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For the past number of years Ella and I have been members of a retail Wholesale Outlet, Costco We pay our yearly membership fees of $55.00 plus GST to allow us to shop. An employee greets you at the door and asks for your identification card that allows you to enter the premises.

The stores sell a large selection of goods; televisions, meats, pastries, fruits and vegetables You can even pick up bargains best selling new edition books.

Part of the merchandising opportunity is to taste test absolutely free samples for many of their foods. Depending on the day there is an offering of pizza, chocolates, green tea, crackers, power bars, cereals with milk etc etc. Most of the taste testers have no inclination to buy any of the produce that they sample. Tasting, not buying is their motto.

The food stations are usually staffed by mostly older women who heat the products in a micro wave, fry pans or toasters. They are neatly attired with a hair net and latex gloves to adhere to the Board of Health regulations.

The sample providers are on duty for their first shift between 10-3.00 pm and after a break of 15 minute lunch they return to their station . On average the reps work four days straight for a total of 20 hours and are paid $11.50 per hour. You do the math and the workers make the huge sum of $230.00 before UI or income tax deductions. There are no pay increases for on the job years of experience.

The women told me that the marketing company provides absolutely no fringe benefits to them to promote the merchandise. The ‘girls’ thought they were hired because they were dependable workers with good attendance records and a positive work ethic.

It bothers me to see older women standing on the cement floor stations for four hour shifts to offer up samples to their customers, They are not allowed to sit down when they are working. No stools or chairs are allowed by their supervisors. They are told that it is not "professional marketing" ethical procedure to sit down while giving out the samples.

The women greet you with a smile and good wishes for you to have a nice day. Rarely do the shoppers take the time to say thank-you. Many of the older women have sore backs/ legs to contend with while they try and earn a few dollars to help pay their rent.

The mostly youngish tellers who take care of the cash registers are paid very well with increases along the way to reflect experience.

It pains me to see the older women not having the opportunity to be treated in a humane fashion.

What is wrong with them having an hour for lunch/supper with a fifteen minute break in the morning and afternoon. Why in heavens name can’t they sit down when they serve the public? How would you feel if the senior citizen with the apron/hair net was your mother/grandmother?

Len Lesser

Len Lesser posts a report every week

You can email Len at lenlesser@hotmail.com