14 September 2010

Undercover Bloggers

The other day I had a stand-out great experience at a new grocery store. For years I have been a lazy and happy online shopper, but our family's recent entrance into the world of Gluten Free has exposed the limitations of my beloved Online Shopping (with a rubbish GF range).

So I thought I'd give the brand new New World in Mt Roskill a go. And oh boy, I am a convert. This is a shiny new store with acres of gluten free goodies in all the right places (GF pasta with the other pasta, GF cookies with the other cookies etc; all highlighted with a bright green sticker). Lovely.

And the staff! They are all smiley and shiny happy people. They actually help you if you ask. Or even if you are just standing looking confused some on-the-ball staff member is likely to drop what they are doing and steer you in the right direction.
Simoney! I hear you saying. You promised you would not become a review blog! Who is paying you to say all this??
Nobody. I promised to not become a review blog, and I won't. Just bear with me until I get to the point, OK?

On my third expedition to my new shopping hang-out, I was hunting for my favourite GF bread (Venerdi), not having any luck. Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a crisp white shirt emblazoned with the New World logo, and so I turned to the wearer and asked, "Excuse me, can you tell me where the Venerdi bread is??"

This well-turned out gentleman promptly scoured the appropriate shelves, and then went off to the back room, returning waving a loaf.

"We've been cleaned out after our tasting on Saturday," he explained.

We chatted for a moment on the merits of Venerdi GF bread (yummy) vs the other stuff (polystyrene) and he invited me to drop any suggestions for products I'd like to see in the suggestion box. {Stay with me, I'm getting to it}.

Then as I was lining up at the checkout, this gentleman re-appeared with yet more bread and... a loaf of the in-store baked stuff.
"Would you like to try it?" he asked.
"Er, no I think I'll just stick with the Venerdi..." I replied.
"Take it. You can have it for free," he said, and instructed the (smiley shiny happy) checkout operator not to scan it.
"Wow, thanks! That's very kind of you!" I gushed, as he walked away with a smile and a wave.

Russ cutting the Ribbon
"Do you know who that was???" asked the checkout lady. I shook my head, no.
"That was our store owner! He's great! We all just love working here... oh and has anybody ever said that you look a bit like Julia Roberts??" {I kid you not. That's what she said. Ha!}

Wow. So now I know why the staff are all so enthusiastic, service oriented and helpful. It comes down from the Top.
And the bread, by the way, is actually Yummy. I made it into garlic bread for Miss Fab tonight and YUM! Not like polystyrene at all. She gobbled it up and so did I.

Now to come to my point at last...
This lovely shopping experience gave me an idea {oh yes, here we go...}
You see, that Store Owner (whose name is Russ Wilkinson) and his staff had no idea that I am a blogger. They didn't be nice to me because I would give them a good review. I caught them in the act of being Great.
I was an Undercover Blogger.

And there have been other times, when the service is so terrible, and the experience so shocking, that I have just had to blog about it. Like this time at Cafe Tabou in Kingsland. I caught them in the act of being totally crap. They didn't know who they were messing with. I was an Undercover Blogger.

As are we all.
We have between us the power of our influence. We have readers. People listen to us.
And I thought, why not combine our Power and Influence and give the Undercover Bloggers a combined voice?

Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

My idea is to create a new blog with many contributors, up and down the country. A kind of index or knowledge bank steering us towards the great places and away from the bad.

Have you ever blogged about any really great or really terrible experiences in shops/cafes/family attractions or other places?? We could kick things off by uploading all our past stories, creating a directory of where's good and where's not. Maybe even a matching Facebook Fan page {I'm really into those at the moment, have you noticed?}

It would hopefullly grow to the point where we get a bit of a profile, you know, like that TV programme "Target".

Where cafe owners and store managers will think twice before being rude or unhelpful.

"That woman over there taking all those photos of the coffee... do you think she could be.... An UnderCover Blogger???!!!"

It could happen!
Yeah. This could be lots of fun.
So I am throwing out the invitation to jump on board. I don't want this to be just me. In fact if there's no interest I'll just flag it. This is a blogging community venture. Or nothing.

KMB TileSarah from KMB is very supportive of the idea and has offered us space to advertise on the KMB site. She also said she could make us some cute little stars (or cupcakes??) for a rating system on each post.

Of course all contributors would be able to link back to their blogs. And HEY! if you are not already a blogger, there's nothing to stop you joining in and becoming a contributor here!

So. What do you think? Want to be an Undercover Blogger? I'll make a pretty button and everything.
Ooooh and then we could send an email to the people we have just written about (good or bad) and say: "You have been Blogged!"
Come on, doesn't that sound like fun? Getting revenge for that really bad coffee and shoddy service??

Let me know your thoughts and whether (or not) you would like to be a contributor on The Undercover Bloggers team. But if I hear nothing, well, I will just quietly bury this idea and go back to my day blog. Sigh.

FOLLOW ME ON Facebook // Twitter // Instagram // Bloglovin //


Gail said...

I am yet to visit that new shop... saw the owner in the central leader.. he seems to be a very caring, community orientated guy. We love that!

Leonie said...

Oh Simone, you are so funny! I love your pictures of you undercover. I love hearing about positive shopping experiences. Sounds like you have a FANTASTIC New World. And the Venerdi bread is very good (nothing like that here). I am very keen to join in. Sadly, my experiences of shops etc over here haven't been all that postive so when I do find one I would love to SHOUT it out there!!!

Sammy said...

I am also known as "SHHH! Secret Sam!" This is an alter ego I had at a company I used to work at- we were all members of a "spy organisation". It was fabulous and I would love to relive the days of "SHHH! Secret Sam!"

So yes. I am in. And I am also slightly sad. In a rather strange way.

Anonymous said...

Great idea Simone! Are you thinking just Auckland or NZ-wide? I'd be keen!

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled on your blog...LIKE :-)
Am so over reading/hearing about bad-service-blame-the-world-it's-someones-fault type stuff. So, glad you had a great experience and even gladder that you blogged about it.


Simoney said...

Definitely NZ Wide. Even Aussie - because I am sure there are loads of us who visit there regularly!!

Gail said...

nah babes, not in. I'm more of a non-undercover blogger :) xx

Johnny said...

Well I was going to blog about a bad experience with Hell pizza the other night, but fired off a grumpy email to them instead. And ended up with vouchers for free pizza. Am not impressed with their pizzas and probably still won't buy again but I prefer complaining direct - and if that doesn't work then the blogging about it might? Hmm am thinking about it...

Johnny said...

Hmm not that I'm a serial complainer though....

Dee said...

i don't get out enough, and i'm sure no one's really that interested in the daily rating of my kids!!
i like that you did a positive blog post. two thumbs up for your NW :)

Sarah Gauntlett said...

i HATE bad service. you know one place on the shore tried to serve me pink uncooked chicken (near the bone). i sent it all back (you know, all masterchef styles) and the waitress came back from the kitchen and said 'Its supposed to be pink, that is how it is supposed to be cooked'... well, my friends wasn't pink next to me... was hers over done? should she have sent hers back? I looked at the waitress like 'are you kidding me? everyone knows that pink chicken near the bone isn't cooked???????????' GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR shouldn't have paid but hubby got all funny on me and did anyway.

once i complained that a friends meal took too long to come out (we had all eaten before her) the dude apologised and took the cost off the bill, now that's better!

man i could go all night about experiences i've had... better watch out!

Widge said...

You have amazing ideas PRETTY WOMAN!! :)
mmmmm not sure if I would have the balls....everywhere I visit in my town is almost all owned by friends! Could make myself very unpopular in my lil ol town. I will make an effort to look out for the positive ones though!

Sarah (Chez Lee) said...

I'm cracking up at your photos and it's a very novel idea. I've blogged about positive experiences in the past, mostly cafes and places to go with children. I reckon you could be onto something. Have fun and go for it!

Amy said...

If you make it a thumbs up only policy (where we only do positive feedback on the people who astonish us with their great service), then I would be in. And perhaps might contribute the odd Asian 5 Cupcakes for those Kiwis travelling through! Can start you off with an excellent service recommendation for an Auckland hairdresser though!

alicia said...

You seriously crack me up. Love the get up. Where in the world do you find such fab costumes? I have been torn about the review thing too. I've had some emails, but ignored them. I think it's great that you do reviews because you want to. So glad you found such a great store that has the things you need.

Anonymous said...

I don't know what is more funny this idea or the fact that your dressed up and took those shots of yourself!!! LOL
oh that is soooooooo something I would totally do!
You are a crack up Simoney!!!
Apparently some time with Widge brought back the cheeky in you!
Love it!

Love and light

Losing Brownies said...

What a great idea! I love that the owner himself came and talked to you and gave you a free loaf of bread! That is amazing!

A Life Less Complicated said...

yuss bring back good service! Count me in :D

Lyns said...

Simone you are so funny...like Cat I think it is hilarious that you got dressed up for your photo shoot (but not surprised as I know your family love to get into the spirit of things!!). I love good service (especially after my stint as a waitress/bar chick in Ireland) but I tend to "express" myself at the time if the service is crap. Not sure I'm an undercover blogger, but I do have a wee series of SOAPBOX posts that I have written in my head and will post soon - about things near and dear to my heart that are frustrating me beyond belief xx

Stella said...

I'd do it!

Meghan Maloney Photography said...

Not that I get out that much, but when I do I would definitely be happy to contribute about the experience! I can already think of one place I visited recently and plan to go again soon that we had a FANTASTIC experience with. Perhaps I could do a retrospective one?!

Sophie said...

I'm in Simoney! Can't see the invitation though... have I accidentally deleted it??

Marby said...

Hi Simoney, Yes its a great idea and right up my alley! Ive gotten over feeling bad about giving people a stroppy write up for the mess they have served me. When you think about it we often accept rubbish service and even pay for it. Why do we do that?
And, I could tell you about some haircuts I have had that I have paid for smiled at and thanked the stylist for, and then gone home and cut it again myself! My blog is about dining out but I would love to be an undercover blogger about other things.

Post a Comment