The multi-buy scam highlighted by the BBC a few months ago is just one of the reasons why shoppers are wary of putting too much loyalty in Tesco. Assuming their customers are too dumb to work out that bottles of fruity water priced at 31p each are cheaper than the 'Special Offer' of 3 for £1, is just one of the ways Tesco has managed to alienate previously loyal customers. When pulled up on these practices (it was highlighted on numerous products throughout the store) that old chestnut the 'system error' was blamed. To which at least one viewer was forced to shout from his armchair 'go on, pull this one, it's got bells on it'.
It's not so much the fact that Tesco (and other stores are equally culpable) are trying to screw a few extra pence out of their clients that irks me. It's the assumption that normal shoppers are somehow too stupid to see through the marketing ploys. When you charge a fair price for a fair product, I'll meet you halfway. Try and pick my pockets and I'm out of here.
Now Which Magazine has highlighted that Tesco has been sending its online grocery shoppers products that are smaller than advertised - The Mail highlights a 1 litre tub of Carte d'Or ice cream that was actually 900 ml when it arrived - to add weight to the argument that the stores no longer have the customers' best interests at heart.
And that is precisely the problem, not just at Tesco but with many high street brands. This arrogant assumption that the customer is some dimwitted cash receptacle to be milked for or tricked out of every penny and then discarded in endemic in much of British retail.
Cutting the numbers of store staff to save money (remember Tesco's promise to 'always open another till if there's someone in front of you until all the tills are open?' That got quietly sidelined), cramming the aisles with two for one offers where the price of one is twice as much as you've ever paid before, promoting special deals that only last a day or two just to get you through the doors - it all stinks of what's wrong with retail in the UK. But more accurately, it highlights what's wrong with the mentality of the new generation of marketers who are blind to the idea of respect for the customer, dazzled by the size of company profits, and purely focussed on their own cut of the bonus pool.
Honestly, it's time to stop now guys. You've been doing it for too long and even the most gullible of customers is now wise to, cynical of and jaded by these dodgy practices. How about getting back to good service, honest value and simple convenience? That doesn't sound like a lot to ask for does it?