Time together with family and friends sitting at the dinner table is at the heart of a wonderful Christmas and Turkey is the traditionally the center piece of a Christmas dinner.
It's probably the most expensive meal we cook in our year and it's also one just of two days in the entire year when all shops in the UK will definitely be closed, Christmas and Easter, so if something goes wrong there aren't many options available. But what happens if something does goes wrong? What kind of customer services can you expect if you get to the morning of your special day, and your turkey is inedible! I found out!
A few days before Christmas I bought a free range turkey at Lidl's, use by date 26th, drove home and put it into the fridge, still in its carrier bag. On Christmas morning I opened the bag to discover a somewhat unpleasant smell. The turkey was just on the turn. I certainly wouldn't have risked cooking it for my family and guests. There had been a noticeable smell in the fridge the day before, but we had opened Stilton and I had assumed that this was the culprit.
I spoke to my family, it was very disappointing, but we wouldn't let it ruin our day. I logged on and found Lidl's customer service line anticipating leaving a message but no answering machine. I emailed instead and returned to the kitchen to rummage through the freezer and find an alternative. I'm a decent cook, but it's fair to say that we did not sit down to a Christmas dinner.
Boxing day I got up early and drove to the store, we had plans and I needed to sort this out before travelling to visit friends. No relaxed morning for me! 8am the store was closed... went home... tired...frustrated... stressed... emailed again... walked dogs... back to the store... still not open. I was certain from the website that it was open as usual... back home again... rechecked only to discover that it was selective stores only that were open... In my stress I had failed to read it properly... emailed again... apologised for my own mistake... Turkey too awful to leave in the fridge... disinfect fridge... running late to visit friends... stressed!
27th... up early again... tired... stressed... returned to the store... Original plans were a nice lie in and a gentle morning making turkey pie... I had guests arriving today, but no... by now the turkey is disgusting... it's been in my car overnight... I drive with the windows open.
I leave the offending bird in my vehicle not wanting to cause disruption to staff and customers alike, without question it would now represent some kind of health hazard if opened in the store. I ask for the store manager. The man I am directed to is abrupt and rude, I can have my money back and a bottle of wine. He asks me the price? No apology, no concern and no inquiry!
Stress levels are rising... I go and get the "foul Foul" and bring it into the store, wrapped in several bags and suggest we open the bag to confirm the exact value. He declines.
I felt his response was pretty poor and said so. The assistants at the checkouts were nodding their heads in approval, they clearly felt the same. He justified his decision and said his manager had told him to say this. I asked to speak to his manager but am told he is unavailable. I asked for the managers name... I am refused. I asked for his own name... I am refused.
I persist... he refuses... This continues to the point where I break down in tears.
Embarrassed in front of staff and customers I insist on his name and the name of his manager. My voice is getting louder and he gives in. He then offers me a bunch of flowers, a little too late at this point! I take the names and leave the store and tear-stained go to a different supermarket to buy food for the day.
The following day customer services did call, which is good for a Sunday. The call was lengthy... more time away from my family... the girl apologized profusely. She offered me my money back and a £5 voucher as a gesture of goodwill. In light of the attitude of the man I had spoken to after consultation with a supervisor the gesture of goodwill was extended to vouchers worth £10.
A week into January I have received the vouchers worth £10 and a written apology but I have not yet received a refund and had to call customer services again. Apparently I have to return to the store and presumably speak to the same man! Really!!
I called other supermarkets to compare customer services. Here are my results.
Lidl... As above!!
Morrisons... were helpful and apologetic with the same offer of a refund or a replacement and if it's a special day some kind of additional compensation as a gesture of goodwill but wouldn't specify what this would be.
Tesco's... as above but it would also be down to the individual managers discretion. Much as Morrisons I guess this may be good or bad, depending on the manager. Worth bearing in mind that if there is no overall policy there is no guarantee of a consistent response.
Waitrose... didn't have a direct line to call about this type of issue, I would have to email and I presume they would call back.
Asda... give a full refund plus a replacement and this is standard policy. If you don't want a replacement, they will give you a double refund and this is also standard policy. The store manager also has discretion for additional compensation if it's a special occasion or a customer is visibly upset. Good!
Sainsbury's... give a full refund and a replacement plus a financial compensation and this is standard policy. The amount of money depends on the day and occasion and if shops are closed and you have to obtain food from another source for example a takeaway they will cover the cost of that as well. This is standard policy across all stores. 10 out of 10 in my book! Excellent.
I know where I'm buying my turkey when it comes to Easter!