Hapless Tesco workers found themselves on the receiving end of a one-sided war of words this week after a broadside from the self-styled Queen of Shops, Mary Portas.

Portas, who knows almost as much about retail as she does about getting her mug on television, laid into the "faceless mutes" behind supermarket tills in an article for that heavy-hitting business bible, the Radio Times.

Despite her obvious lack of enthusiasm for dealing with plebs that, you know, aren't on TV and stuff, she said the rise of self-scanning tills had "killed off the final vestiges of human contact" in shopping - which is surely the point.

Portas regaled her readers with tales of the support and adoration she'd received as a youngster from workers at her local shops and questioned whether she'd get "anything like the same level of support from the faceless mute on the till at Tesco".

Fair enough, perhaps, but she'd get more Clubcard points. And besides, you can't help but think she might have more mates to help out if she spent less time laying into total strangers for not measuring up to her high standards of glamour and garrulousness. But then, she is retail royalty.

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