A can of worms (what??)

* Sainsbury’s have finally gotten back to me on this issue. Scroll down to bottom to read end of story.*

No, actually, what it was was a can of Sainsbury’s organic chopped tomatoes. But there was a worm in it. Or so I thought at first. It turned out to be less, eh, organic, namely a shoelace. I was making plain tomato sauce for vegetarian lasagne and so had only a bit of olive oil and minced garlic in the pan before pouring in the tomatoes. Which is why I know with absolute certainty that that’s where it came from. Besides, we’re not much of a shoelace family. Husband prefers loafers & son prefers velcro. As for me, eh, flip flops & slippers?

The next morning, Nov. 17th., I wrote this to Sainsbury’s:

Subject: foreign object in Sainsbury’s So Organic chopped tomatoes
User’s Comments: Last night when making sauce for lasagne I used two cans of your otherwise nice So Organic chopped tomatoes. When stirring contents “black snake” appeared. Since there was only garlic in the pan prior to adding the cans of tomatoes, there really was no other source of this. A LENGTH OF SHOELACE.

Can ID: PRO 1 BIO A 270
B.B.E. SEPT. 2010
Photograph can be seen here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nenelabeet/4111313339/in/photostream/

On November 19th I got this reply:
Dear Nene
Thank you for your email regarding the shoelace that you found in the JS SO chopped tomatoes.  I’m sorry that you had the displeasure of finding such an item in your product.

Can I ask you to send this by recorded delivery to our Product Quality department where they will investigate the cause of the shoelace appearing in the tomatoes.  The address is as follows:

Product Quality department
Sainsbury’s Supermarkets Ltd

33 Holborn
London
EC1N 2HT

Kind regards

Andrew Baillie

Customer Manager

On Monday 23rd I did as requested. Have receipt right here next to me. Enclosed my business card with all details – including Twitter ID – and the query number I’d been issued with. Recorded delivery ensures delivery on the next day before 1 pm. So can assume Sainsbury has received it? But of course, have not heard one word from them since then.

Or, I have. Because I have of course tweeted about it. Both when I just found it with the above picture as Twitpic and later when I still didn’t hear anything. Other tweeters suggested I tweeted directly to @sainsburys, who clearly doesn’t follow their own brand name on Twitter. How amateurish is that???

So I tweeted directly to @sainsburys who then asked for my phone number in DM. They then had this hapless, clueless girl from customer services call me. Without checking my Twitter stream first and certainly without checking whether they had received my complaint and the can & content. As my husband would probably say: W*nkers! I felt so sorry for that girl who called to tell me to do what I’d already done, namely send in the can & lace via registered mail. She wasn’t authorised to do anything else.

Here’s one week worth of Tweeting about shoelace in Sainsburys’ tomatoes. I do realise that you can’t actually read this, so try here (this link is to live search of Twitter for labeet + sainsburys). Sainsburys have access to this same tool, don’t they?

I know that Sainsburys is a huge, huge business and that I’m only one tiny little person (relatively speaking). But I also know that customer services are becoming more and more important as “the little man’s” access to a wider audience becomes easier. Scanning 5-6 hours worth of tweets including the word Sainsburys takes about 5 minutes (I know, I just did it). Most tweets that aren’t just mentioning Sainsburys because they’re either going shopping or orienting themselves via the local Sainsburys are positive or musing over the fact that they are now being followed by @sainsburys. Maybe they should explain to people why they start following them? One tweeter amusingly writes: The whole of Sainsburys is fllowing me? That’s a bit scary if you stop too quickly!

Quite a few of the tweets are recommendations of current in-store offers to others. @sainsburys could really profit from this if they tweeted back with related offers. What they seem to be doing is tweeting recipes and saying thank you to people for following them back. When queried directly, they assured me and @angpang and @EmmaJaneR that they were “listening”, but the above is all that happened? And since that tweet yesterday afternoon, @Sainsburys has sent out 5 tweets altogether, the last one 16 hours ago.

I am clueless as to why a company that large with that amount of resources chooses to do anything as half-hearted as that. I understand that for many smaller businesses it’s impossible to have one single person responsible for these things, but as I’ve just shown, scanning half a day of tweets takes 5 minutes!

I now have to go out, so won’t be here to take delivery of the huge hamper of guaranteed shoelace free cans of tomatoes and other goodies that MUST be on its way from Sainsburys. I hope the neighbours will.

Ah well, just kidding. I’ll keep you posted and will tweet link to this post with annoyingly regular intervals in the meantime. And, Sainsburys, I promise you that I’ll just as eagerly tweet and post when you turn around and “do the right thing”. Until then: @Sainsburys #fail.

Added 5/12:

On December 1st I wrote to Sainsbury’s again, asking if they had actually received the can and if they were going to do anything about it, ever?

And finally, yesterday evening, a woman with a peculiar accent (def. North, but where exactly, she had the funniest expressions and prolonged nouns?) called. She talked non-stop about what they were doing with their suppliers, quality control, etc., etc., and in the end finished her speech by offering me £50 compensation. I accepted. Maybe I should’ve taken the matter further, but £50 seems to be OK, all things considered. And I’m really, really bad at squabbling. Heated discussions make me nervous and get ridiculously high levels of adrenalin flowing – think it’s a leftover from childhood…

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5 tanker om “A can of worms (what??)”

  1. Reminds me of the time I found HALF a wasp in a Boots Tuna salad, when I was half way through eating it……. I took it back to the shop I bought it from, got a refund, and a week later, in the post, a voucher for £10. Have never eated their salads again!

  2. The worst I have experienced in that department was once in Rosengårdscenter in Odense, where I treated my three children to buns from Bager From. I had specifically explained about my daughter’s severly egg allergy and asked if the buns contained eggs. Labels checked by staff and me – no eggs, I was assured. Buns we had and my daughter ended up in hospital with all the worst symptons of anaphylaxis…. Couple of days later, back home – safe and sound – I called Bager From’s HQ and complained. Turned out the buns were incorrectly labelled. Well, I gathered as much – but why bother with labels if you cannot trust them anyway?

    HQ then had the nerve of offering me a gift certificate and mailed it to me eventhough I – pissed as I really was pardon me my language) – had declined. I months later went into the same bakery store, asked to see the label for the buns – and yes, as you might imagine: They hadn’t changed it.

    So no more Bager From for us, ever! Mind you, they probably don’t care – what is it with humanity these days????!!! Looking forward to hearing more from Sainsbury’s ;-)

  3. They could have at least told you that the lace belonged to the “organic farmer” that “organically picks” the tomatoes and ” even more “organically ” crushes the tomatoes, with his own foot, into the tins… The scandal here then would be due to the fact that he was wearing a boot since this whole ancient process should take happen “bare feetedly”.

    Disgusting! You finding it and them not addressing it properly…

    hugs,

    Marcello

  4. Dear Nene,

    Isn’t it amazing the level of ninnydom in large corporations? Sainsbury’s really should know better and not following their own tweets isn’t exactly staying ahead of the curve, is it? I feel your pain. And I really don’t want to think about how that shoelace got into your tin of organic tomatoes. Ewwwwww! As they say in Los Angeles.

    Good luck & remain deadly calm.

    Love,

    Miss Whistle

  5. Oh I’m sorry it was all so stressful. I don’t like conflict either and you will see why in my book. However that’s a great resolution. Buy yourself a nice present as a reward for having stuck to your guns

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