Saturday, 28 February 2009

Tesco Value Range - Prices are Nuts

Tesco Value Roasted Salted Peanuts - back to 21p Feb 28 2009

Tesco Value Roasted Salted Peanuts - 37p as priced December 2008

Tesco Value Peanut Price Watch ...June 2008 - February 2009
20p, 21p (Up), 30p (Up), 32p (Up), 37p (Up), 35p (Down), 21p (Down)

Regular readers will remember that I emailed Tesco CEO Terry Leahy in December to ask why Tesco Value Roasted Salted Peanuts had jumped in price from 21p to 37p (Tesco Shelling Out More For Nuts)

Tesco replied blaming the rising cost of nuts (105%) and changes in currency exchange rates (40%).

Since December Sterling's value against most other currencies has continued to slide.

Today I was literally stunned to see that the price of Tesco Value Roasted Salted Peanuts has come crashing back to 21p. So much then, Tesco, for your previous 105% nut price rise and 40% currency crash explanation for the price almost doubling.

You might draw the conclusion that Tesco simply makes up the prices of its Value range based on what they think shoppers will pay, rather than what they cost to source.

You might draw that conclusion. I know I do.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Sky - Finally it's Bye Bye

Sky - They make it as difficult as possible to cancel

This week Sky is 20 years old. Their half year results show that subscriber numbers are up over the last three months by a net 171,000. But Sky suffers from a 9.9% churn. 'Churn' is the term used to describe the percentage of their customers cancelling.

Almost 1 in 10 Sky customers cancels.

That's why Sky make leaving as difficult as possible.

We cancelled Sky two weeks ago.
This week Sky wrote to us to say ''Phew'' 'we were thrilled to hear you'd changed your mind.'

Except of course we hadn't. As you would know if you read my previous post here.

Sky had invented the whole thing, reactivated the account and generated a new bill - which even included advance charges for a Broadband service we had already successfully migrated to o2.

I emailed Jeremy Darroch the CEO of Sky to complain.

This week Jeremy Darroch, SKY CEO said in interview:
"What binds us is focus on the customer, because we are accountable to paying subscribers who have a course of action they can take if they are not happy with the service. That sharpens the mind believe me."

Jeremy Darroch ignored my email.

So did Sky customer service.

That's why Sky has a 9.9% churn. They don't focus on the 1 in 10 customers who are dissatisfied with their service.

So today I had to phone Sky again, despite my pledge never to call them again.

I wasn't disappointed. The first customer services operator 'Darryl' hung up on me. I've read in several Internet forums that Sky operators earn £12,000 a year. They don't consider this enough pay to have to listen to irate customers, so they simply hang up on them. I later discover Darryl hasn't left a 'footprint' on the account' so can't be traced. I think operators avoid disciplinary action by not taking your account number even when you offer it. Instead they ask what you want. If they don't like the sound of your enquiry, or can't be bothered to deal with it they hang up. Other companies avoid this by recording all their incoming calls.

At the second attempt I bypass Sky's front line customer service by asking to speak to a manager. Peter was unable to explain why the account had been reactivated, but he could cancel it - with another 31 days notice.

I pointed out this would be completely unacceptable as Sky had already had 14 days notice.

He suggested crediting the account with £9.70 to cover this.

I was unhappy with this solution, which would extend our relationship with Sky yet again, so I asked how much compensation Sky would pay for my telephone calls. Faced with a demand for an hour worth of telephone calls, 44 minutes two weeks ago and 19 minutes today he agreed to cancel the service with immediate effect. He said we did appear to have had a 'run of bad luck' with Sky.

Do tell me your Sky 'customer service' and 'cancellation' stories. I bet ours isn't that unusual.

So here's how to cancel Sky - ask them to compensate you for their incompetence.
They can't get you off the subscriber base fast enough!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Easyjet Makes Most of Snow Chaos

London's Piccadilly Line severe delays - but a minor miracle

London has the worst snow for almost two decades overnight. Just my luck to be booked on the 08:40 BMI flight from Heathrow to Glasgow. I trudge off through thick snow at 06.30 to catch the Piccadilly Line. All went well until the almost empty train ground to a halt between stations. Twenty minutes later we were still stuck, rapidly falling snow obscuring the windows. The train ahead had iced up. Eventually our train gingerly edged through red signals to the ever so welcome safety of the platform at Osterley station.

The handful of passengers filed through the carriages to leave by the single door which just reached the platform end. The snow was coming down increasingly thickly now, no wonder the platform manager decided to close the station. Stranded halfway between home and Heathrow I decided to walk to the airport. At least if I turned up BMI would be obliged to rebook me.

Two hours later when I finally marched into Terminal One I was greeted by a dismaying sight. Every single BMI departure on the screen was shown 'Cancelled'. After waiting thirty minutes in a long line to rebook, my two hour walk was rewarded with some more bad news. We should all go home. BMI staff issued frustrated passengers (who thought they'd triumphed by even arriving at the airport) with letters instructing us to phone their call centre. Almost any call to BMI's Indian call centre is worse than a five mile trek through a snowstorm.

Fortunately the all too brief stop at the airport allowed just enough time for a minor miracle to happen on the Piccadilly line. Trains were running back into London and four hours after I'd set off, I was finally home again. With luck now firmly on my side I looked up a non-premium rate number for BMI on the saynoto0870 webiste and after barely a couple of rings I had a new flight booked for the day after tomorrow.

BMI didn't take any passenger details at the airport and so far as I could tell anyone who'd checked in, or maybe even had a reservation could have phoned for a replacement booking.

Contrast my experience with my colleague who booked Easyjet from Gatwick to Glasgow.

When the trains failed to run he didn't make it to Gatwick. Putting it down to bad luck he booked and paid for a new flight later this evening. When Easyjet began cancelling all its flights and with more snow forecast he paid another £20 to move it to the day after tomorrow. Why? I wondered. Because, he explained, he had discovered that Easyjet only ever cancel within the hour of scheduled departure, so if you don't turn up no refund. He didn't fancy trekking to Gatwick to save twenty quid.

Well fair enough, that's what you get with a budget airline I expect you're thinking. True - except his Easyjet flight cost £80 + £20 and mine with BMI cost £44.50.

As I write BBC News reports chaos for Easyjet customers at Stansted. Cancelled flights, five hour queues to rebook and planes diverted to the wrong airports. The news says the weather has cost the airlines millions. Easyjet seems determined to hang on to as many fares as it can. The next news item reports that Ryanair has made a loss. The report speculates that passengers are growing tired of extra charges to book a seat, check in a bag, pay with any type of bank card, etc, etc. Ryaniar's imagination when it comes to 'extras' knows no limit.

The budget airlines are looking the most vulnerable in the economic squeeze - regardless of how they behave during the big freeze.