The Complaining Cow Meets New Tesco CEO Dave Lewis

The background

Those who have been with me for a while will know that I think this is funny. Really funny. I started this blog with a complaint about Tesco back in July 2012 and how Clarke was pig ignorant compared to his predecessor and competition counterpart at Sainsburys. Then I ended up taking Tesco to court and then Tesco failed in paying up. Then there was the insect in the rice. Few others I think, then the last one was on my opinions on Clarke. Still say I was right and I saw the demise of Tesco coming years ago. The Complaining Cow’s history with Tesco for all continuing stories.

I didn’t actually mean for the blog to turn into a “Have a go at Tesco” site but it does appear to have more than its fair share of my complaints. Perhaps because Tesco is so big it therefore has more complaints, but I’m only using the one store so it is one store against all the other complaints so if you use that comparison one person one store then hey Tesco is pretty damn poor even if I shop more there than any other if you see what I mean?!

Clarke

Anyway, Tesco annoyed me so it had to be done. So when Tesco ditched the ignorant one (mind you, did you see his pay off for being rubbish? I thought that only happened in the public sector where it is more difficult to get rid of incompetence! See here story in The Independent – it was reported that Clarke got £10mill! Surely not for crying out loud? I always say customer service is not rocket science but these people clearly need a rocket stuck somewhere with a touch of reality thrown in. And Dave if you’re reading this and I know you are, then in your meeting on Thursday – yes we would all like to see Clarke pay back some money please and give it to your charity department. Not that one that begins at home, but the one that gives out to the community).

Writing to the new CEO

So where was I? Ah yes – so when Clarke was pushed I sent the new to be CEO one of these bottles. Remember what the foolish, ignorant out of touch with reality IDS said? “What is it?” Ha! I see a new career for Clarke. Anyway, Dave wrote to say thank you and would like to meet up when he started and told me to keep on complaining as that is how they would improve! Ha again!!! Wrote and told him it was a good start! He had replied at least and appeared to have manners. Time will tell if he has more than just better manners about him.

Here’s the funny part. Now, unless you are new here, you will know it amused me when the financial scandal hit the press, to go and test him. Many of my Facebook page likers agreed, many others didn’t think I would email him! They hadn’t been round very long. So I emailed him. I kindly acknowledged that he was busy but perhaps he would like to hear some customer views? Anyway, after asking me to give a few days when I was available and my replying with, any except Friday, I was given a Friday. Seriously. Anyway. I met him. Maybe he’s astute, maybe he’s mad or maybe he was plain scared! Who knows, could be all 3. But we met for just short of two and a half hours and told him there’s more! Well the man asked me for my opinions, what did he expect, he’d seen the blog?! When I told him I emailed him to remind him he wanted to meet with me because the timing amused me he said it was “cruel” in good humour mind.

The Complaining Cow meets Tesco CEO

Dave Lewis Tesco CEO & The Complaining Cow
Dave Lewis Tesco CEO & The Complaining Cow

I got offered a cup of tea straight off which was a good start and I was just about to complain here that there were no biscuits but I vaguely remember he did offer actually so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Next time on the plate just there, chocolate I think. 🙂 Earlier in the year I was invited up to AO which was great, the CEO with common sense. They treated me very well and it was a really interesting experience, but one tiny thing let them down, just one. I didn’t get a single cup of tea. When I got back to the hotel I drank 3 cups on the trot I think!

By the tobacco stand – didn’t notice that, urgh. That was his fault, he chose where to stand. Have to say, didn’t give me the shudders like taking a selfie with IDS did!

So, what did I tell him? I told him what sort of image Tesco has, as if he didn’t know. I told him that Adrian said “I used to shop there always. Now I don’t, I shop at Lidl and have done for 6 years saving circa £9,000 at the last reckoning. That’s all he needs to know!” Told him to look at the list of complaints on the Facebook page to save me listing them so go add your complaints there as well as below. 🙂 He said we may have different opinions on things – I said that of course we will, but mine would be right!

Most importantly told him my Mum’s complaints about Tesco and my 6 year old son’s – that the people who choose the shopping keep giving him pink Kinder eggs and toothbrushes. He asked me if I told Dave off. I did son, I did!

Told him his job was quite easy, frankly. It is not possible that he could be as bad as Clarke and short of going bankrupt it couldn’t get much worse so there is only one way to go. Sainsbury’s had a great CEO, (look at this article in the Guardian – shows just how much he was liked and respected by employee and the public) he had very good manners. As Marcus of www.ceoemail.com said “Leahy and King were gentleman.” Being a decent human being would appear to be important in making a success of a company. Filling King’s shoes – not easy. To be fair Clarke had a similar job filling Leahy’s. But he failed. Big time. I think the new CEO at Sainsbury’s has a much more difficult job than our Dave – whether I shall go offer my help to him remains to be seen…. I really should go and test his manners shouldn’t I?

Whether Dave or his driver last when they see how long it is going to take them to get back to Richmond from Cheshunt come December also remains to be seen!

I sort of mentioned the finance situation… he was good humoured about it, possibly because I took the mickey somewhat, probably light relief, but he  did say at that this stage he was not going to defend or otherwise his finance staff.

PR Department

I found out the Tesco PR department is absolutely dire. My words not his. Tesco actually does some good stuff which we don’t know about. (I know, high praise indeed given that it’s from me but I am harsh but fair.) Someone at the top has no idea what everyone else in the company is doing and is only firefighting or doing nothing and giving no direction or the whole department is utterly useless. Now, whether that someone at the top was Clarke or the head of PR (ultimately it is the CEO of course, but for how long will the new incumbent be able to play the “It wasn’t me guv” card?) it will make a nice change to pick on a  different department 🙂 ‘cos yes I’m going back. I’m going to chat to some of his senior staff, he’s even buying some of my books for them. There better be tea and biscuits.

Tesco Customer Service Contact Details

UK customer enquiries

Tesco Customer Services
Freepost SCO2298
Dundee DD1 9NF
Tel: +44 (0) 800 505555

Email: customer.service@tesco.co.uk

Oh and looky look I give you Tesco CEO email address He apparently only gets 2000 emails a day I’m sure he’d welcome some more. 🙂

The Complainers Giving Complainers a Bad Name?

My experience with The Complainers
Well The Complainers filmed me. Lovely Tom and Jon came to film me and said they would be back to film updates to the stories and film me with the blog and stuff! I’m probably old enough to be Tom’s mother but should you ever be filmed by Dragonfly (they made The Hotel – hilarious, and One Born Every Minute so a great company) ask for him, he is very very easy on the eye! 🙂 They asked to be kept informed and that was that. I kept them informed, the researcher seemed interested in the workshops and community radio I was doing, all more interesting than filming someone emailing and said she’d ‘phone on the Monday. Then I was on the BBC….. Then it all went quiet. I joked that perhaps Channel 4 may not like showing someone who had been on the BBC! It became clear that despite more interesting things to film, like having my carpet cleaned courtesy of The Body Shop and updates to stories, workshops and radio, Dragonfly didn’t contact me. After a few months I was curious why and emailed. Jon replied “We had a bit of a change of direction after we met you so it became more about longstanding complaints within the utility sphere and then it got more focussed from there. Certainly I hope when you see the documentary that our episode wouldn’t have been the right fit for your endeavours, even though both Tom and myself had a fantastic time coming to meet you.”

Hmm, I took long standing to mean longstanding. My complaint with Virgin that they filmed had reached the point of CISAS and that has to be 8 weeks before you can do that. I thought all my stories re Tesco showed that I often picked on them. But then we saw the first episode and things became clearer.

The first episode
I thought that this would be interesting. See things from the other side and how Transport for London deal with complaints. Although we didn’t see that. We saw abuse sent through Twitter which is nothing to do with complaining. We saw Traffic Droid, giving out red cards to road users who in his opinion were not abiding by the rules, and by others’ opinion, putting others in danger. I’m not certain as I got so bored watching the programme. The Telegraph summed it up in a good review. An opportunity to show what happens in call centres but we didn’t see one complaint being handled. There must be hundreds of complaints about transport but did we see any? No. Far too much of one person, even in the name of entertainment was he really the only “character” they could find? So if you were watching in the hope of finding out how to complain about delayed trains this is what you need.

The second episode
Councils. Well this will be full of “characters” I thought. Even if we don’t see complaints being resolved. Nope. Just a few yet again. Ridiculous, there must have been loads to choose from. An extreme complainer – no sign of complaining about consumer issues or asserting legal rights. At least I think in this episode we did see a couple of call centre staff answer a call and resolve a complaint.

The third episode
Well apparently this is the one I would have been in. And there it was the reason I was not used. Fair enough. Yep, “My endeavours were not a good fit”. No wonder Tom and Jon wanted to come back to my house and have me cook for them! They must have liked coming to my house, it was clean and they happily drank tea, ate biscuits and had a glass of wine. But I am polite (well, when I write complaining to companies) assertive and use the Law. At least the programme was extreme enough for people who don’t complain to realise that this is not the way to do it and hopefully see that not everyone sees a complaint as an “opportunity”. Shame about the stereotyping too for 2 of the characters, although moving your stuff via a nicked shopping trolley did make me laugh Ian 🙂

Overall thoughts
Well, I can see why I wasn’t used! Although I write (I’m reliably informed) a useful and entertaining blog and give good free advice on social media I’m not sad/loony/desperate enough to go looking for complaints or continue on and on with the same complaint (having got it resolved in the first place). I named the insect in the Tesco rice Phillip after the CEO and I had a hammer which I was tenderising chicken with while I slated the Tesco CEO. It amused Jon and Tom at the time but I think that as time progressed and the powers that be decided they wanted extreme complainers (as opposed to people complaining and asserting their legal rights) it would have been used if I had gone to the Tesco offices with insect and hammer in hand demanding to see Clarke!

I loathe the term “serial complainer” and “professional complainer” both are ridiculous terms and don’t reflect what many other people and I do which is to complain effectively. We don’t go looking for complaints or continue complaining when a matter is resolved. But the people reflected in this programme were not just asserting their legal rights or righting wrongs. A better title for the programme would have been “Extreme Complainers”. Then that would have truly reflected the programme. As it was, it was disappointing as we didn’t see how best to complain or how complaints were dealt with. Should you want to know how to make complaints effectively then I talk about tips:

and 2o Top Tips

So all in all, I was of course a bit gutted that I wasn’t filmed more and shown as it would have been great PR for the blog. If I didn’t write this blog I wouldn’t have wanted to appear so perhaps that’s another difference between your average complainer and an extreme one. I was filmed for Ripped Off Britain last week, so looks like I’m more of a BBC gal! Tell you what these director chappies are really very nice although you should shave off the beard Iain, it doesn’t suit we need to see more of your face 🙂 I also think that directors are like police officers, all getting younger and making you feel old!

But the real shame is that such an opportunity to inform people was missed in an effort to “entertain”. But if they were wanting people to talk about it like Benefits Street the commissioners or whomever made the decisions to change the focus from genuine complaints and looking at how complaints are dealt with to showing extreme complainers were misguided. Reviews have been poor, characters were limited and people don’t care enough. Benefits come from our taxes, we generally care how our taxes are used and it is an issue which gets people worked up. You are either a complainer or you aren’t. One isn’t going to get worked up about how someone fills their time when it does not affect them personally. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is a need/opportunity for a programme on how people complain without being an extreme complainer and without having to resort to media programmes like Watchdog to take up cases. Sadly, The Complainers did not fill that gap.

What did you think of The Complainers?

If you want to be an effective complainer and always get redress, then buy the book!