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I applied for a part-time job at Tesco - a large 24 hour store in Paulton, Bristol in June. Initially I was sent a letter through the post saying they had no places, but would get in touch if there were.
A few weeks afterwards, I was invited to an interview, which I attended. This involved spending half an hour doing the job I was being interviewed for (you didn't generally have a choice of what you did - I wanted to go on checkouts and was dismayed to find I'd be working on dairy - but if you're desperate, you're desperate.) and obviously sitting down for an oral interview.
To my discomfort, I was asked a couple of questions, that I just couldn't answer, I couldn't for the life of me think of what to say. Fortunately, when I received a letter saying that they couldn't fit me in on dairy, they offered me a job at checkouts instead! Result!
***GETTING STARTED AND TRAINING***
Had to go for a FOUR HOUR induction one night, which was just lots of bureaucracy really. Being taught the Tesco values and mottos and stuff - it all seemed pretty unnecessary to be honest, and as I suspected, I didn't need to use any of it during my time there. We were given the opportunity to join the trade union USDAW, which I did for £1:20 a week.
I was given my hours - not as many as I would have liked, and certainly not at ideal times (I like my evenings thank you very much, ESPECIALLY my Friday evenings), but there was little room for negotiation. Luckily, there was plenty of opportunity for overtime, with a book coming round the checkouts invariably every week and you could sign up for any various convenient slots, should you want to - there was no obligation.
Uniforms took a long time to arrive, so we just had to dress smart for the first few weeks. The first night consisted of standing for the duration, watching someone on the checkout as they taught you.
It's a relatively simple job, but there's just a lot of buttons and occasionally some complicated situations can arise! But overall, the job was easy, monotonous and quite boring. There's no mind stimulation like a bit of product scanning, eh! That's all it basically was. You didn't learn much, you didn't have many responsibilities (although you could say what responsibilities I did have, were quite important - handling money and all, Tesco like their money). You basically had to sit there in your chair all night, scan products, pack bags for people if they wanted (an awkward job due to lack of space. I didn't mind doing it for old people or single mothers/fathers etc, but I used to get really hacked off packing bags for mainly single men who would just stand and watch as probably yet another woman took care of them and made sure they didn't strain themselves). I mean, most people would at least help pack their own stuff - single men would just stand and watch you struggle with their huge crates of beers).
Pay seemed great to me - my previous job experiences have been with smaller-scale businesses and there's always less of a professional air about them. I've been on minimum wage for as long as I was entitled to it, and before that I was on less. Tesco worked out around £5:25 an hour, which was great to me. They did charge me tax, despite me not being eligible, so I might try and get that back this April. They also paid you slightly extra if you worked past 10pm - and I did work till 11pm twice a week, but I'm having trouble remembering what the arrangement was for that.
We were given 'clocking-in' cards, and basically at the beginning and end of your shift, you have to swipe the card in to a machine, so it knows what time you're arriving/leaving. I came to realise that if you clocked in literaly 2 minutes late, then you'd often get 15minutes worth of pay docked every month. However, if you clocked out a few minutes late (and often you did as it's hard to just stop working at any given time, you have to finish the customer, or even the queue if no one can take over) - then you were not reimbursed for your time. Tight thieves.
Another example of Tesco's stinginess is quite a unqiue one. Our store was undergoing a big face-lift that was taking many months. The store started shutting at 10, which is an hour earlier than I finished two out of my three nights. You'd have thought as there was no customers that we'd just be allowed to go home and that be that, but no. We had to 'look' busy. By going round, tidying all the checkouts and stuff - and there's only so much you can do and it's only going to take a certain (short) amount of time. So a lot of the time was spent bored, trying to look busy and on a couple of occasions I sneaked back the cloakroom (although our supervisors had gone) and sat in there till it was time to clock out. Or, I'd leave early and 'forget' to clock out, meaning my pay wouldn't be docked. It was pathetic though, keeping checkout staff in an empty store doing nothing simply because we were being paid till 11. That extra hour would drag on so long.
Discount was 10%, I think, which isn't great to be honest. However, I wasn't allowed this as you have to be working a whole YEAR to qualify for this 10% discount. Another example of how tight-fisted Tesco are.
I hadn't been there long enough to get paid when I was sick, and unfortunately I did come down with tonsillitus and was genuinely ill for a week. You have to ring up at least two hours and explain why you can't come in - when I did this they'd be less than sympathetic and remind you that after a certain period of time they'd need proof. Which was fine by me, I'd been to the doctors and got my penicillin. But they were constantly suspicious and it wasn't very nice.
Again, I hadn't been there long enough to accrue any holiday at all. Which was awkward. I'd been working from July 15th and was set to leave in September as I headed off to Uni. However, in August I was set to go on a holiday to Thailand with family to visit family out there, so had to make it clear at the interview that I needed that time off. Luckily there was no fuss caused, but the general procedure for holidays was that you put a form in and they decide whether or not you can have it off. I'm not used to procedures so rigid as this and I didn't like it - even though I'm aware that's how most companies operate.
Of course, this will vary from store to store as everyone is different. Most of my team leaders were lovely and very helpful, with the exception of one who seemed to begrudge helping me when I got stuck - she liked to make me feel like a chore.
At Tesco they give you reviews after certain lengths of time and eventually I got my four-week review at about 8 weeks. It just seemed like more pointless paperwork, even the woman who I did it with thought that, but luckily my review went well.
Breaks were given on a rota basically, and it was often that you'd spend break times in the canteen alone. There wasn't much room or time for socialising and as a result I didn't get past first-name terms with anyone during the couple of months I was there. Most people seemed friendly enough - people helped me when I chose the broken locker (trust me). Although there were instances of thefts from the cloaroom and because of the higher ratio of workers to lockers, I'd often have to hide my bag and everything under the lockers. Money was not allowed with you on the tills, and if you were searched and found to have money on you, you would be disciplined. What that entails, I never allowed myself to find out!
It was fine. Too busy to really notice anything, let alone socialise with anyone. I just went in there, did my job, and left.
Wasn't really an option for me at all, but they obviously existed as some of my team leaders weren't much older than me! Then again, there would be women who'd been there years and were a lot older than me that were still stuck on the checkouts. The promotion opportunities are there if you want them.
Yeah, I'd go back there. I'm leaving my University and might end up back in the same village before going on to a new Uni in September, so I need a job. The job itself was tedious and boring and Tesco are tight-fisted but it was the most professional job I'd had and there was a procedure for everything. Alright for a part-time job, but I think I'd go mad with boredom if it was a full-time one!
Great that!.....i'm starting work with them tonight, after having been made redundant from civil service (admin) after 17 years. Just need a 2 night job to keep me busy, don't need the money. I won't take no shit!
AnitaM 03.02.2006 00:00
My hubby has worked for them since November 2004. I completely agree with what you say about sickness. It's the same in his store - they don't seem to believe that people get genuinely ill and need time off. I'd hate to work in a suspicious environment like that.