trolley folly

We all might remember, some years ago, when supermarket trolleys had locks with chains on them.
To obtain a trolley for your groceries, a coin would be inserted to release the chain.
After shopping, you took your trolley back into the store or into the trolley bay in the carpark, re-inserted the chain and got your money back.
Grumbling was done, but that was the system. Most people accepted it.

You got your trolley, shopped, stashed the groceries in your boot, returned the trolley, and got your $1 back.
It was easy enough, trolleys were always available, nobody seemed to mind that extra little walk to return a trolley.

Then some stores began to give tokens, small plastic discs, attached to a plastic "holder" which could be attached to your key ring.
These could be used in place of the $1 coin to get your trolley.
They were a great idea, as long as you didn't lose your token. Unfortunately, many people did.
Some left them in the trolley, others just lost them. Wasn't attached to your keyring was it? Hmmm? Tsk Tsk.

Anyway...eventually, the trolley locks were removed and the people rejoiced.
No longer would they have to ensure their purse, wallet or pocket had a coin or token to get a trolley with.
Just walk in, get a trolley, shop, return the trolley.
Easy? You'd think so.


Here is where I am (almost) ashamed and certainly annoyed, at my fellow shoppers.
(Not you, I know you always return your trolley. Of course you do. Right? Right?)

Because they no longer had to retrieve precious money from the trolleys, people stopped returning them.
And very bloody quickly too!

Trolleys were left just anywhere, in the carpark, out of the carpark, even taken home and left on a footpath, chucked into a vacant block, dropped off a bridge into a creek.
Empty or sometimes filled with rubbish.

How quickly a good habit is forgotten! Return the trolley? Pfft! What for?

I'll tell you what for.

Returning a trolley ensures a ready supply of trolleys, in the right place, for the next stream of customers.
Returning a trolley ensures that supermarket staff don't have to go out searching all over the carpark to bring back trolleys which should already be in the trolley bays or in the store.
Returning a trolley ensures that it isn't left somewhere unfound, rusting in the weather, maybe having the wheels stolen, or even being taken apart and used as backyard bbq racks.

Every trolley that is stolen and destroyed, costs money to replace.
From what I've heard these trolleys don't come cheap.

So it is with sadness that I relay this news to you.

At a local major supermarket, trolley locks are once again going to be on the trolleys.
For customers this will be an inconvenience. You'll have to make sure you have a coin or token available. Again.
Much protesting will be heard. All of us on the service side of the counter will probably get asked why we have done this, really, it isn't us! (Management's idea, truly!)
Some of you may even still have a token shuffling around somewhere in the bottom of your purse or handbag.
For others, tokens will be made available until supplies run out. Attach it to your keyring!!

Once again, that extra small walk to return the trolley to the proper place will be done.
And we'll all be better off for it. Exercise is good for you.


  1. Those were dark days!!

    But this concept is consistent with other SA customs - last time we drove right into Adelaide the parking meters would only take the exact right money in coins - nowhere to get change, and big signs promising horrible punishments to those who parked in a spot WHILE GETTING THEIR CHANGE! From somewhere at least a 10 or 15 minute walk away ...

    So is this shopping trolley thing just in SA?

    Have a good weekend!!

  2. Our closest supermarket has the coin locks. It's a pain to remember to have a gold coin, but yes, everyone returns them!

  3. You have just hit on my pet peeve. I have trolley token because I never have a gold coin when I need it. The problem is that if I have to take a taxi home, I have to put in a coin because there is no where to put the trolley at the taxi rank and no driver will wait while I rush up the road to put the trolley in the dock.
    Yes, of course I've spoken to Westfield and like the last time when I spoke about putting a seat there for the old folks, I got ignored. Another thing, even if you are lucky enough to find another trolley at the rank, if it belongs to another big store, your trolley wont fit and you still won't get your money back.

  4. Red NOmad OZ; I don't know if it's SA wide, I think it might just be my local store. We're a funny mob over here.

    Veronica: I think getting the money back is the only reason people put the trolleys back about 95% of the time.

    JahTeh; It's a problem for sure. Could you ask while in the store for a grocery assistant to help you with getting the trolley to the taxi rank? People do it here. The assistant then unloads the bags and brings the trolley back. I presume the taxi driver then puts the bags in the taxi.

  5. Funny you should bring this up.

    In Minnesota, as far as I know, we've never had this system -- HOWEVER, a new grocery store (Aldi's) has this very system. :-) I have to admit I was confused the first time I saw it!


  6. River, thank you for the laugh out loud moment.
    Come over to Melbourne and try that, you would be killed in the cloud of indifference emanating from Woolworth's and Coles.

  7. well said River, just the other day I saw a man skulking round dumping a trolley in a vacant lot.... I should have said something to him but of course I didn't...chicken shit.... if he's got time to walk it up the street away from where he lives why not walk it back to the store? By the way thanks for the Bingo idea.... that might be next... :)

  8. Pearl; it's a good way of getting the trolleys returned to the store, but it really shouldn't be necessary.

    JahTeh; start a trend. Ask for help getting your goods to a taxi. Tell them we do it over here. As a last resort, there should be forms available at the service desk that you can fill out and post or hand in, to make a complaint or to compliment the store on something.

    Cheese Whine and Whispers; I'm chicken too when it comes to confronting people, but I do tell the store where I've seen abandoned trolleys so they can be collected.

  9. Here in Melbourne I'm going to boldly and ignorantly assume that we've already proved that too many trolleys don't get returned unless there's a gold coin or token required. I haven't visited one supermarket where the trolleys are 'free'.

    ....even then, at least three are dumped in the grounds of the local high school each week, with the coin slots busted open.

  10. Trollys are free at Coles Williamstown, and the checkout girls are good looking. Maybe there's a connection?



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