Hot spuds

inside cover3Under SPUD IRONY, “An IC reader saw our story …” That’s me, folks. WA is the only state in Australia, and probably the world, that has a Potato Marketing Corporation that regulates who is allowed to grow potatoes and how many. That bloke Tony Galati is fighting them and good luck to him.

I reckon there should have been a cartoon showing the astronaut Mark Watney growing his spuds in the habitat on Mars, and a bloke with a clip board from the WA Potato Marketing Corporation tapping him on the shoulder saying, “Mate, you can’t grow those potatoes, you haven’t got a licence.”

Time and time again it’s shown that artificial rules, regulations and restrictions end up having the opposite effect to that intended. But will the WA Liberal government, a party which believes governments should stay out of people’s lives, do anything? No. Not even when a greater share of the GST is at stake.

There can only be one reason for this – the existing growers have their hands in the government’s pockets. Power and influence and money sloshing back and forth between growers and politicians.

The result is that potatoes are more expensive in WA than elsewhere in Australia and the makers of Smith Crisps potato chips have just closed down a factory in Perth with the loss of scores of jobs. They say potatoes are much cheaper in Victoria so they’ll do the processing there. No doubt the members of the Potato Marketing Board will continue to receive their fat salaries while we pay more for spuds. Nice work.

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Credit where it’s due. I’ve said many times that I almost never have any trouble with Coles over scanning errors. But a couple of times in the past few weeks there have been anomalies.

A few weeks ago I bought a copy of The Economist magazine from Coles Clarkson. I didn’t look at the cover much. This is a weekly news magazine, so I just buy it without looking.

When I started to read it at home, some of the stories seemed awfully familiar, like, out of date, old news. I looked at the cover and the issue date was June 13-20. No wonder they seemed like old news.

I went back last week and checked the shelf. Yes, there were still two copies of the same four month old magazine there.

I went to the service counter and showed the lady one of the copies. I told her I didn’t have my copy with me, or even the till docket.

She gasped when she saw the dates and said “Hold on.” She went to the computer and her till and came back and refunded me the entire $11 cost of the magazine, even though I didn’t have my docket or my magazine to return. I was quite impressed.

mqLCVSFej55UBzLmGfCpZbgThen on Tuesday I saw my coffee capsules on special at my local Butler Coles, reduced from $10.99 to $9.25 on one of their big yellow shelf tags. At that price, I bought two boxes. I didn’t bother to check the docket until I got home, when I discovered I’d been charged the full $10.99.

Yesterday I went back and checked the shelf again. Yes, the yellow tag was still there below the boxes I’d bought. But a closer reading showed the tag was for a different variety of capsules – same brand, different strength. But the capsules referred to on the tag were nowhere on the shelf.

I went to the service counter and explained this. The lady didn’t believe me at first and said “The sale didn’t start until today”, meaning I couldn’t have bought them on Tuesday. Well, I bloody well did, as evidenced by my till docket.

She saw the problem removed the yellow tag and we went back to the counter, where she refunded me the full $10.99 for one of the boxes, and another $1.75 for the price difference for the other box.

I was surprised. This was better than I expected. So twice Coles has done the right thing by me, more than I expected. Full marks.

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Then today I went to Clarkson Post Office to renew my five year driver’s licence. I took my passport as ID and she asked me if I was eligible for any concessions. Well, yeah, and I showed her my pension card, as proof of address as well. She went away for a bit, came back with a concession form to fill out and said that meant the cost for the five years would be zero, nothing. Wow. I was expecting to pay $72. That’s a good concession.

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Later I had a Chocollo soft serve in a waffle cone – cost? $2. That’s half price.

I was surprised and pleased. Maybe it was a Senior’s price?

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At the pub yesterday I overheard two guys talking about good chips, as in fish and chips. I chipped in (boom boom) and asked where they were talking about.

It turns out there’s a fish and chip shop not far from here (about 3Km?) which is a “British style” fish and chips. I was told they are the tops, “Joost like ‘ome.” They do real cod and crispy chips. I mentioned that I used to enjoy scampi in the UK. Yes, they have that too, they said.

I went to have a look today and I might give it a try, but with blood sugar problems, eating fatty fish and chips is very bad for me. I’ll think it over.

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