Sometimes our Canadian multiculturalism goes a little too far, even for a Chinese Canadian like myself. Here in Toronto, Canada and especially in Scarborough, my area of the world is biased towards Chinese, especially from the Mainland. Nofrills, a local big box grocer, decides to put Billy Bee Honey, 1 litre bottle on sale for $6.88CAD. This is high quality Canadian honey, which I have used for many years without issue. At the store I pick up four bottles and head to the cash, only to find that those I picked up are not the ones advertised on sale. The difference between the two: the advertised honey has an English-Chinese label and the one I picked up has an English only label. It was annoying to have to drop my bottles of honey at the cash, reenter the store and purchase what Nofrills calls “ethnic” Billy Bee honey. I am all for ethnic but please do not discriminate against English only labels and products. Nofrills, intended or not, you need a smack upside the head.
Billy Bee Honey: Bottle on the right called ethnic is on sale, the one on the left is not
If you regularly read my blog you know I have lived in China and Japan for a couple of years and live in a heavily Chinese area of Toronto. I really enjoy living where I can buy fresh produce from a Chinese store served by Mandarin speakers. These local grocers, however, are specialty stores that represent all ethnic groups here in Toronto. To compete the large big box grocers have decided to “Chinese” up their offerings. I see an increase in Chinese signage and advertising for Nofrills and other grocers in my area. It started with “Do not peel the corn”, or “Please place litter in trash bin” in-store signage in Chinese. These are appreciated and appropriate.
Billy Bee Honey: Bottle with English-Chinese label on sale, bottle with English only label is not. UPC codes are different
The sale on Billy Bee honey(Nofrills flyer, Dec 31-Jan 6 2011), “ethnic” version only crosses the line. To have the regularly labeled English version not on sale and to promote the English Chinese version simply makes no sense. I have purchased and used both products and they are identical in volume, quality, consistency, packaging and price. They are marketed side by side on the shelves of Nofrills and at the same price. The two products are simply identical, save the paper label and UPC code. Billy Bee Honey as stated on both labels is a mix of Canadian and Argentine honey. I wondered if the ethnic version was a mixture of Canadian and China honey, but alas, no. Maybe we should rightly have an English-Argentine version.
For those that cannot read Chinese, the Chinese on the label is a direct translation of the English and no more. No, Mom, the Chinese does not talk behind your back about how you dress or any other nonsense. We are talking strictly about honey.
To be denied the sale price for the English labeled Billy Bee honey feels discriminatory, and I see no financial benefit. All it seems to do is infuriate fellow Canadians who dislike the invasion of Chinese in their neighbourhood. Long time neighbours, mostly white and retired, want to shop in English, and I see no advantage in not allowing them to purchase their beloved Billy Bee Honey, on sale, in their language of choice: English.
Is this difficult for Nofrills to understand? Apparently so. I called the Nofrills customer service line at 1-866-987-6453 to tell them about this and their response was blah, blah, blah, blah, really, blah, blah, We will check with marketing, thanks for calling, blah, blah. Why do I even bother calling them to complain, I do not know. Useless. They do not even call me back to tell me the status of my complaint, because they do not even ask for my name or phone number. If I take the time to phone in a complaint I expect the company to take the time to call me back in a symbiotic manner. Idiots.