13 June, 2008

Stupid is as stupid does

This letter was going to be all about how suppliers talk down to retailers, treating us like a bunch of morons with absolutely no understanding of our customers and what they want to buy.

Scarcely a week goes by in which some corporation or another doesn't hand down, from on high, some kind of statement of the bleeding obvious.

Recently, two of the big boys - Diageo and Constellation - have been dispensing such pearls of wisdom as "encourage consumers to treat themselves" or "tell them they should be supping malt whisky in the height of summer and not just at Christmas".

The beer boys, meanwhile, assure us that our customers quite like to drink cold lager on a hot day and if we really want to get the biggest profits, we should consider first buying that lager and secondly putting it in a fridge.

The confectionery suppliers reckon that if we put chocolate on the counter, as opposed to outside in the stockroom or on the roof, our customers will see it and may be more inclined to buy it. The makers of crisps have an equally surprising piece of news: customers who buy bigger bags will pay more than those who buy little ones. It's amazing how much us thickies can learn.

I say this letter was going to be about all those things, but then I noticed the item on page two of your May 30 edition in which a retailer was found carrying fake Glen's vodka which put a customer in hospital.

I had to do a double take. Are retailers really so dopey as to be falling for the cheap hookey hooch salesmen with their counterfeit brands?

If they are, they are just as stupid as the big suppliers think they are. And if they think the gear is genuine, they're even thicker.

Karel Sondheim

West London

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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