Every Little Helps

This week the BBC ran a story that headlined on their News website as ‘Tesco customers overcharged by out of date offers’. Their reporter found that 33 out of the 50 stores he visited had failed to remove special offer notices from their shelves long after those offers expired. He was particularly unimpressed to find one offer still masquerading as current a full month after he drew it to one store’s attention. Likely outcome? Lots of shoppers who bought stuff they might not have, because they thought they would be getting a bargain.

How often do you check your receipt for inaccuracies? Myself, rarely. If I’ve only a few items to put through I might be able to check what’s being scanned, but when it’s a full monthly shop tearing past my eyes at high speed I’ll be too busy packing to watch the display. Perhaps the self-service till users have the right idea here, then – though I still maintain I’d rather talk to a living, breathing, employed person when I go shopping.

In Tesco’s defence their staff did honour these discounts once they’d been pointed out – but what a dreadful position for till staff to be put in, and what a slapdash approach to customer service this represents. Hands up if, like me, you’re beginning to wonder whether those stocked-up tins and packets were such a bargain after all. Bet it’s not just Tesco, either.

So here’s a timely reminder to businesses everywhere. The trust our customers place in us is hard won, and we play fast and loose with it at our peril. The information we give our customers must, at all times, be AEIOU:

  • Accurate
  • Easy to understand
  • In date
  • Out there where it can be seen
  • Upheld and honoured

No one’s suggesting that Tesco was trying it on, but in a year that’s rapidly becoming defined by ‘alternative facts’ we, the general public, could be forgiven for feeling that honesty, integrity and looking out for each other might be getting trodden underfoot, just a little.

Organisations large and small do well to heed the advice of my dear old Dad. As he would say: “It’s good to keep the moral high ground; the view from up there is lovely!” And climbing back up from the foothills can take a long, long time.

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