Tesco – a reputation melts down in real time [Updated]

It was reported 24 hours ago that Tesco were advertising night shift staff jobs for expenses only (plus government job seekers’ allowance). They have denied it and attributing the advertisement to an IT error. The Guardian has since identified similar advertisements elsewhere, casting doubt on this explanation.

In the meantime they are getting roasted on Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook commenters are noting that their remarks are getting deleted. When an answer is provided, it is cut and pasted. The CEO Philip Clarke is @clarkepatesco. He has remained mute as if these posts were not being made. @uktesco is similarly cutting and pasting.

This is inadequate. It is making a difficult situation worse.

What can Tesco do to address this? Field the director of HR to answer questions. Get him or her on every bulletin and the Today programme. Withdraw from Workfare immediately by announcing a review of how it works. Put similarly senior people to work on Twitter and Facebook. Take action and answer questions with thoughtful responses. Do not cut and paste, talk and engage. Do not delete posts. Expect anger and aggression and be ready to listen to it. Even with this approach Tesco will need a dose of good luck to weather the storm. Without it, they will suffer long term damage, which will effect every decision made by every stakeholder who deals with them, from the bright graduate who might think twice before accepting an offer to the local planning committee reviewing their application. This stuff matters.

[Update]  It seems that Tesco have deleted all the posts on their Facebook wall about the issue, included those to which they have already responded.  It is more than 2,500 posts and comments.  Someone has been very busy.  Will this make the issue go away though?  It would seem unlikely.  [Update 2]  It seems that Tesco have not actually deleted posts, but some were removed due to violations.  Fair play to Tesco: Jay in customer care says he is “working my way through Facebook’s automatic hidden post feature, and putting hidden comments back onto the wall which are not in any breach of the community rules.”  Good for him.  Tesco have also clarified their position on unpaid work, which is helpful, if a little tardy.  Interesting to see Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander as a “Friend” of the group Unfair Workfare on Facebook.  If this is not a spoof profile (and appearances suggest it is real) it suggests a significant part of the coalition is already rowing hard away from this initiative.

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