Tesco sink to new low

It's been well documented in this Corner of the Blogosphere that I'm not a massive fan of Tesco.  I've had quite a few poor experiences, and as a result, my expectations - especially of their staff - were already quite low.

Today, however, they excelled themselves and if there was a category below Rock Bottom, my expectations of their "customer service" would drop firmly in to it.  I popped in this afternoon and they demonstrated such incompetence that it defies belief.

I was on my way home and thought that I would swing by for a USB charger for my new telephone.  I knew that Tesco sell them and went straight ot the appropriate aisle.  Unfortunately, there were in-car chargers and AC adaptors galore, but no USB chargers.  Undeterred by this I went to the nearby service desk and asked the lady behind the counter if they had any in stock.

"Universal USB phone chargers?" she said, before staring at the computer screen in front of her.  After a while she followed this up with "I'm not sure what to search for."

I told you that this sorry tale defied belief...and what's more worrying is that she was stood behind a sign promoting "friendly advice on all things technical".

Anyway, continuing to get this experience off my chest, I suggested "USB Phone Charger" and she duly tapped away at the keyboard.  I was becoming aware that I had a train to catch and didn't have all day to stand around, but eventually she told me that they had 35 in stock, at £4.97 each.

"...but it says 'Location Unknown'"  she said seconds later.


So I waited whilst she went off to find someone who might be able to help.  Once she'd found someone, she started looking randomly amongst Car Cleaning Products, whilst her colleague went back to the more relevant aisle which I'd already searched myself.  Neither of them had any success, and the new guy wanted clarification on what I wanted.

"I don't think you can charge your phone from a USB port," he tried to tell me, and mumbled something about too much current.  I assured him that you could, and so whilst the first lady continued to look at the products on the shelves he started to quiz me on how much current I thought it drew.

I think that this was his attempt to make it look as though it was me and not him who was clueless.  I feel that if I'd given some sort of figure he'd have taken great pleasure in telling me that I was misguided.

Granted, I don't know how much current a USB phone charger draws, but I did know that if the computer was saying that there were 35 USB phone chargers in stock then such things probably do exist.

I also knew that I had a train to catch...

After the lovely people* at Tesco had dithered for a bit longer we agreed that I might return once they had got a grip on their stock control.  I don't intend to return, of course, and will buy online out of principle.  Besides, coming on top of previous incidents, I feel that the words "grip on stock control" and "fat chance" go well together.

Unfortunately, I had by this point missed my train, and the next one was cancelled, so I feel as though everything has conspired against me this afternoon.

I have, however, had plenty of time to stand in the cold and think, and I'm afraid I'm none the wiser about why such people are employed by Tesco, or alternatively why Tesco seem to have no concept of staff training.  In this "credit crunch" era, they could conceivably save money by not employing some people and it would make no difference at all to the customer.  Equally, I'm amazed that with lots of people looking for jobs they've not found anyone who has a clue. About anything.

You can put the stress ball away now.  I've ranted enough for one day, and will spare you the gory details of my latest train delay.


*I'm being sarcastic, of course.  "Jobsworths" would be more honest.


Anonymous said…
keep blogging... I love reading these posts
Anonymous said…
JP, I am disgraced at your attitude towards Tesco staff. Having been employed by Tescos in the past, I feel worthy to work anywhere following the great customer service training they give. Just because some one (who's occopation is working at Tescos not computer hardware store or technology central) could not find one item among the hundred million items they offer customers, I don't feel one should penalise them. No where in this post do you have a heart for humbly suggesting that they might feel underpresure, as I have experienced before, whilst searching for someone who's in a hurry for something that they might never have heard of. Just because you needed to catch a train to your important job, where you know something about everything, there is no need to suggest that someone who hasnt heard of a USB charger (of which, although I am now a undergrad student in an event management job, I haven't either) has no clue about anything else. These are real people who have a passion for something. Maybe it's not you and your USB charger JP, but I don't spose you asked them what their passion was or how their day has been. Oh I'm sorry that was right, you needed to catch a train to your job in which you probably serve people more efficiently. My mistake.
JP said…
I'm afraid I am going to stand my ground on this one, though I do concede that I could probably do without the 'jobsworth' comment.

I have often had a query for a member of staff in Tesco's - be that "where will I find x?" or "can I buy stamps at the till?" and I'm afraid to say that I have invariably been given an unhelpful and sometimes inaccurate response. It's interesting that you imply that the staff are under pressure because I have often come away with the impression that they are bored, and couldn't care about anything. The latter is not a particularly good attitude to have in a customer facing role.

In this case, you - as an Events Manager - may well not need to know what a USB Charger is. The same goes for the people who work in the bakery section, for example. But I would expect those who are employed behind the desk offering "friendly advice on all things technical" to be able to offer that advice. Neither member of staff I encountered in that department on that day inspired me with much confidence. I can't even say that they were that friendly, either.

Now OK, I can't tarnish everyone with the same brush. The woman at the new self scanning desks is friendly and helpful, and I'm sure that you were equally so in your time at Tesco's. I'm also prepared to accept that I've just had a string of unfortunate experiences which are against the norm, but I'm afraid that based on my experience so far I do not rate Tesco's staff highly.

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