SERVICE CENTRE: Ban the baddies and log all incidents
A forecourt operator in Scotland rang up about abusive customers throwing their weight around – especially when they had to queue.
Bizarrely he thought he recognised one of them as a young worker in another store in the district, which is why he wishes to remain anonymous. You would think the last person to be abusive would be another shop worker, but our Mr Anon says the lad was egged on by his mates.
It’s depressing news, although as I have said before, it isn’t really news any more. As the British Retail Consortium observed fairly recently, there are now more than 400 incidents a day.
The Scottish Grocers Federation (SGF) has called for prosecution figures to be made public. There have been more than 7,000 cases of abuse and assaults reported to Police Scotland in under two years. The SGF’s annual Scottish Retail Crime Report highlighted that 100% of respondents experienced shop theft at least once a day and all had experienced abuse, violence or hate crime on a regular basis.
Retailers should always keep an incident log book and always report anything untoward. And, simple fact, your premises are private property and you can ban anyone you like, and although you don’t even need a reason, it is advisable to steer clear of the ‘ist’ ones (sexist, racist and so on).
Tell the offfenders that they are banned and that, if they come back they will be trespassing in which case you can report it to the police, and hopefully they will show up.
A problem dragging its feet
Danyal Shoaib, director for Hylands Group, got in touch back in August last year over an ongoing problem he had with an air water tower (AWT) from TSG Solutions at his Esso/Spar site in Surrey. It had been out of action, he said, since December 2022.
He says he got conflicting messages from the company with one colleague telling him that the replacement was already available and another telling him it was still on order and they were awaiting a delivery date. He said at the time: “This was promised on 26 June with a two week delivery. It is 11 August today.”
Meanwhile, the company had asked him to clear up an invoice saying, “withholding payments for other services which are nothing to do with the AWT will mean we cannot install. Please bring the account up to date and we can resolve the AWT issue”.
At that time Danyal had found what he labelled a “gross inaccuracy” on the invoice. He wrote to them: “Whose bright idea was this to present to your finance team ‘let’s bill them the whole year to make our position stronger’? How did you have the audacity to charge for this when the air machine is inoperable yet you raised an invoice that includes this as well for a whole year? I would never hand over a year’s sum. It will be quarterly as has been the case since time immemorial.
“Sort yourselves out, do the right thing, look after your customers and you will do better. You will be paid only when you have rectified the issues that you have caused yourselves.”
Amid all this grief there was a glimmer of hope: someone from TSG’s wash service business had stepped in and assured Danyal that the machine had been placed on order and he would personally be overseeing the installation. Danyal described him as someone who “is picking up the pieces and trying to treat me as a customer. The same unfortunately cannot be said for others at TSG which is a real shame”. Consequently Danyal agreed to pay the last quarter on the invoice that was outstanding.
In late August he said that he had impressed on TSG that he couldn’t pay its annual service contracts in advance. He told me: “As this seems to be their new policy. Had I paid up front in this case I would have zero leverage with the machine being out for nearly nine months now”.
After our August conversation, when we spoke again on 9 November Danyal had said the machine apparently had been broken in transit but was now due to be installed on 20 November.
This didn’t happen either and he was given a new date of 22 January.
When I first contacted the company last year they were astounded that I considered this a story. It was not “in the public interest” I was told. I thought it might be in the trade interest though. Danyal also decided it was in his best interests to hold off until he actually got a working air water tower. And when it was finally delivered, Danyal said it needed a part so was not operational.
He said at the time: ”We’re so close to the finishing line. It’s a joke.”
He also had another little beef. The instructions he said were in German. He was pragmatic, after all he conceded most people know how to use an AWT.
When I contacted TSG again at the end of January, they again expressed disbelief that this was a story. They said that a colleague was in constant contact with Danyal, so it was being dealt with.
Our last contact with Danyal was on 7 February, and we were delighted to hear that the tower had been installed that day. Let’s hope that this is the end of the saga.