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I conducted a little experiment over the last month – every time I wanted to get groceries I had to do it via online shopping. At first I thought this was going to be great. I would get it delivered, I wouldn’t have to go to the shops and I had an excuse – after all I was doing an experiment!

The first time I attempted this I was on night duty. I was excited – what a perfect option – I could make my order at home and them simply have it delivered. Well, it took me twice as long to construct my grocery list online. I had to search through every product page by page to find the particular one I was after. Click, add, and repeat. It was time consuming. Oh well, I thought, better than trolling the aisles after a sleepless night. Clicking on delivery I ran into another problem – I could only choose a very wide window for delivery. Anyone that does night duty knows that daytime sleep is: precious, hard to come by and most of all unpredictable. There was no way I could bank off a whole morning waiting for a delivery. I discovered ‘Click and Collect’ – problem solved – I could just waltz into the supermarket after work and there waiting for me, would be my weekly shop. I wouldn’t have to feel guilty making someone else pick out my groceries – I was after all, just finishing night duty.

I turned up to the counter at Wollies and presented my ID – sure enough within a few minutes along came my trolley full of selected, bagged and paid for groceries. At home, bleary eyed I unpacked the goods feeling remarkably pleased with myself. Sure it took longer to select the items but it would get quicker, and after all it was better doing that in the comfort of my home – rather than roaming the aisles. Then disaster struck – I noticed some of the items were missing. You may think disaster is an exaggeration, but when your running on no sleep, the store is 20 minutes down a winding range and you need the said items for dinner – it feels pretty disastrous! On the phone I get – turns out they forgot to pack the frozen items into the trolley.

Mission two online shopping. Surely this has to go smoothly. I upload my last shopping list – realise it is nothing like what I need this time – and so troll through uploading each item. It was quicker than the last time but still took longer than walking through the store. I selected my collection time and paid.

This time as I handed over my ID in the store I asked the cashier to be sure the freezer items were included. They were, I left reassured. Unpacking I realised again – there were missing items. Dutifully I ring the store but this time I couldn’t get through, eventually I spoke to someone who told me I had to go through the national customer service number – no way! I explained that last time the missing products were just in the fridge and I think this happened again. She assured me she would check and call me back. Which she did, and to her credit, when she realised the items weren’t there she went through the customer service herself. She found that the items were out of stock so they reimbursed my credit card. But… she informs me happily – they are in store today and I can just pop in to collect them. Again I was up the range – popping in was not such an easy option. I rang my partner – ‘Yes, I know it was my turn to shop and I dodged it by doing it online… but you have to pick up these things they forgot, oh and you have to pay for them.’ That’s two-nil to regular shopping as far as I’m concerned.

Third time lucky right? Wrong. My partner had to do the food shopping for an event he was planning out of town. He had limited time once he got there. ‘That’s alright’ I suggested. ‘I’ll just order it online and then you can collect it from the Townsville store’. Presto – what a great idea – and because he was on a budget he was able to keep track of the money rather than being surprised at the checkout.

He set off with receipt in hand and I thought all went smoothly until I talked to him that night. Just as he was pulling in to make the collection he received a text message listing a bunch of things that the store did not have in stock – most of the meat for starters. Now credit given – they did at least recognise this before he picked the items up, but it still meant he had to do two stops to buy the rest… and of course they reimbursed my credit card and he had to pay. I think that is safe to say – he got jipped again!

Three strikes and your out as far as I’m concerned. I’m sure others love online shopping but it’s not for me. I missed the visual stimulus of wandering around the aisles, choosing between brands and specials.

I’m sure we all learnt a few lifelong lessons in shopping centres. Like: what Mum would do if we had a tantrum; no, we couldn’t have everything we wanted; or that Mum wouldn’t hesitate to frog-march us back to the checkout in tears and make us apologise for stealing a lolly!

I vote real shopping! I know Mum’s out there will probably disagree and when I have a screaming toddler clutching a desperately needed lolly… I might reconsider!