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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


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

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71 replies on “The Complaining Cow v Tesco in court”

A well deserved win!

It show’s you have been through so much palaver to get this winning result.
If I was in your shoe’s there is no way I would find the time or have the patience to fight this.

Once Again Well Done!

Thank you – please don’t forget to tweet it out and spread the word that it’s possible to take these people on and win!

Hi I have just been barred from Tesco’s because I told them each time I come in I get told to either follow arrows or you can only have certain items or come back later and que like every one else I’m a key worker and get told that I can’t nip in and buy a few goods the woman at Tesco’s arrogant yes I complained nothing done then she shouted in the street don’t come back your barred

Well done!! No I probably wouldn’t have taken them to court, but that’s cause I wouldn’t have a clue lol. We need more people like you willing to stand up to the big boys 🙂

What a result! Sometimes we all feel we are not being treated fairly yet not many will do anything about it.. Well done!

I had the same problem a couple of weeks ago. On the Friday night I wanted to use doubled up vouchers to buy some toys for my grandsons’ birthday presses. Website didn’t recognise the codes. ‘Phoned their 24-hour “helpline” (with the 0845 number printed on screen) who said that I needed to talk to the “Tesco Direct” number and put me ‘through! Unfortunately their office hours finish at 20:00 Friday – such a helpful recorded message at £1 an hour charges.
On Saturday, the website did recognise the codes (note to IT tech team, if you run back up software try to make sure it is a CURRENT back up version) but didn’t double up their value.
I emailed the voucher codes, order number etc and told them that their software was faulty. I got a cut and paste set of sentences back from someone telling me that I had to redeem the vouchers through the doubling up process first, before putting the codes into their checkout software (pardon?). That is obviously untrue! I then emailed their response back to them (literally) highlighting the “error” contained in their “advice”. I have had a “refund” of the cash value of the vouchers put into my bank account.
Good result overall, except for the unnecessary time, phone costs and email hassles that should have been seamless during the initial order process on the Friday night, and the patronising reply that implied that I didn’t read/comprehend their myriad process steps, when I patently did follow all the onscreen prompts!
I am glad you won your court case. I didn’t need to sue, but I still recognise all of the frustration you have experienced getting minimum-wage call-centre monkeys to accept that no matter how brainwashing their training course was, the IT software is only as good as the garbage fed into it and “computer says no!” is not a valid response.

And no goodwill gesture for you either! we shouldn’t have to fight like this but hopefully as more of start to fight and take our business elsewhere things may change!

Well done Helen! Didn’t doubt for one minute you would lose! And yes I too would have taken that route …… If I shopped at Tescos!! X

Well done Helen. A great result for you, though not sure I would have gone down that route, not knowing enough about the law. X

1. Brilliant! Well done, thank you. go get the buggers.

2. You asked for too little. If you only spent 7 hours doing a task, you would have earned roughly that £50 at minimum wage. If your time is paid for at anything above that, say £15 per hour they owe you maybe £100 in wages. Plus wear and tear on computer, stress, phone calls, use of office etcetera, etc. If you had been a male architect in court, you would have asked for a day’s fees, probably about 800£. The judge would’ve knocked that back to maybe £400.

Moral of my words – don’t sell yourself short.

I’ll let you into a secret – I did go for time and hourly rate but you aren’t entitled to it under any of the consumer Laws 🙁 That was part of what the Judge said.

Dear Miz Cow !
To Tesco you are probably a gnat, not even a bothersome gnat, as they just ignored you. In Scotland they have Midgies, which are even smaller than gnats, BUT when there are so many of them they have been known to drive cattle and sheep so crazy that they have run off cliffs.
We need more Midgies in this world. I’m with you next time you are ready to take someone on.

I think there’s a compliment there somewhere?! But yes that’s one of my biggest points. If more people complained then service would improve certainly. Join me on FB and follow me on Twitter to get involved! If on twitter don’t forget to tweet the post!! 😉

It was definitely a compliment. I believe like you, don’t whinge, complain constructively and be persistant, and not forgetting to be polite.
My pet complaints are about hospital administration. They type a letter incorrectly or fail to send one off on time someones life could be at stake. Personal experience talking here. Keep it up.

Yep more tips like that on the Top 20 tips!

Our family had problems with hospital care for my father. I wrote an 8 page log and 2 sided letter to go with it on all our issues surrounding my father’s care. I felt it important because although it couldn’t bring my father back or undo the appalling care he had nor the distress it caused our family but I do believe it made some changes to the future care of patients given the investigation and measures they say they wer going to put in place. Some of them basic things like having certain basic medical supplies on the ward! It took a long time and was obviously not fun like writing complaints usually is! That’s why I won’t be writing it up as a post here but certainly would urge people to complain. If people don’t tell hospitals what is going wrong how do they know what to change?

Thank you Helen for taking the time to stand up, I don’t think I would have persevered!
It’s not much for the time you spent, but it makes the point.

Thanks yes its the principle of the thing! I wonder how many people also failed to be able to use their vouchers and didn’t perserve – extra profit for Tesco?

I love suing big companies – so far Virgin, BT & BA have ended up in court defending the indefensible – corporations 0 – £7,200 Me

Exactly some people say not much return for the time but actually the time for court was much less than the time spent tweeting them! Next time (there’s bound to be a next time!) I would say try a couple of tweets but if they don’t answer satisfactorily stop. Hope it encourages more people to complain!

[…] Helen (The Complaining Cow) shows you YOU CAN take a stand against being ripped off by big corporations like TESCO. […]

Oh well done, i have learnt to hate Tesco so much, they are so rude and arrogant, I just wont go there any more

I had a similar tussle with one of the now defuct Comet group companies over a defective VHS/DVD/HDD recorder. It was clear at every stage of my complaint that company policy is to resist and rebuff consumer rights. The email exchanges with customer services were extremely entertaining as the poorly trained staff endeavoured to run rings around me. Finally, I lost patience and told them that would be issuing court proceedings and seeking a FULL refund. That put a rocket up them and I was able to come to a equitable settlement.

As you have yet to receive settlement, apply for a CHARGING ORDER. Tesco’s will not like this as it will appear on its ‘books’.

Yep, once you quote your legal rights it all changes. Appalling practice but widespread.

[…] I love the complaints that only take five minutes and you get a good return. Also to be fair let me point out that the redress was good from Dunelm. Not like Tesco eh?! So it just goes to show you that you should always complain! Done properly you always gain something and so actually does the company and they are getting some praise here too! It’s not about gaining freebies. I didn’t anyway! I gave it to my Mum like a good dutiful daughter! Yes I know if you were my mother you’d want more than £10 as compensation but hey ho, thems the breaks. My time was wasted and I wanted redress for that. In addition, they annoyed my mother and given what happens to people who annoy my mother I think they got off lightly don’t you?! It’s rare that you actually end up having to go to court!! […]

[…] other people so these complaints aren’t always gaining redress for me!! But hey guess what, Tesco ones are and I haven’t even listed that! D’oh! I haven’t included a few Marks and […]

[…] poor companies and certainly I use Twitter to spread a message (I think over a 100 rt’s on Tesco case shows that!) but as for actual resolution it will always have to be more than social media although […]

[…] so, you are probably looking for the Tesco court story. You’ll find that here, the update here the end here,  the first post about Tesco here some fun with Tesco here and […]

Well done and good on you for sticking to your guns. I’m about to help my disabled mum take Tesco’s to court for failing to repair or replace an iPad even though the Sale of Goods Act and advice from The Citizens Advice Bureau confirm that they should. Wish us luck!

Good luck but if you can avoid court try using these tips first and seeing this post about your rights. You could also try emailing the CEO – and see all my posts and activities with Tesco here.

Tesco don’t care about there customers and this includes CEO Dave Lewis and other senior staff at board level. I know from experience, writing to Dave Lewis etc and they tell that they will not help and they now ignore me. Someone in power needs to shut them down or remove those who don’t care. Tesco need to make a change to the company.

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