Tag Archives: cape town

Pick and Pay Bottles Grocery delivery – a review


PnP Bottles (bit of a weird name for a grocery app, I suspect they bought an existing app off someone else) is similar to the Checkers Sixty60 grocery ordering app, in that you can order online. Similarly to the Checkers Sixty60 ordering app, its also App only. Bleh!

PnP want a whole slew more personal info for sign up ahead of ordering, in comparison to the Checkers60 App though.

Score -1 for that.
There was also no indication of what they want to do with all my info.
I’m not stupid, its going to be sold to 3rd party marketers. A privacy policy should be provided _always_, especially if you ask for more than name/ address and phone number.
As PnP has a fairly substantive privacy policy published here – https://www.pnp.co.za/privacy-policy, I have emailed PnP’s Information Officer and asked them if this policy also applies to their Bottle App.
I will update this post when I have a reply. Regardless, currently it feels a little more intrusive than their competition.

Onto the App.
This is definitely not as well polished as the Sixty60 one.
There are a few UI issues (mostly related to the keyboard not dropping away when necessary, and scroll views not showing the full window).

Searching for items in the app is a little bit iffy. Results are a lot less relevant than in the Checkers60 app, and the selection of items seems a lot more limited. They do have specials in the app though.

Plus side – I can order a lot more groceries than the checkers app. There doesn’t seem to be an obvious mechanism for items that can’t be fulfilled, and doesn’t seem to be a limit on order size unlike the Sixy60 app.

Down side – delivery seems to be scheduled, and a lot slower – my order made at 10:40 can only be scheduled delivered between 2-3pm.

Firs delivery was actually made at 12:51pm.
This is over an hour earlier than the app delivery time –
While I appreciate an early order, this was slightly inconvenient, as I was planning to be out, and luckily happened to be home still.
Delivery times should be as scheduled, so you can plan around that.
Would be better to have an sms if you are going to deliver earlier (or later) than arranged.

The delivery unfortunately only included 3 bags of items – apparently the driver has to make 4 trips for all the items I ordered. Guess PnP need to do the same optimization that Sixty60 did (and limit orders), or use a larger vehicle for deliveries.

First issue – one item arrived unsealed / opened. Definitely a no-no, even more so in Covid times!

Driver was away before I discovered that, but as he’s on his way back 3 more times, I’ll see if he can return it with him.

I have gone through the submit a problem on the app (its prominently displayed on the order at least, unlike on Checkers60), but it says you may need to wait 2hrs! for a reply.
I think some points can be deducted for that.
To be honest, I’d want a reply immediately if there is an issue, and its during delivery hours.

Package arrived already opened from the PnP Bottle App order.

Approximately twenty minutes later, the next partial delivery was made.
Some good news – my motorbike driver has accepted the opened item, and will return / swap it. (see above image)

This time around, more bottles of sparkling water delivered (I ordered 48 in total). Driver has delivered a few bags worth this time

1610277545745.png


As an aside – not sure why they didn’t use a tuk-tuk, I’ve seen them before in the area.

I also feel quite guilty for the driver now as he has to make a bunch of trips, so intend to tip well (or at least more than I originally planned to).

Gratuitous driver shot –

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Note the lack of branding on the delivery vehicle – this is in stark comparison to say Checkers, who have obvious branding. I would appreciate some sort of lanyard / identity card as well, so you can verify that the driver is indeed from the store before letting them in.

A subsequent 20 minutes later, the next delivery for the same order arrived (at 13:51pm)
What looks like the final delivery of everything has arrived.
One downside the PnP bags things came in are rather unusable, as they are taped together, and need to be ripped apart. I now have a ton more plastic waste.

This delivery unfortunately, has a completely different delivery driver, so I can’t tip the guy 🙁
Good news though, the opened package has been replaced (although somewhat gratuitously, that was sealed in yet another separate plastic bag).

I finally have what looks to be everything, and let the driver head back.

Well, I thought I did… I’m actually missing one of the bottles of sparkling water I ordered.
I have noted that on the App “Chat to us” in case of issues button, and am still waiting on a response.

Literally as I wrote that, I got a ping back from the app, and a response.
Apparently out of stock, and they’ll refund me.

Overall, my experience with PnP Bottles has been satisfactory, although much like the Sixty60 App, they really need to resolve or better work through their process management.

The Bottles App is buggy though, aside from the UI issues, I could repeatedly get it to crash by clicking the “Share Bottles by PnP, get R50 off!” link on my order detail screen.
I assume that they’ll fix those minor App issues though.

For the amount of stuff ordered, R35 for delivery was excellent value. Saved me going to the shops during Covid season, especially seeing as I could order a months worth of sparkling water at one time.

That said, the same exact issues that Sixty60 have, also plagues PnP Bottles.

– You need to check the order carefully on delivery to make sure of any issues.
– The drivers need to be better educated as to how to process returns or missing items.
– While the app has a better placed Issue with your Order – “Contact us” button, the timeframe for replies should be much faster. 2 hours for a reply is unacceptable during delivery hours.

My Score – 3 / 5

I’ve deducted 1/2 points each for –
– The buggy app
– For the excessive information required to register / privacy concerns.
– The drivers not wearing any sort of identification or proof that they’re a PnP Bottles delivery.
– …and for the delivery time not meeting the scheduled appointment time.

I’ll probably use this again, purely because I found the value in getting so many bottles of spring water delivered was worth it to me. I often go to the local PnP and find no stock.

Our local PnP (Longbeach Mall) is awful to shop at, I vowed never to go back after a previous bad experience [staff attitude & literal rudeness at checkout, bad service, and a manager who didn’t care / brushed me off when I reported the cashier and the packer].
I generally shop at other stores, or head to the Simons Town PnP branch, which although smaller, is a lot better.

Checkers Sixty60 Delivery – a review

While (or should I say when) I live in Cape Town, I do live in a slightly rural part, so don’t have much in the way of food delivery.
No uber eats, and the only junk food delivery is so-so pizza (Debonair’s).

Grocery delivery on the other hand seems to be picking up, as this last year – (referrring to 2020 – seeing as we’re barely into 2020+1), I now have two, yes two grocery delivery options.

Checkers Sixty60, and newly open for our area – PnP Bottles (to be reviewed in a subsequent post).
Both have similar costs for delivery – R35, and same day (or next day) delivery.

Checkers Sixty60
I ordered from Checkers Sixty60 last month. Annoyingly you can’t order from their website, only from their app. I find that a bit of a downside, they could easily replicate the functionality on a webapp (which is pretty much what their iOS / Android app is anyway).
That said, the app is actually quite good – signup is easy, searching for items is good excellent with fuzzy searching / result sets returned, and similar items recommended.
The UI is also fairly decent. I’m happy with it anyway, and I’m generally a cantankerous grumpy old man when it comes to dof decisions in app design.

You can only order a limited amount of items through the app – this ties in to be roughly what they can fit into the motorbike pannier / basket.

As an example of this – I could order 11 individual bottles of sparkling water, but no more.

My overall order experience was not as good as the app, which I’ll detail in a brief moment.

Ordering via the app was a breeze, and delivery was scheduled for an hour later.

Delivery wasn’t on time, but close enough. Delivery guy actually went past and drove off, so I had to run out and tell him to turn around.

Items were packed well – I’d actually say overpacked – the brown paper bags used could have been fuller. The bag quality is excellent, and will definitely be reused by me.

Delivery guy was friendly, but other than delivering items, had no way to process things like returns or items not ordered/incorrect. He was also clueless about anything other than ‘here are your items’. The delivery vehicle (a motorbike) was branded with the checkers logo on the sides of the back box. I forgot to note if the driver had any other ID on them to say “Checkers delivery staff”, but it was fairly obvious it was indeed a Checkers order.

One of my items got swapped out for another item. Luckily I caught that before the driver left, but there was nothing I could do in person. There was also no mechanism in the app for complaints or returns, and the delivery guy wouldn’t accept the wrong item to return, so I was stuck with it.

In retrospect, I could have checked don’t swap out items in the Checkers Sixty60 app, but its onerous to do this for each and every item in a shopping list. Their app needs to have a global option for that, or at least subsequently warn the buyer that a swap will happen prior to confirming the delivery.
None of that happened.

Delivery was free this time around, as I used a free delivery with your first order coupon.
While the majority of the order was correct, getting stuck with an item that I didn’t want, and couldn’t return soured me on the experience, especially when that replacement was double the cost of what I ordered, and not what I wanted.
That item also turned out to be melted into a gooey mess (but its been a month in the freezer since I ordered, and I don’t think I’ll be able to do anything about that now).

Lesson’s – check your order carefully and don’t let the driver leave until everything is counted and correct.

My score – 2.5/5 (see updates below for final score)

– The app side (for ordering at least) is excellent.
– I’ve deducted another point for the delivery size limitations, and another point and a half for lack of return procedures.
– The procedures need work, especially for complaints / issues, but I would use it again if I had better mechanisms for issues*.

I’ve subsequently gone back into my orders on the Checkers Sixty60 App.
(Orders / My Orders / Order #), and now see a Submit an Issue button.

I’m not sure if this is new to the App, as I looked all over the app previously for a complaint mechanism, and didn’t see it at the time, and there have been App Store Updates for the App. Either way, it needs to be far more visible / obvious.

The delivery driver had no clue about anything so couldn’t advise.
I suggest better training for drivers, and making this a lot more visible in the app. With that said, I’m going to return the 1.5 points I deducted, as this seems to be sort of resolved, although how the process will work I’ll have to leave to another order and update this again. I’m deducting another 1/2 point off for the UIX deficiencies though.

Updated Score – 3.5/5

Eskom / Municipality vs Solar pricing Maths.

One of the age old questions I get asked is this – Does solar make cents(sic)?
The smartass answer is of course “it depends”.

Eskom is fast turning that answer into “extremely well” though.

Looking at the math, the average household with say 1100KW usage a month or R1800 a month average bill in Cape Town pays these rates:

600KW @ 1.56 = R936
500KW @ 1.86 = R930 (over 600KW is billed at higher rates)

Monthly thats R1866. Lets round that down to R1800 for ease of use.

1100KW / month is 36KW / day.

36KW daily usage = 1.5KW/hr on average. Ouch.

That’s quite high. Lets bring that down. We did.

First steps

Install solar hot water heating for hot water (and pool heating if you have a pool).

That should bring our bill down about 40-50%, as heating water is a major consumer of electricity.
Install gas for cooking. (We didn’t as we don’t cook that often, and it didn’t make sense in our situation)
Install LED lighting instead of power sucking halogens and regular bulbs.
We should be looking at closer to 20KW day now.

You’ll probably have spent up to R30,000 on that.

Good.

Lesson #1
Its ALWAYS cheaper to first reduce costs before going solar.
Our best bang per buck is *always* to reduce our monthly usage first.

In our case, we installed 2 x 150L solar hot water heaters.
Replaced *all* the lighting with LED’s. Don’t forget the outdoor security lighting!
Our gate light was on 12hrs a day. We replaced it with 10W LED lighting.

Outdoor security lighting @ 10W /hr @ 12hrs vs Halogen @ 150W @ 12hrs= *major savings*.
eg 120W usage for 12hrs, vs 1800W!
One 10W LED run for 12Hrs a day = 120W = (monthly 30 x 12Hrs) = R5.4
One 150W Halogen run for 12Hrs a day = R2.7 a *day*, or R81 a month.

Imagine that for all the lights in the house. If you have Halogen downlights get rid of them, and get LED ones. Takes less than a month *per* bulb for payback time…

After all that, our electricity usage went down from 1100KW/ month to about 600KW month.
That’s a 3 year payback on investment if it’s similar to our R30,000 cost.

Sure, but thats got nothing to do with Solar I hear you say.
Well, yes it does. Again, *reduce your footprint* first.

Second steps

Install some PV!

180k will get the average house with 20kw daily usage offgrid including batteries in todays money.
(Say about 5kw panels on the roof, and 30kw of battery, plus a 3kw backup generator to cater for repeated winter outages past 2 days of no sun, and all inverters etc for a single phase household)

Some Math / Justification on that
20KW daily usage = 830W/hr on average.
5KW panels will generate over 15KW in winter, and well over 30KW in summer daily, so deficit is 5KW/day or zero in summer.

Assuming 5KW / day worst case scenario deficit
You need roughly 3 x (3 days of battery) x 2 (50% discharge) for usage.
– Batteries shouldn’t be drained past 50%, so halve the rated value.
– Cater for 3 days of worst case scenario of no sun.
– Add a generator for generation for worst case scenario getting worse, and batteries go below that point of discharge.

With that in mind, deficit is 5KW odd in winter, so 3 x 5 = 15KW for 3 days of discharge (say 3 days of cloudy weather) x 2 (can’t discharge lead acid/agm/crystal batteries more than 50%) = roughly 30KW required in batteries.

28.8KW of battery can be had for a little over R1/Whr eg / 20x12v@120Ah= 28800W which can be run in 24V or 48V easily (battery inverters usually run in 24v or 48v sizing)

12v@120Ah Gel Lead Acid is currently R1500 at retail, or less, which = R30,000 for 28.8KW per 5 years usage worse case.
The good news is that battery prices are headed down, not up.

5KW of panels looks like 18 panels * 300W
300W panels are in the R11/w range retail, so roughly R60,000

Panels + Batteries = R90,000

MPPT PV Inverter should be about R20,000 (or less)
Mounting + 3KW Generator say R10,000
DC -> AC Battery inverter about R20,000 (or less), oversized so that the system is scalable if necessary.

Total so far – R140,000
Add installation, say another R10,000 (1-2 days of work) and replacement batteries in 5 years, and you’re looking at closer to R180,000 for an offgrid system over a 10 year lifespan.

If you start looking at that over 10 year terms, that’s a lot more affordable, even if you cater in replacing batteries every 5 years.

Our monthly bill is only R1000 a month though at 600KW usage / month. (Usage of R936 + other costs), and R180,000 is closer to R1500 a month. There’s a big discrepancy.

R1000 a month for 600KW x 12 = R12,000
R12,000 x 10 = R 120,000.

Our costs are closer to R180,000.

Sure. It doesn’t make sense. Its 50% more expensive!
However, that’s at todays pricing.

Nersa has granted Eskom a 15%+ increase (and Eskom is asking for more now, as the situation is dire).
15% increase on Eskom pricing means that Year 2 monthly rates are now R1150 for our 20KW/day usage.
The municipality is likely going to add a few % on top of that also, as they’ve asked for 7% also (also to be confirmed).

So year one is R12,000/ R1000 monthly
Year two is R13,800 / R1150 monthly (15% increase, which is looking lower than the actual increase will be).
Year three is R15,180 (assuming a meagre 10% increase on year 2), and so on..

Guess what just happened – our costs have (not so magically) equalised with our investment, and fairly quickly at that. Without guessing whats going to happen for year four to year ten, its already looking like a smart decision to have gone solar. We also have a nice equity in a system that has increased our house value, AND we have a system thats more reliable than Eskom is.

I know we’re happy paying a premium for the first year or two just to have electricity 24/7.

Essentially, if you have a R1500 bill a month in electricity now, and you have the capital, and roof space for it, its roughly time to start looking at going completely offgrid, as it will payoff by the 10 year mark.

I’m happy paying that premium to have reliable electricity in house right now, and I’ll guarantee you that the costs will be cheaper for self generation based than you are billed for electricity within 5 years.

Footnote –
You’ll note that I haven’t looked at feeding back to the grid in the above scenario.

Why?

It doesn’t make financial sense (at least for Cape Town). I’ll leave it up to the reader to discover why, and do the math (or look at the comments on previous articles where someone did the math!).