|You are in: Talking Point|
Tuesday, 11 December, 2001, 10:50 GMT
School vouchers: Are they a rip-off?
Millions of vouchers collected by parents to provide school equipment are poor value for money, says the Consumers' Association.
An investigation for Which? magazine said such schemes were marketing ploys of questionable benefit.
It said shoppers would need to spend about £220,000 in Tesco, for instance, to get enough vouchers for a computer worth less than £1,000.
Tesco has hit back calling the criticism "astonishing" and say they have provided £70 million of computer equipment to over 20,000 schools in the last ten years.
What do you think? Is the campaign a rip-off? Is it a way of giving schools equipment that they otherwise couldn't afford?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
Philip S. Hall, England, UK
The real question is whether or not 0.45p in the pound is enough to justify claims that it's beneficial to you and your school to shop at Tesco instead of elsewhere. It seems a fair amount to me, considering that most people wouldn't ordinarily give ANY money to worthwhile causes, but don't be fooled into thinking that it's "something for nothing", because it isn't.
I must have been mistaken - I thought it was the job of the education services to pay for our schools, not to criticise other organisations that are attempting to pick up the slack
Unlike some other correspondents, I don't work for Tesco; I work in the education sector.
I'm more concerned about Walkers. Buy Tesco branded potato crisps instead - or some healthier food, such as fruit - and give the considerable amount of money saved to schools, by all means.
Yours grossly overweight since I left school.
Tanya Smithson, England
If the schools received enough funding there would be no need for schemes like these. Good for Tesco and Walkers for supporting schools.
I collected these for years when I lived in the UK. Now I have to ask, are we all mad? Why on earth should it be necessary in the first place?
Most companies simply sit on their profits, count them and moan when they dwindle slightly. At least Tesco is giving something back. They don't have to provide anything, but of their own free will are injecting a small amount into our schools each year. This is not a requirement and definitely not a rip off. Surely it's better to have something than nothing at all?
At least Tesco are making an effort to plough some of their profits back into the community. It may only be a small percentage, but it is more than other supermarkets are giving to schools. Better to make some effort, than none at all.
I too think that anything is better than nothing. I do shop a Tesco but I do not have any school age children, therefore I donate any vouchers I receive to a school participating in the scheme. So they are getting something for nothing too.
The value of the vouchers is paltry yet Tesco and Walkers expect so much kudos from them and parade themselves as contributing to education.
Graham Smith, UK
How many of us don't collect the vouchers we are entitled to or give schools the vouchers we receive? The staff at my local Tesco go out of their way to make sure the vouchers are given to someone in the queue who will use them.
The Consumers' Association has transformed in recent years from a useful group to a highly politicised organisation. It certainly doesn't let logic or reason stand in the way of its ranting. Come off it CA, this is something for nothing - how can it be a rip off? If the proportions aren't generous, they're infinitely better than the CA's own contribution. If I was Tesco I would tell the CA to get stuffed - it's all they deserve.
No one would be complaining if Tesco gave nothing away at all. Be grateful, they don't have to give free vouchers for schools at all.
Peter Finch, UK
How can something you get for nothing be a rip off?
Tesco has a cheek to even try to defend their stance with figures. If you divide the amount by the number of schools and years they have given a mere £350 to each school per year or £0.50 per pupil (for an average school). A total disgrace!
Phillip: I think it's a total disgrace that the Consumers' Association has the nerve to attack Tesco. It may not give a massive amount but it is a company and it's there to make money. I say well done to Tesco. I haven't seen any schools complain, have you?
Sorry Philip Levy but Tesco does not have to provide this offer so anything that it does is surely to be viewed as a bonus. Picking holes in someone's generosity is dangerous because they may just stop doing it - and that would be worse! I think a few other big stores can learn a few things from Tesco.
Exactly how much has the Consumers' Association given over the same period?
Most parents are simply grateful that a private organisation has provided £70M of computer equipment to schools - regardless of the marketing behind the action. The government consistently takes money from us and "talks" about helping but has so far failed to get more than a tiny fraction of the taxpayers money actually to the schools.
The Tesco's voucher scheme represents something for nothing for the schools. It also promotes collaboration and a sense of community amongst staff, pupils and parents. The Consumers Association does not seem to be able to grasp such facts, falling back instead on its rather dreary "I know my rights, large firms are rip off merchants" interpretation of the way of the world.
Is Philip Levy bonkers? Tesco don't have to do this. They choose to do so out of a sense of community spirit.
Never look a gift horse in the mouth
I buy my shopping based on my own requirements, but if Tesco as a result give money to schools then to criticise the amounts seems more than a little unfair. I'm sure the motives are primarily commercial rather than altruistic, but so what?
A company as big as Tesco should be able to double or triple the amount of assistance they give to schools. It should be common practice to give a proportion of profits back to the community. After all, it is the community that is making Tesco so profitable! Surely it is common sense?
Remember that Tesco is a company, they don't have to provide schools with anything! Isn't that the government's job?
Better to make some effort than make none at all.
Will Faulkner, UK
06 Dec 01 | Education
School voucher schemes under fire
10 Apr 01 | Education
Funds not charity say teachers
20 Jun 00 | Correspondents
Funding schools with vouchers
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites
Other Talking Points:
Links to more Talking Point stories
|^^ Back to top
News Front Page | World | UK | UK Politics | Business | Sci/Tech | Health | Education | Entertainment | Talking Point | In Depth | AudioVideo
To BBC Sport>> | To BBC Weather>>
© MMIII | News Sources | Privacy