The Email Double Standard

Every day, emails come in from favourite stores extolling their latest offers or newest stock, but try to contact the shop’s customer services by email and it’s a different matter.

I’m a fan of Bulldog‘s male grooming products and recently went to replenish the bathroom cabinet but was unable to get hold of one particular product. I visited four stores familiar to the British High Street – Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Boots and Superdrug –  and for those who don’t live in the UK, the first two are supermarkets and the others are health and beauty retailers. All the stores stocked Bulldog’s line and just this one thing was missing.

It’s always an annoyance when a favourite product is withdrawn and a replacement needs to be found, so I thought that I’d email the stores and the manufacturer to find out why there was a stock shortage before trying out alternatives. Easy-peasy, I thought. One email with five bcc’s would do the job…

After having a rummage on their respective websites, I discovered that email is not always their preferred method of contact. Not so easy-peasy after all. Of the five I wanted to email, only one, Boots, actually offers an email address. Here are the main customer service contact points.

  • Bulldog Skincare – single form on website
  • Sainsbury’s – selection from topic areas on website that ends in offering phone, Facebook, Twitter or BSL (British Sign Language)
  • Tesco – click-through several pages to get to form on website.
  • Boots –, plus phone and web form.
  • Superdrug – online chat, Facebook and Twitter

Well done Boots and kudos to Sainsbury’s for offering BSL upfront to customers, but I’m really disappointed as to how few offer email as a method of communication with customer services. To be fair to the shops, when and where I contacted their customer services, they did respond promptly and with relevant information, so I can’t complain too much.  However, there does seem to be a double standard here: the stores seem very happy to spam us with promotional email but if we need to contact them in return, it’s not so easy.