Antiquated Tesco Clubcard System Causes Relationship Bust Up
Saturday 9th May 2014
Dear CEO, Philip Clarke
I have just spoken to your lovely customer service representative Clare regarding my Clubcard points disappointment today.
For the last 3 months my partner and I have been dreaming of going out to a “proper restaurant” for our anniversary this weekend. We have been excitedly watching our Clubcard points mount up as we have been spending as much money as we could (often more than we could afford) on groceries at Tesco in the hope that we could have “dough balls as well as pizza”.
This was to fulfil our dream of being able to experience an evening at Pizza Express on our Anniversary.
From my till receipts I knew that I knew that I had at least a thousand points which I could convert into £40 worth of fine dining this weekend. I went online yesterday and was horrified to discover a massive discrepancy between the points total on my latest till receipt and alleged points total online. I couldn’t face telling my partner about this until this morning. My mind was racing and I couldn’t sleep all night.
Perhaps my partner had used the points behind my back for nefarious purposes?
Perhaps had he used the points for fine dining himself, but with who?
Had Tesco removed my points due to some minor transgression of Clubcard conditions?
Had someone even hacked my account due to the Heartbleed bug/ worm thing, and used my precious points to fine dine themself?
I even wondered if HMRC had taken the points due to some tax mix up.
I had had enough and decided to confront my partner this morning. After several hours of interrogation and a considerable amount of tears I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and call Customer Services to see if they could shed light on the case.
I presented my concerns to Clare, do you know her? She explained that it is normal for one’s Clubcard points to vanish every three months when they are being converted into voucher codes. She told me that this was due to your antiquated processing system whereby thousands of Tesco employees work tirelessly day and night, in a crowded post room, converting millions of customers points into voucher codes. She said this system has been in place for decades, and that Tesco could not afford to purchase a computer to modernise and speed up the system. I expressed my shock and surprise at this revelation but Clare told me that I was the first person to EVER to think that your system was a bit slow. I gave her the opportunity to change her mind about this but she insisted that no one else had ever complained.
She did explain that although the printed vouchers may not arrive in the post until 24th May I could access the voucher codes online on 12th May. This does not save our anniversary treat this weekend and I now find myself without sufficient funds to buy food until Monday! My partner is so hungry that has gone to see if he can register at the local food bank today. We are obviously disappointed but also worried about your financial situation. If only you could afford to buy a computer for your Clubcard points administration none of this would have happened.
I am therefore moved to offer to donate 50 of my precious Clubcard points towards setting up a Tesco Clubcard Computer Fund, “Computers for Clubcard” in the hope that other people never have to suffer disappointment (and hunger) on a scale like this ever again.
On a positive note, while my partner was at the food bank I have managed to convert my Nectar points into Pizza Express voucher codes almost instantaneously so all is not lost. However because most of our spending was focused at Tesco rather than Sainsbury’s we will only be able to enjoy dough balls, and no main course, drinks, side dishes, desert or even coffee.
My partner pointed out that if we had bought our groceries at Lidl or Aldi we could have saved up enough money for the full fine dining experience without having to resort to the humiliation of using voucher! I explained that despite the current financial recession I would not stoop that low.
I hope your financial situation improves soon and you are able to fund a computer for your Clubcard administration.
(after finally them finding the phone call and also the right clubcard number)
Dear Ms S
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you and thank you for your patience.
I am sorry your Clubcard vouchers were not available in time
for you to use for your anniversary meal.
Please let me try to explain the way our Clubcard points system works. Whatever points are accrued on your account are converted into vouchers every four months, February, May, August and November. Until the points are converted they cannot be used. Our system selects a specific date, in this case it was the 12th of May, when vouchers will be available for all Clubcard holders to use online. Due to the sheer volume of customers and the postal system, the date customers actually receive their printed vouchers can vary by quite a bit. There is a cut off date that points are removed from Clubcard accounts in order to be converted and on that same date customers can start collecting for the next three month period.
I have listened to a recording of the conversation you had with Claire and I can see why you have imagined a crowded mail room with everything being done by hand. I think what she was trying to explain was, that like any other business, we are constantly looking at ways to improve our systems and our service for our customers. Our Clubcard system is computerised and I am sorry you were given the wrong impression.
I have arranged for 500 points to be added to your Clubcard account as a gesture of good will and for you to perhaps use towards a meal out for you and your partner in the future.
I hope I have been of some help to you
Customer Service Executive
Subject: Re: Email to Chief Executive’s Office
And my reply:
Subject: A Thank-you Re: Email to Chief Executive’s Office
firstly thank-you for your diligence and time on this.
Your reply does elucidate how the system works, and we are gladdened to hear that it is computerised after all.
Thank-you for listening to your customers and the generous token. I can heartily say that we are both very much looking forward to celebrating our belated Anniversary.
Thank you for listening to your customers and your generous token. We are both looking forward to an evening of fine dining.