Dear Auchan, you are a jerk and I hate you.

Last month, I got all excited when my local Auchan started remodeling and expanding their already big store. Wider aisles, they promised. More stuff that you can’t afford to buy, they said. And look! Fifty feet of space of between the aisles and checkout lanes instead of just five! No more shoving yourself and your cart as close to the next customer as possible, and turning sideways so that the poor souls who try to go around the end of the aisle behind you can actually fit!

There are many things that I hate about shopping in France (stores that smell like fish and shopping carts with all 4 wheels that turn are near the top of the list), but waiting in the checkout lane has always been the most stressful part.  I will never understand why all stores think that customers don’t need space to wait in line without clogging up the aisles around the checkout area.

By my excitement was short-lived when I returned to Auchan yesterday. The remodeling geniuses decided to push the checkout lanes back so that there is still only 5 feet of waiting space. ::sigh::  Why did you tease me, Auchan? Why did I think you could possibly compete with American stores that actually care about their customers? And seriously, what is the point of all that extra space on the OTHER side of the checkout counters? It sure is useful having all that empty space as I walk out of the store and wish that I never had to come back again.

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  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    What’s wrong with French shopping carts?
    They’re so much more convenient than American ones…

    Concerning the check-out area, I totally agree with you (you should see my Monoprix)…
    On the other hand, I doubt American stores care more about their costumers, it’s just that they’re good at making the costumer feel like the store cares about them, which is slightly different.
    But I assume you’re aware of the whole difference in the “shopping philosophies” in France and the US…

    Davids last blog post..Bones… Lots of them.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    What’s wrong with French shopping carts?
    They’re so much more convenient than American ones…

    Concerning the check-out area, I totally agree with you (you should see my Monoprix)…
    On the other hand, I doubt American stores care more about their costumers, it’s just that they’re good at making the costumer feel like the store cares about them, which is slightly different.
    But I assume you’re aware of the whole difference in the “shopping philosophies” in France and the US…

    Davids last blog post..Bones… Lots of them.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    @David: Having all 4 wheels turn makes it impossible to push the cart in a straight line. I much prefer the American ones because at least I can control where the cart goes.

    And yes, in the US, it’s more of caring about how much money stores can make instead of caring about the actual customer… Fitting more people in the store means more people to spend money.

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    @David: Having all 4 wheels turn makes it impossible to push the cart in a straight line. I much prefer the American ones because at least I can control where the cart goes.

    And yes, in the US, it’s more of caring about how much money stores can make instead of caring about the actual customer… Fitting more people in the store means more people to spend money.

  • Matt

    Are you kidding me those chariots suck! Its impossible to keep them going straight or turn.

    Other fun things …
    1. Forgetting your checkout bags for the millionth time.
    2. The people who dont seem to think there 15 other people behind them when checking out and searching for money/coupons/cartes.
    3. Caissiers in space.
    4. All the empty “Reserved” lines at Carrefour.

  • Matt

    Are you kidding me those chariots suck! Its impossible to keep them going straight or turn.

    Other fun things …
    1. Forgetting your checkout bags for the millionth time.
    2. The people who dont seem to think there 15 other people behind them when checking out and searching for money/coupons/cartes.
    3. Caissiers in space.
    4. All the empty “Reserved” lines at Carrefour.

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    While grocery shopping yesterday, I thought about this post…
    No, I’m sorry, French carts are much more convenient, you can push them in whatever direction you feel like.
    If you have trouble with them, that must be because you lack experience with them…

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    While grocery shopping yesterday, I thought about this post…
    No, I’m sorry, French carts are much more convenient, you can push them in whatever direction you feel like.
    If you have trouble with them, that must be because you lack experience with them…

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie Wagner

    Or maybe if you have trouble with American carts, it’s because you lack experience with them. :)

    The problem with European carts is that you can push them all you like, they never go in the direction that you want them to unless a second person is controlling the other end! They never go straight, they turn too wide around corners, and they go off sideways in the parking lot when you’re trying to transfer your groceries to your trunk. American carts are so much easier to control, especially when they’re really heavy and a rather small person (ahem, me) is trying to push them…

  • http://www.ielanguages.com Jennie

    Or maybe if you have trouble with American carts, it’s because you lack experience with them. :)

    The problem with European carts is that you can push them all you like, they never go in the direction that you want them to unless a second person is controlling the other end! They never go straight, they turn too wide around corners, and they go off sideways in the parking lot when you’re trying to transfer your groceries to your trunk. American carts are so much easier to control, especially when they’re really heavy and a rather small person (ahem, me) is trying to push them…

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com/ David

    7 years of experience with American carts, I assume it’s enough to compare… ;-)
    (I have no problem maneuvering them, they’re just not as practical)

    No, seriously, I have no problem doing all the things you’re having trouble with French carts…
    I assume there’s a learning curve with French carts, and you’re still in the middle of that curve…

    It’s pretty much the same thing with 4 directional wheel cars… Funky to drive at first (I never tried, I’ve juts heard it), but much more practical and maneuverable once you get it…

    So, don’t give up, you’ll learn how to use them properly…

    Davids last blog post..Carcass One ?

  • http://davidsswamp.blogspot.com David

    7 years of experience with American carts, I assume it’s enough to compare… ;-)
    (I have no problem maneuvering them, they’re just not as practical)

    No, seriously, I have no problem doing all the things you’re having trouble with French carts…
    I assume there’s a learning curve with French carts, and you’re still in the middle of that curve…

    It’s pretty much the same thing with 4 directional wheel cars… Funky to drive at first (I never tried, I’ve juts heard it), but much more practical and maneuverable once you get it…

    So, don’t give up, you’ll learn how to use them properly…

    Davids last blog post..Carcass One ?

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In January 2010, I started focusing more on teaching and learning languages in general. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at the university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling (though now my trips are usually in Australia) and being an American abroad.

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