Thousands of parents have been left with a last-minute scramble to buy school uniforms, or been forced to send children back to lessons without the correct clothing, after Tesco failure to keep up with demand for customised shirts and sweaters.
Up to 2,000 customers did not receive their items – embroidered with individual school crests – in time for the start of term, even though some placed their orders up to six weeks before lessons began.
Parents complained of orders failing to arrive on time or last-minute cancellations, giving them little time to source uniforms from alternative suppliers.
The supermarket launched its embroidery service in 2010, expanding to supply uniforms for more than 4,000 schools around Britain. It said the supply problems had been due to an exceptional number of orders this year.
Claire Burrows, from Eccles, Lancashire, said she would be forced to send her nine-year-old son, Callum, to school in an ill-fitting uniform from last year because her order of three polo shirts and three sweatshirts had been delayed at the last minute.
She received a text message from the company on Tuesday, two days before its latest promised date for delivery, saying that “due to high demand” the order had been delayed until 11 September. “I have one set of uniform [clothes] left from last year – I binned the rest but there was one in a bag in the boot of a car that Callum left at my mother’s house. But it is not new and he will not be happy. They shouldn’t take orders and promise delivery within 21 days if they can’t meet demand. I won’t use this service again through Tesco.”
Leann Chinn, from Dudley, said she had placed an order for jumpers, polo shirts and a T-shirt for her five-year-old son, Cayd, on 11 August, leaving plenty of time for delivery before he started school, in year 1, on 3 September.
After chasing the company last week, she received an email saying the delivery would be delayed. A text message then promise the items would arrive on the day he started school, but they did not. “Luckily we have got a school shop quite close, but to buy one polo shirt and one school shirt cost me £18 on top of the £45 I have spent [with Tesco]. It’s been a nightmare. I’m really disappointed with them.” Friends and relatives had experienced similar problems, she said.
The owner of an independent uniform supplier in Horsham, West Sussex, said there had been a rush as parents tried to buy last-minute items after being let down by the store. Zoe Taylor, owner of Taylor Made Uniforms said: “I have had quite a few this week where they are getting emails coming through saying orders were cancelled. They are just being told they haven’t got the stock or whatever. At this time of year, they are really desperate. Obviously some parents do leave it to the last minute, but these are parents who ordered four weeks ago.”
A Tesco spokeswoman said the cancelled and delayed orders made up only a small proportion of the total. “Where we can’t deliver the embroidered uniform before school starts, we’ve contacted customers to apologise and let them know we’ll get to it as soon as possible. We will also be providing these customers with a refund.”
This article was written by Esther Addley, for theguardian.com on Thursday 3rd September 2015 18.50 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010