Saturday, 5 December 2009

When "Company Policy" Sounds LIke "We Are Going Treat You Like A Criminal"

Tesco's customer service is degrading. They treated me like I was a thief.

Just because you are a massive retailer like Tesco does not mean that you can humiliate and embarrass your customers when they ask for the correct change.

This evening I was in a Tesco on the Bristol ring road. I bought some milk and other bits and the bill came to £6.02. I didn't want to get a pocket full of change so I paid a tenner, and the odd £1 and a 5p coin that I had. The result, a fiver in change and a couple of pence.

I was handed my receipt and a 2p piece. I pointed that I had given a tenner, not a fiver and that is when I signed up, unwittingly, to their suspicions and degradation.

In front of a busy store, and my son who I had with me, I was told that they would have to "Check the till" before they could give me what I was perfectly entitled to.


The cashier called over the store manager who explained that she could not give me my money until she had checked the till. "Company policy." she said, that's all.

So I wait, my cheeks burning with embarrassment and rage, a queue forming behind me, while the manager counts out the till in front of me and the other shoppers. They are resenting the hold up that I feel I am causing. I am livid that my word is being doubted. So what does the manager say to me? Nothing. What does she say to the cashier?

"You can carry on serving now." and she walks away to an administrative section of the checkout tills, leaving me with the cashier.

The cashier looks at me and says something like "Er, you need to go with her..."

So in front of the whole queue I have to dutifully follow the orders I am being given and go to where the manager continues to count the cash tray she has taken out, taking my young son with me. At this stage I am fuming and so, mustering my most courteous tones I point out to the manager that;

"This is shocking customer service, here. I feel like you are calling me a thief for asking for the right change."

"I'm sorry, it's company policy."

"But this is really embarrassing."

"It's not you" she says, "We have had a lot of frauds with people asking for change which they shouldn't have, and so we have to do this."

Bam. That is it.

The rationale for me being treated like a criminal in front of the other shoppers and my son, is because there have been previous frauds perpetrated against Tescos and so my reasonable. If she checks the till, and the till say it is correct, presumably that means I am one of those frauds.

The alternative is they are going to give me my fiver anyway... in which case, why do I have to wait until you have done your check before I get my fiver?

I repeat that I am not concerned about company policy. I would like my change now and to get out as quickly as possible. By this time 5 minutes of this nonsense have passed. "I'm feeling like a thief here," I repeat.

The rather indignant response?

"I apologised didn't I? We're not saying you are a thief, that's wrong, it is just company policy" Note: What I am feeling is not wrong. My interpretation might be inaccurate but the feeling is not.

She then walked off and spoke to the cashier leaving me wondering what is going to happen.

Now, I wonder, what would happen if the till bears no resemblance at all to what it should be? What if the till suggests that I am wrong? Does that create a case in her eyes that I am trying to defraud the Tesco? With my son in tow? Will she call the police?

She comes back and tells me, like I have just passed an exam, like I should be thankful to her, that "The till is up." ie there is more in it than there should be.

Yeah, thanks. I know that. I told you that over 5 minutes ago before you chose to publicly humiliate me in front of the store and my son, blandly hiding behind "company policy." seemingly ignorant or uncaring as to how that is received and experienced by the greatly inconvenienced and humiliated customer.

Your company policy means jack to me in that situation. It is the experience of the customer that has to count. To doubt a customer in this fashion is shocking.

I was given my fiver and started to walk away.

I turned back to the manager.

"That whole thing was out of order. I want to complain. Who can I speak to?"

I was not given a name, but a glib card reading "Please give us your feedback; We'd like your help to improve your store... Every little helps."

Well, Tesco, here is my feedback.

Stop treating your clients like thieves. They don't like that. It reflects badly on your brand, and we will tell others about our disappointing experiences.

Give your clients some credibility and some dignity.

Don't keep them waiting for their problem to be resolved. Or their change.

Don't embarrass them in front of customers, your staff or their own children.

That one bears repeating so forgive me as I indulge myself.

Don't embarrass them in front of customers, your staff or their own children.

Don't hide behind crass semantics "It's just company policy." That sucks. You were saying "We want to check the till because we are not prepared to believe you." Well thanks, Tesco.

If someone wants to complain, don't fob them off with a telephone number that is nothing more than a recorded message server. Give them a name and a number, a talking voice that they can engage with and communicate with.

1 comment:

Streets Ahead said...

My father also gave me a good tip yesterday when I had related to him the tale of an identical Tesco incident which happened to my 84 year-old mother yesterday.

When you hand over any note, take a split second to memorise the last three digits of the note you hand over.....thus proving that either you are a magician or are telling the truth!