50p off for you and your friends

50p Off TeadirectMy thanks to the Tea Team at Cafédirect, who sent me this generous offer for 50p off my next pack of Teadirect Teabags:

Dear Phil,

Why is Teadirect so lovely? For lots of reasons: the way it’s grown, the people who grow it, the way it tastes, and of course the people who drink it.

So whether you’re a loyal Teadirect drinker, or you’ve never tried our teas before, we’d like to thank you for your support of Cafédirect with 50p off any of our Teadirect range.

And lovelier still, we’d like to extend this offer to your friends.

Of course, the 50p saving is on us and doesn’t impact our growers in any way – except positively, as you’ll be buying their tea.

How could I resist? And how could I not share it with you, my friends here? 

Quite easily, as it turned out. Please don’t misunderstand me: I’m 100% in favour of Fair Trade and consider it a privilege to be known as a Friend of Cafédirect — but this offer ruffled my feathers the wrong way.

Where to use your 50p off voucherWhy? Because it pointed me to Tesco… to Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Asda, to any of several others amongst the UK’s retail giants. Independent retailers were effectively relegated to a footnote: “Please check with other independent retailers before trying to use your coupon.”

No doubt I’m over-reacting: I’m an independent fair trade stockist myself (I run the bookshop at London School of Theology). But seeing the promotion pointing people towards the supermarkets disappointed me: there are hundreds of small independent retailers such as myself who not only stock Cafédirect products but are vocal and pro-active in promoting fair trade.

And let’s be completely straight here: the big boys such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and all the others named in the promotion have only begun to show an interest in fair trade because of all the work the small guys such as us and our customers have put in at ground level, making it a profitable marketplace.

So here we are promoting fair trade, building up the marketplace, only to see the fruit of our efforts being handed over to the big boys! How fair is that??

Again, please don’t misunderstand me: I think it’s great that more and more of the big retailers are becoming aware of the importance of fair trade. But a plea to the good people at Cafédirect: in your enthusiasm to go large, please don’t forget your roots amongst the smaller shops.

Rant over: thanks for listening!