I had to go into town, earlier, so as I was passing I dashed into Sainsbury’s to get a few bits and pieces. I have to be opportunistic about supermarket visits, since I can’t go in when I have Piglet with me, which is most of the time.
While I was there I noticed a smartly-dressed young man lurking at the head of an aisle, and wearing some sort of badge. As I was passing somebody asked him where the Marmite was, and he explained that he couldn’t help because he was only there in relation to some sort of in-store promotion.
When I passed again a couple of minutes later I saw him cross-examining a rather shabbily dressed elderly woman about what seemed to be her gas bill. She seemed to be trying to politely brush him off, but nonetheless she’d stopped. “Do you get a bill?” he was asking. She replied in some way, and he went on, “Well, how much do you pay?”
Well call me over-sensitive (it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve been called that recently), but I think it’s really disgraceful that Sainsbury’s allow salespeople to stop and cross-examine vulnerable people in that way about utility bills, presumably in the hope of persuading them to swap providers. I don’t know whether it was a Sainsbury’s product that he was pushing, but if it was then ISTM to be even worse. A quick Google on ‘Sainsbury’s’ +’gas’ brought this page up. A coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe not.
I went to the Customer Services desk and complained. The woman there acknowledged my complaint and said she’d pass it on, but I’ve no idea whether anything was/will be done about it.
A number of years ago my own father swapped gas providers (NB: Sainsbury’s weren’t involved), but having done so he continued to receive bills from the old lot, and then demands, and then final demands and threatening phone-calls and eventually a Summons. He spent hours on the phone to the old provider trying to speak to a human being who would/could sort it out, but he got absolutely nowhere, and spent a lot of money in phone bills that he couldn’t afford. In the end I had to go to the local Magistrates’ Court on his behalf to have the case that the old provider had ludicrously brought against him dismissed.
It was clear when we got there that the provider was in chaos, and they threw in their hand. That was no compensation, though, for the trauma that Daddy had been through in worrying about the whole horrible, threatening mess, and heaven help the defenceless people who don’t have family members or friends who can go along and speak on their behalf. Daddy certainly couldn’t have done it for himself.
Treating potentially vulnerable people in this way is simply *wrong*, IMO. Allowing it to happen constitutes a smear on what’s meant to be our evolved and civilised society. After what happened to Daddy, I feel strongly that elderly people shouldn’t be exposed to ‘hard sell’ tactics by utilities providers, and certainly not when they’ve just nipped out to buy a jar of coffee and a loaf of bread (or whatever it was that the elderly woman was after, this afternoon).
I won’t be returning to Sainsbury’s. They’re probably not alone in this sort of thing, but thus far I’ve not observed it anywhere else.