Tesco reduce Clubcard loyalty offer?

Tesco’s clubcard as it currently runs is probably the best loyalty programme out there and if Tesco wants to remain that way it needs to ensure that it stays the leader in the field and not go backwards and lessen the offer as Sainsbury’s has. So what has it done?


The site says:

“In the coming months, we’ll be doing more to help you get the most out of the scheme, such as double points events to help grow your points balance faster and improving our Boost Partners offer,  where you can already get up to four times the value  of your vouchers. We’ll update you with more details on this soon.” And yet they also say customers want it all more simple so let’s hope that the doubling up of points events aren’t restricted to certain items leading to the confusion of prices that they say they are getting rid of!

The Telegraph article Tesco customers “gutted” as supermarket scraps popular double Clubcard points scheme has more.

Tesco appear to be warning customers that this is the last chance to get their points doubled for instore/online purchases. Whilst Tesco may want to reach more people and expand their partner offers there are certainly customers who like to use the boosts in store. Many of us like the boost on wine at Christmas(!) and yet wine isn’t in the last offer so we miss out on that for Christmas! Tesco need to do more about expanding numbers of partners and letting customers know about the offers that they do have For example, many are geared towards family offers or geographically heavy in the south east. Older people, single people etc. do not have quite the choice that families do. Many customers want the treats, holidays and meals etc. but many also want help with day to day living. So taking away the doubling up boost on groceries is a blow. Tesco will need to show that it can and will offer even better deals than doubling up in store by offering at least doubling up the value for things like utilities. Tesco keeps saying they are listening to customers so it should open up dialogue and ask people to email them with ideas of what companies they would like to see in the partner offers!

On first appearance it looks like Tesco are shifting the cost of store offers to partners and we don’t know who shoulders the brunt of those partnerships?! As price wars eventually come to an end, and they will have to do so at some point, supermarkets will need more than price to win and keep customers and loyalty will be become increasingly important to retain. Certainly I am sure people will welcome more choice and more offers but I for one will miss the in store opportunities to use points. How about you?

9 ways that the high street and small biz are being killed

killing the High StreetSupermarkets often get the blame for killing our high streets. But are they really to blame and if so are they the only reason? When I asked consumers what they thought was killing the high street and independent businesses, supermarkets weren’t top of the list.

1) People recognised high rents and rates as significant factors. Council rates can be so high that independent shops can’t afford to pay so independent businesses have to rely on Internet sales when they might well benefit from a presence on the high street as would shoppers.

2) Amazon. There’s  big killer for you. Businesses have to adapt and as they say it’s dog eat dog. A company receiving a lot of bad press recently about how they treat staff. Appallingly. Ridiculous targets etc. All helps keep prices low. Well the small businesses would like Amazon to treat their staff better and put the prices of stock back up to where they should be. Nowadays you have to sell your stuff there or not sell much at all. The upshot of this, particularly for books is that Amazon buy your products at a hugely discounted price they then undercut you so you are stuck with either reducing your prices to match or losing sales to Amazon which can afford to take really small margins. Small businesses are really hit by that because they are in a lose lose situation. Don’t go on Amazon lose sales, go on Amazon don’t make so many sales trough their own outlets.

3) Internet shopping. Nuff said

4) Large supermarkets out of towns mean that people go to the supermarket and do a big shop getting more groceries, but aren’t supermarkets saying that actually it’s the smaller convenience stores that are being used more? If so perhaps they are helping our towns? Although of course at the cost of the smaller independent shops. I read a while back about people complaining about a new Tesco store opening up in their town. A local grocer was complaining that it would take away business. What I found interesting though was a response from someone to his comment on the site. The comment was aimed at the complainer. The man said that his mother had opened a local florist many years ago, had built it up, was very proud of it and then this grocer started to do flowers and put her out of business. He had no sympathy for this grocer. Just goes to show that any one business is able to take advantage and put people out of business it’s just here that because it is a big chain that it gets more coverage? Not that I am sticking up for supermarkets (er obviously given this!) but there’s more to it than just putting your local grocer out of business.

5) Parking. Lack of it or cost. Councils making people pay to stay even a short time on the high street. That puts people off. (Although see here for appealing tickets and don’t forget you have ten minutes grace now!)

6) Apathy. People don’t care about supporting local businesses if they can save time and money elsewhere.

7) Lack of creativity. The few independent bookshops that have managed to survive (and seriously well done to them) have done so by branching out and selling other things such as craft from independent sellers and proving tea and coffee whilst you browse.

8) Opening hours. People are so busy these days they needs shops opening before 9.00am and after 5.30pm Big shopping malls take this business when people do it all in one go after work or on a Sunday.

9) Cafes, yes we want some but not every other shop!

So what to do?
A lot comes down to people supporting local businesses. That includes buying direct from the business and not through Amazon, but realistically this isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Consumers can look around though on other sites such as Facebook groups and find people selling on there. Supporting the self employed in this way can make all the difference to someone starting out.

Businesses on the local high street need to look at being creative and asking customers what they would like to see and be ready to change regularly.

Councils clearly need to reduce rents and rates if we are to see some innovation and unique shops back on our high streets. They need to limit the number of one type of shop on the high street to bring some variety.

When SE leaves your elderly aunt without adequate heating for 11 days…

Southern Electric how to complain against them

In the Winter of 2014 my elderly aunt’s heating went off. Southern Electric responsible for her boiler cover left her without heating for 9 days. NINE! And inadequate for 11!

When I got to hear of this I decided to do something about it! Obviously. I won’t bore you with the details of the email I wrote to the CEO of Southern Electric for my cousin to write but this was the summary at the end:

Summary of complaint
1) My mother is a priority customer and should have had her heating fixed, with priority. This was not done, several times over.
2) My mother was without any heating for 9 days. This would be unacceptable for anyone never mind an 83 year old woman who has just come out of hospital recovering from recent major surgery.
3) Engineers arrived at 11.15pm on the first day. That is not an acceptable time to arrive at an elderly woman’s home. She wanted to go to bed and had to wait up for engineers and in addition to that, had to do so in a cold house.
4) The first engineer left my mother with some, but not all, heating for two days and none for one. Not acceptable.
5) On the 3rd November my mother was called at 5.00pm saying that they could not come until the following day, leaving her another day with no heating. Not acceptable
6) Late on the 4th November engineers informed my mother that the new circuit board, they had brought with them, was faulty and left her without heating again. Not acceptable.
7) On 5th November, another circuit board was fitted, but it still did not work and, yet again, my mother was left with no heating. Not acceptable.
8) On the 6th November my mother was told that the engineer would arrive at 11.55am, so was unable to go out for lunch. The engineer did not show up until after 2pm. Not acceptable.
9) On the 6th November the engineers arrived and left my mother without heating for another day. Not acceptable.
10) On the 7th November ‘phone calls were made but still nothing sorted as the engineer left my mother without heating for a further three days. Not acceptable.
11) One of your engineers made a wholly inappropriate and insensitive remark to my mother regarding saving heating costs. (He had said “think of the money you are saving on heating”) Not acceptable.
12) My mother had to stay in one room all day with two electric heaters at much greater costs than heating the whole house with gas would be.
13) One fan heater was not left for my mother until Wednesday 5th November and another on Friday 7th. Not acceptable.
14) My mother has the boiler serviced with you and it was serviced only in May of this year. It would appear that the service was not undertaken properly, a breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 as the work was not undertaken with reasonable skill and care.
15) There were clear communication issues between all the visits. Every time an engineer attended my mother’s property they did not know what previous engineers had done.
16) The engineer who repaired the boiler insinuated that the other engineers did not know what they were doing as no parts were ever needed. A clear breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

My mother is due compensation. The amount of time without heating, not providing alternative heating, not arriving within agreed time slots and not repairing the fault within a reasonable length of time. The service has been appalling and a clear breach of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. Services have not been carried out with reasonable skill and care at any point and in addition have not been undertaken in a timely manner.
I, therefore, expect my mother to be fully and appropriately compensated (to which she is legally entitled) for all the breaches above. I also expect a partial refund for the service charge as this was seemingly not undertaken properly. Had it been, it would not have taken 7 visits to rectify the issue. I also expect her to be compensated for the serious amount of distress, stress and inconvenience caused. I also expect an apology and explanation for every stage of this sorry matter and an explanation for the engineer’s wholly inappropriate remark. I wonder if you would appreciate an elderly relative recovering from serious major surgery, unable to recover properly due to lack of heating, and being treated like my mother was? I am very interested in your comments on this.

I look forward to hearing from you within five days. Should I not do so I will not hesitate in taking the matter further. I will be sharing our experiences regarding Southern Electric on various social media and forums. I will also be contacting Trading Standards. I will also request a deadlock letter and take the matter to the Energy Ombudsman and through the small claims process if necessary.

(Yes that was the shortened version! Sometimes you have to put the work in when complaints are long. But shows the importance of keeping records of everything, all calls, visits etc.)

Their response
The CEO responded saying he would pass it to the Executive Complaints Office. (It is rare to get a response from the CEO when you contact him/her (You can get the email contact details at ceoemail.com for any CEO) but it will go higher than customer services, see more tips here.)

He told my cousin the following:

1) He had contacted the senior management team within the Home Services Department who would ensure that the engineer who made the comment is spoken to and given feedback on the potential effect that this type of comment can have on an already unhappy and vulnerable customer.

2) That there were no markers on the Gas, electric or home services accounts to indicate that her mother was vulnerable. The only marker held shows that she is an old age pensioner with a 1941 date of birth and that it was made clear that an emergency appointment it could go ahead any time morning, afternoon or evening.

3) Appointments are not guaranteed due to emergencies which can stop engineers attending as was the case on the 3rd November (Oh yes, you can believe that I went a little bit nuts at this one! Read on!)

4) A repeat of what we had told him about visits

5)  In an ideal world they would be able to diagnose and repair every fault on the first visit however; as boilers are mechanical with many working parts it can sometimes take several days to repair faults such as that experienced by my aunt.

6) Disagreed that they failed in their contract when they serviced my aunt’s boiler as any potential fault may not have been picked up at this time as electrical faults, unlike mechanical faults, are not easily identified.

7) Apologised for not providing alternative heating.

8) Acknowledged failing in their service and offered a good will gesture of £150.00 and to let him know if was to be accepted.

Now, as financial journalist Paul Lewis said in his review of my book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! “Her guiding principle is never take yes for an answer. If you want £100 compensation and they offer £50 write back and demand £200…..

The response I wrote for my cousin
1) Pointed out inaccurate records, aunt born in 1931 not 1941.

2) Mother mentioned  that she had had surgery when she telephoned. Unable to comment on why the member of staff did not note this down on records and even if she didn’t, every engineer who visited the house was told.  Plus they would have also been able to see how distressed she was becoming and that her breathing was laboured.

3) Southern Electric were first rung at 8.00am, as soon as my mother realised there was no heating and actually had a friend with her to verify this.  She was told that it would be a couple of hours before they could let her know when an engineer would get to her.  She explained she had a doctors appointment at 10.10am and would be going out at 9.30am.  On her return there was a message on her answer machine and she rang back – hence the phone call logged at 10.30am.

4) I fully understand that there cannot be guaranteed times. However, as you rightly state, my mother is listed as a vulnerable person and should have been a priority. I am afraid I do not believe that all your engineers were on the one emergency job or were all on cases more urgent than seeing a vulnerable person. I am interested in your evidence to prove otherwise.  Also, I fail to understand that when the engineer is unable to find the fault, or get a part, why was she was then left until late every day – each time with no heating.

5) I note that you say had you known she had had surgery that it may have been possible to attend earlier on the very first day. I would have thought being an 83 year old woman was enough reason to be an emergency and leaving her without heating, for so long when she could at least have been in bed, is completely unacceptable.

6) Even if point 4 above can be proved that all cases were more urgent she should have been given alternative heating.

7) You state that the wiring was the last possible fault. This seems absurd. You seem to be suggesting that it is acceptable for engineers to diagnose anything regardless of any tests and just go through each part in turn. Utterly ridiculous. Why do the engineers not have parts in their vehicles or at least in stock? Why was my mother left again without heating so frequently when engineers could have gone through their “checklist” of possible errors until the fault was fixed?

8)You are covered by your code of conduct and in addition your complaints procedure is the same as for any other complaint.

Given the above questionable and inaccurate issues in your response, I trust that you will review it and provide a more acceptable reply with improved offer of goodwill gesture to cover the atrocious service my mother received. My mother is only just recovering from the breathing difficulties caused by the damp, cold house and electric heaters and the house has obviously taken some time to heat up given that it had been without heating for so long. The dreadful service from Southern Electric contributed to her illness, suffering and distress and I do not believe that anything you have said goes any way to assure me that this could not happen again. Should I not be satisfied that Southern Electric will provide a far superior (i.e. acceptable) service in the future I will be forced to move my mother’s account to another company.

Their next response 
1) Sorry they didn’t recognise the vulnerability although this was mentioned at the time.   Year of birth changed to 1931.  Vulnerability markers now placed on Home Services records to ensure that should the boiler breakdown again we treat her case more sympathetically and that any breakdown is treated as a priority.  The Home Services system is a stand alone system and does not interface with the customer system used for gas and electric accounts which did have a vulnerability marker present.  We are in the process of installing a new Home Services system which should  prevent a similar situation happening in the future.

2) Appreciated that not all engineers were on emergency jobs however; they would all have had their daily work allocated to them when they started their working day.  The work would be set in such a way as to ensure each engineer had enough time to complete each job and would include travelling time between jobs.  It is unfortunate that the engineer who was tasked with attending the initial breakdown was not made aware of the vulnerability otherwise it could have been dealt with as a priority.

3) Completely agreed they let her mother down on a number of occasions including,  failing  to leave alternative heating until 5 November almost a week after the boiler developed it’s fault.

4) Keen to make things right both for my cousin and her mother  in the hope that it will resolve this matter for both.  Offered a  full years free boiler cover which would cost £214.80  and would mean not paying her next 12 monthly Direct Debit payments.  They would also cover her next monthly Electric Direct Debit payment of £37.00 to cover any additional electricity she may have used as a result of heating with the fan heaters provided.  Finally we would make this up to a total of £301.80 by applying a goodwill payment of £50.00 to either her gas or electric account.


For further stories on energy see:

One little known fact when your gas is cut off this Winter.

Ofgem Standards of Conduct and Quality

Your energy and rights what you should know

How to take care of your energy bills

If not resolved you can go to the ombudsman, more here

For more information and template letters about complaining about energy see: How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!




Tesco results show “every little helps” but “it could do so much more” says consumer champion

Tesco results show “every little helps” but “it could do so much more” says consumer champion
Tesco PLC’s Preliminary Results 2015/16 were announced today and show that Tesco is back in the black. They showed that there was a Group like-for-like sales growth of 1.6% in 4Q, £6.2bn reduction in total indebtedness, including contribution from sale of Homeplus in Korea and that, according to Tesco, “customer, colleague, supplier measures all improved”.

But are Tesco customers really happier?
Helen Dewdney, consumer expert, The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results is particularly interested in customer satisfaction. The results show that UK customer satisfaction is up 5% over the course of the year. The Tesco Chief Executive, Dave Lewis, says “As a team, we are committed to serving shoppers a little better every day, in what remains a challenging, deflationary and uncertain market.” Having met Dave Lewis a number of times since he started in September 2014, she is confident that he is delivering on his promise to listen to customers better and act upon what they are saying. “The multi buys and confusing pricing strategies Tesco tackled in 2014 was a good move. Customers would like this to see process accelerated in all departments, as it appears to be taking a long time. For example, it is time they sorted out the pricing in cheeses and their fresh salmon seems to now never be on offer but not hugely reduced either. There is still massive room for improvement!”

Brand Match
Other initiatives, such as getting rid of vouchers – which we inevitably lose – and brand matching at the till, are also popular with customers. It remains to be seen whether Tesco’s move to woo Sainsbury’s customers by accepting Sainsbury’s Brand Match vouchers until the end of June, as well as giving their own brand match guarantee on top, is a short term win or if it will keep those customers for the long-term.

Dogged by dodgy labelling
Dewdney warns that although moves are in the right direction for Tesco, it needs to be mindful of Lewis’ promise of transparency. The latest allegations of Tesco labelling their value range with the names of fake farms and misleading customers are not going away and could impact on future trust in the chain.



A slight change of MOOd for the Complaining Cow

Today I did a guest blog post for Tesco about supermarket pricing. Are supermarkets giving us value for our money yet?

Even more odd, it was, in the main, positive. Followers of me on this blog and social media know that this is strange but apparently true. Do not worry, normal service will be resumed shortly. I am not letting the story regarding misleading the public on the non-existent farms lie, as further investigation is being undertaken!

In the meantime, if you are new here you may wonder what on earth I am talking about. Well, my history with Tesco may explain and gives you all the links to various stories of complaint, taking them to court, meeting the CEO etc. I’ve also written and been in the media about Sainsbury’s, Morrisons,  and various articles/media appearances on supermarkets generally.

If you want to email a CEO at a supermarket you too can do this! It’s easy! You won’t always get a response directly from the CEO, but your enquiry should be passed to his or her own executive team, rather than to customer services. For the best ways of complaining see Top 20 Tips for complaining. You might also find the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! useful.

DaveLewisBlog-e1433412538144Tesco ceo email address



Sainsbury’s ceoemail address


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