Browsing Tag

customer service

T is for… Taste London – customer service deficit

Posted on 21st May 2010 in auto renewal/ bad service/ complaint/ customer service/ debt/ review/ taste london/ theft

For anyone who has a taste london card, please be aware of their auto renewal clause. I signed up for a taste london card after receiving a 50% off special offer email. I did not know that I had signed up for auto renewal.

I tried to use my card in the restaurants stated, but each time I tried the restaurants said that because they had other incentives running the card could not be used. I wrote it off as a bad purchase and forgot about it until recently when I spotted that taste london had debited my account. I then immediately emailed them – via their website as they don’t show any actual email addresses – and below you will find a copy of the emails in which they repeatedly refuse to issue a refund.

Web site enquiry

number2: Hi – you seem to have deducted £29.95 from my bank account but I didn’t actually want to renew my card. Please can you cancel this and refund my account.
Many thanks.

Tue 4th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

When you first join tastelondon you cannot proceed with your order until you have clicked that you accept the terms and conditions of the membership (copy below). I am unable to offer you a refund however if you do not feel you will use the card over the next 12 months but a friend or family member may benefit instead please return the card to me with details of their full name and I can transfer this for you.
You must read, agree and accept all of the terms and conditions expressly set out below and those incorporated by reference before you may become a member.

We reserve the right to amend these terms and conditions at any time by giving you Notice (“Notice”) by posting the amended terms and conditions on the Site.

Any amended terms and conditions will govern new memberships after the expiry of 30 days following the date of the Notice

“We”, “Ourselves”, “Our”- means Taste London and Taste Marketing Ltd

“Site”- means www.tasteuk.co.uk

1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Tuesday 4th May 2010

Hi TasteLondonEmployee,

Thank you for your email.

I am very unhappy with your response. If you make it compulsory for people to tick the autorenew option then I do not believe that to be fair and I certainly did not realise that I had done that when I bought the card.

I do not want my card to be renewed. I do not live in London and I have not been able to use the card as the restaurants that I have tried to use it in have always had other promotions on at the time meaning that the card cannot be used – thus making the card pointless.

If you are unable to issue a refund I would be grateful if you could pass this matter onto your supervisor.

I look forward to receiving confirmation of my refund.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good morning Lisa and thank you for your reply. The reason why we do not allow customers to proceed with their order until they have clicked that they have read and understood the terms and conditions is to avoid circumstances such as this. I have cancelled your renewal for 2011 and as I said before we can transfer the membership to a friend or family member for the next 12 months if this is something you would be interested in.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Wednesday 5th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have written to my bank today to complain about this under the terms of the Direct Debit guarantee.

I do not agree that I gave you permission to auto-renew. I did not receive an email ‘reminding me of the renewal’ (as stated in your email of the 4th of May) if I had of done I would then have cancelled the subscription – within the permitted timescale.

I would again request that you do the decent thing and cancel my renewal and refund the debit.

If you refuse to do so, I hope that the bank will be able to enforce the Direct Debit guarantee. Either way, I think this is an appalling lack of customer service on your behalf.

Lisa

Wednesday 5th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

Thank you for your subsequent email. Our subscription is not a direct debit, it is a continuous authority transaction and therefore not covered by the guarantee to which you refer.

I hope this helps clarify, I am now away from the office until Monday 10th May. If you would like to transfer the membership into another name please contact a member of the customer service team on the free phone number below.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee 
Operations Director

Thursday 6th May 2010

No TasteLondonEmployee, it does not clarify.

I makes it sound even more like a sneaky loop hole built in to ensnare the unsuspecting.

However, as you did not honour your own terms and conditions, it is quite clear that you have violated them and I would like a full and immediate refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

I still have not had confirmation of the refund.

Please can you action this and confirm urgently. As we have established, I did not want the card renewed. I did not receive any notification of the renewal and I would like a full and immediate refund. If you are not authorised to action this please can you kindly pass it on to someone who is.

Many thanks,

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Good afternoon Lisa,

As I said before I am the Operations Director for Taste Marketing Limited and I cannot process a refund for you. I can transfer the card into the name of a friend or family member instead if you would like to do so.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have absolutely no intention of letting this drop.

You have renewed the card without my permission and I want a refund.

As you have refused several times to give me a refund I will now look into how I can escalate this complaint. I am absolutely disgusted with the attitude of taste london over this matter and think you need to take a long hard look at your customer service. If you believe that tricking people into renewal is good practice then you are very wrong.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

At no point have you been tricked into a refund and it’s disappointing that you have suggested this in your email, you yourself accepted the terms and conditions of the membership when you joined and this would also have been flagged as a reoccurring transaction on your bank statement at the time.

With almost 200,000 members we cannot waive these terms or get into a situation where we are making any special exceptions. That said when a member does forgot to cancel their membership we do everything we can to assist them in transferring this and cancelling the renewal for the following year.

Kind regards,

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I was not aware that I had signed up for anything other than a 1 year membership.

In your email of 4th May you said “1. The tastelondon Club is an ongoing subscription service so your membership is continuous, your membership is renewed automatically at the end of each membership year. We will send you a reminder by email (or by post if you have not supplied us with your email address) approximately 3 weeks before your renewal is due, to advise you of details of the new subscription. If you do not want to renew your membership you should contact us by telephone at any point within your 12 months membership period and at least 7 days prior to your renewal date. You are required to inform us if you change your correspondence address (both email and postal) – and we will not be liable for any non receipt of communication from us, this includes the renewal reminder.

I did not receive a reminder. As such I feel that I was tricked.

I have explained to you that I have been unable to use the card. I have asked you 6 times for a refund. As stated in my last email I am now looking into ways to take this further. My bank have already assured me that they agree with me that payment should not have been taken and they will be contacting taste london to request a refund. In addition to this I am now investigating whether the financial ombudsman or the office of fair trading will be the most appropriate person to complain to, I have emailed Money Saving Expert for their advice, I have asked on Twitter what people suggest (and warned them not to be tricked in the same way) and I will now continue to seek further ways to complain.

As I said in virtually every email, I am disappointed and quite frankly disgusted that you have refused to refund.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010

Lisa,

I can assure you that our transactions are all perfectly legal, not in any way misleading and have been reviewed and approved by all the relevant authorities. We work closely with Money Saving Expert and they are fully aware of the terms and conditions of our membership. We will have sent you the reminder email however there are a number of firewalls that block certain traffic – for example those with links to social networking sites which is why we also notify members when they first join that we cannot control any correspondence which does not get delivered.

We do have exceptional levels of customer service which is reflected in the high percentage of members who stay with tastelondon year on year and take the time to write in offering their thanks or congratulating the team on the work they do. Members cannot proceed with their initial order without first confirming that they have fully read and accepted the terms and conditions of the scheme which quite clearly state that this will renew unless we are notified otherwise. We allow members to do so at any point within the twelve months, providing this is no later than 7 days before the expiry date on their card.

When you do contact your bank they will inform you of the details of your initial transaction and verify the legality of the “continuous authorised transaction” which you yourself accepted and authorised . I have noted that you are seeking advice from the financial ombudsman and the office of fair trading who will also confirm the same, therefore I shall now leave the matter and assume it closed.

On behalf of everyone at tastelondon I would like to thank you for your custom and wish you the very best for the future.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Thursday 20th May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

Whether or not you consider the matter closed – it is not.

I have already contacted my bank who, if you read my earlier email, do not agree with you and have confirmed that they are writing to you to request a refund.

I would be grateful if you could send me a copy of the document which you have stated “which you yourself accepted and authorised” along with a copy of the email that was sent to me “approximately 3 weeks before renewal is due” .

Your arrogance during this matter has been most unpleasant, please can you also provide me with the taste london complaints procedure along with clear details of how I can escalate this complaint within your company.

I look forward to hearing from you and receiving the items requested above.

Lisa

Thursday 20th May 2010 – sent high priority

TasteLondonEmployee,

It has just occurred to me that I have not received a new card anyway!

IF you have sent a new card, you need to cancel it immediately. And please DO NOT issue a further one.

Lisa

Friday 21st May 2010

Good morning Lisa, I will answer both your emails at the same time.

Firstly with reference to the non receipt of the renewed card, I note from our earlier correspondence that you no longer reside in London therefore I assume that you had not updated your address details with us and the pack will be at your old address. Under normal circumstances we ask for the card to be returned to us before we re-issue it in the name of a friend or family member but I had already taken that into consideration and offered to issue one without receipt of the original.

As our terms and conditions have been approved by all the financial regulators the matter is closed. I am disappointed to hear that you feel the company and I myself are arrogant in our approach, this is certainly not the case. We offer a fluid and ease of transition service to all our members, as I said before we prevent you from being able to join the scheme in the first place before you confirm that you have read and accepted our terms and conditions.

Kind Regards

TasteLondonEmployee

Friday 21st May 2010

TasteLondonEmployee,

I have never lived in London.

I have not received the card and would again request that you therefore cancel it with immediate effect and that you do not print a new one.

I look forward to receiving your confirmation of this along with the items requested in my previous email.

Lisa


No reply, as yet, will update if/when there is an outcome.

UPDATE  – I am delighted to say that on the 26 May 2010 the sum of £29.95 was re-credited to my account by my bank who are now going to take the matter up with Taste London themselves.

M is for… MADs!

Posted on 25th April 2010 in adultery/ benefits/ Blog/ caffe nero/ cats/ Cattery/ child/ Christopher Biggins/ coffee/ cream/ Cry/ customer service/ debt/ divorce/ doctors/ eczema/ Elvis/ Feral/ guarantor/ health/ house/ Itchy & Scratchy/ James Blunt/ Kreativ Blogger/ MADs/ Rihanna/ self esteem/ skin/ son/ starbucks/ steroids/ Take That/ Titanic/ Twitter/ Vets/ writing workshop

Blimey O’reily my name has popped up in the MADs list!

I wonder if it was my rants about coffee and customer service?

My frustration over my son’s battle with eczema?

My honest account of my recovery after the breakdown of my marriage?

Maybe it was learning that Dermot O’leary used to lay on my desk?

My tale of a random act of kindness?

Maybe someone liked reading about my cats Elvis and Maisy?

I doubt it was my infinite playlist….

Whatever it was I am very grateful to Twitter and the blogging world because it is really fun to share experiences with people, I’ve been reduced to tears (both of sadness and laughter) from other peoples blogs and I know I don’t stand a hope of winning with my 7 posts, but it is still pretty cool to take part!

If you would like to vote for me – I’d be delighted! Just click here and then enter my blog name www.coffeecurls.wordpress.com into the areas where you’d like to nominate.

GOOD LUCK EVERYONE

S is for… Starbucks

Posted on 24th April 2010 in Art/ Blog/ caffe nero/ coffee/ customer service/ review/ School Governor/ starbucks

Anyone who has kindly read C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero will know that I have recently expressed my views about the differing levels of customer service that I have experienced in Caffe Nero and Starbucks.

A million years ago when I used to work in customer service I was taught to invite feedback, whether positive or negative as then you get the opportunity to: ‘turn every complaint into a compliment’

For this reason, I feel strongly about bad service and if I ever experience it, then I do like to the let the company in question know. Equally if I feel that I have received exceptionally good service I also like to let the company know – it does a person good to know that they are appreciated.

So I wrote C is for… Coffee, Cats and Caffe Nero as a way of acknowledging the great service I’d received at my local Caffe Nero. But then as I had made some less than complimentary comments about Starbucks I thought it only fair that I offer Starbucks the chance to see what I’d said.

I think it is true to say that I wasn’t really prepared for the events that followed!

After exchanging a couple of tweets, the Starbucks UK MD (nice American man called Darcy) rang me and said that he would arrange for the district manager to call me and arrange a meeting.

The meeting was set up for Tuesday 20th April and I duly went along to Starbucks, not really too sure what to expect.

OK – The Good Points

I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously they took my concerns.

I was in Starbucks for about an hour and a half, which means that the district manager and the branch manager both gave up an hour and a half of their time just to speak to me.

I asked them all the questions that I had been given by the good people of twitter, they listened, made notes and answered them all.

They gave me a coffee at the start of the meeting (latte – with an extra shot of course) and about half way through a barista delivered a caffetiere with some different coffee in for us to ‘taste’. What was nice about that was that the branch manager had specifically selected the blend of coffee as it was one of their ‘bolder’ coffees because he had noted from my blog that I prefer strong coffee.

They were both very knowledgeable about Starbucks. After listening to the DM at length, I am also now very knowledgeable about Starbucks! The branch manager, in particular, came across as being genuinely concerned that he had an unhappy customer, which was quite touching.

They have a display of ‘local art’ on the wall, they see this as being of benefit to the community. I thought that was quite a nice touch.

And – The Bad Points

On Sunday 18th April I did a ‘secret squirrel’ visit to Starbucks with my family as I suddenly felt conscious that I hadn’t been in for a while and maybe it was lovely now….  However, we were served cold coffee, we weren’t offered any cutlery with our food, there was a broken plate on the floor and the staff were quite unattentive even though the place was very quiet. Also the upstairs was roped off, leaving only the downstairs tables and just one toilet available to customers.

I’m left a little confused as I felt a real sense of Starbucks being a ‘corporate’ enterprise and I wonder if that is why they are lacking the personal touch.

My Questions

1. Myself and people from various different towns on twitter feel that Starbucks is lacking cleanliness, especially in it’s toilets. They made a note of that and said they would feed it back to HO.

2. Is there a problem with your wifi as people have mentioned that they’ve found it very frustrating to buy a coffee, then sit down with their laptop only to find they can’t connect. The district manager did admit that this was a problem that Starbucks were currently experiencing, he said they are currently changing their service provider which will hopefully alleviate the problem.

3. Why are your drinks sometimes cold? Apparently the ‘flat white’ is meant to be served at an immediately drinkable temperature – in one gulp.

4. I have had cold latte before – is that because your milk isn’t hot enough, if so, could there be a risk of bacteria? They said the only way that could happen would be if a barista had steamed some milk for one customer and then let it sit and used it again for a subsequent customer rather than steaming more milk. The branch manager said he would speak to his staff to make sure this wasn’t happening.

5. Why don’t you have a full range of merchandise in all stores.Apparently merchandise is only available in larger or newly renovated stores. The district manager told me that Starbucks merchandise is quite collectable.

6. Why don’t you offer a loyalty scheme – like the Caffe Nero buy 10 coffees get 1 free scheme. The DM said categorically that Starbucks would never do a scheme like that.I said I thought that was a little short sighted and that the reward card is very popular and I couldn’t believe that it didn’t lose them customers. He did say that it was potentially a problem for them in the London branches.I have to say I felt he spoke quite derisively of the Caffe Nero loyalty scheme which surprised me.

7. Will your ‘proudly brew’ concessions ever do frappuccinos? The DM said that Starbucks will very soon be bringing out a massively extended range of products across the board including ice creams, shots in a can and many take away items.

8. On behalf of @nudieprincess I asked why in the Brighton store they often serve a latte with half a cup of froth. The DM told me that a latte should have no more than a quarter inch of froth. The BM said that if you are served a latte with much more froth than that then you should return it to the counter as ask for a fresh one. They also said you need to ask for a ‘wet’ one if you want no froth.

My Conclusion

I massively appreciate how much effort they took to listen to me. I am after all just one disgruntled customer in a sea of happy ones. When I left they gave me a couple of coffee samples from the Via range and a preloaded starbucks card (which I haven’t decided yet whether or not to use – I’m not sure if it would be hypocritical of me to use it?). This was nice of them but certainly not what I went there for.

What meant more to me was that the BM wrote down both his email address and mobile number and asked me to keep in touch. The DM asked me to ‘work with the BM’ and feedback after future visits to say whether I felt there had been improvements in the branch.

I went there thinking they would tolerate me, that they would listen for 10 mins, give me a coffee and then send me on my way. But they didn’t, and whether I like their coffee or not, whether I feel their branches could be cleaner or not, I cannot fault Mike and Carl for the way they handled my complaint and the fact that they both made me feel that they valued my opinion and had all the time in the world to listen.

I can’t say right now that I’m ready to ditch Caffe Nero, but I can say that Starbucks have an impressive reaction to customer complaints which is clearly led from the top – and the branch manager of my local Starbucks is a real asset to their company.


C is for… Coffee, Cats, Caffe Nero and Customer Service

Posted on 7th April 2010 in caffe nero/ cats/ coffee/ customer service/ review

CoffeeI’ve realised recently that some of my most favourite things being with the letter C.

For example: cats; chocolate; cuddles; cakes; coffee and customer service. Not exclusively those but they spring to mind as favourites, as it goes I quite like crocuses, clouds, crusts and charisma too!

Two of my favourite things have led to my first blog (insert first blog sytle fan fare here…..) and they are coffee and customer service, two things that I happen to be quite passionate about.

I remember feeling quite exotic (yes, exotic) when a branch of Starbucks arrived in town! Had a few coffees in there, once you got over the odd aroma that I’m sure they pump into every Starbucks, it felt decadent, luxurious and almost naughty to go somewhere just for coffee.

But then, one day on the way to Starbucks I noticed a Caffe Nero sign! When had this snuck into town? Why hadn’t I known before? I had visited Caffe Nero in Lakeside (buy peanut & choc chip cookie from Millies, take to Nero’s and sneakily eat while drinking coffee = heaven) and had marveled at the depth and strength of their coffee – buy the wrong thing and the coffee was strong enough to make you nauseous….

And so began my love affair with Caffe Nero and the grande latte *sigh*. The staff were smiley, the air didn’t smell of strangely burnt plastic, the chairs were large and comfy, it was relaxing – it felt like home!

I began going there once a week, sometimes with BF, sometimes with DH and after a couple of weeks the lovely lady started remembering what I drank and would say those most flattering of words ‘your usual?’. I began looking forward to my chat with this smiley lady almost as much as my massive coffee and soon my coffee drinking became more like visiting friends. Even the grumpy (in a nice way) manager soon managed to remember my drink and once I’m sure I saw him smile.

I looked for a facebook page to join in support of my Caffe Nero, there wasn’t one so I set one up. Soon after the lovely lady added me as a friend – now she added ‘I love your wedding pics’ to ‘your usual?’ – ah personal service I love thee so!

There was a dark day, when out for lunch with friends and one of them insisted on Starbucks…. Suddenly I was back in the burnt plastic aroma, no smiles at the counter, tasteless coffee that you had to wait for ‘at the end’ – the drinks appearing in no discernible order making you feel both impatient and unimportant.

The sheer level of customer service that I (and indeed all their regular customers) receive at Caffe Nero was summed up for me recently when I visited the day after my birthday. My lovely lady has long since been promoted – she deserved it and the grumpy (in a nice way) manager was serving ‘did you have a nice birthday?’ he asked, followed by ‘did you do anything nice?’ and ‘these are on me today’. After at least 4 years in this town would anyone at Starbucks even know what I drink? “I think not baby puppy.” ( #Cats & Dogs – 2001 great film http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0239395/ )

These two staff members, lovely lady and grumpy (in a nice way) manager could start a customer service revolution. You guys are great and I thank you for making me feel special just because I ordered a coffee – ok and the occasional almond croissant..

I read recently that in Japan there is now a coffee shop where you can rent a cat for half an hour to pet while you have your coffee – hmmmm I haven’t been to Japan, yet!

UPDATE

The UK MD of Starbucks has kindly offered for me to meet up with my local Starbucks District Manager to discuss company ethos – I have agreed and supplied my email address. Will let you know a) if a meeting happens and b) the outcome

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