Thursday, 31 March 2016

An Open Letter to ASDA (Or, Why I Don't Shop at ASDA Any More)

I have put off writing this many times, out of misguided loyalty to your company, but what I experienced tonight at ASDA Newport Superstore, Pencarn Way, pushed me to the point of having to finally speak out. It also destroyed any remaining shreds of loyalty I once held.

As of today, I am no longer an ASDA customer, loyal or otherwise.

Before I begin, it's necessary to point out that I would not be making this complaint if this were the first time that I had experienced this problem – but it's not the first time. Not the first, second, third, or even fourth. This shocking display of appalling customer service has become, it would appear, common place at ASDA Newport.

I sincerely hope that it is the behaviour of your staff at this store alone; not a company wide policy.

Tonight, my husband convinced me to join him in doing the grocery shopping at ASDA – I mention this because I am not always able to do so. I suffer from Depression and Anxiety, conditions that make it very difficult for me to cope with strangers and/or crowds.

Although I find it easiest to manage department stores such as ASDA late at night, when they are mostly empty, I understand that this particular store may close their cashier operated tills at 9PM, switching instead to self-scan, which my husband struggles to manage due to chronic back pain. I had to navigate relatively crowded aisles – aggravating my Anxiety – to do our shopping tonight, to ensure that we were done before the tills closed at 9PM.

I oughtn't have bothered.

It took us an hour to fill our trolley. An agonising hour of deliberation, meal planning, and budgeting. In the end, we had a shopping cart totalling over £100.

By the time we completed our shopping, I was already ill. I was dizzy and clammy, struggling to keep from passing out. I was desperate to help my husband load the shopping on to the belt so that I could escape to the car.

While looking for an open till, we noticed four ASDA colleagues clustered together, having a good chat and a laugh, in front of the tills. We walked down the row of tills to find that, although it was only 8.15PM, all of the cashier operated tills were already closed. Only the self-service tills were open.

The store was still quite busy.

Being keenly aware of our limitations, we approached the cluster of chatting ASDA colleagues and commented on the lack of open tills. Not one of the women gave us the time of day. One of them literally shrugged it off. When, frustrated with their unhelpful attitudes, my husband told them that he was leaving our full cart, worth over £100 with them, because we can not use the self-serve tills for a large shop, the only reply was, ''Fine.''

My husband then pointed out that it would take the colleagues longer to put our groceries back on the shelves than it would to open a till and run us through. A colleague replied, ''Oh, well.''

He then asked a colleague to confirm the time. ''So when I tell them what happened tonight, I can give accurate information.'' The time was confirmed but, the colleague's reply to the suggestion of a complaint being raised was, ''Fine. Tell them. We don't care.''

This behaviour is rude, unhelpful, and utterly shocking. We were disgusted by the experience.

It's important to note here that we had to leave without our groceries, including our dinner for this evening. I began to get a tension headache from that moment and was too overwhelmed and exhausted to even contemplate entering another store.

Exhausted and ill, I left your store empty-handed, but for a determination to never set foot inside again.

This may seem like an insignificant incident to you, but let me tell you what it meant to me:
  1. It meant coming home without my dog's and cat's food.
  2. It meant not having any dinner for myself and my husband.
  3. It meant having to take extra medication when I returned home.
  4. It meant having to order takeaway – which we had to take from our grocery budget.
  5. It meant wasting 20 miles worth of petrol.
  6. It meant wasting at least an hour of our time in the store – and another hour composing this letter.
It may have very little significance to you but, as you can see, it had a huge impact on us.

I mentioned before that this is not the first time we've had this experience; not this exact experience, of course, but very similar. In the past year, we have done our shopping five times – at five different times in the evening – only to find that the tills were closed. Five times, we asked what time the tills are supposed to close and, disturbingly, were told five different times.

Is it that your employees are not communicating with one another? Shouldn't there be a company-wide policy regarding this? Is it altered on the whim of managers? Why is there no sign-posting for customers, regarding the closure of tills?

A simple sign proclaiming the time that the tills are due to close each evening would prevent other vulnerable customers from experiencing the same inconveniences that we have.

Each of the five times we have come up against this problem, we brushed if off and tried to get over it but, each time, our trust in your store waned a little more. We have no more trust to give.

Make no mistake: this is not simply a complaint; this is a condemnation. The behaviour of your staff has been despicable. Not once did they apologise for the inconvenience. Not once did they acknowledge the distress that it caused us.

Once, however, a member of staff actually laughed in our faces when we complained.

We have other options. To get to ASDA Newport, we drive past Tesco, Aldi, Lidl, and Morrison's. We never went to ASDA because of value, convenience, or variety; we went out of loyalty. Twenty years worth of loyalty.

We'll not make that mistake again. 

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