It is a good week for a whinge. Having trashed a restaurant yesterday, I thought I’d go into supermarket territory and get it all off my chest.
When the Hunan based company (步步高) BuBuGao opened their hypermarket on Liuzhou square last year, I was happy. An OK supermarket in the city centre was needed. They got off to a reasonable start, but recently I’ve been becoming more and more cynical and, frankly, annoyed by the place.
The service is hopeless; staff have no idea what they are doing or what they are selling. Much of the stock is mislabelled and the handwriting on their signs unreadable (not only by me – Chinese friends have found it undecipherable, too).
Their sushi selection is a disgrace. Stale, dried out rice and limp toppings. The roast meat section is a health hazard. Roast meats sit there uncovered for weeks. There are currently two whole roast rabbits which I know for a fact have been sitting there for two weeks.
The butchery section is bizarre. They chop things at random, but so do most Chinese butchers. But the staff here have a real attitude problem. Patronising and smug. When they deign to actually be behind the counters. It is usually empty. Arrogant idiots. And the moron who spends half his day yelling through his PA system trying to impress the female staff and customers should be fired immediately.
Then there is the fish. Much of the fish has been sitting there for quite some time, too. Interestingly, they are currently stocking Pacific Saury, a fish which is famously at its best in Autumn / Fall, hence its Chinese and Japanese name, 秋刀鱼 which translates as Autumn Knife Fish (knife for the shape). So they are stocking it in spring when it is at its worst. Well done.
While you are at the fish counter, have a glance at the salmon counter and ask yourself how long those tiny, overpriced samples have been sitting there. The ones there a couple of mornings ago had been sitting waiting since the start of the holiday, six days earlier. Sashimi should be fresh!
The checkouts are idiotically designed and usually undermanned (well actually, most checkouts seem to have at least two people – one to scan your goods and take your money and another one or two to keep the first one company with idle chit-chat.) Because the aisle is too narrow, if you have a trolley you can hardly get your stuff out of it and onto the conveyor-belt-free checkout desk. You have to lean over the handles rather than stand to one side and have free access.
But beware. Some goods in the store have no bar codes attached. You can look at a pile of coriander/cilantro or some avocados, for example. Some bunches or packs have prices and barcodes; some don’t. Pick up the wrong one and you will be told off at the checkout. It infuriates me when they blame me for their screw-ups. And of, course they never suggest that any of the staff standing around doing nothing might go back to the weigh station to correct the problem for you. They expect you to go to sort out their mess by yourself. Customer service.
On one occasion, I attempted to buy a coconut which did have a barcode, but for some reason the checkout till couldn’t read it. The person on the checkout was so rude I just walked out leaving a full trolley of stuff for them to re-shelve, half of which she had already scanned. I hope it screwed up their computer. Then I went to 大润发 (RT Mart) where I should have gone in the first place.
But what annoys me most about Bubugao is the random pricing. Well, let’s be fair. Downright price gouging. Several of my Chinese friends and associates have said to me that the place is way too expensive.
Since they opened, they have stocked this cheap, plastic Emmentaler cheese which they sold for the inflated price of ¥39.80. Other supermarkets have stocked this in the past for around ¥30. This week they have bumped the price up to ¥47.70 for 200g. (It’s the same old stock from last week.) They have to be kidding! I can buy the same cheese online for around ¥20 for 200g. This is just a total rip-off. Perhaps they think we can’ t get cheese anywhere else, so they can charge the sky. They are very, very wrong. I can buy better cheese for half the price elsewhere in Liuzhou.
What amazes me is that they continue to sell stuff at inflated prices when the shop next door has it at sensible prices.
I’m rather partial to these crackers.
Bubugao sell at ¥18 a packet. ILOVEME, right by BBG’s entrance has them for ¥10. Identical crackers.
They have butter at between ¥26.80 to ¥36.50. per 200g. I buy Anchor butter for ¥18 / 227g. Also, they had Anchor whipping cream on sale at a shocking ¥32.50 – again I buy a Nestlé equivalent for a mere ¥15. They are charging ¥42 for a 500ml can of Bodington’s Pub Beer, for example. I LOVE ME, a few steps from the checkouts has the same beer at ¥26.80.
I reckon the whole Bubugao concept is struggling. Most of the shopping mall restaurants are doing OK, but I seldom see anyone in the actual shops other than obviously bored sales staff wondering how long their job is going to last. I think they had ideas way above their station. This is Liuzhou – not Shanghai or Hong Kong.
But I’ll be damned if I am going to pay those ridiculous prices in their defective supermarket just to subsidise their lack of foresight.
大润发 (RT Mart) isn’t so convenient for me (geographically) but it is better than these jokers’ place.