Downtime: PC eats up the Airmiles with Tesco's system flaw

Funny stories from the wacky world of IT

PC eats up the Airmiles with Tesco's system flaw

It is awful how the most helpful people can be misunderstood. Take, for example, the case of PC Shaun Pennicott, the bobby who aimed to help out Tesco by more or less destruction-testing its Clubcard loyalty bonus system.

For Shaun Pennicott, point of sale became point of departure as he racked up 18,000 Airmiles by exploiting a flaw in the self-service checkouts at Tesco Extra in Watford. The lack of a barcode reader in the slot for coupons offering bonus loyalty points meant that Pennicott was able to use the same coupon repeatedly.

There was a slight complication in that he had to make a purchase each time, so to get those Airmiles he came close to camping out in the store. In one three-day period he clocked up 759 purchases of the cheapest Bird's Eye meal deals.

On finding himself up before the beak, the Clubcard copper told the court that he planned to highlight the loophole in Tesco's systems and did the transactions to collect examples to show the company.

Judge Michael Kay was curiously unsympathetic to this defence, which he called "preposterous". "You were so greedy you would do virtually anything to obtain Clubcard points and turn them into Airmiles," he opined.

Surely "greedy" is the wrong word - at nearly 800 Bird's Eye meals in three days, gluttonous would be more appropriate. Maybe this case was more about an eating disorder than a flights scam.

Taking laptop testing to a whole new level

Destruction-testing laptops is obviously a favourite pastime of our readers. Judging by the mass of letters we have received on the topic since we first broached it a couple of weeks back, a great many of you have taken it upon yourselves to conduct the necessary research into what forces our laptops can withstand.

Perhaps the ultimate test of laptop robustness - and a favourite testing ground among our readers - is how our portable friends fare when driven over.

One reader, John Rosie, helps us to picture the all-too-believable scene.

"The user arrives home, starts unloading the car and places the laptop down on driveway. Suddenly he remembers having forgotten some grocery item from the local shop. He hops back into the car, slips it into reverse and eases back down the drive onto the road - and over the waiting (and now deceased) laptop."

Rosie even goes so far as to suggest one possible solution. "Could the introduction of some form of police 'stinger device' incorporated into laptops possibly hold the key to avoiding this in the future?"

Although we applaud his enterprising thought, the idea of a row of spikes waiting to spring out of a laptop sounds more than a little dangerous.

Downtime feels sure that someone, somewhere must already be working on a solution, which hopefully involves fewer spikes.

Mark our words: one day all laptops will be car-accident-proof and bullet-proof. It is simply a matter of time.

We did not propose tagging your first born...

A reader has told Downtime to abandon plans to develop a tracking device for lost electronic gadgets. We have been pipped at the post by the Loc8tor, which sets up an "invisible safety zone" for your "valuables, pets or children", according to the website.

All you have to do is tag your keys or daughter or any item you are not keen on losing. If they move beyond a preset boundary the Loc8tor will sound the alarm.

Has anyone told the home secretary about the Loc8tor? It just might stop all the absconding that has been going on.

User tales from the IT world >>


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