The Smell of Bullshit, part 35: more voucher based fuddery

I’ve already blogged about Lush’s decision to unlawfully refuse their 10% off vouchers after the end of this month, in this post and this post.

Yesterday, Lush employee Karl Bygraves said this on the international forum

We are allowed to bring the discount vouchers to a close as the last ones were printed 3 years ago. We have given 3 months notice in the shops and in the Fresh Matters catalogue that we will no longer be accepting them.

There has been an element of misuse of the vouchers however we do not want to penalise genuine customers so if you have one or more 10% Discount Vouchers and don’t think you will use them before the end of October please post them in to mail order with your name and address and we will register them against your name for use by the 1st June 2014. Please remember that they are not able to be used in December and will only be useable in mail order.

Then Lush “customer care” sent out this email to all the shops

Hello lovely shops! 
Just a little reminder to make sure all signage relating to the 10% discount vouchers is displayed and all staff are up to speed with the final date for acceptance (31st October 2013). Any vouchers you might be presented with after this time can be dealt with on a case by case basis 🙂 
If you have any queries just give us a call at Customer Care [phone number removed]
Have a great weekend! 
Customer Care
There had obviously been some queries about what that meant, because later they followed it up with this
Hi again! 
We’ve had a couple of queries about the ‘case by case basis’, I hope I can clarify this.. 
By this we mean that if someone should give you a 10% discount voucher after October 31st it will be at your discretion, based on that individual situation, as to whether it is accepted. So, if you feel you would like to accept a voucher after the cut-off date, you are welcome to do so. 
Hope that clears any confusion up, give us a call if you are unsure 🙂 
P.S. As outlined on the back of the vouchers, we cannot accept these during December.
I try very hard not to use gender-based insults, but what a bunch of fucking fannies.
Lush corporate appear to have realised that a) withdrawing the vouchers is unlawful, b) the customers are really pissed off and many are perfectly happy to go to small claims court about it, and c) they are getting negative publicity about it. But they don’t seem to want to admit they were wrong and apologise. So they’re reverting to their favourite trick of “it’s up to the manager (cf shop doors).
Would you want to be the Lush manager who accepts a voucher, knowing corporate don’t want them accepted and you could harm your career by doing so? What happens if Lush are leaving it up to the discretion of a manager who, for example, doesn’t feel like doing black people any favours that day? Or fat women? Or women in burqas? Or teenagers in stupid carrot-fit trousers? Leaving it up to managers’ discretion leaves the door wide open (cf shop doors) for discrimination. And it leaves the managers vulnerable too. Grumpy manager having a bad day refuses to accept a voucher from a forumite (therefore viewed as a known complainer). Customer goes to small claims court. Lush corporate say “the manager could have honoured the voucher but chose not to, all their fault” and after losing the case, sack the manager for working within the parameters Lush gave them.
Lush shop staff, make sure you’ve joined an appropriate union. I think you might need their help quite soon.

5 thoughts on “The Smell of Bullshit, part 35: more voucher based fuddery

  1. Well done Lush! Passing the buck again. If a customer sues because the manager hasn’t honoured the voucher its not their fault, it’s the managers fault because Lush said it was ok. Sort of…

    The manager is damned if they do and damned if they don’t.

    Very ethical!

    That being the case, what was all that crap that Karl Bygrave, Director of Lush, was spouting at the same time? It was literally all bollocks, bullshit and greenwash.

    It just shows what utter contempt Lush has for it’s customers if it can’t even tell them the truth about something as controversial as this. It’s almost like it’s told so many lies that they don’t know how to tell the truth anymore. Or they think that the customers don’t deserve the truth because they are not important enough.

    They could even have said “due to popular demand and not wanting to alienate our loyal customers we have decided not to withdraw the vouchers”. That may have done them some good. But this way has just confirmed their utter stupidity and cowardice. And lack of business acumen.

    I hope the people from Barclays are looking at this as a gauge of what a good investment they are making giving 40 million to such utter buffoons. They’d probably spend it on magic beans and bobble hats.

  2. Mr. Bygrave is a lot higher up on the food chain than simply an employee. He is one of 4 directors, holds the office of Secretary, and is one of the 8 stockholders.

  3. Yes, and he appears to speak as if he feels that Lush customers are merely peasants in his serfdom.

    I think what he seems to have forgotten is that he is speaking to customers. If they are ex-customers, his job is to win them back. If they are customers-to-be, he is meant to be charming them as to the wonder of Lush. If they are current customers, his job is to maintain that status and keep them on board.

    Lush higher-ups do not seem to understand the basics of retail. Customers are not a ‘means to an end’, they are not some pesky thing you have to put up with and tolerate. We all need to buy stuff and you are meant to keep convincing the customer to buy yours over the competitors. This kind of behavior from someone so proud of his status as to tell us his full name is quite astonishing. It is quite clear this fall guy has spent so little time on the shop floor in recent years.

    I think that this buffoon is doing his employees in the shops a great disservice. THEY understand what customer service is. He appears not to. He strode into a customer forum with many many years of history and expected people to bow, scrape and submit. Well they are not held hostage to him or to Lush. He is an idiot to not realise what is there is special – even that amount of anger shows they CARE (or cared) and could be a great ally. It is not Karl vs. The Customers, they are all meant to be on the same side.

    He acts like a complete and utter imbecile. Sorry, is that a little bit insulting for little Karl? Well shove it up your arse and trot on. That’s life. Grow some bollocks and act like a retailer, not some imperious do-gooder who thinks he holds court over his customers. They are CUSTOMERS.

  4. This voucher debacle has made me (and my manager) very angry. It has been decided that we will honour vouchers and utilise the Kindness button as much as possible.

    Interestingly, while having a clear out recently, I found a voucher with an expiry date on it – November 2006. Don’t see many with an expiry date, and I have never seen the cover-all: ‘This voucher remains the property of the company and they retain the right to withdraw it at any time blah blah blah’.

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