Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
When you wrote to the store HQ, what was said please?
Did they respond?
This is what I wrote:
Dear Sir,I am writing to address a matter concerning the conduct of your staff at closing time on Friday, 6th March 2015 at your branch in Truro, Cornwall.My wife, Datin Norlidah Wati Rasib, tried on – in front of the mirror at the display, not in the fitting room – a cardigan. While trying it on, she placed four products (leggings, socks and creams, which she later purchased) on the shelf near the mirror.She went to the cashier counter with two each of cardigans and shirts, to enquire about pricing. She spoke to Julie Oates about a 20% discount that was advertised for the cardigans. Ms Oates was unable to clarify, so my wife decided not to purchase without the advertised discount. She passed all four items to Ms Oates and walked over to meet me at the seats by the entrance.My wife then remembered that she had left the above-mentioned four products on the shelf near the mirror. She went back to collect them. She then joined a short queue at the cashier counter, where she was attended to by Christine Lane. My wife then remembered that she had left her wallet with myself, so she asked Ms Lane to wait briefly while she hurried to the entrance area and collected her handbag and wallet before returning to the counter.While she was checking out the items, Ms Oates said something to Ms Lane, which caused the latter to tell my wife that she was wearing a M&S cardigan with a tag on it. My wife pointed out that her cardigan was a MaxMara that was hers, and is not carried by M&S. Ms Oates chipped in to point something out to Ms Lane and to say that my wife that my wife was not wearing it previously. My wife pointed out that it was her own property and not even one that M&S sells.There was some quiet exchange between the two cashiers, after which Ms Lane came out from behind the cashier counter, and approached my wife, who opened her outer jacket to show that the cardigan was indeed her own and could not be from M&S. Nevertheless, Ms Lane without permission or invitation pulled at my wife’s outer jacket and took hold of the cardigan’s belt which was tied at the back.She did this in front of whoever was present in that part of the store at that time. Ms Lane appeared to realize her error but said nothing to this effect. My wife called in a loud voice for me to come over. Only later did Ms Lane apologise.I then arrived at the scene and found my wife to be very much upset. I listened to her account and the explanations of the two cashiers. Ms Oates was aggressive and showed a sour face while attempting to justify her own original accusation (she started the whole thing by jumping to conclusions). She never at any time gave any apology, then or later.Ms Lane eventually apologized but only after I had sorted out for myself what had happened and had pointed out that she had no business to lay a hand on my wife or to pull at her clothing. These actions amounted to an assault.In summary, the offending episode therefore consisted of a cashier who jumped to the wrong conclusion, asked her colleague to act, and together they made a public and damaging accusation to my wife, as well as laying hands on her. They showed no discretion or diplomacy.We insisted on seeing a manager. Both cashiers told us that there was no such person in the store at that time. They said that all management staff had routinely left at 5 pm. Only when my wife and I refused to leave without seeing the person in charge did it transpire that the duty manager was present, and that was because the security guard at the door heard what was going on and chipped in that the duty manager was around. The two cashiers had tried to conceal her presence.My wife and I made it clear that we had to see the person in charge and moved to the chairs by the entrance to await this person. After a few minutes, Ms Jane Creeden arrived. She dismissed the cashiers and we told her what had happened. By this time, the shock of the cashiers’ treatment of my wife had sunk in, and she was in considerable distress.Ms Creeden dealt with the matter tactfully, apologizing for the incident and telling us how we could send in a written complaint, since we made it clear that we were going to do so.This is not a matter to swept under the carpet. Your staff behaved as if they had no proper training in dealing with any such incident where their suspicions are aroused. My wife has been falsely accused and publicly humiliated by your staff. We prefer to keep this matter private, but we hold you liable and we expect you to take some appropriate action, including but not necessarily limited to an apology from senior management and compensation.Yours faithfully, Witnessed:Dato’ Mikaail Kavanagh Datin Norlidah Wati Rasib
This is their reply:
Dear Dr Kavanagh
Thank you for your patience, while I have been investigating your email with Dan, the Duty Manager in our Truro Lemon Quay store.
I'm sorry to hear about the service you received in store. After reading your letter I can assure you the service you have described is inexcusable and I understand the upset this experience has caused you and your wife.
We do appreciate customer feedback, as it helps us identify problems with our services and products. Obviously, you have identified a lack of customer service in the store and this does need to be addressed. I share your concern, as all advisers, working in any M&S branded stores receive customer service and policy training. This is to give all our customers the same consistent, professional service we like to portray. We don't encourage unprofessional attitudes or behaviours, nor do we seek to employ staff with those traits.
We want our customers to receive great service whenever they shop with us, and it’s disappointing this wasn't the case, on this occasion. I'm saddened to hear your experience within our store has been affected by the customer service provided by one of the advisers.
While Dan wasn't in store on 6 March Jane Creeden made him aware of your visit.
Dan and Jane both share my concern and disappointment about the service you received. They have undertaken a thorough investigation of your complaint, with the two advisers involved. While any actions we’ve taken must remain internal due to confidentiality, we want to assure you we have taken what happened very seriously. We are confident there will be no repetition of your wife's experience.
In this respect, we want you to shop in our store with confidence and the poor service you’ve described is unacceptable. Please accept our sincere apologies.
I would like to send you an electronic gift card, to apologise for the service your wife received, as a goodwill gesture. I understand you live in Malaysia, however, our e-gift cards are valid for two years. Please let me know if you regularly visit the United Kingdom and are able to use an e-gift card. I will then be able to arrange for it to be processed.
I appreciate you writing to us about this matter. I hope my comments have reassured you. We want you to enjoy your shopping experience. I hope my comments have restored your faith in M&S and we look forward to welcoming you in the store soon.
Thank you again for getting in touch and I'll look forward to hearing from you shortly.
We think that this is a routine, insincere brush-off.
Looking forward to receiving your advice
What is it you want to achieve?
Did you report the assault to the Police?
I would like there to be some significant compensation to my wife. She still feels humiliated by the experience and embarrassed at the thought that anyone of her friends, or even relatives, might come to know about it. That said, I have no idea of what sort of quantum might be involved and we are not out to milk this for a large sum. I think that if M&S had been more forthcoming in their reply, we might have felt less concerned about this.
We also think that they should tell us exactly what disciplinary action they took. For all we know, they did nothing in reality.
We have not told the police about the assault. Frankly, although we do believe that it is a case of assault, we have not really expected to pursue that.
I have no way of judging what is an appropriate amount. GBP100,000 sounds like a lot, quite frankly. I think that my wife would be happy for a sum negotiated down from that. Even half. She - and I - would feel that at least we were getting respect rather than a brush off.
I think that M&S should seriously consider their options in terms of the costs of losing a case and/or their reputational risks from a court case and/or the social media that is very influential these days.
That said, we have not seriously thought about the whole business of making this public. That has a downside for us too, as it would put the spotlight on the embaressment suffered by my wife.
So where do we go from here?
Let me read that carefully to makes sure that I understand all the points.
1. 14 days from when? The incident happened on 6th March
2. Is it a problem that we live in Malaysia and would find it expensive to come to the UK - and a problem with our work commitments.
You mean our next letter to ask for compensation, or the one written on 21st (I need to check) March?
Let me talk to my wife. We have to consider the further impact on ourselves and what happens if we were to lose the case.
I will talk to her now. It is evening here. Can I get back to you tomorrow on this?
OK understood on that point.
Yes, let's be realistic.
Can I get back to you later or preferably tomorrow?
You mean that we should come back to this page later on and click reply?
OK thanks. I will certainly do the rating. I am very appreciative of being able to get such practical and helpful advice in this way. Thank you, Alex.
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.
Mobile: +6012(###) ###-#### *****: *****@******.***
7th April 2015
Marks & Spencer plc
35, North Wharf Road
London, W2 1NW, UK
Attn: Ms Sarah Wynne
Your ref.: 108230/SW
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.
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:
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.
As above, looking at all the correspondence, is this worth pursuing? Do we have a solid case, and we show/prove it to the satisfaction of the small claims court?
Even travelling to the the UK for a hearing would cost us time and money, and presumably the defendant could mess us around by asking for a postponement after we have got there, etc.
Quite a lot to think about.
The offer of 50 pounds is derisory, and we are not inclined to accept it on principle, but we don't want this to take over our lives for weeks or months.
Being very frank, what do you think.
OK, I will discuss with my wife and take it from there.
Thank you for your help.