Friday, 31 July 2009

M&S Photo Ban - Update

The Photo M&S tried to ban.
As a result of this photo M&S says it has removed and destroyed all the misleading signs

The Story so far: M&S staff reacted with hostility when I queried the terms of their 'Save 10%' wine discount promotion. I believed the offer was misleading. None of the staff was able to explain how the discount worked.
If M&S staff didn't understand the offer how could they expect customers to?

In a satisfying blow to the M&S section manager who told me the Legal Department 'never get it wrong' M&S has "immediately instructed all stores to remove and destroy" the above sign.

See my previous post: The photo Marks & Spencer Tried to Ban.After writing about my experience I emailed the blog to Sir Stuart Rose, M&S Chairman and Chief Executive.

This afternoon M&S Director of Food, John Dixon emailed to offer his sincere apologies that 'the terms and conditions... were missed off when printed'.

As a result M&S has 'immediately instructed all stores to remove and destroy the promotional ticket'.

John Dixon sits on M&S Board, so I appreciate his personal response. He explains in detail how the case discount applies.

"In future we will ensure all ticketing for this type of deal clearly states that the discount is applicable to multiples of 6 bottles only."

However his email is strangely silent on M&S policy towards customers taking photos of products on mobile phones. Two store security guards intercepted me when I took this photo and asked me to delete it. I have requested that Mr Dixon clarify M&S policy and since he concedes a mistake was made with the ticketing, I have requested an apology for the hostility with which I was treated in store when I pointed out M&S' error.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Photo Marks & Spencer tried to Ban

The photo Marks & Spencer tried to Ban

I just brought 8 bottles of wine from M&S Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow. The total was £36.56. Reading the above sign displayed on all the wine shelves in store you might expect a discount of £3.65. But not if you're working in the M&S Legal Department.

The discount given was just £2.79. I asked at customer services how the discount was calculated. The first 2 customer service assistants were unable to explain, so the section manager 'Kenny' was called.

Kenny was unable to arrive at the £2.79 discount either, even after re-entering all the prices into the till.

Finally he announced, 'The discount only applies to six bottles.'

'Which 6 bottles?' I asked Kenny. 'The cheapest 6 bottles - £25.92' He pointed at the receipt. I had bought 6 bottles of Australian Shiraz at £4.32 a bottle, total £25.92.

'So why is the discount £2.79 not £2.59?' I queried. You bought 2 more more expensive bottles, so it's giving you a bit extra for the others.

If it's giving a 'bit extra' then the discount applies to more than 6 bottles I pointed out.

At this point I said I would go back and check the signage on the display, as I had not understood the offer to apply to '6 bottles only'.

I came back and explained that the sign does not carry the exclusion 'discount applies to cheapest bottles'. To prove it, I had taken a photo of the sign on my phone. Now Kenny got a bit upset and said that I wasn't allowed to take photos in M&S and I would have to delete it.

Un-distracted by Kenny's peculiar reaction to my evidence, it was at this moment I realised how the 10% discount on 6 bottles works.

M&S take 6 bottles in decreasing order of cost and apply a 10% discount to the average price of these 6. The 10% discount only applies to multiples of 6.

I wrote down the calculation based on this realisation and the discount on the total of my 6 most expensive bottles came to £2.79. The discount shown on the receipt.

Fair enough you might say.

Except, 3 members of M&S customer services were unable to calculate the discount.

So is the offer misleading. Is it legal?

Kenny says the sign has been approved by the Legal Department. I point out that this doesn't necessarily make it legal, but I will write to Stuart Rose (The Chairman and Chief Executive) with my photo and query it.

Now Kenny gets upset again. You'll have to delete that photo I'm afraid.

I point to another assistant wearing a suit (Kenny isn't wearing a suit) and ask if he is the store manager? He isn't. By now, I see no point in continuing my discussion with Kenny when I can write to the Management.

As I walk back through the store I see rows and rows of the offending 'Save 10%' signs and decide to take another photo. No sooner than I have my phone out and I'm approached by 2 security guards and Kenny arrives. It's almost as if they've been waiting for me.

I ask to see the store manager. Kenny says he is the most senior manager in the store. We have another brief discussion, in which I explain that I made a perfectly reasonable query which has offended him. I finish by saying that M&S displays no signage forbidding the taking of photographs, so they cannot reasonably object.

The security man smugly replies they don't have any signs forbidding stealing either. (In fact on the main store doors M&S advises that it operates the Civil Recovery Scheme, which is broadly the same as warning 'no stealing').

I ask if I am being detained by the 2 security guards for taking a photo? They say I am not. I ask if I am free to leave the store? They agree I am. So I leave.

It seems to me an entirely disproportionate response to a perfectly simple customer query. Why antagonise a customer who has just spent £39.08?

I am sorry if Kenny felt embarrassed that neither he or any of his M&S colleagues were able to calculate how the store's 10% wine discount is applied. To my mind it proves the offer is misleading.

Any right thinking customer should be able to understand how the discount applies.
Or - any right thinking member of M&S customer service.

The difference between 10% discount on my 8 bottles and 10% on the most expensive 6 is 86p.

86p = A silly amount to drive away a loyal customer during the worst trading conditions for a decade.