Business Christmas Companies customer service Complaining about customer service

Tesco fails to deliver – on delivery slots!

Tesco fails to plan for Christmas

Tesco products in a basket

For many years now Tesco like other supermarkets has offered home delivery of your shopping. You can book hourly slots or flexible slots from 6.00am to 11.00pm every day. Tesco also offers a Delivery Saver options where customers can pay for a subscription-based delivery service to save money on the cost of deliveries.

Yesterday (12 November 2020) Tesco customers who are Delivery Savers received notification that slots for Christmas would open two weeks earlier than normal, at 7.00am the following day.

As you would expect, in a repeat of what we saw at the beginning of the March 2020 lockdown, people tried to get slots by staying up to midnight to book a slot as soon as it became available. However, customers queued online for well over an hour and in some cases more than two hours.

The Tesco Twitter feed was plastered with complaints about the site:

Many people complained that friends and relatives who had been in the queue for less time than them but that they were still waiting.

For many of those who were able to finally get a slot they then couldn’t checkout!


Others got through and found their basket had been emptied and had to start all over again.

At 9.45am a Tesco Spokesperson said:

“Demand for online slots over the festive period is high, and we have more slots this Christmas than ever before. We are experiencing high volumes of traffic to our website and Groceries app and are temporarily limiting the number of customers using it. We’re sorry for any inconvenience caused and would like to reassure customers that there are still slots available for both home delivery and Click & Collect over the Christmas period.”

However, this was not strictly true, as slots were not available from 8.45am:

And just a few hours after opening there were still no slots available. This was the situation at 10.00am:

showing all slots from 21/12/20 booked

Despite this, the Tesco Twitter team was still advising people that slots were available. It admitted that there were technical problems causing some of the issues.

Others offered ways round:

and using more than one device or having lots of tabs open can help too.

Numerous people told the team that the system was wrong and suggested solutions, such as using previous information from customers:

Other ideas included: giving priority to people who had been on the delivery scheme for longer than others, especially as some join the scheme purely for Christmas; informing people of where they are in a position in the queue; releasing some slots at different times of the day, especially as the planned 7.00am time left many parents unable to both watch the site and get children ready for school.

During lockdown many people tried to book a delivery slot and many of these people would not even have been Delivery Saver customers. So, in theory, today should have seen fewer customers trying to book a slot!  But it was chaotic and far worse than through lockdown, when people were left without delivery slots. This time they had to wait for two hours to be told they had missed a slot or get beaten by someone who had waited less time than them!

Tesco has increased the number of its delivery slots from 600,000 to 1.5million a week – which is more than double what was available at the start of the coronavirus lockdown but it’s not clear how many more, if any since the end of lockdown when we know slots increased hugely. In may 2020 it was 1.2 million.

Businesses need to be much better at planning these things. Christmas isn’t like COVID, it can be predicted! Tesco needs to learn lessons from previous years and indeed from throughout this year, when reliable home delivery has become so important.

ADR Ombudsman Business Complaining about customer service Latest News

Build your brand with Trust, Ethics & Sustainability

The 09 October 2020 saw the last day of Customer Service Week which is run by the Institute of Customer Service. That day’s theme was Trust, Ethics & Sustainability: Building brand reputation through your actions. And I wrote this article.

This year has seen a growth in the understanding and importance of these areas for consumers. Covid has put a sharp focus on how businesses behave. Whether it’s airlines not giving refunds or businesses profiteering or on the flip side businesses providing voluntary services in the community, consumers are changing their shopping habits.

When I asked people on my Facebook page about this it was quite clear that the pandemic has certainly made people rethink their shopping habits. Those companies that were seen to be doing the right thing and/or diversify where they could are being recognised and are likely to continue to benefit.

There are many more stories of people changing their shopping habits to move away from companies which are not doing the right thing.

Airlines have come under huge criticism for not providing prompt refunds for flights not taken. The regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority, has done little to help the situation as airlines continue to flaunt the rules. Amongst those is British Airways.

Jane Hawkes, Queen of Customer Service, who has a background in the travel industry says:

“Following data breaches, IT outages, strikes and now appalling handling of refunds for cancelled flights due to Coronavirus, British Airways is no longer the pride of Britain. Instead it has been referred to as a ‘national disgrace’ and is currently fighting for its survival with a policy of profits first, people second and levels of customer service at an all-time low. ’Trust‘, ’ethics‘ and ’sustainability‘ are words which sadly do not exist in its vocabulary, the result being that loyal desperate customers are still battling to get the refunds they are rightfully due.”

trust written in the sand

Refunds has been a huge issue for consumers and although they have generally been more tolerant of companies this year, this was during the lockdown period. Ombudsman Services undertook a survey regarding the effect of Covid-19 on complaints and found that 24% of those surveyed said that they did not complain at all during lockdown, as they were more lenient. 41% said that they had become more tolerant of poor service and 10% said that they were less tolerant. However, this tolerance cannot last and consumers’ patience has started to wear thin when refunds were just not coming when they were due.

Consumers are clearly stating that they will not use companies again that treated them badly. Those companies stubbornly and illegally holding onto refunds will see consumers undertake Section 75 refunds or go to the Small Claims Court and win. In failing to respect their customers they will lose both the money and the goodwill of consumers. And bad news about companies spreads quickly…

In more general non-Covid associated terms, Motoring Disputes Expert Scott Dixon, says that Evans Halshaw has consistently delivered a miserable experience for motorists over the years. “Buying a car is the second biggest purchase you are likely to ever make, yet car buyers are usually seen as a one-off opportunity to rip off with commission based add-ons – usually worthless warranties. Trust, ethics and sustainability are alien to most car sales staff and they are likely to be the least trusted.”

Whilst many car sales staff may disagree, anyone who has ever bought a car will have had the warranty sale experience! Few people know the difference between a warranty, a guarantee and their consumer rights.

Scott goes on to say “Car dealerships should play the long game instead of seeing customers as one-hit wonders. By doing so, they will inspire loyalty and word of mouth recommendations with customers acting as free ambassadors for the dealerships resulting in increased profits and sales long term.”

Many companies in the non regulated area are not members of an Alternative Dispute Resolution scheme. Those that are, show that they they are prepared to pay to go the extra to resolve any disputes.

There’s a growing movement for ethical purchasing too. Ethical Consumer is an independent, not-for-profit, multi-stakeholder co-operative which provides tools and resources to make informed ethical choices at the checkout. It has recently highlighted and continues to work on changing fast fashion practices and works in all sectors for example providing templates on informing banks on why you have switched.


So, businesses beware! The number of consumers switching to avoid insurance loyalty penalties is increasing, ethical purchasing is increasing and the tolerance of poor practice is decreasing!

In summary, do the right thing by your customers and watch profits grow. Do wrong to them and they simply won’t come back to you.

More articles on Customer Service Week

Know your customer

Where are your customer service skills? How do you improve them?

How to celebrate and recognise your customer service heroes

Bringing customer service to the Boardroom

The Complaining Cow free support for businesses

Join the Facebook Group 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 complaint handling.

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

Customer Service how to turn customers into superfans raving about your products/services

The Complaining Cow Services

To see how The Complaining Cow can help you improve your customer service see Services.