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.

1 comment:

pubby said...

The difference is that stealing is a criminal offence. Taking a photograph is not. As a private landowner, they are free to ban photography on their land if they wish, but there is no criminal sanction, and they should display signs advising that the use of mobile phone cameras etc, a commonplace activity, is banned.