I was in the Oxfam shop in Quarry Street in Guildford today.
The price on a book was not clear and so I queried it. The price I was given was clearly wrong and I explained the book had been mispriced.
The appropriate response of the person behind the counter should have been to graciously accept that a mistake had been made, apologise, and thank me for drawing it to their attention.
But no, the person became aggressive, defensive and blatantly lied, saying that was always the price.
I knew this not to be the case as I had previously bought this book, and this one was in poor condition with broken spine.
I suggested that the the person who was coming across as an idiot, actually checked the prices of the other books on the shelves and he would then find what he was claiming was wrong.
He refused. Not only did he refuse, he called his manager to back him up.
At this point I decided I was wasting my time and decided to leave. On principle I was not prepared to be ripped-off
The parting shot of the idiot was: We are a charity!
Since when has being a charity been an excuse to rip people off?
Yes, Oxfam is a charity, but in reality it is a multinational business providing Third World Aid. Third World Aid is now Big Business.
There are three Oxfam shops in Guildford, one of which is a bookshop.
I walked to the Oxfam Bookshop. I find the book I was looking for on the shelve in better condition at £2-49, the price it should have been in the Quarry Street Oxfam shop if priced as the other books.
I asked that they had a quiet word in the ears of the Quarry Street Oxfam shop.
I then walked to the Oxfam shop at the top of the town. The books were priced at £1-99.
There are two charities that rip people off: Oxfam and British Heart Foundation.
When I speak to staff in BHF shops, they admit that they are overcharging, but they have instructions from external managers. They point to prices in other shops, but get nowhere. As a result the books needlessly circulate from shops to shops because they do not sell.
Periodically I find Oxfam Bookshops stripping the books and filling sacks. The books go to recycling.
An exception for Oxfam is the Oxfam Bookshop in Lincoln. They do not rip people off, the staff know and love their books. It is a proper bookshop. Oxfam in an act of crass stupidity is closing the shop, it will be merged with an Oxfam shop, a few shelves in an Oxfam shop is not a bookshop. A crying shame. The blame though is not entirely that of Oxfam. Sincil Street, where the shop is located, is suffering blight, the area earmarked for redevelopment. One of the few remaining areas of character in the town centre scheduled for destruction.
Charity shops tell me that before Christmas they were told to open extra hours. Not worth it in terms of sales, they get no extra compensation for extra hours worked.
Prices of clothes go up, at the same time as prices drop elsewhere, making the charity shops uncompetitive compared with Primark or Matalan or ASDA George range.
Not all charity shops are like this. The smaller charities are much better. Often I find refugees from the larger charities who tell me horror stories from the larger charities.
When I talk to people in the smaller charities they are disgusted by the greed of the larger charities, they all get tarred with the same brush.
Books will be 50p, £1-50, £2-00, but no more. If they do not sell, the prices are lowered. One shop, if the books do not sell, they are put by the door at 10p. They never have to throw the books away, they always get something.
Books used to be £1-99 in the Quarry Street Oxfam until greed raised its ugly head. Now they are charging £2-69 and blatantly lying the books were always that price.
One of the best bookshops in the Guildford area is in a side street in nearby Godalming run by a small mental health charity. It is worth a visit to Godalming.