France still awaits its Esther Rantzen, and the French consumer has yet to rise up and exert their power.
This is why shops in France can proudly display signs saying "Big reductions! 5% off!" without attracting crowds of laughing scoffers.
It also explains why you have to read the small print.
Two examples from yesterday.
1) Mrs Davey in a city centre supermarket sees snacks suitable for the Bordeaux Church apéro. (by the way, since the apéro happens AFTER the service, should we call it a fermo?)
Anyway the sign says boldly 1€ !
"That's good", thinks she.
Later, another said "50c".
Then, "hang on, is that a faint aroma of rodent..."
The word REDUCTION was printed small below.
2) My favourite shop texted me to tell me that there's a 15% off promotion for loyalty-card holders.
"Wow! You'll never get better than that."
We need to replace the family computer which has been running on Windows XP since 2004.
Well, running, then walking, then limping, then standing, then sitting...
Now could be the big chance to save 15% on that 630€ Mac Mini.
I did the sums. I looked at the site. I put the machine in my basket. There was no reduction.
"hang on, what do I smell?"
I hunted on the site. It took a while, but eventually I found what I was looking for.
15% is credited to your loyalty card account, which you can then spend on something else.
So no reduction.
Caveat emptor. Until a French Esther Rantzen arises to clear the smog and fog.