I recently wrote a rather long piece about this topic. So long, in fact, it became more of an essay than a blog. No one was ever going to read it all and by the time I’d finished it, a lot of the content had been well covered.
The magazine, in my opinion, is one of the most scaremongering publications I’ve seen since the CND publications of the late 70s. The CND may have had some valid points, but the approach they took was truly terrifying!
The main issue, really, is how you stop such a horrid little rag of a publication getting the coverage it currently enjoys.
Well, here’s my two part suggestion, along with why ‘Big Super’ won’t pay any real attention to your letters and emails.
Firstly, it’s important to understand that Sainsbury’s, Tesco, WHSmiths and Waitrose all operate a sale or return policy. This means that unsold copies of WDDTY will be returned at no cost, beyond logistics, to the supermarket. This is important for part one.
Secondly, as a ‘new range’ publication, WDDTY only enjoys ‘optional’ status within Sainsbury’s, Tesco and WHSmiths. I wasn’t able to find out this detail for Waitrose, but as they usually follow the same pattern, it’s an assumption I’m willing to make.
This mean that, if sales are poor or non-existent, the magazine will cease to be stocked. They want customers to come into their shop and have a selection of magazines they want to buy.
Right, because it’s an optional, new publication, that doesn’t cost the supermarkets any money to either sell or not sell, individual stores have the ability to remove the magazine from sale without all that ‘contacting head office’ nonsense! They have overall discretion. If they tell you differently, they either don’t know their own system or they’re just trying to stop you making your point!
A couple of ideas
This is where, unfortunately for us, the leg work begins. If you want grassroots skepticism, this will be right up your street.
Go and speak to the shopkeep!
It’s pretty simple, but it won’t always be successful. You need to go and talk to the staff in the supermarket and get your point heard and understood.
Grab a copy off the shelves and ask to speak to the store manager. I’ve done this in the big four (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose & WHSmiths) in Bishop’s Stortford. I’ve had some success. Sainsbury’s removed it immediately and, 3 weeks on, it’s still off the shelves. Waitrose and WHSmiths both removed it at the time, but I don’t go in there often; I understand it’s back on sale. But if a few people do the same as me, it may will stick in the future. Tesco didn’t actually have it on sale at the time and I’ve not been back since.
So, if I can influence the magazines sales, as one guy in one town, maybe some conscious effort by a lot of people will get whole sections of the country to stop selling it!
Write to the shopkeeper
I can guarantee less success with this, but if you’re willing to follow my first suggestion, you can spare 10 minutes to write a letter! If they get a few complaints on the same subject at the same store, the staff will notice. Let them know that you are not going to go away; that you’ve already been in to discuss this issue and that you will be writing to your local paper about the issue. Stores love nothing more than good local press! Adversely, they are more likely to go the extra mile if they think they’ll get bad press.
Write to your local paper
This is a good step. Local papers, mine for sure, love a bit of controversy! On the few occasions I’ve written to my paper, it’s always been published. It’s time to praise the good and shame the bad. Make it clear that you spoken to the shops and the response you’ve received. Make it clear that you aren’t alone in your feelings. Get your local skeptics group/SitP to write a group letter.
Here’s the rub: if you care, you’ll give it a go. If you don’t, you won’t. These are just some ideas for a different approach. I hope you give it a go, what’s the worst that can happen? If nothing else, you’ll be putting into practice some good, grassroots, skeptical activism!