Ending the year on a high

2012 has been a good year for consumers, with many companies finally grasping the importance and import of the Consumer Protection Against Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (no rush, people). I will post a more detailed explanation of how these can help you in the New Year, but in the meantime, a good news story to end the year on.

A reader of this blog made an online purchase at Sainsburys for a grocery delivery, which included some baby milk formula for her recent twin arrivals. When the delivery came, the baby milk they had sent was not that which she had ordered. They sent level 2, whereas she had ordered level 1.

Unsurprisingly, the first thing Sainsburys did was say it was her fault, that she had clicked on the wrong product. This was apparently relevant because Sainsburys has a policy of not exchanging or refunding on baby milk, or baby food products.

What angered my friend was the sudden arrival of this policy into the conversation. There was no mention of such a policy, either on the website or on the shelf when she went into the store to pursue the matter.

So, not only was she being refused a refund on a product she had not ordered, she was being refused under a policy of whose existence she was not made aware.

She was also told that the product would have to be returned to the store it was purchased from, which in this instance was the Purley Way Delivery Depot (!).

Having been well-trained by me in the art of complaining over the years, she was not willing to let this go, and so she made a formal written (email) complaint to the CEO of Sainsburys. The original complaint to Customer Services was made in mid-October, and so, by late November, she was losing patience, and who can blame her?! Five weeks with no response?! Tut, tut, Sainsburys.

Involving the CEO seemed to do the trick and she was allotted a Case Manager to look into the matter on the very same day.

And yet by 4 December 2012, she had heard nothing further. Really, Sainsburys, get it together.

Finally, just before Christmas, after nearly two months, six emails and two hard copy letters, she received a gift card for £30, to cover the cost of the baby milk and a little extra for the inconvenience.

More importantly, she received assurances from the CEO’s office that signs will be placed in the baby milk department and also on the online ordering system, warning people about the existence of the no returns policy on baby milk.

I think we can all remember why such a policy is necessary, with the formula poisonings in the 70s and 80s, but there is no excuse for not telling people about it until it suits you.

So a victory for the consumer to end the year on.

Have a happy, healthy and hopefully consumer-issues-free 2013!


Good news for those lower down the supply chain

New regulations may soon come into force that will allow for fines to be doled out to supermarkets who squeeze their suppliers too tightly.


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