Why is Asda failing customers on charity collections? Part One

  1. This is part one of a four-part investigation into questionable charity collections at an Asda store in Manchester. Here I describe how the store manager and his staff including the customer service manager deliberately acted to avoid scrutiny of both the charity collections in their store and the public record of those collections.
  2. The Asda store in Longsight, Manchester has a notice board for the public that displays laminated copies of letters from charities saying how much recent in-store collections have raised. On the evening of 29 July 2014, I saw three letters that interested me. One letter related to the charity I examine in part two of this series, Everyone’s Children’s Trust (registered charity number: 1127302); while the other two letters concerned the charity in part three, Oldham Owls Disabled Sports Club (registered charity number: 504371).
  3. Visiting the store the next afternoon, I asked at the customer services desk if it was possible to have copies of the three letters. I was told that I’d have to speak to the “community colleague”, who’d next be in “Friday morning” (1 August 2014). Given her unavailability, I protested that surely someone else could photocopy the letters. I explained that I was happy to wait. A phone call was made and I was told that someone was coming.
  4. But “Nance” refused to help, saying that “we can’t copy display copies”. I was astonished. The information on the notice board is for the public. Nance is Nance Mullen, who is identified as the store events administrator on the notice board. She said I could speak to a manager about the issue.
  5. I shortly met “Jane” from “upstairs”, who informed me that “we only display information and can’t give you a copy unless Asda House [head office] says so.” Again, I was aghast. Jane is Jane Worsley, who is identified as the store customer service manager on the notice board. She added: “With respect, you could be anyone”. “Yes, that’s the point”, I replied.
  6. On the evening of 31 July 2014, I noticed that the three letters had disappeared, while the others remained. Although Ms Mullen hadn’t been prepared to photocopy them the day before, she did ask me to identify the three letters, which I happily did.
  7. I decided to write to the store manager, Ian Talbot, with my experience and to ask him to arrange for his staff to give me copies of the three letters. But anyone wanting to email an Asda store directly can’t: the company doesn’t provide email addresses for stores. It is only possible to email a central customer services via a form on the Asda website. On 18 August 2014, I therefore wrote to Mr Talbot that way.
  8. The same-day automated acknowledgement email said that I’d receive a response “within the next four working days”. Having heard nothing at 27 August 2014, I asked (email) when I’d receive a response from Mr Talbot to my 18 August 2014 email.
  9. I received his response 29 August 2014. Mr Talbot refused to grant my request: “The reason we do not distribute copies of the charity certificates and letters is they usually contain trademarked or copyrighted logos, names and images, and we are not at liberty to reproduce these for redistribution without consent from the charities/companies in question. You are welcome to contact the charity directly and request the information from them, however I still cannot guarantee that you will get direct copies provided.”
  10. On 1 September 2014, I emailed Mr Talbot again via central customer services to express my disappointment that he wouldn’t give shoppers copies of display letters on request. But if he wouldn’t do so for the reason stated, I asked to see the three display letters again. Photocopying wasn’t required that way, I wrote. I finished by requesting that we arrange via email a suitable time for me to see them again.
  11. Having heard nothing at 9 September 2014, I asked (email) for a response to my 1 September 2014 message. The next day, “Paige” at central customer services advised me (email) to call the store if I wanted to contact Mr Talbot directly.
  12. On 12 September 2014, I emailed Paige saying that I wanted to communicate with Mr Talbot in writing. I reminded her that on 29 August 2014, he’d replied to my 18 August 2014 email. I added that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t apparently email him directly at Asda Longsight. But if that’s the case, I wrote, how else do I email him than via central customer services?
  13. On 16 September 2014, Paige replied: “All email address [sic] at stores are for internal use only, this is why I have advised you to contact him via phone.” Later that day, I was in the store (15:30) and asked at the customer services desk to see Mr Talbot. I was told that he was unavailable as he wasn’t in the store. I also confirmed that there was no way apparently to email him directly at the store.
  14. I gave up with the store manager at this point.
  15. What makes it worse, the same notice board for the public makes it clear that Asda Longsight (or any store) is happy to email customers. As well as displaying laminated copies of letters from charities after recent in-store collections, the “Community Life” notice board invites customers at any one time to vote for one of three local “good causes” to receive funding from the Asda Foundation (registered charity number: 1124268). The notice board provides cards for shoppers to nominate a local cause they would like to see Asda support in this way. Once completed, the nomination cards are to be dropped off at the customer services desk. The nomination cards state: “To help us find out more about your nomination please provide your name, email or phone number.”
  16. The manager of Asda Longsight and his staff including the customer service manager deliberately acted to avoid scrutiny of both the charity collections in their store and the public record of those collections.
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One thought on “Why is Asda failing customers on charity collections? Part One

  1. Pingback: Six reasons why Precious Kids Children’s Trust is a dubious charity | Dr Alex May

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