Grocery refund rules in German Supermarkets

71 posts in this topic

Hi Folks, Its been a few months since we relocated from San Francisco to Munich and we are still learning the ropes of day to day living. We were bracing for the ''Big German Christmas Shutdown'' starting at 2 pm Dec 24 to 8 am Dec 28. Which is not really much, but a lot of my colleagues told me that I HAVE TO STOCK UP grocery as if the end is near :-). Anyway, I did so and bought 8 litres of milk from Rewe with an expiry date of 29.12.2020. (I assume thats its the expiry date printed at the top of the carton.)

 

Side note, I have always been uncomfortable in storing these cartons at room temperature, but thats what they do in the stores, right? And the refrigerators are much smaller here, so storing 8 cartons in a fridge seems difficult.

 

Anyway, this morning, we open 3 cartons in a row to find the milk is spoiled. Now back home, I would have just driven to Costco, shown them the spoilt milk and they would replace/ refund - no questions asked. Anyone knows how it works here? 

 

Also, aside from the store refund policy, how do folks store these packs of milk at home? Even before this incident, I noticed that the cartons would swell up within 2 days of storage in our kitchen cupboard - that cant be right. Should I store the cartons in the cellar or the balcony where the normal room temperature is around 0. Or should I buy a carton every single day as a 'last thing of the day before 8pm'?

 

Sorry if this is a very stupid/basic question. I tried seeing this thread and this one; but didn't really address my question.

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If the milk was stored in a fridge in the supermarket then it should be stored at home the same. Not sure of the refund policy, but pretty sure if you still have the receipt then the store can't have many complaints if their produce is spoiled

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Wait till you go and reach for the carrots and spuds!!    

 

On a serious note...   it sounds like you bought fresh milk.... Buy "H"  or Haltbare milk next time...    or brace the Bavarian way and Put Helles on your cornflakes!! 

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6 minutes ago, SpiderPig said:

it sounds like you bought fresh milk... Buy "H"  or Haltbare milk next time ...

 

Bang on! I now see that the milk was Frische Milch, but it was not stored in the fridge in the supermarket. It was on the shelf. And the carton had a date of 29.12. Does this mean that all Frische milk (not stored in the cooler in the store) needs to be refrigerated at home, even if unopened?

 

Good tip about the H/Haltbere. Will try to default to this variant. But before I do so, whats the difference between Haltbare and Frische? Do they add some preservatives?

 

13 minutes ago, RomfordReject said:

pretty sure if you still have the receipt then the store can't have many complaints if their produce is spoiled

 

Will hang on to receipts in future.

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The milk you bought is fresh milk, not long-life milk (expires 29.12), and needs to be refridgerated. Fresh milk is also sold in the cardboard oblong packs, just like the long life milk, but is located in the fridges. You need to buy the milk that is not refrigerated, "Ultrahocherhitzt" (ultra high heat) in the 12 packs in cardboard boxes next to the fridges. There you will find the expiry date is in around 3 months. They look similar, except for that the H-milch (halbare) is "Ultrahocherhitzt" and not refridgerated.

 

That said, a German guy in the que in front of me once returned some fresh milk, complaining loudly that it was sour and had ruined his musli and therefore his whole day, gave the cashier the used bottle, and got a replacement bottle. Tone of the discussion was not one that would have allowed a "no".

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Almost true...

 

29.12 means "best before"...    and in this case they were absolutely spot on!

 

As for the Milk Tragedy....   Just take a drive to the airport and pick up some more milk, or possibly at the big petrol station near the Airport buisness park... 

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6 minutes ago, ZA1234 said:

The milk you bought is fresh milk, not long-life milk (expires 29.12), and needs to be refridgerated.

 

Thanks, this advice helps. We have a Rewe and Penny equidistant to our house and I frequent the Penny more while my wife goes to Rewe. She is convinced that I picked up the Frische milk from the refrigerated shelf and it my 'Penny memory' which makes me say that it was in the unrefrigerated section.

 

So we will stick to refrigerating any milk marked Frische.

 

9 minutes ago, ZA1234 said:

Tone of the discussion was not one that would have allowed a "no".

 

I will modulate my tone once i learn the language :D. For now I will either bin it, or my wife will try to make Indian cottage cheese.

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It could also be that the milk was wrongly shelved. These days, with stores sometimes scrambling to find help, it could've been human error.

 

Remember ' best before' does not mean 'deadly after', but yeah, store the milk in the fridge :)

 

 

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or some muppet that piced up Fresh milk... realised they wanted H-milk then just put the fresh milk on a shelf and not back in the chiller!  

 

 

 

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32 minutes ago, GoldenLizard said:

But before I do so, whats the difference between Haltbare and Frische? Do they add some preservatives?


The H milk has been pasteurized at a higher temperature than what they do for regular milk. Did you ever have Parmalat back home? It’s the same thing.
 

If you do buy it on purpose, just know that it has a slightly different taste from fresh milk but not bad/sour. Might look a tinge yellow - at least that’s what I thought the first time I used it. FYI, don’t buy it if you want to make cheese, it won’t work very well.

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9 minutes ago, SpiderPig said:

or some muppet that piced up Fresh milk... realised they wanted H-milk then just put the fresh milk on a shelf and not back in the chiller!  

 

Nice theory, but I doubt it. I distinctly remember picking up 4 cans from a single section. In all probability I am the muppet here - not realising I picked it from a refrigerated shelf.

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Somewhere near the „best by“ date it should say at what temperature you need to store the milk:

 

(see photo = 8° Celcius or colder)

36BD8DC2-7E48-431F-8D63-0E7E67A24139.jpeg

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Have you tried Aldi/Lidl? Where we live they are 100x better than Penny.

 

That "Best Before" date is the "Mindestens haltbar bis: xx"(at least store-able until) and there is always a temperature range associated with it if it needs to be cool or frozen. The long life food stuff doesnt have the temperature range.

 

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2 hours ago, martinamr said:

Somewhere near the „best by“ date it should say at what temperature you need to store the milk:

 

(see photo = 8° Celcius or colder)

36BD8DC2-7E48-431F-8D63-0E7E67A24139.jpeg

 

Thank you. That was also very helpful.

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2 hours ago, ZA1234 said:

Have you tried Aldi/Lidl? Where we live they are 100x better than Penny.

 

That "Best Before" date is the "Mindestens haltbar bis: xx"(at least store-able until) and there is always a temperature range associated with it if it needs to be cool or frozen. The long life food stuff doesnt have the temperature range.

 

 

Our place is exactly mid-way between Rewe and Penny. The Lidl, Aldi and Edeka are a bit further away - more like driving/biking distance. Just so I understand better, is the quality lower at Penny or the variety? We did notice that Rewe was more expensive than Penny, but I dont know if that is because their quality is better.

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Quote

Just so I understand better, is the quality lower at Penny or the variety? We did notice that Rewe was more expensive than Penny, but I dont know if that is because their quality is better.

 

Rewe and Penny are two different brands of the same company. Penny is the discount version of Rewe with a smaller product range. I actually find the produce at my local Penny to be great. 

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Lidl and Aldi are discounters, so will be cheaper than Rewe. Our Lidl has an extremely fresh, great range of vegetables, and have expanded their bio section a lot. Never seen anything close to that here. They also got continued supplies of toilet paper while our Rewe was empty of all paper-types every time I went. They don't have everything though. Lidl and Aldi get "specials" in (ski things, garden things, clothes, back-to-school etc) and run food specials "Asian week" "French week" etc. You may get the Werbung along with your free newsapers, or can look at the webpage.

 

But it may depend on the manager, how good the shop is. I just wanted to mention it as alternatives to Penny- if your fresh milk was really not in the fridge, then maybe its a shop problem, and you are better off at another store. Rewe is nice, but expensive, and ours has vegetables which are not as fresh as the well-run-Lidl, or the same quality but more expensive, and that annoys me. Plus the Lidl staff are friendly. And they open tills whenever its full. And I have returned items without a till slip before. I have recently become quite a fan.

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7 hours ago, GoldenLizard said:

Anyway, this morning, we open 3 cartons in a row to find the milk is spoiled. Now back home, I would have just driven to Costco, shown them the spoilt milk and they would replace/ refund - no questions asked. Anyone knows how it works here? 

 

Umm, are you not from a country that produces milk? Why would you NOT store it in a refrigerator? If you are surprised that unrefrigerated milk spoils, you are in for a bigger surprise (and laughs) when you go back to the store to complain. 

 

In all my milk-buying life (and I still drink milk on its own, in my 30s) I have never seen fresh milk unrefrigerated, except as maybe temporary overflow. You now know about h-milch, although it is absolutely disgusting and should only be used for apocalypse-type emergencies. Just buy a second small fridge and keep it on the coldest setting, and store your milk there. I don't know about where you live, but here you can order milk delivery from a dairy direct, and they have larger jugs (I think 3l) on offer. I find that the 1l cartons are too little, and often buy 2-3 at once (we have a kid). 

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That's a little harsh, @alderhill. Everyone who has lived in DE for more than a month knows about H-Milch.  It really isn't a thing in the US, so it's not a product I choose to buy. My wife says I'm crazy, but I taste the difference between it and fresh milk, so I refuse to buy it.

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