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Online food shopping – why on earth not?

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foodshopping.jpgI’ve just completed our once-monthly online food shop, and it it reminded me of someone the other day complaining that they couldn’t afford the delivery charges. But there really is no reason not to do it. We live on the second floor of a place with no lift, and every time we shop online at Tesco we get the added bonus of seeing the exasperated face of a bloke lugging four of five crates of food up two flights of stairs. It’s fun, I assure you.
So, in a moment of full-on philanthropy, here are the arguments against online shopping – and the answers to knock ’em down.

1. They can’t usually deliver when I want.
Far be it for me to promote someone who’s already the top of the grocery pack, but Tesco are the way forward. They have two hour slots for delivery (if that’s not enough, Ocado from Waitrose do one hour slots) and can usually deliver within a day.

2. You have to pay for delivery.
True, you do. But with a little knowhow, you can cancel out the charge. You can get £5, £10 and £15 off your shopping total by using the codes listed on the Tesco Voucher Codes website, or reading the Voucher Forum on MoneySavingExpert.com.

3. It’s not secure.
It’s as secure as going into any shop. In fact, it’s more secure than that, as all the transactions are done by computers rather than people. So if you buy anything anywhere with a credit card, there’s no reason not to shop online for food.

4. You can’t potter around picking up other things you might like.
No you can’t – and this is surely a good thing, no? You don’t spend money on things you didn’t need in the first place, you don’t add more inches to your waistline, and you don’t add more pennies to Tesco’s bulging moneybags.

So what’s not to love about online food shopping?

Escaping to the wilds of Kent…

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It was the first sneeze that gave it away. It was a particularly hearty one, full of purpose, menace and foreboding – one that dared to utter, “You think THAT’s bad – what and see what’s coming!”. And so it was that, on the very morning that Michelle and I set off for a week in a converted barn on the coast, I disappointingly discovered my worst-timed and most annoying cold to date.

Why were we off to Kent? Well, we’d discovered an amazing hotel in Turkey. Bear with me, there’s a link here. You see, we wanted to go to it – but it was so amazing that we decided that we’d need two years to save up for it. And it was at this point that the idea of a “minibreak” was born in the living room at Wibbler Heights – cheap, cheerful and nowhere near home. We’d go on a minibreak this year, the posh Turkish hotel next year. Sorted.

We sourced a holiday cottage catalogue and rested eyes on a top-rated converted barn in Alkham, just near Dover. The white cliffs beckoned this Monday, and after a visit to Tesco to stock up on food, we sped on down to the barn.

It only took two hours – and by that time my nose was in full flow. The cold was taking hold – and stayed there through the next four days. Nevertheless, we managed to fit in several trips into Dover and a trip to France – where the Cite Europe-based TescoFrance superstore took a battering. Our kitchen bar has never looked fuller, and we also can eat popcorn everywhere now, with our microwave stand we got at DesignsAuthority.

Cold aside, it was a good rest in a great cottage – in the middle of nowhere. And now we’re back, preparing for my birthday outing tomorrow. We, ladies and gentlemen, are going paintballing – so expect a full bruise report tomorrow…

Done Up Like A Musical Kipper

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I’d like to think of myself as internet-savvy. I do almost everything on it nowadays – from the monthly food shopping to paying bills, buying DVDs and CDs, it’s all done on my computer screen. In the six or so years since I started playing with the internet, I’d like to think I’m aware of every internet scam out there.
I mention this because last night I happened upon freeipods.com. The website sounds utterly preposterous – getting an MP3 player worth £250 for nothing sounds like fool’s gold. Apparently they get commission from the number of people who sign up for their sponsors. Sounds odd, but it’s been on Newsnight and the BBC News, and I know of one person who has actually received one, so I thought I’d sign up, What can I lose, I thought?
So, the sign up was straightforward. I chose a username and password and burst into the members page, eager to find riches. I was faced with several options for sponsors I needed to sign up with – DVD clubs, casinos and the like. However, one caught my attention – an MP3 site offering cheap access to thousands of high-quality MP3s for a low one-off charge. Compared to Tesco or Napster downloads, it was a bargain – $19 for lifetime membership. $19 for an Ipod, I thought, and away I went to sign up.
Not, obviously, without checking its authenticity first, of course. A quick search on Google didn’t throw up too many warning signs, and the little padlock on my browser indicated that it was a secure site for my payment. I was all set to go. Plugged in my payment details, got confirmation…. And then nothing. No web page with MP3s, just a page telling me how to use other programs to get them. Click, nothing. Click, nothing. A warm, gooey, unpleasant feeling seeped through my body. I’d laughed at countless internet newbies signing up for scams, putting them down as unbelievably naive. I’d had been taken for a mug, and now some nefarious criminally-minded bastard had my debit card details. I was INCENSED I tell you, more at my complete failure to notice the scam than anything else. If it can still be a scam when it has a secure trading site, what’s the point in having the secure padlock icon?
And that is why, at ten to eleven last night, I was on the phone to a wary woman from Alliance and Leicester, explaining that I’d signed up for a dodgy website and there was a distinct possibility that they may use my card details for a new Boeing 737 they’d had their eye on. After I explained that it was a music website and not some sordid den of carnal knowledge, she was much more helpful and stopped my card immediately. So, for the next seven days, I am debitcardless, which frankly is a relief for my bank manager.
And I don’t think I’ll hang around for that iPod, either.

Belle de Jour signs off

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Belle de Jour, prostitute, blogger and nearly a published author, is hanging up her mouse, presumably for contractual reasons. Either that, or she feels her job is done. For as long as she’s been blogging, I’ve been reading, and I’ll miss her well-turned phrases and lough-out-loud observations. As she eloquently put it, “All things pass. For instance: Harts the Grocer, I am saddened to note, are now Tesco Metro. But that is the way of things.” And she ends with a word of advice. “Don’t ever turn down pleasure because you were afraid of what other people might say.”
But a nagging thought plays on my mind – how will we ever know if she’s real now?

Big Brother mobiles

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“I’m in Tesco’s, I’ll have to call you back later”.
I wasn’t of course, but the conversation was boring me to tears. They’ll never know I was actually in bed, reading my newspapers.
But I won’t be able to do that for long, if these two sites have their way. MapAMobile and FleetOnline track your mobile phone’s location. And if you’re like me your mobile phone never leaves your side. The worst thing about these sites is that anyone with cash can access them. They ask the mobile users permission before tracking them, but that can easily be done if you know the person. You’ll never be able to pull a sickie off work again…

Tampon shopping

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Oh the joys of just going about your daily business. A friend at work was discussing, as you do, how her local Tescos are always changing the “female hygiene” aisle. She beckoned an assistant the other day, asked where the hell the tampon section was, to which the assistant replied, pointing over to the corner of the supermarket, “Well, just for effect, it’s now subtly positioned between the two meat sections…”