The Complaining Cow v Tesco #TescoFail!

Oi! Don’t just jump to the bottom to see if I won! There will be a test later you know to see if you read it all!

Let’s start the post with a great big sigh. *Sighs. Most people who ever shopped at Tesco will share my frustration. Actually I didn’t realise just how many until I took to Twitter and looked at the @Tesco timeline!

Yet More Reasons to Avoid Tesco
Yet More Reasons to Avoid Tesco

Okay so where to start. Well, unless you are some rich person who doesn’t live on the same planet as the rest of us, (in which case thank you Mr Cameron and colleagues for taking the time out of working out how to cut even more payment to the most needy so that they can’t afford to live and therefore die and become less of a burden to the tax payer, (I mean that is the theory isn’t it?) to read my Blog) you will know that Tesco provide reward vouchers for spending in their shop. More if you use their credit card.  Every so often it is double up rewards time. Great. Nope. Why? Because most of these double up vouchers people tried to use on the TescoDirect website. Oh how efficient. Wrong again. Why? Because the website was utterly flawed.

So, I start my sorry tale back on the 20th November. The system said items were in stock, got to checkout they were not. I emailed and said this was failure of their site. I had cashed in vouchers that if not spent by the 13th December would be lost! I got the vouchers to buy something that once at the checkout (i.e. after you get your vouchers!) I couldn’t use! They would not refund if the items didn’t come back in stock. Personally I do not think that is fair do you?

So I spent them. Later I tried a million times (ok a slight exaggeration, maybe hundreds of thousands) to process my vouchers on £80 worth of items.  I got this message “Sorry, we cannot place your order at the moment. We’re trying to fix the problem as soon as possible. Please try again later.” So fed up was I that I telephoned. That’s how annoyed I was. I hate telephoning complaints! The automated answering message informed me that they had had problems on the site and they were resolved. They were not and as was quite clear from the @UKTesco Twitter timeline, remained. Whilst waiting to try again on the line the line was cut off. Now, I wasn’t even speaking so it wasn’t me being rude! So I emailed. I got a response to say that the technical team were looking into it. I emailed back saying still a problem and expected redress as the time spent on the matter amounted to more than any savings from using the vouchers.

I got an email back saying that I would receive a goodwill gesture. (I believe that many gestures followed and none of them were goodwill ones). Charlotte told me that if I couldn’t use the vouchers then pay and she would refund on receipt of the voucher codes. So I duly tried again leaving the system for 24 hours. This time it was a different error. It accepted some of the codes. So I just paid for the full amount and emailed Charlotte. This was now the 26th November.

Now Tesco had my money. Actually it had the £80 plus £40 of vouchers which doubled up were £80 and those couldn’t be used. So I told Charlotte this and of course Charlotte just responded saying okay just let her have the voucher codes. No, it went unanswered. I forwarded it 2 days later stating that I would go to Trading Standards for breach of the Consumer Act for unfair trading and the Sale of Goods Act 1994 as amended for not honouring a contract. So that obviously got an answer. Nope. Emailed the following day saying that papers were ready to go the Small Claims Court. So of course I got a response then when they knew what I was talking about? Nope.

So I wrote to the CEO. Now, if you’ve read my other post about Tesco then you will know that I knew I wouldn’t get a response. So I did actually start the email with “Obviously this is a pointless email because you have demonstrated incredible contempt for your customers and this attitude it would appear is reflected all the way down the store and I see in your profits. There is a slight chance that someone in the Executive Office might see this though and save me the time and trouble of going to Trading Standards and the Small Claims Court”. I know I advise not using sarcasm but some people just really seriously try my patience.

Obviously no response.  So I took to Twitter. @UKTesco offered to help. Great. Nope. As I have now learnt from chatting to many people who complain to @UKTesco you get standard responses, delay tactics and no actual resolution. (Mind you look at this lack of security for Tesco customers that the Tesco Twitter team revealed). To cut a long story short, @UKTesco said Charlotte was waiting for the voucher codes. Huh? Yes. It would appear that she didn’t think it appropriate to respond to 3 emails to her to ask me for them even if it was “again”. Look how many times I tweeted the same thing to @UKTesco as I bored many of my followers! At first I refused, demanding the courtesy of a response. That tweet went ignored. (All very rude and not the done thing on Twitter at the best of times never mind being the face of a large company). So I said I would do it their way and sent Charlotte the codes. So, of course, I did what they requested and I had a response. Nope.  I tweeted @UKTesco, I said hello I’ve done it. I rt’d their response that they would look into it the following day when they still hadn’t got back to me. I asked if they were ignoring me. I didn’t get a response so take that a yes then! The last tweet they sent me said they would get back to me. They didn’t.

So there was nothing left for it. The Small Claims Court. I love it, the time consuming bit is over and it takes very little time to fill out a form. £25.

Small Claims Court Confirmation
Small Claims Court Confirmation

So over Christmas I took ‘em to court. All online, easy peasey £25 . Their defence was, shall we say non existent? I quote “That the defendant has been unable to use the vouchers is neither accepted nor denied” Eh what? Even better “The Defendant has no knowledge of any problems with these vouchers, as long as the claimant was using the correct process..” Copies of 3 emails saying there were problems, automated error message on their site and  implementing an automated telephone message saying that there was a problem meant…?

So, a week before the 6th June they tried to negotiate. Obviously. They were gonna lose. I knew this. First off they didn’t even offer me the court fee! Asked for more got the court fee and a few quid extra and you know what? Sod ‘em, that’s what I thought! They know they will lose I know I will win, who else will take on these giants it’s up to me to show Tesco that the humble shopper will not be treated in this way. “See you in court” said me.

But I didn’t ‘cos they didn’t turn up. Well obviously it wasn’t worth their while, they knew they were going to lose. So suited and booted (well sandals actually the sun was shining) I sat before Judge Vokes. He told me that he couldn’t see how I was owed any more than the £80 and court fee. Uh oh, Uh oh Uh oh, panic panic I’m a gonna lose I thought! “They told me in writing that they would give me a goodwill gesture” I said. “Not legally binding” said Judge Vokes. Oh I was going off this guy. “Sale of Goods Act… Supply of Goods and Services Act….” said I. “Technical babble about vouchers and stuff” said the judge. I was really going off this guy now. Hmmmm “I thought it was important that the single person should make a stand against a big company like Tesco and make people realise that they can stand up to organisations treating customers with contempt” I tried. The judge gave me a big big smile nodded and said “Well done”. I was warming to him now. I wish I had taken a photo. “Although the goodwill gesture is not legally binding I can deem Tesco as being unreasonable and therefore award you £80 refund, £11 for expenses, and £50 for time. Total of £166”. I seriously liked Judge Vokes big time now. I’d done it. I’d won.

Now, what I want to know is, will I get Clubcard points with that? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease let them not pay up in 14 days. I can send in the court bailiffs to sieze goods to the value of £166…… I’ll be picking up all the offers to get my money’s worth ‘an all!

I wanted to ask the Judge if he thought Tesco should employ me to reduce their level of complaints and increase their sales but thought better of it, thanked him for his time and bought some chocolate from Sainsbury’s across the road from the court and not the Tesco Express next door!

In short. I won. Many many hours of time on the matter and 7 months after the event, was it worth it? I think it was the principle of the thing! Would you have done it? Would you have let Tesco get away with keeping your £80 or would you have taken them to court?

June 21st update – payment not received watch this space for what I intend to do about that…

Update 09/07/13

Update 23/07/13

Links to all Tesco posts and contact details

Film made for Citizens Advice Bureau on the importance of complaining and taking companies to court if necessary

The Complaining Cow – expert complaining

How to increase a bank’s offer of redress

Change of name with the bank

Halifax Halifax Halifax. I have a choice of 3 complaints to do here. Actually 4 if you count the one I did for a friend and got her £500. Now which one today? Toss of a coin (yes 3 times don’t try and get clever with me you know it aint gonna work). Let’s take the most recent one.

I changed my name. Yes ha ha ha ha haha to all those companies to whom I haven’t yet complained who think they have my name. You don’t and you don’t know to what I changed it ner ner ner ner ner! (Slightly unnecessarily childish particularly given that I have just tweeted “How childish can politicians get? Seriously. “I win I got my Royal Charter” “I win I got my Law” Grow up & do what’s best 4 ppl!” But hey ho moving on).

So, got the  Deed certificate, paid for legal copies as some financial institutions needed them and others were happy with copies. Sent off details to Halifax and asked a simple question about fees on their card. You’d think that would be quite simple wouldn’t you, well obviously not or I wouldn’t be writing about it would I?!

The Halifax correspondence

From Halifax

I got a letter back addressed using my former name, not enclosing my document and not answering the question, but enclosing a new direct debit form! Fail on 3 counts! Rude huh?  So I complained. Obviously.

I got a letter back offering me £30. Now, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again if you don’t think that the amount reflects the inconvenience or time spent on the matter, particularly when they don’t apologise or explain the issues…. complain again. So I did. I was particularly pedantic actually.

From me

I pointed out the following to Ms R:

keyboard Bank made a mistake? Not happy with offer, how to get it increasedShe said Halifax disposed of the document because it was a copy. (Oh yes Dear Reader did I not mention that earlier? Halifax destroyed the legal copy that I PAID for!) It was not a photocopy. It was a “Certified legal copy of a Deed of Change of Name (Deed Poll)”. I expected to be reimbursed!

She requested that I send my deed poll to the same address as before. Given that this was the address at which I had my property destroyed I refused to do that again and enclosed another legal copy to her and trusted that she would at least not destroy it and return it!

I received no explanation why, when my property was destroyed, no-one wrote to me to ask for (actually another) the deed poll. Had I not complained I could have continued to wait for both my deed poll to be returned and to receive my new credit card!

She completely ignored by question about the Card and I asked for a third time and failed to explain or apologise for why I only received a direct debit form and covering letter which ignored the two out of three points of my letter. I found this extremely rude and unacceptable.

Now here’s the particularly pedantic part. I wrote “I quote from your letter “I can see that we’ve let you down with some of the points you’ve raised. However I hope I’ve explained that there are some instances where I believe our actions were necessary.” This would indicate that you believe, as you have written in the plural, that at least two of your actions were necessary and acceptable. Please explain which these actions are. Destroying property which does not belong to Halifax and I had to pay for, not writing to me regarding this, ignoring my query about the credit card and writing to me in my former name are my list of complaints (to which I have added today). I do not believe that any of these actions (or non action!) were necessary, some were just downright rude. Please do explain which two you deem as necessary as I am very interested and it is these that I shall highlight to the Financial Ombudsman in particular”.

I also expected more than the £30 offered.

Haifax redress

I got a response. In short, £12 reimbursement for the deed poll and £100 for the inconvenience.

So that was that. Nah, I’m pedantic remember. So although satisfied with the amount, I did need to write again and point out that I had requested the money be sent in a cheque and not put on the card which she didn’t do! So, as I had to write again I hoped that the following points would help her in the future.

1)       The first page of her letter was a photocopy and not the original on letterheaded notepaper.
2)       Fifth bullet point, incorrect use of an apostrophe in the word “fees”
3)       “are charges” not “is charges” would be grammatically correct (as in my letter which you could have copied)
4)       “You have been advised there is…” No, I advised you on this point and the instances are plural and therefore “are” not “is” is appropriate.
5)       No new paragraph on what should have been the first new paragraph on the second page.
6)       “…should be made clear to your at the time” should have been “you” not “your”
7)       “Halifax so not apply any loading..” doesn’t make any sense, I assume that you mean “do”
8)       “…and enclosed your Deed…” “enclose” not “enclosed”

Just a little bit....;)
Just a little bit….?

There were a few other things, (not least that she didn’t answer the point about which issue I complained about was necessary) but I won’t bore you now seeing you got this far! Well honestly, I do expect a letter from a bank to be written and checked! Yes, I could have saved my time but frankly, the poor quality letter writing annoyed me and anyway I was being helpful! Perhaps it helped in her future work. I freely give tips for companies  on how to avoid complaints!

So, share your experiences of the banking world. Which one is good which one is bad? I have found HSBC pretty good but last time I wrote to them customer service standards were going down and I had to write to the CEO. What do you think of your bank/building society/credit card companies?

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