Tag Archives: Tesco

Parcel Farce

Usually when I’m ordering something, I try to have it delivered to work – the theory being that at work there is usually someone around to sign for the parcel, and you’re not going to have problems with forged signatures and parcels propped up against the front door. However every so often we have to have something delivered to our home address, as it has been with a parcel that we were supposed to receive on Tuesday. Unfortunately the company from which we were purchasing requires that for credit card purchases, the package has to be shipped to the credit card address, and it was shipped with Parcel Force, the parcel delivery arm of the Royal Mail.

When we first moved here, we had problems because being a new build, the road wasn’t on any of the maps. Eight years on, we’re on all the latest sat-nav data, indeed you can put our address into Google Maps and take a nice look at our back garden. Recently about the only problem we’ve had has been the occasional Tesco delivery driver who ends up in Penrose Park (worth noting at this point that it Ocado equip their drivers with a sat-nav, so we’ve never had a problem with them).

Anyway, both yesterday and today there has been no sign of the parcel, nor any sort of card. Thankfully the company sending the parcel supplied me with the tracking code so I could see what was happening, and it came as somewhat of a surprise. They have twice failed to locate the address – it escapes me quite why having failed to find it on Tuesday they didn’t at least look us up on a map to try and find us on the Wednesday – but twice they have failed to find it. Incidentally, the top item on the tracking is my redirecting the parcel to our local post office, where since we know the post mistress quite well, hopefully there should be no problem picking the parcel up without the card. Annoyingly it takes Parcel Force two days to actually get the parcel to the local post office, so we’ll have to wait until Friday until we can go and collect it, plus they’ll charge us 50p for the redirection. That’s a lot less than the £5.50 they’d charge to redirect it anywhere else. The only other option is to drive to the other side of Reading to collect it in person, but I fear after the farce this week I’ll probably not be at my best with whoever happens to be on the desk if I did.

It just amazes me that a company whose primary business is delivering packages is unable after two attempts to find our house. Granted if we were in an out of the way place, or a brand new house it would be understandable, but the house is eight years old, and the road is on sat-nav, map, whatever, why on earth is it so difficult for them to deliver our parcel?

Update: You’d think this was complicated. I’ve just had an e-mail back from Parcel Farce customer service saying that they had “resolved the address problems” and that the parcel was back out on the van to be delivered to my home address – I’ve just phoned them up, and once through their automated system to a real person (hint, press the ‘#’ key on your phone a few times and you can get out of the menu system) and she had checked, it seems that the parcel is indeed on the normal delivery route, not being sent to our local post office as requested. The customer service agent said that she could send a message to the driver to make sure he delivered it to the local post office instead, although that proved to be complicated as the list of local post offices on her system bizarrely doesn’t list our local post office at all, despite the list on the main website including it. So place your bets please, do you think they’ll actually manage to deliver the parcel to the right place by the weekend?

Update 2: Parcel all delivered. Looking at the paperwork attached to the box the initial instruction to redirect the parcel was actually received, although after having accepted that instruction they then had another failed attempt to deliver to the house. What is interesting is that the customer service agents you speak to seem to have no more information than the tracking system gives you so can’t tell where a parcel is actually going, hence all the confusion in the middle of the week.

The Nativity Story

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Amongst the bargain bin DVD’s in Tesco as I was going around this week was a copy of The Nativity Story, the glossy telling of the Christmas Story that came out last Christmas. Putting aside the irony that Tesco have shelves full of crackers and decorations already but have chucked a telling of the meaning of Christmas into the bargain bin, I picked up a copy, and this afternoon sat down to take a look.

Largely as would be expected, it’s biblical accuracy extends as far as being a generally pretty straightforward version of the traditional Christmas story that everybody knows, so we get the basic story from Luke, inter cut with the wise men travelling (who incidentally have their traditional names), and then switching fully over to the Mathean story after the shepherds. Mary and Joseph then escape to Egypt, and the part of Luke where Mary and Joseph take the baby Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem are ignored. I’m not overly surprised as it comes as a bit of a shock to most people that there are two totally different birth narratives in the Bible, and much as with Carol Services the world over, the problems are largely brushed under the carpet for the purposes of the story and not rocking the boat.

Anyway, what is good though is that Mary is realistically young, indeed there are scenes at the beginning that deliberately re-enforce how young she is. There is also a good deal of symbolism throughout the movie, with pre-empting of later parts of the gospels occurring in a number of places, and also interesting symbolism around the angel Gabriel who generally appears as an apparition of man in a white robe, but whose arrival or departure is shown by a soaring bird. You also get a suitably scheming Herod, and thanks to judicious amounts of CGI a pretty convincing image of Roman Palestine.

One other interesting aspect of the film worth mentioning is the soundtrack. Written by Mychael Danna, brother of Jeff Dana who provided the score for Gospel of John, the score combines traditional sounds with a regular orchestral score, but also at key moments uses some very familiar carols – in Latin – intertwined with the other music. The best known are O Come, O Come Emmanuel and Silent Night which occur at key moments in the film, but there are several others to spot too.

All in all, it’s not a bad film, and certainly is one of the better movie versions of the nativity I’ve seen. The cast is pretty good, although having watched Alexander Siddig for years on DS9 there is some amusement in having him turn up as Gabriel in this. It also doesn’t stray too much into the realms of Mel Gibson style fantasy additions to pad out the story, with the additions needed to pad the simple story in the Bible to a movie fitting in and underlining aspects of the story without adding anything theologically significant. If you’re looking for something to explain the religious significance of Christmas, it’s certainly worth digging around in your local Tesco bargain bin to see if you can find a copy.

Who Benefits from Tesco Self-Service Tills?

Consumer group Which? recently issued a warning over the self-service tills now available in 320 branches of Tesco, highlighting the whopping great security hole in the whole process, that they don’t use any sort of validation on the payment card at all – no Chip and PIN or signature, you just swipe the magnetic strip on your card an you’ve paid. With the moves to Chip and PIN for most transactions, it is a countrywide opportunity for people to use old style skimming techniques at stores countrywide. Interestingly Tesco have said that they are starting to introduce Chip and PIN to the machines – however the new terminals that went into our local branch last month are still swipe terminals rather than Chip and PIN.

The interesting question is who do these terminals really benefit? I tend to use them if I’m buying a small number of items, mainly because the express checkouts at Tesco are always so badly policed. There have only ever been two 10 items or less checkouts at our local branch, and often one other checkout with a sign saying for baskets only, and there is always a significant queue at each. The four self-service checkouts have replaced two normal checkouts, and since most people are reluctant to use them, generally don’t have much of a queue.

The interesting thing though is that the actual process is slower than if you were at a regular till with a properly trained staff member on the checkout. The tills use voice instructions to talk you through each stage of the process – to the point of ‘take the next item’, ‘scan the item’, ‘put the item in the bagging area’ – which is very slow. There are also detectors of some sort in the bagging area in an effort to stop fraud (it detects items being bagged if they haven’t been scanned), however the sensors are not foolproof and in my experience regularly have problems with light items like newspapers. I expect that they also would have problems if you didn’t want to bag something, for example if you were just buying a sandwich. I have discovered that it is possible to force the system to work faster though – whenever it starts on a voice instruction, the scanner and sensors are all set up for the next stage of the process, but it is still a generally slower process.

However the advantage to Tesco is obvious, to run the four self-service tills they need only one staff member, whereas to run another four express checkout tills they’d need four staff members. This also explains why the fraud issue at the tills doesn’t seem to be much of a problem to them – what is a few cases of fraud, all of which are limited at most to a few hundred pounds compared to the savings of only having to have a quarter of the number of trained staff for those tills?

Tesco Sign picture originally uploaded by Nosbig.

Every Little Helps?

Every Little Helps?

Stopping off at Tesco in Wokingham today, we spotted that they had replaced their fleet of small trolleys, not surprising, as they are the most used trolleys in the store, and were starting to look a bit bashed around the edges.

Whilst it was nice to have the new trolleys, it seemed that the marketing department had been let loose and tweaked the design a bit.

One of the things I liked about the smaller trolleys is that instead of a seat, they had a really convenient clip-board attached just behind the handle, just the right size to take the usually extensive list Beth sends me down to Tesco with. However it seems with the new trolleys, the marketing department have spotted some unused space – a nice area in which to put an advertisment.

But it gets worse. I assume that they don’t want people actually blocking the advert with anything as trivial as a list, so there is now absolutely no way to actually attach your list at all, the clip is gone, in fact the whole convenience to the shopper of having the board there in the first place is gone. Every little helps?