I think one has to be quite brave to point this sort of thing out.
If you are a grown man who needs to wear incontinence pants you don’t really want anyone to know that fact. So, when you find that a supermarket chain is selling your incontinence pants at a price which far exceeds their cost, you just keep mum.
There, I have been brave. Let me explain a bit more.
Last year I underwent radical surgery for cancer of the bladder, cancer of the left kidney and cancer of the prostate (rather smart to have three different cancers). My bladder, one of my kidneys and my prostate were removed. Part of my bowel was fashioned into what is known as a “neo-bladder”. So far so good.
Those of you who are lucky enough to have real bladders have no difficulty in knowing when you need to pass urine. The nerve supply to your bladders alerts you to the need and you go to the loo. Those of us who have neo-bladders, however, get no such indication. That is because the bowel has no nerve supply. Usually, so long as one remembers to go to the loo every one and a half to two hours, there is no great problem. But sometimes, especially because there is no physical intimation that it is time to pass urine, one is a bit late. When that happens the neo-bladder starts to release urine.
That is why I have to wear incontinence pants.
When all this happened I was simply horrified to find that I was “wetting myself”. I couldn’t believe that incontinence pants would provide the answer. Surely, I thought, there would be a smell which others would notice. How could I ever go out in public again?
But I soon found that Tena for Men incontinence pants worked brilliantly. If there was a leak there was no nasty smell. The NHS also provided incontinence pants, but they were dreadful. It was essential that I should use Tena for Men.
Now, at last, I get to the point. Boots the chemist stocks Tena for Men. The price is £6.36 for eight pants. Sometimes they are on offer at £5.36. Occasionally, however, Boots is closed. If in urgent need one has to go to Sainsbury’s, which also stocks Tena for Men. But the price is much higher. Sainsbury’s charges £10.
Boots, a commercial organisation, must make a profit on its sales of Tena. It can sell the product to its customers for as little as £5.36. So it must be paying Tena less than that (£5 or less?). Sainsbury’s is bound to be paying the same or less than Boots. But it charges its customers vastly more. Assuming, charitably for Sainsbury’s, that it pays Tena £5, its mark up is 100%. That strikes me as being astounding (it’s rather like restaurants with wine).
Sainsbury’s, I guess, has thought this out carefully. No one will complain, it reckons, because no one will ever admit to needing incontinence pants.
Well, it just got that wrong. I do admit I need incontinence pants, and I do complain that Sainsbury’s is making an enormous profit out of that need.
Many of you, quite naturally, will now wish to avoid me because of my embarrassing problem. But I will put up with that if I have encouraged anyone else to complain about Sainsbury’s appalling behaviour.