So, being from Germany, knowing the brand as well as Aldi for its low price, yet good quality groceries, I used to be (emphasis “used to be”) a loyal customer at one particular Lidl branch in my area since having moved to the area in 2006. Until yesterday when I became an involuntary Mystery Shopper!
I was always impressed with the team there who worked for at least 8 – 10 years as a solid team in the same branch. I never had issues with Lidl or with this particular branch.
I boycotted Lidl in 2008 for more than a year because of the scandal in Germany which partly came to light by undercover investigative journalists, but in which Lidl UK seemed to not have been affected, as I often chatted with my local Lidl store team. They seemed genuinely happy. But I boycotted Lidl nevertheless as I have a deep dislike for companies mistreating their staff who make all this wealth happen. I shopped in other places until this was changed.
I cannot find an English video about this on YouTube, but have only found a German report from March 2018 on YouTube reviewing the “spying” method from Lidl towards their employees, where staff was spied on how many times they went to the toilet, with whom they have a romantic relationship, who has financial troubles etc. Maybe I will translate this into English.
But since recently there seems to be this ever reoccurring trend of the usual greed and disregard for employees as well as customers.
When I shopped at Lidl I always went there to do “bulk” purchases like foods that have a long shelf life, cans of tomatoes, corn, sardines etc., cleaning products, oils, vinegar, crispy breads and so on. Fresh things like milk and eggs I get from a local store even if it costs a few more pennies. Fruit and veg I always buy at my local market for three reasons: I can pick and choose individually and am not forced to buy in plastic packaging of 5 or 6 when I only want 2 grape fruits for example; it is much cheaper than in supermarkets; and I always have a little chat with the market folk whom you get to know throughout the years. There isn’t a lot of “staff turnover” as in big businesses. It’s just an old school local vibe that is being pushed out too much by the big guns.
So, buying in bulks at Lidl, I usually go there only once every 6 to 8 weeks stocking up. I need to say that I “hate” shopping! I am not your usual female who loves to stroll through the aisles with a basket, ending up with a trolley full of things I don’t need nor want! I am any business’ nightmare, you can’t draw a penny out of me if I don’t want to spend it! I know what I want, I hover over the shop floor, blindly aiming for what I need and out the store I go …
But on Friday and yesterday I went two consecutive days to Lidl, once to buy some things for a BBQ on Friday, and then because I forgot something returning yesterday. I have noticed a few weeks ago already that since this particular Lidl (as many others, I’m sure) has installed self checkout tills, they cut their staff at the tills and in the stores. I used to see a lot of staff mingling about the shop including the manager (as I knew the solid long-term team there). The tills were often manned appropriately, the shop floor was well looked after, when I was looking for an item I quickly found a member of staff pointing me to the right direction.
But since they changed the team, installed self check-out tills and cut their staff, the store now looks like someone rampaged through it. At the till I was queuing up the staff member informed me that I would be the last person he’ll be serving to which I said that he is only one serving and that they need more people. He just shrugged as if it wasn’t his concern. A lady with a basket started queuing behind me and she was informed that the till is now closed after me. She just put her basket on the floor and left annoyed. Understandably. She took a brochure before she left, probably to complain.
These photos I made yesterday 18. Aug. 2018 while waiting in the long queue where only 1 staff member was on the till with another long queue by the self check-out. I walked around a bit, made these photos and these are just from the front of the store, I didn’t bother going to the back anymore. But it was like this on Friday as well and weeks before when I started to notice the change. I have never ever seen anything like this anywhere in the world in any supermarket or store! This is worse than a toddlers bedroom after playing, or a flee market:
Mixed foods randomly left behind
A package of raw chicken in the basket that has been standing there God knows how long out of refrigeration! Good luck if they put it back into the fridge for the customer to get food poisoning! I remember now that on Friday I pointed out to a lady at the till who bought two whole chickens, that one chicken packaging was bloated, and bloating packaging is a sign that the product may be off. But the staff member on the till said that the date is still good. So, I left it with that. But now I realize that this chicken may also have been left outside for a prolonged time in room temperature, like so much of the other foods I saw, and then returned to the fridge! How many high risk foods are in the fridges that where left in room temperature maybe even over night? I have contacted Lidl last night before even writing here today.
Three till areas full of “junk”, foods, yogurt, I saw salad, cheese, orange juice, meats… out of refrigeration!
These tills are closed, full of items left behind. Even the till where I was served had salad, cheese, a pair of children sandals, mixed up items… I mentioned this to the cashier and he just blamed customers for leaving it there!
Another closed till. Altogether this particular Lidl has 5 tills that can be manned, but had only 1 staff member, plus 5 or 6 self check-out tills that were all busy with customers doing the work themselves and a long queue!
More abandoned baskets on the floor with mixed foods, some which needed to be refrigerated.
In need of some TLC!
Flowers, children’s shoes, eggs, beer, bleach, toilet paper, plastic wrap on the floor…
“Tipsy” non-alcoholic beverages.
Yogurt, sausages out of refrigeration!
Salad out of refrigeration.
… I didn’t go further into the store as I just needed dry non-food items and wanted to get out of there ASAP!
At the till I spoke to the member of staff who got the manager who just cruised around the shop with a sheet of paper where he was ticking off something. He even looked at the baskets on the floor while he passed by. He was in no hurry to clean up the mess. I complained to him that in my 12 years of going to this branch, I have never ever seen anything like this, not even in any other supermarket anywhere in the world! The floor was full of black stains as there was dried fluids, receipts and papers on the floor by the till area.
The staff member on the till had a smirk on his face when I pointed out the cheese and other food items horded by his till. He just blamed the customers. I said that customers don’t leave items like this within minutes, this has been piling up for days and weeks!
No company, no matter how big they are is safe from failure and loss. The mighty Monsanto last week was ordered to pay close to $290 million in damages to a cancer patient in his last stages of the disease caused by a Monsanto product, that Monsanto denied causes cancer. This giant that seemed untouchable finally is hit big time for their greedy misbehaviour. Murdock’s empire with all the terrible scandals isn’t safe. Tyrants throughout history that in time fall because people just cannot take it anymore…
Lidl has had scandals, got caught, fixed it, and again they keep messing up until caught again.
Pret A Manger with their shiny facade and forced smiles, lulling in the public for years until people stand up and say “enough of the lies and bullying!”
The higher the climb, the deeper the fall. The German drug store giant Schlecker, a multi-million family business that mistreated their staff for decades, now bankrupt and the heirs in prison for trying to take the millions and run before the collapse making 50K (FIFTY THOUSAND!) people of their 8000 branches etc. jobless. Schlecker was notorious for cutting staff. Their stores had only ONE, mainly female staff member working in a shop. It was widely known that in a Schlecker store there was only one person working, so robbers would go from Schlecker to Schlecker robbing the shops on a regular basis.
I remember years ago having also boycotted Schlecker for these reasons.
Later Schlecker would close shops, make their staff redundant, and then open another Schlecker opposite or around the corner just weeks after having closed a shop, employing the same former staff-member for less money! And because many employees have been working for many years at Schlecker, had to feed kids and pay the bills, they found no option than to take this lousy deal.
But the Schlecker empire is now gone, bankrupt, his children received prison sentences…
Former Schlecker employee bouncing back
I don’t care who they are, Pret A Manger, McDonald’s, Lidl, Tesco, Monsanto, Lehman Brothers, Schlecker… no one is too big to fail! Greed and mismanagement will turn around and bite them in the butt sooner or later. And certainly if that doesn’t happen to the current senior managers because they take the money and run before things get uncomfortable, they at least will have to tweak on their reputation for the rest of their existence! The truth always comes out sooner or later.
I rather spend a few more pennies and support the local stores and markets.