15th October 2013
With the welcome news in the past couple of days that Waitrose are no longer going to stock What Doctors Don’t Tell You, I thought it might be worth contrasting their action with Tesco’s stance on the same customer safety issue. Tesco are continually and repeatedly giving the same answers, that they are not moral guardians (except when they are), that there is a disclaimer on p3 of WDDTY (although it’s tiny and rubbish) and that content is a matter for the publisher, washing their hands of any responsibility for the content of products they sell. As Mrs Teacake put it, if somebody told them there was horsemeat in their pies, would they say “The content of our pies is a matter for the manufacturer”? Anyway, on with the fun.
Let’s have a look at Twitter. Here’s some screenshots of some Twitter exchanges with people asking about Tesco’s policy in stocking WDDTY. I leave it to you to decide whether Tesco continually giving the same response makes them or their customers look foolish.
And finally, here’s an e-mail exchange I had with them in September 2013:
16/9/13 (via the Customer Feedback form on the Tesco website, which only allows 1000 characters and requires a mobile phone number)
I write to express concern at your stocking the magazine “What Doctors Don’t Tell You”. This publication looks like a normal lifestyle magazine, but inside its glossy cover is a dubious treasure trove of dangerous health advice. It’s written not as a supplement to mainstream, evidence-based health advice, but a replacement for it, with life-threatening consequences. It advises asthmatics to abandon medication, travellers to use homeopathic malaria vaccinations instead of real ones, and parents to avoid fluoride toothpaste for their children. Products it advertises repeatedly breach the ASA’s CAP Code. This is an issue of public responsibility, and you can gain by taking a lead. Publications like this rely on the respectability they gain from being sold in mainstream outlets like Tesco, but they tarnish your brand. By stopping dangerous advice being peddled on your shelves, you not only show your social responsibility and safeguard your customers, you also safeguard your own reputation
Tesco first reply (e-mail) 16/9/13
Dear Mr [WanderingTeacake] Thank you for your email.
I understand you have concerns over the magazine, What Doctors Don’t Tell You, and I can appreciate your views on the matter.
We are in the position of offering our customers choice rather than appointing ourselves as censors or moral guardians. The publisher of this magazine prints on page 3 a liability statement advising readers to consult a qualified practitioner before undertaking any treatment.
While we cannot comment on the contents of these magazines, your comments have been duly noted and fed back to our Buying Teams.
My reply (e-mail) 16/9/13
Thank you for your reply, although I confess to finding it quite unsatisfactory. This is not an issue of choice, censorship or moral guardianship. I’m not complaining about lads’ mags, or lifestyle mags, or any other area where it’s possible to have a legitimate difference of opinion. This is about removing a dangerous product from your shelves, and by promoting “choice” over public responsibility Tesco could be said to be complicit in the dangers represented by the products you sell. Before you file this e-mail in your trash folder, could I suggest you show a copy of “What Doctors Don’t Tell You” to somebody with a medical degree? You might be surprised at their reaction.
Tesco response (e-mail) 17/9/13
My name is [TescoPerson] and I’m the Customer Service Manager responsible for resolving your complaint. Thank you for getting back to us. I am very sorry that our previous email has done little to change your mind. I hoped that it would reassure you that we’ve always got our customers’ interests and views at the heart of everything we do. I’d like to assure you that your comments are very important to us and they have been fully noted. However, I am sorry to say that there’s nothing further that I can add to what had been said in our previous email. Thank you for taking the time to contact us.
Addendum 2nd July 2014: Tesco have confirmed that they have decided that they won’t be stocking this magazine any more. It may have taken some time to achieve, but I applaud them for this decision, which helps safeguard the public.
Next: Stock. Or Stock Not.