28 December 2012

SuperU's fine print

Yesterday I had to go out to the pharmacy, so I drove up to SuperU, which was advertising a special price on a 6-bottle case of champagne for 60 € —20 € off. It was too good to pass up. The store was a zoo (sometimes we call it SuperZoo), as it can be on the first day of a sale during the holidays. I spent 10 minutes looking in the wine section for the half-case of champagne I wanted to buy, but couldn't find any anywhere.

The latest SuperU advertising flyer features macarons and champagne on the cover

I went and stood at the service desk (l'accueil) for a while, and finally a young woman came to help me. She ended up just brushing me off, really: "Look on the end caps (les bouts de rayons) and you'll find it." Then she turned away. I had already looked everywhere, but I went back and looked some more.

No luck, except that another store employee happened by, pushing a cartload of cardboard boxes. I stopped her, carefully stared into her eyes and said Bonjour to get on her good side (you have to do that) and asked her for assistance. She looked around for a while, but she couldn't find the advertised champagne either. Single bottles of the same champagne were on the shelves for about 17 € per bottle.

Finally, the second employee went to find a third one. It was a young man this time. I explained the situation to him. "Oh, wait here," he said, "I haven't yet had time to bring that champagne out to the floor. I'll go see if I can find some." It didn't take him very long. He was all smiles, and I made sure I was smiling too, as I thanked him.

Walt just read this really fine print on the SuperU advertising flyer that we received this week:
« Si un article venait à manquer, veuillez le commander à notre point accueil, ce produit ou un produit similaire vous sera fourni dans les meilleurs délais au prix de l'actuelle publicité (sous réserve de disponibilité chez le fournisseur). Offres valables pendant les dates indiquées dans ce document sous réserve d'erreur d'impression. Chaque magasin se réserve la possibilité de ne pas faire droit à la demande d'un client qui ne correspondrait pas aux besoins normaux d'un consommateur. »

“If an item happens to be unavailable, please place an order for it at our customer service desk [and] the item or a similar item will be furnished as soon as possible at the price announced in the current advertising flyer (unless it is not available from the supplier). Special offers are valid for the dates indicated in this document except if there has been a printing error. Each store reserves the right to refuse to honor the requests of a customer that are not deemed to correspond to the normal needs of a consumer.”
Quails or a chicken for the New Year's holiday...

So we're right back where we started from, really. You'd have to be really determined to get the product at the advertised price before you'd be willing to go stand in line at the customer service desk and place an order for it. At least I would. And you have to know that the law requires the store to accommodate you. There's a good chance you'd be told that item was no longer available from the supplier.

At Grand Frais in Vierzon, there were no turkeys available at the low advertised price, but there were plenty available at twice that price. That's enough to make you suspicious that the advertising was a bait-and-switch trap. It probably wasn't, but I wasn't about to make a second trip to Vierzon to get a turkey, anyway. It's just too far.

...or duck — fresh or cooked into confit, your choice

Over at the Intermarché supermarket across the river in Noyers, I long ago gave up hope of ever actually finding the advertised specials available at the meat counter. So many times I tried, only to be told to come back later in the week because they might get a new supply. Might... Nobody ever volunteered the information that I could place an order and get the advertised price for the same or a similar item.

I've always had much better luck at SuperU in Saint-Aignan. Yesterday at SuperU they had chapons (which are capons — fattened chickens — in English) the size of a turkey on special at about the same price advertised by Grand Frais for those dindes blanches, so I bought one of those. With that and the champagne, I'm happy! We'll have a capon sometime later this winter, and the champagne will get us through special occasions over the next 12 months.


  1. From the different definitions of the varieties of turkey, in the comments, yesterday, I'd say you were lucky to not find the dinde blanche and to replace it with the chapon. Probably much better quality meat.
    Since I got a turkey for Thanksgiving, I'm not ready to do that again. I get mine from my poultry dealer at the market, but I find her expensive and was not happy that there were so many feather quills still to remove. (She should have taken care of that!) So, next year, I'll have to remember to find another supplier.
    Must get off to the market to get some ground beef for chile to finish off the beans left over from our Christmas lunch.

  2. I long ago gave up on Intermarché, and voted with my feet and cash to SuperU. My impression is that the stores are not presented so well and their own brand packaging not so enticing, but the quality of the products is generally good and the price almost invariably cheaper. I barely look at the specials catalogues these days, having wasted too much time in the past, prefering instead to see what is in the stores and make purchasing decisions on my regular bi-monthly shopping trip. What I don't know about I don't miss.

  3. That's really frustrating and so wasteful of your time! You obviously need real perseverance, patience and a reasonable grasp of the language to get a bargain!

    Our house is like "ready, steady, cook" most days. We buy whatever looks good at a sensible price, get the odd bargain, then get it home and work out what we can cook with it.

  4. Ellen I agree with you that the capon is probably a better bird than the turkey. It's the same weight and the same price in this case. Often when I buy poultry here, whether at the supermarket or the farmers' market, there are a lot of feathers and quills to pull out.

    Marie, I see a lot of links to dinde blanche on the web and I see that it is the name for several breeds of turkey. I'm not sure if the name dinde blanche always means that breed or if it has a more generic, maybe local meaning here. At the market in Selles-sur-Cher, I've heard people ask for either a poulet blanc or a poulet fermier. One day when I ordered a chicken there, the vendor told me he only had poulets blancs ready at that moment, and several old paysans were waiting patiently for the poulets fermiers to finish roasting on the spit. They weren't interested in the poulets blancs.

    Susan, I get a lot of cooking ideas by going through the publicity flyers that SuperU and other supermarket chains send out. And I go to the supermarket at least once a week, sometimes two or three times. Both Intermarché and SuperU are within 5 or 6 kilometers of the house.

    Jean, I seldom just buy something on an impulse at the market or supermarket. Funny, isn't it? I usually have a plan before I go shopping.

  5. Well, it's excellent that you finally did get the Champagne at that great price. Sounds like the chicken will be succulent, and the bubbly will help you get over your frustration ;)

  6. C'est vraiment dommage que j'ai raté ce prix spécial au Super U; mes "besoins normaux" m'auraient accordé le droit å exiger (au moins) dix cartons.

  7. "(unless it is not available from the supplier)" I LOVE THIS!!! If it's not available from the supplier, why are they advertising it in the first place?!?!?!

  8. When one doesn't work any more, it would seem grocery shopping would no longer be a worrisome task! One can go whenever it is convenient but then there are the difficulties in obtaining what you thought would be available! Glad to hear the champagne worked out for you! I've learned a lot more about chickens, now! Merci.
    Mary (NW- Oregon!)

  9. Hi Mary, when I was working in California, I would never have paid much attention to such things as supermarket ads and specials. Maybe now I have too much time on my hands, and I certainly have a smaller income. But I have my freedom...

  10. Grrrr.

    California has laws against the types of shenanigans you're experiencing. The run-arounds still happen, but they're not nearly as common as they used to be.

  11. Bon, tu n'y as pas perdu, un chapon, c'est mieux qu'une dinde, blanche ou non :-) !
    Et pour le champagne, tu as fait une affaire, mais as-tu regardé les petites lettres tout en bas de l'étiquette pour voir si c'était un champagne NM (négociant manipulant) ou RM (récoltant manipulant) ? Comme tu le sais, il faut éviter les MA (marque d'acheteur) et privilégier RM...



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