Woolworths, Sainsbury remove Springer DVD

The Independent reports that a “tiny fringe Christian group” has persuaded Woolworths and Sainsbury to remove the DVD of Jerry Springer: the Opera from their shelves.

It seems likely that it was the Christian jihad group Christian Voice, led by the charity-blackmailing Stephen “Tiny Fringe” Green, who did the persuading.

Sainsbury admitted that it had received only ten complaints. The links to the stores above lead directly to their customer feedback pages.

UPDATE: Woolworths have been sending out identical responses to anti-censorship complaints:

Woolworths is not a censor and does not wish to act as one. Like any other retailer, it is guided by government legislation with regard to film certification.

However, we also listen to our customers and their feedback. On this occasion we have received numerous complaints and it is clear to us that our customers would prefer us not to stock this product.

As a result it has been removed from sale.

UPDATE: Manic at bloggerheads has taken up the baton on the Sainsbury/Woolies boycott, and suggest a possible way forward for both stores.

UPDATE: Sainsbury have sent out a stock response to everyone:

Thank you for contacting us. I am concerned to hear you are unhappy with our decision to no longer sell Jerry Springer, the Opera DVD’s in our stores. I can understand how disappointed you must feel and I hope you will accept my sincere apologies.

Our entertainment range is particularly important at Christmas and we take many factors into consideration when deciding which titles to stock. Ultimately, the most important factor is what our customers want. In response to some to some of the feedback we have received, we have decided not to sell the Jerry Springer DVD’s this Christmas.

I have passed your comments onto our marketing department. I would like to assure you they have taken your comments seriously and will bear them in mind for the future.

Once again thank you for contacting us. I hope that despite your disappointment you will continue to shop at Sainsbury’s in the future. May I take this opportunity to wish you merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

This would suggest that their ban covers only the Christmas period. We’ll see.

UPDATE: (9/10) Sainsbury’s latest response suggests that the JS:TO DVD wasn’t selling well, and was about to be withdrawn from the shelves anyway:

Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry you have been disappointed by our decision to withdraw Jerry Springer – The Opera from sale in our stores. As there has been lots of interest in this matter I would like to clarify why the title was taken out of our range.

We sell many DVD titles throughout the year and our range changes from week to week based on what customers want and, of course, sales. In the first week that Jerry Springer – The Opera was released, we sold only 111 copies in all stores nationwide and received a high number of contacts from unhappy customers. In the early part of the second week we sold only 21 more copies and received further complaints. Due to these very poor sales figures this DVD would have been withdrawn at the end of the week, but in view of the contacts we had received we removed it a few days earlier than planned.

Please be assured that, as a company, we feel it is our responsibility to offer choice. We do not feel it is right for us to tell our customers what they should or should not buy. However, in this case sales were so low that we did not think removing this title would have a negative impact on our customers and we wanted to give them a choice of more popular titles.

Thank you for taking the time to let us know your views on this matter and for giving us a chance to explain the reasons behind our decision.
Kind regards, Gavin Wood


81 Responses to “Woolworths, Sainsbury remove Springer DVD”

  1. Chris Jones says:

    I’m now awaiting my second response from Sainsburys. The first looked like a cut and paste job which is to be expected but if 10 – 20 complaints get these DVDs removed from the shelves, then surely the loss of 50+
    customers as a result of this action is more damaging in the long term.

    We need to show this sick and twisted drooling maniac from Christian Voice that this is a fight he
    will not win.

  2. Venichka says:

    Two thoughts:
    1) Send letters not emails. (And, as stated, to local papers also).

    2) To show Sainsbury’s you mean it (man) send your cut-in-two nectar card at the same time. (obviously not v effective if you’ve only spent a fiver at sainbury’s in the last year, but if you’re a regular they can calculate just how much they will lose as a result of their disgusting capitulation to Christian Voice)

  3. Joe says:

    Another point worth bearing in mind is that there’s little evidence that CV are actually behind getting the stores to drop the DVD – but they’re obviously as keen as hell for people to believe they were. Maybe they were and maybe they weren’t, but every time we assume that they were, we’re feeding Green’s vile and bloated ego.

  4. David Reynolds says:

    I’ve taken a different tact, one suggested by another blog, and one which counters their stock response too. I am complaining about the Daily Mail in similar fashion. I have sent the following to Sainsbury, via their website in the hope the will detect the hint of sarcasm in the mail.

    “I understand you have a policy of withdrawing products based on consumer feedback, with a threshold of around 20 complaints. This is admirable and under this policy I would like to object to the sale of the Daily Mail newspaper in your stores. This paper never fails to publish articles which I find grossly offensive and objectionable. Such gutter press has no place in super markets. As such please count me as one of those who has complained about this publication; you will likely be hearing from others who I will arrange to contact you in due course. I hope you will continue your policy of pandering to the opinions of the public, even if only a small number of us object, and I look forward to shopping in your Daily Mail free supermarkets in future.”

  5. Neil says:

    I’m no longer spending my money with Sainsburys or Woolworths – I won’t have religious nutters dictate what products I can buy.

  6. Jon says:

    I’m shocked at this! I was actually in Woolies this afternoon and wanted to buy this DVD (and some other CDs/DVDs). I had e-mailed them and will expect a refund on the items I bought. I don’t think I’ll shop there again.

  7. Jon says:

    Me again (sorry).

    I’ve just received this short quick response from Woolies:

    “Woolworths is guided by legislation and regulatory bodies on what it can and cannot sell in its stores.

    Our decisions to sell products are based on customer demand.

    The product is not currently available in stores, however should a customer wish to purchase it, it is available from our website – http://www.woolworths.co.uk.”

    What “legislation” and “regulatory bodies” have said Woolies can’t sell it???!!!

  8. Jim says:

    @57 – Yeah, I got this response today.

    I’ve been firing off some letters which can be seen here http://www.petergasston.co.uk/2005/12/were-going-to-see-more-of-this

    Here’s my reply to Woolies

    ——————————

    Customer Relations wrote:

    > Dear Sir / Madam
    >
    > Woolworths is guided by legislation and regulatory bodies on what it can and cannot sell in its stores.

    hahahaha. So you’re now calling The Homophobic Christian Ban-Fun Organisation a regulatory body?

    >
    > Our decisions to sell products are based on customer demand.

    Makes perfect sense, nice to see Woolworths is being ran like every other business.

    >
    > The product is not currently available in stores, however should a customer wish to purchase it, it is available from our website – http://www.woolworths.co.uk.

    So why isn’t it avaliable in the stores? Can I pay cash for a website order? Or are you now discriminating against people without credit cards, or discriminating against my mother/grandmother who don’t have internet but love Jerry Springer?

    > Regards,
    >
    > Woolworths Plc

    Regards

    A Sir

  9. Roy says:

    “Woolworths is guided by legislation and regulatory bodies on what it can and cannot sell in its stores.
    Our decisions to sell products are based on customer demand.
    The product is not currently available in stores, however should a customer wish to purchase it, it is available from our website – http://www.woolworths.co.uk.”

    I replied with:

    Dear Sir / Madam,

    From your reply, can I assume that Woolworths feels the BBFC guidelines not to be enough? The DVD is rated 18, and therefore only adults should be able to purchase it. Due to its content, I feel that this is perfectly valid. However, the decision to remove the DVD from stores not only discriminates against those without Internet access, but also is an insult to customers. As the DVD is rate 18, only adults may purchase it, as free moral agents, they may choose whether to purchase it, with the knowledge of its content, or not purchase it, deciding that the content may perhaps offend their personal morality, or that it lacked entertainment value. However, the decision to remove the choice of purchase from the adult individual is plain wrong. I find Jim Davidson’s ‘comedy’ racist, misogynistic and homophobic, yet still feel that people should have the choice to purchase it if they wish. If I were a muslin, I may well find the idea of eating pork products disgusting, yet I would not lobby shops to stop selling bacon sandwiches. This is a highly illiberal act, and I feel a great sadness in having to withdraw my potential purchasing power from your stores, but I deem the action necessary.

    If they’re sending out a stock reply, would it imply that they’re getting a good number of complaints about this?

  10. Adam says:

    I wrote back to Sainsburys after their initial cut-and-paste response, pointing out that although they claim to try not to offend people, they had deeply offended my by allowing religious fundamentalists to dictate what they sell. I had a different response back, as follows:

    “Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry you have been disappointed by our decision to withdraw Jerry Springer – The Opera from sale in our stores. As there has been lots of interest in this matter I would like to clarify why the title was taken out of our range.

    “We sell many DVD titles throughout the year and our range changes from week to week based on what customers want and, of course, sales. In the first week that Jerry Springer – The Opera was released, we sold only 111 copies in all stores nationwide and received a high number of contacts from unhappy customers. In the early part of the second week we sold only 21 more copies and received further complaints. Due to these very poor sales figures this DVD would have been withdrawn at the end of the week, but in view of the contacts we had received we removed it a few days earlier than planned.

    “Please be assured that, as a company, we feel it is our responsibility to offer choice. We do not feel it is right for us to tell our customers what they should or should not buy. However, in this case sales were so low that we did not think removing this title would have a negative impact on our customers and we wanted to give them a choice of more popular titles.

    “Thank you for taking the time to let us know your views on this matter and for giving us a chance to explain the reasons behind our decision.”

    So now they’re changing their story a little and saying that they removed it because no-one was buying it anyway. Did anyone else get this response or was I just lucky?

  11. Andrew Nixon says:

    I think they’re only changing their story to attempt to dig themselves out of a hole.

  12. Jim says:

    I’m still awaiting my reply from Sainsbury’s…… (remember Customer Service staff probably think this ban is a load of **** the same as us…..)

    Dear Jim,

    Thank you for taking the time to contact us. I am very sorry that you are unhappy with our decision to stop selling Jerry Springer, The Opera on DVD.

    Please let me assure you that we would never wish to cause offence to any of our customers. As a retailer, we feel we should offer our customers a choice of what to buy. We monitor all feedback about the products on sale in our stores and I can confirm that we are no longer selling Jerry Springer, The Opera.

    Thank you again for letting us know how you feel. We are committed to getting things right for our customers and I do hope I have been able to offer you some assurance.

    Kind regards,

    Sarah Rose
    Sainsbury’s Customer Services

    ——————————

    Dear Sarah,

    You have been able to offer me no assurance whatsoever and you caused me great offence and made me cry. Your letter seems to say one thing but then another, which means one of 3 things:

    1) You should resign from your job immediately and become a politician – the freebies you get will beat anything from the stationary cupboard, believe me. I think you’ll make a great politician, so if ever you wish to apply consider me as a reference.

    2) Sainsbury’s doesn’t really know what to say, so you are not really Sarah at all – just a computer robot like that woman who talks to me all night on phone banking telling me to press buttons.

    3) Your PR department is ran by aliens, and they are out to get us…..run…..

    For example “As a retailer, we feel we should offer our customers a choice of what to buy”. OK, so if that is what you feel so why aren’t you acting on your feelings and doing it? I know a few people who find witchcraft unacceptable and want now to officially complain about it. Can I expect am immediate ban of Harry Potter DVD’s? Some people find Page 3 girls unacceptable so can we expect a ban of The Sun “newspaper”?

    But that is not all, I’ve been given 15 more minutes internet-time for good behaviour so shall continue…I demand to see the above banned or I will stand outside my local Sainsbury’s store with a Argos Catalogue on my head shouting “Tescos Tescos Tescos” and doing scary things such as break dancing. I find all the items listed above very offensive, and did consider suing Mr & Mrs Sainsbury for dental damage caused by teeth grinding when writing this letter. In fact consider this a holy jihad in the name of my great religion The Church of Home-made Chocolate Eclairs, and I will endeavour to consult the great book (Argos Catalogue Summer 2003) and recite 10 pages backwards as self-punishment for writing such terrible product names and jokes. Here are some additional items that I demand banning, you have until yesterday to do this or I will telephone my mum.

    Your “Store-Baked” Chocolate Eclairs – for obvious reasons
    Whiskers, and any other product with pictures of cats on the front
    Brussel sprouts
    Manchester United Magazines
    Jessica Simpson CD’s
    Lambrini

    Thank you

    Jim
    Chocolate Eclairist
    xxxxxxx@xxxxxxx

  13. Jim says:

    So now they’re saying it wasn’t popular….. :roll:

    OK, so now they need to be written to and be told “Well done Sainsbury’s – you are smart”. Taking this off the shelves and “banning it” was obviously a ploy by them to make it popular and controversial so they can un-ban it and shift all their stock !

  14. Jim says:

    Just got another reply from Sainsbury’s……

    ——————–

    Dear Jim

    Thank you for contacting us. I am sorry you have been disappointed by our decision to withdraw Jerry Springer – The Opera from sale in our stores. As there has been lots of interest in this matter I would like to clarify why the title was taken out of our range.

    We sell many DVD titles throughout the year and our range changes from week to week based on what customers want and, of course, sales. In the first week that Jerry Springer – The Opera was released, we sold only 111 copies in all stores nationwide and received a high number of contacts from unhappy customers. In the early part of the second week we sold only 21 more copies and received further complaints. Due to these very poor sales figures this DVD would have been withdrawn at the end of the week, but in view of the contacts we had received we removed it a few days earlier than planned.

    Please be assured that, as a company, we feel it is our responsibility to offer choice. We do not feel it is right for us to tell our customers what they should or should not buy. However, in this case sales were so low that we did not think removing this title would have a negative impact on our customers and we wanted to give them a choice of more popular titles.

    Thank you for taking the time to let us know your views on this matter and for giving us a chance to explain the reasons behind our decision.

    Kind regards,

    Gavin Wood
    Sainsbury’s Customer Services

    —————————————-

    Dear Gavin,

    I’m not disappointed by your decision to withdraw the DVD. My life has been destroyed by it. Your stores life-long reputation with me is now in tatters. Your store is so bad in my mind now, if I could go back in time and be 15 years old again I wouldn’t even stand outside your stores smoking cigarettes whilst skipping school as I’d be too embarrassed to be associated with it. I am so annoyed and disappointed I cannot bare to mention your store by name any more, so I’m going to reference your store name as Aldi from now on. I hope you do the same when you reply because it will prove two things:

    1) You realise just how bad a light I now hold you in.

    2) You are actually reading and replying to my letters and not just copying and pasting.

    But to reach a mutual bargain with you and resolve all these bad feelings once and for all I propose the following. Firstly, I want to order 555 copies of this DVD from you before Christmas. As well as increasing your sale numbers it will also mean that as you’ve already sold 111 copies your grand total will now be 666 DVD sales which is my favourite number, and probably not the favourite number of the CTO (Christian Terrorist Organisation) who have infiltrated your minds and your stores.

    I think I am correct in believing you still sell you own-brand Cola. Are you seriously telling me you shift more than 111 cans of that gunk in 1 week? Why isn’t that banned? Your baked beans are quite nice though.

    Did the people who complained about the DVD produce receipts that they had purchased the DVD? Surely as it is a legally certificated DVD to actually have any right to complain about it would mean you had purchased it? That surely means you had a maximum of 111 complaints, and from what I’ve seen on the internet you’ve had more than 111 people complaining that they now cannot buy it. I want to complain about Mien Kampf and demand you don’t sell it – OK, I never bought it from your store but I want to complain about it anyway. I also want to complain about a crap DVD player I bought from Tesco’s – again not purchased from your store but I want to complain anyway because I saw a similar model on your shelves.

    You have not addressed my other complaints either, I have heard you are still selling Chocolate Eclairs.

    Is my only option now to write to Lord Aldi himself to complain about my complete disgust of the way his Aldi store treats its customers? If I keep writing will your colleague Kelly Brook eventually reply? I’m looking forward to a reply from her as I used to love watching her on the Big Breakfast.

    As you can imagine I don’t get out much and am a bit of a sociophobiac so can I request that all people be banned from your stores in addition to my request yesterday.

    Also you seem to listen to customers and ban things that they request, I would like to think the opposite is true and you can actually start stocking things that customers request. Therefore another list of things I demand you stock:

    Marathon Bars (with you purchasing power you can demand that Snickers change the name back)
    Milli Vanilli’s debut album (yes, I know it is a deleted back-catalogue item, and they didn’t sing, but again with Aldi’s power……)
    Those cool spring things that walk down stairs (I never got one as a kid)
    Betamax videos
    Windows 98

    Muchisimo Gracias

    Jim
    Chocolate Eclairist & Betamax fan

  15. Tania says:

    Thanks for making me laugh Jim!

  16. Jim says:

    Hey Tania this is more important than making someone laugh. This is about global unity, about world peace…and stuff.

  17. stair says:

    Hmmm, interesting reading this blog, which is about freedom, we have the freedom to criticise christianvoice
    and dear Mr Green – who doesn’t speak for any christians I know. Do we also defend the freedom of people to
    complain about what they find grossly offensive during one of their religious holidays? Andy & Joe -6 & 16 and
    others – I thought defending freedoms was inclusive – okay Green does appear to be a major pratt, but I think
    this is a bit OTT – if a company doesn’t want to stock something, buy it somewhere else. – Sheesh!!

  18. Jim says:

    @67

    But it’s not that the company doesn’t want to stock it. The company is bowing to terrorism.

  19. Tania says:

    Jim…what’s wrong with Lambrini?

  20. Bob says:

    I’ve phoned the Sainsbury’s number (0800 636262) just and complained. Was told that the item caused offense to a number of customers and was thus withdrawn. I said the withdrawing and thus censorship of the item had caused great offense to me and a great number of people I know, and that I would be not shopping at Sainsbury’s until the matter was rectified. She said she’d taken note of my complaint and would pass it to the relevant department.

    Phoned Woolies just, too (020 7262 1222). (They record conversations for ‘training’ purposes, so put on your best voice.) Their adviser said Woolworths had never sold Jerry Springer: The Opera in any of its stalls and that my information was incorrect. But that I could purchase it from their website. He then contradicted himself by saying it had been withdrawn some time ago from their shops. He was irritated with me and kept saying our conversations was going around in circles. I told him I was withdrawing my custom from Woolies. He said that’s my option. I said it certainly was and could he make a note of it. So there you go.

  21. Adam says:

    Thought you might be interested in the latest response from Sainsburys:

    “Thank you for writing to us again. I am sorry you remain unhappy that we are no longer stocking Jerry Springer – The Opera and that you were not satisfied with our previous response.

    “Please be assured that we have read your e-mails and have taken all the points you raise into consideration. However, we now feel it is inappropriate to reply to any further detailed questions about our decision to withdraw this product. We will continue to work hard to provide our customers with a range of products we believe they would like to buy.

    “Thank you once again for letting us know what you think.”

    Well, they can think it’s inappropriate to reply to questions if they wish. I hope they also understand that I think it’s inappropriate to shop there any more.

    Still, at least they did better than Woollies, who never replied to me at all.

  22. Jim says:

    Same response I got today from them. Bet they never got a response like mine though 😉

    customerservice@sainsburys.co.uk wrote:

    Dear Mr XXXXXX

    Thank you for writing to us again. I am sorry you remain unhappy that we are no longer stocking Jerry Springer – The Opera and that you were not satisfied with our previous response.

    Please be assured that we have read your e-mails and have taken all the points you raise into consideration. However, we now feel it is inappropriate to reply to any further detailed questions about our decision to withdraw this product. We will continue to work hard to provide our customers with a range of products we believe they would like to buy.

    Thank you once again for letting us know what you think.
    Kind regards

    Kerry Jones
    Sainsbury’s Customer Services

    ——————————————————-

    Dear Mrs. Jones,

    Please Mrs. Jones, what is going on,
    We both know that it’s wrong
    But it’s much too strong to keep it banned now.
    I email ev’ry day from the same cafe,
    Jerry I know won’t be there,
    Bannind DVDs, making all kinds of plans
    While the instore jukebox plays a horrid song.
    Me and Mrs., Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones,

    Mrs. Jones what is going on,
    We both know that it’s wrong,
    But it’s much too strong to keep it banned now.
    We gotta be extra careful that we don’t make the religious cry
    Cause they’ve got their own medication and so do I,
    Me, me and Mrs., Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones,

    Mrs. Jones what is going on,
    We both know that it’s wrong,
    But it’s much too strong to keep it banned now.
    Well, it’s time for me to be leaving,
    It hurts so much, it hurts so much inside,
    Now she’ll go her way and I’ll go mine,
    But tomorrow I’ll shop at Tescos, the same place, the same time.
    Me and Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones, Mrs. Jones.

    Ciao,

    On behalf of Hall’s Menthol & Quaker Oats

  23. Monitor says:

    Splendid!

  24. Michael Marshall says:

    I complained and had the standard response from Woolworths but nothing from Sainsbury’s. I’ve spent nothing at either store and, moreimportantly, neither have my pre-teen children who’ve also been telling all their friends why they’re not buying their toys and treats from Woolies anymore.

  25. RML says:

    i just saw the review of teh CD version on sainsbury’s website – bit hypocritical to say how great the show is and then withdraw it?

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  28. Stewart says:

    I have nothing to do with Christian Voice, and I still boycott several stores involved in selling this piece of blasphemous rubbish. It is artistically extremely poor also, and just wins awards because it is “ground breaking”, i.e. nobody else has thus far thought of making something so pathetic.

    Never mind, as long as you are happy slagging off people with values, you can forget about your own faults, and never have to bother fighting for what is right, eh? Never forget there is a Judgment Day. How could there not be when we have so many choices re. right and wrong?

  29. Noreen says:

    Im absolutely appauled at the service I’ve recieved at my local Woolworths. I bought a supposedly ‘Brand New Phone’ today, only when I returned home the phone was missing the memory card. Upon returning to the store I waited for /2 an hour before they could find a replacment memory card! After returning home once more I was horrified to discover I had’nt been sold a new phone as the phones picture gallery was full of pictures taken inside another persons home!!!! I wont be back at that store Ever again!!

  30. […] December MatGB12:09 amAdd comment You’re almost certainly aware of this story, but if you’re not, go here, here, here, here, here or here. If you don’t feel the need to go to all of them, just go here and do as the lady says: (And whether you live in my or not constituency – why not lobby your MP too? You can do so very easily at http://www.writetothem.com). […]

  31. […] than ten complaints at their censorship thanks to the bloggers who’ve expressed outrage following MediaWatchWatch’s call to arms. Sainsbury’s reply to my own note’s been as expected, pretty poor (the typos are theirs): […]