It was a public holiday, Heritage Day 2016, in South Africa, and I was very surprised to find Foodpak (a baking, catering and party supply shop in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu Natal) open but delighted, as I could now get supplies to do some baking and cooking over the weekend. They usually sell items such as berries, beans, grains, legumes, seeds and nuts, at very competitive prices.

  • I found three packs of 650g coconut flour on the shelf for R25, which is very very cheap, so I grabbed all three packs.
  • I then found a pack of walnuts for 132g in the same partition as the 100g walnuts and there were no other walnut partitions, therefore I presumed that they were the same price.
  • There were a lot of items not in stock, which is a bit frustrating as a Saturday is often the only day that many people can go shopping.

I put quite a lot of items in my basket to stock up for the month, and went to the till to pay, where my experience was unfortunately not as pleasant as it usually is.

  • The coconut flour ended up not being R25 but rather R55! R30 more than the sticker on the pack showed. I was not impressed and queried it, but the ladies behind the counter very insensitively stated that it is not R25 but R55. I grabbed the pack and quickly took a photograph (see below), as the assistant was about to write over the R25 with the correction of R55. Legal? 
  • The 132g pack of walnuts was not the same price as the 100g packs that it was stacked with, and it was a different price to the tag on the shelf. Another price discrepancy! 
  • Then thirdly, I bought a few packs of frozen berries and the ladies did not know how much they were and what the code for the till was. I had to wait for ages while the assistant, in no rush, sauntered off to find out the price. Not very organised and definitely not aware of the fact that some people have other places to go to…
  • I then decided to check the till slip and found out that the coconut butter that I had bought was marked at an incorrect price as well!

Oh boy, two price discrepancies, one incorrect price on the till slip and many items not in stock. Not a good shopping trip! So I mentioned this to the lady behind the counter and she just shrugged. No apology, no explanation, just a shrug. I could see the people behind me were in a hurry and getting agitated too, so I left the issue and decided to rather do a review on it, as this was my first negative experience there.

But…. my husband did go back during the week to get the items that they did not have when I was there, and they still did not have stock of a lot of things. When questioned as to when they will be receiving new stock of these items, their reply is either “never”, or “we don’t know”. Not very encouraging, right! The staff are either overworked, tired, underpaid or bored, as the general attitude has changed a lot from how it used to be. 

I remember that the staff were very helpful, with lots of advice and positive remarks.

Hopefully things will change positively there again – maybe they need a holiday or to be reminded that:
The atmosphere of a place is what draws customers, or repels them…

May 2017: to follow up on my experiences at Foodpak…

  • We have gone back many times but find on a lot of occasions that they do not have stock of many items. They seem to battle to keep their shelves stocked, which can be frustrating.
  • In April 2017 we bought a bag of raw buckwheat which had weavles in it. They took it back, could not replace it due to no stock and a week later had another batch to replace it with. They gave us a free pack with the replacement, to apologise.
  • In May 2017 we bought a bag of chia seeds which had no label on it and worms in it. They replaced it when we took it back.

My advice when visiting Foodpak would be to:

  1. Telephone first before you are planning to go to there, if you are needing specific items on a certain day, to make sure that Foodpak has stock of that item.
  2. One also needs to check each item for expiry dates, weavles and worms.
  3. Query any item that does not have a label on it.
  4. Check your till slip before you leave the counter.
  5. Insist on paying the price that is on the item, as it is your right and their loss.

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