Bad customer service in a supermarket? Leave your own personalised rant in our comments – but please don’t name names!
Angry Rant #1, by Catriona McGrath
Let me start by saying I am never shopping in Tesco again. I’ve said this before but always gone back, drawn in by the convenience of its many locations and the fact that unfortunately it’s better stocked than my local Dunnes. But – this time! – I really mean it.
I went into Tesco in Paul Street Shopping centre, Cork on the way home from work this evening. I just had a couple of things to pick up and, on a whim, I decided to get a couple of bottles of Copperberg. I was packing my groceries as check-out girl considered the alcohol before looking at me and asking for ID.
Naturally I was flattered; who doesn’t want to be thought of as ten years younger or more? I took out my driver’s license and without even looking at it the girl said, ‘No, only passport or garda ID card’. ‘Pardon?’. ‘We only accept Garda ID card or passport’. ‘I’m twenty-eight, I don’t have a Garda ID card nor do I carry out my passport [it being an irresponsible and therefore immature thing to do – certainly not something your typical twenty-eight year old carries around]. I can however show you my full driver’s license, a document issued by the Irish government’. ‘No. We only accept Garda ID card or passport’. More fool me I continued with my purchases with a face the colour of tomatoes instead of politely declining to continue with any transaction with Tesco.
Anyway, even though I was mortified this isn’t the cause of my certainty that I will never be shopping in Tesco again. My mortification turned to rage after my subsequent dealings with a manager who can at best be described as passively rude and willfully unhelpful. I straight away went to the customer service desk and explained my complaint. The young man promptly called the manager over on the intercom (twice) and a couple of minutes later the check-out girl showed up.
I explained to her that I was mortified by what had just occurred and what had happened to which she replied; ‘We only accept Garda ID cards and passports’. I’m sorry, could you repeat that please? I think I missed it the first six times. Actually what I said was ‘I understand that, the cashier told me as did the young man behind the customer service desk. However, I don’t understand this policy. I showed a government issued ID, why was I refused service?’. ‘It’s policy to ask any who looks under 21 for ID and we only accept a Garda ID card or passport’. Why, you flatter me! ‘But why do you only accept Garda ID card or passport?’. Eyerolling: ‘It’s Tesco policy’. ‘But why is it Tesco policy?’. I was then given that look you give the idiot who’s wasting your time: ‘because it’s a policy’. Hmm… so, we’ve established that it’s a policy, how nice. However if you’re looking for an answer to the question ‘why do Tesco have a policy of not accepting an Irish driver’s license and will only accept a Garda ID card or a passport’, don’t ask her.
The funny thing is, if she had looked vaguely sympathetic or even once apologised for the inconvenience I probably would have been irritated but appeased. Customer services courses these days seriously need to be reviewed.
Angry Rant #2, by Peter McGuire
I’m fully aware that customer service agents are quite powerless. Like most of us, there’s a manager pulling the strings behind them, who’s being controlled byhead office, who in turn is subject to forces beyond their control. It’s like a Doctor Suess book, only without the fun.
Last week, I bought up an electric blanket in Dunnes, but immediately realised that it was (a) 20% more expensive than the one Argos didn’t have and (b) only half the size. What followed was an enormously frustrating 20 minutes of suppressed rage and the type of loathing that only people and cities can induce.
The cashier told me that I must go to the customer service desk. “That one over there,” she said, pointing. So I queued for 10 minutes as two customer service agents dealt with one woman’s perfectly simple problem (In fairness, it was made ten times worse by the woman queueing behind me, who insisted on loudly voicing her frustration to me, passers-bys, and staff members far away, rather than biting her tongue until it bled, like me).
When I finally made the top of the queue, the customer service agent told me “that electric blanket is a grocery item. You need to go to the grocery customer service desk.” My appeals – but I’ve queued for 15 minutes! But I bought it on this homewares floor! But I can’t eat it, so it’s not a grocery item! – fell on deaf ears, and fair enough: she didn’t implement this system.
What irked me was not the customer service agent herself but the fact that Dunnes have selected, seemingly at random, where certain items can be returned, and they don’t give a shit that customers have to queue for 15 minutes before being sent away. A friend who worked in Dunnes over Christmas tells me that customers commonly complained about this system but were obviously ignored. Perhaps there’s a very clear rationale for this system, most likely relating to stock control. I asked the agent to pass on a suggestion: that they put up a sign advising customers to ensure they are indeed at the right customer service desk, so they don’t waste so much time queueing. Her response? “Tell you what, the grocery customer service desk is downstairs. Why don’t you tell them yourself.” Charming.
Now, I know that not everybody chooses their job, and even the friendliest people have off days. But I worked in customer service myself during college, and somehow managed to find the zen to be polite to both the nice and hideously nasty customers. It was my job. So, are Cat and I getting our knickers/ boxers in a twist over nothing? Or does poor customer service drive you crazy too?