Lately, the manager at my local Loblaw store has been avoiding me.
Every time he sees me, he suddenly remembers an unattended problem and does an about face. He's not the only one. All the other managers and stocking clerks head for the hills when they see me.
That's because, like a growing number of shoppers, I have become addicted to PC Plus points and I spend hours harassing the staff looking for my deals.
For those living without cable, PC Plus is the brainchild of the scion of the Weston family, Galen, who has replaced old Dave Nichol as the pitchman for the companies owned by the family of Ontario's former Lieutenant-Governor. He is on television about every thirty seconds pitching expensive Black Label products and Ontario fresh farm produce in his cashmere sunflower blue sweaters and rich boy goggles.
Most of what he's selling is harmless enough, some is even good for you.
But the PC Plus points are downright dangerous, the crack to every obsessive compulsive shopper, who must fulfill her allotment of points.
Every Friday, I can't wait to hear the familiar ding on my Smartphone as my offers arrive. Usually, I get twelve offers based on my shopping preference. This week, the offerings are shrimp, red meat, dog biscuits, assorted varieties of produce, mostly worth about 20 cents on the dollar. If I have an extra $20 and I can travel down the road to the superstore, I can get 8,000 points for bulk food.
I'm there, Galen, I'm there!
The PC Points program is an absolutely brilliant idea for people like me who have to watch our pennies while seeing the cost of fresh meat and veg soar to unbelievable heights. A really good roast of beef can now cost a whopping $65 and shrimp has become the seafood of the rich, so any savings can help, right?
And sometimes, Galen throws us a bone and offers us thousands of points for a large grocery purchase, usually the week before a high holiday, in hopes of keeping shoppers in grocery stores and away from Costco, my other great addiction.
Already this year, I've saved about $500 off my grocery bill by shopping with PC Points, and I figure I'll have another $500 to spend at Christmas. Nothing to sneeze at. It beats the food bank.
That said, the program is less than perfect.
The offers aren't always clear, so for example, I buy No Name when I should be buying President's Choice or the size of the offer fools me into thinking that I'm points rich when I've bought the wrong product size. Also, my little store often doesn't offer certain products -- not much in the form of No Name, believe it or not -- so I have to get on the road to the superstore.
That's why the manager is avoiding me, because I've become almost a character in a Luigi Pirandello play, one shopper in search of a product that isn't stocked on the shelves.
The worst part about the program is that I usually have to spend a few hours a week fighting for my points. Sometimes the app doesn't work, so I'm having to harass the grocery staff, who I am sure, hate the PC Points program.
Talking to them is useless anyway because they have to grumpily handle my complaint in the old fashioned analog manner, using a calculator, while the smokers and lottery card buyers grumble, and line gets larger and larger.
It seems that most of the staff hired by Loblaw failed their Grade Nine math, and I have never yet gotten complete restitution.
This leaves me with no choice but to contact PC Plus directly to resolve my points issues. It happens three times a week, and as a result, I am on a first name basis with someone named Samantha who helps me sort out my points issues.
The good news is that the staff online are quick to resolve my points problems. Even when I've bought the wrong product, often, I'll get something called "goodwill" points along with a friendly lecture that ham is not a fresh pork product.
All in all, the PC Points Program makes me a happy shopper and I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking to save money on the groceries they already buy.
Just a word of advice: don't harass the manager.
You'll need to keep on his good side in case of a real grocery shopping emergency.