Yesterday for the first time in my life I was asked to leave a store by irate shop staff! The short version: Supernature at Park House has a company policy that forbids customers from taking photos as well as even *writing* any notes in the store.
The long version: Followers of my ConsumerWatch series on this blog will know I like to compare products and prices to make the most informed choices. In one of my rare visits to Supernature, I was excited to find some products I had recently enjoyed in the UK and amongst their wide range, certain brands I haven’t seen in other Singapore shops. I was doubly excited to note that despite the shop’s high prices for most goods compared to other stores in Singapore, some things were significantly cheaper! I was in the middle of noting down all the products I planned to buy on my next visit when the shop staff caught me on CCTV and swooped in to stop my suspicious activity. Of course, I could have promised to stop and continued shopping, but I was so shocked and humiliated that I voluntarily left the store. I also decided not to argue about ‘company policy’ with the staff ,who was most likely just a regular worker doing her job and not a manager (she was wearing an apron and spoke to me in Mandarin).
Stores have every right to lay down rules for their customers, and the right to stop people from shopping in their store. From their point of view, I could certainly have been an agent of industrial espionage from a rival company. As an expanding and highly-commercialised enterprise (wow! Supernature really looks like a good-sized supermarket now!) located near the ultra-posh St Regis Hotel, they’re probably not interested in the kind of customer who wants to do price-comparison.
However, I would argue that for health foods, it’s not just about prices, but the even more important aspect of doing research about particular brands, ingredients, origin of products, possible allergic reactions etc. Looks like Supernature is not a store that will help me make the best consumer choices, for my health as well as my wallet.
As a point of comparison, at Nature’s Glory, customers can pick up a 24-page (A4 size) full product list providing details of brand names, package size and price so that you can place delivery orders from home.
For what it’s worth, here are the few price comparisons I observed yesterday (prices could be a few cents off, sorry I wasn’t able to take notes!):
Lundberg Organic Long-Grain Brown Rice
Supernature – S$5.45 [cheap!!]
NTUC, Cold Storage & most stores – S$7.30 ++