Monday, 20 February 2012

Tesco Express chooses bureaucratic nonsense over common sense

I was refused service in Tesco Express last Tuesday.  Was I causing trouble? No. I was attempting to purchase a bottle of Rose to take away on a half term jaunt to Manchester.  My friend already had a bottle of white with her, but I am a massive Rose fan at the moment, so I wanted to take one with me.

The lady serving on the tills asked me for ID.  It's a good job I wasn't drinking anything at the time with the spluttering I did. 

"Sorry?" I said, thinking I had misheard.
"Do you have any photo ID?" she repeated.
"Er, no. I don't tend to carry my driving license about." I said, rummaging through my purse, yet knowing it was futile. 
"I can't serve you if you haven't" she said.
I laughed, half still thinking it was a joke. "But I am " (cupping my hand furtively round my mouth and whispering) "37!".
" Sorry" she says. "But now I've asked you I can't serve you unless you have photo ID.
"Seriously?" I said  (I know.  I was so stunned I couldn't even speak properly.)

So I returned to the car, which my friend had already began to pull out of its space, thinking I'd jump in and off we'd go.  The car containing all five of the children my friend and I were taking on our trip.
"They won't serve me" I said incredulously. She laughed, thinking I was joking.
"They won't serve me because I don't have ID"

She laughed a little too hard frankly (wink)
"Do you want me to get it?" she said.
"Er"  I felt fairly ridiculous at this stage.  "Yes please!"

She reversed the car back into its space, got out, took the money off me and strode into the store.  I could see her through the window.  She went to the till and had a discussion with the lady on the till.

Then she returned to the car.  Without the wine.

"What happened?" I said.
"They refused me too." she said.
"Because they think I'll give it to you!"

Now I was somewhat buoyed up by this little adventure.  And feeling very smug about my newly found youthful good looks I told my husband the story on my return home.

"Oh yes" he said, "I've read about this.  I heard that they refused a pensioner too, even though she showed her pension book".

Thanks for the vote of confidence love!  So it's not quite my youthful good looks after all.  It turns out that some stores have gone ID crazy.  They have told their staff to 'always' ask, and to refuse service if photo ID isn't presented.  Check out the story about the pensioner (93 years old) here.  Yes I know the source of the story isn't particularly known for its honest journalism, but still, I am proof that this craziness exists.

I thought about it a lot.  I considered that yes, it was possible that some kids might be sophisticated enough to pop on some stage makeup and make themselves up 'older' to buy alcohol.  But surely, if that is your worry, you set up a serious of quick and easy questions that only those over age would know.  For example; where does Marty live?* Or where are Salt n Pepper?**  Or who should Molly Ringwald have got together with in the first place in Pretty in Pink?***  That at least gives you more data to decide if you really want to go the route of asking for that ID.  Answers below, and if you knew them you are closer to 40 than you'd like to admit!

Always asking for ID assumes you have employees with no common sense at all.  At Tesco Express.  Hmmm?  What do you think?

Tesco Customer Services information here.

* Hill Valley.  
** Here.
*** Ducky.  (Gives a whole new perspective on "Two and a Half Men")

If you want to find out what happened next on the train trip to Manchester (2 mums and 5 children!) click here.
And for our adventures once we got to Manchester, click here.
And for the censorship we had to consider on the train back, click here!


  1. I try not to shop at Tesco for a number of reasons!

    But on a recent trip to the US, my husband was asked for ID when buying wine. Luckily, he did have his driving licence on him, otherwise I wouldn't have had my nice sauvignon blanc sunset drink :)

    Good post, vote for common sense.

    Lesley x.

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, I must admit that usually I am a Sainsburys girl. Tescos has not covered itself in glory in recent years. But this was an emergency! ;-)

  2. Ah yes, another reason why Tesco are the most ridiculous supermarket in the world. I used to work in Sainsburys when I was a student and we had a challenge 25 policy (i.e. anyone who you think looks 25 or under ask them for ID). Sometimes it was a little hard, and I think I did once ask a lady who turned out to be 30, but in general it was fine, you didn't ask everyone. I guess they were trusting us as cashiers to use common sense. Maybe Tesco don't trust their staff as much? Very annoying for you!

    1. That sounds like a much more sensible approach. What is the point of having staff if you don't trust them to use their judgement? And if you don't trust them, then you need to look at your own hiring policies surely?

      I was more bemused than annoyed. I still can't quite believe it! Thanks for the comment.

  3. Lol i have to carry ID everywhere with me as i always get asked, i'm 28.
    I think the Tesco policy is daft, i sthink like the previous commenter said the Challenge 25 policy is a much better idea.

    I hope you managed to get some win in the end x

    1. Oh yes... wine was definitely discovered at Pizza Hut later!

      Thanks for your comment. x

  4. Same happened to me- I have no photo id at all, so tried to show my birth certificate and that wasn't good enough. I ended up asking for the manager who was then even more rude. I suggests ending this post link to their customer services department. I sometimes think the staff do it as they are bored, but it can be embarrassing if there is a big queue.

    1. Great idea... I am on it! Thanks for your comment.


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