Tesco swamped by complaints after Clubcard chaos

9th Dec 2010

Tesco’s apparent underestimation of the popularity of a loyalty card promotion has led to it being swamped by customer complaints.

The supermarket chain’s ‘Big Christmas Exchange’ deal offered to double the value of the points held on shoppers’ Clubcard loyalty cards and gave them until Sunday to convert the points to vouchers.

For every £5 in Clubcard points, customers were permitted to claim £10 in tokens, which could, in turn, be spent on toys, clothing, baby and toddler products, glasses, selected electrical and beauty products. Every £10 in points could also be redeemed for £20-worth of vouchers to spend on artificial Christmas trees and lights, fine wine and champagne, beds, DIY equipment, computers and phones.

But after facing long queues in stores to make the swap, many customers simply gave up and attempted to undertake the activity online, only to find that the company’s website was unable to cope with the volume of people trying to log on. After subsequently turning to the retailer’s call centres for assistance, many then found they were unable to get through.

This led to consumer online forums being inundated with complaints from angry shoppers who felt they had been let down. According to the Daily Mail, one told the forum: "System is so slow – keeps crashing. Decided to purchase a magazine subscription out of my tokens. Every time I add a token it takes and age then says: 'We were unable to fulfil your request.'"

Another said: "Tried to exchange Tesco vouchers yesterday [Saturday] for Rewards Tokens. Awful, sooooo slow that I gave up in the early hours. Set aside items to try again today but the site crashed. Sent them a disappointed email and asked if the time limit was being extended to compensate. There will be a lot of people in the same position."

But Tesco replied that it had experienced a huge last minute rush over the weekend. "This meant that some customers were not able to exchange their vouchers or had problems with the process, and missed the deadline on 5th December. We are doing everything we can at our customer service centres to help those customers affected," it said.


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By bsjames2
09th Dec 2010 19:28


Thanks for the post. While it would be a great problem to be inundated with customers in your stores and online, it seems that the lack of coordination ultimately led to negative customer experiences.  If you set the expectation that customers will receive double reward points and they do not receive them due to long queue times then that is a customer experience breakdown. Hopefully they can resolve those issues and more to retain these customers. 

Thanks again,


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