Monday, July 30, 2007

“Tesco wouldn’t have much of a business if we refunded the mileage of everyone who brings something back”

One of the things that distinguishes blogging from most mainstream journalism is the immediacy and the personal nature of posts.

I’m just back from Tesco at Knocknagoney. Second visit of the night.

It all started yesterday when someone kind gave us a Tesco handheld Bubble blower (powered by 2 AA batteries). The perfect gift for a two and a half year daughter. I found two batteries, screwed them in, and hey presto ... no bubbles, no whirring noise. One dead bubble blower.

So tonight after bedtime stories (hers, not mine!) I nipped around to Tesco to swap it for another one. Four miles later, got home, screwed in the batteries. This time it whirred, and pathetically tried to blow bubbles. They half formed, and then burst, long before floating off into the air like the instructions say they will.

Not impressed, got out into the car again to head back to Tesco. Another four miles.

Joined the queue for Customer Services, again. The guy in front had bought some of Tesco Finest fruit, two of which were rotten. He wasn’t impressed. I got a refund for the bubble machine, and got to talk to the duty manager ...

Breathless, he arrived to hear my plea. Having had two dud bubble machines, was it acceptable for customers to have to drive eight miles to return and replace Tesco products?

We had a long, robust conversation that resulted in some excellent lines. Apparently:

“Tesco wouldn’t have much of a business if we refunded the mileage of everyone who brings something back”.

I suggested that the queue for Customer Services wasn’t that long! And wasn’t it in their interests to compensate disappointed customers? Apparently not.

When I explained by travelling eight miles just going back and fro from Tesco to return it, at business mileage rates I’d spent nearly half the value of the faulty product for no benefit.

And when I suggested that other firms compensate customers with loyalty points (Sainsburys give you points if you request a product that they can’t get in stock, bmi give points if they run out of food on a flight, and even Holiday Inn give points when rooms prove less than ideal) ... we don’t do that. The conversation finished with me pointing out the door towards Sainsburys and saying that since it was just as close as Tesco, I’d be taking my trade there. And off we both stomped.

Before you conclude that I’m a complete nit wit (maybe that’s why you read the blog!), I do at this point have to admit that it felt slightly odd, nearly surreal, to be standing in Tesco debating compensation for a £2.97 child’s toy. But if the business that takes £1 out of every £7 spent by consumers in the UK doesn’t respect its customers, then I’m not sure it deserves their trade.

Rant over.

6 August update: Tesco replied ... but not sure I achieved a lot.


Anonymous said...

Good story. Why not take it up with head office just to see what they say?

My mum works for Tesco and they treat their staff as badly as they treat their customers. I never shop there if I can avoid it.

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

Good idea ... one email sent off to the good folks at customer dot service at tesco dot co dot uk.

Anonymous said...

I feel your frustration. The main problem with customer services is that stores like Tescos are so big that the bigwigs stay at the top and have little to do with the minions who work for them. It's pretty futile to tell a minion getting a pretty rubbish wage that you are heading to Sainsbury's in future - less customers for him/her to worry about would be the mentality. That's the frustrating thing about chain stores as opposed to the old family run stores which are dying out. There, people on the floor cared if you were put out.

Rufus said...

Sounds an interesting idea, I wonder if it could be made to work?

My immediate thought is that it would have great potential for abuse. I can see that someone could buy something they do want, drive around the corner, open it, damage it, and go off for a cup of coffee. Returning to the car an hour or two later they drive back to Tesco and take it back. They then claim points for their twenty mile drive home and back. They then have the replacement item which is what they wanted in the first place.

Clearly the customer service would spot them if they did this the whole time, but it could become a problem.

Rufus Evison

Anonymous said...

Can't stand Tescos, although I'm aware I kid myself when I think Sainsburys is any better in the moral/ethical sense. Always feel like Tescos Knocknagoney is a bit mad while Sainsburys across the road provides a calmer more relaxing expereince. However this will hardly last with the arrival of IKEA.

Anyway - if you want random customer service and a generally crazy shopping experience try Tescos at Belmont - it's like Lord of the Flies!

Belmont Elvis