Concept Mouton

Right, it’s decided. I’m going to open a new shopping empire called Concept Mouton. Obviously this is the way to go given my recent experience and reading about that of others.

The shops will sell furniture to start with, but I might go on to apply the concept elsewhere. The sky’s the limit, as they say in NASA.

How does it work? Well, customers are a pain in the backside really, aren’t they? They come in dribs and drabs and generally mess up the place. They make unrealistic demands about stock, change their minds and actually want their money back if something goes not quite right. Talk about picky!

So my idea is to let them into the shop as they come, but then to herd them into small groups to be encouraged round together. This would be done by ‘trained’ sales-staff snapping at their heels, I mean offering ‘expert’ advice and suggestions as to purchases, but, not wanting to keep repeating themselves because that is inefficient, they’d do it only once, so if anyone wants to progress round the shop, they have to get with the group and listen. This will prevent those untidy couples with brats cluttering up the aisles all the way round.

Any wayward souls who actually want to browse by themselves will be so harassed by kind and attentive staff that they’ll either want to leave (but have to walk all the way through 2km of winding paths and get lost en route because they won’t have a map) or get with the group.

On to stock. People like to think they have a wide choice. But choice is expensive and inefficient. My idea is to have one set of items in stock from each range - salon, kitchen, bathroom, loo, bedroom, kiddy bedroom, loft, cave, shed, garage, office, studio, turret, duck house, etc… Of course, I would have a lot more choice on display, but it would not be in stock and delivery times would be nice and long, say 6 months, which would put people off so they would choose the one in stock. If they insisted on waiting, I’d accept the order then find unaccountable delays to the point that, embarrassed, I would offer the choice in stock at a marginally reduced price as compensation. I would make up the price with the delivery charge, natch.

I have an idea that it would be fun to mark prices in Crottes as well as Euros. Reimbursements (hush my mouth) would be done in Crottes, not Euros, so customers would be obliged to spend them in Concept Mouton, not elsewhere. Can’t have money escaping my clutches once I have it, can I, and gift cards are so unimaginative. I may well make Crottes department-specific too, so you couldn’t use loo Crottes in the turret, for example. No point making it easy, is there?

Naturally we would have an amazing Customer Service department that would be anything but, according to les règles de l’art. The knack is to pull the wool over the eyes of customers so they believe they are getting a service when in fact they are getting nothing at all. I will probably have to poach some brains from Cocktail Scandinave for this part of my empire because I’m not really devious and sneaky enough to come up with the details all by myself. I need expert help. Chacun sa spécialité…

I have yet to decide where to have my goods made. I thought I’d pretend they come from somewhere trendy, like Lapland, but have them run up on an estate in Reading using immigrant slaves, I mean employees. If that’s too pricey still, I’ll go for Albania. The only problem would be paying off the mafia. Hmm, a tricky decision.

If any of you would like in on my project, let me know. There’ll be an initial project where interested parties will be invited to put their money where their mouth is, I mean invest in a preliminary option which will lead to further fleecing, I mean investment as the project progresses.

Ideas for Concept Mouton are welcome but will not be remunerated. Sorry… (not really). I can see it going down a bomb, no? Especially in France where folks are used to being part of the herd and are already treated so badly it’ll be like taking lambs to the slaughter.

Concept Mouton - you heard it here first!


I did once ask why nothing was happening when things were very busy and everybody was over the blue line.
They put out a staff announcement , but nobody turned up. Quel surpris!

I’ve never noticed anyone rushing to open a till at Carrouf because the blue lines have been crossed. I reckon it’s all a con. I’ve been across the blue line more times than I can remember, did it have any effect? Nah, it’s just more empty promises.

I have just thought about another moan with Carrefour. They have introduced their blue line which means that they will open more checkouts if there are people waiting behind the blue line. Then, just to be totally french, they reduce the amount of checkouts because they want you to use the self service checkout or use their scan facility!

Love your idea!
Carrefour are holding a promotion with pans etc at the moment. I chose two and there were none available and I was told to come back again. I said that it was a long way for me to come and couldn’they reserve one for me. No, but would I like to speak to someone? Yes please. Someome arrives and I say that I live a long way from the store etc. and the lady behind the desk is told to reserve the items for me and brings out a printed book to do that very thing! So persevere and having read Stephen Clarke’s “Talk to the Snail” if you try to explain why you need help, you are more likely to get it. We english will go on thinking that that is part of their job, whereas their job is rerally to say no.
The real laugh is that with real mouton, the french think that it is french lanb, whereas most of it has come from hill farms in the UK and spent the requisite six weeks in France before being allowed to be sold as “french”.

It was an impulse buy, Stu. I regret making the mistake of succumbing to impulse, yes, but it was a lovely day, I was there to look for a coffee table for my dearly beloved, and I really thought parasols came in standard sizes.

My bad, as they say. Still, no excuse for rudeness from the manager. I was polite, he was not. I won’t be going back.

Honestly though Sarah, were you not more annoyed with yourself for not checking the hole size. I know I would have been.

Stu, buying an extractor can be a pricey business, so you were right to check the returns policy. I would do that too.
I don’t object (well I do if they are bad but I can go elsewhere…) to company policies if they are indicated, in basic terms (No refunds) so you don’t have to go through a checklist of likely question when you’re just buying something quite small, like a parasol.

Here’s my experience.

Bought an extractor for the Kitchen, one of those stainless ones, based on the specification on the internet.
I went to Montauban to buy it from the same shop, which is not next door.
Salesperson confirmed that it was one of the quitest on the market, but I couldn’t listen to it in the shop as it wasn’t on a Kitchen display. I asked if I wasn’t happy could I bring it back and she quoted me their brochure “Money back if you’re not satisfied”.

I got it home, unboxed it and plugged it in. It could only be likened to a 747!

I rang the shop and said I wasn’t happy with it and could I bring it back and get my money back and they said no problem.

So, another long trip to Montauban (3 hour return trip). Handed it back to customer service and she gave me a slip saying it had been returned, but it was more of an avoir. The girl at customer service said if I went to see the person who sold it I could organise a refund, which I did.

Arrived at the till for the refund and a young girl decided she couldn’t refund because the package had been opened, to which I replied “how do you expect me to confrim that the goods are acceptable unless I try them?”.

She used the small print “see terms and conditons in shop” for the “satisfied or refund” promise.

I said, I wasn’t interest in the terms and conditions and that I had verbal agreement with the sales person that I would get a refund if I was not Happy. She didn’t seem to care, so I asked if she would talk to the manager, which she did and came back very red faced, and blurted out, “OK i’ve got to refund you, regardless of the shop conditions”.

I think, although it was a bit stressful, if you are well prepared and have asked the right questions, they cannot refuse.

I do know, however, that if I had not measured the space on the wall for the extractor and it didn’t fit, I would have been in no position to demand a refund.

Not sure whether this should be on here or the other post.


My attitude problem? Did you see my last blog post here? I could insist until I was blue in the face, they had their company policy, written in concrete, though invisible to all customers and there was NO WAY they were gonna change. Not only that, the guy was INCREDIBLY disrespectful and rude and you call that an attitude problem with ME?

I wrote a stonking letter to head office and am awaiting a response.

I’ve never lived in Brittany so I don’t know what it’s like, and village shops are different. It’s the chains that don’t give a shit. They either have a good customer service, like Castorama or Darty, or a really bad one, like Cocktail Scandinave. Did you see in my post that another poor man changed his mind on an order. He had to spend the €35 down-payment in the shop, but in the furniture section, not the rest of the shop (he wanted to buy furniture cleaner). It’s like Ikea saying you can’t buy some flower pots when you bring back a bookcase. I call that a shocking customer service but of course I may just have bad attitude…

I posted my experience on a couple of French forums so that more people could be aware of the c*** customer service, and I actually got told it was my fault by more than one reader (one of which was a commerçante, surprise surprise). For a good laugh and some typical French pretentiousness have a read of this…

loyalty cards ???

So true it’s not funny…