Tesco boss Dave Lewis’ pledge to put the customer back at the heart of the supermarket’s business has backfired spectacularly with a BBC investigation exposing an “indefensible” cock-up over instore promotions.
According to the BBC show “Inside Out”, to be broadcast tonight, in 33 of 50 stores visited, hundreds of multi-buy promotions marked on the shelf had already expired, leaving customers short-changed when they got to the checkout.
A reporter for programme visited the stores over a three-month period and found multi-buy deals still on display days, weeks and – in some cases – months after the deductions were no longer being applied at the till.
On one occasion, the reporter told customer service staff at a store in Dudley offers for gingerbread and cat food had not gone through. The staff member was filmed replying: “The labels are actually out of date, that’s what the problem is. One’s nearly a month out of date, the other one’s three weeks out of date.”
But in the worst example, staff at a Tesco Express outlet in Birmingham repeatedly failed to remove labels showing produce as on offer when it no longer was.
Retail analyst Teresa Wickham branded the move “indefensible”. She told BBC Breakfast: “The chief executive has put the customer at the heart of the shopping experience, so he’ll be feeling particularly bruised about it.”
She believed the problem has been caused simply by a lack of staff in store. Wickham added: “Over Christmas Tesco drafts in lots of temporary staff but they only work for about a month. After that, staffing levels go back to normal and it seems are not enough staff to check the shelves.”
Meanwhile, Martin Fisher from the Chartered Trading Standards Institute said the mistakes could amount to breaking the law, which falls under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
In response, Tesco said it would be double checking the accuracy of the price labels at all its 3,500 stores across the UK. A spokesman said: “We take great care to deliver clear and accurate price labels for our customers so they can make informed decisions on the products they buy.
“We are disappointed that errors occurred and will be working with the stores involved to reinforce our responsibilities to our customers.”
Just last week, Tesco admitted that it was slashing Clubcard spend in favour of keeping instore prices low.
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