Voucher madness

Our little slate in the kitchen was completely full so we really had to go run some errands. Weaponed with our grocery list we headed to the nearby Delhaize. One of the things I like about this store are the self-scanning devices which you use while filling up your cart and which allow you to skip the lines at the cash registers, (unless you're occasionally elected for a control after which you need to unload your goods after all).
Ah the joys of technology enabled efficiency that make you go faster at the check-out, faster than you are able to glance at the headlines of the exposed gossip magazines to learn who's cheating on who. So fast that you almost regret not having chosen a conventional way to check-out.

Well ....it's faster up to the point you need to pay. Because then of course you first need to give your loyalty card. Every store has its own loyalty card and since you're shopping there anyway, why wouldn't you take it and enjoy the perks that come along? I make sure I always have have the correct card at hand at the check-out so I don't have to dig into my cluttered purse and browse through my collection of loyalty cards in there.

And then of course you shouldn't forget to put the discount vouchers that you've collected on your way through the alleys or which you've cut out at home in promotion folders, on the conveyer belt. Those don't always work with the scanning devices so they must be handled afterwards. Apparently the Belgians are the most promotion bon crazy culture in the world. Belgian marketeers clearly believe we distrust price promotions directly applied in the displayed price, so they attach a stickers on the products or put vouchers on the displays to take along and to be subtracted of the bill at the cash register. At least it gives the customer the certitude that the price got lowered and the marketeer might hope that people forget to bring the voucher along. Even 'better' are those promotions that give your product as free trial : first you pay and then you mail the voucher with all your details to the Belgian promo agency after which the money + value of a stamp will be credited on your bank account. Why would you oppose a little bit of administration if you can get a product for free? And the marketeers are filling up their databases with interested people so it's a nice win-win situation.

Anyway so we were at the cash register and the final balance to pay had finally been established.
"That makes a total of x Euros please"
"We'd like to use our food cheques to pay"

The Belgian wages are one of the most highly taxed in the world, so the government has worked out a system of non-taxed incentives over the last decades. 40% of all Belgian employees receive paper 'food cheques' that can be used as means to pay for food products in stores, restaurants, etc...

"No problem, which value please?

Damn! A little bit stressed I grabbed in my purse to see whether I'd first find Jan's or my envelop of cheques since they each have a different monetary value and also different due dates. Hmm no, first I found the ecocheques, one of the measures that our government took last year to help out its poor citizens suffering from the financial crisis by boosting them with yet another cheque to be exchanged for ecological products (Kyoto's deadlines are coming up soon I guess, so why not invent something new that would look good in Kopenhagen?). We all still have to figure out what to do with those but we still have nine months before they become invalid. Maybe some of our CFL's will need replacement by then. No wonder we are all voucher/certificate/cheque crazy if our own government stimulates the employers to pay out part of the wages in this kind of stuff!
... Ah and that's the gift voucher my employer gave me in the contest they organised last year for the employee cutting down the fuel usage of their company cars most drastically. Thanks for being ill and immobile after surgery in the second quarter I somehow ended up with a gift certificate as well. Thanks for that!

"7 euro"
"Ok you can give me 12"
"Here's the last 8"
"The balance is still ...."
"I also have a few 5 euro cheques which I'd like to use".

You receive those every time you reach 500 points on your Delhaize loyalty card. Unlike some other stores that collect points that you can exchange for some lousy products that you'd never want, Delhaize gives you a cash credit on your bill. Handy.

In the end we had managed to settle our entire bill with vouchers and certificates without having exchanged any money.
"And you are entitled to 2 new loyalty cheques" she said while handing me 2 of the same vouchers I had just paid with together with my cash ticket. Euh...yeah right, sure. Thank you.

Ah the joys of technology-enabled efficiency. I'm so glad the store has self-scanning to make it all go smoother!


Korie said…
I wish I got those. They seem like a great perk.
Brian Miller said…
but i am oh so confused...sounds marvelously efficient. smiles.

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