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On shopping trolleys and human nature

By johnboy - 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.

What’s Your opinion?


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On shopping trolleys and human nature
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Instant Mash 11:28 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.

Watson 11:02 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.

dpm 10:13 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.

dpm 10:10 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….

dpm 10:04 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! 🙂

NoImRight 10:00 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.

addicus 9:52 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 ?

addicus 8:53 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.

p1 12:39 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.

p1 12:28 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?

TheDancingDjinn 11:35 pm 29 Dec 11

Instant Mash said :

Much like the new plastic bag regulations. People have had two months to get used to that, and I cop constant abuse every single day simply because people are just too lazy to bring their own. If you have such a problem paying a few cents for the bag you forgot, then stop forgetting and stop whinging.

On the trolley subject, what is the big deal? You get the dollar back so long as you’re bothered to walk an extra few metres.

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.

Instant Mash 11:07 pm 29 Dec 11

Much like the new plastic bag regulations. People have had two months to get used to that, and I cop constant abuse every single day simply because people are just too lazy to bring their own. If you have such a problem paying a few cents for the bag you forgot, then stop forgetting and stop whinging.

On the trolley subject, what is the big deal? You get the dollar back so long as you’re bothered to walk an extra few metres.

EvanJames 10:44 pm 29 Dec 11

Rawhide Kid Part3 said :

I think Coles will also be doing the coin trollies soon. Should be interesting.

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.

But the fact is, people behave like scum nowadays and there seems to be nothing stopping them. No social disapproval, no serried ranks of eyes judging them. Now it’s just everyone for themselves, grabbing what they can, and bugger everyone else.

Henry82 10:15 pm 29 Dec 11

Thumper said :

Or you can simply drive a car.
Much easier.

and pay for petrol, and possibly pay for a gym. Both have their pros and cons, but cycling to the shops isn’t as difficult as you think

aronde 9:28 pm 29 Dec 11

Hey gasman I have a Christiania Trike also and it has been at Jamison shops a number of times. Nothing like parking right at the door and loading everything straight in!

Back on topic I gave up using Aldi trolleys at Belco – could never find a place to return it to get the money back due to the release key being missing or the bay being full of Coles/Woolies trolleys. Yes I could have walked all the way back to Aldi with my empty trolley but seriously after doing that once (when I was parked on a different level) it is a lot easier to just shop at Coles first and use their trolley and put it back in a nearby bay when back at the car.

Thumper 9:18 pm 29 Dec 11

BicycleCanberra said :

dungfungus said :

How do you ride a bike down the aisles in a supermarket and how do you make room in the panniers for a slab of VB when you have just bought a carton of Pal in the supermarket? The Dutchies who shop on their bikes must lead a Spartan lifestyle.

Instead of shopping weekly you shop two or three times a week on the bike. You can obviously use your car for the big loads or you can use a cargo bike!

Or you can simply drive a car.

Much easier.

gasman 8:35 pm 29 Dec 11

BicycleCanberra said :

dungfungus said :

Instead of shopping weekly you shop two or three times a week on the bike. You can obviously use your car for the big loads or you can use a cargo bike!

Indeed. This is my cargo bike after a recent trip to Aldi.

I ride it from Yarralumla to Weston Creek and back. Several times per week.

BicycleCanberra 8:01 pm 29 Dec 11

dungfungus said :

How do you ride a bike down the aisles in a supermarket and how do you make room in the panniers for a slab of VB when you have just bought a carton of Pal in the supermarket? The Dutchies who shop on their bikes must lead a Spartan lifestyle.

Instead of shopping weekly you shop two or three times a week on the bike. You can obviously use your car for the big loads or you can use a cargo bike!

dpm 7:42 pm 29 Dec 11

It generally works better at other centres where there isn’t a competitor right next to Aldi. At Coolo, the Woolies is at the opposite end so it’s rarer to see people in there with Woolies trolleys.
One solution at Jammo would be if Coles also had the same trolley return system! Won’t happen though….

dungfungus 7:40 pm 29 Dec 11

BicycleCanberra said :

Many people start their shop @ Coles then go into Aldi to get the basics and look at the specials. I use the token which is on my keyring, simple to use without having to search around for a dollar coin or two.

This problem is the corner stone of a car centric culture, acres of car parks yet you couldn’t walk a trolley back to a return bay parking isle. If everyone shopped regularly(on bike) like the dutch do we wouldn’t have this problem of the wandering trolley.

How do you ride a bike down the aisles in a supermarket and how do you make room in the panniers for a slab of VB when you have just bought a carton of Pal in the supermarket? The Dutchies who shop on their bikes must lead a Spartan lifestyle.

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