Consumer Watch

Wendy Knowler fights for your rights...

James Clarke Masthead
May 12 2014 at 10:09

I hear, from time to time, people describing an anti-climax or a disappointing event as having been a “damp squid”. Now all healthy squids are damp, but what relevance a damp one has to something that was anti-climactic I cannot fathom.

The original saying is “damp squib” – a squib being a small firework.

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May 5 2014 at 09:40

A British survey has found that, nationwide, 35.7 million days are wasted annually searching for missing documents, and that males over 45 have the messiest desks. One in 10 messy office workers admits to having lost business because of a cluttered desk.

Since about AD1234 (or was it AD1244?) it has been generally believed that people who have messy desks have messy minds.

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April 7 2014 at 10:51

The Star’s Verve section was going on the other day about how to restore “the core” – that belt of muscles that supports the spine, but in many of us has become  buried by a spare tyre of fat. The article suggested some very boring exercise.

I have always advocated that gardening is the way to exercise the core muscles. Especially digging and mowing.

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April 4 2014 at 08:18

A visiting English couple wrote to a newspaper, expressing their shock at seeing “children doing jobs that should be for adults –  like shepherding sheep in lion country, or driving cattle along the highway” in Mpumalanga.

Yet, a recent study revealed that children in England are also doing adult jobs during their holidays.

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March 31 2014 at 09:16

A friend once, just once mark you, criticised his wife for her lack of discipline when shopping. It was the time of the summer sales. I had warned him that telling a woman how to do almost anything was fraught with danger.
Suggesting she didn’t know how to shop was as risky as telling Mike Tyson that he didn’t know how to throw a punch.
But my friend maintained that if women shopped more efficiently they’d find time to learn some sort of useful sideline, like plumbing.
Inevitably, when his wife came home with a bottle of imported olives he told her that it was time she learnt that olives did not grow on trees – they cost serious money.
He said she should make a list of what she needed before going to the shops so that she would not be tempted to buy extraneous stuff. Whereupon his wife, as cool as the Free State in August, took out her credit card, cut it into small pieces, tossed them skywards and said: “Okay Smarty-pants, from now on you do the shopping!”
And so it was that my dumb friend found himself at the supermarket testing the spin on each trolley wheel and setting off for item number one on his list – bread.
Now supermarkets never have bread near the entrance because this would enable people to rush in, grab a loaf and rush out – the last thing supermarkets want people to do.
First my friend had to go past the sweets which, naturally, he ignored until he spotted red liquorice shoelaces. He hadn’t seen red liquorice shoelaces since his first childhood.
He bought a couple of metres and then saw “extra-strong” mints in the same old tube that he knew from his youth. He tossed three tubes into the trolley.
Then he caught sight of the savoury biscuits. The picture on the packet showed biscuits with mussels and shrimps on them.
He bought two big packets (for economy) and now needed to find mussels and shrimps.
This is when he saw the tins of imported crab meat.
At the delicatessen counter with its grand selection of cheeses he saw Emmental and called the assistant with the plastic gloves who asked how much he wanted. Holding thumb and forefinger far apart he said: “That much.”
She sliced it for him and then he saw genuine Gorgonzola and made the same sign.
At last he got to the bread and ticked it off his list. The bread was fresh and his stomach teeth began to grind. Fresh bread – must get butter. And strawberry jam. Or anchovy paste? Both!
The next item on his list was milk. Now supermarkets employ specially trained people to hide the milk so that shoppers have to run a gauntlet of products whose labels, designed by psychologists, cry: “Take me! I’m only R49.99!”
My friend, mesmerised by the store’s craftily selected music, colours and aromas – selected by highly paid psychologists – was helplessly dragged this way and that like a puppet on a string.
“Gosh,” he found himself saying, “a special on All Bran! And cheese cloth at only R9.99.”
And a special on spanners – only R89.99! And frozen prawns!
He was now pushing one trolley in front and pulling another behind and when he got to the checkout counter he thought they were joking.
As the checkout woman put his card through the card machine the store’s lights dimmed.
She intoned: “Card declined.”
It was then my friend realised why people have this compulsion to hurl supermarket trolleys into streams.
He had to put nearly everything back.

Contact Stoep: E-mail: [email protected]; Website:;

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