Following on from my earlier blog about the damage done to my car by Sainsbury’s car wash in Rugby, I wrote the following letter to Mr Mike Coupe, Sainsbury’s CEO:
12 January 2015
Mr Mike Coupe
CEO Sainsbury’s PLC
Dear Mr Coupe,
On the 15th December 2014, my mother visited the car wash at your Rugby store, thinking she was doing me a favour by having my car washed just before Christmas. She was guided into the car wash and the lights came on telling her she was in the correct location at which point she applied the handbrake and turned off the ignition. Unfortunately, the car wash hit the front wing of the car, causing quite a large amount of damage – as shown in the enclosed photographs. In a state of shock, my mum came to my house and I took her and my insurance documents back to the store.
The incident was reported to the petrol station manager – a gentleman by the name of Glenn. He expressed surprise that there had been an incident as other cars had subsequently gone through the car wash. I noticed that there was CCTV in the petrol station and I asked Glenn if there would have been any footage from the car wash. He replied that there wasn’t any and, even if there was, we wouldn’t be allowed to see it. Glenn took down all of the details on a form, which he asked my mother to sign, and promised that someone would be in touch the following day.
No contact was received and so after Christmas, my mother returned to the store to see what was happening. It was at this point that we discovered that nothing was happening – nothing had been done with the paperwork. The gentleman who she spoke with took charge of the situation and promised that someone would call the following day.
The call did come the next day from a Scottish lady (my mum didn’t catch her name) who said that the incident would be investigated and there would be a follow-up call. Two days later the lady called back to say that the incident had been investigated and that it was my mother’s fault.
Apparently CCTV footage showed that my mother had positioned the car incorrectly in the car wash and, in doing so, broke one of the sensors. The lady who called told my mum that the car wash had been out of action since the incident.
I find it very strange that we should be told on the day of the incident that there was no CCTV and that the car wash was still operational, only for this to be contradicted some days later. Clearly, someone is either mistaken or telling lies.
I informed my insurance company about the newly found CCTV footage and they got in touch with you requesting that it be released. This request was declined and my insurers called me back telling me that I had to make the request. This was done in an email sent to “firstname.lastname@example.org” which was sent on the 6th January. As of the time of writing I have had no reply – not even a confirmation of receipt. This is clearly unacceptable and not the sort of response I would expect from one of the UK’s premier retailers.
Putting aside the poor communication and contradicting information we’ve been given, I would like to ask a question. How is it safe for a large, complicated bit of machinery to operate if there is a sensor fault? Surely it should fail safe? I would also like to ask how it is that my mother was supposed to realise that the car was incorrectly aligned when the car wash itself told her to stop before it commenced its programming? I am surprised that the HSE would give such a machine a clean bill of health.
I would appreciate your looking into this situation for me as I have had no luck with your “customer care” helpline who just brushed me off saying that they were sorry I wasn’t happy with findings of the investigation. At present, I am £150 out of pocket for the excess on my policy and I will have lost my no claims discount too.
Today, I received a reply from their “Executive Office” which, as you can see, does nothing to address the questions I raised in my letter.
Dear Mr Coates
Thank you for your letter to Mike Coupe. I have been asked to respond to you on his behalf. I am sorry your car was damaged whilst using our car wash and I appreciate the chance to address your concerns.
Please let me assure you the safety of our customers and their property is very important to us. We do all we can to ensure all areas of our stores, including our car parking facilities, meet our high standards.
We have investigated this matter further and reviewed the CCTV footage. Whilst we appreciate your mother was unaware she was parked incorrectly, we do not feel we can be held responsible for the damage caused to your vehicle. We know this is not the answer you were looking for and we will cooperate fully with any third party you wish to contact us on your behalf.
We are grateful to you for taking the time to contact us and we hope we have been able to explain the reasons for our decision.
I find it quite amusing that they say that they “will cooperate fully with any third party” when they refused to release the CCTV footage to my insurers and haven’t had the common decency to respond to my request for its release. They also do not explain how it is that a two-ton machine can operate if a sensor has failed!