Nik Brear: What am I really saving myself by shopping online?!

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Online shopping – have you tried it? It’s the future! Or at least that’s what they would have us believe...

I’ve been doing my weekly ‘big shop’ online for a while now. I sincerely hate going to the supermarket – being held hostage in the freezing cold meat aisle behind a slowcoach with a massive trolley – so it seemed an obvious choice.

Though, as I learned the other night, it’s not without its problems...

I’d ordered the shopping to come between 6pm and 7pm and, boy, did the M1 traffic seem to know it! I finally pulled into my driveway at 6.05pm to find – yup you guessed it – a Tesco ‘Sorry We Missed You!’ card. 6.05pm. You do know if I’d been in a hurry to get out for the evening, he wouldn’t have shown up until gone 7pm.

I muttered a few expletives and reached for my phone to call them straight back, marvelling at the message ‘We called at 6.10pm’ the time-travelling driver had scrawled on the card.

When I finally got them on the phone, after being disconnected no fewer than three times, I appealed to the driver to swing back past with my dinner, but was told he didn’t have time.

I could, I was told, collect the bags from Tesco myself. Brilliant, that’s what I’d do. Get in my car and drive to Tesco in rush-hour traffic to pick up the shopping I’d paid to be delivered. Of course. So I did.

And as I drove to Tesco, my mind slowly began to replay my online shopping experiences with more clarity. And I began to realise how much I really do despise it. I hate having to type in every item and scroll through hundreds of options to track down the one I want. I hate that the system can trick me into thinking they’ve stopped selling my usual items, as I mistakenly search for ‘wholemeal’ rather than ‘wholegrain’.

Best of all, I realised online shopping still leaves me with the very worst part of the job. Unpacking. Hate it, hate it, hate it! Especially if I have to clear out the fridge first – as I always do – squeezing potatoes and sniffing onions to decide if they’re still okay or whether I need to chuck them into the disappointingly full carrier bag of rotten food in my hand. (What a waste – must plan meals better!)

My favourite part? When I realise my careful ‘ordering’ work has been thwarted by the ‘substitution’ fairy – who’s swapped my pint of skimmed milk for a pot of double cream and my wholemeal bagels for a sugared doughnut. Sigh. I think I’ll just go to the supermarket this weekend.