This is a letter I sent to Sainsburys and I thought I would share it with you readers as it is typical of how shoppers are treated with rudeness as well as aggressive violence by totally ignorant retail staff all over the country. People who live in other countries are aghast with astonishment at the appalling way retail staff behave in the United Kingdom – and rightly so. It is a national disgrace.
We are not simply a nation of shopkeepers and shoppers. We are a nation of thoroughly abused shoppers and arrogant, abusive shopkeepers !
February 11th 2010
Subject: RE: SAINSBURY’S HORSHAM
On 7th January 2010 at 16.30 pm I bought a small number of items at the Sainsburys store in Horsham, Sussex. Because there were only three items I reluctantly used the automated checkout. I was reluctant because I detest them. What followed confirmed why I am right to detest them.
Firstly I was really annoyed when the silly machine accused me of shoplifting simply because my reflex action on putting three small items in the plastic bag was to pick it up and put the bag on the floor, something you always do if not using a trolley at a manned checkout.
Then, my real complaint is that when I put my £10 note into the machine to pay for the £2.59 bill, the coin change of £2.41 rattled out in front of me leaving me at a loss as to know where the remaining £5 was. I was standing (as you do) right in front of the ‘controls’ area slightly to the left of the weighing machine where you naturally move to to deal with putting your money into the machine.
There is absolutely no clue available that any change due the customer in bank notes is going to appear somewhere completely different, way over to the customer’s right just underneath the weighing machine, where the customer can’t see a thing anyway.
From the position the customer is going to be standing in it is impossible to see the notice just above the cash note dispenser, or to actually have any idea there is a dispenser there. Natural common sense and normal intuition would never lead a customer to think the change in paper notes would appear obscurely somewhere completely different from the ‘paying control’ area he is standing in front of where he puts the money and in takes coin change out.
It demonstrates very bad design, which is the usual problem of any form of electronics. Programmers and designers seem to be pathologically ignorant and/or stupid.
As a result of being pressurised by the queue behind me being clearly impatient for me to finish and go, and me having no idea where my five pound notes worth of change was, I asked the Sainsburys employee at the machine in front of me, opposite the machine I was using, if he would be kind enough to tell me where the change was.
This employee, whose name tag had ‘Mo’ on it, behaved appallingly. First of all he just started shouting very loudly and incoherently at me and I found it extremely difficult to understand him because he was both shouting and slurring his words together because he was too lazy to speak English properly (which he later proved to be able to ), as it was clearly not his first language.
He did not come around to where I was standing to show me where this money was, and I simply couldn’t understand his garbled shouting. It seemed he was treating me as a senile idiot or something for failing to be able to operate an electronic checkout and thought The louder he shouted the more likely it was I would understand his incoherent instructions.
After several attempts this ‘Mo’ made at shouting instructions at me that I simply couldn’t understand because they were being shouted and they were quite incoherent, I explained to him I could not understand him and I asked him to stop shouting at me and could he please just come around to my side of the machine and show me what he was talking about.
With a great display of impatient irritation Mo did eventually come around to my side of the machine but was still angrily shouting at me and even thrust his face unpleasantly right into mine as though I really was a deaf, senile old dodderer – which I am most certainly not.
At this point I lost my patience a bit because this person was clearly very rude and ignorant and I told him to stop shouting at me at the top of his voice. This only made him shout even louder and it obliged me to raise my voice to repeat my quite polite request to him to stop shouting at me (and displaying very aggressive body language, as he had been from the very beginning).
At this point ‘Mo’ bizarrely shouted at me even louder telling me to stop shouting at him. As every action from this man over a considerable number of minutes had been violently unpleasant, aggressive and quite clearly indicated his determination to ‘pick a fight’ by virtue of his entire demeanour and body language, I was obliged to speak loudly as I repeated my request to him to stop shouting at me.
By now loads of adjacent shoppers were tuned into this man shouting at the top of his voice and they were finding it quite entertaining wondering what might happen next. Would this violent little man resort to hitting me as he was exhausting his efforts to intimidate me by just shouting at me non-stop ?
Indeed, Mo now lowered his voice to a menacing growl telling me to ‘shut up’. At which point I told him that I had only been obliged to raise my voice to say anything at all because he had been angrily shouting non-stop at me at the top of his voice right from the start.
This seemed to completely incense ‘Mo’ as he quivered with uncontrollable rage at my efforts to not be intimidated by him, which was obviously his intention from the word go.
As ‘Mo’ desperately controlled his obvious unhinged desire to thump me, he grabbed my arm and thrust me in the direction of the supermarket exit and told me to ‘get out’ and ‘leave the supermarket’.
This was quite obviously a deliberate and entirely unnecessary action on his part as I was leaving anyway, by now having retrieved the remainder of my change.
This ‘Mo’ person was still shrieking at me as he tried to show me his superiority and dominance by virtue of him being able to throw a customer out of the supermarket because he was an employee with that ability which he chose to willfully misuse as his trump card in trying to humiliate me.
While at first I was minded to simply depart as I had completed my shopping, I changed my mind and went to the customer service desk and asked to speak to the manager, one Mr Christopher LaForte.
Mr LaForte listened to my complaint about being unnecessarily shouted at by ‘Mo’ and as ‘Mo’ had by now mysteriously appeared in the vicinity and was contriving to edge close enough to hear my conversation with Mr LaForte, I beckoned to ‘Mo’ to come closer and participate in discussing the matter. I made it quite plain by smiling in a friendly manner and presenting a conciliatory demeanour towards ‘Mo’ that I intended no malice or ill will.
But ‘Mo’ suddenly started shouting at me yet again while I was speaking to Mr Laforte, having originally responded to my beckoning him over. The thrust of this shouting was now that I shouldn’t have beckoned him over, despite the fact that I displayed obvious conciliatory signs towards him.
When Mr LaForte asked Mo to be quiet he simply ignored Mr LaForte and carried on shouting. By now a posse of security guards had arrived and were perplexed at what to do as they could see it was a Sainsburys employee who was out of control and shouting and generally displaying tendencies towards violence of one sort or another.
So the security guards were hopping from one foot to another; and I have no doubt that if it was me being loud they would have frog-marched me straight out of the building as they clearly looked as though they had expected to do.
However, I was simply standing in front of Mr Laforte in a state of complete and silent dumbfoundedness at the extra-ordinary behaviour of this highly aggressive Sainsburys employee.
Eventually ‘Mo’ departed. Mr LaForte told me he would speak to ‘Mo’ the next day as ‘Mo’ had finished his shift for the day, and hadn’t actually been on duty when I originally spoke to him, but had been making his own purchases before going home.
There is obviously something fundamentally wrong with the attitude of Sainsburys employees towards customers as I have experienced other instances of unpleasant employees at your supermarket in Horsham.
Curiously, I have never had this problem at any other supermarket, not even the Sainsburys one I used near my house London.
I have also noticed how the staff at Waitrose supermarket in Horsham, where I now do the bulk of my shopping, having become sick and tired of this sort of nastiness at Sainsburys, are quite noticeably politer and more helpful and friendly than Sainsburys and any run of the mill other supermarket.
When I mentioned to one of the Waitrose staff the fact that Waitrose staff appeared to be quite markedly more friendly and pleasant than staff in other supermarkets, I was told that they made a point of being friendly and helpful. They also told me unequivocably they had also noticed how other non-Waitrose supermarkets were noticeably unfriendly, offhand and rude.
So, this speaks volumes about how the management of Sainsburys obviously hold their customers in contempt as they fail to train staff to behave as any retail staff should behave if they don’t want to lose their customers.
Perhaps this contemptuous arrogance of Sainsburys’ management is a product of a near monopoly of the market which leaves Sainsburys not caring less about their customers.
I look forward to hearing from you.