I was walking out of Tesco today when the newspaper front covers caught my eye. They were the ones that are face on at pram height and they were showing the mutilated face and body of Gaddafi from various angles with headlines such as “Don’t Shoot” and “That’s For Lockerbie.” To be frank I was shocked and got as far as the car before I thought no that’s really wrong and went back into the shop to see if I had seen those images at the eye level of small children. Now obviously Tesco has no power over what the papers print no matter how sensationalist and brutal, but they do have a say over how they are displayed. So I went over to customer services and pointed out that I thought those low level face on papers should be removed. The lady at customer services seemed unimpressed pointing out that children see far worse on their X Box. Now I hate to come over all righteous and whatever but I was shocked. This was a real image of a man beaten and shot to death, with words pleading for his life right at the eye level of 2 – 7 year olds. I was not concerned with the rights and wrongs of the disposal of a brutal dictator but with the sensibilities of children. I thought the X-Box argument was a red herring because very young children don’t play the bloodier games and even if they do see them is that right? The customer advisor said she could raise it with a manager if I wanted?
I felt quite defeated and said yes if she could pass my complaint along I would be grateful and I left the shop. I felt really bad, I didn’t have the courage of my convictions to stand and wait for the manager but left feeling wholly out of step with the world. I got home and threw out a whinge on Facebook and was surprised with the number and speed of replies agreeing that it was out of order. Now these are my friends replying so you might expect them to agree with me – but then you wouldn’t know my friends very well, they’d either politely ignored my compliant or point out why I was wrong.
Feeling encouraged by the mob rule I rang up Tesco to ask if there had been any follow up. Blow me down, Tesco had removed all those low level covers. What a result! But what lessons I learnt. First, have the courage of your convictions. Don’t think you are out of step with the world. Maybe the rest of the world also thinks they are also out of step? What if we all turned round and said I don’t like this. Maybe we could really improve things. The next thing I learnt was it was worth complaining because maybe Tesco had already received a complaint from someone else and were just waiting to see if anyone else complained. Or maybe one complaint was enough. And that’s the next thing that I learnt. Great big companies will listen to individual concerns and respond immediately so it’s always worth airing your concerns rather than walking away thinking no one will listen to me. The old adage is true, the person that sees the problem is the person that should deal with the problem.
I’m not suggesting that I’m about to become some sort of campaigning zealot but if I see something I’m not impressed with I’m going to develop my backbone and go and have a word and if the first person I complain to seems unimpressed I’m going to stand by my feelings and go up a level.