The Complaining Cow interviews Tesco bosses Dave Lewis & Matt Davies

The Complaning Cow & Tesco CEOs

Frequent readers of this blog and followers on social media will know that I have quite a history with Tesco, in complaining, taking them to court, meeting Dave Lewis etc etc! Anyway when I met him in September 2014 he bought 100 of my books, made me get arm ache signing them all (he really should buy another 100 as it’s now been updated!) and invited me back to chat with his executive team in November 2014, when I said I should interview him.

It’s now nearly two years on and we got there. I know, how these organisations can work so slowly beats me. I had loads of questions, loads. The list grew and grew the longer they took to get their act together. Then we had a date and ol’ Dave decides the new Tesco UK CEO (Matt Davies) should also come. Maybe it was moral support?!  Apparently these two don’t do many interviews and this one was the first one they did together.

Then the powers that be said no-one would watch a film with 40 questions in it! Fair enough, so we got it shortlisted down to 10, filmed for the best part of half an hour and then it got edited.

You should know of course that there were really rather brilliant questions and challenges which were edited out 😉 In all seriousness though, it should be pointed out that Tesco did have full editorial control.

The Complaining Cow and Tesco CEOs

Can you see the chair I was sitting on and those nice biscuits on the table? I told the team that there was no way I was eating that chocolate biscuit until after the interview because I had cream trousers on. I don’t think people believed that I would be as daft as I was implying. By the time I had finished the biscuit there was chocolate on my trousers and underneath me on the chair. (I wonder if it still there? I did apologise). This skill of getting chocolate under oneself whilst eating was inherited from my Dad. So was the grey hair and funny bones but sadly not the brains! Anyway, I digress…

What do I think? Well to be fair, I like both Dave and Matt  who are both very personable and with a sense of humour, which is a heck of a lot more than a lot of CEOs out there, I will say that! Dave is a lot better than his predecessor too but again, let’s be fair, Clarke was pushed. I think they are pretty genuine and I think they have the respect of their staff and really are working towards improving service (yes I know it couldn’t have got much worse!) The proof is there in the figures that sales are increasing.

Their answers?

How Dave sees Tesco connecting  was interesting. I’ll be watching how they develop that, which is no easy task!

The Complaining Cow asks Matt Davies about pricing in Tesco

Pricing – Tesco is getting better in this area and, yes, we all love a bargain but I still don’t want to be working out whether 2 blocks of this cheese is better value than 1 block of that same cheese and needing a calculator to work out price per gram?!

Service – time will tell – what was cut actually was a question from my Mum. She wanted to know why staff couldn’t just open a bag of oranges and let her buy a single one when there were no single ones available. Matt spoke about moving towards enabling customers to feel that they could be empowered to make those choices. Now that is an interesting concept and a tricky one to navigate, so we shall see.

Perceptions of quality – testing – Tesco will be doing an updated post on how to become a tester soon.

The Complaining Cow asks Tesco Dave Lewis about fake farms

The farms? – The farms? Huh! Dave and I have batted emails back and forth about the fake farms issue and I still don’t agree or accept what he says. Shall I agree to disagree? Of course not. You can read more in the article Fake farms – a bad country smell that won’t go away, including background information from social media, NFU, ASA and Trading Standards

Right. Those adverts?  I’m pulling faces at Dave because he knows what I think of them. Tesco takes flak in the battle of the Christmas adverts and I don’t think they are getting any better. He didn’t answer the question about stereotyping (he must realise?! As someone who works in children’s services I don’t like the way the adverts portray Mum as knowing what she is doing and Dad doesn’t know about offers etc. and the message this is sending to children) And in any case why do you need to be paying expensive actors for these awful ads anyway?   Also – cut from the piece – I suggested that Dave might like to get some creative ideas from customers – we could tell him what we would like to see in an ad? He did say he thought it was a good idea… You could email him and tell him your ideas if you like.

As for the clothing? Well I can tell you that sitting in front of them the evidence regarding shirts was right there! When we can buy wellies in May we will know they listened.

All in all? Had a good day, personable people to chat with (and the team involved with filming were fab, has to be said), lots to talk about and I’m quite sure quite a lot to complain about in the future! Remember Dave DID tell me to keep complaining and well, seems like a nice chap, so happy to oblige.

 

A slight change of MOOd for the Complaining Cow

Today I did a guest blog post for Tesco about supermarket pricing. Are supermarkets giving us value for our money yet?

Even more odd, it was, in the main, positive. Followers of me on this blog and social media know that this is strange but apparently true. Do not worry, normal service will be resumed shortly. I am not letting the story regarding misleading the public on the non-existent farms lie, as further investigation is being undertaken!

In the meantime, if you are new here you may wonder what on earth I am talking about. Well, my history with Tesco may explain and gives you all the links to various stories of complaint, taking them to court, meeting the CEO etc. I’ve also written and been in the media about Sainsbury’s, Morrisons,  and various articles/media appearances on supermarkets generally.

If you want to email a CEO at a supermarket you too can do this! It’s easy! You won’t always get a response directly from the CEO, but your enquiry should be passed to his or her own executive team, rather than to customer services. For the best ways of complaining see Top 20 Tips for complaining. You might also find the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! useful.

DaveLewisBlog-e1433412538144Tesco ceo email address

 

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Sainsbury’s ceoemail address

 

AsAsda Executives… Photograph by Richard Walker/ImageNorth www.imagenorth.netda ceo email address

 

MPotts2orrisons ceo email address

 

TheBossMCWBiographyMainImage (1)Iceland ceo email address

 

W1459851147366aitrose ceo email address

 

download (3)Lidl ceo email address

 

images (4)Aldi ceo email address

 

Richard_Pennycook1Co-operative ceo email address

 

Any other CEO just click here.

 

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

Sainsbury’s Justin King shows how to care for customers

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.

Santa Mildrew
Happy Christmas at Sainsbury’s!

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?

Evaluation

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

Update 07/09/16

The tide is changing with a change of CEOs in both Sainsbury’s and Tesco. Sainsbury’s profits wounded in supermarket price war, Sainsbury’s nectar turns sourThe Complaining Cow’s history with Tesco

But if you want to complain to any supermarket you may find the bestselling book GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS! useful.