Tesco Express = rubbish service, Google (mobile) saves the day

I’ve been working most of the day at the Radisson Hotel, sat by the bar, using the fast (and expensively priced) wifi and getting-things-done.

I worked ’til 1043pm… and then packed up and quickly headed over to the Baker Street Tesco Express. They’re smart shops, the Tesco Expresses, because they generally — miraculously — usually have everything you need. I wanted to get some toilet roll. You know, boring stuff like that.

I used my Nokia E90 to confirm, en route, that the shop closed at 11pm. I then flicked over to Google Maps and confirmed the location precisely. It’s a very smart service, Google Maps, especially on the big E90 screen.

Will I get to Tesco Express in time, I wondered? Google Maps reckoned I could be there in 1 minute (by car – I was walking, so .. what.. 5-6 minutes?). I arrived at 1053pm.

I was delighted! Just enough time to get in, located the toilet roll, pay, done.

But no.

The doors were already locked.

Interesting policy.

The bored looking security guard at the door tapped his watch and indicated with his hands that the shop was closed.


I tapped on the door and showed my E90 screen to him — displaying the time, 1053pm. I then pointed to the ‘we’re open ’til 11pm’ sign. He just ignored me.

Fuck you then. And your brand. Every little helps is supposed to be the Tesco strapline. Not, it seems, at the Baker Street Tesco Express.

I got out Google and located the phone number. Dialled. I wanted to speak to the manager. Nada. No answer.

So I took some pictures to document the experience.

I’m going to phone Tesco PR tomorrow and find out exactly what their policy is on closing at the appointed time.

It would have been far more effective to display ‘We close at 1045pm’ (or whatever). Folk like me — and the other 10 or so people who turned up at about the same time as me — were relying on the fact that 11pm means 11pm.

This, unfortunately, is the problem with Britain. It’s not a unique British trait per se, you do get it everywhere. But the British are extra good at demarcation (‘smore than my job’s worth mate’) and lazy business practices. The chaps in the shop clearly couldn’t be arsed and wanted to leave at 11pm. The manager obviously tolerates it. The area manager either doesn’t have a clue or can’t be bothered either. It’s a big shame and a might unfortunate that the folks working at this store are supremely uninspired. It was more convenient to them to close the sodding doors early than extend service to the appointed time.

I wonder if the store actually opens on time or if it’s 15-20 minutes late, depending on whether the manager can be arsed?

Discussing this with a few folk tonight, quite a few commented, ‘well, they’re not paid much’. I suspect that’s accurate.

Where does it stop though. If someone’s not paid much (where ‘much’ is a relative scale), does that mean it’s fine to accept a shite service?

Possibly. Possibly not. I don’t know. It doesn’t work the other way. I can’t get a bottle of Irn Bru from Tesco for 20p because I can’t be arsed to pay for it, or, if I haven’t got ‘much’ money. The price is fixed.

In other countries — particularly America — there is a desire to please, a higher value of self worth. Plus the tip-economy helps. I’d have paid a few quid for the convenience of that store staying open to the published time. But I didn’t even bother trying to offer the depressed, bored, limp security guard a fiver or a tenner. He couldn’t be arsed. Half of me thinks fair enough. Half of me thinks it’s ridiculously appalling service from a FTSE giant.

Google, as it’s wont to do, saved me in the end. I did a look-up and found a late night mags/wine/beer/fags/sundries place two blocks down. Walked in, picked up everything I needed and exited. Done.

It’s just fantastic that I can query Google quickly and reliably — via multiple methods (browser, maps). Love it.

But if you ever find yourself relying on Tesco Express being open… give yourself 30 minutes leeway. Central management says it’s 11pm closing time, but the employees have other ideas.

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

7 replies on “Tesco Express = rubbish service, Google (mobile) saves the day”

What can I say. You’ve just described an experience that to me is too familiar. This is exactly the way things work over here. And the excuse is the same: they’re not paid much. Now I for one really don’t care. If I’m in the store, and ask an employee something, and he answers ten minutes later because in the mean time he’s got another 50 things to do (because hiring more people would obviously mean more costs – and we definitely HAVE to shred those off), THEN I’m willing to understand. That he kept me waiting because of his company’s stupid policy. But closing 15-20 minutes before closing time has become quite the traditional thing to do. And that I can’t accept. If paying takes 10 minutes because the employee is bored or something, ok, fine. I care about you. But when you show me the closed door, when it should in fact be open…no way.

One more thing. It should have been 11PM in the third paragraph, right? Hope you don’t get upset, but I notice such things.

Vlad’s last blog post..N95-1 Firmware v21.0.016: Waiting for Godot?

This type of things gets up my nose, a lot of the time.

The staff at my (now ex) gym were terrible for it. The late night swimming session I used to go to started at 9.30pm and finished at 10.30pm (the closing time for the pool). I used to swim for half hour, then go into the sauna and steamrooms for the other half.

However, staff used to come in and switch the sauna and steam rooms off at about 10.15pm, so that you would get out.

Upon challenging them, the staff disagreed that the closing time of the pool was 10.30pm. 10.30pm was their home time. Or, as we later found out, so they could get a couple of drinks in at the pub down the road!

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A guy in my local cornershop (part of a larger regional chain) says that it’s become common practice for retailers to pay ‘close of day’ shift employees up to closing time but not beyond it.
So the staff are expected to reconcile their tills, get the cash in the safe and secure the store in their own time.
My guess is that some Tesco Express workers are insisting on their right to walk out of the door when their shift ends rather than work unpaid overtime.
It’s still a pita but understandable.

Did you manage to get any comments from Tesco PR?

HeavyLight’s last blog post..Whatleydude’s N95 saga: VF comes out shining!

Cut and pasted from my personal journal entry for Jan. 25th, 2007 at 9:32 PM:

I’m always moaning about customer service in this country and this is no different.

I just called Orange with a view to either cancelling my contract, switching to the cheapest tariff or converting the account to PAYG.

But no, the cancellations line says “Thankyou for calling, the office is now closed, please call back between the hours of 8:30am and 9:45pm…”.


Tesco EXPRESS? Rubbish! Must be the slowest checkout in the west. Great tarpots,Benfleet.

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