Please see the correspondence that we have had since we last communicated. As follows:
Dear Ms Wynne,
Please find attached our response to your email below.
Thank you for your attention to this matter. We look forward to hearing from you.
Dato’ Dr Mikaail Kavanagh
Dato’ Dr Mikaail Kavanagh, M.B.E.
39, The Residency, Jalan Rimba Riang 9/15, Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Mobile: +6012(###) ###-#### *****: *****@******.***
7th April 2015
Marks & Spencer plc
35, North Wharf Road
London, W2 1NW, UK
Attn: Ms Sarah Wynne
Your ref.: 108230/SW
Dear Ms Wynne,
Re: Incident at Truro Branch
I refer to your email of 27th March concerning the incident on 6th March 2015 at your Truro branch. As I made clear in my letter of 16th March, this is a serious matter that cannot be swept under the carpet. For all your comments about M&S standards and training, concern and regret, etc., that is exactly where your handling of this matter seems to be heading.
Sorry to say, but the first half of your letter comes across as cut-and-paste routine statements for dealing with complaints. Surely, you can show more concern than this? It was a horrible experience for my wife (and for me). We cannot just forget it. It will take time for the shock to go away. This being the case, not to mention your exposure to damages and the risk to your reputation, we expect a serious response from M&S.
My wife and I regard your offer of a gift certificate of unspecified value, which we cannot spend anyway without making a trip to the UK, as patronizing and insincere. It is not appropriate to palm us off with a “gift”, or to create any pressures or obligations vis-à-vis our travel plans.
We think that you need to recognize M&S’s responsibility for the unpleasant nature of the incident which included an assault on my wife and humiliation in public. It not only spoiled our time in the UK. Since then, the incident has continued to affect my wife’s wellbeing and she is unable to get a good night’s sleep without taking prescribed medicine because the memory still haunts her. Furthermore, she has her own counseling practice and she has had to cancel a number of client appointments because of the after-effects of this incident. As a counselor, she has to be feeling well grounded and well enough to do this work. Sleepless nights and a traumatic memory do not help.
There is also another somewhat sensitive aspect to what happened. My wife and I cannot help wondering if your staff would have behaved in the same way to a *****, *****tish lady. You may take the view that no conscious racism was involved and we may hope that to be true, but doubt will remain.
At this point, we are asking you for the following, failing which we shall take further steps such as are open to us.
- We have no wish to see your cashiers lose their jobs over this but we are cannot accept not knowing what disciplinary action you have taken. Please bear in mind that one of them instigated and abetted what took place; and the other actually assaulted my wife. How do we know that you did anything at all, if you don’t specify your action?
- My wife needs an apology directly from the cashiers themselves. This would help considerably to giving her comfort. A simple, sincere written apology, signed by both of them, or the same separately, is all that is necessary in this respect.
- The quantum of compensation has to be realistic and appropriate. We have no doubt that compensation is justified. We would accept fifty thousand pounds rather than spend further time and trouble on this.
At this stage, we would like to hear your reaction. Please bear in mind that we will not be brushed off as indicated in your recent letter.
Please reply within 7 days from the date of this letter. We prefer a reasonable fair settlement to all this, rather then having to take legal steps. Surely that is also in your interests?
Yours sincerely, Witnessed,
Dato’ Dr Mikaail Kavanagh Datin Norlidah Wati bte Haji Rasib
c.c.: Ms Jane Creeden, Duty Manager & Ms Frankie Harris, Commercial Manager
Marks & Spencer, Lemon Quay, Truro, Cornwall TR1 2LW
This elicited the following very prompt reply today:
Dear Dr Kavanagh
Thank you for your email and the attached letter. I'm sorry you and your wife were disappointed by my email, dated 27 March. I can assure you it wasn't my intention to upset you further.
I understand this was an upsetting experience for you and your wife. It's important we are informed about the service our customers receive in store and for that reason I appreciate you bringing this matter to my attention.
The email I sent was a personal response to explain the level of service we expect and to reassure you of the steps the store's management team have taken following your visit.
From your letter, it's clear this has been an upsetting experience for your wife and it is continuing to affect her personally. As explained in my recent email, the store's management team have completed a full investigation with the advisers involved. Unfortunately, the details of their investigation are confidential and I won't be able to provide you with any information relating to the outcome.
As you have contacted us and due to the nature of your complaint, I am responding to you on behalf of the store. The apologies I have provided are on behalf of the in store advisers, the management team within the Truro Lemon Quay store and M&S as a company.
Any complaint about a specific individual adviser would be investigated by a member of the management team. Any apology and further information would be provided by the manager, rather than the adviser involved.
I understand you are looking for compensation, I'm afraid this is a legal term and not something we would be able to offer. Instead, I was suggesting an e-gift card as a gesture of goodwill.
Any goodwill offered to our customers is certainly not intended to be a financial equivalent to any disappointment a customer may feel, as this is something we of course cannot quantify. Instead, our offers of goodwill are given as acknowledgements that we could have handled things better in a customer’s given situation.
I acknowledge your suggestion of £50,000. I'm afraid I need to inform you we would be unable to meet this suggestion. My initial e-gift card offer was going to be for £50 which I feel is fair and reasonable under the circumstances. As you aren't planning to visit the UK again, within the near future. I would be able to arrange a £50 cheque.
I'm sorry if this isn't the resolution you are looking for and would like to take this opportunity to remind you of your right to seek independent advice.
Once again, I'm sorry your visit to store ended so unpleasantly and I'll look forward to hearing from you at your convenience.
We are clear that we would not follow this up as a large claim because of the risks involved. We might however do so through the Small Claims court for a sum within that range.
What is your advice in terms of how to proceed, to avoid financial risk in the process, for what sort of quantum of compensation, and what are our chances of success?
I would be most grateful for your advice at this stage of things.