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31 August 2014

New Tesco CEO? What new CEO?

Tesco don’t know the address of Dave Lewis their new CEO, oh dear he’s only starting at the company tomorrow

Unbeliveably …

On asking Tesco on Twitter "where is the best place to send a letter to Dave Lewis" … back came the reply "we do not have that information"

Is there hope Tesco

Tesco Dave Lewis Twitter reply
31 August 2014

Dave Lewis, new CEO of Tesco, take note

Back to Basics : some ideas for Dave Lewis from a regular Tesco shopper

Dear Mr Lewis

STOP moving staff around and engage with your community

At my local store Gerry was the manager for a short time, then Vince came along, a younger manager with loads of drive and enthusiasm, someone who understood social media, someone to get the store into shape, someone to get involved in the community, a great start. Then what happened? He got moved … he only stayed 4-5 months! How frustrating, even more so that he never mentioned his departure to the local community. How did we hear? We heard on social media that he was attending his leaving party. At about the same time the Deputy Manager Sarah went off on maternity leave. A void appeared! Who is the manager at the moment? No idea. I understand there is a temporary manager, perhaps there will be a succession of temporary managers until we get someone new, however even when someone new comes along it will be a while before it filters down to the community. Engage with your town and the local businesses. Get to know them.

PUT a noticeboard outside the store – give Tesco employees an identity

Take some photos of your staff and put their photos and names on a board OUTSIDE your store. If a staff member leaves or changes then change the relevant name/photo, keep the board up to date. Don’t just fill up your outside wall with noticeboards advertising OTHER companies, advertise yourself instead.

Tesco noticeboard
Don’t advertise other people, advertise yourself

STOP selling your forecourt space

Stop selling your forecourt space to anyone who will pay you. The companies that you let on your forecourt are often in direct competition with our local businesses. The motor companies compete with our local garage, the mobility companies compete with our mobility and care local shop. Our own local mobility company is now shutting up shop, you’ve seen them off ! No brownie points for Tescos

FIX your community email account

You advertise an account that no-one checks and emails bounce back

DEAL with low stock issues

What is the point of having shelves in your store with nothing on them. Go into my local store in the evening and look for toilet rolls, no chance, like gold dust.

HIRE someone to look after local publicity

No-one at your store appears to deal with local publicity. Presumably the existing staff do what central control dictates and that might not be the best thing at a local level. Put someone in each store in charge of local publicity, get them to monitor what is going on in the local area and around the store, look at things through different eyes.

CLEAN up your store

Our local store sometimes looks as though it needs a jolly good clean

BRIGHTEN up the outside of the store

Leaving rubbish, leaves and other mess lying around outside makes a store look tired and unloved. Most stores look too sterile. This is the outside of my local store, we live in a beautiful town with a historic High Street, can’t you do better than this

Outside Tesco
Sweep up the leaves, clean the graffiti up, wash the walls if someone urinates on them

Outside Tesco
Plant some flowers, paint the benches, clear up the cigarette ends, get rid of the weeds, mend the loose paving slabs


DON’T cover up your community noticeboard

Don’t cover up your community noticeboard with crates and crates of garden and BBQ materials. Take down the out of date notices

Tesco community board

REWARD returning customers

People are shopping much more on a daily basis now, use that to your advantage. Reward customers who shop at a nominated Tesco store several times a week. Issue extra Clubcard rewards if you shop 3 or more times a week at your nominated store to promote loyalty. If you know you have to shop 3 times a week in your nominated store to get some extra benefit and you’ve only been there twice you might just say to yourself, I’ll pop into Tesco for something.

GIVE small stores a village identity

Make your small stores more like the village shop instead of faceless corporate areas.

Yours, living in hope … and welcome

14 March 2014

The potholes and failure of the road surface are shaking my house

We have the misfortune to live in an area of increasing seismic activity. At least that is how it feels. When the heavy trucks hit the section of damaged road surface on the A28 between Turners Avenue and Beacon Oak Road, Tenterden we hear it and feel it. The house shakes.

As the road surface continues to deteriorate cars are slowing and swerving to avoid damage, heavy lorries don’t even slow down, they are designed for rough terrain and they bounce over the ruts and holes creating an effect like a pile driver.

The noise and vibration typically begins around 5.00am and continues intermittently until early evening.

The road is deformed in several places over 200 yard stretch. One of the worst sections is right outside our house and I am concerned at the effects on the structure of the building. So far a double glazed unit has failed and there are some cracks in the plasterwork. More worrying is what might be happening that is unseen.

Potholes Tenterden
Potholes and failure of A28 road surface in Tenterden


Potholes failure of road surface
Potholes and failure of A28 road surface in Tenterden

16 February 2014

Is this the longest running Vodafone service ticket ...

Is this the longest running Vodafone service ticket … 8 months and still not fixed

May 2013
Signed up to a new Vodafone contract for 2 x iPhones for hubby and myself

Brilliant phones, we both love them, except and there is always an exception, Vodafone voicemail abroad on both phones doesn’t work. I’ve been with Vodafone for about 15 years and never had a problem with Vodafone before (apart from their flaky 2G service in Tenterden but that’s another story!).

You’re probably thinking simple! the voicemail service hasn’t been set up properly for overseas use, wish it was that easy! Let me assure you that Voicemail has been correctly set up with security activated for overseas access to voicemail. Voicemail works like a dream in the UK, the minute we leave the UK it stops working. This isn’t the normal problem, getting access to voicemail messages, it’s getting voicemail to work full stop when we are out of the UK. Regardless of whether voicemail is on/off activated/not activated, callers get cut off after 5 rings. Simple I hear you say, turn the voicemail off, however that makes not a jot of a difference. Callers still get cut off after 5 rings when we are out of the UK unless Vodafone manually takes our voicemail offline and that takes 24 hours to activate. Without this manual tinkering the only way of dealing with the phones abroad is to get to the calls before the 5th ring but that isn’t always possible. If the caller is in either address book we know who it is and can call them back, however if not the caller is lost for ever, unless they ring back.

May 2013
Spain for a week’s holiday, diverted work phone onto mobile, oh dear no voicemail working on either phone. Little did we know this issue was going to rumble on for months and months and months. At the time we just assumed it was a minor hiccup with the new phones and put up with the inconvenience of having to get to the phone within 5 rings

May 2013
Back in the UK, voicemail working well. All checked out with Vodafone, reported to be working properly for overseas use. Silly me believing this

Dec 2013 /Jan 2014
Spain for Christmas!
No voicemail. Spent hours and hours on the phone to level 1 technical help, level 2 technical help. Vodafone said problem was unfixable from Spain. They assured me it would all be sorted out when we got back to the UK.

Jan 2014
Back in the UK. Voicemail perfect. Spent hours on the phone to Vodafone, both phones completely reset, up to date software on both phones, thoroughly checked out, working well … in the UK

Feb 2014
Back to Spain! no voicemail
So nearly a year later Vodafone say they are going to try something else but wait for it, I need to be out of the country for 5 days on the trot and they will get a service technician to look into this. It has now been left for me to contact Vodafone as soon as I land in any foreign country and they will start the process rolling. Not sure when I am next going to be out of the UK for 5 days in a row.

What’s the betting that no-one will know anything about it when I do ring up. Apparently a note has been put on my account !!! Nothing as easy as Vodafone giving me a reference number

Bet the call to tech help starts something like “remove your SIM card” and “turn the phone off” … been there, done that a million times Vodafone!

I think I need a refund Vodafone.

A trusting Vodafone customer

30 June 2013

New Recycling Service in Tenterden... my hometown

There have been lots of discussions in my household over the last few weeks, what will go where when our new waste/recycling service starts on Monday 8 July. OUT are the black plastic sacks, and IN is the black (residual) wheelie bin, the green wheelie bin, the brown wheelie bin, the food waste bins … What a headache for the ordinary family making sure everyone follows the rules, we don’t what to be fined for doing the wrong thing! So many questions: paper tissues, kitkat wrappers, wrapping, different types of plastic, cardboard and more.

So getting ready for this big change in our lives we are now the proud owners of a new kitchen bin, how stunning. Simplehuman Recycling Butterfly Bin, Stainless Steel, 40L apparently with smudge free finger mark surface ("fingerprint proof touch"), time will tell about that! Purchased from John Lewis and delivered to my local Waitrose supermarket, how convenient. Actually it’s rather brill, more like a piece of art and certainly a talking point! Not so sure about my new rather nasty looking grey plastic food waste slop bin issued by my local council that’s sitting at the side of the kitchen sink. Memo to self: buy something more in keeping with my worktop.

Recycling kitchen bin
Recycling kitchen bin
24 June 2013

The HotHouse Energy Company and Curved Air Marketing Solutions

I am so bored with spam callers, call centre calls, marketing calls, telesales calls …

I had yet another telephone call today from a call centre (The HotHouse Energy Company) asking only “a few questions” about energy savings in the house. At least the call centre employee didn’t lie when I asked him “Are you selling anything”. His answer to me was “basically yes”. Well that set the tone for the conversation.

Do you know I am registered with the Telephone Preference Service?

“We’ve purchased a list from Curved Air Marketing Solutions” (telephone number 0845 0500344). Apparently every 28 days they check the list against the TPS list. When did you last check the list … “I wouldn’t know that” he said.” Who checks the list” “I don’t know”.

My suspicions were alerted immediately when I could see the phone call was from an odd number 001254686360. I asked the guy about that and he sounded surprised, he said he was calling from a Blackburn number with the STD code 01254 (he didn’t know the remaining bit, even more odd) but that 0845 0304455 should have come up on my caller display. So does this mean they keyed 001254 and not 01254 into their calling system. Does this mean you can just add any old number to come up on the caller display.

Then Joe the Shift Manager came on the phone. Every question I asked he replied with a bland I can’t give out personal information over the phone. I asked to speak to his manager, “she’s not in”. I said “she … what’s her name?” “I can’t give out personal information over the phone” … and so it went on. He promised to ring me back today or tomorrow to confirm that I have been removed from the list, now I wonder if that will happen.

According to the Telephone Preference Service if you agree to answer any survey questions at all over the phone you are consenting for your details to be passed on. So a bland question like “if you had any spare money left over at the end of the month would you consider donating some it to charity” You might answer yes, they’ve got you! Makes you wonder if you answer “no” have they still got you!

I wonder if the HotHouse Energy Company are not only selling energy products but also selling their lists on to others as they would legally be able to say that I had agreed to be contacted.

When will the Government act to stop these call centres bothering us.

8 June 2013

Sign of the times at John Lewis - Fathers Day

Fathers day at John Lewis
John Lewis

Perfect gifts for Dads at John Lewis including kitchen gadgets for "modern man" who likes to keep busy in the kitchen

  • Casserole
  • iPod
  • Bell to ring for attention !
  • Spirit container
  • Drinks dispenser (or is it some new style radio) top object
  • Satchel/Backpack
  • Shoes and incredibly brightly coloured socks
  • Radio to listen to while doing all those jobs in the house, with matching headphones
  • Dicky bow tie
  • Shaving stuff and toiletries

The list almost sounds like the conveyor belt from the 1970s Generation Game. I love the way John Lewis divides up modern man into 4 categories:

business minded,
label loving,
action man,
country gent

Pretty impressed that I can order something online at John Lewis up to 7pm one day and then it’s delivered free of charge to my local Waitrose store in Tenterden the very next day. Brilliant service

1 April 2013

Mrs Blog goes out to Supper in the lovely town of Tenterden in Kent

Do you remember that town in Holland that took away all its traffic signs overnight so that nobody was quite sure what to do when they drove through? Supper club at The Swan at Chapel Down, near Tenterden is a bit like that.  First of all there is no menu to choose from. Second there is no price tag. That’s right; you pay what you think is right. We tried it out this week.

The Swan at Chapel Down

Charlie took our coats and organised a drink at the bar while we settled in to the spirit of the evening. Chapel Down sparkling wine, an absolutely delicous start to the evening.

The Swan at Chapel Down

“The chef has been to the market today and bought a few things that appealed to him, tonight’s meal will be based on those ingredients. Is there anything you don’t like?” and that was all the information we got. What fun!

At the table we got a wine list and some water. That at least was familiar ground. We chose a red Italian labelled as "wine of the month", a lovely light wine. Then the food started to arrive. My oh my!

The starters came on a large round plate perched up high on a stand, very impressive. Mackerel, carrot and beetroot salad with chicory, mustard dressing. Pork terrine and long thin salamis. What a taste, delicious but exhausting to your jaw, and so spicy that the side dish of radishes seemed refreshingly “quiet”. Then kidneys with little white onions in a sauce. I must admit I would have liked a flame to cook my kidneys a bit more. Lobster and crayfish with avocado, tomato and potato how yummy, and chutney. We were smiling all the way through the starters. We didn’t choose which one we wanted; we had a taste of all of them!

There was a time in the dim and distant past if a diner in a restaurant had asked "what variety of pototoes are these and where are they from" they would have been met with a gaping mouth! Not these days, and not at the Swan. The answer came back from Charlie as quickly as I asked the question. "Pink firs" from local Tenterden company "The Potato Shop".

Main dishes
Then straight onto the main dishes. We had no idea what was coming next but we got hot plates and serrated knives so we had an inkling. A huge tray arrived:  fish and 3 meats plus some veg. Calves liver, very creamy, like warm pate.  Cod with a beautiful buttery sauce that smelled of the sea, absolutely delicious, without doubt the best dish, I loved it. Ox Cheek with creamy mustard seed mash. Loin of pork with cooked apple and delectable crackling with savoy cabbage. And broccoli, carrots and potatoes on the side. The Latino music was permeating through our veins by now, the tables around us were beginning to fill and the buzz of the restaurant all around us made us feel very comfortable.

One more course to come. “Oh no” we thought.  An enormous plate arrived making the inviting deserts look deceivingly small.  Lemon and thyme sorbet, Chocolate ganache, Banana cake, warm Pistachio cake, blood orange jelly.

Round up
It wasn’t supper, it was a feast. We had fun, ate a bit too much. We thoroughly enjoyed the evening and judging by all the jovial noises coming from all around us, other people were having fun too with lots of oohs and aahs. It was the antithesis of nouveau cuisine, generous portions maybe an overabundance for some unsuspecting diners who might have been expecting steak and chips and a salad. I think “supper club” should be renamed “Supper Club Feast”. Then all we had to do was decide on the cost…


10 February 2013

Ashford derailed but Tenterden in the top ten

The train now approaching Ashford … where? Never heard of it! … That’s Ashford in Kent by the way

Hot off the heels of Tenterden (my local town) appearing in a Sunday Times article two weeks ago : “the best High Streets” in the country, there is now an article in the Sunday Times this week “On the right lines” … “longing to escape London? [Sunday Times] Lucy Denyer picks the towns and villages that offer the best value and easy access to the capital”

Unbelievably Ashford, 10 miles from Tenterden, the town that Tenterden comes under on the the Borough Council stakes, does not appear on the Sunday Times list of easy commutes despite the fact that the High Speed line from Ashford International to London St Pancras takes only 38 minutes. Who the dickens is in charge of publicity and promoting High Speed 1 at Ashford Borough Council? Anyone? What has gone wrong? Don’t the local council want to attract people and businesses to Ashford? I would have thought it was an excellent "benefit" that they would want to promote on their website. So why don’t they promote it … someone else’s job … never thought of it … words fail me! So how can Tenterden get on a Sunday Times list but Ashford can’t.

Having a few hours spare this morning I decided to research how many times High Speed 1 was mentioned on Ashford Borough Council’s website.

Unbelievably in www.ashford.gov.uk the only search for “high speed” that I could find brings up this webpage www.ashford.gov.uk/economic-development probably because there is a photo of high speed 1, no content or mention though! And the business portal businessnews.ashford.gov.ukfinds nothing for “high speed” or “hs1”

If volunteers in Tenterden can achieve amazingly high positions in Google for particular search terms then why can’t officers at Ashford Borough Council who are paid by “us”. Why aren’t Ashford BC shouting from the rooftops about High Speed 1? They have an amazing resource on their doorstep … an amazing way of getting to London quickly and they don’t mention it on their website … or not that I or Google can find!

Sometimes I feel … am I the only person who cares?

In 2011 and 2012 I fought with Ashford Borough Council (ABC) for months and months to get any links from their old website to the Tenterden website and in the end had to ask Paul Clokie (our Ashford Borough Councillor) to intervene when I got nowhere in the maze at ABC. I despaired, the only link on the old ABC website to Tenterden went to “page not found” despite several emails from me spanning about 10 months. I told ABC about this time and time again but no-one at ABC cared enough to fix it. With Paul’s help though we achieved some links to Tenterden because he knew some of computer team and could by-pass the maze which I couldn’t do via the official route.

When Ashford Borough Council’s new website (same domain name www.ashford.gov.uk) came on-stream in December last year unbelievably the “Visit Ashford and Tenterden” webpage www.ashford.gov.uk/visit-ashford-and-tenterden didn’t even have a link to Tenterden until I jumped up and down and had a hissy fit last week. Promote the historic town of Tenterden? No way! Words fail me. No wonder they can’t sort any links out to “high speed one”.

What a lost marketing opportunity. ABC should employ me as a consultant! I would have thought that the Ashford Portas Pilot Town Team (and yes Ashford is a Portas Pilot) would have picked up the lack of promotion of HS1 by now. However perhaps this is not surprising since if you search for "Ashford Kent Town Team" in Google it produces nothing. It’s almost as if they don’t exist. Do they have any business sense at all? Doesn’t look like it

Here is the Sunday Times article "On the Right Lines"

Download as PDF: Sunday Times : On the Right Lines

Sunday Times on the right lines - Ashford and High Speed 1
Sunday Times on the right lines - Ashford and High Speed 1
Sunday Times on the right lines - Ashford and High Speed 1