Published in InterAction 77 (Autumn 2011)
Readers saving energy and cash through online and mail order shopping.
The chore of the weekly food shop, buying new clothes or replacing household items can seem insurmountable on a bad day. Some InterAction readers get around this by shopping from catalogues and by mail order.
For household items, Rose recommends John Lewis (Tel: 0845 604 9049) and Lakeland (Tel: 01539 488100), who are “honest, helpful and not out to make a fast buck, with excellent sales staff who give advice on the best items.” Irene Tenny is also a Lakeland fan: “I got my kitchen timer from Lakeland and wear it round my neck – it’s invaluable for pacing.”
Ms Roberts looks forward to the arrival of her catalogue from The Book People (Tel: 0845 602 3030); she also uses Viking (Tel: 0844 412 111) for stationery and Royal Mail (Tel: 0845 764 1641) for stamps and postcards.
Variety and quality
“When young and mobile I never considered shopping by post, except Harrods sale catalogues,” says Ms Roberts. “M.E. has changed my purchasing methods. Sheets, stamps, shoes, skin cream... I have been surprised by the variety and quality of goods on offer. There are many reliable companies offering manageable sized brochures for buying for oneself and for gifts.
“During the ten years or so I have distance-shopped, the few problems encountered have been satisfactorily resolved. I have not missed out on bargains as nearly all the companies have special offers and sale mailings. One advantage of being indoors most of the time is one is usually in when the parcel comes.”
For clothes and shoes, Irene says, “The catalogues supplied by some companies are much too heavy for me to use but I can manage Oxendales (Tel: 0871 231 2000), Cotton Traders (Tel: 0844 844 1111) and Damart (Tel: 0871 423 000).”
Other mail order clothing companies given the thumbs up by readers are Nightingales (Tel: 0870 601 2415), Artigiano (Tel: 0844 482 8888. ), Penny Plain (Tel: 0844 557 6010) and Hotter Comfort Concept (Tel: 0800 083 8490), a company specialising in shoes, boots, sandals and slippers.
Many companies offer free returns if you are not happy with the item you have bought but, as Ms Roberts cautions, “unpack carefully as returns often have to be sent back in the original wrappings. It always pays to read the small print concerning postage costs, length of delivery times, returns procedures etc. In case of query I keep details of order, time and payment method to tally against bank or card statements.”
“Once I know the clothes made by a certain company fit, I stick to them,” advises Harriet Brown, 19, who lives at home and is cared for by her parents. “I know money can be tight so I search around online, through Google and eBay, for the best deals I can find. It can be well worth the effort, not just as in a few pounds but in tens of pounds.
“Finding stuff like this has made a huge difference to me. It leaves me more time and money free, and recently I have been using the extra money towards health and beauty products. I do find making my skin and body feel clean and comfortable makes me generally feel better and gives me a bit of a boost.”
For those well enough to use a computer, online shopping can also be a useful resource.
“It uses so much less energy than trailing round a supermarket or trawling the shops for that specific item you need,” says Emma Gray. “The mysupermarket website lets you compare the cost of your shopping with several supermarkets. Living in a village it’s particularly useful as it saves on the time, energy and money spent travelling to the shops – I haven’t been round a supermarket for years!”
Harriet’s family has recently discovered the delights of supermarket home delivery. “We use Sainsbury’s (Tel: 0800 328 1700), which is fantastic. Shopping can be ordered to be delivered at a time of your choice and the fresh fruit and vegetables are better quality than those we used to get from store. The delivery charges are low too, around the same as the petrol costs to get to the supermarket – and on some days it’s free.”
Sainsbury’s also has “a brilliant telephone service and customer service support,” adds Rose.
Shopping online can seem daunting if you are new to the internet or that shop’s particular website. “It does take some time at first but when you use it regularly it becomes easier and quicker,” advises Jan Gillies, who shops online at Tesco (Tel: 0800 505 555). “You don’t have to do your list all in one go. I time myself at my computer so I do some shopping then come back later and do some more until it’s complete.
“What I like about it so much is that all my shopping is brought into my kitchen and unpacked for me to put away at my own pace. Things for the freezer are kept separate so I put those away first then just take my time with the rest.
“The website alerts me to current bargains, special offers and cheaper alternatives so I don’t pay more for my shopping than I would if I went into the store. In fact, not being tempted by all those sweets, cakes and biscuits that seem to jump out and say, “Eat me, eat me,” has saved me pounds in weight AND in money!
“Also my local Tesco Extra is huge and shopping there is exhausting, so I am glad to pay the charge for someone else to do this for me. It saves me having to put up with all the harmful smells (eg. from laundry products) which give me a headache and aggravate my symptoms.”
For vitamins and supplements, Rose likes the Nutri Centre (Action for M.E. members receive a 20% discount if they quote their membership number when ordering. Tel: 020 8752 8450).
Top drawer produce
She also recommends food specialists Riverford Organic (Tel: 01803 762059) and Fairhaven Wholefoods (Tel: 01462 675300), whose delivery men are kind enough to post her letters for her!
Emma Gray, meanwhile, is a fan of Abel and Cole (Tel: 0845 262 6262). “I get an organic vegetable box delivered every two weeks – their customer service is excellent, the quality of the produce is top drawer and you know that everything they sell is produced to the highest organic and ethical standards.
“They also sell a wide range of organic food and household products, so we often top up our veg box with some free-range meat or sustainably caught fish.”
Emma has also been using Amazon and eBay for years. “I’ve found that as long as you check out the seller’s rating/customer reviews and go with the reputable sellers you shouldn’t have any problems.”
On Action for M.E.’s Facebook page, Sally Phillippe has recommended several online stores selling natural, chemical-free body care, cosmetics and cleaning products. “Lucy Rose (Tel: 01989 750354) stocks a lot of good brands with FREE POSTAGE IN THE UK!
“Absolutely Pure has no nasty chemicals in anything listed and gives information on many chemical- free product ranges.”
If you are not online, Iona recommends Beauty Naturals (Tel: 0845 094 0400) and Green People (Tel: 01403 740350), both of which will send out catalogues on request.
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