Bonum Certa Men Certa

Sainsbury's Lies to the Customers to Cover up Likely Microsoft-Connected IT Failure, Then Repeatedly Hangs Up and Pretends It's a Technical Issue

posted by Roy Schestowitz on Mar 20, 2024,
updated Mar 20, 2024

In the latest edition of The Interface magazine, Sainsbury’s found Microsoft Teams instrumental for their employees to stay connected with internal teams, third-party suppliers and partners. They also found the collaboration platform to be a key enabler in democratising the business and making the leadership team more accessible too.

TODAY I made another call regarding Sainsbury's and Sainsbury's to You [1, 2, 3, 4]. It was even worse than before because I have strong reasons to suspect they intentionally decided to hang up, twice in a row (I quickly checked my connection and asked follow-up questions), and they also contradicted themselves about stuff like Service-Level Agreements (SLAs) or timeframe to get back to customers (or to resolve issues). It's like a textbook example out of "I, Daniel Blake". They are gaslighting everyone to protect 'the suits'. There's nobody to speak to and they design it that way.

So we know Sainsbury's is sort of 'in hiding' and refuses to talk about the technical failure, instead insisting it's just "IT issue" (when asked why they said to the media it was a failure in a software update they fall back on "IT issue" again). They keep saying "accident", not "incident", even when corrected on the matter. Why "accident"? Is there a legal or semantic spin there? Does the word "incident" frighten them?

So we're basically dealing here with a blunder up top of prior blunders. They think they can just run away, avoiding any queries even from their own clients.

Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) with Microsoft and Microsoft partners (like TCS) are likely impeding any conversation here. One barrier might be, a friend chose to speculate, that there are NDAs attached to the maintenance contracts "very, very strictly blocking any discussion of the problems caused by defects in the software."

I tried to deal with NDAs by asking the right questions, though getting an answer might be hard, even a yes/no response. Even merely asking a question is impossible. They seem to be obstructing the call (technically) or the caller.

Maybe I could ask, what kind of NDA is there (on discussing the defects in the software)? Maybe I could ask, but they won't let me get that far, who can answer the above question?

I tried. And tried again.

But they don't even let me get that far. I spoke to 4 people there already (seems like a call centre in India) and the first of them promised a callback. That never happened. They made false promises and then started dropping the calls intentionally while making it seem like it was an accident.

I made notes/talking points already, but they just choose to go around in circles. It's tedious and even ridiculous.

Why would a company as big as Sainsbury's resort to this?


As a bonus point I wanted to deal with privacy. If I don't trust you with "IT", Sainsbury's, how are you going to protect tons of data about me, and if I want to process complete deletion of all data about me, how would that work? Sainsbury's is subjected to privacy laws, just like every company in the UK.

The adventure of getting Sainsbury's to delete personal data might be worth a post or two, a friend has told me, and even if it can't be done, the attempt can be documented.

But at this point they simply refuse to speak to the customer. Even finding their phone number is hard, as I noted the first time I wrote about it. They just want to get people locked inside some 'webapp' with nobody to really talk to.

I think that after close to an hour on the phone and speaking to 4 different people it's quite clear they have no intention of calling. Then the question becomes, why they can't or won't say anything, a friend insinuated, and "I presume the usual Microsoft NDA."

Based on the timing of the incident, it seems to be a software update in something like Windows (Patch Tuesday perhaps). It took a very long to recover things and these matters were so severe that they could not process orders and, as per the latest call, they probably lost data. We'll write about this at a later date.

"The Sainsbury's incident is probably quite big but hidden intentionally by an NDA or three," the friend said. I am a very early customer and, as I've told them, so is my wife. Well, that's gonna stop.

I don't want to deal with a company that acts this way. Neither should you...

They know I phoned on Monday (more than 2 days ago), they can see it on their system. They said they could see that they need to phone me back. But they're not doing it. Waiting for a callback is disruptive in its own right (need to be alert and awake).

As a friend put it: "Just finding out about the existence of a stifling NDA would be a major victory here. Since then such knowledge might be leveraged against similar incidents at other institutions."

They don't let me go as far as asking about it. They just hang up.

In case they do phone me back after the fake 'accidental' hang-ups, I will continue this adventure tomorrow or at least write about it again some time before the weekend.

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