I’m sure you’ve seen the ads for Tesco’s deliver-to-your-home online service. You just go onto their website, tell them what you want and then wait for them to bring you your shopping for the week.
This service is particularly attractive when you’re home sick.
So I placed an order on Saturday, for delivery Tuesday between 8pm and 10pm. I got a confirmation email and all. Happy day.
But, come 10.30pm on Tuesday, and no food having arrived, I wanted to go to bed, so I rang the Tesco helpline. This is a funny number (00 800 00 225533) which puts you through to a call centre in Dundee. They said that it was very bad that I hadn’t been contacted, even if there had been some delay. They said they’d contact my local Tesco, Clare Hall, and have them ring me.
At 10.45pm, when my eyes were drooping, the phone rings. An unfortunate woman on the night shift had been told to call me. She said that their online service had been down all day Monday and Tuesday, that she had just started working and that she had been given a list of people to ring and tell this to- though I wasn’t on the list.
Yes, that’s right, the unfortunate woman on the night shift was told to ring people and tell them that their food hadn’t arrived. How late into the night they were planning to ring I don’t know.
So I asked for the store manager, who came on and was suitably apologetic. He’d only just come on too. He didn’t know anything about it. There was nobody on in the home shopping section. If I left a number I would be called, for sure, between 8.30am and 9am the following morning. I could then sort it out over the phone, as I only lived a few minutes drive away, and they’d deliver at a time convenient to me.
So off I go to bed without my coco, as I have no milk.
At 9.15 this morning I call up Clare Hall again. No answer. I call the Dundee call centre. They say they’ll get Clare Hall to ring me. They don’t. At 10am I get through to Clare Hall. I speak to the Customer Service manager. She tells me that they, contrary to previous conversation, can’t deliver to me today. She has all her orders already filled for the day. She tells me that they couldn’t contact customers to tell them their orders weren’t arriving because they didn’t have any numbers for them. I tell them that the lady on the night shift had been handed a list of numbers to do just that.
She then says that she meant that they couldn’t contact all the customers.
This is starting to be a bit farcical.
I ask what she suggests I do. She just says to put the order through again. Will I be moved to the top of a queue, ahead of those who placed orders after me? No. There’s nothing she can do about it. Will there be some form of recompense for this delay? (Though really all I want at this stage is my food) Waive the delivery charge, she tells me. That’s what she was told.
I ask her who made those decisions. Tesco Head Office Ireland, it seems. And who should I speak to there? Mr. Willie Macken, head of Tesco.com Ireland. Off I go ringing Tesco Head Office. I’m resigned to the fact that I won’t be getting my food at this stage, but still annoyed enough to want to complain.
At reception my voice is sweet enough that when I ask for Mr. Macken, they give me his mobile as he’s not at his desk.
I call his mobile, and tell him my story. He tells me what I already know- his database server broke, it effected the whole country, the Dundee helpline ought to have explained that to me, that they couldn’t get the phone numbers to contact everyone, that it has been happening to they don’t know how many orders since Saturday, including his own. (And of course- Who Put Me On To Him?) That, as it had never happened before, he had no plan for what to do when it happened.
I say that he ought to have gone public if he knew he couldn’t get back to everyone, even if it was embarrassing. Having taken a look there, they don’t even have a message on their website.
He did ring me back when he said he would, though! A first. He said that he couldn’t get me a delivery today, and would offer me the value of the order as recompense. I thanked him and told him that, if I could make a constructive comment, I felt that his staff hadn’t been given enough autonomy not to do things they were told to, even when they didn’t make sense- such as ringing people on the night shift to tell them things they already know, like you’ve no food. He said that he was off to a meeting to try and learn from it all. I said I was off the shops to buy bread for my lunch.
So there you are. Tesco sucks, as they say. Who knows what other unprecedented event they have failed to plan for? As a first ordering experience, it beats the band. And I’ll be slow to try again, even if I do have the sniffles, no matter how many happy-faced cartoon vans they try to show me. Tell your friends.
And complaining, sometimes, can be worthwhile. I feel better, at any rate.