I must begin with a warning to any of my readers with a weak stomach. This tale is not for them.
On about the 5th or 6th of January, I took a delivery from Iceland. I decided to treat myself to a luxury fish pie. Following the instructions I put it in the fridge to defrost overnight. The next day, other than a cup of tea and a handful of biscuits I had nothing to eat. At about 7pm my wife cooked the pie, I ate the pie on its own and it was delicious. My wife is a vegetarian thank God, so I didn’t share.
Bed at 11pm, since we began shielding my sleep pattern is erratic and we sleep in different rooms. I was awoken at around 1am with violent stomach pains and I vomited and my stomach exploded I managed to get my diarrhoea into bathroom toilet while spewing into a bucket. It took me over an hour before I could shower and then strip all the bedding including the king size duvet which all had to be destroyed and replaced.
Thank goodness Dunelm was open for click and collect. That was all the bedding sorted. Personally I was not so lucky because I was totally hors de combat, bedridden until Saturday when I managed to creep downstairs for a few hours in my pyjamas, I managed a bowl of chicken soup with Gill ministering and mopping my brow. By the 14th I’m up and dressed feeling slightly delicate but back to normal, whatever that is, but I think I’m gonna live! I really like my new 13.5Tog duvet.
By the time I was feeling up to it and my conscience told me that I should contact Wellingborough Iceland store to suggest that any of their remaining luxury fish pies should be withdrawn and tested purely to safeguard their customers. I spent more than two hours attempting to phone the shop but the telephone was continuously engaged. As a result of what further happened I strongly suspect that this is further “company policy “ it certainly avoids customer complaints. I then attempted to find another way of contact. I could find no way to message the company so went online to their website. Oh dear!
I am I.T efficient and have been for years. I have written websites and regularly weblog. I Certainly am more competent than their average customer, most of whom would have given up long ago. I eventually found a mention of contact by email, hidden at the bottom of the page. This required the completion of a form explaining why one should have the temerity to want to email them.
Could I suggest, dear reader that you amuse yourself by attempting the exercise by starting at www.iceland.co.uk/contact support
This is their response via email :
Dear Mr Clark,
Thank you for contacting Iceland. We are very concerned to hear about your recent illness and that you reported feeling unwell after consuming a luxury fish pie.
Pinpointing the source of food poisoning can be very difficult and sometimes this type of reaction to food or drink can happen up to 72 hours after consuming a product.
May we respectfully suggest that you seek medical advice. Your Doctor may be able to provide you with an indication of exactly what has caused your illness.
However, in order for us to investigate fully, we will need to gather the relevant information:
- Product name
- Date code and batch code on pack
- What did you eat and when?
- Was any other food eaten at the same time?
- What were your symptoms and when did they start?
- Did anyone else have the same food?Did anyone else experience similar symptoms?
- Have you seen a doctor for diagnosis?
- What food or drink have you consumed in the previous 72 hours from when you started to feel unwell?
We are taking your complaint very seriously and once we have received the above information; we will be in a position to investigate further and contact you again.
Siobhan and the Iceland Team
For the 12th year running we are a Top 30 Best Big Company to work for.
For more information, go to www.Iceland.co.uk
(Source: Sunday Times Best Big Company to Work For survey 2018)
THIS E-MAIL MAY CONTAIN CONFIDENTIAL AND/OR PRIVILEGED INFORMATION.
It is only intended for the use of the addressee. If you are not the addressee, the disclosure, copying or delivering of this to anyone else is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you receive this e-mail by mistake, please notify us immediately by e-mail or by telephone on +44 (0)1244 830100.
Iceland Foods Limited
Second Avenue, Deeside Industrial Park
Deeside, Flintshire, CH5 2NW
Reg. No. 01107406: Registered in England & Wales
And my responding email:
Thank you for your rather delayed response. I can tell from your prevarication exactly how concerned you are in treating my report.
My wife and I have been shielding since March 2020. Hence having food delivered. My reaction to eating your Luxury Fish Pie ruined some £100 worth of damaged bedding for which I made no claim. I was bedridden for nearly three days and only reported that you had a suspected food item out of concern for your customers safety. Your sense of urgency makes it clear that all you are concerned about is covering your backs.
I hope no member of the public died because of your dishonesty. Thank you for your concern for my health. I made it clear that I had recovered. Do you realise how ridiculous it would be to ask a GP to call to visit a healthy patient who recovered from food poisoning a week ago, especially when the surgery is closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. What idiot came up with that?
Initially I tried to phone your Wellingborough shop who I dealt with but the phone had a busy signal for some two hours. I now suspect this is another “company policy” just like your email. Well due to your reaction I am very angry. You have done nothing to safeguard your customers. You could easily have contacted the Wellingborough shop (perhaps they don’t answer their phone), traced my delivery and withdrawn the suspect item from sale.
You can see from my website that I am a Member of the Institute of Investigative Journalists and unless I get a clear and quick response I shall be selling my story including your email to my 30 years of contacts in the media
Sent from my iPhone.
Why not check out my website at www.jakethewriter.com
That is the last of my correspondence with Iceland, not even an acknowledgement of my email
Quite regularly all of the responsible supermarket food stores publish recall of foodstuffs that have a mere suspicion of a danger to the public. There is guidance to food retailers from the Food Standards Agency and nowhere in my research does it mention how to avoid customer complaints. This, I would suggest is more of Iceland’s “Company Policy” to avoid or delay any complaint. Has anyone in the company read the governments guidance review by Lyn Faulds Wood? What about the advice from the Food Standards Agency viz
Reporting a food incident
If you believe food or feed you have supplied is either harmful to health, unfit for people to eat or does not meet legal requirements, you should:
- immediately withdraw or recall the food from the market
- tell your competent authority (local authority or port health authority), which will advise you of any further action you might need to take
If you believe unsafe food has reached consumers, tell the FSA incidents team (Opens in a new window). A recall notice may need to be issued by us.
To help with this, you need to be able to identify your suppliers and food business customers.
Nothing there about avoiding taking any action by delaying reports of customer complaints. I note that you proudly note in your ‘smoke and mirrors that For the 12th year running we are a Top 30 Best Big Company to work for. Nothing there about looking after customer safety
I am first to admit that the delay in you being aware that there was a problem was due to circumstances beyond your control but since you have been aware you have done nothing, absolutely nothing, not even to check whether the particular batch of luxury fish pies are being offered for sale.
You may be sure Mr Iceland that I am about to do a lot of research into the various Consumer Acts that you should have been obeying but the first of my actions will be to contact my local Trading Standards Office which will cover my legal costs when I reek attribution on your wretched soul!