Aldi – The Unspoken Social Rules

A few months ago a new Aldi store opened up in our neighborhood. Now I must admit, in the past – turned off by the fact that you couldn't do a one stop shop, I had done much poo pooing of Aldi. That, however, was before I had done any price checking with the other grocery stores, or seen the quality of the goods. Once I had done that I was a convert.

There are so many advantages of Aldi, I have managed to restrain myself – for fear of boring you – to just a few.

1. Everything in Aldi is cheaper than the other supermarkets. And they taste just as good, if not better.

2. Apart from car dealerships, hardware stores and motorbike shops, Aldi is the only shop my husband – the pilot – will willingly come to. I tribute this to the fact that Aldi, like a magical wonderland, transforms itself every week. Sometimes it actually is a hardware store or motorbike shop. I have, however, never seen it transform into a car dealership – but the pilot lives in hope.

3. Aldi's pack of 4 rolls, double length, triple ply toilet paper lasts longer than an 18 pack from traditional supermarkets. (Seriously – the stuff is amazing. The tarsus of toilet paper.)

4. Their plastic bag policy forces me to recycle my bags. (Yes, I really am such a tight ass that I won't spend 15 cents on a bag.) The fact that I am doing my bit for the planet gives me a warm fuzzy feeling. Hell – I've even started leaving the car at home and walking up to the shop with my nanny cart – just to increase the fuzz.

I could keep going on and on about the advantages but I feel the need to discuss the unspoken social rules. There are a few, which you really need to be aware of. Not following them can earn you a dirty look or worse – a disdainful sniff.

You must take the Aldi check out process seriously – it is the equivalent of the Olympic 100 metre sprint. Your aim is to clear all your scanned groceries from the bench and into your trolley so that you and the check out person (COP) finish at the same time. Under no circumstance must you make the COP wait for you. Failure to do this will result in a dirty look from the COP and much eye rolling from the rest of the customers in the queue. Tip 1 – arrange the grocery items on the conveyor belt in the order which you want them to go into your bags or trolley. Tip 2 – have your key card or cash loose in your pocket ready for use. Fumbling around in your wallet while saying, ‘I know it's in here somewhere,' is not acceptable and may lead to you being issued with a disdainful sniff.

The patrons in Aldi are happier than in other grocery stores – they're saving money why wouldn't they be. As such, whilst in the check out queue, it is entirely permissible to poke around in another person's groceries whilst saying things like, ‘Ooooh that looks nice. Where'd you find that?'

If you have just ducked in to grab one or two items but when you get to the check out there is a queue of people all competing for the Guinness Book's trolley piling record, it is entirely permissible to ask to cut to the front of the queue. (This is also helped by the fact that everyone there is happier.) In reverse, if you are competing for that trolley piling record, it is required that you offer to let anyone with just a few items in ahead of you.

Things you do not say in Aldi:

1. I can get this cheaper in ****** (insert other grocery store's names here). You don't say it because it's just not true.

2. What do you mean I have to pay for shopping bags?

3. Can you ring some other stores to see if they still have it in stock? (If it isn't on the table when you get there, and you really really want it, suck it up and drive to the other stores yourself. The lone COP on the counter does not have time to ring around other stores to see if they have the coffee table you are after in birch, not white.)

4. Can you see if you have any out the back? (When said to the COP. See no. 3. If, however, you are lucky enough to find another Aldi employee out on the floor – it's rare but it does happen, then feel free to pester them.)

Don't get me wrong – I know there are some disadvantages of shopping at Aldi – mainly that you really can't get everything you need there. One of my friends once described it as soulless, and perhaps they are right, but I don't care. The thrill of anticipation as to what I will find in the ever changing middle aisles and the excitement at seeing how much I can get for my money will keep me going back.


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3 comments on “Aldi – The Unspoken Social Rules
  1. Cade Buchanan says:

    I found your post because I googled “aldi unspoken rules” after a terrifying register experience today (my first ever time there). I don’t know what was worst out the things I did wrong – the fact I stepped out of line for a second to grab some dog food 1m away, or that I didn’t realise you pack your OWN bags – or that I had a woolies branded cloth bag, or that I paid with a credit card and put it away before he’d checked the signature (and he WANTED to see that signature) or that I fumbled for about 20 seconds trying to get a plastic sealed lettuce into a non complying cloth bag while about 11 other items sat there. The register guy and the woman behind me just stood there GLARING at me which made me mentally more and more hysterical and unable to get said non compliant lettuce into non helpful cloth woolies bag. I mean sure I’ll be back, but I’ll be like George in Seinfeld when he visits Soup Nazi’s kitchen. Eyes to the front, no small talk, no fumbling, just efficiency and robot like precision.

  2. admin says:

    Hey Cade,
    Well I hope my blog helped at least a little. Someone who works at Aldi told me they have to scan 1000 items per hour. Typical German precision, but it accounts for some of the tension at the register. I think Seinfeld Soup Kitchen technique should do the trick – no Elaine’s welcome in Aldi!!

  3. It had been a while sense I had been in Aldi – I knew to bring my own bags. but I failed at bringing my 2yr old w/ me to grab a few things. other major fail was not grabbing a cart. i didn’t fine with check out until i went to move the cart – that the amazingly nice COP had put all 4 of my things into – over to the side and put my items in my bags. with a very polite – but firm – voice the COP informed me that the card stayed there. I was so embarrassed, b/c of course there was now someone behind me and i was not holding up the line, but also very confused b/c the patrons in front of me had taken the cart that the COP had put their things into, I was just following what they did . . . I’m still confused as to what I did wrong – which brings me to how I stumbled upon this lovely blog by googling ‘aldi foods rules’. Thank you – I have found this post very helpful and might go back – after I regain my composure and dignity. ps – I’d love any in site you have to shed on this behavior, thanks!

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