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MONEY WELL SPENT
300,000 of taxpayers' cash was used so Tesco's can sell onions that don't make you cry. The Supasweet onions being sold for 99p for two were developed by reducing pyruvic acid in a project co-funded by the horticultural industry. Tory MP John Hayes said, "Given the amount supermarkets make, using taxpayers' cash in this way is very alarming."
BIG BUCKS
Tesco is on course for a 2bn pre-tax profit in 2004.
PARKING PROBLEM
With the number of supermarkets to choose from I find it amazing that Tesco's in Mickleover seem to be doing its best to put customers off shopping there, by introducing strict parking regulations.

As a regular customer I was amazed to return to my car at the weekend to find a parking ticket on it, threatening me with a fine should I fail to park in a suitable manner again. My crime was to park slightly over the white line, which I was forced to do by the car already parked in the next space.

When I queried the ticket with staff nobody was interested, even when I mentioned that I was now worried about leaving the car in the future, in case it was deemed to be "inappropriately" parked, and would consider using other supermarkets which, hopefully, have more respect for regular customers. Miss M Clarke
DOCTORED MEAT
An investigation by Guardian journalist, Felicity Lawrence, revealed how the meat industry manufactures and 'doctors' the mountains of cheap chicken products we find on supermarket shelves.

This includes pumping chicken breasts full of water. In September 2004, the Daily Mail alleged that Tesco's premium pork chops are supplemented with water, despite costing 2 more than conventional cutlets. The company claims the additional cost is due to rearing the pigs outside.
ILLEGAL TIMBER
In June 2003, Friends of the Earth revealed that Tesco has been selling garden furniture made from illegally sourced Indonesian timber.

It has been illegal to export Indonesian logs since October 2001 when the Indonesian Government introduced a log export ban in a desperate attempt to control escalating levels of illegal logging.

As a result of this exposure, Tesco has been expelled from the '95+Group', an influential ethical trading initiative run by the WWF.

The supermarket had refused to give assurances that it would stop using illegally sourced rainforest timber, although it admitted there had been a failure of compliance.

According to the Independent on Sunday, City sources suggest that Tesco could now be dropped from ethical share investment schemes.
       


TESCO

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TescoTesco is to put a new label on food to help people eat more healthily. The stickers will tell shoppers how products rate on the glycemic index. This runs from zero to 100 and rates food in terms of how quickly it is digested and is converted to energy in the form of glucose. The faster food is digested the sooner people will be hungry again. Generally, natural foods score low on the index while processed foods score highly. For instance, cornflakes rate highly on the index because they provide people with a surge of energy but leave them hungry soon afterwards.

A bran cereal by comparison would have a much lower rating because it releases energy slowly and blunts appetite. Professor Jeya Henry of Oxford Brookes University said the labels could help people eat more healthily. He said, "It is predicated on good science. Low glycemic food appears to all coincide with the type of healthy foods people should consume."

He added, "I think it could revolutionise our way of eating." The labels are designed to help people who need to monitor their sugar intake, such as diabetics or athletes. But it could also prove popular with those on low-carb, high protein diets.

The lower the rating on the glycemic index, the lower the number of carbohydrates. The move comes just days after Tesco announced plans to use a traffic light system to rate food in terms of their fat content. That followed a damning report from the Commons health committee on obesity which urged the supermarkets and the food industry to do more to encourage people to eat more healthily.


A shopper is boycotting a Tesco supermarket over their unruly shopping trolleys. David Hudson from Mickleover says the trolleys caused expensive damage to his car an is angry that Tesco will not contribute to the cost of repairs. A nearby garage said trolley damage is a common problem for motorists who use the Mickleover store, whose car park is built on a slope. After a shopping trip Mr Hudson found a dent on the rear of the car below the light. A trolley had apparently rolled out of an overcrowded bay and struck his car.

While looking for quotes, several garages correctly guessed the origins of the damage, saying it was a common problem. Mr Hudson said, "I was led to believe they would look after a valued customer but later they said the liability was with the person who failed to secure the trolley. I can see their point if it was left just anywhere but someone had tried to put this trolley away and because the bay was overflowing, it rolled off." Jane Clark, from Burnaston Garage in Mickleover, said, "In the past fortnight we have had three or four incidents relating to trolley damage. And those are just the people who came to us, so it's not just an isolated incident. The damage ranged from small dents to a 400 scrape on a Jaguar."

In a statement Tesco said, "While we regret this incident Tesco has a policy for dealing with such issues. We have teams of trolley collectors patrolling our car parks and most of our customers return their trolleys to the designated bays where they are secure until collected. However, occasionally a customer leaves their trolley unsecured and damage such as this can be caused to another customer's vehicle. While we appreciate this customer's comments we believe we demonstrated due diligence in that our trolley team was operating at the store at the time and therefore we cannot accept liability."


Tesco sparked a price war by selling cut-price music and films without VAT. Using a legal loophole, the store has set up a distribution firm in Jersey and is selling CDs and DVDs online for 8.99 including delivery. They sell for about 10% less, with DVDs costing from 11.89 on Tesco Jersey, an offshoot of the supermarket's online site. Jersey has no VAT on goods sold there. As long as each item is sent separately and costs less than 18, Customs and Excise cannot impose tax.

The normal online price of a CD is between 9.99 and 11.53. Tesco does not pass on the whole 17.5% VAT saving because of extra delivery costs. The store said, "We're passing on as much cost saving as we can. It is all very transparent and open. Tesco Jersey gives customers more choice and we're confident it will be a big hit with them. Many other online retailers already run operations out of Jersey so we developed our site to make sure Tesco shoppers don't lose out."

Other music retailers are now expected to cut their prices. Tesco's method is completely legal and used by firms such as Choices Video and Amazon UK. The Treasury is the big loser. For every 100,000 CDs or DVDs shipped out of Jersey it loses an average 175,000 in VAT.


In April 2004, Tesco began to introduce RFID (radio-frequency identification) tagging on cases of nonfood items at its distribution centres so that it can track them through to stores. From September some suppliers will be required to put tags on cases of products delivered to Tesco. The company has not set a deadline for all suppliers to tag their cases. RFID tags use tiny computer chips smaller than grains of sand to track items. Each chip has a unique identification number that can be picked up by a remote reader device, allowing it to be recognised up to 30 feet away.

While the chip pushers claim RFID tagging is strictly about tracking stock through the supply chain, in August 2003 shoppers in Cambridge protested against a trial which illustrates just how invasive this technology could be. Packs of Gillette razors, often a target for shoplifting, had the chips on their packaging. When the product was taken off the shelf, the chip tagged the shopper around the store. What is more, it triggered a camera which stored an image of the shopper on its database.

Whilst RFID tags track products, RFID tags can be read from a distance without the bearer being aware it has happened. In tracking products, RFID tags enable the tracking of people. RFID tags can still work long after the product has been bought. If the tags become as ubiquitous as the manufacturers would like, people could be bristling with chips in clothes and possessions. And that's where privacy campaigners start to worry. Because then you could be telling anyone who has the right kind of scanning device, from burglars to the government, what you have bought, where from, how much it cost, and anything else that might be added to an item's database entry, such as who bought it.


Tesco launched a "double the difference" price guarantee earlier this year in a bid to prove it was cheaper than Asda, after the Leeds-based rival said it was 10% cheaper than everyone else. Tesco responded by promising shoppers that it if they found exactly the same item at a rival supermarket it would pay out twice the difference, in the form of vouchers. Soon websites, particularly the MoneySavingExpert.com forums, were full of consumers informing fellow shoppers about which items were cheaper in which store, spreading the news via Facebook and Twitter.

One customer, shopping for MoneySavingExpert.com, found that some alcohol, laundry products and pet food were cheaper at Asda. He spent 126 at Tesco on a shop that would have cost 81 at Asda, and claimed a 90 voucher. One fan on the Manchester United website claimed to have made 600. Last month the supermarket was forced to limit the vouchers to 20 and now it has said it will no longer pay double the difference. Instead it will merely reimburse customers the difference with a voucher.

A spokesman said that the scheme had "given rise to a cottage industry of savvy and determined people", who though in a small minority, ruthlessly used the scheme to make money. They added, "We commend their ingenuity and determination, but that wasn’t why we set up Price Check. So to protect the scheme for the majority of our customers, we are changing it so that we give customers the difference, not double the difference." A spokesman for Asda said, "Clearly they found it hard to make a promise they couldn't keep." (Source:
Daily Telegraph, Apr/11)

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