Tesco's: Weevil prevail!

by Suw on November 11, 2003

I took my weevils back to Tesco's this afternoon. One of them was still alive and munching away on the few grains of rice that had been sealed in the bag with him.

I spoke to a 'manager' at the store, showed her the weevils, and was offered a measly 99p and free bag of rice. Her line of argument was that weevils are a simple fact of life and that by buying a packet of rice I was accepting the risk that there might be weevils.

I don’t bloody think so. I'm sorry, but I disagree that finding livestock in rice packets is normal – it's not hygienic and it’s certainly not acceptable. After stating my displeasure at her assertions that weevils are here to stay, we reached in bit of an impasse:

Her: So, what do you want?
Me: It shouldn’t be up to me to ask for something, it’s up to you to make me an offer.
Her: I did, I offered you 99p.
Me: That’s not good enough.
Her: So what do you want?
Me: What are you offering?
Her: What do you want?
Me: What are you offering?
Her: Well, what do you want?

I think you get the drift…

Eventually, she offered me a five pound voucher, which I think is risible considering that I may well have ingested a damn weevil. I was so fed up by this point, I just told her to give me the damn voucher and let’s get it over with.

She went off to locate a voucher, then came back and said she’d call Head Office for me and see what they said. Fine. Call bloody Head Office.

When she came back she said that they’d take the details of my claim and get back to me within a few weeks and then she buggered off, leaving me and my weevils in the hands of a shop assistant (who was, it must be said, looking not a little disgusted herself at the whole fiasco). She took my details and that’s that. No voucher, no 99p actually, just a bag of rice. And not wholegrain rice either – we got white rice just in case the whole damn batch was weevil infested.

I feel a snotty letter or two coming on, firstly to the Ferndown store manager, secondly to Head Office and thirdly to Trading Standards.

Thing is, the whole situation is stupid. Ok, so I had weevils in my rice. What do you think would be good customer relations? Apologise profusely, give me a voucher for a decent amount of money (certainly more than a fiver – you can’t even get a good bottle of wine for a fiver these days), promise to check the rest of that batch of rice and to bring the problem to the attention of the appropriate department.


Instead we had a debate about whether weevils should be forming a part of the normal British diet and the pathetic offer of 99p and a free bag of rice. Tesco’s pre-tax profits for the first half of 2003 were £625 million. I think they can afford to give me a bit more than 99p.

Plus I think they’ve had a weevil problem for months. I virtually lived off wholegrain rice and wholewheat pasta when I was in Reading, but since springtime it has been nigh on impossible to locate either in the huge Tesco’s there.

About a week or so before I moved, I went to cook my dinner only to find weevils in my wholegrain rice. I’d thought then that because the packet had been open and only loosely sealed in my cupboard, that it was my fault that it had weevils.

In retrospect, I suspect that the weevils came with the rice rather than from anywhere in my house.

This makes me even more cross – obviously Tesco’s knows that there’s been a weevil problem, because otherwise why would they have cleared the shelves of all wholegrain rice for months? Seems to me that they don’t have adequate quality control checks in place on their products.

Anyway, I shall enjoy writing a suitably annoyed letter tomorrow. Meantime, I’d advise you all to check your rice carefully for small beetles before you cook it, particularly if it came from Tesco’s.

A visitor November 11, 2003 at 8:32 pm

Er, I do wonder if you're overreacting – I'd be happy with a replacement bag of rice, myself, let alone an extra 99p. Total eradication of all food pests would only be possible if all the cropland was absolutely drenched in poisons (even more than is already used today), and the food itself after harvest too. I'd rather ingest a few accidental weevils.

Also, the impossibility of reducing insect contamination to nil is reflected in food standards – for example, IIRC, tinned tomatoes can pass inspection as long as each can has no more than 3 insect parts.


A visitor November 11, 2003 at 8:58 pm

We fell out with them in the summer after two packs of so called 'finest' bagels bought about 3 weeks apart, were blue mouldy and three days past their sell by dates. I went down and gave the duty manager hell, demanded he check the remaining ones personally and found a further 5 packs in the same state. I gave him more hell on behalf of elderly people or people with vision impairments would might not notice the mouldy bits and he was duly humbled, gave me a fiver and I then demanded a call from the manager to explain what health and safety process changes they were going to make to take account of it all. I got a call a couple of days later from the manager who was very sorry and explained about the re-training my complaint had led to.

Escalate to the top-dog and give em hell and mention reporting them to the Food Standards agencey and they'll knuckle under.

Gary Turner [gary@garyturner.net]

Suw November 11, 2003 at 9:33 pm

I don't think that upping the amount of pesticides has anything to do with it – I see it more as a basic quality control issue. If a batch of food becomes contaminated by anything, it should be withdrawn. I don't care if it's weevils, chemicals or bits of glass – if it's not supposed to be there, it's not supposed to be there and steps should be taken to improve production standards and/or quality control to prevent future contamination.

However, I think what really ticked me off was their attitude. If you've got a disgruntled customer, you should do your best to apologise and make reparations – it's called 'customer service', but most companies I've been dealing with lately appear to have had those words struck from their lexicon. I barely even got an apology.

Gary, I wish I were as good as you at giving people hell in person. 😉 I will give them hell by letter, though. I might also use your point about the elderly and vision impaired because you're right that it would be much worse for them to find a weevil in their dinner than for me. Mentioning the Food Standards Agency is also a good idea – thanks!

A visitor November 12, 2003 at 5:14 am

Suw, for years we've shopped organic. And we buy brown rice in bulk. As someone said, short of drenching the grain in poison, there's not lots to do. Except one thing. We bag the rice and put it in the freezer. This keeps it fresh and kills any livestock that came along for the ride.

hope this made you smile.


karl moeller

A visitor December 15, 2003 at 10:46 am

i am disgraced at this, tesco is an apauling business, dicks

Luke Maskery [luke@hotmail.com]

A visitor January 2, 2004 at 3:57 am

you are a bunch of small minded twits, and if i could waste more time on you I'd elaborate


Suw January 2, 2004 at 9:34 am

Er, so am I the small minded twit, or Tescos? Can't imagine why you'd bother reading all that entry, and then just to leave a comment to insult me, and my commentors, when your time is so precious.

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