Does Sam, the store manager at Coles Tooronga Village in Melbourne, really exist?

There is a photo of a friendly store manager in Coles.  His name is Sam but I am beginning to wonder if he is real since he never responds to me as a loyal  customer’s  call  for assistance.

Last week I even asked two representatives from Coles Head office who happened to be visiting the supermarket if Sam is a real manager or just a photo on the wall near the entrance to Coles.  They laughed and said that he should be on the floor with the rest of the staff.

Well, I searched for him,  in vain.

Today, when I wanted to know the price of some kiwifruit I asked a member of staff  why it wasn’t priced correctly. The price was for coconuts, apparently.

So I asked the cashier at one of the two aisles that were staffed whether Sam was around.

She apologised and told me it was Sam’s official day off.

We have yet to meet.






Australia’s obsessions make it the lucky country


For the past few days the folks downunder have been inundated with news about a horse called Winx. Apparently,  she runs fast and wins races.

Can’t wait to see more of her. Only kidding.

As Rhett Butler said, “Frankly,  my dear…”

And if it’s not about Winx then it’s about cricket and putting your hands down your pants to tamper with a ball and that’s not cricket. Or is it?

Every day in the late afternoon and early evening we are flooded with advertisements about gambling. In fact , even one of our cricket “heroes” is used to promote betting. And if that is not ironic enough we are advised to gamble responsibly.

So what does that mean?  From the point of view of betting agencies they want the viewers to gamble as irresponsibly as possible so that more money is accumulated by them. After all, isn’t it all about making a profit?  So why pretend that they are giving us good advice?  For crying out loud, pull the other one.

Now, you would think that I am against all this obsession with sports and betting, but I have learned to count my blessings.


Because in other parts of the world people are killing each other, starving and imprisoning their enemies, pillaging and hating one another.

So go ahead, Winx. While you keep us distracted we are very lucky to be living here.

Clowns in the Apple Store

It was Thursday so the little robots at the Apple Store were wearing black tee-shirts. They were busy organising the visitors into possible challenges for the Geniuses up on Mt Olympus or buyers of more geeky stuff. Appointments were being made on identical I-pads and everybody was extra cheerful and well trained to postpone answering any question for several hours with the ubiquitous advice:-

“You can always call Apple Care, you know.”  An expensive adventure in time and money.

We only had one simple question, but the munchkin said that he was not allowed to look at my note book even though he believed he could solve the problem quite fast. It was not his programme for the day and he had to obey orders. Hmm…

I have never been impressed by the kindergarten atmosphere of the Apple Store. It seems to be patronising and unhelpful. When  we expressed our exasperation emphatically he agreed to peek at our note book. It was a system problem he could not resolve and told us that it would it correct itself in a little while. Sadly,  he was not scheduled to do that on this blackshirt day.

How ironic that refusing to help us took him much longer than having a peek at our note book.  In the end he achieved nothing more than wasting our time.

We went home, non-plussed. My non-munchkin spouse,  who is not “a computer expert”,  fiddled around with the settings. Perhaps he could resolve that system problem that was meant to correct itself.  He did what would have taken the restricted employee just a few minutes.  And he did it without donning a coloured Tee-shirt or uttering geeky greetings that rang hollow in the world of adults who should grow up.

Gimmicks are extremely annoying when sensible service is lacking.


Bertocchi Smallgoods Revisited

This week I received a very pleasant surprise from the Marketing and Merchandising Manager of Bertocchi Smallgoods in Australia.  Mr  Tony Rapone had been made aware of the unfortunate experience I had had five years ago when I bought some Mortadella made by Bertocchi which had been placed in some outdated casing which did not give the correct information about the ingredients in the product.

The old casing had MSG listed on it as an ingredient and it so happens that I am allergic to it. So when I rang the company only to be informed that the casing was old and the product no longer contained MSG I was told not to worry but there was no apology.

Naturally, I was very upset by the poor customer relations  and decided to avoid Bertocchi products from then on.

Following Mr Rapone’s assurance that my treatment had lacked consideration all those years ago and that he apologised on behalf of the company I am satisfied that Bertocchi would not repeat this error in the future. I appreciate  Mr Rapone’s gesture after all this time

Moronic Medownick TV commercial lacks class

I have commented on the stupidity of the Medownick Laser Clinic commercials in the past.  Sadly, for a company that provides eye surgery they behave like puerile circus clowns.

So for a while the TV commercials disappeared from our screens and so I assumed , wrongly, as it happens,  that the advertisers had decided to stop promoting a medical company in such an embarrassing manner.

I would have expected the owners of this medical service to inform their marketers that their medical practice should inspire confidence in a potential client rather than project an image of slapstick idiots who fall over themselves on the screen.

I wonder if the doctors who perform the laser eye surgery greet the patient with a banana peel, false red nose and a colourful costume like Ronald’s.

Such inspirational fun in the operating theatre!



Funerals and IVF clinics. The immorality of advertisers.

When the funeral business began to advertise that seniors should fund their own funerals I squirmed.  “Do it because you love your children” was the message that played on seniors’ emotions. To me it is embarrassing that the heirs who will inherit your earthly possessions would refuse to bury you unless the funeral was prepaid by you.

How has it come to this?  Can’t the heirs be trusted to do the right thing?

Apparently not,  otherwise the ads would not be aired constantly.   So they work on emotional blackmail and Generation X is  given a free pass.  How low can advertisers stoop?

Here we go,  lower still…

There is  a large IVF fertility business that promotes the idea of parents paying for their children’s reproductive treatment.   Sarah would like to be a mother but she and her partner are too poor to afford the treatment. So why not get Sarah’s parents to pay for it?

My question is “if Sarah can’t afford the fertility treatment how is she going to afford paying for bringing up,  educating,  feeding and housing the children whose birth her parents paid for?”

Or will that be the responsibility of the potential  grandparents as well?

UNIQLO’s unfortunate marketing mistake in Australia

Since the days when I studied Japanese at university I have been a great admirer of Japan’s business acumen.  So when UNIQLO opened up some clothing stores in Australia I was very pleased.

You can imagine my disappointment when year after year, UNIQLO fails to cater for Australian sizes.

It is well known that average Australians are not thin.  The average size has been growing so that many Aussies are now about a size 16 or Medium to Large.

However,  when one enters a UNIQLO store all the larger sizes have disappeared and the only sizes still left are S for small or XS for extra small. These sizes would be more appropriate for the Japanese customers. When I asked the very pleasant attendants why there are only tiny sizes left they actually admitted that the larger sizes always sell out immediately.

Today they even admitted that this is a frequent complaint from potential customers.

So shouldn’t this be a lesson for the bosses at UNIQLO?

The first lesson in marketing is  “Learn who your customers are.”  The second lesson is “Cater to the market.”

In my opinion,  UNIQLO would be much more successful if it remembered that Aussie customers are not the same shape as Japanese customers.

We would love to enjoy the excellent products provided by UNIQLO if only they would fit.


Why Australian retirees spend their money overseas

On November the 14th I wrote about the juvenile perfumes that are on sale here in Australia. Apparently, these weak lolly water essences are directed towards the pubescent girls who are mad about Justin Bieber and Little Boy Bands.

Coincidentally,  on the following day,  Robert Gottliebsen, who is a famous economist,  wrote an article in “The Australian” newspaper entitled  “Marketers ignore the over 65s, the only age group who have money and want to spend.”

It is a lamentable fact that retail spending has declined and Gottliebsen blames the retailers who have ignored the only demographic who can actually afford to buy.

Retailers have been hoping that Christmas shopping will help them out of this decline,  but,  in my opinion the anticipated splurge by unfunded shoppers  will only lead to more personal debt among the younger age group.

If only the retailers would provide goods that would appeal to the richest group in our society, the cashed-up over 65s, then these retirees would not have to do their shopping on overseas trips or online with overseas businesses.

I’m sure that they would much prefer to contribute to the Australian economy instead of sourcing their goods,  such as adult perfumes,  from other parts of the planet.


What has happened to perfumes?

Sometimes, I feel as if I have left Earth, my familiar Earth,  behind,  and landed on some other planet.

While the Earth I knew was pleasant and uncomplicated, this new strange version is not as welcoming.  People don’t talk to one another. They are very serious about things.  They are so constricted by the novel regime that is afraid of offending anybody or upsetting somebody accidentally that they vet everything and edit every comment in case it touches a nerve, real or imaginary.

Expressing any opinion is preceded by an apology.  Just in case it’s not politically correct…

So in a way we have diluted conversations so that they have become meaningless and bland.  In other words,  we play it safe.

What has all this got to do with perfumes?

A lot actually.

Allow me to explain.

When I was taking a walk in the Chadstone Shopping Mall I was approached by  a lady who was promoting the new Chanel No5.  So I asked her what was different about this version of Chanel from the previous one  which had stood the test of time.

Her reply was as follows:-  “We have diluted it.”

“Does that mean  you have weakened it,  made it less sexy?”  I asked.

“Yes” she said.  “We are trying to appeal to the younger girls.”

“Can’t they just stick to something like Justin Bieber’s artistic endeavour in the world of perfumers?”  I asked.  “After all,  Chanel is not really a brand for teeny boppers,  is it?”

Surely Chanel is not lolly water, but a sophisticated perfume for real women rather than ingenues.

Apparently not, it seems. Light scents that smell like bubble gum are what pubescents are buying and so we must bow to their Lolita tastes.

I am now scouring the internet for real perfumes for women who have left school and want to enjoy sophisticated and redolent perfumes of the kind worn by women rather than kids.


Why Chadstone Shopping Centre in Melbourne Australia disappoints.

What prompted this blog is the news that Suzanne Grae has been obliged to leave the Chadstone Mall because it is in the way. So now that Diana Ferrari and Suzanne Grae have been ousted,  two of Melbourne’s most popular brands have gone elsewhere.

This is surprising because Chadstone is the largest of all the malls in Australia, but apparently can no longer accommodate two of our iconic clothing outlets for those women who don’t want to look as if they are going up in space as is evident in the Moncler store, for example,  or the satirical fashions by Miu Miu.

I was hoping that when the owners of  “The Chadstone  Fashion Capital” finished expanding their huge mall they would improve the shopping experience for their customers.

Sadly, this has not been the case because the Chadstone managers obviously  do not have the interests of the shoppers at heart.  Their main interest is in leasing stores in the mall. It is obvious that the comfort and the experience of the customers do not matter to the current managers.

In the older part of the mall, the same decrepit conveniences are still there. When I complained about the lack of  clean facilities for shoppers I was informed that all the money has been spent on a new transparent roof (big deal) and on extending the Centre.

The extension is not much and does look like a Chinatown with a lack of choice of eateries unless you are into noodles and rice. As for the fashions the new area hosts the cheap brands which are really not as good as either Diana Ferrari or Suzanne Grae. So go figure…

I do wonder if the Chinese tourists who are bussed in with their tour leaders are keen to see a replica of where they come from or would they prefer something more Australian?  After all,  if they have made the long journey from China surely they have come to see a different culture. Otherwise, why bother?

Anyhow,  when I visit Westfield’s Southland and Doncaster Shopping Malls I am always impressed by the effort that Westfield has gone to in order  to make the shoppers comfortable. Smart and numerous places to rest while shopping,  modernised and clean toilet facilites and a feeling of welcome is what I observe.

It  is a pleasure to walk around and enjoy our time spent shopping in these two centres.

Whereas the top floor in the Chadstone Mall is meant to attract the foreign (Chinese) visitors the truth is that these pretentious stores remain empty most of the time. The staff stand around  trying to look busy , but how much dusting can one do?  Occasionally, a group of Asian visitors are brought in to queue up outside the store and one by one they enter with the security guards monitoring them. It is certainly pretty embarrassing.

What a pity that the renovations at Chadstone have alienated the traditional shoppers  who were hoping for an improvement instead of the cheap bargain basement seating, lack of variety and hardly any Aussie  atmosphere.

My advice to the managers and owners of Chadstone is be kind to your shoppers,  treat them with respect and appreciate their value to your business. Take a lesson from Westfield.