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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Monday 2 July 2018

Tears And Tardis At Waitrose

Long suffering followers of this blog are painfully aware that I can be reduced to tears by false price labelling in shops and by the inadequacies of the Waitrose car park in Richmond-upon-Thames. But I was confident that when I popped into the Waitrose branch at Havant, Hants the other weekend, I  would emerge with dry eyes. It was not to be.

A price label by the displayed bottles of Volvic water proclaimed that they were ‘Two for £1.’ But at the checkout I was charged 67 pence for each of eight bottles. Holding back the vapours, I queried the overcharge. An urgent investigation was initiated. It transpired that the offer had expired and the price label had wrongly remained in position. I was immediately credited with the overcharge. How many customers had happily overpaid, we do not know. The staff dealt with the matter in a correct and efficient manner but this should not have happened. As I explain in my book Breaking Law, it is an offence for a trader to mislead a customer about the price of a product. The trader will only have a defence if it can show that it made a mistake, the offence was due to an accident or another cause beyond its control and also that it took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence to avoid an offence. Not easy to show all that. And if you have actually paid over too much money because you were misled over price then there are some lovely civil remedies available to you which I cover in the book (yes, that book again).

I took up what was the car park enigma by e-mail. Here's the exchange.

Sent: 25/06/2018 10:29
To: customersupport@waitrose.co.uk
Subject: Car park at your Havant store

I am intrigued. The entrance barrier at your Havant store car park is down (and so a ticket has to be withdrawn from the machine at the barrier in order to raise the barrier) but the exit barrier remains up and no charge is levied upon or prior to exit. What is the point of keeping the entrance barrier down and what a waste of redundant car park tickets? Also, the car park booth appears to be very sick in that it is covered in bandages or such like as if waiting to be transported to hospital or auditioning for the Doctor Who tardis understudy?

Best wishes
Stephen Gold

Waitrose Customer Service To: STEPHEN GOLD 
Waitrose Customer Feedback

Thanks for getting in touch with your queries about the car park at our Havant shop, Stephen. This does sound like quite the mystery so I'd like to thank you for bringing this to our attention.
I've had a chat with the shop today and they've let me know that when the car park entrance barrier is down but the exit barrier is up, this is done to deter those who aren't shopping with us from using the car park. Unfortunately there are occasions when both barriers are up that people will take advantage of the car park due to its location, which then means that people wanting to shop with us aren't able to find a space. The shop have found that by having the entrance barrier down only those who are wanting to shop with us use the car park.
With regards to the booth's apparent audition as a Tardis understudy, the shop have let me know that unfortunately it's seen better days due to people driving in to it. The shop have reported this to the relevant team but don't yet have a finalised date for when the repairs are going to be completed. Please however rest assured that they're aware of this and have taken the necessary steps to get this sorted.
Thanks again for taking the time to contact us about this and for giving me the chance to look into this for you. If you have any other queries or concerns please don't hesitate to contact us again.
We're passionate about continually improving the service we offer our customers. If you'd like to feed back on the service I've given you, please click on the link below (omitted) to take part in our quick survey. As a thank you, we’ll also enter you into our monthly prize draw where you could win £500 in gift cards. 
Kind regards 
Waitrose Customer Care

I'm not convinced that anyone would be fooled into believing they might have to pay for parking when they can see the exit barrier up as they enter. But then I haven't been on a Waitrose training course.

Oh and just one other thing. This was the price ticket displayed at the Wimbledon branch of Waitrose the other day. Pretty enticing, eh?

Happy shopping. And parking.