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.