Supermarkets: The good, the bad and the ugly

Supermarkets, love them or hate them, most of us use them. Most of us have opinions about them all too. I surveyed the public and found these top five hates of supermarkets:

  1. Queueing
  2. Rude staff particularly those talking to colleagues when they should be paying attention to the customer
  3. Companies not accepting responsibility – ‘we are sorry, how can we put this right’ not lame excuses or blaming customer
  4. Staff who don’t know what they sell or how things work
  5. Change dumped into your hands with screwed up notes and receipt to follow

There are no surprises here. People just want good service and all these issues relate to the ethos of the company and how well the staff are trained. Interestingly, all the issues that people rate the highest are related to service, not quality, products or prices.

So do prices and quality of food feature when we look at specific supermarkets? Here’s what the public thought, in summary:

SupermarketThe best thingThe worst thing
AsdaPricesCustomer service including the desk not being open when the store is
WaitroseQuality of food and range that you can’t get in other supermarketsOverpriced items that you can buy much more cheaper in other supermarkets
Sainsbury’sQuality of foodCost and the Nectar scheme
MorrisonsQuality of foodOverpriced and shelves often empty of offers
TescoClubcardVariable quality on food products
AldiValue for moneyDisorganisation in clogging up aisles and not enough staff on checkouts
LidlGood fruit and vegHaving to watch “best before” dates as products may often be past these


Supermarket responses

Supermarkets were given the opportunity to respond to these findings. Here are the supermarket responses:

An Asda spokesperson said: “Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and listening to their feedback is what drives us on to do better every day. We’re grateful for this feedback and will continue to work hard to deliver even better prices, quality and service for our customers.”

A Waitrose spokesperson said: “We work to offer consistently good value, which we firmly believe is a balance between provenance, quality and price.”

Sainsbury’s did not provide any comment

Morrisons did not provide any comment

A Tesco spokesperson said: “Clubcard is a great way for us to say thank you to our customers for choosing to shop with us, and we know it’s something they really value. It remains one of the biggest reasons why people switch to shop at Tesco.”

An Aldi spokesperson said: “Our customers regularly tell us that they shop with Aldi for everyday low prices and an enjoyable shopping experience. Our efficient business model means our checkouts are 40% quicker than other supermarkets, which reduces queues and requires fewer staff, saving our customers both time and money.”

A Lidl spokesperson said: “We are proud to have unique measures in place to help reduce food waste in the home. This includes choosing not to print a ‘best before date’ on many of our fruit and vegetable items, instead opting to print a code showing the date that the product was packaged. By not having a ‘best before date’ on certain products, it allows the individual customer to assess the fruit or vegetable product by sight and feel, judging for themselves if it is to their liking.”

In Summary
For 6 out of 7 supermarkets price and quality was the best thing about individual supermarkets. For 4 out of 7 supermarkets, price and/or variable quality of products was an issue and for 3 out of 7 it was the quality of service.

Rewards are clearly becoming more important to customers. Tesco leads the way in this area with its Clubcard, offering the most points per pound and variety of how to spend them. In comparison Sainsbury’s reduced their points value on Nectar in April last year, with fewer choices to spend them on. This clearly hasn’t gone unnoticed by customers, given that is cited as the best thing about Tesco and the worst about Sainsbury’s.

Consumers are flocking to the discounters, which do not offer the same range as other supermarkets, so people will not completely stop using larger ones and discounters may need to look at more expansion of their product ranges. Supermarkets need to offer something over and above price. Price wars will have to end eventually and for supermarkets at the cheaper end of the market service is clearly an issue.

Marcus Williamson – editor of the website CEOemail.com which provides contact details for CEOs – says “The number of people seeking contact details for the CEOs of supermarkets is still alarmingly high. This suggests problems with customer services which could be resolved by better training and by empowering staff to make a difference.”

It’s clear that prices and quality form an important part of why people shop at a certain store but  it doesn’t stop them complaining about service nor does it stop people shopping around once prices settle down across the sector. The rise of collect and delivery services will need to also rise to the challenge of providing good customer service.

Shopping habits are changing and service will have to improve dramatically if supermarkets are to retain existing customers and gain new customers.

 

Tesco | Complaining Cow meets Dave Lewis and Matt Davies

And if you have an issue with a supermarket or any other store and want redress, see Top 20 Tips on How to Complain and GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! 

Don’t let faulty electrical products give you a customer service shock

Don’t let faulty electrical products give you a customer service shock

After Black Friday (week?!) and Cyber Monday and with many electrical bargains snapped up what do you do when an item is faulty? Do you take it back? Do you get fobbed off? Do you still use it?

It is National Consumer Week and a survey from Citizens Advice found 66% of people have had an issue with a faulty electrical item such as a TV, a mobile phone or a household appliance in the last two years.  Just over half of people surveyed (53%) asked the retailer to provide a refund, replace the item or repair the product. But around one in four (28%) said the retailer turned them away, either redirecting them to the manufacturer or refusing to help.  Only 61% of those who were initially turned away eventually got some form of redress after being persistent.

Emma Drackford, Head of Communications at Electrical Safety First, highlights the dangers of not returning faulty products. “We know that many people continue to use an electrical item, even when they are aware that it could be faulty or dangerous. Our research shows that only 10% to 20% people respond to a recall, despite the huge risks of electrical shock, fire or even death that faulty electrical items can present.  We have seen cases of faulty products such as fake Nutribullets which have caught fire after several weeks or even months of use. If you’re aware that your product is fake, substandard or has been recalled we urge you to stop using it immediately and report the fault to the manufacturer or retailer. Seven in eight accidental fires of electrical origin are caused by products; continuing to use a faulty electrical product is simply too big a risk to take.”

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Elizabeth Doyle-Davies plugged in her Amazon Kindle Fire charger overnight. It caught fire, causing huge damage to her home and meaning that the family to evacuate the house. This shows what can happen when using faulty electrical items.”

 

fire damage caused by faulty goods

Helen Dewdney – The Complaining Cow consumer blogger, campaigner and author of How to Complain The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! is not surprised by the statistics. She hears many of the fob offs that retailers give consumers, “Take it back to the manufacturer” or “We will only replace the product” are extremely common. “Unless consumers are fully aware of their legal rights and assert them too many will get fobbed off by poor policy and untrained staff.”

So, what should you do if you have bought one of those faulty electrical items? “First and foremost know your rights” she says!

  • Under the Consumer Rights Act those electrical items, should be as described, match the description, be of satisfactory quality and last a reasonable length of time. So if the item is in breach of any of these then up to 30 days you are entitled to a full refund. After this time you may have to accept a repair or replacement.
  • Give a gift receipt. Your rights transfer to the recipient but remember the 30 day rule, so you may want to try the item first.
  • Do not be fobbed off by “Take it to the manufacturer”. Your contract is always with the retailer who sold you the product.
  • If you do not get a satisfactory response to your complaint try emailing the CEO about the issue. You can find their contact details on the ceoemail.com website.
  • If you are still not happy with the reply, ask for a letter of deadlock or if after 8 weeks from the initial complaint, take it to the relevant Ombudsman. Many of the retailers selling electrical items are members of The Furniture Ombdusman so when purchasing items you can also look to see if the retailer is a member before you buy.
  • You have the same consumer rights whether you buy in a shop or online. If a retailer says you have to pay return postage this is not correct! You may have to pay if you just change your mind (under the Consumer Contract Regulations 2013 – you can send items back for a full refund up to 14 days after receiving them).