Asda boss 'shocked' at meat scandal

Andy Clarke

The boss of Asda has described his "shock" as revelations of the horsemeat contamination scandal broke and vowed to leave "no stone unturned" to address problems in the supply chain.

Andy Clarke, chief executive of the UK's second biggest supermarket chain, admitted trust among consumers had been dented, but said his solution would be a "belt and braces" approach to labelling to restore confidence.
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He said: "We weren't on our own to be shocked by what came out six weeks ago. For us as a business, the first thing we did was look inside our own organisation to identify if we had anything we should be concerned about."

Asda has withdrawn two products from sale, an own-brand bolognese sauce and Freeza frozen beefburgers.

Mr Clarke said: "Right from the start we took a very transparent approach and, of course, embarked on what is a world-leading change for the industry and our organisation in terms of testing. What is clear is that there is significant adulteration in the supply chain.

"For Asda, at the end of the day, our customers come into our stores and they expect to buy what's on the label. So I feel very responsible for that, but I want you to know that I'm leaving no stone unturned to address what happened in our supply chain."

Asda reported like-for-like sales, excluding petrol, grew 0.1% in the 14 weeks to January 5. For the full year, like-for-like sales increased by 1%, excluding petrol.

Mr Clarke said: "We're pleased with our results in a tough market. We continued to grow our sales while also investing in holding down the price of essentials, increasing access points to Asda's value and putting money back in customers' pockets when they need it the most.

"Our multichannel, George and general merchandise are all performing well. We have seen online clothing sales growing faster than the market, with our biggest Christmas ever.

"But this is no time to be complacent. It's likely to be a challenging and uncertain year ahead and so we will continue to focus on the customer and adapt the business to their needs. By doing this, I'm confident we have a strong business that can drive growth in a sustainable way."

© 2013 Press Association

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Asda boss 'shocked' at meat scandal

The law states that any goods you buy from a UK retailer should be of satisfactory quality, as described, fit for purpose and last a reasonable amount of time.

This applies even if you buy items in a sale or with a discount voucher. You may have to insist on these rights being respected, though.

Useful phrases to use when you want to show you mean business include, "according to the Sale of Goods Act 1979" and, if it's a service, "according to the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982".

Some shops will allow you to exchange goods without a receipt, but they can refuse to should they wish.

If the goods are faulty, however, another proof of purchase such as a bank statement should work just as well.

If you attempt to return goods within four weeks of the purchase, your chances of getting a full refund are much higher as you can argue that you have not "accepted" them.

After this point, you can only really expect an exchange, repair or part-refund.

The updated Consumer Credit Act states that card companies are jointly and severally liable for credit card purchases of between £100 and £60,260 (whether or not you paid just a deposit or the whole amount on your card).

Anyone spending between these amounts on their credit card is therefore protected if the retailer or service provider goes bust, their online shopping never arrives or the items in question are faulty or not as described.

Start by writing to the agency asking it to either remove or change the entry that you think is wrong. It will investigate the matter and find out whether you have been the victim of ID theft or a bank's mistake.

Within 28 days from receipt of your letter the agency should tell you how the bank has responded. If the bank agrees to change the entry, they will authorise the agency to update their records. They should also send updates to any other credit reference agencies they use.

You can also contact your lender directly to query a mistake. If the lender agrees to the discrepancy, ask them to confirm this in writing on their letterhead and send a copy to the agency, asking them to update your file.

The FOS settles disputes between financial companies such as banks and consumers.

If a financial organisation rejects a complaint you make about its services, you can therefore escalate that complaint to the FOS - as long as you have given the company in question at least eight weeks to respond.

The FOS will then investigate the case, and could force the company to offer you compensation should it see fit.

Bailiffs are allowed to take some of your belongings to sell on to cover certain debts, including unpaid Council Tax and parking fines.

They can, for example, take so-called luxury items such as TVs or games consoles. However, they cannot take essentials such as fridges or clothes.

What's more, they can only generally enter your home to take your stuff if you leave a door or window open or invite them in.

You are therefore within your rights to refuse them access and to ask for related documents such as proof of their identity. If they try to force their way in, you can also call the police to stop them.

Private sector debt collectors do not have the same powers as bailiffs, whatever they tell you.

They cannot, for example, enter your home and take your possessions in lieu of payment.

In fact, they can only write, phone, or visit your home to talk to you about paying back the debt. As with bailiffs, you can also call the police if you feel physically threatened.

Thanks to the Distance Selling Regulations, you actually have more rights buying online or by phone than on the High Street.

You can, for example, send most goods back within a week, for a full refund (including outward delivery costs), even if there's no fault.

You will usually need to pay for the return delivery, though. The seller must then refund you within 30 days.

We enter into contracts all the time, whether it be to join a gym, switch energy supplier or take out a loan.

In most cases, once you've signed a contract, you are legally bound by it. In some situations, however, you have the right to cancel it within a certain timeframe.

Credit agreements, for example, can be cancelled within 14 days. And online retailers must tell you about your cancellation rights for any contract made up to stand up legally.

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