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On shopping trolleys and human nature

By 29 December 2011 49

shopping trolley

2011 saw some considerable idealism from the Greens as they pursued their dream of getting Canberra’s lazy bogans to live like Germans, in particular on the subject of shopping trolleys.

As it happens shopping trolleys have been occupying my mind recently during my weekly outings to the Aldi at Jamison (free open air parking, cheap dog food and beer, something tricky to try and BBQ on the Weber, and what will the special be this week?).

It started with general curiosity as to why the serried ranks of Aldi trolleys were just so vast:

aldi trolleys

And then a few weeks ago, having dutifully deposited my dollar coin into a trolley I was cleaned up by a guy rushing through the entrance from the Coles next door.

Which was when I looked around and realised that every single other shopper in Aldi was pushing a Coles trolley.

Not some, not a majority.

Every single shopper had decided that rather than engage in coin return in exchange for the use of an excellent trolley they’d grab one from Coles with wonky wheels and dump it in the car park.

So not exactly a rousing success for shopping trolley reform, but a big win for laziness, mendacity, and cultural inertia.

Rather than learning to carry a coin or token and wheel the trolley back a whole 30 odd metres over smooth tarmac the shoppers of Jamison (with the exception of one lonely noble blogger) just nick one from Coles and dump it.

And then yesterday I got the trolley pictured above.

For the sake of a dollar (possibly two) someone has decided it’s easier to vandalise the trolley than wheel it back to the supermarket rank.

There’s a person out there, voting, driving on our roads, with a first instinct to hack up a trolley for a dollar rather than return the trolley.

What’s the point of all this?

Betting on people’s good nature is for suckers in this town.

Education is never going to bring change absent enforcement.

We need to keep that in mind as the ACT Government makes ever more rules without paying for inspection, regulation, and enforcement.

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49 Responses to On shopping trolleys and human nature
#31
p112:28 am, 30 Dec 11

2much2do said :

Yep, smart move genius, let’s lock the kids in the car and hope they don’t suffocate or better still, let’s leave the babies in the pram alone in the carpark.

While I don’t dispute that it is easier to just dump the trolley, let me ask you this – how did you get to the trolley at the front of Coles in the first place? Did you leave the kids in the car? Whatever method you used coming into the store could presumably also work leaving?

#32
p112:39 am, 30 Dec 11

I recall back in the late 80s, the local woolworths Safeway (it was Victoria) brought in these new trolleys with a twenty cent coin needed to use them (exactly the same as what we have now with dollars and two dollars). As kids, we would road the car park, looking for trolleys people hadn’t bothered to return, or offering to return them for people for the coin. A lot of people didn’t bother returning them, or were willing to let it go to save a minute, causes it was only 20c. Oddly, though inflation means $1 now isn’t worth that much more then 20c was then, people seem a lot more tight arsed about it.

#33
addicus8:53 am, 30 Dec 11

Another example of user pays, double sometimes triple for something we used to expect as part of the shopping experience and overall cost. The ‘’green’’ label has allowed for shops to pass on the cost that normally would have been covered by the business. And bags are expensive yeah. Are the bags biodegradable? Or just mostly re-useable, yeah right we all know we don’t always carry our shopping bags with us EVERYWHERE, and they generally end up as the rubbish bag, but thing is we do like to impulse shop at times so we really do need to have bags attached to our belts. Retail sales are trying to compete with the internet, but it continues to implement processes people get to the point of abusing a check out operator because they are displeased. The trolleys are also just a deterrent for people to actually use them, overall saving the business less cost for recovery or replacement. So really who is benefiting here? Our environment or is this just a ploy for business to say ‘’we are all doing the right thing, but you have to change your normal ways to cater or pay for it out of your pocket’’. After saying that on their high pedestal, they announce millions of dollars in profits, while the poor cash operator on 14 bucks an hour is getting abused for it.

#34
addicus9:52 am, 30 Dec 11

I do like the idea of people returning trolleys for businesses, even though better ways could be thought of, but it means less chance my car will be damaged by rollaway trolleys if collectors are scarce. I do hate it when I see trolleys parked right next to my car, thus I return trolley’s to their return bays, but I only use trolleys supplied by the shop as part of their service delivery. Or though you can get the key chain tokens at Aldi’s for a dollar instead of needing a coin everytime, but I just don’t use them unless they are free, I would be one of the people with a coles trolley in Aldi’s too. The locking system seems the best idea that wouldn’t disadvantage the shopper as much, but I guess cost to the business would possibly never be recouped so having the customer do all the running around seems better business sense practically and financially. Does this mean the trolley collector’s days are limited though ? The trolley collection business seems to be lacking a hint of professionalism it seems these days anyway. Maybe a dying industry, but are we working towards destroying a good active entry level job for kids or should we keep looking to Macer’s for our kids to start their working career ?

#35
NoImRight10:00 am, 30 Dec 11

Not many of the trolley collectors I see are “kids”. I dont think its widely seen as an entry level position.

In any case Trolleys? Really? Thats whats stressing us all? Take it back or dont take it back. Its not a big deal but please,please at least dont leave it in a car park. Deaf ears probably but I find that particularly rude.

#36
dpm10:04 am, 30 Dec 11

EvanJames said :

Coles Qbn have the coin thing on those weird spazzo trolleys that are sort-of baskets with wheels. I hate trolleys and only use them when buying potting mix so it’s something I observe from a distance..

I love that those little Coles trolleys have a place specifically marked for ‘baguettes/flowers’! Like those are soooo commonly bought by most people! Hahaha! I think they are trying to pretend their clientele are more sophisticated than they really are! :-)

#37
dpm10:10 am, 30 Dec 11

addicus said :

Another example of user pays, double sometimes triple for something we used to expect as part of the shopping experience and overall cost. The ‘’green’’ label has allowed for shops to pass on the cost that normally would have been covered by the business. And bags are expensive yeah. Are the bags biodegradable? Or just mostly re-useable, yeah right we all know we don’t always carry our shopping bags with us EVERYWHERE, and they generally end up as the rubbish bag, but thing is we do like to impulse shop at times so we really do need to have bags attached to our belts. Retail sales are trying to compete with the internet, but it continues to implement processes people get to the point of abusing a check out operator because they are displeased. The trolleys are also just a deterrent for people to actually use them, overall saving the business less cost for recovery or replacement. So really who is benefiting here? Our environment or is this just a ploy for business to say ‘’we are all doing the right thing, but you have to change your normal ways to cater or pay for it out of your pocket’’. After saying that on their high pedestal, they announce millions of dollars in profits, while the poor cash operator on 14 bucks an hour is getting abused for it.

I dont think Aldi have their trolley or bag policies/systems specifically to be seen as ‘green’; they are more to reduce the overall cost of their buisness, thus making it possible to make their prices lower. Probably one of the reasons they are cheaper, yet no one whinges about their groceries being lower….
Cant have things both ways, yet as JB has discovered, there are heaps of people that expect both and are happy to invent ways to suit them – and screw others….

#38
dpm10:13 am, 30 Dec 11

addicus said :

Maybe a dying industry, but are we working towards destroying a good active entry level job for kids or should we keep looking to Macer’s for our kids to start their working career ?

Most trolley collectors I see are 30+ yo…. Kids nowadays wouldn’t lower themselves to this menial work! They’d choose the dole first.

#39
Watson11:02 am, 30 Dec 11

Pffft, what a storm in a teacup again. Coles has trolley collectors, so why wouldn’t you use them and leave them in the carpark. You know, like in the good old days. When it was accepted for people to be too lazy to walk their trolleys back.

I sometimes even leave my coin trolley in the carpark (in a safe spot – can’t stand people parking their trolleys in a parking bay!) to support the local homeless hobo’s drug habit. After the trauma of a supermarket visit which makes me inevitably get evil thoughts about burning the place down with everyone in it, I just want to get the F out of there and if there is no trolley bay close to the car (as at Jamison where I park) I will leave it and I reckon my one or two dollars cover the cost of someone retrieving it.

If I want more exercise I’ll go and ride my bike or take the dog for a brisk walk. Walking trolleys that strain all the muscles in my bad back when trying to push them over sloping surfaces whilst dodging cars and other shoppers is not my idea of a good work out.

#40
Instant Mash11:28 am, 30 Dec 11

TheDancingDjinn said :

Just out of pure curiosity – what is your profession, that people would hurl abuse at you for not providing plastic bags? Many years ago when i was a teenager, i had 2 fist fights with grown women in the woolworths i worked in because they were horrid women who couldn’t control themselves. I never got fired for my actions, thankfully i had sane people in my line watching the whole thing unravel and i was seen in a good light hehe.

I work in a fruit and veg market. And yeah, a few days after the law came in I had a lovely fellow threaten me with fists. Luckily for me I don’t get intimidated by people who are twice my age and half my size.

To be fair, I think it’s a little easier in a place like ours though because while we do charge 10 cents for a plastic bag, we do have the small ones (you know, the ones on the rolls around the shelves) free of charge. I’m not sure if we’re supposed to, but I offer those to customers anyway. Just makes it easier to cope IMO.

#41
Stevian12:40 pm, 30 Dec 11

dpm said :

addicus said :

Maybe a dying industry, but are we working towards destroying a good active entry level job for kids or should we keep looking to Macer’s for our kids to start their working career ?

Most trolley collectors I see are 30+ yo…. Kids nowadays wouldn’t lower themselves to this menial work! They’d choose the dole first.

I’ve haven’t bothered to follow it up, but the safety vests of trolley collectors often have a religious logo, perhaps the are the clients of some charity or other.

#42
Postalgeek1:58 pm, 30 Dec 11

p1 said :

2much2do said :

Yep, smart move genius, let’s lock the kids in the car and hope they don’t suffocate or better still, let’s leave the babies in the pram alone in the carpark.

While I don’t dispute that it is easier to just dump the trolley, let me ask you this – how did you get to the trolley at the front of Coles in the first place? Did you leave the kids in the car? Whatever method you used coming into the store could presumably also work leaving?

Not really, especially if you have young kids. Leaving the car you’re carrying one and holding the hand of the other. Returning, you have the kids and umpteen bags of shopping to handle.

Line-of-sight rule for me. If I can keep an eye on the kids, I’ll return the shopping trolley to a bay. Helps if you park near one.

#43
Henry824:27 pm, 30 Dec 11

Gee all these posts about how tough life is with kids. I wonder how people shopped before cars…. and plastic bags

#44
Mordd6:16 pm, 30 Dec 11

taninaus said :

Most shopping centres overcome this laziness by installing trolley return bays with a connection to get your coin back – win-win as the shopper doesn’t have to walk back into the centre (which is impossible if you have anyone, especially munchkins in the car with you) and the shop gets all their trolleys lined up ready to be returned by those folks earning a minimum wage buck taking them back into the centre.

Except the problem is they are often badly located, and then stuffed with non-coin trolleys meaning you have to move the other trolleys out to get yours in and get your coin back – the fault here lies with the supermarket operators not providing enough return points in the first place – while I agree with the general sentiment of this article I place the blame squarely on the supermarket owners. Last month alone I spent $4 (2x $1 and 1x $2) when I was not able to find a trolley point that I could actually get to that was not blocked and had to surrender my money to the supermarket as spending the 5 minutes going all the way back in to the shopping centre is not worth the money (1 hour / 5 minutes = $12 ie: less than minimum wage).

#45
puggy11:49 pm, 30 Dec 11

The arguing about trolleys littering car parks is pointless. That’s not the problem since the tractor trailer collector guys run around at fairly regular intervals. It’s the trolleys left at some considerable distance away (not the ones left in storm water drains) that sit there for days, even after I report them. I still haven’t won any cash on trollertracker either :( It takes much strength not to jump out and dope slap people I see wheeling a trolley home with one or two bags in it. The best I’ve seen is one containing a single bag of groceries…and a back pack.

#46
Mumbucks12:22 am, 31 Dec 11

I’ve seen alot of trolleys used the right way. Not all people dump trolleys and vandalize them!

#47
Hellno1:14 pm, 01 Jan 12

I lived for around 18 months in Belgium where every supermarket, yes big and small, had the Aldi style coin operated trolleys. I found it irritating at first, but soon got used to it. No stray trolleys lying around in Belgium. I also had a toddler at the time and never suffered any incovenience in returning the trolley and caring for a toddler. How do the people who have trouble with the toddler/trolley situation cope when filling up with petrol? Presumably you leave your child/ren in the car when you pay for the tank of petrol. I don’t recall seeing anyone unstrapping babies and carrying them into the servo to pay. Same situation surely. (Incidentally, and off-topic, Belgium, like the USA and UK where I have also lived are all pay at the pump so no having to walk away from small children in cars when paying for petrol).

#48
screaming banshee1:52 pm, 01 Jan 12

Postalgeek said :

Not really, especially if you have young kids. Leaving the car you’re carrying one and holding the hand of the other. Returning, you have the kids and umpteen bags of shopping to handle.

Wow (slaps forehead)

Are you seriously that stupid that you cant work out that you walk the trolley out to your car packed with kids and groceries, unload the trolley, walk the empty trolley back in and then walk out with just the kids…..the same way you walked in, or is two trips to the car too much effort. Wow!

Mordd said :

Last month alone I spent $4……as spending the 5 minutes going all the way back in to the shopping centre is not worth the money (1 hour / 5 minutes = $12 ie: less than minimum wage).

Like paying someone to wash your car or mow the lawn, you are outsourcing your trolley return because your time is too valuable. I don’t have an issue with that, there are plenty of things I’m happy to pay someone else to do because although I could do it myself I don’t want. Just don’t bitch about it.

#49
Deref7:14 am, 02 Jan 12

You people have no imagination.

Instead of electronically-activated wheel locks, how about electronically-activated 20,000 volt shocks, or explosives for morons who are too lazy or too stupid to return their trolleys? Entertaining and effective!

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