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A customer service sequel - this time it's worse

When I complained to Tesco about a slug in my salad, the response was iffy. Now they have replied again, and this time it beggars belief.

Our Ref 2977327

5 June 2001

Dear Mr Frieze

With regard to our recent correspondence, I have received a report from our supplier, and I am now in a position to address your complaint.

I would firstly like to reiterate my apologies for the upset that has been caused by the problem you experienced with Leafy Tatsoi Salad. I can fully appreciate how inconvenient this must have been.

Our suppler advised:

On the production day in question we produced 30,240 bags of leafy Tatsoi for which we have had no other complaints. In reply to your customers questions.

Q. How many slugs and of which species were there in the remaining salad?
A. Our Quality Assurance department have done a complete traceability on all the material used with no findings.

Q. At what stage in their development were they and are they likely to have been transported as full - grown slugs or eggs?
A. Full grown, as eggs are laid below the soil level and do not appear above the surface until hatched.

Q. Is it possible that my partner or I may have consumed any eggs? If so, are there any potential health risks?
A. No it is not possible they were consumed as eggs and not known to be a health risk.

Each consignment of raw material is subject to a rigorous inspection at the point of intake, against produce specification. Material that does not meet the specification is rejected.

Due to the nature of the material used on site, some lettuce leaves arrive tightly compact and it is likely that contamination of this nature may have been harvested with one of the ingredients. Inevitably, some extraneous material is collected in this way but it should be eliminated by the rigorous inspection, handling and washing procedures in place prior to packing.

This product is firstly prepared by hand and inspected for foreign bodies. The majority of the ingredients are then machine sealed and batched into clean drainers.

Once the product has been prepared, it is washed using an advanced technological process that disinfects the product. The washer is fitted with a device designed to remove small particles and foreign bodies.

The durability date is used as an aid to our internal traceability and all the relevant on line and intake documentation has been inspected for the run in question and no non-conformances were raised.

Future productions will be monitored particularly closely, as we are eager to ensure correct standards are maintained. I was obviously concerned to receive notification of the complaint and I have informed all relevant staff.

In view ofthe above, we consider that both the refund and gesture of goodwill, in the sum of 10.99, is more than fair and reasonable.

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact us.

Yours sincerely
For and on behalf of Tesco Stores Ltd

Elaine Mcdonald
Customer Service Manager

Not one to hide my feelings, you'll find them in my reply. I didn't mention the apostrophe error - it would have detracted from my complaint.

Tesco Customer Service
PO Box 73
Baird Avenue

10th June 2001

Dear Elaine Mcdonald,

For a customer service manager, you clearly have a lot to learn about customer care. In the space of two letters, you have managed to show a complete disregard for the details of my complaint and have treated me like a money grabbing fool. While my initial complaint was about finding a live slug in my lunch, I would now like to include your incompetent handling of this case.

From the parting comments in your last letter, I could be forgiven for assuming that you think I was motivated by money when I returned my tainted salad. Perhaps it is indicative of the litigious attitude of some sectors of society or your own cynicism that you felt this way. However, my complaint has only ever been about two things.

  1. Was I in some way harmed by eating the salad that contained at least one live slug?
  2. How can I be confident that Tesco can be taken at their word in future when I buy "ready to eat" salad?

Your first letter, ignorant of so much about my original complaint, failed to address either of these concerns. As I said in my reply, a ten pound goodwill voucher is no substitute for an analysis of the product and informed assurance that future products will be untainted.

This most recent letter, which mainly comprises an overtly technical report from your supplier, does little to restore my confidence in your salad products. However, it does go some way towards answering my concerns about the health-risk posed by your product. For the past couple of weeks, any unrecognised pain or grumble in my stomach gave me cause for concern; though I know that they are implausible, stories of people hatching various creatures in their guts automatically came to mind when I thought that there was a possibility I had ingested slug eggs.

Unfortunately, there are some concerns which remain unanswered, and there are some points in your letter which warrant further discussion. Overall, I got the impression that the writer of the bold section in your letter was not writing for my benefit, but intended, instead, to exonerate themselves from any blame by hiding behind a smokescreen of quality control jargon.

Finally, I would like to point out that you cannot put a price on good will. You appear to believe that I want money and you value my custom at 10. This is an insult. Please take time and trouble of your own when you consider how to reply to this letter. If you like, I will happily return your Tesco voucher, since I will not be needing it if you cannot provide me with a satisfactory reason to regain confidence in Tesco's products and customer service.

Yours sincerely

Ashley Frieze.

10 June 2001
Ashley Frieze