Getting Hyper About Labeling!


Labeling is the nonchalant full time duty of the jury(read rest of the world) who are gainfully employed (unemployment is a myth) in judging and stereotyping other people. “He is a stick in the mud”. “She is such an extrovert”.  “He has a big chip on his shoulder”( would that be Pringles?).  “Her fashion sense is atrocious”. Look around and you can spot them from a mile.



That said, this is with malice towards none. We are not talking about people and their labeling.



The rant here is about the labels they use in hypermarkets(or modern trade for those at the comforting mercy of trade parlance). And being a slow learner and not qualified to be on the extremely agile list to spot the obvious from the discerning, it took a few not so pleasant experiences for the nickel to drop( because at the till, the price would rise).



Talking from personal experience. This is a large international hypermarket chain with thousands of outlets around the world. You will have the retail pundits(including the self appointed ones) crying hoarse about ‘ eye level is buy level ‘, so place your product in the ‘ eye of the buying storm ‘. And since birds of the same feather are meant to flock together, herd mentality in merchandise display is the flavour of the season (you might have heard that before). So, if there are 6 SKUs(variants for us, everyday people) of Almond Milk, they are all placed in one cluster, for easy viewability and retrieval.



With reasonable eyesight (not much of foresight I can assure you though) at my disposal(so far so good), I read the price label, fell hook, line & almond for it and added that Almond Milk to cart(if one were to echo the phrase ‘ add to cart ‘ of the e commerce space).



When it came to the crunch time i.e the business end of it and you are paying at the counter, you notice(without much notice because its so obvious) the price of the milk you have picked up on the LED and you see RED(though the LED display was in green). The price difference is a good 20% more than what the label signaled.



The next few minutes are worth a University Degree in itself. The hunt is on for the ‘ Customer Service ‘ department( yes the same guys who play antiquated recordings saying ‘ this call is monitored for quality and training purposes and also wear T Shirts saying “Why Should I Help You?” or is it “May I Help You?”) to address my ‘ grievance ‘ and the hapless lady (already over burdened and under paid, handling multiple things other than irate customers) is promising her best to resolve this at the soonest. Thank God she did not say ASAP, otherwise I would have gotten worried as ASAP comes in with an in built elasticity that no one yet has been able to fathom. I was also grateful that she did not use the well worn out script ‘ let me escalate this to my senior so that nothing gets resolved and we go on our continued merry way).



Long rant short, it so turns out( if one were to be believe the store associate) that I read the price label of a different variant of Almond Milk and hence the discrepancy. I am no visionary but I can do an Hippocratic Oath on my Presbyopia that I read the label right.



I have had similar experiences in other Modern Trade( sorry there I go again!) aka Supermarkets and Hypermarkets where the twain don’t meet i.e what the label says and what the actual price is when you get to the counter. So, moral of the story is that you need to be ‘ counter intuitive ‘.



Not meaning to throw a curve ball here- ever wondered why Customer Service has to be a separate department? Don’t you think the entire organisation should be accountable and responsible for that? It is almost as if palming off responsibility is best done officially and under the diktat of ‘visionary’ management( the HIPPOS-Highest Paid Person’s Opinion- in the room if you will) who appoints call centres, whose employees have never foot in your store ever and to make matters worse, maybe operating from a completely different country. Little wonder they have to escalate matters to their seniors who are in no position or interest to de escalate your apprehension or grievance.



And by the way, this rant is ‘ monitored for quality and training purposes ‘. So, hold your horses!



PS: Oops, how remiss of me- I forgot the preamble to the call centre constitution ‘ Your call is important to us…and you will be attended to( be short changed) !




2 thoughts on “Getting Hyper About Labeling!”

  1. So true man. Irony is that we go there knowingly and now after reading this article shopping will never be the same …Kudos

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