Bunhill: Heavy load to bear

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The Independent Online
TRUCK drivers have joined the ranks of the disaffected towards Aldi, the German-owned supermarket group, which has become famous, if not notorious, for its penny-pinching since its arrival in Britain three years ago.

The drivers are expected to unload their own lorries when they arrive at Aldi's vast Manchester distribution centre. First-time visitors get a free lesson in how to drive the electric pallet trucks. But that's it.

Many of the complaints garnered from drivers in the queue of lorries were strictly unprintable. But a handful were more thoughtful: 'There doesn't seem to be a lavatory or a telephone for the drivers who get stuck,' said one. John Preston, of Warrington, 'had to drag 19 tons of corned beef off my trailer. One of the other big supermarket firms would have put two skilled fork-truck drivers on my trailer, with the job finished in an hour. Half a day of down-time labouring at Aldi was a dead loss to my firm.'

Another complainant, Dave 'Rollo' Rawlinson, an owner-driver from Wigan, described Aldi's draconian late delivery penalty. 'It was a nightmare. I got held up by motorway roadworks. They said I was 30 minutes late for my booking. They refused the load and told me to go away and phone for another booking.

'I drove back to the motorway services, and dialled 192. When I asked for Aldi's phone number they told me the damned firm was ex-directory. So I couldn't make a new booking without contacting the people who were shipping the load to Aldi.'

Rollo is dead right: all Aldi's numbers are ex-directory except its UK headquarters. There, a friendly telephone operator assured us, accurately as it transpired: 'I doubt that the distribution centre at Manchester will want to say anything about these complaints.'

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