The case of a shopper complaining that she was refused service at a Sainsbury’s checkout until she stopped using her mobile phone has turned into a PR disaster for the supermarket after it apologised for the actions of its check-out employee and awarded the complainant £10 worth of vouchers.

Most of the comments posted on newspaper web-sites have supported Sainsbury’s employee and wondered why Sainsbury’s couldn’t find the backbone to do the same against what most see as the shopper’s ill-mannered actions, and others put down to the ignorance of the self-important. Sainsbury’s head of customer services Ray Biggs says that his employer backed down because they want to please everybody, even the socially retarded it seems, but are glad that others are taking the stand that Sainsbury’s feel it would be commercially unwise to do.

So in the spirit of helping the obviously poor, weak management of Sainsbury’s therefore Marketing Matters is happy to opine that it is not clever multi-tasking, nor just rude, inconsiderate and the mark of a junior to use a mobile phone when being served, but downright stupid too, since the phonies are unlikely to spot if they are being short-changed, or if products marked at one price on the shelf mysteriously acquire a higher price when scanned. And it really only takes a modicum of social skills and manners to get off the phone before being served, doesn’t it?

On the other side of the coin the author happily recalls an occasion that illustrates the dangers of non-concentration when he went to a bureau de change where the teller was chatting on his mobile phone and rudely serving customers as he did so. When we got to the front of the queue the teller, still on his phone gave us twice as many Euros as we’d paid for. Did we tell him? You guess.

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