Real Life

Supermarket fuel discounts & intimate products on display

Kevin Milne answers your consumer questions.
Supermarket petrol discount vouchers

I now buy all my petrol at the supermarket pump. But it frustrates me that I have to purchase my week’s shopping in one go to qualify for the best savings on fuel. For example: “Spend $300 or more on groceries and save 45c per litre on fuel.” But the $300 has to be in one go. As a household of six, we spend oodles at the supermarket, but I need to do it in two or three shops a week. Why can’t I accumulate my week’s fuel vouchers to qualify, rather than doing it in one shop? I’m spending just as much.

I hear where you’re coming from. It might not seem fair, but it mainly comes down to dollars and cents. When they structure fuel deals, the supermarket will have worked out how many shoppers spend over, say, $300 in one go. If they were allowed to accumulate their vouchers, even if it’s just over the course of a week, the number qualifying for top fuel reductions would dramatically increase and the supermarket would incur a substantial extra cost. It would probably mean that fuel deals would have to be reduced, either by their amount or their frequency. There would also be some added costs tallying up a shopper’s vouchers, so that a single voucher could still be presented at the fuel pump.

The only thing you can do is, every now and then, try and buy weeks or months ahead when it comes to certain expensive purchases – frozen meat, dairy products, alcohol? That might get your bill over the $300 mark and into the top savings bracket.

I am becoming increasingly surprised at the sexual nature of products openly on sale at the supermarket. There is an endless array of condoms, “couples’ lubricants”, jellies and so on. One lubricant even claims “to increase emotional connection” during intimacy, which I thought was a bit far-fetched. There doesn’t seem to be any attempt to hide these products. Are young customers (under-16s) allowed to buy them?

There is no age limit restricting the purchase of such products. While the sexual age of consent is 16, people of any age are allowed to buy condoms. Doctors are also permitted by law to prescribe oral contraceptives to girls under the age of 16. But they must consider the broader issue of their patients’ overall health in doing so. The fact that you are stopping to read the packaging on lubricants and other products suggests to  me this is an issue that is bothering you considerably – don’t bottle it up. Ask for a chat with the store manager.

If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, most supermarkets have suggestion boxes. Take home a form and put your concerns in writing. You may not get anywhere, but you will feel better for actually doing something. Who knows, the supermarket owner may agree that more discretion is warranted. Can’t say I’ve noticed these products much myself. I just buy what’s on the shopping list my wife gives me – and the most exotic item tends to be chilli paste.

Do you have a consumer question for Kevin? Email [email protected], or post to Weekly Consumer, PO Box 90119, Victoria St West, Auckland 1142.

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