Stores fail to ring the changes as New Year brings same old hiccups

To ring the changes for 2001 we replaced five lines, bringing back Ragu pasta sauce, Kellogg's Corn Flakes and rice, and introducing McVitie's Jaffa Cakes and Persil Tablets. But the first shop of the new year was an action replay of last year, with checkout errors, poor labelling, blocked aisles and out of stocks.

Asda, Plymouth, was one of the culprits where fruit and veg was poorly labelled and the pasta sauce slipped through the checkout so that 91p wasn't charged to the bill. But, with or without the sauce, it made no difference to Asda checking in the cheapest till receipt of £37.80.

Our north west shopper's nightmare at a heavily congested Morrisons was compounded by 18 minutes spent at the checkout -­ six minutes more than at Waitrose, St Ives.

Out of stocks included Anchor spreadable at the Co-op and Morrisons. At the latter store it hadn't been available for 10 days. At Waitrose, there were no single packs of orange juice and staff would not break a four-pack. At Tesco Extra, Cardiff, the only out of stock was baked beans.

Although there were no Safeway deep cuts this week, its Horndean store had matched Asda's low baked beans price of 21p.