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 him time and bought some chocolate from Sainsburys 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

Smart Car not smart enough for this Cow! Gaining redress for faulty new car)

Mooooooooving on

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 01 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.No smart customer service at Smart car!

It was at this point I stuck my hooves in….

So I complained. A lot. I didn’t want her to:

  1. have to go and get the car,
  2. pay for the puncture repair,
  3. 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!)

Evaluation

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

Rating – Churned out ok eventually

If you find yourself in a similar situation and need some help. See Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively 
Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

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