_a_five
2009-10-23 11:08 am (UTC)
I've often wondered about this rule. If you did want to top yourself (and fucking up a suicide with paracetomol is one thing you really don't want to do) why not go to every chemist and shop down the high street and buy one in each?

And it's extra funny when an alcoholic can happily go in and buy five bottles of vodka in one go. Which does the more damage to society?
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[User Picture]From: alexmc
2009-10-23 06:56 pm (UTC)
It is far easier to kill yourself with paracetemol than alcohol.
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[User Picture]From: jon_a_five
2009-10-24 01:11 pm (UTC)
I meant which one did more damage to society.
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From: twinfair
2009-10-23 11:28 am (UTC)
How about this for stupidity: I once tried to buy three packs at a Sainsbury. The checkout girl refused and then said if you pay for these two first, you can then, as a separate transaction, buy the third pack. This is what I did. Now regardless of how many were in the packs, this clearly breaches the spirit of any rule they have. Of course there is nothing to stop you going back into the shop and buying more as it would be impossible for them to keep track, but to actually be helped to do it at the checkout seems to me to be ridiculous.

I have to agree with the post that it is not fair to expect the checkout staff to know what is in each packet and would only work if you could only buy these products over a pharmacy counter from trained staff.
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[User Picture]From: gaspode
2009-10-23 09:00 pm (UTC)
No - this is standard practice at most supermarkets (well tescos anyway) The limit of two packs of painkillers (note - painkillers, not ibuprofen or paracetomol)is well know but some time they will do an extra pack or two separately - its called staff using common sense.

I chatted once to the manager and they said the limit is two packs. Generally they will let you do that three times if they notice. Then then they will stop you. He also said that yeah - in a super market with 20 checkouts you could keep going round and round without people noticing. The point is that if some one is planning to kill themsleves in this very stupid manner they are unlikely to be thinkling logically enough to realise this.

Which almost (but not quite) makes sense.

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From: twinfair
2009-10-23 09:37 pm (UTC)
And, of course, sadly if someone is this determined, no law in the land is going to be able to really stop them.
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