Show Your Local Supermarket Who’s Boss!

(A Letter From An Anonymous Translator)

Dear Owner of My Local Supermarket:

No doubt, you feel extremely lucky to have me as your customer. If you want to keep me, though, there are a few simple rules I expect you to observe:

  1. I will let you know what I feel like paying for your products.
  2. Along those lines, please be aware that I buy a lot of my groceries from third-world countries where prices are extremely low. I realize you don’t live in the third world and that your suppliers aren’t based in the third world, but you should still consider lowering your prices to be “competitive” with the kinds of deals I can get by off-shoring my grocery purchases.
  3. Please send an invoice once a month at the end of the month for everything I buy.
  4. I will pay your invoice after 60 days. That’s unless one of my own clients is late in paying me. In that case, it will be even longer.
  5. If I have purchased less than €100 worth of groceries during any given month, however, I’ll keep your invoice on file until I’ve bought enough to make it worth my while to pay you.
  6. Those 60 days, by the way, start at the end of the month in which you send the invoice, not from the date of your invoice.
  7. I will pay on the payment date of my choosing. In my case, it happens to be the 15th of the month. (Don’t complain! It could be the 30th!)
  8. Sometimes I need groceries immediately, at all hours of the day or night. If you have to keep the store open late or make a special trip to open up for me before dawn, that’s not my problem. Please don’t try to con me into paying extra for that service. After all, selling groceries is your job, isn’t it?
  9. I may also place an order by phone and expect you to get it all packed up and ready for delivery to my home as soon as possible. In the meantime, of course, I’ll keep calling other stores and may well find the same groceries for cheaper elsewhere. If that happens, I’ll naturally have to cancel my order with you. In case I don’t remember to apologize: no hard feelings, OK? (And please be very attentive about removing those cancelled orders from my bill.)
  10. If I buy the same product twice, I will only pay half for the second product.
  11. If I buy a lot of groceries, I will let you know the percentage discount you should deduct from your bill.
  12. In your invoice, be sure to include a discount for “fuzzies” as well—for example, if I buy a loaf of white bread and a loaf of brown bread at the same time. The oven was already warm, and someone had to bake the white bread anyway. Why charge me full price for two nearly identical products?
  13. In fact, I’ve encouraged all the supermarkets in your area to invest in extremely expensive, super-large, automated ovens so they can bake more bread at the same time and incur lower labor costs in the process. I expect you to do the same. Many supermarkets refuse to understand what a great advantage this will be for them, but I just as naturally refuse to buy bread from them. Of course, you will immediately pass 100% of any resulting profit on to me as your customer.
  14. I expect an extra reduction as well because, after all, we’re in an economic crisis.
  15. I only pay via PayPal, even though PayPal will automatically deduct 5% for the favor of allowing you to receive my payment.

I hope you realize how fortunate you are that I am still your customer! Don’t expect me to thank you. I’m sure you’re well aware how many supermarkets there are in the world—and many of them are a lot cheaper than you!

In order to make sure our collaboration continues as smoothly as possible, I will let you know if I think of any other rules you need to follow in the future.

Kind regards,

Your Customer

9 Responses to Show Your Local Supermarket Who’s Boss!

  1. Extremely well put!

    I’ve had all those scenarioes (and more…) over my 12 years as a pro translator!

    You might also add the the Supermarket cannot be considered a true business, with the right to enter negotiations of any kind. That’s against our policy…! 🙂

    Keep up the good work!


  2. Johanna says:

    Spot on!

  3. Jonas says:

    This is also how it works in the telecom industry. I suspect it’s a global thing…

  4. Miriam Erez says:

    My favorite was the discount for the second loaf of bread, ’cause “after all, the oven was already working anyway”!

  5. Shakhar says:

    Aggravatingly accurate. This is hyper-realism and no monkey business.

  6. Flavia says:

    Good on you man! Thanks for telling them what it feels like!

  7. Sara Cecere says:

    If only we could really do that! This is sooooo real for any translator – unfortunately…

  8. Emmanuelle Royer says:

    All these statements seem so true and depressing in a way. There is such a huge communication and educational work to do amongst the public and the ”translation consumers” (or maybe ”killers” should I say, whoever they may be), as everyone has always a friend, a relative or someone whos is well educated or bilingual and who would do the job quicker, cheaper, differently (meaning better?) with other words. a.s.o.
    Would we (or just anybody) question the accuracy of the methods used or the validity of the decisions made by an architect, a doctor, a dentist or a charted accountant? No, because we have some respect for what they are : professionals and specialists who have studied hard (university degrees of course!) and who do possess a real expertise in their fields.

    Thanks for sharing this enlightening letter!

    Reviser and Certified Translator in Quebec

  9. claudine says:

    So funny 🙂 :)….and yet so sad !

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