/ Money

Smooth refunds: what’s your best service experience?

We’re always quick to highlight when companies aren’t giving consumers the experience they deserve, and rightly so. But sometimes things do go well – what’s been your best customer service experience?

When you work at Which? you’re always on the lookout for areas where companies can improve – after a few years it just gets hard-wired into you, and that’s especially true for Which? Conversation.

But sometimes companies do get things right, and a good customer service experience is just as worth highlighting as a bad one, and I was pleasantly surprised to experience one just a couple of weeks ago.

Graphics power

I own a pretty powerful laptop that’s usually more than capable of holding its own when it comes to modern PC games, but it’s not a gaming laptop by nature.

Like with most products these days, the game I was buying from the Steam Store was a digital download – you don’t get anything physical for your money. 

I didn’t realise at the time that this game’s recommended graphics card was a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD RX 480, while even the minimum is a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050.

Sorry for the techno-jargon, but when you look at the numbers you’ll see where the problem was – my laptop has a GTX 960m – slightly undercooked when you look at those higher numbers above!

Inevitably I ran into graphical problems to the point where the game was pretty much unplayable. Even with the settings turned down it was struggling, so I set about applying for a refund.

Refund processed

But this was my mistake after all, and it wasn’t like I could just return it to a shop – would this be a simple process? Would I need to uninstall it and state what had gone wrong?

Fortunately the store’s policy is that if you’ve played the game (or indeed, any game) for under two hours and decided it wasn’t for you, you can apply for a refund.

I did so, selecting performance issues as the reason, and within minutes received a confirmation. The very same day the refund had been processed and the money was back in my account less than a week later – as simple as that.

No grappling, no long-winded email exchanges, just a smooth process with no issues at all. I was so pleased with the experience that it’s made me a lot more confident in my online purchases from them, and much more likely to use them again.

Over to you

Have you had an unexpectedly smooth customer service experience? Perhaps someone went above and beyond to get your problem sorted, or maybe, like me, you simply found a relatively automated process to be surprisingly hassle-free.

Either way, let’s shine a light on some of the companies getting things right.


I had booked in advance for tickets to see a show at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. I recently explained that my partner had come down with a disease that has now left her hospitalised. I received a sympathetic e-mail from the manager along with a full refund. A great response from a lovely theatre.

I was travelling to London from Exeter and the train was delayed (signal failure + stacking) just over one hour. I missed my appointment so I claimed from the Great Western. They sent me a full refund of the fare. This is the first time I did not receive “vouchers” for derisory sums for offsetting future travel fares. I know the GWR would have claimed off NR, but it is useful to see European Law norms now apply as amatter of course to Railways journey delays in the UK. Will such consumer compensation continue to apply after “brexit”?

Margaret Wells says:
4 August 2018

We ordered a £9.99 Hob-Liner (amongst several other items) online from Lakeland, but when our parcel arrived, we realised that the hob-liner wasn’t quite suitable for our purposes. We telephoned Lakeland to explain and they immediately refunded our credit card account with the £9.99. When asked about returning the liner, we were asked “Do you support a charity shop in your area?” We said that we did and were invited to donate the liner to the shop of our choice!! Cancer Research UK was very grateful to receive it.

I booked a non refundable stay at Hotel de la Bretonnerie in Paris through Expedia. We were unable to go due to a road accident.
When we phoned the hotel to cancel our booking the hotel said that under the circumstances they would not charge Expedia and that we should apply to them for a refund.
I called Expedia and after checking with the hotel they promptly refunded our money.
I’m a happy customer!

Groupon are pretty good, any and every query has been dealt with appropriately.

Amanda Vinall says:
4 August 2018

Two this week. I ordered an ice maker online from Fiyo. The freezer arrived with one already there and they instantly refunded my money. Also ao refunded me £50 when I had been too stupid to see where to put the voucher code. Two really good examples of customer service.

Purchased two Nevis Range Mountain Gondola (cable car to 650m) tickets online. Seniors concessions not mentioned online but when we went to the ticket office to collect I noticed there was a seniors discount. The ticket assistant overheard me telling my wife and immediately offered a £6 cash refund for the difference and replaced the adult tickets with seniors ones. Excellent service and I didn’t even get as far as asking!

Jane Bryce says:
4 August 2018

Amazon is great .I bought a projector but didn’t like it so decided to return it. Amazon paid the postage back even though the item was not faulty and refunded my account the minute the post office scanned the bar code , they didn’t even wait until they received the item back. I had a similar positive experience with them a couple of month ago too

Amazon can afford to do this, as the BBC reported,
“Online retail giant Amazon’s UK tax bill fell last year despite a near-trebling of profits. Amazon UK Services bill was £4.6m, down from £7.4m a year ago, accounts show.” and also
“Earlier this week, Amazon reported record quarterly profits of $2.53bn (£1.9bn) worldwide for the three months to 30 June.The profit was about 12 times more than Jeff Bezos’s company made during the same period last year.Amazon reports its revenues from UK sales through a separate company based in Luxembourg.”

I have had excellent service from Oyster over a Stratos backpack which they exchanged without any quibble.

I would like to write about Quest Leisure Products. I bought a deckchair six years ago and the strap broke on it. Within twenty four hours they sent a free replacement strap plus an extra one as spare. The customer service were polite, courtesy and efficient. I was very impressed.

I would also like to write in respect of Mira showers. I purchased a shower twenty years ago and the shower head holder broke. I contacted the customer service and they tracked down the correct one and aqain within twenty four hours it had arrived.

Robert Elston says:
5 August 2018

I recently purchased a hedge trimmer from Argos,which stopped working after being used once.I phoned customer service and was told to return it to the store for a full refund or exchange.I opted for the former and the whole process took 5 minutes!

I have taken a couple of items back to Argos, albeit a few years ago. I opted for exchanges and they were handled very efficiently.

Pippa says:
5 August 2018

Adini (women’s clothing online store) are fabulous at processing quick refunds. 5 stars for them!

John Lewis for no quibble cash refund of a Lenovo Laptop which had been used but returned by us factory reset in all the original packaging (it was a software issue the JL telephone support could replicate on their systems but not fix). Always worth paying a bit extra to get JL customer service in my opinion. July 2018

FitBit for no quibble replacement of FItBit HR 2. The device developed a vertical crack down the screen (not due to impact damage). FitBit requested a photograph of device and strap. They approved a replacement which was with me 4 working days later exactly as promised. This was all sorted out online over a bank holiday weekend with prompt replies throughout. May 2018

Costco have accepted a number of returns no quibbles, hence am happy to pay slightly more for hassle free shopping and peace of mind.

John Lewis for a no quibble replacement of faulty printer.
Austin Store, via Amazon, for a no quibble refund of the cost of an order of plant waterers that never arrived.
Ocado for promptly promising to sort out my query about an item which was missing from my last order.

I recently inadvertently purchased 2 copies of a book from Amazon. It was my mistake, which I only realised when 2 books arrived. Going to my orders page online, I requested to return one copy. Amazon immediately gave me a refund and did not want me to return the unwanted book. Amazing customer service. Now I have to see if there is someone I can pass my spare book to…..

Bentalls Kingston, Surrey. I bought a costume stackable ring for £120. The next day I noticed that the ring was £80 on the designers website. Suspecting a pricing error I emailed the store. Their buyer confirmed the error. I was refunded the price difference plus a 10% discount for my trouble.

Being good on refunds [including paying the return postage], and rectifying errors generously, makes sound commercial and reputational sense, especially for distance sellers who are not obliged to pay for returns [unless they have failed to state in their T&C’s how returns will be dealt with]. Bricks-& mortar stores are less forthcoming on the shop floor in my experience but if you write to the retailer there is usually a more obliging response. This is a training issue for shop floor staff.

We were due to fly to Alderney from Guernesy over the summer for a day trip whilst on holiday in Guernsey. Due to unexpected fog they could not be are when the flight would go. After a few hours we decided to abandon the trip. The airport staff were great and the customer services staff for Aurigny airlines processed the £300 refund there and then with no quibbles. Very impressed!

I bought a Silva Expedition Compass from SportPursuit (a discount online retailer) in June 2017. They normally retail at about £40, but this was half price. I was taking part in a Mountain Marathon in April 2018 and tried to take a compass bearing. The compass came apart in my hands! I took it home and tried to repair it, but decided it was beyond repair. First thing Monday morning I filled in a complaints form on the SportPursuit website, describing what had happened. Just after 9.00am I received a reply asking if I wanted a replacement or a refund. I decided to opt for a replacement. At about 1:30pm I received another email saying that a replacement would be in the post either later that day or the next day. The replacement arrived on the Wednesday!

I hadn’t even had to send a photograph to show the broken compass.

The replacement is still working.