Spilling seed (and other knob references)
I probably don’t need to venture out at all, because I have a wall of beer, three freezers packed with stuff, salad leaves growing in the covered raised beds, enough good French wine to create a wine lake, and I have all of my seeds.
Yes, you can step back in amazement. You can let your jaw drop. You can even shit the bed. It’s true; following the 2012 “last minute” debacle, this year I have bought all of my seeds in advance.
That said, it wasn’t easy!
I headed off to a local garden centre. They had no seeds that I could see. I asked a girl with a bad attitude where the seeds were, and she looked at me as if I’d just fouled the air in her vicinity.
“The seeds are in the back; we’ve moved them to make room for the Christmas stock.”
I said yes, I’d see the mountain of non-gardening shit, but I had hoped that a garden centre would have a few token gardening items, just for old time’s sake. She explained that they did this every year.
“We do it every year” she said. I don’t just invent this shit.
I opted against prolonging the agony, and tried to pay for a tool I had picked up on my way through the sparse gardening area. She scanned the item and demanded – yes, demanded – £17.99. I rather politely pointed out that the item was priced at £15.99, and indeed was catalogued, by the garden centre, at that same price. She looked at the till, then looked back at me and snarled, “It’s always been £17.99”.
“Always? Since the dawn of creation?” I asked. She looked baffled. I realised that intelligent thought wasn’t her strong point.
“Right,” she grunted with a fair degree of aggression, “you show me where it says £15.99!”
“I will,” I replied, “but first, get the manager”.
As we walked, I spent my time explaining very clearly to the manager that if there’s one thing that really hacks me off, it is when shop staff presume that if a price displayed in the store is not the same as the price on the till, then the customer must be wrong. This is despite it typically being the store that is wrong. However, rather than apologise and discover the facts, the staff almost challenge the customer as if he (or she) has somehow conspired to create a problem.
I explained that making the customer prove their point by marching them through the store to “show” the staff the shop’s own error was an unfriendly way of doing business, and when the customer is proven to be right, it merely makes theme hostile towards the outlet. He smugly suggested that maybe the item had been in the wrong place. I politely explained that the item came in different sizes, and I had been sure to ascertain that I had the correct size, thus checking the display tags and the packaging.
On arrival at the display, he looked at the clearly advertised price, nodded, and we set off back. No apology, no nothing.
With my point proven, I spent the time returning to the till to point out that whilst mistakes do happen, it’s how the customer is made to feel that counts. Once back at the till, he told me he had some good news: he was willing to sell me the item at the correct price! He said this as if I should somehow be dancing a jig of sheer joy for not being ripped off, and for having my time wasted by worthless twonks.
I pointed out that there were many competitive garden centres, and some had polite staff, and they deserved my custom more than he did. I then suggested that he place the tool, with some force, into his own sphincter.
Wyevale Garden Centre, take a bow, for your service is truly shit!
Next I headed to a Haskins Garden Centre. The staff were polite, and they did have seeds, but the selection was limited to Thompson and Morgan or Unwins, and the space given over to them was minimalist to say the least. Having failed to find the first three items on my extensive list, I gave up.
Finally, I visited an independent outlet. He had very few seeds, but told me if I left my list with him he’d “see what he could do”.
By this point I was getting bored of people, so I headed onto the interweb. You might have heard of it!
I ended up using three suppliers: Kings Seeds, Seeds of Italy and Premier Seeds Direct. The vast majority of the seeds came from the latter supplier. Kings and SoI made up a few items that PSD didn’t stock. Here’s a point of interest. The average price of Kings Seeds was £1.45 a packet, while the average price of SoI seeds was £2.20. Kings charge £1.50 postage, and took 8 days to deliver, while SoI charged £2.99 postage and delivery took 14 days! Premier Seeds Direct’s average packet cost was £0.99, and postage cost £0.59, and they were with me the very next day! Not only that, but their seed counts were often twice as many as typical seed counts for the varieties!
The so-called garden centres who moved their gardening essentials into small corners or back rooms while they sold over-priced Christmas crap must accept that increasingly, they will lose custom to small outlets that provide choice, good service and economies on price and delivery. When Christmas is over, do they really think we’ll all flock back to see if they’ve deigned to sell gardening stuff once more?
Retail might be in the toilet, but the Garden Centres are probably pushing it past the U-Bend by minimising all things horticultural!
So, that’s the seeds bit. I did suggest in the title that there would be some other knob references in here, so here goes with a few festive corkers.
Splash your hot sauce all over her lovely round puddings.
Get your mouth around a bit of cheese at the end.
Give your nuts a bloody good crack.
Right, that’s your lot. Now go and pat an orphan on the head! I’ve got the Christmas beef to prepare!