Yesterday Martin Lewis asked for people who have had successes with gaining money back using Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. Obviously I have! More than once! Having good stories to tell I got in contact with Laura. She wanted me to come in to be interviewed this morning. I couldn’t because I wouldn’t have been able to get there in time (despite her kind offers of help). She told me that for the rest of the series they will be looking at people that need Martin’s help on various topics. This is the only segment where they needed to find people to talk about their success stories. For example, they’d be looking for someone who has had a private parking ticket further down the line, but not someone who has already successfully appealed against it. (Of course I have had success appealing a parking ticket!)
The excellent Watchdog, and charismatic Dominic Littlewood etc. all focus on people who need help in gaining redress. How about a programme showing people who are doing it without help? Don’t get me wrong, there is certainly a place for these informative programmes (even threatening to take matters to Watchdog is often enough to get what you want!) and they do cover the more difficult ones where often I would simply be taking the company to Court. (Yes done that and won too more than once!) However, in addition to this style of programme wouldn’t it be good to see normal people challenging CEOs on their customer service? Or simply gaining redress on simple matters? Wouldn’t that make for a different kind of programme? It would be just as helpful as the other types. Sometimes people watch Watchdog and think that there’s no point in trying to gain redress from companies because it’s too difficult, takes too long or they don’t have the knowledge. I would love to see (be part of even!) a programme where average people assert their legal rights and indeed are part of improving customer service with their feedback. This might encourage people to fight too! I’d give Anne Robinson a run for her money if I could speak with Phillip Clarke CEO of Tesco who ignored me! More than once. Perhaps some more women on there too BBC?!
Would you like to see a programme where you see people fight back at companies treating them inappropriately? Find it interesting, useful, and/or helpful? Who wants to put the TV series proposal together?!
Last Christmas I arranged a Sainsbury’s delivery. Free delivery for over a £100 for the Thursday. Family, visitors and all that stuff ensured it was a large order. Over a week or so I added to it. Now, you have to ensure that if you change your order at all that you must checkout again. You can amend your order until 11pm the day before delivery.
So, there I was amending my order and went to checkout at 11.01pm and lost my order! I could have cried! I telephoned Customer Services who were really unhelpful. I pointed out that no-one else could have taken my slot at that time and they could fax the order through to the store particularly as the delivery was for the afternoon. They would not help.
Now, one of my ploys when something is, to be perfectly honest, partly my fault, is to find how it is possible for it not to be my fault! Then add this to the poor customer service and take it further. So, I trawled their site (and I do think that the section has now gone!) and found some wording that suited my needs! It said something along the lines of completing the order by 11.00pm but not actually checking out. (Sorry at the point of finding all this out I didn’t know I would need to keep it all as reference for a Blog so don’t have the actual wording!) So, armed with this ambiguity, the fact that their site is slow at checking out time and the CEO’s email address from this site . I emailed Justin King.
So after pointing out the appalling customer service and how I would never shop at Sainsbury’s again and they would be losing a good customer and a few more moos here and there I requested that I still got my order even paying for the delivery for the following day if necessary as I appreciated that he would not read the email until several hours later. (That was kind of me I felt).
The response was amongst the cream of the crop in the hundreds of replies to complaints over the last few years. Justin King responded personally. Excellent start. It used to happen occasionally, but as people are getting access to CEO’s emails more readily it usually gets passed to his/her Executive Office, but at least it is not the Customer Service department. It IS more likely to get a better response so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get a response from the CEO anywhere when you complain. As for business, well look what happens when the CEO responds personally. Word gets round that you care about your customers. Care about your customers the profits will look after themselves.
Justin King apologised for the Customer Service most profusely and stated that I would get the delivery the following day and some compensation. Pretty good eh? Actually it was better than that because I got through an email from the website thanking me for the order and providing the list of my items and a new delivery date/time and another email with a £30 voucher before I even got the email from Justin King. It is of course most likely that he got someone to sort this out rather than arranging a delivery himself (I don’t think my name precedes me that much!) However, he did something and he wrote. At the very least he ensured that the Customer Service I received once the email to him had been read was superb.
Also worth a mention. I’ve often complained to Sainsbury’s and Tesco and without doubt Sainsbury’s respond more appropriately, do what they can to make amends and always provide vouchers. Treating your customers well and apologising with the word “sorry” and offering goodwill gestures encourages loyalty. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s how you address them that matters.
However, an update as of 05/05/15 I don’t think the new CEO is good for Sainsburys. Look at what he’s done with the rewards card. The jury is still out with Dave Lewis at Tesco but I do think it is going on the right direction. But who is loyal to any of them?
Said it before and I’ll say it again, customer service comes from the top. Justin King clearly sees that Customer Service is vital in gaining and retaining a top position over other supermarkets. It does work, I have been and will continue to use Sainsbury’s more. Compare this with Tesco customer service where there appears to be a quite different approach to customers.
Sainsbury’s contact details
Customer service email here
Customer service ‘phone numbers here
CEO email address here
Last year this mob annoyed me. Why? Because they annoyed my mother. You know how it is, it’s bad enough when someone annoys you but when they start on your family, well that’s it isn’t it really? So, after listening to my mother moan about it for ten minutes (so therefore two minutes too long, you know how it is) I told her to give me the details in an email and I would deal with it. I knew this was going to be a hard one. Cars are a difficult one, it’s very hard to prove faults and well, it’s hard! But I’m The Complaining Cow, so I complained.
Earlier that year she had bought a Smart car. A couple of months later my brother noticed that the front near side tyre was flat. (The car hadn’t been driven for a while because my father had been seriously ill). She therefore called Smart Assistance who sent someone out for recovery. A garage repaired what appeared to have been a slow puncture. The repair had cost £12.00.
A couple of months later my mother went to drive the car and the battery (original battery) was flat. Again, she telephoned Smart Assistance. The battery was put on charge and she was told that everything was fine and to leave the engine running for 20 minutes. She then went out in the car to a local garden centre. She went back to her parked car after three quarters of an hour to find the battery flat. She ‘phoned Smart Assistance once again who again sent out a recovery vehicle. The man said luckily he had a smart battery that was suitable in the van. So he replaced the battery and charged her £53.00. (I know, disgraceful huh?) She then telephoned Mercedes Taunton and explained what had happened and asked if it was under the warranty I don’t much care much for warranties. I prefer the Law. My mother was entitled to a full refund as the car was sold as satisfactory and in good running order. It was not. I believed that Mercedes was therefore in breach of the Sale of Goods Act 1994 again so a full refund is what she would get! Now you would need to quote The Consumer Rights Act 2015 for purchases made prior to October 1st October 2015.
Later they phoned back to say that Head Office, as a goodwill gesture would give her back half of the amount, they refunded £26.50.
Since then the car had been running well until a month later. My mother drove the car 6 days previously, but then the battery was flat. She ‘phoned Smart Assistance yet again. (Oh poo, only just realised that I should have been claiming for ‘phone calls!) He found the battery to be faulty. He tested everything including the alternator etc. He said she would have to take the car back to Exeter which was ridiculous. (It’s about an hour away from Taunton). He then drove her to Mercedes Taunton after charging the battery. She spoke to someone and they said they’d call the following day. They didn’t and she had to ‘phone them. I know, dreadful! Anyway, she was told that there had been a problem and that the battery was not only faulty but their suppliers had sent a wrong battery to replace it, and could she should ‘phone the following day.
My mother was told that they hoped the right battery would be in by Monday 21st and that it would cost her £147.00 and she could come and pick the car up.
It was at this point I stuck my hooves in….
So I complained. A lot. I didn’t want her to:
have to go and get the car,
pay for the puncture repair,
pay for the faulty battery,
pay for the new battery and I wanted her to be refunded fully for the first one, oh and something for the inconvenience of course!
We wanted to return the vehicle for a full refund. I knew this was never going to happen, but here’s a tip, always always go for more than you want. That way they can come down thinking they have won something and you get what you want!
The Manager offered to return the car when the battery was done at just the cost she had had refunded! i.e. she would still have to pay the full cost of the battery! So she would, in effect have a new battery which I didn’t think she should have needed and be out of pocket by £53.00. I thought this wasn’t good enough personally.
So, off went an email to the MD pointing out a few legal facts, quotes from their publicity and the like. Few more emails backwards and forwards. He seemed to think that we had no grounds for returning the car and couldn’t prove anything regarding the car being faulty at time of purchase. However, I am pleased to say that my powers of persuasion convinced him to pay:
£12 puncture repair refund
£53.00 battery refund
£100 goodwill gesture (I do so love these goodwill gestures)
(She had the £26.50 on top of this already paid by the other people!)
It took a while but I refuse to accept the first response if I don’t like it! I was particularly pleased that garages in Taunton were impressed saying that Mercedez are notoriously bad with their customer service!
Customer Service 4 out of 10
MD 7 out of 10
Prize £191.50 plus a battery
Nothing enough to actually write a letter of complaint to anyone but after 3 hours at the Lakeside outlet here is my little list
1) M & S didn’t have a coat discounted from £68 to £14 in my size
2) Home and Sense in Romford had a vase, I went to get it at Lakeside they didn’t have it
3) Next didn’t have my size (I’m a 10/12!) in hardly anything I liked in their outlet
4) Boots only had self service checkouts going, really hate them!
Then here comes the one that will have irritated many of you I’m sure..
5) Long queue at Asda outlet. THREE people all standing on the shop floor doing nothing but watching the queue and talking to each other. They weren’t helping any customers because they were all in the queue.
Oh and another common irritant;
6) Discount price cards tagged through t shirts. Cut it off and there’s not one but 2 holes. Idiotic.
Now, you could say that there isn’t anything stores can do about the above. But there is actually. You know what sizes go first, make more of them! Have an order in service from other stores in the chain. Put at least one member of staff on a checkout, we know you are saving money but actually it’s easy to go somewhere else when just buying snacks so it backfires. Manage staff properly and encourage them to use their initiative such dealing with long queues and staff not doing anything! Have a written procedure for attaching cards to clothes! You’d think it was common sense but the ridiculous amount of times it happens it just supports my belief that common sense is a skill and a difficult one to teach at that. Encourage them to use their initiative! See here for more tips!
Got some bargains though so can’t complain too much….
But should you need to email the CEOs of the above here they are:
Complaining effectively and not just for complaining’s sake all started here for me. Then some months ago, whilst successfully task avoiding and hunting through threads on LinkedIn, I came across Steve Clarke’s thread. He challenged people not to complain for 7 days.
You can see where he is coming from. Not focusing on rubbish instead of the job in hand, positive thinking and all that. Of course there were the sheep who followed Steve and did all that “cow” towing about how it completely changed their lives! But being the argumentative soul that I am, I waded in with the fact that sometimes complaining is necessary. You gain redress, bring about change and can bring in funds!
John Towers posted this: “Would it be valid to draw a distinction between moaning and complaining? I would suggest that a complaint is an expression of dissatisfaction which the person voicing it would expect to result in some sort of positive remedial action (probably by somebody else!), whereas a moan is a negative and apathetic response by someone who is not prepared to take responsibility for a situation”
Now that is probably a more eloquent way of explaining the difference between moaning and complaining than mine in the “About” page! We also agreed that where services for vulnerable people are concerned complaining is not only good it is essential! We work in businesses where we have to be ready to make and deal objectively and fairly with complaints, not least because it is stipulated in relevant regulations. That in turn makes improvements in services, why wouldn’t you want to have that approach and make a difference in any other kind of service?
Steve did concede though that “Yes there’s an art to effective complaining – where you see a positive outcome”. Hey I’m an artist! He also wrote how he didn’t complain when an organisation contacted him while he was on holiday when it was clearly at fault. Steve was satisfied with not complaining and just confusing them. Me, I would complain and gain redress from them for inconveniencing me with their errors!
Steve and I were possibly arguing semantics at times, but in essence you are looking at not complaining and just getting on with the task in hand or complaining effectively and getting a positive result. To be fair they probably both have their place, but I’m a Change Manager, I want to affect change, have fun and if I gain redress for others and myself where applicable all the better. I had to stop arguing with Steve on Facebook and LinkedIn when I found out that he was using my posts in a seminar as how he got someone using one social network to engage on another. Someone called me a stalker because of the length of my post! NO! It was a long post because I used lots of evidence to back up my argument! Interestingly Steve did not engage in the debate. Perhaps more sensible than engaging in debate with me maybe or not practising what he preaches…?!
I disagreed with Steve’s “Good enough is good enough” stance arguing that “Good enough is not good enough” (Steve Jobs’ legacy!) I also disagreed with him when he said that an email sent with grammatical errors didn’t matter. So I do hope that this Blog is good enough and there aren’t any errors!!!
The 7 Day Challenge thread was probably one of the main inspirations for writing a Blog! (Cheers Steve!) Firstly there was no way I was rising to the challenge! Secondly, because I’ll use any tool available to me to prove my point, I decided to use a Blog!