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Beer Lolly

No ID No alcohol for 34yr old adult at Tescos

Let me make this clear from the start – I hate being negative about experiences in my own home town and the reason I set up Altrincham HQ was to help promote local businesses

But literally last night, as those who follow us on twitter @altrinchamhq will know – I had the worst customer experience ever in 34 years on planet earth – the store in question was Tesco’s Altrincham

It highlights both sides of the social media experience as being Word Of Mouth Amplified – provide an amazing customer service and your business will be talked about in a positive way to thousands (it may even be blogged about as we did on 5 Altrincham Businesses That Provide Great Customer Service) … but the flipside is provide shockingly bad customer service and your business will be tweeted bout in a negative way to thousands and in this case again blogged about

After tweeting about it, it seemed that many local people had had similar experiences so I felt compelled to blog about it, to give some permanence to a shocking example of customer service rather than it be lost in the twittersphere

So let the story begin…

Friday night, it’s the time we all look forward to spending with friends or family after the hard working week. I’d had a Social Media training session with a client that ran till late, some client work and the obligatory exercise bike before going out. I didn’t reach Altrincham town centre to meet with friends till gone 6pm

A couple of light ales including a fantastic example of great customer service in Pi Altrincham where the barman spotted my Morrissey t-shirt on and 3 minutes later The Smiths come on over the PA system. What followed was a selection of Manchester’s finest. They know their audience and delivered

As the small group dispersed a couple of us decide to get something to drink for home, head to the local chippy and have a quiet night in

Tesco’s although I’m not a fan is en route to my friends house so seemed the easiest option.

My friend went on to the local chinese, i went alone to Tescos on the way to Costa’s. I knew it would literally take me 2 mins in – bottle of vodka, 2 bottles of 7Up light and as it’s Friday night small cake for dessert. In fact the majority of that time was spend choosing which cake to have

I head down to the checkouts and notice the 10 items or less checkout isn’t open, which means I get to use the Self Service Checkouts. Dread fills in me as it’s never a quick experience at the best of times and I resent the fact that I walk into a shop and have to serve myself – it’s like going into a restaurant and being asked to cook your own food – if anything you should get some form of discount for serving yourself

I scan the items knowing full well I would have to wait an age to have the card swiped at the machine to prove my age. You’d think at 34 this would be a formality, but shock horror Tesco’s untrained staff  ask me for ID.

“I’m 34” half laughing / half shocked I exclaim

“Sorry we can’t serve you unless you have ID” is the reply from the security

“Well get me a manager that can – I’m 34, i’m paying your wages, this is ridiculous – do you really think I look anywhere near the age of 25”

This is a current picture - 34yrs old and no ID for Tesco's

It’s worth pointing out here for the readers that I know about “control of alcohol” – I run an events company and run 6 over 18s events a month, have ran large multi-venue festivals including outdoor events with Manchester City Council and was selected as an Olympic Torchbearer for running all ages events for teenagers to keep them off the streets drinking illegally

3 minutes – agitated – 5 minutes more and more agitated – 10 mins and still no sign of a manager despite repeatedly asking for them to come over. A lady over at the customer service desk keeps looking over for the whole 10 minutes, I’m not entirely sure if she’s a manager or a customer service staff – but she is providing neither customer service or management during the 10 minutes I am still waiting

After 10 minutes of waiting and what should have took a few minutes the original security returns and says “I’m going to have to ask you to leave”

“Why i’m a customer, I page your wages – all I want to do as a 34 year old is pay for my food and drink and it’s your job as a supermarket to serve me”

At which point i’m surrounded by 3 security guards and questioned yet again as to what the situation is

Now at this point I want you to think how this situation looks – 1 person in a supermarket surrounded by security. What would you think? Shoplifter I imagine would be the first thought for a passing stranger and despite the supermarket already crossing the line, this is the point where they haven’t so much crossed it but crossed it and did a dance over the line to rub your face in it

The overall position from the 3 strong security team was one of threatening and intimidating behavior with even the comment I would take this to head office being laughed off with “You haven’t got a leg to stand on if you can’t show ID”

Thankfully an elderly lady next to me of whom I am eternally grateful for as don’t believe this would have been resolved without her presence – pointed out I had infact been told a manager would come over, they never did and I have been waiting here for 10 minutes… she also knew a member of the store team as well

Eventually they relent and serve me what should have happened over 10 minutes previously

So thankyou Tesco Altrincham – you have now lost my custom forever more as I refuse to shop in your store after this incident in which I was treated like a criminal

The management of your @uktesco customer care twitter needs also looking at – although the response was relatively quick, the response was nothing more than faux apologies and customer policy reiterated. Social media customer service is about real human interaction and not set pieces learnt from call centre culture

To reiterate

* Bad customer service travels at lightening speed both online and offline
* Great customer service is the thing great businesses are made of and nothing works better than great word of mouth

Have a look at the #tesco hashtag on twitter for many other bad customer service examples

Please post your own bad customer service experiences below

Alex McCann

Author Alex McCann

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