Sunday, 9 August 2009

M&S Wine Watch Day 9

4 of the misleading '10%' signs still on Display in M&S Stirling.
Note the different wording and type-face.
'Save 10%' and '10% off'

The story so far: When I pointed out the above signage was misleading at the M&S Glasgow store, the staff turned hostile. I wrote to Chairman Stuart Rose to complain. M&S's Director of Food said he agreed the ticket was misleading and they would 'immediately... remove and destroy' the above tickets from all stores. That was 10 days ago.

M&S has 600 stores. So there is a good chance some of these misleading signs may have been missed when they were 'immediately' removed. But what are the chances of my visiting the only store in the whole of the UK that still has 4 of them on display?

Let's also assume that that if this was a food safety recall (rather than just misleading the customers into buying lots of wine) that M&S would be less sloppy in implementing its 'immediate remove and destroy' policy.

Now let's look at why the 'Save 10%' sign I saw in Glasgow was misleading.

The Director of Food wrote; 'unfortunately it appears that in this instance the terms and conditions of the case discount were missed off when printed.'

Have another look at the signs I photographed in the Stirling Store on Sunday. Exhibit 1 and 2 appear to be from the same batch as I first saw. Exhibits 3 and 4 are each entirely different. They look as though they pre-date the version where the 'T&C of the case discount were missed off'. The word 'buy' is absent and 'off' replaces 'save'. Exhibit 4 also has a wine glass line drawing not shown on any of the other versions. But crucially none of these earlier versions carries any terms and conditions describing how the offer is applied.

The Director of Food continues 'I would like to personally reassure you that we have not intentionally tried to mislead anybody and that we go to great lengths to ensure this situation does not arise.'

It's going to be a bad week in the M&S promotions copy-checking department. This situation appears to have happened not once, not twice, but on three separate printings. Oh dear.

I was amazed to discover I am not the only UK consumer who has had a spot of bother recently trying to get a leading food retailer to honour it's advertised promotion. A contributor to the Flyertalk British Airways forum reports how his local Tesco tried to tell him an 800 clubcard points promotion had never existed on Champagne. When he removed the shelf ticket and said he would send it to head office as proof, staff had him surrounded by security and said police would be on the way and arrest him for theft. When he took a photograph of the label he was told photography isn't allowed.Why are high street retailers so reluctant to be held accountable? They are more than happy to follow customers around the store with CCTV and security guards.

M&S have now written to me to reassure me that surrounding unhappy customers with security guards isn't in the staff training manual. Apparently what should have happened was if staff are unable to give the correct information they should refer the query to Head Office and promise a response later. M&S say I remain a valued customer and do hope I will be happy shopping with them in future.

But, despite two separate requests M&S have remained completely silent on their policy towards customers taking photos of promotions and products in store. So I can at least assure readers there has been NO attempt to ban the above photos (unlike the first one)

So if you see the misleading 'Save 10%' sign still on display at your local store feel free to send me a photograph. Mr Dixon at M&S might appreciate a copy too. They're probably proof-reading the 'No Photography Allowed' signs now.

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