An open letter to Tesco,


For every innocent being treated as a likely criminal.

Dear Tesco,

We have been friends for a long time now.  We first met in 2008 on a 3 week holiday in Thailand en route to live in the UK. I had never been to a Tesco before, as we didn’t have them in Australia. So you can imagine how awed we were to find such a BIG supermarket on our holidays. Oh, what fun we had trying to locate things like Lactose-free milk in Thai.

We soon became reacquainted in the UK when we arrived here, and you have become well and truly entrenched in our lives.

But Tesco, I am getting a little bit fed up of some behaviour I am encountering in your stores, specifically my local store on Chester Road Stretford. It is sullying our relationship and making you an unpleasant place to shop.

However, before I go, I want to tell you three stories.

The first story-

Once, a little girl aged around 5 was playing at a neighbour’s house. She admired a toy plastic gun that he had, it wasn’t very big, and it wasn’t very glamorous and it certainly wasn’t very valuable but she thought it would be great for her beloved Teddy Bear Stephen. So she secretively put the gun in her pocket while her friend wasn’t looking.

The little girl forgot about the gun, but her mother found it in her pocket when doing the washing. When pressed as to where it had come from, the girl crumbled and told her mother.  Her mother was mortified!  She told the little girl she was to take it back and apologise.

With her head bowed, the little girl walked the row of houses to her friends. She knocked on the door and explained to her friend’s mum, what she had done. She thanked me for bringing it home, and graciously and kindly dealt with the situation.

However, the shame of that event, my own shame- the guilt that I possessed over being found out, and made to apologise, has remained with me my whole life. Never again did I ever want to be in that situation. My mother was wise, she had made me take responsibility for my actions, and I developed an awareness and empathy that has stayed with me for life.

The second story-

I was a young mother, pushing my baby on a sunny day in the town of Bathurst where I then lived. The hood of the stroller was down, to cover the face of my baby. It must have about to be Father’s day or my husband’s birthday.  I know this because I remember walking into a Big W supermarket and looking for men’s socks, undies and the like. As I shopped I placed them on the hood of the stroller.

All of a sudden the baby I was pushing started crying, and I pushed the hood back to see him. He was inconsolable, so I decided to leave and come back later when he wasn’t so unsettled.

As I walked out of the store, through the mall, and back onto the sunny street, I pushed the hood back over my baby.

To my utter horror, there were the things I had placed there to purchased, totally forgotten about in the stress of dealing with a crying child.

Remembering the story, of my childhood, I marched back to the store, explained to security guard what had happened, and promptly paid for my items- because that was the RIGHT thing to do.

The third story-

It wasn’t long after Tesco installed their self-scan handheld devices and my kids and husband (especially) were smitten with the concept. Myself not so much, as I found the worry about missing something a difficult thing, with so many people using it, and then putting things in the trolley.

See I am the first-born, and my sense of right and wrong, and justice is quite well-developed, I don’t like getting in trouble, and I certainly don’t like doing things to people I wouldn’t like done to me, so found the whole system to be chaotic and hard to monitor.

This day, we were buying some baskets to store some household medical kit items in. I needed three, but somehow there were four in the stack.

On getting home and realising this, I asked my husband to ring Tesco and find out what the protocol was for returning the item, they said to just drop it back at our local store, which we did the next time we were in there.

We no longer use the scanners.

I tell you these stories Tesco because I want you to understand that I am not a thief. There have been 3 times in my life I remember taking something from a store, or from someone else. 2 were accidental, and the 1st so awful is the memory for me, that it is ever burnt on my conscience.

Yet frequently on visits to your stores, I am stalked by security guards.

Yesterday while shopping for Father’s Day, at least 3 security guards walked past me to check what I was doing. My bags hung on the front of my trolley (because we have to bring them now you know). My daughter’s jacket draped over the front of the trolley (because supermarkets seem to be so damn cold these days), and a lot of goods in my trolly.

Which I paid for. Every single one.

Meat for bbq’s, an Xbox gift card to go along with the new Xbox guitar hubby had requested for Father’s Day, a traditional gift bag of socks, undies, nice beer, snacks and a new shirt that we do for everyone in our family having a birthday or celebrating an occasion, as it is a good time in a big family to update essentials, as well as gift some special just for ‘him’ treats.   Food for the weekend and some for next week.

Did I mention we are a big family?  That means 7 birthdays a year, a Mother’s Day, a Father’s Day, where more often than not, we frequent your store for products, 9/10 times we buy the stuff for our goodie bags from you.

It also means we eat a lot when everyone is home from Uni, we shop regularly so we can take advantage of specials, and keep our food as fresh as it can be (something doing a weekly shop doesn’t allow for).

I also home educate, which means one day I might be in my local store, the same week I may be over in Stockport for an event, or somewhere else in Manchester, we get around, because we are out and about for activities and events, you know- socialising and educating my kids?

But only in my local store does this happen.

And quite frankly I am tired of it.

I once watched a woman set off the alarms, run down the escalator and out into the car park, and across into the neighbouring streets, clutching her handbag, and looking behind her the whole time.

Not a SINGLE security guard ran after her.

And I wonder if that is because they were all too busy, trailing the wrong people around the store.

I am not going to steal from you Tesco and here is why.

* I don’t want to pay more for my shopping- when people steal from stores, it hikes the price up for everyone.  I do not want to add to that problem.

* I have been stolen from. Just last week my son had his bike stolen from a local Metrolink stop. The bike that he had worked hard for in his part time job while doing his GCSE’s.   It feels like crap when people do that. I am highly empathetic, so when I think about the world I live in, I don’t want to treat people in a way that hurts me.

* I like you. We shop with you regularly, we like your butchers who cut things the way we like them (like butterflied lamb- YUMO) or steaks cut to size, and chat to us about different ways to do things.  One day, your man on the seafood counter talked me through how to fillet a whole salmon he had on special. They are good at their jobs and add value to our lives. Why would I want to jeopardise that?

* It is just down right wrong. That lesson I learnt as a child has stayed with me throughout my life. I know it’s wrong, my kids know it’s wrong, my mum knew it was wrong- thus she made damn sure I learnt from my behaviour.

So please, please, please will you just chill your boots? It’s not going to happen, and it’s totally getting on my nerves now.

Thanks in advance.




2 Comments Add yours

  1. As a retail worker, I feel your pain. 99% of our customers are good, honest citizens who just want to get their stuff and get out. It’s that 1% with their sticky fingers and sense of entitlement that screw things up for everyone.

    Our store has quite a permissive policy- we’re not supposed to confront people unless we actually physically see them slip something into a pocket, even if the alarm gives itself a heart attack when they walk out the doors, so as you can imagine, we’re quite often targeted.

    It’s extremely frustrating to find opened packages, security tags still attached, on the shelves. Half-eaten snacks. Half-drunk sodas. Often with the caps left off so if I don’t see it when stocking, I knock the bottle over and have to clean the mess…

    And the reason you’re being watched? Sadly, it’s the moms with kids who are often the worst offenders. Sometimes yes, it’s the teenagers looking for a thrill, or the shifty-looking guy lurking in the back around the electronics, but 9x out of 10, for us at least, it’s been the young moms with their stroller basket stuffed full of goodies and a blanket casually tossed over them. Sad, but true.

    I’m thankful for moms like yours, who taught their kids better. I think we need more of them in this world.


    1. Maria says:

      I can certainly empathise with their plight and why they do what they do. I have been shopping at that store since it was built and would hope I’ve never given them any reason to suspect me.

      It is somewhat tragic that because I am a middle-aged woman (not with little kids mind), that I am a suspect by default.

      I use the checkout (rather than the handheld scanners), I make sure I wear a backpack (rather than a handbag), and try to keep an open policy (ie open my shopping bags up for cashiers and CCTV to see there is nothing inside) to how I look when shopping. One can’t help needing to take a coat off or carrying one in because it is so cold in their nowadays.

      I have certainly been stopped heading onto the same escalator when the leg of lamb I had purchased hadn’t had the security tag removed by the cashier, so I do know the store often has people placed there for that purpose.

      It is becoming a very unpleasant place to shop now, and while I empathise with them, it is a very frustrating thing to be considered guilty without reason.


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