Meal Deal Mayhem

Its sobering to think that no so long ago, the idea of buying a pre-made, pre-packed sandwich from a supermarket just wouldn’t have even occurred to anyone.  Lunch was something you did sat-down in a canteen, pub or home.   Otherwise, you would be having a picnic or packed lunch, with lovingly prepared home-made sandwiches, pies, pasties and more.

These days, Lunch is “on the hoof” a hurriedly purchased hermetically sealed pack from M&S, Tesco’s, Boots or Sainsbury’s.  In these places you now have to cope with the latest horror of the 21st Century, yes, you’ve guessed it, the MEAL DEAL!

Never really took much notice of Meal Deals until one day at M&S the helpful till assistant (remember this is M&S), kindly pointed out that if I added a bottle of water to my purchases, the total cost would actually go down.  Now think about that, what she was saying is that they would actually PAY me for taking this bottle of water off their hands.  Bottom line it had a negative price.  This got me thinking about how this particular business model stacked-up.

One feature of Meal Deals that I have always disliked is that in order to get this discount you are obliged to purchase a packet of crisps (maybe Walkers are secretly subsidising these deals).  Imagine my delight when (again in M&S), I discovered that you could substitute the crisps with a “piece of fruit”.  So there I was with my sandwich, drink and apple (carefully selected from the fruit counter), ready to reap the benefits of my careful analysis of the lunch purchasing options.  But NO, sorry, this didn’t qualify because (as the helpful assistant pointed out), you have to select a piece of fruit from the Meal Deal Counter, NOT the Fruit Counter.  She kindly escorted me to the appropriate display (Remember, M&S), and proudly pointed out an empty shelf where, apparently, apples were once displayed, each one of them sporting a bar code that wold entitle the buyer to a Meal Deal discount.  Alas, no more were available condemning me to paying full price for the meal.

My second encounter was in Tesco’s where I was more careful.  Wanting a wrap rather than a conventional sandwich, I carefully scrutinised the small print to check that yes, wraps are included in the package.  At the checkout, everything went swimmingly until, the bill was presented and yes, you guessed it, full price.  This time the problem was that I had selected the wrong kind of wrap, what I should have done is check that the shelf on which the item was, had a “Meal Deal” sticker on it.  Otherwise: doesn’t count!  Apparently this was my fault, claims that it was misleading fell on deaf ears and the assistant looked very much like she was ready for me so I backed down (I emphasise, NOT M&S).

Finally, back to Mark’s.  A carefully selected my package from all the right shelves, checking everything and yet again, no deal!  Then it struck me that maybe, it’s simply not possible to configure a Meal Deal on your own, maybe unless its pointed out to you by a well-trained operative, there is no physical way a mere mortal can do it.

Maybe its all a marketing ploy to make you think it’s a good deal, when in fact, you always end up paying full price.

Maybe I’m going mad.

Maybe I should take a packed lunch!

(Thanks for reading, got that off my chest now).

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2 comments
  1. Naweed S said:

    I’ve experienced this many times and Tesco is the most troublesome. There’s a particular water or orange juice band which you must choose with your sandwich and crisps. Sometimes the self-checkout system doesn’t recognise the deal and you end up paying a little bit more.

    I sympathise with you completely. During my days as a student, meal deals were very helpful with managing my daily budget or even trying out something new with friends.

    The problem with taking a packed lunch is that the cooling box is either to big to fit in a work bag or it fails to keep the food t it’s temperature. The most annoying thing I’ve experienced is a workplace with no fridge or when an employee mistakes your food for theirs.

    I totally agree with you on the add-on selection, crisps is so over rated and hardly fills you up. I prefer a snack bar or fruit salad with my sandwich and drink. I remember the days when I used to visit art galleries near Lo don Bridge and buy a meal deal from M&S, you could get so many healthy delights for an affordable price, it was like heaven (eating the food of course).

    I love the food from boots but whenever I visit the ones in Oxford street at 12-1pm lunch prime time, there is nothing left on the shelves! I would presume they replenish every so often.. how wrong I was.

  2. Naweed S said:

    Excuse the spelling mistakes (typing on an iPad tends to auto correct itself at times).

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