Sian Harrington
Poor product availability and continuing fulfilment problems mean retailers are still failing to meet consumer expectations when it comes to their online services, according to research by The Grocer.
In the latest of our quarterly online shopping monitors, Asda had clearly not managed to iron out the difficulties encountered by our Easter shopper who described the experience then as a "nightmare".
This time an operator called an hour and a half before the order was due to say it had been cancelled as there was no one to pick goods nor deliver them. Agency staff had already been called in and could not cope. She said there was no point in rescheduling as it was unlikely Asda would be able to fulfill the orders the next day.
When contacted about its performance Asda said: "It is rare that colleague absence should impact on deliveries to this extent and we are certain that this is an isolated incident. We will be looking into it."
A good experience at Tesco was marred by late delivery, albeit only by 10 minutes. But at least an operator had called 20 minutes beforehand to apologise and check whether this was still convenient.
At Iceland our shopper took four attempts to log on and 42 minutes to shop only to find his £35.77 bill did not reach the £40 limit required. This stipulation was not mentioned at the outset and had substitutions been offered for the seven unavailable items the amount would have exceeded £40.
Waitrose joint venture Ocado, included in our survey for the first time, lived up to its pre-launch promise of best customer service but it came at a price. At £51.58 its full basket came in at a whopping £13 more than a full basket at Asda. But our shopper did describe the experience as "a dream".
Sainsbury, Waitrosedeliver and Iceland were unable to provide the full list and substitutions were not offered.
At Iceland the nearest quantity of potatoes was a 750g bag; there was no Hovis listed and only drawstring Tetley teabags while Waitrosedeliver did not deliver the teabags. But it did manage to include two pink grapefruits not on the list.
At Tesco a number of items from The Grocer 33 list were unavailable but substitutions were offered.
However, Value mince was substituted for fresh beef mince, and £1.36 worth of mature Cheddar turned into a 456g slab at £2.76.
>>p28 Online survey

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