First it was mobile phones and then pet insurance, now Tesco has beaten its rivals to yet another landmark by launching its own sexual health service. The so-called ‘Testco’ clinics are to be rolled out countrywide as of 2011, following successful trials in Newcastle, Liverpool and Glasgow. ‘It is a fantastic idea’, said Terry Williams, 29 and from the Walker area of Newcastle. ‘To be honest, I’ve no idea who or God forbid, what I’ve fallen into when I’m on the drink, so I often need to get checked out. I can never be bothered to go to the GUM clinic, ‘cos I need to take two buses and wor lass works as a driver. So to be able to go the shop and get it done is tops! Where else can you go for a cable-tidy, a four pack and a cured sausage?’
From students who attended whilst picking up something to satisfy their munchies, to young professionals who attended whilst picking up a bottle of blush before taking on the office party, almost all users claimed that the service was a ‘godsend’. One particular lady stated that ‘not having to make two trips is especially useful if you are a bit worried about getting tied up, preferably in a “munter friction hitch” or a “triple fisherman’s knot.”
However, despite the findings and the state-of-the-art facilities, some have questioned the need for such a service within the predominantly non-sexually transmitted food market, particularly given the very public setting and the often highly sensitive situations involved.
In response, a spokesperson from Tesco stated that ‘whilst for some “Chlamydia” is another name for "a hangover", we appreciate that for others it can be highly embarrassing. These people will be able to enter via the rear if they wish to avoid embarrassing intercourse out front, and those who wish to remain completely anonymous will be able to pick up home testing kits from the ‘One Night’ stand in the main store, and do the deed by slipping them into the all-night slot.’
In an attempt to increase openness and reduce prejudice as well as to maintain a streamlined brand, the ‘Testco’ clinics will also be aligned with the other aspects of Tesco’s well-packed and lengthy portfolio, with users receiving test results via text to their Tesco Mobile (discounted rates for new contracts) and those taking out travel insurance receiving an inclusive check-up upon return. Other incentives include petrol vouchers so that users can fuel their go-ers, and a ‘Testco Monogamy’ card which awards loyal customers with a voucher for a romantic meal for two after every fifth test.
In addition, whilst the clinics are subsidised by the NHS and offer testing and treatment free to patients, the more discerning customers will be able to enjoy the luxury of the ‘Tesco Finest’ test, the benefits of which include a special 2-for-the-price-of-1 discount for students, providing they can remember who they slept with and a 28-day gashback guarantee which will cover repeat treatments if anything falls off or leaks. ‘Obviously, this doesn’t cover people who don’t complete their treatment or prove to be an eager beaver,’ stated Chief of Testing Ian MacDonald. ‘Every little helps, but make sure you finish the course!’
If successful, the move could provoke other major players to action their own schemes, which hitherto are still under discussion. Notable examples include Sainsbury’s ‘Taste the Difference’ range, and Marks and Spencers’ proposed scheme which involves being inspected by all five members of Take That whilst simultaneously having a bra fitted and being made-love to by a vegetable moussaka.