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Co-op supermarket

Spinoff thread from Clone Towns


From Graham Barker

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

And the other side of the coin: Hebden Bridge Co-op...

I'd strongly advise everyone to check that the shelf price of special offers in the Co-op matches the till price. I've just been overcharged £2.30 on a bill that should have been £12. There were two separate mistakes, both on special offers. Fortunately I was totting the prices up in my head, or I might not have noticed.

What was annoying wasn't the mistakes themselves, or the hanging around while a refund was sorted out. It was the fact that I didn't get an apology and wasn't shown a scrap of friendliness. I felt treated as though I'd pulled a fast one on them.

I don't use the Hebden Bridge Co-op as often as I could, precisely because of the staff's slap-happy attitude toward customers. I'll be avoiding it even more now.

From Gwen Goddard

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Stock control at the Co-op is again slipping and I agree it is not always friendly. Yesterday, I wanted root ginger (none), coriander (none) and sweet potato (none).

I asked to see the manager but he was not there so spoke to a senior member of staff. I was offered no apology just the statement that there were problems with the warehouse.

Sainsbury's and Tesco are queueing up to secure sites in Todmorden. If one of them is successful this will undoubtedly affect our Co-op unless they offer a better service.

And following on from Graham's comments, the customer in front of me was also overcharged.

From Michael Piggott

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Bitter experience has taught me that Graham's right; many's the time I've been overcharged at the Co-op; 'Good with food'; but unfortunately, also good for rip-offs.

Not long ago I wrote a complaint to their head office, giving examples of 'errors', but didn't receive a reply.

I would like to use the Co-op more, believing as I do in co-operative principles. Where my experiences do differ from Graham's, is that I usually find the ordinary staff both friendly and helpful. The fault for overcharging may lie with whoever actually prices up, making mistakes, but I'm inclined to think it may be a management problem.

From Graham Barker

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Just a quick amendment: I don't want to give the impression that everyone at the Co-op is unfriendly. One lady in particular is always charming, but that's probably because it's in her nature and not in any training she's had from the Co-op. I agree with Mick that the root of the Co-op's problems is most likely to be poor management.

From Emma S

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Ditto to the above messages. I rarely use the Co-op due to the stock control problems. If I do, I can usually assume that one or more of the items on my list will not be available, and usually I am right. And it's not just the more 'fancier' items too. Many times I have found that there is little in the way of bread or veg such as salad items. I've also asked why this is the case, and have recieved various replies. But really the problem must lie with the supermarket itself, as nowhere else - incuding other branches of the Co-op - seems to have quite this problem. And the stock control problems have been going on for years from what I can remember.

If we want to avoid trade going to the larger supermarkets out of town and keep trade in Hebden then the Co-op really needs to properly address these problems. In the meantime I will continue to need to do my shopping on my lunch break elsewhere.

Oh, and I always check my reciept in the Co-op to see if the special offers have been deducted, as often they are not.

From Jenny B

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Great little shops, but not a great little supermarket. The coop has had the monopoly for long enough now. They genuinley can't be bothered to put the efffort in. The manager is rude and obnoxious, most of the staff are fed up of working under such poor management and You rarely get a smile or polite service in there. Vote with your feet. Mytholmroyd co-op is even worse.

From Martin F

Friday, 1 October 2010

I give the Co-op a wide berth because of the prices. I have never been able to understand why the car park always seems full - unless people are parking there to go into town. Yes, fortunately I have a car so I can go into Halifax or Todmorden.

Whilst I admit that I may be wrong and may be doing them a disservice, one of the things I have noticed over the years, especially on the fresh meat aisle, is that some packages have a sticker saying "half price" and then you find that the "half price" is even more than you would pay anywhere else, especially at a particular butchers in the middle of town. By doing this they are trying to say that some ridiculously high price is the "real" price of the item in question. Some time ago I saw a pack of standard chicken breast being advertised at half price and alleging that the standard price would have been £6 a pound. I have seen many such examples and have come out of the shop, empty-handed, wondering how many people are fooled.

From Michael Piggott

Friday, 1 October 2010

Further to the discussion about the Co-op, I feel that the co-operative movement, in principle, is worth supporting. I would feel sad if the local Co-op supermarket's failings strengthened the case for big, brand-new supermarkets being built by the likes of Sainsbury's or Tesco in our little town; that would be entirely inappropriate!

I feel it would be worthwhile trying to get something done about the running of the local Co-op, and so I've written to the Co-op's membership department to that effect. Maybe other disaffected members would care to do likewise? And I don't see any reason why non-members shouldn't do so too.

The Co-operative Group's North Region Membership Department is at:

Co-operative Retail Logistics, Unit 2, Drum Park, Drum Industrial Estate, Chester-le-Street DH2 1AE

From Jenny B

Saturday, 2 October 2010

That is a good idea. I too feel that the principles of the cooperative movement are still in there somewhere, and to be fair, the coop does or did carry a good range of fair trade goods.

I don't think we need a Sainsburys or Tesco, just a shop that sells a good range of decent quality goods at a fair price, with good service. It might seem a pipe dream but we can wish.

Judging by the frequent appearances of home delivery vans for Tesco, Asda, Ocado, etc, much of Hebden Bridge seem to shop at the big stores online. Is this because we can't get good food/service in Hebden?

From R Yorke

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Many a time I've been to the Co-op and had to leave with several items still on my shopping list thanks to poor stock levels. On other occasions, I have been annoyed by rude or indifferent staff. But today a member of staff fetched something from the stock room for me and the cashier was super-polite. It left me a little bewildered! Maybe the Co-op management have been reading this thread - well done Hebweb Forum!

From Jack Hughes

Saturday, 2 October 2010

This is an old, old topic that sadly refuses to go away, since the contentious issues remain (particularly the overcharging on allegedly "special offers", which seems to be endemic). I suggest that people read previous threads pertaining to this dismal excuse for a supermarket and take whatever action seems appropriate for their particular grievance(s), namely

HebWeb Forum - October 2009

HebWeb Forum - December 2009

and good luck - my email complaints to their customer services department were all but ignored.

From Ron Taylor

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Aside from any shortcomings in the way the store is run I am appalled by the fact that the Co-op, which defines itself as 'ethical', still sells Israeli produce. Israel, if anyone is still unaware, operates racist policies in the Middle East - land theft, abuses of human rights, the flouting of international law etc etc.I try to avoid shopping there for this reason; unfortunately the lack of competition in town means I sometimes reluctantly have to give it my custom.

From Jason Elliott

Saturday, 2 October 2010

I totally agree that the stocking levels and organisation can be appalling, but please don't take it out on all of the staff.

True there are one or two bad apples but the root of the problem is that the Co-op's enlightened attitude to fair trade and environmental considerations doesn't really extend to it's labour practices.

I spoke to someone recently who was a supervisor there until this summer who, for all her responsibility with locking up, handling staff and customer problems, dealing with large amounts of cash etc, was paid a paltry £6ph, 15p more that the minimum wage all of the other till operators were on.

Hardly a motivation to excel, is it?

From Michael Piggott

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Jason, thanks for enlightening me about the pay at the Co-op. I didn't realise it was so bad. In fact it's a disgrace, and something the Co-op bosses must be forced to address. The Co-op is one of the biggest supermarket chains in the country; they are the biggest farm-owners in the country, capable of growing much of their own produce, and if they say they can't afford decent wages then they are lying.

And before the Co-op says, would you accept lower dividends to fund it then? - My answer is Yes.

Ron, I agree about the need to boycott Israeli goods. The Co-op should be taking an ethical stand on this issue. Meanwhile, I've been operating my own boycott of Israeli goods for years; my tiny effort will, of course, make no difference but if all customers practised ethical shopping the Co-op, and eventually Israel, might take notice!

From Graham Barker

Monday, 4 October 2010

Another consideration. If mispricing at the Co-op is endemic and not just the occasional slip-up, then what they're doing is illegal. Maybe complaints should be directed not to the Co-op but to West Yorkshire Trading Standards Service.

Also, there are plenty of people doing minimum wage jobs who manage to be polite, friendly and helpful without obvious effort. It's often more to do with the culture of the place of work than pay.

From Robyn Heap

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Co-op go on about ethical products that they stock and how they are helping third World Farmers by giving them a fair price (which is good that they do this) yet fail to stock any local Produce in their stores. What about a fair price for British Farmers?

From Jack Hughes

Saturday, 9 October 2010

A friend was moaning to me about the Co-op's myriad failings the other day (she'd been overcharged on a 2-for-1 offer and the staff member she reported this to seemed uninterested, so Trading Standards have now been informed) and she put a novel spin on the topic. So long as the Co-Op remains mired in mediocrity, this will discourage potential customers from going there and consequently the "great little shops" which the town is so proud of can only benefit as a result. I get the logic, sort of!

From Anonymous

Saturday, 9 October 2010

I am a relative to a member of staff at the co-op and would like to put across their view for them.

Firstly, yes it's not perfect. Mistakes are made but they are human and can miss or forget things. However a bulk of the recent issues with stock control etc has been out of their hands and if any of you actually bothered to listen to any members of staff instead of immediately blame them you may realise this.

A few months ago 2 warehouses merged into 1 and it basically couldn't cope resulting in very late deliveries - sometimes a few hours but sometimes up to a week late. How are they supposed to keep good stock control when its not coming through the back doors! How is this their fault?? The management team work exceptionally hard to keep things as well stocked as is possible, quite often doing 50 to 60 hours a week (and senior management don't get paid for anything over 39hrs) and yet you lot come in expecting everything to be perfect, complaining left right and centre about sometimes the smallest and most ridiculous of things and you wonder sometimes, yes they get a little p***ed off and do'nt always bow at your feet in forgiveness when they run out of something!

Try looking at it from their point of view for a change. It's not just as easy and straightforward as you lot think it is and think you should keep your noses out of something that you know nothing about! Things had started to get better than they were a few years ago before this recent warehouse issue but instead of noticing the good you automatically pick up on the bad.

The staff get sick and tired listenin to you when they are trying to get things right and you wonder why people get fed up working there and don't always have a big grin on their face!

So in summary, yes the management team do care and put in a lot of work to try get things right but quite often things are taken out of their hands. There are improvements to be made in some areas which are being worked on but there is also alot of obstacles in the way that you don't see.

I know alot of you will read this and still whinge and moan and I suppose that's the joy of people of Hebden Bridge. A lot of you need to get a life but I hope some of you will realise a bit more that the staff do work very hard for little pay and a lot of grief!


(Messages from 'anonymous' will only be posted if we consider there is a good reason to be anonymous - ed)

From Jenny B

Sunday, 10 October 2010

In response to 'anonymous' - why shouldn't people air a view? After all, we are all entitled to our views. You defend and criticise the co-op in the same breath. None of the criticism has been directed at individual staff members, rather at their 'couldn't care less' responses to genuine queries.

You ask us to understand that staff are fed up and low in mood, and that we shouldn't expect them to have a smile on their face when customers query lack of basic stock items (or whinge as you put it). Come on- there is a phrase that you don't seem to acknowledge, and that is 'good customer service'.

I don't care about the politics of the co-op, their warehouse problems, their merger with Somerfield, their late deliveries. All I want is to pop in, for say a red pepper and not be faced with an obstacle course of cages waiting to be put on the shelves; a shortage of baskets because for some reason they are all too busy to take them to the collection point; no sign of a red pepper (or green or yellow); poor pricing signs e.g. special offers with no signage to tell me how much items were so I can see how good the offer is; poor stock of basics eg bread, milk etc; poor staffing levels (the manager must do his 50 hours undercover) and a generally untidy, grubby store. Is this petty whinging or shouldn't I expect a food store to stock food? Shouldnt I expect basic polite service, instead of the surly snarls?

And yet you expect us to accept all this, because the co-op allow their front line staff to take the flak for their failings. Next you will be telling us to shop elsewhere. but oops your 'relative' wouldnt have a job if we all did that now would they?

From Myra James

Sunday, 10 October 2010

I've been thinking of contributing to this thread for a while and now feel a little ashamed that it was eventually left to someone defending a relative to offer an alternative point of view.

Yes, the stock control can be poor, yes the special offers aren't always well-labelled, and yes there's not a lot of fresh food left at the end of the day. But I've never encountered surly or snarling staff. In fact, some are friendlier and more cheerful than we have any right to expect given the nature of their jobs and the very poor pay reported elsewhere here.

Another consideration, it strikes me that keeping a store fully stocked at all times with perishable goods will inevitably result in more waste, and obscene amounts of food are already wasted in this country. So what if you can't buy a red pepper? Eat something else! We've been spoiled for too long by the major supermarkets and expect to buy what we want, when we want and as cheaply as possible. That can't be sustainable and we need to develop a more realistic attitude to food and shopping.

From Jenny B

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Ho hum the hippy brigade join in with that old adage "if there are no peppers eat something else". Haven't you pinched that line from Marie Antoinette?

I dont live in the 3rd world Myra, I live in a town. I accept that I am priveleged in your eyes, because I can choose what to eat rather than whether to eat, butI have lived here, worked here, raised children here for 38 years because it is a town! One where I can expect to buy a pepper when I want to.

Maybe you are not subject to surly snarls from the poor downtrodden lowly paid staff, simply because if the co-op have no bread you are happy to eat cake.

Your green argument attempts to remove the topic of debate and get on your own soapbox about sustainability. I also take it that you grow all your own produce and only pop in the co-op for the occasional bag of brown rice?

From Myra James

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Hmmm - hippy yet Marie Antionette - not sure what to make of that!


From Anne H

Monday, 11 October 2010

Tesco et al manage to keep prices down, pay their staff a decent wage and keep their shelves fully stocked largely because of 1) the economies of scale of being a large multinational chain (not necessarily desirable in Hebden?), 2) their fair trade (expensive) options are on a far smaller proportion of stock than the Co-op's, 3) their 'green' credentials are not as good as the Co-op and 4) they site their stores where they will achieve the greatest return, as opposed to where they are of greatest help to a local community.

The Co-op is a membership company and will therefore try to respond to what members want and need but if members want low prices, good wages, and fully stocked shelves as well as ethical shopping and a contribution to the local community, then I guess some compromises have to be made somewhere.

It's unfortunate that they have this additional problem of warehousing at the moment but I hope it will sort itself out before people start to shop elsewhere.


From Emma S

Monday, 11 October 2010

In response to 'Anonymous'..... I have every sympathy to folk who work at the Co-op. It must surely be a thankless task. I would also say that the vast majority of my experiences with staff, particularly those on the checkouts, are positive. Most staff members do their best to provide a good and friendly service. I wouldn't dream of taking out my frustrations on people on the tills.... and I expect any occasional grumpyness from checkout staff is as a result of the cr*p conditions of their job and - I suspect - poor management.

I don't buy the explanation you offer for the terrible stock control though. Those problems have been going on for years.


From Joel B

Monday, 11 October 2010

A resolution to the co-op problem. Build a supermarket on the old Browns site !! I've posted that on here loads of times.

Tescos, Asda etc don't run out of stock, it would create jobs in the town, maybe that could be a condition of the build that local people/ firms had first refusal, or at least had a chance to apply for the work from the contruction and infrastructure of the premises itself and also locals employed as staff once it opened for business. With Calderdale Council building work I'm sure at least one local firm has to be on the tender list (correct me if I'm wrong on that), but the same methods could be followed here?

Not everyone's cup of tea but surley would stop everyone moaning about the prices and the stock levels of the co-op. Maybe even a few co-op staff might make the transition accross?

From Myra James

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Many years ago (15 or more) there was a manager's office situated where the cigarette kiosk is now. If you had a question, you could go in there and ask it. It would be great to see that restored. Or at least some other facility for asking questions or making comments, eg a comments box in the store and an online or email arrangement. Then customers would be more likely to feel that their membership, and their custom, was valued.


From Kevin S

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

The old Browns site would be perfect for a large supermarket, Tesco, Asda etc. I am sure it would be welcomed by many people who have lived in this valley all their lives but unfortunately do not read or contribute to the Hebweb.

With the number of home delivery vans I see up and down I am sure there are many who would welcome it.

Parking would also be available and eased in the town centre as the site is huge and maybe a drive through McDonalds or KFC. (Gosh when you have lived in this valley 42 years that sounds great rather than having to travel to Halifax or Rochdale).

From Anthony Rae

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I'd intended to sit this particular discussion thread out - although I just don't recognise the Co-op being described by the critics. It may not be the best medium-sized supermarket in the world but personally I've found that the stock range has improved in recent years, the goods and store are well displayed, employees have always been polite and helpful to me (and I too have never encountered 'surly or snarling staff'); and then there's the ethical and Fairtrade commitment of the company already referred to - but I see that the last postings have taken a more serious twist. Joel B and others are suggesting it would be a good idea if one of the major supermarkets were to develop here in Hebden Bridge, although I couldn't work out whether Kevin S's posting is a spoof, with its request for a 'large supermarket', parking to match and a drive-through McDonalds or KFC.

Apparently this 'would create jobs in the town', but at the expense of jobs in our many independent shops, and the businesses further down their supply chains being lost? A large supermarket on the Browns site would generate considerable amounts of traffic on the main road from Todmorden, and through our town centre from the Halifax direction (but not stopping), so more road congestion and air pollution. As decidedly 'edge of town', it could actually reduce convenience shopping on foot within the town centre if it damaged the Co-op or Oasis, say.

The context for this is indeed Hebden's national reputation as a 'small town with little shop', confirmed last month by the NEF 2010 Clone Town survey and which (as reported; see HebWeb News) put us at 6th place out of 100 in the league table of towns that have avoided being invaded by multiples. When this was eventually picked up for the front page of last week's Hebden Bridge Times it received celebratory comments from various people, continuing to support and promote that diversity.

So be careful of what you wish for. I don't think it's an accident that Sainsbury's, having opened their inadequate Metro in Mytholmroyd, then leapfrogged over Hebden and went instead for Todmorden. They probably didn't fancy provoking the anticipated opposition here, but be assured that the supermarket developers are watching for a possible opening . . . and waiting to pounce.

And all because apparently we might have expectations to walk into the Co-op and always find a red pepper waiting for us (I'm not being rude to Jenny B; it's just an example). However when I was in the Co-op this teatime I counted some 25 individual green peppers on display, 25 orange ones and no fewer than 50 red ones! My two half price items were put through the till correctly, and I was sent away with a cheery goodbye.

So is this all based on some false premises - but with potential major future implications?

From Joel B

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Anthony, fair points. I know this particular subject of Asda/Tesco etc is going off on a bit of a tangent from the original subject but only fair a give a reply !!

You mention about the expense of jobs in our many independent shops. Do you really think this would be affected by locals? I for one don't use a lot of the shops as they are far too expensive, a do however and would continue to use the sandwich shops and Oasis, Spar etc. I might be just make assumptions about all this, maybe it would be interesting to get a view on here from of someone from one of the independent shops with the ratio of custom from locals/tourists.

If the site was planned correctly, Im sure an infrastructure would be put in place to avoid congestion, the Brown's site is quite an area, the main road could be used as by-pass with ample from for any queuing traffic coming in and out of the 'supermarket'. I'm not really too clued up on traffic planning and infrastructures so please excuse the ignorance/ vagueness !!

With regards the air pollution, as Kevin S points out, this may reduce the number of home deliveries, obviously not an equal split but there is that possibility.

I'm sure you're right that the supermarket developers are watching for a possible opening, not a bad thing as times do change, whilst we are a tourist town, this site is well out of the way from the 'tourist' areas.

I don't want to turn this into a debate/argument, these are just my personal views, which I suppose the forum is all about !!

From Jenny B

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

In response to implied suggestions that those of us who have had cause to criticise the co-op may be: a) holding too high an expectation in respect of range, quality of goods on sale and accuracy of pricing; b) have too high expectations of what is deemed as polite acceptable customer service; c) be over-loading the criticism to force a need for a 'proper supermarket' to 'ruin' our little town.

As this debate has only been contributed to by a few people, it is accepted that it is hardly representative of the population of Hebden. However, to infer that because you have never been snarled at; fiddled out of a bogof/overcharged; faced empty shelves or been prepared to accept an alternative does not mean that everyone receives this service. Nor is it representative of the population.

I do see the need for a bigger supermarket (I now do the majority of my shopping online or out of town). If our little supermarket can't meet the needs of the majority, then there could well be a greater unidentified need. This utopian view of great little shops is all well and good, and in my view attracts the tourist as is its intention. The closure of shops like Lord-Dales, CVS, and the glut of charity shops and bookshops actually means you often can't get the things you want/need in hebden. I know I will have the green brigade on my back, but I can't buy decent affordable shoes or clothes for office wear. I can't buy suitable affordable childrens clothes; shoes;coats;schoolbags etc , I can't buy electrical items (afraid I wouldnt buy these from the coop) no petrol etc etc.

Hebden has great little shops if you are wealthy, a tourist or happy to wear (and pay over the odds for) 2nd hand. For all the uproar it causes I would bet that a Sainsburys or Tesco on Browns would be well supported by locals. A KFC or drive thru? Who knows? As for traffic, those of us who wish to shop at the bigger stores have to drive through Hebden one way or another, and the tourist industry causes its share of slow moving traffic - look at last sunday 30 minutes from Mytholmroyd to Mytholm!

From Peter Tillotson

Thursday, 14 October 2010

When my wife and I and Felicity Potter opened The Book Case in Market Street in 1984 the street was in the doldrums. Anyone who remembers that time will recollect many more boarded up shops than the three we have to contend with at present (oh for some action to have them opened!). Before the fire the site now occupied by the Co-op was a large mill and unless you wanted to buy trousers from the mill outlet shop there really was not much cause to walk the length of the street from the centre of town. The Co-op changed all that and Market Street is now a vibrant and energetic shopping street once again reflecting some of it's earlier glories before the beginning of it's demise in the 1950's. It may not be a perfect supermarket and many of us find it perfectly satisfactory but if it ceased trading and became an empty store it would spell disaster for many of the small businesses not only in Market Street but in the event of a Tesco or Sainsbury's opening on the outskirts of the town for many of the small independent shops which make Hebden Bridge unique and a place that many of us are proud to be a part of.

As the owner of The Book Case I have to raise issue with comments like "Hebden Bridge has a glut of charity shops and bookshops". However there is an important issue here and that is how much competition can we survive. I personally don't feel Hebden Bridge can support two bookshops and ultimately could find itself without any bookshop at all and I am afraid this goes for many of the food outlets, clothes shops and newsagents who would find it increasingly difficult to compete with a larger supermarket which would leave Hebden Bridge almost exclusively with charity shops.

From Andrew Hall

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Joel B is quite right. The Brown's site would be ideal for a supermarket. And it needn't be one of the big operators. As I have said many times here, as smaller supermarket such as Booths (http://www.booths.co.uk/) from Preston (an absolute minnow compared to the massive Coop conglomerate) would be ideal. They themselves are keen to do business in our town.

Any development of the site would almost certainly involve making the Heptonstall turning circle into a roundabout. This would be beneficial in so many ways - checking the speed of cars thundering along King Street, making is far safer for children to get to Mytholm School, and discouraging cars from making U-turns in the entrance to Church Lane (something that happens every hour, every day).

Sadly, however, Anthony Rae appears to disagree. And given that he has enough time on his hands to stand in the Coop counting peppers, and with his talk of 'anticipated opposition', do I detect that that he may be spoiling for a fight of behalf of those who wish to stand in the way of progress?

Why should the people of Hebden Bridge be denied the choice other towns have, just because a misguided minority rather like the cosy idea of a town of little independent shops? Just as Ladbrokes has proved not to be the Armageddon that the doom merchants predicted, a small-to-medium sized supermarket on the periphery of Hebden Bridge, will surely not detract from the town, and maybe even encourage more people to visit.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 14 October 2010

I certainly don't want to see a Tesco/Sainsbury in Hebden and broadly agree with those who argue this case. But this argument becomes harder to make when the local alternative -no matter how ethical it is (questionable in terms of how it pays/treats its staff?) - simply consistently fails to provide an adequate service to Hebden people.

Glossing over that doesn't really help. The co-op is just badly run. Pricing is hopeless, information poor, the place is disorganised and untidy, the quality of fresh produce is awful at times, the queues ridiculous and the stocking is abysmal - I rarely go in other than with a quite short list and in many years have hardly ever managed to get everything I came for. It is a frustrating and often dismal place to shop. So it's not suprising that people vote with their feet (or their cars or mouse) and shop elsewhere or see the attraction of an alternative - even if it is the corporate devil.

By the way, the Hebden Co-op is also quite unlike the Coop I frequent near my workplace which appears to never be short of anything I need - and there must be an indigenous reason for that. Having said that
the idea that the shop floor staff are somehow culbable is erroneous and divisive and claims that staff are unhelpful/ impolite exaggerated (although you rarely get the feeling anyone goes out of their way for customers and there is an air of resignation and lack of motivation about the place -again I think down to management).

I aso think that some of the behaviours I regularly see from customers doesn't help either. I for one wouldn't want to deal with some of the nuerotic, smug, timewasting, middle class idiots who dawdle around the place searching in vain for gluten free worcester sauce or somesuch and see the need to avail everyone in earshot of the details of their dinner plans and social lives. There are undoubtedly too many people here who expect a lot for very little and have it served on a plate but sadly the Co-op does consitently fail to live up to the reasonable expectations of -I suspect - most of us. The Co-op is supposed to be more accountable than most? Maybe we can make those who are responsible for the mess listen, respond and sort it out.

From Gwen Goddard

Friday, 15 October 2010

On 1st October I wrote (politely) to the Co-op's North Region Membership Department at the address given in Mike Piggott's post of that date expressing my concerns.

So far, 15 October, neither acknowledgement nor reply.

From Lynn Breeze

Friday, 15 October 2010

I live in the town and shop almost exclusively in the Co-op so my car use is reduced... and I am happy to be able to buy their ethical and Fairtrade products. The big supermarkets undoubtedly have a greater range, special offers and exotic goods but I think we are served very well by our local shop.

I did have a complaint to make to the manager last year and it was dealt with very pleasantly and satisfactorily. The staff on the tills are always cheerful and friendly. If there is something 'missing' on the shelves, I ask a member of staff and they go off to check on availability. They didn't have sugar-snap peas this week but I'm surviving without them.

Earlier this year, I bought some bottled beer and milk which I put in my own pre-used carrier bag. It broke, causing a messy pool of beer and broken glass. The acting manager was nearby and called someone to clear up my mess and invited me to replace my lost beer. I thought that was very generous, so thankyou Co-op!

From Paul Brannigan

Friday, 15 October 2010

Put the environment, customer service, availability of peppers etc to one side.

Diversity itself is a strong enough reason to keep the Tescos, Sainsburys and Ladbrokes (how that got the prime position in HB I'll never know) out of Hebden. Diversity is critical not just in bio terms. It is important in the infrastructure that supports society. A town that is genuinely different is an endangered species and should be protected and so contribute to the diversity of infrastructure that supports society.

I note Anthony highlighted increased traffic issues in Hebden with the new Netto/Asda and Sainsburys planning applications in Tod. If you feel those applications are objectionable then act. It didn't take much perseverance with the Sainsburys reps to get to the nub of their motivation to come to Tod, i.e. "we want to take business off Morrisons". I also asked about the impact on the local independent shops (of which there are many fine ones in Tod). I was told they would support local enterprises, but they could come up with no examples of how they had achieved this elsewhere.

5 supermarkets for 11,500 people. Sustainable?

From Rev Tony Buglass

Saturday, 16 October 2010

"..Ladbrokes (how that got the prime position in HB I'll never know)"

Because the planning criteria were so narrowly set that none of the local objections were admissible. I was one of a group that objected, and went to court to testify against the application. We argued against it on various grounds, including for example the proximity of a junior school and the consequent influence on children. The response we were given was that although our various reasons were all good community-based arguments, none of them were admissible as evidence in law because they didn't address the planning criteria. And the planning criteria were so narrow as to exclude most of the matters which were of any real effect in the community.

It was also very clear that a group of very articulate and well-prepared townsfolk (praised as such by the chairman of the inquiry) were completely outgunned by big-spending business sending in clever lawyers with great displays, etc. In other words, if any of the big-chain supermarkets decide to move into Hebden, I doubt anybody would be able to stop them.

From Paul D

Saturday, 16 October 2010

In terms of a major supermarket on the Brown's site, then a look at the proposed development illustrates two related issues. There are massive engineering problems due to the flood risk, culverts, sumps and the like are required to keep the site dry, plus the engineering costs associated with dealing with the existing goits and reservoir. Hence the density of the buildings on the current plans; a lot needs to be squeezed in to cover the development costs and given the current empty nature of the site, nobody at the moment appears willing to take the risk. A supermarket is wide and low, with associated parking it would take up much of the site, possibly reducing further its economic viability. So if one were built it would have to be quite large in order to recover the costs of developing the site. This would be devastating for local shops including the co-op.

In terms of the co-op itself, it's central, of reasonable size and does exactly what it always has: sells average quality produce to people who don't seek much more. You can buy lovely bread across the road that costs a little more but tastes much better, buy fresh locally sourced organic produce a few doors away. Non-veggies can buy fresh locally reared meats in town, you can buy fresh fish on the market, you can have local milk delivered to your door, even drink locally brewed beer in a local pub, or shop in a pretty average shop where most food comes in at least one layer of cellophane. But it does give the under-employed middle classes something to moan about, thus serving a very useful social function.

From Jack Hughes

Saturday, 16 October 2010

We seem to have digressed from Graham's original post on the subject of overcharging, somewhat. I went to the Co-op on Thursday
(sorry folks, I had no choice). I went for a 2-for-1 offer. You can probably guess the rest. I received no apology, nor any indication that anyone would do anything about the error (I wonder how many more people they've conned - sorry, 'accidentally overcharged' since then on that particular staple item...). West Yorkshire Trading Standards must be getting fairly used to complaints about the store by now. Let's hope they can do something about it.

From Ian M

Sunday, 17 October 2010

I agree with the Rev. Its a simple fact that if a major supermarket, backed up by its teams of lawyers, planning experts and bottomless piles of cash, chose to build in Hebden then there is nothing that could be done to stop it. Local, even national government doesnt have the financial resources for a fight on that scale!

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Thanks Jack for bringing the thread full circle. If unapologetic and illegal overpricing is still going on, I can only assume the management has some kind of death wish.

I actually like Co-ops. I'll never forget our divi number from childhood, and I'm a member now. But the Co-op has floundered ever since supermarkets came along. An old Ken Dodd joke sums it up: he described the then communist East Germany as 'like a country run by the Co-op'.

Part of the problem may be its management structure. I remember being sent voting literature a year or so ago for elections to the regional committee. The memory is a bit dim now but of the ten or so candidates, I think only two had any retail experience. The rest were basically amateurs.


From Tim Coulman - Co-op Operations Manager

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I am the Co-Operative Operations Manager for the Food stores across the West Yorkshire area including the Hebden Bridge store.
In response to a number of requests made via the forum and after contact has been made with our Customer Services Department and Regional Committee by forum contributors, I felt I should arrange a meeting to enable local residents and Customers to air thier views directly to myself and the Store Manager.

This has been arranged for Tuesday 2nd November at the mill adjoining the store between 5pm and 7pm.

If you wish to attend please arive at the store where you will be given directions to the meeting room in the mill.

In the meantime, I will check comments on the forum periodically to measure improvements and any common issues. Additionally, we welcome feedback at store where issues arise and we will aim to address them accordingly. I also attend Regional Committe meetings periodically and can update Committe Members should a forum representative table an issue.

Finally, you can raise an issue via our Customer Service team at Manchester Head Office and I am always informed when this is the case and respond accordingly.

I don't intend contributing to the forum on an ongoing basis although if you do wish to bring something to my attention regarding the store, please leave your contact details with the store for my attention and I will make contact with you. However, I would be grateful if the store is given the opportunity to address any concerns in the first instance before escalating to me.

Finally, I will feed back the outputs from the meeting scheduled for the 2nd November on this forum in an effort to address issues raised and will take the opportunity to respond to other issues raised on the forum if they aren't discussed at the meeting.

My overall intention is to ensure the store provides the best service, availability, range, price and offers possible. Where Customers feel we can improve, we welcome feedback and will aim to address these issues accordingly.

From Catherine Byrne

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

I'd also like to stand up for the coop -- not having a car it's the only supermarket I use; often 3-4 times a week. I really enjoy shopping there... I always say hello to staff, and am even on a first name basis with some of them. I think they're really lovely.

Much lovelier than one independent shopkeeper that comes to mind, that shall remain nameless, that told me "no we don't carry that because it's cr*p" (sorry about the language but that's what they said -- my point being that I've been sworn at by other shops, but never at the co-op... and they sell baguettes).

The only time I ever saw a member of the co-op staff seem out of sorts was shortly after being abused by a member of the public at checkout, he was being very rude and was giving her a really hard time about not wanting to buy an item anymore (eh??).

I'm sure the staff there would have reams of stories of people being horrible with them.

In regards to prices, if the meat is cheaper at the butchers, buy your meat there! If the veg are cheaper at the green grocers, and there's a bigger variety, shop there. We are so lucky to have a multitude of small shops, and one big one, in walking distance from each other.

And be careful what you wish for. Yes, make complaints when they are valid, ie overcharging (this has very rarely happened to me, I must say, and I do check).

But please don't create the opportunity for the coop to be replaced by one the supermarket giants. That would destroy the town's identity, and put many independents out of business.

From Ana Birch

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Five points:

I can't remember the number of times...

I've been in midweek during the day for basic food items and found nothing on the shelves - I'm talking salad; onions; carrots etc. nothing fancy.

...or vegetables that are mouldy. I've given up asking to see the manager to ask him if he's aware of the disgraceful state of some of the produce,

...or been over-charged,

...or noticed that prices are often 20% higher than in other branches,

...or left my basket at the check-out because the queue is too long.

Have any other customers had a staff member swipe their own membership card on the customers shopping?!

The Co-op is expensive and provides a very poor service to local residents, many of whom are unable to shop further afield. I'm absolutely for local shops, but the Co-op are taking the mickey.

From Jenny B

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Firstly it is admirable that The co-op are willing to hold a meeting to discuss issues raised here (and presumably to their office). Unfortunatley, I cannot make the meeting, and to be honest I am not sure I would like to attend.

I think that to offer a meeting to the few who have contributed here is using a hammer to crack a nut. I am sure however, that there are many other people who don't have access to the web or don't know of this forum etc., that would like to air their views.

Would it be appropriate to advertise the meeting more widely first e.g. in the co-op itself, in the bridge times etc? This could serve as a consultation meeting and would perhaps give a more representative view? Just a thought.

Meanwhile, I am happy to send an e-mail/ letter direct to head office outlining my views (or whinges as some would say).

From Jack Hughes

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Mr Coulson states; "My overall intention is to ensure the store provides the best service, availability, range, price and offers possible." Looks like he has quite a task ahead of him.... I'm rather looking forward to making a few constructive comments at the forthcoming meeting. Maybe a staff literacy campaign should be encouraged too? See this Facebook Page

From Emma S

Thursday, 21 October 2010

What a wonderfully positive response from Tim Coulman, above. It's great to see him post on here and offer an open meeting to discuss the concerns.

This is the opportunity for us to work with the Co-op supermarket to try to sort some of the difficulties out.

If we don't want other supermarkets in Hebden, let's get behind the Co-op on this.


From Julie C.

Friday, 22 October 2010

I thought you lot were exaggerating until I went into the Co-op today (Fri 22nd about 11 am), overheard a man at the kiosk saying, "It's like Serbia", and then found pretty much empty shelves in the fruit and veg department, bakery very scant ......

My worry is that it is part of some plan to close the place down, i.e takings down, not viable, sell the site to some other supermarket for loads of money. If conspiracy theories are wrong, then they are just plain hopeless.


From Paul Clarke

Friday, 22 October 2010

Why does the much needed Co-op meeting start at 5pm...some of us of have day jobs out of town.

I know it finishes at 7pm but instead of all of us who think the Co-op is rubbish being able to talk together about the issues and the solutions we will drift in and out over two hours thus lessening the impact.

Of course that is the intent but it is still a bit obvious.

I hope everyone who goes along will remind the regional boss and the hapless local one that the Co-op is effectively a monopoly and still manages to be one of the worst five supermarkets I've ever shopped in.


From Jack Hughes

Saturday, 23 October 2010

I must take issue with this oft-repeated claim that the local Co-Op resembles an East European supermarket. I've never been to Serbia, but have visited stores in Poland, Ukraine and Slovenia. All were infinitely superior to our beloved Co-Op in terms of the range and quality of goods offered (now I think of it, the queues were far shorter too). On a slightly more serious note, I must ask Mr Coulman, is there going to be any further publicity for the November 2nd meeting? I see no posters in the store advertising it, so far at least. Maybe the store manager could be persuaded to (prominently) display one? I do think that the Hebden Bridge Times should carry an article too, so that the non-Hebweb-reading populace have a chance to make their voice heard.

From Nina Smith

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

I've only just become aware of this forum, and haven't had time to read all the blogs, but my big grice with the Coop, apart from thier appalling stock control on bakery, fruit and veg , is that there are no price tickets under many items. This is one reason people are overcharged. I expect better from a store that supposedly has ethical principles. Personally, I'd prefer them to sell this store to Waitrose or Booths!

From Bev Greenwood

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

What? How many people in Hebden Bridge can afford to shop at Booths or Waitrose except for the offcumdens from down south. What about us locals who were born and bred in Hebden, working class folk, yeah co-op have their problems but its like a little community centre your guaranteed to bump into someone you know, and most of the time its ok. You can usually get what you need it would be very sad to see co-op and the staff to go and I know I'm speaking for the majority!

From M Elder

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Stay on the subject. The Co-Op is a good local shop that, like many, may have its difficulties. There is no point in injecting meaningless,pointless & venomous comments about "offcumdens" into an already heated and ill-informed discussion.

For good measure; were it not for those "offcumdens" and many enlightened "born here" what would the town be now?

From N Yorke

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Have you seen the flyer in this week's HBT from Sainsbury's asking for your opinion on their plans to build a supermarket in Tod? See webpage

From Calder Food Hub

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The re-branding of the coop 2 years ago cost £1-2million, figures varied as to who you talked to. But then the price of economy baked beans jumped from 18p to 31p (an incredible 90%). These beans are also a produce of Ethiopia a famine 'hotspot', and not fair - traded, and also a shock to anyone who bought economy baked beans (the diminishing pov constituency). There's ethics for you.

The waste is a problem, compounded by the fact they have now reinforced the skip security obviously because food was removed on a regular basis (it could easily feed a small herd of pigs - profit to a local butcher).

The lack of local produce availability is also one we would particularly like to see addressed and would give a comparison of locally produced food against Tomatoes in January. The real cost of food is in the embedded fuel (oil) costs and this is not going to come down while people demand exotics in a cool temperate, seasonal climate.

Yes I've been overcharged too, but think the store does well on range of products, convenience for Hebdenites who then dont have to drive to Kings Cross or Todmorden. It has low ceilings meaning the store is easier to heat and a lot easier to negotiate than the vast Halifax Sainsbury's from which I get the same items when late in Town.

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Interesting that in its very brief story about the forthcoming meeting, this week's online Hebden Bridge Times says only that it was arranged 'after a number of written complaints received by the store from concerned customers'. No mention of Hebweb.

From K Taylor

Thursday, 4 November 2010

You know all these people that have made negative and sometimes cruel contributions to this forum. When I say cruel I am meaning the individual that has taken photos of coop staff spelling mistakes, I mean why would you want to humiliate a person like that, so what if they can't spell very well. At least there was a sign there and just because they can't spell very well it does'nt make them any less a person... So when you have all finished just think how the staff must now feel after all this, totaly deflated I would think, after all who is perfect? Who gets everything right at work and makes no mistakes?

Nobody is the truth. When events such as late or even no deliveries turn up what exactly are the staff to do? Wave a magic wand and magic stock on the shelves? We are not all veggies or into Suma products. Why not go support the local spececialist Organic shop just down the road if you want those type of products... Can I remind all those negative fusspots that the reason why there is such a mixed bag of people who live in Hebden Bridge is that true locals are friendly, tolerant, easygoing people who didnt judge the Lesbians and far out people who moved here in years gone by. They accepted them so you lot need to accept that the Co-op in Hebden Bridge is not perfect and be a bit more tolerant yourselves and put your efforts into real issues and problems that are in Hebden Bridge like the Drugs problem etc....

From Jason Elliott

Friday, 5 November 2010

Almost everything I wanted to add has just been said by K Taylor. I think they have summed up the situation perfectly.

From Anna Sedgley

Friday, 5 November 2010

I think the Management and staff of our Co-op should be applauded, not condemened. It would seem to me that they have had to deal with extreme circumstances of late,most of which are out of their control.

I think people should take a step back, as I have done and reflect on how you would feel if that were you and your team at the centre of the above criticism!

From Mick Piggott

Monday, 8 November 2010

Damned right, Anna Sedgley!

In many respects the Co-op as an organisation does need to lift its game, but it is utterly unfair to pick on the staff.

I've said it before but I'll say it again: I've found the shop-floor staff to be friendly, helpful and yes - co-operative!

Let's now give the Co-op management time to sort out its problems.


From Tim Coulman

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tim Coulman has sent us a comprehensive report of the meetings of 2nd November, together with a list of changes already made. Click here to read this report - editor

See also

HebWeb News - report of the meeting sent to HebWeb by the Co-op

HebWeb News - report of meeting called by Coop on 2nd November

HebWeb News - report of previous meeting, April 2008

HebWeb Forum - October 2009

HebWeb Forum - December 2009

HebWeb News - 2010 Clone Town report