Sunday, 19 February 2012

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Every little (irritation) helps.

It is no secret that I spend half of my life in Tesco.

As with any long-standing relationship we have our ups and downs: it pisses me off. I sulk a bit. It says one thing and does another so I vow never to return. Then I remember that it’s practically in my front garden and so very, very handy so I swallow my pride and go crawling back.

But this time the fall-out may just be a bridge too far.

On the one hand what is at issue is a meagre £1.40. On the other there are principles at stake.

It’s a simple tale of every day shopping: a wintry day. An extremely nifty snow shovel for a bargain £7.95. And a query about the total on my receipt.

The woman on the checkout was quite firm when I asked why the ‘2 for £5’ promotion hadn’t actually been applied. “You should have told me before I put it through the till” she said, putting paid to my assumption that the enormous red stickers on the products were in themselves indicative of the offer.

“It’s gone through now”, she added. “You should have pointed it out to me before you paid.” Now this may have been tricky given that she had only handed me my receipt after I had paid (as I believe is the tradition, it being a receipt of payment) so it was off to customer services to sort it out.

“Oh no” said the woman at customer services. “These are completely different products. You have to buy two the same.”

I asserted that given that they were of the same beast, one cooked and one uncooked, they weren’t completely different. And more to the point it was somewhat misleading for each packet to be emblazoned with an identical “ANY 2 for £5” logo.

“Yes”, she replied. “Any two - as long as they are exactly the same.”

Trouble is that’s not really ANY two is it? ‘2 for £5’ may well lead one to presuppose that the products do indeed have to be the same but ‘ANY two’ on products of a very similar nature does make one think that ‘any’ is indeed the operative word.

This is made all the more confusing that on the ‘any 3 for £10’ promotion ‘any’ does indeed mean ‘any’.

So raw salmon fillets, cooked salmon fillets and smoked salmon sporting identical offer stickers are all accepted as part of the deal even though they are clearly not 'exactly the same' in any way whatsoever.

Now I may use words to make a living, but that’s not to say I am a world expert in either semantics or trades descriptions. So I checked the dictionary to make sure I wasn’t barking entirely up the wrong tree.

an·y [en-ee]
1. one, a, an, or some; one or more without specification or identification
2. whatever or whichever it may be.
3. every; all

I rest my case.

So my question is this…do ‘any’ people at Tesco care at all about the fact that they are misleading customers by letting ‘any’ mean ‘any’ on some things but not others? Indeed, why trumpet the word ‘any’ at all when it’s clearly untrue? If the products need to be identical then why not simply drop it? If they don’t then can they not at least clarify things for those of us now bewildered by this will-they, won’t-they scenario?

I do accept that ‘any 2’ is far easier to fit on a small sticker than ‘we reserve the right to decide what is included in this promotion even though it may be completely unclear and misleading to the customer”

But I’m still pissed off.


I asked Tesco to comment and this was their response:

"The "any" in both offers refers to the range, rather than the product. So, in this instance, there will be a cooked range and a raw range on promotion. We are sorry if the shelf labelling does not make this clear and the customer service did not meet the high standards you expect from Tesco."

Another note:

No. still confused I'm afraid. You see the cooked salmon and raw salmon still count as part of the same offer. The smoked salmon - which comes from a different range altogether (Tesco finest) still counts (and, if we are going to be pedantic, is technically neither raw nor cooked)

Clearly all too complex for my befuddled brain. And clearly different stickers for different offers would make it waaaay too simple...