How do you solve a problem like Ocado?

Posted by Chris Green on Wednesday March 24 @ 10:09 pm

For the last few months we’ve been experimenting with online grocery ordering with Ocado. We say experimenting as the whole saga has been far from a convenient, pain-free and polished service. Rather it’s been like using a buggy early beta release of a piece of software.

For those who do not use or know about Ocado, let me explain the origins. Ocado is an online grocery firm that resells the usual name brand items, along with its own small range of own-brand goods and a vast selection of own-brand goods from upmarket supermarket chain Waitrose. One of the original investors in Ocado was John Lewis, parent company of Waitrose (hence the link-up). The John Lewis stake in Ocado is now controlled by the John Lewis Pension Fund.

In our fairly short tenure as a customer we’ve had over a dozen deliveries. We’ve also had an unprecedented reoccurring problem with goods turning up damaged. We’ve even had an incident where fresh fruit arrived so mouldy, some items had already turned to mulch, plus a couple of incidents of bakery goods turning up completely stale and a few items that never turned up at all (but remained on the bill). Around £80 of food and non-food items have been compromised across our dozen-or-so deliveries to date. It’s a large amount of money to have to refund to one customer, and can’t be helping Ocado’s bottom line. It is also problematic as it undermines the main point of online grocery ordering – we buy online and have it delivered to our home so we don’t have to go to the store (for various reasons we rarely have time anymore). Yet with the high degree of damaged goods, we still end up regularly hitting a traditional supermarket to replace damaged, missing or otherwise compromised items.

We would like to add at this point that this blog post is in no way intended as an effort to solicit any form of additional compensation, free gift or inducement from Ocado. In each incident of damaged or otherwise unusable goods, Ocado’s customer service department has always responded quickly and courteously, and has always offered a sensible resolution to the problem at the time, be that a refund or replacement. However, the repeated problems suggest that our past feedback hasn’t filtered through from front-line customer services to the people who need to know (and who can make changes to solve potentially systemic quality and product damage issues).

Instead, this blog post is intended as an attempt to offer detailed, constructive business feedback to Ocado on what is and isn’t working in our individual experience so that improvements can be made and the good stuff continued. We are also doing this in public so that others can learn from our experiences and to stimulate sensible discussion about online grocery shopping in general. However, we would like to avoid a repeat of a recent incident on Ocado’s Facebook page, where we tried to offer up some honest and constructive feedback on a small issue and our post was immediately hijacked by a small group of ‘fans’ who seemed unable to cope with the idea that someone’s Ocado experience was less than perfect and proceeded to carry out the internet equivalent of a public stoning. While I am delighted to find that someone somewhere is receiving the Ocado experience I would dearly love myself, to blindly accuse others of lying about their own, lesser experience of the company is childish at best.

This post is a realistic account based on our personal experience alone. Your experience of Ocado may well differ, and may well be far better than our experience. In which case we envy you, and would dearly love to have your delivery driver or drivers cover our area. It does not mean our account is not an accurate one. Sadly, it is. But it can be made better! That is what we want to achieve here. Ocado, we hope you see this. Our first delivery from Ocado, and the driver who brought it was fantastic. It went rapidly downhill from there. We want the first-delivery Ocado experience back and we know Ocado can and wants to reproduce it. We are also happy to work with Ocado to try and find out what’s going wrong so it can be rectified.

We really like the Ocado philosophy and business model (and the food it sells), and really want the company to succeed. Ocado is a great example of British business innovation and it fulfils a clear need in the marketplace. When the process works, it works incredibly well (not to mention that it fits my lifestyle perfectly, when it works). What seems to be lacking, based on our personal experience, is consistency and reliability.

Supermarket home delivery is a booming business in the UK right now. The current crop of services started in the late 90s when frozen food retailer Iceland launched a pure delivery-only service (you still had to go to the shop and pick your own goods and go through the till, but a man in a van would then deliver the items to your home – great for people without a car); a bit like Ikea, but for food.

Others soon followed and the likes of Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s now all offer online ordering and home delivery of groceries for a nominal fee. Then there’s Ocado.

Founded in 2002 by a group of ex-Goldman Sachs bankers, Ocado set out to do things better, which meant doing some things differently. Being the first new supermarket to enter the crowded UK grocery market in a generation was never going to be an easy task, so the Ocado proposition had to be both compelling and eye-catching to attract customer interest, and it is.

Ocado is the only 100% internet-based grocery retailer in the UK. As such it differs significantly from the established bricks & mortar retailers in terms of how it goes from initial order to front door delivery.

The Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury online ordering and delivery services all work on the basis of your internet order being passed to your local store, where a staff member wanders the aisles selecting the items you requested from the shelves and choosing alternatives for items that are out of stock. These items are then packed in bags and crates before being handed off to a van driver for delivery to the customer’s home or other nominated address. On delivery, the customer can then opt to reject inappropriate or unwanted substitution items, damaged or poor quality goods.

There are obvious benefits to this approach. It retains the ‘local’ aspect of the interaction between retailer and customer. It also maintains a level of continuity and familiarity between delivery drivers and customers, building up trust and confidence in the service if deliveries are done well. For the retailer, it keeps costs down as they can leverage existing stock, supermarkets and in some cases staff, minimising cost exposure and allowing the service to operate on fairly low minimum spends and delivery charges while still making a profit or breaking even.

Ocado takes a very different and more centralised approach. Orders are placed online and are fulfilled from a single warehouse regardless of where the delivery address is (Note: Ocado does not yet have nationwide coverage, with coverage focussed largely on the South, South East, North West and Midlands, but still expanding).

Ocado has built a purpose-built, semi-automated picking and packing facility in Hatfield that can only be described as a work of complete genius. Plastic crates are filled with carrier bags (three bags fit into one crate), the crates are bar-coded and assigned to each order. The crates then zip around the warehouse on conveyor belts and slides in a manner not too dissimilar to how your luggage is routed around the bowels of an airport. Along the way the crates stop off at the various aisles where your chosen goods are located. Members of staff in each aisle pick the items you require off the shelf, pop them into the bags in the crates, log they’ve done it on the computer system and send the crate back on its journey.

The computer system provides suggestions to the pickers on alternative items if something is out of stock, helping to reduce the number of inappropriate or illogical substitution choices. Furthermore, by centralising the stock and the picking in one place, and not having to compete with in-person shoppers for the stock on the shelves, Ocado has a massive advantage over the established supermarkets – it can more accurately manage and report stock availability at the time the order is placed, taking into account when the order is scheduled for delivery.

Centralisation, paired with very effective customer relationship management (CRM), order processing and stock control systems means that the company knows exactly how much of an item it has in stock, its sell-by date, when the next delivery is due in, how many orders there are for that item and when they are due to be delivered. As well as having hard data on availability vs demand, the company can make pretty accurate predictions on future demand based on historical data and sales trends, allowing it to order quantities more accurately to service expected future demand, while minimising waste from items going out-of-date and unsold on the shelves. The approach also lends itself well to just-in-time ordering, meaning that Ocado doesn’t always have to stock and store goods in massive bulk, goods can stay at the supplier until they are actually needed on-site at Ocado’s Hatfield warehouse. There are also significant operational, purchasing and staffing economies of scale associated with the single central warehouse model.

Once all your items have been picked and packed, the crates reunite at the end of the process, where they are loaded onto a van and shipped off for delivery by one of Ocado’s army of delivery drivers, using a massive fleet of custom-built Mercedes-Benz refrigerated delivery vans, painted in an array of bright colours. Most even have names – my last order was delivered in a van called Laura Lemon, the order prior to that was delivered in a van called Kai Cabbage.

Last year (2009) Ocado enjoyed significant growth in customers, sales and turnover – including a bumper Christmas – and continued to expand its fleet of vans and drivers. It has also continued to expand its network of satellite distribution centres. In order to expand Ocado’s coverage area, but retain the single warehouse concept, Ocado has opened a number of satellite distribution points to enable it to reach into additional regions. Rather than load all its delivery vans at Hatfield before setting out around the country, orders destined for an area covered by one of these satellite distribution centres are picked and packed as normal in Hatfield, before being transferred en-masse via a large lorry to the satellite centre. There, the crates containing the shopping are transferred to the smaller delivery vans, which in turn deliver the goods to the customer’s home.

As a customer that appears to be served from one of these satellite depots, rather than direct from Hatfield, we think this is where the Ocado experience might be starting to break down.

Maybe it is the additional journey and transfer process that our shopping goes through (being moved by large lorry from Hatfield to White City, then being reloaded onto a small van) that is causing so much stuff to be damaged? Maybe it’s a mechanical problem within the Hatfield fulfilment centre? Or maybe it’s down to aggressive handling by the drivers or the original pickers and packers?

As a customer, ultimately we do not know where the problem is, and don’t really care, as the mechanics of Ocado’s process should be transparent to the customer. What we do care about is getting the problems worked out of the system so that we can obtain a reliable flow of undamaged deliveries from Ocado for a long time to come.

Issues such as rotten fruit and stale baked goods seem easier to determine. That problem stems either from the supplier, or that these perishable goods are not being stored properly in Hatfield. It is also possible that Ocado’s stock control processes are failing and these items are hanging around for too long. Storage problems seem more likely, but we are purely guessing as to exactly which of these is the actual cause.

Another area of concern is the delivery drivers. Again, it is hard to identify the root cause for what we are about to say (and would appreciate not going through another public stoning), but by-and-large the drivers that have delivered to our home, with the exception of our very first delivery, have been pretty awful. Maybe it is because the drivers are based at a satellite depot and thus don’t feel like part of the Ocado corporate family and don’t subscribe to the philosophy? Perhaps the satellite depot structure has created malaise leading to less oversight and monitoring, higher staff turnover, less training and less overall enforcement of standards and expectations of the delivery drivers?

We have had drivers that have man-handled goods, drivers who could not speak English, drivers that turned up at the wrong time without warning, drivers who refused to wait for a few seconds while we checked for broken fragile goods (really, we realise you have other deliveries to make, but there’s no need to rush a delivery like it’s a Formula 1 pit stop – no wonder things keep getting damaged), and drivers who continually refuse to take the old Ocado carrier bags away for recycling (a significant differentiator of the Ocado experience is its commitment to recycling the many carrier bags it uses to pack the shopping in).

Sure, the bags are bio-degradable so dumping them in the rubbish isn’t so bad, but when part of the Ocado delivery service (which can cost up to £6.49 for a single delivery) is to take away the Ocado bags from the previous delivery, it is frustrating when it doesn’t happen. Especially when you have made the effort to hand the bags to the driver and he still manages to put them down and leave without them. We are not the most eco-conscious people in the world, but try to do our bit and even we know it’s wasteful to dump something like a carrier bag into landfill when the grocery delivery service is supposed to reprocess and remanufacture them. Again, we don’t know why so many of the drivers we’ve had are reluctant to take the Ocado carrier bags away, but in our experience, many are.

To be clear, especially to the Facebook lunatics, we are referring only to the drivers that have delivered to our home. We cannot comment on drivers that have never delivered to us and do not wish to tar all Ocado drivers with the same brush. We would hope that the vast majority of Ocado drivers are like our first driver – polite, careful, considerate, helpful and most important, passionate about their job. The guy really cared about doing a good job and ensuring the customer was happy, taking extra time to talk new customers through every little detail. It is good customer service you seldom see anymore and it’s good to know it’s alive and well somewhere within Ocado. It is the sort of service that makes us want to be loyal customers, and perhaps it is the pursuit of that service again that has led us to be so patient and to persevere for so long with Ocado.

Alas, that perseverance may be coming to an end. Our delivery experiences have been a challenge, while the juvenile reaction to our Facebook feedback has sadly left us with a very negative view of Ocado – particularly given its failure to police its own Facebook page and its encouragement of the mob of immature individuals hurling abuse and unsubstantiated (and quite frankly criminal) accusations.

Also, we are currently trialling Ocado’s Delivery Pass deal. This is another excellent Ocado service innovation, whereby for a monthly subscription fee (or annual payment), you incur no individual delivery charges, regardless of when you opt for delivery. It also means you can order as little as £40 of goods (orders between £40 and £65 usually carry an additional delivery surcharge when paying for individual deliveries), which again suits our needs well as a weekly Ocado shop of around £45-£50 pretty much covers our grocery needs.

We began a one month free trial of Delivery Pass back at the beginning of March, and have had three deliveries in that time. So far, one delivery had nearly £20 of damaged and missing items (including a badly damaged frying pan), and the two most recent deliveries had no product problems at all (though on both occasions the driver left behind our carrier bags having been handed them). What is likely to be our final order of the trial is coming this Saturday, and it is this delivery that will determine whether we commit to the 12-month minimum Delivery Pass contract or walk away, perhaps completely, from Ocado.

The thing is we really want to continue as an Ocado customer and as a Delivery Pass subscriber. However, there is an obvious reluctance to commit to a 12-month minimum term if we are going to have to spend time every delivery logging claims for damaged goods, and paying £9.99 a month for the privilege of chasing down refunds and replacing damaged items. With all the problems we’ve had so far, and the fact that in four months we’ve only had two consecutive deliveries without damaged goods, our patience is wearing thin and we are starting to resign ourselves to the fact that we’ll have to trawl around a traditional supermarket – sadly not a Waitrose – again instead of having quality produce delivered to our door by Ocado.

So we say this in closing – Ocado, we are loyal and committed customers that want to support your business and spend money with you, so please don’t ignore our feedback and instead show us the same level of commitment we are showing you. Please sort it out; please retain us as a customer!

Full disclosure: Prior to becoming a journalist I worked in the grocery retail industry. I also advised WebVan, a dot com-era grocery delivery service in the US on media issues.

53 responses to “How do you solve a problem like Ocado?”

  1. Ron James says:

    Ocado, It’s lucky for you that you have a concerned customer who shows profound loyalty to you in the face of incredibly poor service. He is right, show concern on this matter, or else your clientèle will switch to your competitors. Your utmost priority should be to resolve the problems listed here.

  2. Laura says:

    You have persevered longer than I did. I am not happy with Ocado at all. Hope you don’t mind me leaving my experience here.

    I processed my first order in May; I live in a remote-ish place and do not drive, so I rely on internet shopping. At my previous address I always had Waitrose Deliver and was mildly put out when I realised they didn’t deliver to my new address, but pleased that Ocado did.

    The evening of my first order, the delivery driver came on time, he was lovely. But… there was a problem. 41% of my order hadn’t arrived. The driver looked and looked, rang the depot, rang his colleagues, but the food couldn’t be found. I was told I wouldn’t be charged for them and the driver apologised profusely and went on his way.

    I was really gutted with my first order; I order lots of ingredients to make recipes from scratch, so when I had ordered the “2 for 1” rhubarb at Ocado’s suggestion to make Delia’s new Rhubarb and Ginger brulee, I was a bit put out as I had none of the other ingredients I needed. This may seem a minor point, but as I don’t drive, this would have meant an hour bus journey to the local town and stuggling back with lots of bags. I get online groceries because it’s convenient. This was not convenient!

    When unpacking the shopping that was delivered, I found all of my Waitrose chopped tomato tins were severely dented. I know that to some this may seem petty, but dented cans can spoil as we all know, and I am quite wary of them. I processed a refund for these items which was honoured.

    Back to the original story (hope you’re still with me!) I tried to call to complain but after being on hold for 6 minutes, the operator answered then hung up. I tried again but for 5 minutes this time. No luck. I don’t like emailing complaints as I like an instant response, but reluctantly I emailed, using the online form.

    The next day I still had not had a response from Ocado. I want to note, I wasn’t complaining for any compensation but was in fact wanting them to know that as a first time customer, my experience wasn’t great (although the driver was lovely), and also that what I would have liked was the option for my missing items to be re-delivered; I wasn’t offered this option, the driver simply didn’t charge me for the goods.

    Feeling a bit glum about it, I just mentioned my dissatisfaction via my Twitter account. Bingo! Within 1 hour I had been contacted via Twitter to say Customer Services would be in touch. (Again, please note I didn’t direct my comment to Ocado on Twitter – I didn’t know they were on there – they had run a name search and found my comment). Within 30 minutes of that “Tweet” Customer Services had been in touch to apologise and had sent me a £15 voucher for my next shopping and had also taken on board my suggestion at having missing items redelivered in future.

    I thought I would give them another chance. The next week I placed my order but my voucher wouldn’t submit. It kept saying there was another voucher in the trolley (which there was, for a free bottle of wine). I deleted it and it still wouldn’t process the other one, saying it was in the basket already. I processed the order in the hope the £15 voucher really was in the basket, and it turned out it wasn’t when I had my order confirmation come through. On top of that, it had added the items that had been missing from my shop the previous week, which I am still confused about as I hadn’t used the option of using the previous week’s list.

    I rang up to get it sorted. Was on hold 5 minutes then hung up on. I called again and after 5 minutes I managed to speak to someone. Fed up, I cancelled the whole order. This was taking too much of my time.

    That evening, once again using Twitter (as I do love social media!) I simply said something to the effect of “Tried to use £15 apology voucher from Ocado, didn’t work, have had enough” as I was a little peeved and had had to go and make an online shopping order with Sainsbury’s and I am not familiar with their food. (Being a vegan, it takes time to know what products are dairy free and which aren’t etc, which is why I loved Waitrose as they have a filter for “vegan suitable”).

    I think it was the next day or possibly the day after, at 8pm in the evening, I had a call to my home phone. It was the Ocado customer contact centre, wanting to know what error message I received when processing my order. Now, when I had called to cancel my order a couple of days previous to this, the lady didn’t want to know and was happy enough to just cancel everything. Now, after 1 Tweet, they suddenly cared. I explained I wouldn’t be using Ocado again and the voucher could be cancelled. I didn’t appreciate being called up on a Friday evening when I hadn’t requested it.

    So there you have it – my one and only experience of Ocado in the last month. I can certainly appreciate everything you say regarding your experience. As an added note, I work in the retail sector and was not impressed with the way Ocado handled matters. I hope that you start to have better luck!



  3. Chris Green says:

    It gets worse I’m afraid. After I posted this original blog I was contacted a few days later, by email, by someone from Ocado customer services.
    I can only describe the individual as deluded – his thoroughly condescending email completely ignored every single thing I had written about and all my previous complaints to the company. He basically went on to say that because other customers have written to them to say they love Ocado, everything the company does must therefore be brilliant and without fault. Any claims to the contrary must therefore be nonsense and imagined.
    He even went on to claim that because of their computer system, it was impossible for out of date or mouldy food to be sent out to customers.
    This two-faced contempt that Ocado has for its customers is why I’ve kicked them to the kerb and gone back to shopping in stores. It’s inconvenient, but at least I’m not told I’m lying about damaged goods, rude and unhelpful drivers, mouldy produce, late deliveries and missing items.

  4. james.martin says:

    We have had a good experience in the past with Ocado in Sussex, but here in Newbury our first delivery (today) was so poor that we will never use them again. Arriving an hour late, this surly man with his angry face JUST managed to grunt out ‘morning’ while scowling at us, plonked down a load of groceries including bruised and rotting fruit and stormed off grumbling about the traffic. He insisted that he had phoned and spoken me -in fact he left a voicemail 38 minutes after the latest time he was supposed to have arrived, and AFTER I had phoned Ocado customer service to find out where he was. Customer service have offered to refund the delivery charge, which is all very well but is not going to make me rush back to try again. I can’t imagine why I would want to put myself through such a ghastly experience twice.God bless Tesco! They get half the orders wronmg, but at least they come, and at least they smile!

  5. Lou says:

    We’ve been Ocado customers since early 2009 and have used the Delivery Pass for just less than a year.
    We won’t be renewing our pass or likely carrying on as customers.
    Too many bruised items. Also the fact that the annual fee for deliveries has gone from £79 to £110 really sealed the deal!


  6. Jo Gunn says:

    I have decided to stop using Ocado because I am so disappointed with their food quality. Every single delivery I have had (have used them about 8 times) has included mouldy or unusable items. Most recently, a pot of Olives with Manchego Cheese (nom, nom, nom) which went mouldy in the fridge, unopened, well before the use by date.

    I have never had any issues with any other supermarkets due to mould – poor customer service, yes, which is partly why I switched to Ocado. They are not cheap and frankly for the price, I expect better.

    Each time I have complained I get a refund, but also a standard response and no acknowledgement of the ongoing problems.

    I’m going back to using Sainsbury!

  7. Cate Burn says:

    we signed up to try the free 1 month delivery service, didn’t cancel it in time and are now committed to it for a whole year. how do we getr out of it…we only receive one delivery a month, which is not worth £10…

  8. Chris Green says:

    Alas , I don’t think you can. Unless you can get Ocado for a breach of contract or argue the service is not meeting reasonable expectations – for example failing to deliver at the specified time, or consistently destroying your produce in transit – Ocado has no legal obligation to release you from the contract early.


  9. mike says:

    Ocado drivers are incentivised to be as quick as possible, yet all but the fastest drivers are late and then they’re met with understandably grumpy customers who have had their time wasted. When there are damaged goods (often through the drivers throwing bags around and dragging bags up stairs, but also when damage occurs because goods were badly packed at the point of picking) drivers are penalised (in effect they are incentivised to pass the damage over to the customer in the hope they won’t report it).

  10. Jill says:

    I returned from holiday yesterday to an email informing me my delivery had been “cancelled” due to a “technical fault”. I tried calling but I decided it was not worth holding on an 0845 number with being number thirty in the queue. I was informed in the email to log on again to “rebook” my shopping and was frustrated to a) have to do this, given I had booked the delivery over a week before and b) to be not given any priority at all and instead only be provided with slots two days later. With no staples in the house and having returned from holiday with my own family and some extra members who were visiting I was forced to take everyone out for a meal as it was too late to go shopping. I was offered a measely £25 voucher off, NOT This shop, BUT my NEXT shop from Ocado and this in no way has gone to make up for the immense inconvenience they have caused me.

    It is clear that Ocado have no contingency in place for when they have a “technical fault” and it begs the question why Waitrose/John Lewis who pride themselves on service have allowed themselves to be tied up to a further seven year contract with a company that has no measures in place to ensure their customers are given proper explanations and alternatives and priority to when there are delivery issues – but to return from holiday to find an email ont he same date of delivery telling you your shopping was CANCELLED is totally unacceptable.

    I wonder if the deterioration in service I am haering about from several friends recently is anything to do with the recent float! Afterall, it is set up by ex BANKERS, hmmmmmm!

  11. Jill says:

    Poor customer service by Ocado, Ocado service is deteriorating!

  12. […] opinion seems to be split to be fair. Former journalist Chris Green has also written a very detailed post about Ocado’s shortcomings, hoping to point them in the right […]

  13. Ang Harvey says:

    Ocado does not offer customer service it offers snotty call centre staff who blame you for the faults with thier service. My issue is orders not going through and them leaving my sensitive data open to theft and me having to re order again and again and again without anything going through check out properly! Why should I have to ring an 0845 number to be treated like a scum bag when there are so many competitors out there looking for my bussiness?

  14. You’re lucky that your first delivery was fine. I’ve not had one without incident: damaged or missing goods. It’s a shame the quality of Waitrose products is compromised like this. How could Ocado be successful if they don’t train the staff or hire good people?

  15. Catherine says:

    Ocado’s delivery pass, in my opinion, is a rip off and I wish I had never done it. I didn’t read the small print properly and thought you could do it month by month. My fault I admit. Unless I have got it wrong, they are trying to charge me £8.99 for a delivery in the week before Christmas PLUS a £90 minimum charge. I am just trying to find out if this is really the case. If so I think that is a very poor way to reward customer loyalty.

  16. Chris Green says:

    It is actually worse than that. Unless you are on a special offer, they are likely charging you £9.99 a month, rather than £8.99.

    Unless you commit to Ocado and can turn a blind eye to the many problems the company has (and continually refuses to acknowledge and fix), Delivery Pass is a very expensive 12-month commitment.

  17. H Lloyd says:

    I also mistakenly thought the monthly delivery pass actually meant that I could book the service for a month and didn’t realise it was, in effect, an annual pass, paid in monthly instalments. When, as a self employed person, my finances took a dive, I decided I could no longer afford the luxury of online shopping. I explained this to Ocado, but despite appeals, they just repeat that I am ‘not entitled’ to cancel before 12 months expires. Until that point I had no idea that it was not a month by month service. I am paying 9.99 per month for a service I’m not using. On the other hand, they reserve the right to refuse or terminate the service should they wish. Not if I wish. And I have no right to prevent them from dipping into my bank account every month.

  18. […] via » How do you solve a problem like Ocado?. […]

  19. Nicky says:

    I do think Ocado has serious problems. I placed an order last night for a delivery today (Sunday) between 12 noon and 1pm. When no delivery had arrived by 1.30pm I opened up my email to find their customer telephone number and instead discovered a mail which said:

    “Dear Miss X,

    Due to operational issues we’ve been forced to cancel your Ocado delivery (order number X) due on 16/01/2011 at 12:00. We’re sorry for the inconvenience that this will cause.

    Currently, our contact centre is extremely busy and we are experiencing large call and email volumes. You can use our re-book function on the Ocado website ( to re-book your order.

    In the meantime, we would like to offer you the attached £25.00 voucher by way of apology. It is valid until 16/04/2011, and to use it, simply enter the voucher code X in the voucher box as you checkout your order. Click ‘add voucher’ and £25.00 will be deducted from your bill.

    Once again, please accept our sincere apologies for cancelling your order.

    Mark Bentley

    I replied, expressing my displeasure at having a house full of hungry people who were now lacking lunch and received the following reply:

    Dear Miss X,

    Thank you for e-mailing Ocado. We have received your message, and will respond as soon as possible. Please note that we are receiving a high number of e-mails, so there may be a delay of some days before we are able to respond.
    Should you wish to discuss this with us, please feel free to contact us on 0845 656 1234, Monday – Saturday 8am-11pm, and Sunday 8am-8pm.

    Yours sincerely,

    Mark Bentley

    So they cancelled my order due to ‘operational issues’ that they apparently weren’t aware when I placed it approximately 16 hours before the expected delivery time, and they won’t get round to answering my email for ‘some days’ because they’re busy.

    Sorry Ocado, all the £25 vouchers in the world don’t make up for an unreliable, slow service. I’m now expecting a delivery from Tesco tomorrow, which has never let me down.

  20. Astaroth says:

    Ocado just sent me a £15 voucher to be used on my first Ocado shop. When I enter my postcode on their website, it tells me that they don’t yet deliver to my part of the north-west (cumbria), for which, having now read all the wonderful comments on this blog, I would like to thank them profusely. Similarly, I would like to assure them that under no circumstances will I ever be persuaded to place an order with them, if eventually they do deliver to my postcode.

  21. tony says:

    Delivery delayed. Ring call centre; find I’m stuck at 30th in queue. Suddenly a trip to the supermarket seems so convenient!

  22. Wendy Barnes says:

    I’ve been an Ocado customer for over six years. If I’d read all these complaints last year, I would just have been grateful my local experience (Northants/Oxon border) was so different – accurate, timely service usually with a smile.

    But my last two deliveries have caused me to send complaints about different things. 48 hours have passed since the last and no response from Ocado – though since I copied the mail to Waitrose I have had a reply from them. I am relieved to find Waitrose now deliver to my area – Ocado have lost a customer.

  23. Louise says:

    My first experience of Ocado is definitely my last! Ordered from them for the first time yesterday and booked a 10-11pm delivery for this evening. I received a call at 5pm from the driver saying that he would be over an hour late but couldn’t confirm what time. As I live in a small block of three flats a delivery ‘sometime after midnight’ would be unacceptable to my neighbours. I asked the driver to get customer services to call me as I didn’t see why I should have to pay their 0845 telephone rates to complain. I waited an hour but no one called so I telephoned customer services and was charged for 15 minutes until my call was answered. I was told that they were having problems at the depot and had two choices – either have my ordered delivered sometime after midnight or cancel my order as there were no re-deliveries the following day. I asked to speak to a manager and was told that someone would call me back. While I waited another hour for no one to call me back, I received a text saying that four main items of my shopping were not available meaning that I would have to go to the supermarket anyway. I called yet again and was kept waiting to get through for at least 15-20 minutes. When I finally got through, I demanded a refund for the cost of calling their premium rate number, but was told it was not company policy to do so. Needless to say I cancelled the order (which didn’t seem to bother customer services at all!) and will never order from them again. Their boast of having the ‘best customer service’ is laughable!

  24. Mary R says:

    We’ve been with Ocado for about a year. Every time we order a delivery for 9.00 – 10.00pm it shows up early – sometimes by an hour. Now the point of having a later delivery is to ensure that all jobs are done and we’re actually IN when they arrive.

    Apparently the drivers come in early – deliver their orders early and then leave work early! But how does that help people who actually WANT a late delivery? It in effect means that the delivery slot has stretched to 2 hours as you have to be in for an hour BEFORE the delivery time as well! Rubbish!

  25. catfish50 says:

    Ocado have also lost me as a customer, due to their refusal to allow users to specify “no substitutions”. When I was sent a substitute recently (value about £10), I was charged for it even though I refused it. (The driver said he would take it off the bill but he didn’t. How many times does that happen, I wonder?)

    Ocado agreed to refund the charge, once I brought it to their attention, but it seems to me wrong for them to charge for items which haven’t been ordered. This is like inertia selling — they charge for unordered items, and the onus is on the customer to make sure the charge is removed. Bad karma.

  26. Maureen T says:

    One of the reasons for deteriorating service might be that Ocado management treats its staff in the same cavalier fashion as its customers and that most worker who actually pick your order and dispatch it are so fed up they are not motivated to put in any extra effort. It’s going to get worse – they are now changing the rosters so that no-one involved in order picking and dispatch gets a weekend off – ever. You either work saturday or sunday, or both. No wonder Waitrose/John Lewis sold its share in Ocado -they would never treat employees like this.

  27. Liz A says:

    I am reassured that so many other people have had similar problems – I used Ocado very successfully for nearly a year then in January this year it all went wrong … they ignored my emails and phonecalls regarding a huge number (nearly 50%) of substitutions and out of stocks – have gone back to Waitrose I am afraid – at least they offer free delivery and appear to be intelligent with substitutions.

  28. Barry O'Connell says:

    Thankfully my experience of Ocado has been fine to date.

    I have found that fresh fruit and veg tends not to last as long as I would have expected had I picked the produce myself, so I now only buy fresh produce for immediate consumption, topping up as I go past local shops.

    Overall, I am satisfied with the service but I will certainly keep an eye on it.

    Tesco once had the temerity to suggest that impossible for out of date produce to be on their shelves as they had processes to prevent that from happening. Their arrogance stretched to waiting for me to take them to court before I received a refund (not compensation, a simple and legally entitled refund). I don’t shop with them anymore and I never will.

    If Ocado ever suggest, as they suggested to you, that; “because of their computer system, it was impossible for out of date or mouldy food to be sent out to customers” I will be on my merry way with them too. Such arrogance and blatant customer contempt is enough to rile and sicken anyone.

  29. KS says:

    I have tonight written to the Chairman and within 2 hours, at 9pm, received a reply from one of the founders. In a nutshell, I have shopped with them for 6 years, pretty much weekly, spending £24k by my calculations. We have only ever had one problem, but it has happened over a dozen times. Burst yoghurts. ARGHH! Tonight I decided I’d had enough of washing a bag full of products covered in it. Two large pots of Rachel’s had burst. Things like Duchy’s roast beef slices, with it’s paper-backed packaging, soggy with cherry yoghurt. I handed the bag back to the driver who was FAB (and I have told said founding member this). In the past they have given a refund and sometimes a £5 goodwill gesture for the hassle followed by an email saying “… we’ve passed your comments onto our warehouse so we can re-train staff”. Pah – it clearly doens’t work! Hence the last straw tonight. I just felt someone at the top needed to know.

  30. jk says:

    We have tried a few supermarket delivery services and have been on the whole totally unimpressed. The worst offender was ASDA who managed to get things wrong in the first 3 orders, even missing out about £40’s worth of items. Their drivers also looked like they would be popping round later that night to break in and rob the stuff back.
    So after receiving a free £15 voucher I thought I’d give Ocado a chance. Well the 1st couple of deliveries were fantastic. Everything arrived as ordered, a detailed list of when items are to go out of date, very polite delivery drivers and also free bottles of wine and gu chocolate desserts!. I was so impressed I booked the years delivery pass thinking I had found shopping nirvana.
    However a few problems are starting to appear. We have had no problems with mouldy food and the deliveries are always on time with courtious drivers. But the last 2 deliveries have had burst yoghurts which means spending 10 minutes wiping everything else down in the bag. I am not sure whether I should just try and get a refund on the whole bag or spend my time wiping down. So todays delivery has just been…I start checking the bags already feeling my blood pressure rising worrying about the yoghurts. Yoghurts intact but unfortunately a litre glass bottle of rasberry juice had been put into the bag upside down!!! This had half emptied itself out onto about a 1/4 of the shopping leaving everything feeling sticky!!! Just beginning to wonder if I can get a refund on my delivery pass if these problems persist.

  31. SR says:

    Wish I had seen these posts before – I haven’t had a problem with late or non-deliveries, although a few have been early. But that has been the same for Tesco, Asda and Sainsbury’s and as I work from home it luckily does not bother me too much. But I could do without having to wash everything that comes in the same bag with my prepacked fruit because of them leaking and making everything sticky, or having to eat squashed fruit. The last but one order I had to throw half of the fruit away because it all went bad before its sell by date. And you know what? It never entered my head to complain to them, but having read all your posts I will now.
    What has got me really riled and made me post this, though, is the following:
    I ordered 2 packs of (Prepared) Summer Berries last week and when I turned the first pack round to check the calories I noticed it said “160 g” on it. Imagine my surprise, because the website says “180 g” and my order confirmation says “180 g” as well. The second pack also was “160 g”. Being a very (too) nice person, I figured they must have changed the pack size recently and had forgotten to update their system, but would do so soon. Almost a week later, I check the website and it still says “180 g”, but the price has gone down by 50 pence at least. So, I gave it another try and today I received another two packs – both 160 g when I paid for 180 g! Surely this is illegal? False advertising? Something contrary to the “weights and measures act” or whatever the current law is called? Where does one complain to about this, other than Ocado? Any insights welcome 🙂

  32. Food Poisoned by Ocado says:

    I had food poisoning recently from chilled items turning up in a condition that was not cold. I was sick for nearly a week, with bad sickness and very lose bowel motions! They refused to compensate me in any way, and did not seem to take the matter seriously

  33. Mark says:

    At least Ocado are bringing you food that you paid for. Every order that I have made from my address in London since I move here has been between one ad three days late – with defrosted and spoilt food which they don’t refund. I wonder what trading standards are doing about this ort of thing?

    Ocado failed to deliver on the right day so far on:
    Tue (12/7/11) 7:30pm-8:30pm
    Mon (18/7/11) 7:00pm-8:00pm
    Mon (20/6/11) 7:30am-8:30am
    Tue (14/6/11) 7:00am-8:00am

  34. Robin says:

    After reading this, just decided NOT to place my first Ocado order. This is despite the fact the the delivery is free for the first order. Thanks for the info.

  35. New to Ocado says:

    We ordered from Ocado for the firt time today. We actually thought it was Waitrose, when it’ actually taking business away from our local Waitrose. Bit concerned about the July food poisoning comment. Do keep us posted on how it gets resolved. I will feed back on our experience. We’ve invested in an annual pass – ound like this might get interesting. I’ve not ordered yoghurt, but have ordered cream! And I hate my bananas mushed. And eggs that aren’t a fresh as they could be. And I’ve ordered the frozen fruit still marked as 180g. This should be interesting…

  36. Fidcal says:

    Thanks everyone for this info. I had been considering switching from Asda to some other service but having read this blog and the replies I now realize how lucky I am and how petty my minor gripes are so I’ll stay with them! I’ve been with them 18 months or so. Deliveries always within the two hour window and almost always within the middle hour. It’s only £3.50 delivery and I save far more than that having switched from the expensive local co-op. Plus I have an extra freezer and delivery fortnightly so that’s actually only £1.75 a week delivery! All the drivers have been courteous. Substitutes, rejections, etc all handled willingly and instantly.

    Occasional items missing – maybe 4 items in 18 months value each maybe £1 or so. Don’t tell anyone but I just write them off. I can’t be bothered with the hassle. I’m also sure that occasionally I have received too many of some items without extra charge so maybe it balances out. Don’t tell anyone that either. 😉 I’ve never actually contacted them ever.

    Half of the dozen eggs broke last month. I can’t remember any other damaged goods in 18 months. Fresh stuff always fresh. Wow! I’m beginning to realize how lucky I am! I’ve never seen ANY bad or out of date stuff I don’t think.

    Often as much as half or more of the goods are not bagged up but just put in the delivery boxes. I keep a supply of bags by the door so me and the driver spend five or ten minutes or so bagging up. D’uh! Do Asda expect me to carry the produce loose one by one through the house and upstairs to my flat? Anyway, they always take the old ones away.

    Their website could be more friendly and although I’m computer-savvy it took me months to streamline my routine. In the end I just created web browser bookmarks for my regular items.

    Most recently their web site suddenly stopped displaying correctly in my Opera web browser so now I have to use Internet Explorer. This is what made me start wondering whether to switch.

    Well, I definitely won’t be switch to Ocado and probably not risking anyone else. Better the devil you know, as they say. 🙂 Thanks for the heads up.

  37. manya says:

    just placed my first order with ocado, tempted by £15 voucher. (thrift, horatio, thrift).

    wish read all comments before placing order. less than 48 hours until delivery. now expecting mouldy pointed cabbage, lukewarm soy milk, poisonous smiley faces and torn andrex toilet tissues.

    was tempted to intone ‘lions and tigers and bears, oh my’, but have taken all comments too seriously to mock.
    seduced by voucher. damn.

  38. John Smith says:

    From: Smith, John Andrew
    Sent: Tuesday, October 04, 2011 1:40 PM
    To: ‘Ocado Customer Services’
    Subject: RE: Message From Ocado REF: ##8571404##

    Dear Jo,

    I learn you have had problems there –

    “Online grocery firm Ocado has struggled to resolve disruptions to its service that have left customers with late deliveries or orders that have failed to materialise.
    Financial Mail has learnt that the internet-only supermarket, which sells Waitrose products, was forced to apologise to customers in May after complaints over late deliveries spiked.
    But the disruption continued this month with drivers blaming ‘computer problems’ at the company’s central warehouse in Hatfield, Hertfordshire”…….
    Read more:

    …….but why do you instruct your phone operatives to pass the blame back to the customer???

    I placed my first order with Ocado – value after voucher £526.50 – and was promised delivery on
    Thursday evening. It was Waitrose Prosecco for a wedding, and had to be put in the chillers on
    I received a text at 17.37 on Thursday evening saying ” Welcome to Ocado. Here’s a little reminder of your
    8.30 PM to 9.30 PM order. It will be delivered by Roger in Courgette van LL10OCN. You have no missing items”.

    The delivery did not show.

    I called Ocardo, long wait, but I know the message on Thursday said that there could be a wait to connect,
    because of non deliveries from the prior evening. It suggested using e-mail instead, and your e-mail
    response was immediate – “It will take up to 72 hours for a response”

    When I finally got through I was told there was a problem with my credit card and that payment was rejected.
    I immediately called Barclay Card, who advised both that they had not rejected, nor had there been a request
    for this amount.
    Again I called and waited, got the same excuse, but when challenged it I was told that Ocado tries to
    Protect its customers from fraudulent use of a credit card, that this was a large order for a first order,
    and that it was because of the amount of alcohol. They did not say sorry we have mega problems here and have
    screwed up this and many more orders besides.

    Surely you have a crash plan in operation to put in place, telling customers the truth when you get a problem,
    and how you will strive to resolve it???
    And how can a company that sells daily delivery within 24 hours, in this day and age ask for 72 hours to respond to e-mail ????

    Please give me a quick answer to this

    John Smith

    Dear Mr Smith,
    Thank you for using Ocado to do your shopping.
    Order Details
    Delivery address
    Delivery time 8:30pm – 9:30pm
    Delivery date Thursday 29 September
    Order reference 3530306411
    Sub total (estimated) £540.51
    Picking, Packing and Delivery £0.99
    Voucher Saving £-15.00
    Total (estimated) £526.50

  39. After failing to deliver my groceries, waitrose failed to inform me that my order had then been re-shelved…..deep breath…I re-ordered, next delivery arrives late, not only that items arrived already out of date and some missing entirely…..after numerous calls and emails, ive been told to wait another 10 working days for a refund. After enquiring even further they have now chosen to ignore me….guess this is what they mean by ‘Our reputation has been built, above all, on the quality and freshness of our food’ i.e. rotten!

    Please refund me for the above order which was cancelled by finchley branch I have already submitted a complaint regarding the following delivery 12398133 and was disgusted to discover that I had still not been refunded for the original order which was cancelled a week ago. I have spoken to a member of call centre staff who assured me. That the refund would be received, however my bank have verified that this has still not been the case.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Begin forwarded message:
    Date: 23 November 2011 08:45:54 GMT
    Subject: Your order confirmation – 12263926
    Thank you for shopping with Waitrose
    Dear Miss Smith,
    Thank you for shopping online at Waitrose Finchley. We’ll now pick and pack your order with care, ready to be delivered direct to your door.Please find details of your order below. Your driver will also provide you with a printed copy when your shopping is delivered.

    If you wish to make changes to this order you can do so up to 11.45am on Sunday 27th November by visiting My Account.

    On behalf of all the Partners at Finchley, we hope to see you online again soon.
    Yours sincerely,

    Cheryl Mackenzie
    Customer Sales and Support, Manager
    Thank you for your e-mail.

    I was sorry to learn of the problems you have experienced with your grocery order. I appreciate that this will have caused you some inconvenience, so please accept my apologies.

    We have contacted the Finchley branch that dealt with your order and they will issue a refund for the following items:

    Waitrose eggs Columbian Blacktail free range large (12s) £ 3.29 Heston from Waitrose puff pastry mince pies with pine sugar (6s) 2 @ £3.29 = £6.58 Waitrose easy British beef steak & peppercorn sauce (360g) £4.49

    A total refund of £14.36 will be made to your payment card. Please allow 5-7 days for this to appear as a credit on your billing account.

    I hope that you will accept my apologies for any disappointment caused and that you will continue to shop online with us at


    Katy Kelsey

    Waitrose Customer Sales and Support.

    [THREAD ID:1-1SXS7O]

    —–Original Message—–

    Sent: 04/12/2011 08:12:16 PM
    Subject: Complaint re order 12398133

    Dear sir/madam

    Following a cancelled delivery on Monday 28th November (cancelled by finchley branch not me) I re ordered my first shop with waitrose online. The delivery arrived 30 minutes late with the following problems:

    Missing eggs -£3.29
    Heston mince pies – go out of date today 4th dec Easy beef steak – goes out of date tomorrow

    The level of customer service that I have received so far has been by far the worst of any company that I have encountered in the past. I have been told to expect a letter of apology prior to the realisation that some of my shopping was missing and out of date.

    I want a refund for the missing item and the mince pies which are out of date.

    I will not be using waitrose online in future which is a shame as the stores are great and I have found the call centre staff to be helpful. May I suggest that you raise these issues direct with the finchley branch as there seems to be a weak link there.

  40. jon alenby jones says:

    I worked in the HGV dept at Ocado for 3years when ocado first opened i left 1year ago due to the arrogant nature of its staff, their scant couldn’t careless approach to everthing including the running of their heavy spoke transport delivery vehicles and total lack of respect for vosa.

    It’s no surprize to me the way they treat their workers. It’s top heavy with deadwood doing sod all, all day – none of them care. After 35years as a HGV driver in supermarket rdc work I’ve never seen an company treat customers and staff so bad. Who do you think you’re kidding Mr Ocado? Time to get rid of the deadwood.

  41. Catherine says:

    I’d be interested to hear how people’s experience of Ocado compares to other supermarket deliveries as one of the reasons I like ocado is that they are not anywhere near as bad as my experience of Sainsburys and Tesco! I used to use Sainsbury’s delivery but was fed up with the poor quality, sell by dates 1 day away, lots of stuff missing, weird substitutions, rude drivers, bad customer service, etc, etc. Have also experienced lots of problems with tesco which I order from occasionally for a relative who doesn’t have internet access. I also get a Milk&More delivery and their customer service centre is truly abysmal. I wouldn’t say Ocado are perfect, but I’ve had far fewer problems, and probably most importantly, there are rarely items unavailable or substituted and the drivers have always been polite and normally turn up on time, or ring if they’re going to be early/late. When I’ve had problems it’s very easy to get a refund & customer service have always been very helpful. I’m really surprised that so many people have had awful problems with them, but just wondered if you’ve all tried the other delivery services too? Maybe I wouldn’t rate ocado so highly if I hadn’t had such bad experiences with other companies!

  42. Sarah Hockley says:

    Very interesting reading. May well not be putting in a second order. First order pretty much okay. Maybe they’ve started listening – nice delivery man (early but willing to wait if I preferred), all but one item as ordered (though, yes, some packets surprisingly small), only one substitution PLUS a mysterious jar of posh anchovies (sorry for anyone who ordered them but didn’t get them)! Loaf of bread a bit squashed – didn’t test them by ordering fruit or yoghurt. Never appreciated Tesco customer service so much before reading these comments – always immediately available, always courteous, always apologetic, always accepting blame, always prompt to answer, always compensating for errors… It worries me that I nearly got duped into paying for a year’s ‘free delivery’ by taking up their offer of a single month’s version. Thanks for the heads up. Did notice that they weren’t up front about stating the minimum £40 order for this service. Don’t like being hoodwinked. Probably won’t order again just on those grounds – prefer honest sales approach and apologetic admissions of faults. Hope Ocado sit up and take notice of everyone’s complaints pretty soon. Their shareholders may not be too happy if they don’t. Good luck, continuing Ocado shoppers. I wish you well.

  43. Internet shopped for years says:

    What is the point of Ocado? Just had an email from them but have not used them for over two years and won’t be re-starting. In my area of East Anglia I am lucky enough to have Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose all delivering and have used all for years. Tesco and Sainsbury’s have the same prices more or less but Tesco is more reliable with very few substitutions, few late deliveries, and excellent customer service in respect of the odd squshed bit of fruit etc., and the capacity to change the order nearer to the delivery time than the others. Waitrose is more expensive but is equally reliable and now has the same sort of policy regarding substitutions as Tesco (but didn’t used to). Ocado has…. well what? Smaller range and is less reliable all round – on quality, timing, availability. I generally use Tesco, unfashionable though it is to like a large successful business in this country, but use also Waitrose when offers tempt me or when I want a specific product that Tesco do not carry.

  44. Karl says:

    Made an order for delivery between 17:30 – 18:30. Driver called me at 18:05 and said that there was an operational problem and that he would try to deliver around 20:00! I asked why was Ocado calling to explain a problem/delay in the middle of my booked delivery slot? Driver could not explain why and said I should talk to customer services. So I called Ocado customer services only to be told that all they could do was pass on my feedback to the responsible depot. I asked why, if Ocado had an operational problem, did not inform me before my delivery slot? No explanation could be given, I then asked why was it left to the Ocado delivery driver to call the customer and not Ocado customer services – answer “Ocado has thousands of drivers and customers and it is down to each driver to keep customers informed” sounds to me of passing the ‘buck’. End result – order cancelled. Go back to old tried and tested method by getting in the car and go purchase myself. Thus I know when the food will be delivered, what the sell by dates are, no rotten products and no silly substitutions. It would seem that most Internet services do not have customer facing skills and just hope that just sheer number of customers will bring in the profit – no need to worry about customers views etc.

  45. Steve says:

    Have given ocado a try again this week and yet again terrible delivery service. I know that sometimes there is traffic problems but I haven’t once yet had an order on time, and last time I mentioned it they just said sorry it was busy on the roads and didn’t offer to refund the delivery. Have sent them an email again as delivery over 2 hours late. I won’t be using them again, I think I will try sainsbury or asda again and see what happens!. Shame as the food has been very good in general.

  46. mikey mikeson says:

    They’re rubbish. Waitrose are competing themselves. They’ll soon go bust. Hence John Lewis pension fund sold their shares correctly before this eventually happens. The end.

  47. peter dyer says:

    hires and fires at a drop of a hat massive legal team upstairs. hr team can not be contacted. plays funny little games with peoples livelehoods. shame most employees wanted to get ocado to the top of the pile and see them successfully take on the big players. the problem is with ocado they have promoted within ‘nothing wrong with that ‘all for everyone getting on in the company ‘only one little oversite management training ‘or lack of it while it’s fine to promote dave up from the vans to a manager ‘you have to install in him the fact that he will have to dump the small mindedness and petty values he once held dear ‘the problem is dave has never been anyone in his life before comming to ocado just another bloke in a deadend job ‘and now he has power. hopefully he be fair to all. alais for ocado too few times this is the case they are ridded with them and now they are management ocado will back them to the hilt what ever the cost in the courts.

  48. Little hal says:

    Thanks, Chris, for taking the time to make public your experiences with Ocado. A throughly detailed article that puts to shame the usual “slagging” that you see in some areas. I shop on-line for groceries with Tesco and, yes, they do make the very, very occasional mistake but they fall over backwards to correct them. I only searched on Ocado as a leaflet offering a £15 (on a £70 spend) came through the door (or in a mag). I’ll stick with Tesco after reading through the entries in this site.

  49. bububibu says:

    As genuinly sorry as i feel for all your problems with deliveries, i must honestly say it brings much joy to my soul to see so much negative feedback about Ocado. I used to work for them and for quite a while – several years. I have seen this company grow from the inside in many aspects, things change, management come and go. But most important, i have seen and experienced how they treat their staff. And this attitude is likely to be somewhat reflected in how things are being sent to the customers.

    I have seen and experienced the atrocious decisions being made on daily basis that influenced the operation (hi Nicky from the comment #19) and how nobody ever was paying a price for regular f***-ups of the management from within the management itself. Nope. It was then always pushed on the regular staff that actually makes the most of the job. So along the way a lot of people started to develop the attitude of “you (as a company) don’t give a damn about us (staff), so we won’t care about making you look good”. It was very popular approach especially by people who really worked there for MANY years, let’s say AD 2012 – 4 years or more. I am not saying it’s a good approach, but i wouldn’t be burning these people at stake for that neither.

    The double-standards, at least border-line racism approach towards the staff was regular. Borderline blackmailing of the staff was happening as well. Then of course things were being swept under the carpet, so nothing wasn’t making company look bad. Except for a daily-basis operational mess that was causing the deliveries to be late most of the time, haha. I have experienced all of the above first-handed.

    One will probably see this comment as a ramblings of a bitter man that doesn’t work there anymore, but at nonetheless, this is a view from the inside of a company, saying as things were.

    So in all honesty, i wouldn’t recommend shopping at Ocado. Least to say, as an employee, you get some rebates, like free delivery on some days, or x% at the checkout. Throughout all my years with them (and that was more than 4 years, that’s what i can tell), i didn’t EVER shop with Ocado not did it ever cross my mind to shop with Ocado. Seeing things from the inside lit the red light straight away.


  50. Moyra Peralta says:

    This seems as good a place as any to post a recent (2014) negative Ocado experience as I have no twitter or facebook a/c to spread the word.

    HEADING: Poisoned by Ocado.

    Below is a copy of a to Tim Steiner, Ocado’s CEO (which was not acknowledged, or answered.)So much for ethics or corporate responsibility.

    Dear Mr Steiner

    I note from a comprehensive trawl online today that the Internet is awash with Ocado customer reports stating they will not use the company again. After my experience with Ocado this past month, I am not surprised.

    The nail in my coffin – or should this be Ocado’s? – was a call yesterday evening from a customer service employee (I did not register his name), who indicated total unconcern over the fact that an Ocado product had made me extremely ill.

    I assume he was adhering to a polite, well-rehearsed and authorised script – nevertheless one that indicated a complete contempt for the customer, and I was left in no doubt that your company’s stock policy is to deny all accountability for occurrences such as the unintentional poisoning of customers. (My own thought on the matter is that it is unethical to assume you have no responsibility just because you cannot, by your investigations, pinpoint the causative factor. I am sure that the origins of many toxic or noxious substances cannot be traced.)

    Your customer service man’s shrugging of the shoulders & multiple reiterations of ‘there’s nothing we can do’ was in essence saying, ‘Well tough luck; we really don’t care about causing you extreme pain and distress.’ I note that other former customers have also had the same negative staff responses to foodborne poisoning and one wonders precisely how many, collectively, over the years.

    I do realise the loss of some £5000 a year from yet another customer may be of little consequence to Ocado, but what truly appalled me was the (not even concealed) couldn’t-care-less attitude. I haven’t compared this occurrence to other major home shopping suppliers as we have never, perhaps fortuitously, had any serious problems with their food items.

    I have certainly reformulated my thoughts and attitude towards your company’s ethos and will be using them as little as possible from now on.

    Should you be remotely interested, the text of my original January email to Ocado is below.

    Moyra Peralta


    31 January 2014

    Food poisoning_For Managers’ Attention, please

    For Ocado Managers’ attn.

    I have today informed my Council’s Food Safety department of severe food poisoning following consumption of an Ocado Fish Pie Mix, purchased on 29/01/14, and consumed the next day.

    (The illness was reported as this is the second time I have had food-poisoning from an Ocado fish product: the first being several years ago, which was reported to you at the time.)

    The fish pie mix last night was first simmered in milk, then transferred to a casserole with a sweet potato topping and oven-cooked further.

    The meal resulted, within 15-20 minutes, in two hours of excruciating pain spasms, sweats, diarrhoea and vomiting, during which I nearly blacked out twice.

    My husband (who was NOT affected by the meal) was on the verge on ringing for an ambulance when the abdominal cramps began to subside. I felt ill for the rest of the evening, though without further severe pain.

    The symptoms have all cleared today, after sleep, though I have been left with a somewhat extreme weakness.

    The fish mix in question initially smelt wholesome and fresh – so I can only assume (from my symptoms) that either hygiene or a type of scombroid poisoning was implicated during storage or processing at some stage.

    I do not have a fish allergy, and wd expect you to re-examine your hygiene methods and production practices. I fully expected to be hospitalised last night with the extreme pain.

    M. Peralta

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