Tesco, The Nadir Of Good Customer Service
A few weeks ago I had gone up to Tesco to get some staples for the kitchen, bread and milk and a few salad bits, I didn't have any cash but I had my cards so no problem. I didn't have any customers booked in for breakfast, but I'd put a "back by 8.30" notice on the door just in case.
At the check out I presented my business card, typed in the pin number, and the machine said that I had entered the wrong number. I very carefully typed in the number a second time, again it was refused, and a third time, really carefully now, making sure I could not possibly get the number wrong, and the card machine cancelled my business card.
Slightly annoyed now I tried my personal bank card, with the same result, after entering the number the machine said I had entered the wrong number. I was asked to go and see the manageress at 'Customer Services' where I explained that the store PDQ machines were wrongly refusing my attempts to type in my pin numbers. The manageress said that I had typed in the wrong numbers, I said that this was not so, she said it must be so because the till said so, I said that the till was wrong and possibly malfunctioning. The manageress denied this and I had to go back into Ilkley to wait for the bank to open.
At the bank I explained my problem and they checked my cancelled business card and my personal card, on their system it showed I had entered my pin number correctly three times in a row. Just to be safe they wiped my pin number and re-entered it, then we tested both cards in the cash point, but I didn't withdraw any cash thinking that now my cards were fine I could go and pay at Tesco.
Back at Tesco, and now three quarters of an hour after my own business should have been open, the tills declined to accept my card, so back to the store manageress. The tills are not working I said, it is your cards she replied, no said I, I have been to the bank and they have checked my cards it is your machines, no said she, it is your cards.
I was a bit annoyed now, I had wasted almost an hour on a ten minute shopping run, and the store manageress was telling me I was wrong even when I had verified that I was right. Perhaps, I said, as everyone here knows me, and I'm in the store spending good amounts of money three or four times every week and have been doing so for years and I am known to many of the staff as a local businessman, you could let me take the shopping away (there was less than £50 in the trolley) and I can come back later and pay.
This is the bit that really got to me, the manageress seemed to take great pleasure in telling me that she would not even trust her stuff to take goods away unpaid. Three or four other Tesco staff had been watching this exchange, I said I would trust any of my staff and perhaps if she treated people a little better she would get more trust in return. Her supercilious facade slipped for just a moment and then she offered to let me sign and override the pin number, which could have been done in the first place.
I really don't understand the lengths that Tesco will go to to be unhelpful, and let me be straight about this, the floor workers and till staff are on the whole very friendly and helpful, it is the management that seem to go out of their way to spoil your day.
As Tesco has pursued a policy of price undercutting which has contributed to the decline in the numbers of other small traders, many local business' who require low cost goods (nursing homes, guest houses, off licences, golf clubs, hotels etc.) now get their basics at Tesco. To help and facilitate our shopping, Ilkley Tesco has placed a ban on anyone buying more than 8 of any item in any one trip, the reasoning for this (as explained by the manageress) was that "we put offers on and sometimes the local traders come in and buy everything".
Sorry, you put goods on offer, they sell out and you think that it a bad thing ? If I put something on the specials board and it sells out I call that a good result, the desired result in fact. This rule is posted on the rear wall of Ilkley Tesco beyond the check outs, so that if you are unaware of the rule before taking your trolley load you will suffer the embarrassment of having it removed from you. I saw this happen at Easter when a lady who was trying to purchase Easter Eggs for each child at her school was told she could buy no more than 8 eggs a day, she said that the school had bought Easter Eggs every year at Tesco to give to the children, but she was refused. That's right, a shop refused to sell its goods to a paying customer.
This is the perverse situation of power that Tesco have made for themselves, they have spent years developing a pricing strategy that now undercuts wholesale suppliers, then they refuse to sell goods to you. Now, you can reserve goods in advance (three days in advance is the booking time I think) if you want more than 8 items, but this isn't advertised either, and as I have tried to explain, my business is very much tied to the weather. Looking out the office window right now, I can see that I won't need much stock today, the wind is blowing hard and rain is lashing across the roof in front of me, but had it been a dry, sunny and hot day we would require more bread / milk / salad.
Ilkley is still a nice place with a number of great independent shops, but the giant corporate monster that is Tesco would like to build a huge new store which it admits will drain millions of pounds annually from the local economy and will replace good personal service with the sort of impersonal corporate bullshit that I have detailed above. Keep voting no folks, Tesco are trying to become a single shop that contains everything, it could reach the point where the only place you ever shop is Tesco, for food, clothing, electrical goods, books, cd and dvd's, car and home insurance, dental and medical insurance, pet cover, mobile phones, holidays. Think carefully, do you really want your town to clear its shopping areas for the Big Brotherish Tesco Hyper Conglomerate ?