Sainsbury’s Justin King shows how to care for customers

This is a post from 2012

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!

Although partly but not all my fault, I had still received poor customer service and their system wasn’t great.  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 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?


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

book Logo cartoon cow at a laptop of book cover. How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!


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.


47 replies on “Sainsbury’s Justin King shows how to care for customers”

executive office response to our complaints about early morning noise from deliveries to the Sudbury store has been totally unacceptable. Seven months down the road and still being woken at 3am by what sounds like the third world war from the warehouse. All talk and no action.

I like shopping in Sainsburys (Barnstaple) but I am loosing interest; Why? The annoying custom of forcing people to queue even during quiet periods by closing checkout points
and when staff are usually nearby chattering and I am thinking of my frozen food beginning to thaw. The increasing custom of ‘Buy 2 or 3 for XXX’ when I only need one. One suspects that the buyers of the single item are subsidising the offers and it certainly leads to food waste. What I want is the lowest price for the quantity that I want to buy at the time not a confusion of so-called ‘offers’. Going into the store in the evenings or at weekends and finding the fresh meat / cheese / fish counters closed. If stores are to have 7 day trading then so should their suppliers. It was for reasons like that that we abandoned shopping at Tescos but now we find Co-op more straightforward in their pricing and they push the bell to call more staff to the checkout the moment there is any queuing and they are either open or closed, not open with some departments closed. However, we still shop at Sainsburys as you have a much better range, but we avoid those 2 for £xx items. .

Couldn’t agree more. Today went in for 4 items, 2 items had empty spaces on the shelves – “We should have some in tomorrow” and “Would you like us to contact you when it comes in”. Queues at the checkouts 3 to 4 deep, not really unusual as they don’t want to pay staff and try to force you to use the self checkouts. Passed my 2 items through the self checkout and then got a message telling me a staff member would be with me shortly! Staff member busy with another customer but when he finished he just walked past me and vanished into the store. At that point I just left my items, complained to customer “service”, who basically couldn’t care less. and shopped elsewhere. Most of the U.K. supermarkets are mainly interested in how much they can pay their shareholders which allows the directors to get bigger bonuses. Customers are fairly low in the pecking order.

This is a very serious health and safety complaint,twice now I have told the manager and a girl called louise about the delicatessen counter at your bletchley branch,myself and 2 other ladies were waiting to be served,NO counter assistants were there,I had to call out twice, on the second call I got a reply of quote” hang on, im on my hands and knees under a table out the back” when she did arrive at front of counter she washed her hand under a running tap, NO use of soap,then said she did not know where the other assistant was,the other assistant turned up, and was asked by the first one if she could carve my ham as she was left handed and could not do it,the second assistant the handled the ham without washing her hands, to cut fat off of it,then went and washed her hands,this is so not acceptible, i have done my health and safety procedures and surely if yu have been on your hands and knees under a table you should wash with plenty of soap and water before doing food prep.that goes for both ladies,end of rant but I hope I will not have to take this further,it is not the first time I and others have had to wait,I will watch very carefully in future,

Regards Jose.

While Purchasing my shopping at a till , staff were talking in a foreign language whilst serving me. When I asked for the manager…not only did the employee take me to him…but stayed and listened to my complaint. The ‘manager’ although assuring me this would not happen again…did not remonstrate the employee…

Staff knowing how to deal with complaints properly, although hopefully spoke to the employee afterwards, not appropriate in front of you.

Sainsbury Local store at intersection of St John Street and Spencer Street in London Islington has an array of cigarettes on open display. Staff says it’s too much trouble to close the door of the display cabinet and that they don’t have to do the same as the main Sainsbury’s in Islington (bottom of Liverpool Road, near where it joins Upper Street). Is what they say true? The sight of all these cigarettes is sickening for ex-smokers like me; and will recruit youngsters into smoking.

I have email a few HR area managers, one passed me to the one from my region. In this I explained I wanted to do my complaining in private has I work in the store and have serious complaints of unfair treatment.
The region person requested we meet I replied no as I have to work there. Now they won’t reply to my issues. I have emailed them since Wednesday with no reply. I then emailed the first yesterday and they replied this morning. With an unfair answer so I asked them for Justin Kings email address, they emailed me back within 10 mins of their first email stating they were out of the office all weekend!
Please do you know how I would be able to contact Mr Justin King?
Thank you

Interesting page, I wrote to Mr King on 11.06.14 – have I got a response, no valid response just thank you for contacting us, we will look into it!!

Justin King leave in less than a month. He’s probably pretty busy! But your complaint is being looked into chase if you still don’t have one by now. Least you got a response, see my stories on Tesco!!

On the 31st of May we had a delivery from Sainsburys, 2 iceberg lettuce,a cauliflower and 4 leeks where all in dreadful condition,not the first time in the case of lettuce.
I sent photos of the items to Justin Kings email address, Asif Ali was appointed to look after this , he sent an email asking for my contact number which I replied to, no contact was made by him. I rang the number supplied by Mr Ali who promised to ring me back 13th June or 16th June at the latest, still no contact, I spoke again to Mr Ali on the 20th June, he claims he tried to ring me, not true because both home and mobile phones record missed calls and there were none, he went on to say that this had been passed back to Justin King to sort out, I’m still waiting, I made it clear from the start I’m not an ‘ambulance chaser’ looking for a payout but it would be have been nice for a reimbursement of the faulty goods at least.
Also Mr Ali tried to put the blame on their suppliers, my argument is that these items should never have got past the produce manager at the store and should not have been available to be picked from.
Looking at the comment above, why should I be chasing Sainsburys they should be trying to chase me.

I wouldn’t have bothered to go to Justin King with that. Those sort of things happen all the time in all supermarkets. I tweet the company the pictures and get refund. If you aren’t on twitter just email customer services. Simple things like this they can and do deal with quite easily. Email customer services and use the top tips on my blog! 🙂

I have been a Sainsbury customer since the Shrewsbury store opened over 20 years ago, spending between £100 and £200 pounds a week. A quick check shows me that my Nectar account has £176 in it.

Over the past few days I have been unable to buy Lactofree joghur because its space on the shelf has always been empty. I enquired today only to be told that if sales are not high enough it will simply be discontinued. I think such callous disregard for any customer let alone a loyal, long-standing one is reprehensible – it would have been more respectful to place a card on the empty space informing customers that it was no longer viable to stock Lactofree yoghurt.

I have checked and found that my local Tesco stocks Lactofree Yoghurt so that Sainsbury’s loss is Tesco’s gain.

A new Waitrose opens in Shrewsbury next year – I think that this kind of arrogance is going to cost Sainsbury a lot of high-spending customers – I certainly hope so!

Hi please, please can u help me!!!!!!!! I’m not so good with a computors and my sixteen year old daughter helps me. !!!!!! I shop on line every week. However!!!!! Apparently my daughter tells me that I can’t order my usual groceries online Xmas week. Is this true. I’m devestated if you can’t do this as I am a very loyal customer. Not only do I shop online. But I buy all my clothes, shoes boots gifts etc. it would be so unfair. It’s my daughters birthday on the 28th dec. always I order my food from your deli. Please let me know if you can’t accommodate my needs thank you

It will probably be that you can’t select the date until 3 weeks prior can’t see any reason why you wouldn’t be able to order on certain days. Obviously there will be days when they can’t deliver! Hope that helps

Thank you but SHE!! Read the blog! 🙂 Sorry deleted your other comment as the email address is in the post – also keeps it current for when current incumbent leaves…! But thanks.

Dear Justin King, I shop every week at courthouse green sainsburys coventry today l’ve been told that you will no longer be selling smoked salmon l am not happy . Every week l spend over hundred pound in your shop and if this is going to be the case l will shop at morrisons as they sell smoked salmon you’ve just lost a loyal customer and l will be telling my friends about this.

Please read the post above. I am not Justin King, nor am I Sainsbury’s. Incidentally Justin King left Sainsburys in the Summer of last year. Please read the tips and links to complain to Sainsbury’s.

Dear Justin King, I shop every week at courthouse green sainsbury today l wastod that the smoked salom is disscontinued l am not happy as every week l spend over hundred pound every week l won’t be shopping at sainsurburys any more l will be shopping at morrisons as l can get smoked salmon from there you’ve just lost a loyal customer

I am an employee of Sainsburys customer care. I am not speaking for the company in this message, nor am I a member of a publicity team or any of that rubbish.

To the initial commenter,

I understand this is almost 3 years old now, however this STILL occurs,

We CANNOT help a customer when they have left it so late that their order has been lost. The system automatically removes all available empty slots or those that are being amended and places them into the next days rota so that re-deliveries can be made in these slots.
The company clearly explains that a customer must COMPLETE their amends and CHECKOUT before 11pm.

Mr Carron
I do hope you still shop with Sainsburys! Unfortunately the needs of profit accumulation and customer satisfaction is a constant battle within all stores. If products do not sell well, it is unlikely they will be on the shelves longs, as the space is taken up when another more profitable item could take its place. It’s blatant capitalism, however, by extension, that Capitalism gives you such a range of products in the first place.

It is a shame that our customer services get a bad rep because some customers do not get things exactly their way.I find it funny that they will say things such as ‘I am never shopping with you again, I am going to Tescos’- I find this laughable because of course, we know how well Tescos is doing financially…plus Tescos is an INTERNATIONAL company unlike Sainsbury’s which is based only in the UK, we value the custom of every customer, because we need to. It is depressing when people do not understand that the services that are place now are beyond anything our preceding generations enjoyed, you don’t even have to leave your house now! We improve our services everyday, and hear nothing but complaints about the service, very little praise. Does that show that the service is bad? No, it shows that people are more comfortable complaining about something than giving it praise, because they think it is ‘the norm’. I for one am proud to work in Customer Care, and I will always get the best result for a customer,if they are kind and understanding, but not if they are petty and merely concerned with getting as much out of us as possible.

If you would like to know specific things about Online customer care(where I work) just type a comment underneath, thanks for reading.

Oh and one more thing, it is not my intention to suggest that anyone here is ungrateful, many of the issues here are genuine problems that can be addressed efficiently through Customer Care, of course, that depends on what colleague you get also, I certainly hope you get someone like myself in the future.


Thank you for your comments. As the blog post states – there was no message about checking out and indeed Justin King, in his email to me said that there had been a fault on the site. It is the service that he provided that was the important issue. I don’t think that the new incumbent has the same attitude towards customers.

As for Tesco…. well you might like to start here Enjoy 🙂


I had an incident recently where Sainsburys cancelled my delivery and closed my account. When I phoned for an explanation customer service couldnt tell me why, they transferred me to the Newbury Park store and was told the person that cancelled the delivery wasnt there and there was no record of the reason, I left my contact details and asked for an explanation.

I received an email telling me that my account was reopened and that I was a ‘valued customer’ blah blah blah but still no explanation and no record of my order in my account so I would have to order again item by item.

I emailed back listing my dissatisfaction with their customer service and copied CEO Mike Coupe into the email ( I received a reply the same day from his office acknowledging that it was their mistake, apologising and a 50 quid voucher.


I found this thread and so I thought I would share my recent experience with customer services at Sansburys Chesterfield.

Customer Services at Sainsbury’s Chesterfield, really sucks, in fact it’s wrong to call it any sort of service. I won’t be going there again. Here’s what happened. I had just finished my weekly shop in the store, I put my shopping into my car and went back into the shop to use the in-store photo booth to get passport photos, but had 2 x £1.00 coins and a £5.00 note. The booth machine requires 7 x £1.00 coins so I went to customer services and waited 10 minutes and no show from anyone, so I went to tobacco kiosk and queued up behind everyone buying cigarettes and lottery tickets etc, I eventually got to front of queue only to be told that they are not allowed to give customers change. I went back to customer services where there were now 2 people behind the desk, I asked them to change £5.00 for photo booth and was told that they are not allowed to give change to customers (How crap is that, what’s the point of a machine that takes coins where you dont give change?).
I went Dents photographic shop in Chesterfield, they took my picture, processed the film and gave me a set of passport photo’s, basically they completed the whole process in less time than I had spent waiting to be served in Sainbury’s .
Sainsbury’s Chesterfield should carry a warning notice stating that they do NOT provide change to customers so that their customers can use the photo booth and in my opinion by not doing so Sainsbury’s Chesterfield do not provide customer service, maybe that should be added to the sign also?
The morale of the story, Don’t bother going to Sainsbury’s in Chesterfield to use the photo booth if you don’t have £7.00 in change; Because Sainsbury’s are not allowed to provide their customers with change. Shop instead at Tesco.s, Asda, M&Ss or Aldi and if you want passport photos go to Dents for world class service.
Mike Coupe, you need to take a look at your shite in store policies for their losses, it might explain something more than consumers eating out! because this is another previously long standing customer you have lost.

Read your blog with great interest. At least whilst reading it kept me calm as I also got nowhere! Thank you for your advice, I kept my cool as you suggested, and picked up a few hints from you, still got me nowhere!

10 April 2015: ordered new iphone6 from Tesco mobile 24month contract

14 April: phone arrived and I set up new handset (proud owner of said phone)

18 April: first call to Customer service assistant. mobile very quiet on receivers side of conversation my side fine. CSA went through usual set up options. multiple conversation continued for 10 weeks between Tesco and myself which ended in my phone being wiped clean and restart by a CSA, whereby I lost all my info, photos etc. on phone.

10 July: I actually got a CSA to admit the handset was faulty! Tesco sent a bag to return phone to be fixed.will take 7-10 days. Took phone to my nearest store for them to switch everything off correctly and take out sim. Sent off phone.

24 July: Phoned asking when will phone be fixed and returned as 10 days gone since sent. CSA told me they had been texting me to tell me that ‘find my iphone’ still active and they could not open my phone to fix it!…. I asked who did you text CSA you on your mobile!….me But you have my mobile!!! CSA oh!?????. I managed to switch off ‘find my iphone’ remotely from my laptop.

30 July: Letter and NEW phone arrived, charged new phone, replaced sim, phone was frozen would not work. Phoned Tesco CSA who kept saying unusual for new phone, I asked was it new as was not in original box? Oh yes new refurbished. Me, so not new then. CSA oh yes new?? passed me on to other CSA. Me frustrated as getting nowhere as CSA kept asking me to do different things to phone and still not working after 30mins. Me I need a new phone, Brand new. CSA no only refurbished, Me stated sales of goods act 1979 ‘Under act goods must be as described’ of satisfactory quality & fit for purpose’ this iphone from start was not so would like to cancel my contract. CSA became threatening, Voice raised to tell me I was breaking contract and so £200-300 or more will come out my bank!. Me put me through to Supervisor please, not happy as CSA continued to threaten.
Supervisor much calmer, Me went through whole story AGAIN, apology from Supervisor he will listen to recording and phone me back!
31 July: Supervisor phoned me back, Umm call not recorded (strange as I was told it was) after much beating around the bush I got an offer of 1 month free as a goodwill gesture £50. and ‘brand new’ phone being sent out, will be with you monday, definitely Tuesday. Then post refurbished one back.

3 August: Bag delivered for refurbished mobile to return.

5 August: Wednesday No New phone delivered. Phoned CSA went through story AGAIN probably for the 20th time. I asked where is my phone? CSA you have to send other phone back first then we send out refurbished phone to you….. Me NO I want New phone… Saw your Blog….calmed down and asked why I was promised a new phone, Still got nowhere, CSA insisted No new phone and I must post the old one back first. Me Fine I said 10 weeks of a phone that did not work and almost 1 month of being without any phone, that Tesco CSA have been little to no help I’m contacting CEO Dave Lewis.
Phoned Dave Lewis spoke to his assistant Tom… Told story AGAIN., said I was very disgruntled and frustrated.
Tom I will pass this on right now to Escalation Team. They will phone you within 1 hour to get this sorted our apologies Tesco customers Very Important.

4 hours later………………………..NO CALL FROM TESCO!


Ombudsman next move!

You haven’t read much of the advice as in the tips I say write! 🙂 ‘phoning there is no record/evidence. Write to CEO of Tesco detail facts only with dates and times. You will get a response. Threaten legal action through the small claims court. Tesco is not a member of the Retail Ombudsman you will not be able to take your case through there. Hope that helps. For my Tesco stories see history here.

In answer to the above, I had a return call personally from Dave Lewis, (shock Horror) with sincere apologies he had been on the phone to Head of Tesco Phones Sales Team Manager, checked out my story and was disgusted with the way I had been treated.

A brand new iphone6 has been sent with a courier ‘Special Delivery’ and will be with me 1st thing tomorrow.

Credit where it’s due, he was extremely disappointed with the service I had received and when I told him I had been offered a paltry £50 he apologised again , he has doubled the initial offer to £100 and offered me £25 Tesco instore voucher. I was happy with the outcome and have accepted all three offers.

Not before I told him what I thought of the decline in the Tesco Customer Service team. I have been an employee of Virgin for many years and if they needed an insight to give them a ring and learn a few lessons.

So I retract my comment about Tesco CEO Dave Lewis. I may have just caught him on a good day.

See the link to history with Tesco to see stories regarding him, I think he’s not doing a bad job. I think there’s room for improvement still but given what he inherited and the previous CEO he seems ok to be fair. Liked him when I met him, but I’m a poor judge of character so who knows 😉

I’m sorry to say that I use Virgin and have found their customer service and senior team to be absolutely diabolical at times. In fact I have twice taken Virgin to the ombudsman and won. So very few companies really have it right.

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