What Do You Get For Low Prices?

When I am forced into Andover town centre to pay cheques in to the bank, I get free parking by popping into Lidl’s to buy basics like bread, milk and so on.

Some of you probably don’t set foot in such a place but it is handy and really cheap for getting everyday bits and bobs at probably two thirds of the price of the more ‘upmarket’ stores. A bottle of semi-skimmed milk is a bottle of semi-skimmed milked wherever you go.

The other thing about this shop is that it attracts a disproportionate amount of mobility scooters along with some of the more eclectic characters in society and the service is a bit crap. If you want a more pleasurable experience, go to Waitrose where open wallet surgery comes with a smile and a helping hand from staff on good wages and profit share schemes.

The service is sometimes a bit crap in Lidls because if you are going to knock out stuff at rock bottom prices, something has to give to balance the books. Whenever I pop in there, I know moderate ineptitude will soon follow but I have also accepted that it comes with the territory and a handy parking place near the bank.

I went in there yesterday and there was a woman in the queue moaning at me about the fact that there were only two aisles open and that the customer service was, in her words, ‘fucking shit’. See what I mean about the clientele, they are different but forthright in their assessments.

I jokingly said to her that she could get another tenner out of the cashpoint and go to Waitrose if it was customer service she wanted but she didn’t get my sense of economics and offered me a toothless scowl rather than kind words of approval.

We have seen value/customer service on a grander scale this week, with much maligned airline, RyanAir, once again taking a considerable amount of flak over client treatment regarding the cancellation of flights due to staff shortages caused by holiday issues.

On Radio 5 yesterday people were ringing in the Nicky Smug show incandescent with rage aimed at RyanAir, claiming the hostesses could not speak English, information was scarce, and that the pilots barely smiled and always looked fed up with life.

If you are going to pay £27:00 for a trip to Valencia want do you expect? Former Miss World contestants walking the aisle as if it were a catwalk? Handsome, tanned pilots wooing the passengers with cheeky anecdotes as they tuck into their champagne and caviar? For £27.00?

I am no fan of Michael O’Leary but whether it is Lidls, Ryanair, or a shop where you can by a cotton suit for £80:00, there has to be a tipping point to keep consumer prices low. That means low overheads and low staff costs, meaning that for the paltry sum you pay, the experience will be poor but the pint of milk will taste like any other, the suit will last a wedding or two and the flight will get you somewhere quite near the destination you have been given (give or take 30 miles).

Personally, I don’t really like any supermarkets, so the service doesn’t really bother me as long as I get what I want. When I am in a supermarket I am basically a vacant mass anyway, so if someone said “that’s £14.95, now fuck off” I would hardly care.

The only time I regain consciousness in Lidls is when I get to that middle bit where they have the most obscure stock rotation bargains known to man. I never buy anything, I just enjoy what they have in there, it amuses me immensely. Last week it was a set of Bongo drums with 11% off the retail price.

I amuse myself by imagining a household where, after popping out for some milk, someone comes home with a set of Bongo drums, justifying the purchase by announcing that there was an incredible two pounds off the original price.

However, life is not so funny if you are 30,000 feet in the air being flown by a pilot who is worried sick about his marriage problems brought on by escalating debt. A debt that has come courtesy of a salary that is well below the average for carrying people across the skies of Europe in a metal container.

If, as I believe it to be the case, that RyanAir are employing low paid pilots and cabin staff, what are the consumers getting for their thirty quid? The useless ones would be my best bet. You get what you pay for after all, hopefully not a plane that hits the Sussex hills like a dart.

By driving prices down, we are reaping what we sew and do you know what, if Brexit ever does galvanise enough brain power to get to some sort of costly agreement, poor quality food will soon be going into the stomachs of Britain’s civilians, particularly those without a lot month left at the end of the money.

As it stands, whether it is Lidls or Waitrose, EU food standards are pretty rigorous. This means that unless we are inept with our hygiene and cooking procedures, it is unlikely we will suffer from poisoning or long term health effects from products bought from our supermarkets.

The US are chomping at the Brexit to get hold of our food industry and if you do any simple research, their food standards are shockingly low and as a consequence, their food is shockingly bad. The result is a vast array of arses that are so extraordinarily large, you can’t stop looking at them. Car crash arses are what I call them.

When America were trying to put together TTIP (The transatlantic trade deal) with the EU, it’s two major stumbling blocks were concerns regarding a free run at European health services and food standards. I guess if you make people ill by feeding them junk, you can then charge them to keep them alive. That’s good business sense to plutocrats.

The irony in all this is that many people who voted to leave the EU were doing it in fear of Britain losing its cultural identity, whatever that means. However, if you look across Europe fear of losing cultural identity comes from the threat of big American business (McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks, Pizza Hut etc etc) not their neighbours.

As part of Brexit, Britain is virtually bending over the US negotiating table, sticking its arse in the air and saying “Take me and make sure it hurts”. When we are paying for our basic healthcare and eating ‘Chlorine Surprise’ chicken, we will soon know what losing our cultural identity is all about. After all, if you surveyed British folk and asked them what makes Britain great, I guarantee the NHS would poll the highest.

There are reasons why some of the wealthiest people in this country and across the pond are some of the most fervent Brexiteers and I’ll tell you for free that it has naff all to with cultural identity or making Britain great again.

It has everything to do with lowering standards and making wads of cash to stick in the Cayman Islands.

Right, I’m off to buy a Bongo set.

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