Going Bananas, or Why You Should Read The Fine Print

By Melinda VanLone | Thoughts

Aug 25

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I hate grocery shopping. There, I said it. I hate everything about it. It starts with a build up of tense anticipation as I try to figure out what the heck we’re going to eat for the week. I don’t like to cook, for starters, and trying to figure out meals just makes me feel inadequate. I’ve tried all kinds of things to help with this chore but nothing changes it from what it is…a chore.

Then comes the drive to the store, which if done too late in the day results in sitting in traffic with a lot of other people running chores and then fighting over a parking spot with people I swear to you have never driven a car before. They seem baffled by the concept of turn signals, and brakes. I know, everyone is in their head trying to remember what the heck they came to the store to get and oblivious to everything around them. Like the lady who left her cart in the middle of the road because she couldn’t be bothered to finish taking it to the designated holding spot, or even to the curb where so many park their carts.

Once I get into the store it’s like driving in a derby. Carts flying everywhere, people stopping mid-lane to ponder, kids screaming and running up and down the lanes in endless loops. By aisle two I usually run out of patience and decide that we’ll eat cereal for the week, because that’s the aisle I’m on.

So you can imagine when I discovered PeaPod (a service by Giant grocery stores), I was very excited. I can shop for my groceries online? Make a list over the week of things I need and have someone else gather the stuff and put it in bags? Sign me up! All I have to do now is drive over and pick it up. No going inside, no standing in line at the register. The chore now takes 15 minutes instead of two hours or more. Yay!

So there I am, building my list for the week, casually clicking to add things to my virtual shopping cart. Strawberries? Yes please. Hot dogs? Of course. Bananas? Why yes, they go well with peanut butter. We also use bananas in smoothies so I usually get five or six, to make sure I have enough for a few days but not so many they go bad before we eat them. I clicked five into my cart and moved on.

The thing about shopping online is that you get no real idea of sizes. I mean, sure, they list that it’s “24 ounces” or whatever, but if you aren’t looking at a physical bottle you really have any idea how much that is? And there’s often things in fine print that, let’s face it, everyone ignores.

Imagine my surprise when I saw them loading enough bananas for a zoo full of monkeys into my car.

“I didn’t order that.”

“Well, it says here on this list that you did.”

“No, I…”

By now I’m sure you’ve all guessed where it went wrong. For the last two months, I’ve been ordering bananas by the “each”. Five bananas. This time, they’d changed that tiny word to “bunch.” And then whoever loaded the bags obviously couldn’t count, because we are now the proud owners of six bunches of bananas. And bunches, you know, can range anywhere from four bananas to six or eight.

“You got kids?” The clerk grinned at me.

I shook my head numbly. It’s just the two of us. We can’t eat that many bananas. But I’d ordered them, and paid for them, so I took them away with me. It was a great sale, by the way. The entire load of bananas cost me $7. Not bad. I wonder if people will think I’m crazy if I start handing out bananas in the square?

Peapod is a wonderful thing. You should try it. You should also really, really pay attention to the tiny letters next to the price. Unless you just love bananas. In which case, come on over. I have plenty.

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