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The Complaining Cow v Tesco in court

Helen Dewdney V Tesco the result

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

The story of why Tesco was taken to court

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.

The start of the story

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?

Trying to use Clubcard vouchers on the Tesco website

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.

Attempted correspondence with Tesco

The problems were not resolved 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.

Threatening Tesco with legal action

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. (You would now use Consumer Rights Act 2015).

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.

Writing to Tesco CEO

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).

A response from Tesco

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.

Starting the Small Claims case against Tesco

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…?

Tesco tried to settle out of court

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.

The result of taking Tesco to court

“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?

Updates to taking Tesco 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

 

Help to complain effectively

5 ways how not to use Twitter to complain (and 5 ways how you should)

The Complaining Cow’s Top 20 Tips for How to Complain Effectively!

How to contact a CEO for complaints

Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively

Publications to help make effective complaints

Cover of How to Complain updated 2019 large cow logo

And if you need help with complaining effectively and making sure you are never fobbed off. GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

 

 

 

101 Habits of an Effective complainer book cover with logo

 

101 Habits of an Effective Complainer provides you with more tips like the one in this post

 

 

 

 

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Purchase downloadable templates to gain redress

The Complaining Cow – free support for businesses

Want to do the right thing for your customers and get them coming back time and time again? Here are some resources.

It takes 5 times as much to gain a new customer to retain one. So work on turning your customers into superfans who do much of the heavy lifting for you!

Join the Facebook Group Increase Sales through Customer Service: Compassion, Care and  Integrity  A private group where you can give and get support, advice and share good practice on how to improve customer service.

Free download Customer Service 5 ways to get rave reviews & referrals a few tweaks to your customer service can help you reduce the risk to your company’s reputation, finances and impact on customers and increase sales.

Services to improve customer service and increase sales

The Complaining Cow Services for businesses If you would you like to turn past, present and future fans into superfans who rave about your business and do the marketing for you. Or you want to know more about how to improve customer service and find out what consumers want then contact Helen helen@thecomplainingcow.co.uk

Categories
Supermarkets

Tesco – Phillip Clarke is no Sir Terry Leahy

And a few years on we have Dave Lewis as the new group CEO and Matt Davies as the UK CEO being interviewed by me! (Although Tesco had full editorial control):

Tesco | Complaining Cow meets Dave Lewis and Matt Davies

For links to lots more recent stories about Tesco and me including taking them to court and winning see Complaining Cow history with Tesco.

For the whole story so far see Case study: Tesco and a consumer champion

Tesco UK CEO email address

Tesco Group CEO email address

The post below is from 2012.

I had a right beef with Tesco! 

Tesco Service Omnishambles!

Diabolical! It was my latest dealings with Tesco Customer Service that gave me the final nudge to get this Blog started!

Update January 2015

I have realised that when you put “Tesco Complaints” into Google that this post comes up. Hilarious really. Since writing this post I have had more dealings with Tesco, including taking them to Court. Please see links to all these posts The Complaining Cow and Tesco history

Also people will insist on assuming that they can complain to me as if I were a Tesco employee. Rather foolish and obviously shows that they haven’t even read this post! Also, gives some indication perhaps as to why their complaint is being ignored by Tesco if they  don’t actually read things or are simply rude!

Tesco contacts for complaints

I also keep being asked for contact details for Tesco so here you are:

Tesco contact details:

email for customer services: customer.services@tesco.co.uk
email for CEO here
All Tesco departments contact details here. ‘phone numbers and addresses.

If you are looking for how to complain to Tesco, see the links are above and you might also be interested in using the book How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

Tesco – Phillip Clarke is no Sir Terry Leahy

Years ago I complained to Tesco when Tesco was doing well and when Sir Terry Leahy was CEO there. I got a personal response that was signed by him. One can assume that as the new incumbent Phillip Clarke  ignored several emails from me and the customer service is shambolic, that contempt for the customer is creeping in, perhaps a very good reason why Tesco has slipped from its top position.

Summary (all correspondence available on request!):

4th June took items ordered from Tesco Clothing online back to the store for refund. Had used double up vouchers. Customer Services representative did not know what to do and had to telephone Tesco. I was told that he needed to “…give [me] a few pennies and that somewhere between £5 and £10 will be credited to [my] account.” Told him not acceptable! More confusion and went back after shopping and was given misinformation and nothing in writing although I requested it.
4th June wrote to Clubcard no reply
12th June forwarded email to Customer Services requesting something done, pointing out that doubling up vouchers offer ended on the 13th June and £5 was still in the Clothing website account incorrectly, it should be on the Clubcard or £10 in Clothing otherwise it was a credit note and not a full refund
13th June forwarded email to Phillip Clarke Tesco CEO requesting something done
14th June Tweeted to Tesco and after several Tweets sent details on
15th June and got a reply that did not relate to the complaint but a previous one and made no sense!
15th June Tweeted as such to Tesco and emailed back. Told back in touch as soon as possible
15th June – received email stating that she was unable to work out what complaint to respond to (despite the actual email being in the body of the email and nothing else in the original email!) Offered £20
17th June – wrote back attaching the relevant email again and pointing out that I had now missed website offers due to their delay in responding
18th June – still no response
19th June in the evening – Tweeted that still not had response
19th June – Tesco told me email was in the queue. Reminded them that my original email was dated 4th June! Told that the manager could ‘phone but couldn’t email! Asked for that bizarre state of affairs to be added to the list of complaints! (Was never explained why she could ‘phone but not email!)
19th June – told would get a response by email soon as possible
21st June – still no response. Told would get that one that morning
21st June PM – got an email from the Executive team offered £40 Tesco Moneycard apologised but did not address all complaints, I emailed back as did he no further forward.
26th June – received an email from the Customer Relations Manager at Tesco apologising and saying that the CEO office had responded. I emailed back pointing out the 2 issues regarding not being able to take advantage of offers on the website due to the delay in responding had not been addressed
28th June – received email from Executive Office stating surprise that I had said 2 issues were not addressed and I had copied and pasted a paragraph from previous email which did not address them!
3rd July  – sent a clarification email, I also asked if he would like a link when my Blog was up and running!
6th July – agreed in part with what I said (he had no choice, I was left with money in my Clothing account against their own policy!) that’s the end of this matter at last. Would have been at the £40 but he went and wrote to me suggesting I was wrong and he certainly wasn’t going to get away with THAT!

I asked if they would like to pay me for my knowledge and experience of customer service and how they could improve. They declined my offer! How very silly!

Evaluation

This was a sorry state of customer service. So many people wasting so much of my time! So many not given the right tools. It reflects badly on Tesco too when you think this is how the CEO of Sainsbury’s responds to a complaint. A different league in CEOs from a customer’s point of view I’m sure you’ll agree?!

As you can see, it wasn’t about gaining money it was about the principle of the thing. Annoyingly I went to Tesco to use the Moneycard so I could then take my custom in future to Sainsbury’s and forgot to use the card! Dozy cow! But the next time I went I bought just over £40 of shopping had a £4 off voucher used a £10 Tesco gift card (I have forgotten what I complained about to get that!!) and the £40 card. £13 left. £40 worth of shopping and get £13 change! Amooooosed me!

Seriously though, in May of this year Which? published a Customer Service survey of 11,000 people. Tesco came 4th worst!  A change in focus from the new CEO at Apple from customer to revenue (remember Steve Jobs’ legacy Good enough is not good enough) is not helping their profits either!

 

Update to this post. Do have a look at the other Tesco posts some are more amusing 🙂