As we ran out of the much loved dairy free, gluten free ice cream cones several weeks ago, I decided to order some online this evening. I keep wasting my time and petrol driving all the way to our not so near Sainsbury’s and they never have them anymore.
I am a big fan of online shopping, particularly for groceries, so am not sure why I didn’t do it the minute we last ran out. Anyway, once the children were in bed, I got straight on the case and am still reeling from the shock. I had totally forgotten about delivery charges. It doesn’t feel so bad when you are charged £5 for a ‘big shop’, as it feels worth it just to have someone else pack it all and lug it to your front door, but when you are just ordering a few packets of biscuits etc it feels very wrong.
The first thing I did was run a search on the specific ice cream cone (Barkat Waffle Cones) that Zac loves and was happy to see they are quite widely available online – at most of the specialist retailers for food intolerants. I was staggered by the price, they now seem to be around the £4 a box mark with most of the retailers. Every time I have ever bought them in the supermarket they were around £3 and a high percentage were smashed to pieces, so it is a very high cost per cone!
So to make it worthwhile, I decided to shop around and see what else I could try that is new, to top up my basket. As most of you will know, the mainstream supermarkets do not stock a wide variety of gluten free, dairy free foods and I am on a mission to find some new biscuits, crackers and perhaps pasta shapes. I soon found some that looked good and were an ok price, mostly between £2 and £3 per pack – not cheap but the norm in ‘our world’.
So I had just over £12 worth of goods in my basket – ice cream cones, biscuits, crackers, pasta shapes and a chocolate muffin cake mix. It felt like a lot but as these were mostly new products and I was curious to try them, I thought it was worth the order. It was only once I was several steps into the checkout process that the final total came up - £18.95 – they added a £6.50 delivery charge. My heart skipped a beat – and not in a good way.
Needless to say, that ended that transaction and so I pushed on to see where else I could find them. I found another well-known online retailer that carries a huge amount of gluten free and dairy free products and was happy to find them but they were at a slightly higher price. Same thing happened though, got right to the end and then got hit with the delivery charge - £4.75 this time. That is when I started to get so cross I had to stop.
I know that these suppliers have to pay large delivery costs and I know that the products are expensive to make or source or import but seriously, don’t they think we have been punished enough?
I also noticed that the ice cream cones are available on prescription through one of the large pharmacies. They charge nearly £5 a box for them. Why? If you can get them a pound cheaper in a supermarket, on the very rare day they appear on the shelves, why on earth would you waste your prescription on them? We are not eligible for a prescription because no-one seems to want to test Zac, but even if we had one, I think I would struggle to bring myself to use it, knowing that the prices were hiked so deliberately.
So now I am furious. It just feels that there is no way to feed my intolerant child without paying ridiculous amounts of money to pharmacists, logistics companies and greedy retailers. Clearly they are operating in a recession proof market. They know people need these foods and have no qualms about taking advantage.
I know I can and should make most foods for Zac. I do try but why should I be punished if I do choose to buy him an off the shelf biscuit! It is a nightmare at the moment. Despite this miserable weather our local ice cream van comes round every day. Zac is three and he knows what that jingle signifies and although he knows he can’t get one from the ‘man’ he asks me every day if he can have his special ice cream in a cone! I want to be able to say yes.
So now I am faced with the choice of spending over £5 delivery charge on cones that are already £3 or drive the twenty minutes to my local supermarket and face the possibility of an empty shelf. Even if I order them from Sainsbury’s online, I am still going to get hit with around £5 delivery charge and run the risk of them being smashed to pieces on the van.
It seems the only way to get a free delivery is to spend over £100 – easy enough done when you are being charged around three times more for many ‘free from’ food items. I feel so angry, I can’t bring myself to decide right now. I just wish I could find a way around this. It is not right that this is happening. Rant over. Good night.