Monday, 29 September 2008

Sloppy Management

I’m very disappointed by what seems to me the continuing decline of standards in Gateshead’s Tesco store. I’ve been a customer of Tesco at this store for 28 years and I can’t ever remember it being as bad as this.

I went shopping there this evening. There were no bananas (something I consider a staple) at all on the shelves. Empty goods trolleys used to stack the shelves seemed to be littered everywhere, most with no staff visible near them, making it very difficult to navigate the aisles. The fridges looked poorly kept, with lots of frost on the frozen food. I could not find any lower fat or chicken sausages more than a day or two ahead of their “sell by” date, making them no use to me, as I shop for food several days ahead.

At the till, I pointed out that I had four bags to reuse from previous visits but, when I checked my receipt, I found that the cashier hadn't given me my clubcard points. I then had to queue at the customer service desk. After bypassing the last customer of a queue who were all buying lottery tickets and cigarettes, I walked on to what used to be the Customer Service desk. After being ignored by three staff for five minutes, I was then told I was in the wrong queue. If I was meant to queue at the till for lottery tickets and cigarettes then this was not clear, and means another drop in service standards. Baffled, I told the member of staff “You’ve lost me” and left.

Tonight was not an isolated incident. In a time when some of Tesco’s goods such as margarine are 80% more expensive than last year, I increasingly doubt whether it gives value for money. I’ve written to Tesco about the “trolley clutter” problem before but, despite the suggestion on the slip that I would get a reply within a week, I had no reply at all.

If goods are out of stock, it’s difficult to get around the store, staff are not helpful and prices are higher, wouldn’t I and customers like me be better off just going to Netto?

You might be able to tell from the above that it was originally intended to go directly to Tesco themselves. Since they don't even seem to allow the public to contact them by E-mail, and evidently don't reply to the small slips you can pick up in the store, you're getting to hear this instead...

Distribution (?) of Wealth

I'm on the way back from another trip to London, which included a very enjoyable visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum. John and I were impressed with its vastness, the elegance of the building and the sheer number of curios and treasures there. What makes London so fascinating to visit is the richness (in more senses than one) of the culture there.

When you consider that the V&A is just one of London's museums and that there's also the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery - to name just a few - then it starts to dawn on you how many hundreds of millions of pounds of public money have been (and continue to be) lavished on London, to the detriment of other parts of the country. I know that London has its grim Council Estates and higher property prices, but the arguably greater social problems and higher gun and knife crime than the North must, if anything, be evidence that money spent on a region doesn't automatically "trickle down" to the poorest people and bring a higher quality of life.

In these circumstances, you have to ask if the billions spent on London (again) for the 2012 Olympics wouldn't be better spent somewhere like Bristol, Manchester or even Newcastle. Never mind the utter tripe of the recent "Abandon the North" proposal by "Policy Exchange" and the complete non-sequitur that seemed to be its basis - isn't it time that taxpayers up north got a fair share of the country's wealth, in a genuine attempt by politicians to decentralise wealth and power from London?