Every Little Helps … Give Me A Break

tesco1While I am extremely jealous of the vast range of goods available at British supermarkets, I do not envy their customer service. Tesco’s current tagline is “Every little helps” but apparently they have not truly applied this to their business practices. If they believe that for the customer every little helps they would understand that being sent to another Tesco store for an out of stock item only to find that it is £20 more expensive is really going to make for a bad day. Perhaps what they really believe is that every little more they they can wrangle out of their customer helps line Tesco’s pockets.

Mum decided to buy Dad a nicer printer for his Christmas present. We visited a few local stores including Tesco in Cumbernauld and noted down the printers available. I then researched and read reviews and we decided on a Canon we saw in the aforementioned Tesco. A few days later we headed back to purchase the printer but they only had the display model left and were not willing to sell it. The assistant was very nice and offered to order one but could not guarantee it would be in time for Christmas. The assistant very kindly called the Coatbridge store and we were told they had 5 in stock right now so we headed off immediately to Coatbridge. In the Cumbernauld store the printer was £99.97 but in the Coatbridge store it was £119.97. In her own words my mother was “bealing!” For those not familiar with the Scottish vernacular she was very pissed off.

We looked for an assistant and pointed out the price discrepancy between the stores. This is where I was astonished at the service level. Back home in the USA, WalMart’s advertising campaign for the holidays was to make WalMart your only stop for present shopping. They guaranteed if you found your purchase at ANY store cheaper they would refund the difference. That’s right, not just finding it at another WalMart store but ANY store. Given the effort seen by the stores back in the US I was sure the assistant in the Coatbridge store would make this right for my Mum. Instead he shrugged his shoulders and said there was nothing he could do. He didn’t even put on an apologetic demeanor for the trouble we had gone to coming from the other store. The only thing he gave us was an air of “I don’t give a damn!” Mum asked to speak to the manager but was told he was not available. We insisted there must be someone else in charge so a duty manager was called. It was immediately obvious that she was just there to hear the complaint and continue to be shruggingly dismissive. Again Mum asked about the manager and this time was told he was there but the duty manager doubted she would be able to get a hold of him. She did call but reported that she could not get an answer from him.

We refused to give Tesco the trade, especially at the higher price, and decided to look around at the other stores in the same mall. The first store we tried, Currys just across the car park, had the very same printer at the cheaper price we had seen in the Cumbernauld Tesco store. Thankfully the Christmas present was handled!

That evening Mum emailed Tesco to report the terrible service and situation and is still waiting for a reply. That was on December 23rd and I am writing this on December 27th. I tried tweeting @UKTesco the next day and received a quicker response.

@UKTesco Dreadful service in Coatbridge store after being sent by Cumbernauld where printer was out of stock. £20 more in Coatbridge.

The response wasn’t terribly satisfying.

@docmjs Hi, really sorry to hear this, each store can set their own promotions. I’m sorry that it was more expensive in our Coatbridge store.

There is at least an apology but after the service I have been used to back in the USA I found it hard to wrap my head around how little they seemed to care about how this looked. I expect to have to shop around between different companies and find different prices but not being able to rely on the fact I am paying the same price within the same company no matter the store doesn’t exactly instill faith. The stores are only 15 miles apart so there are no excuses for the prices being different. I work in a PR department myself on the tech side of things including handling social media. We take every such tweet seriously and investigate and respond with great care. I understand the need to build trust in your brand, especially in the social media channels.

I responded to indicate how this made me feel about the Tesco brand now.

@UKTesco That’s a terrible way to do things. It instills no trust in your brand. Staff handled it dreadfully. I will be blogging about it.

@docmjs I’m really sorry to hear you feel that way. Most promotions are the same but some stores can opt out I’ll be feeding this back.

At least the offer was now added to feed the concerns back. Hopefully that will happen and it is not just empty wording to placate a tweeter. Every little does help so hopeful this little word of warning about trusting the big brand UK stores will help someone else ensure they are getting the best price and service.

Living Online, Living in America

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