Sainsbury’s cocks up again

You may recall that back in December I reported that an order we placed with Sainsbury’s online had gone badly wrong. Half the order had been left behind at the depot and this was unnoticed by the van man who dumped the goods and went on his way satisfied that he had done his job. It was only afterwards, when we checked the order, that we realized things were missing. We phoned Sainsbury’s, and after being put on hold a number of times, had been put through to someone who promised a refund for the missing items.

Checking my credit cards statements today, I realized that the refund had never been made. The entire cost of the abortive order had been charged to my card but there was no record of the promised repayment.

I phoned Sainsbury’s. A friendly voice with an Irish accent answered. I gave the order number and order date (12/12/07) and explained the situation. This was too difficult for the good lady to handle so she put me on hold while transferring the call to “the store”. As happened last time, on hold I had to listen to cheerfully voices reading me recipes. Exactly not what you want to hear when you are ringing to complain. Eventually, a certain M from “the store” picked up the call. We soon found we were talking at cross purposes as he had the wrong order number. It was for an order dated 04/12/07. It beats me how they managed to swap order details merely by putting me through. I had to wait for M to phone me back once he had found the correct paperwork.

When he called back, M asked me how much the refund was for. I said I didn’t know. I had given the details to a woman at Sainsbury’s. “Roughly how much?” he tried, hopefully. I told him I didn’t know and would have to go through the bill again and work out how much it was. He said he would call me back in half an hour.

I have calculated the amount. It is £37.77. I am still waiting for M to call. I will be interested to see whether he apologizes. So far no one has apologized for getting the order wrong and causing me to call them twice to get it sorted out.


M phoned me back. I told him the amount was £37.77 and he said he would put the refund through today but that it will take 7 days to appear on my credit card account. “I’ll keep watching for it, then,” I said somewhat sourly. That provoked another unexpected response: would I please give him my credit card details as he didn’t have them. I could have remarked that when it comes to charging me for goods I haven’t had they manage to find my credit card details without any difficulty but I am not vindictive. I did say that we were unlikely to use the service again.

M did vaguely say “Sorry about that” but there was no fulsome apology. But that, it seems to me, is the modern way. Forget “the customer is always right”. Replace it with “the customer is a bloody nuisance for insisting on his rights” and you are perhaps getting somewhere closer to the true situation.

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About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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3 Responses to Sainsbury’s cocks up again

  1. emalyse says:

    In today’s cut-throat- pile it high-sell it cheap world the notion of service is often hard come by but the supermarkets have a bigger profit margin than most. It is always surprising that an organisation with so many resources and even customer goodwill and loyalty l at its fingertips can mess up so badly but I guess that’s the frailty of the human factor. It only takes one mistake in the chain and you lose out and the onus is on us to wade our way through a system that’s often set up to make it as hard as possible to pursue complaints and get redress. At least they phoned you back as usually the big insult is that customer service is often at the end of a premium rate 0870 number.

  2. A quick apology goes a long way I find. If someone apologises immediately it takes the wind out of my sails and my irritation inevitably subsides. We all make mistakes after all.

    I can be quite rude to people who do not apologise. I tend to snap “I think you mean sorry” or something like that when they start to gush forth with excuses. On occasions when I have felt incensed enough to complain at Customer Services or whatever, I am always met with yet more excuses rather than a fulsome apology.

    It seems a shame that these large organisations cannot advise their staff that sometimes it is just best to say “sorry” when they have made a mistake or believe it is possible they have done so. It would make everyone’s day a bit more pleasant.

  3. SilverTiger says:

    Having worked in a bookshop and a library, I have learned how important customer relations are. It always amazes me that I can go into a shop, present my goods at the counter, pay, receive a receipt and leave, all without a glance, never mind a word, from the assistant.

    I don’t expect people to fall over themselves to be obsequious, not at all, but a simple smile and a “Thank you” goes along way. Working behind the counter myself I was able to see how people responded when you spoke to them in a polite and friendly way. It was nice to see people come in another time, recognize me and smile.

    I always say that we all make mistakes and that you judge organizations on how well they recover the situation when a mistake is made. Sainsbury’s scored abysmally whereas another company, which made a mistake over the day they were supposed to call on me, went out of their way to put the error right. As a result, I told them that I was satisfied with their service.

    As for Sainsbury, well, at the present rate of progress they seem to me to be on the way out…

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