New House of Fraser owner, Mike Ashley, has pledged to turn the store into a ‘Harrods of the high street’. Is this possible given that thousands of customers like me are currently out of pocket?
As a loyal House of Fraser customer, I was saddened and panicked to hear of the news in August that the firm had gone into administration.
Saddened because it looked like the end of an era for a store that I very regularly purchase from, and panicked because I had more than £300 of unspent vouchers.
There was a glimmer of hope, however, as House of Fraser was purchased within hours of going into liquidation. Following online advice, I wanted to get rid of my vouchers ASAP.
Before going ahead and placing an expensive order under House of Fraser’s new ownership, I contacted one of its customer service representatives via the live webchat to ask if online orders were going through and if gift vouchers were an accepted form of tender at this time.
I was confidently reassured to go ahead, not to worry, and that everything was “business as usual”.
Business as usual? I’m not so sure
My online order (part gift card, part debit card, totalling nearly £350) placed during the afternoon of 10 August was indeed accepted; I received the standard confirmation email. However, a few days passed and, unlike my multitude of previous orders, there was no sign of a dispatch email.
I reached out to staff via the live webchat again and was told that they were experiencing a backlog but my order would be dispatched the following day.
Contrary to this promise, my order was not dispatched. I made contact for a third time with a different member of staff who admitted that they had no idea when orders would be dispatched from their warehouse, but could 100% assure me that I would receive it in due course.
The information I was being fed was contradictory from one day to the next. I pushed for an estimated delivery timeframe, but was simply told that my order would be sent and that I should be patient in allowing them to catch up with the backlog.
On 15 August I still hadn’t had an email, but a social media announcement appeared:
We are currently experiencing an increased number of customer service enquiries. To help us prioritise and manage these enquiries, we ask that all customers contact us by emailing email@example.com. Thank you for your ongoing patience at this time.
— House of Fraser (@houseoffraser) August 15, 2018
It appeared to then go one step further by removing the direct message functions on Twitter, the public posting function on Facebook, and disabling comments on its most recent Instagram posts.
The following day, another social media announcement was posted:
Due to delays with delivering online orders, we have taken the decision to cancel and refund all orders that have not already been sent to customers. All customers affected will receive an email in the next couple of days. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.
— House of Fraser (@houseoffraser) August 16, 2018
Fast-forward to the second week of September, there was still no sign of an email, or a refund.
I have followed House of Fraser’s instructions to email them, but have not received a reply. I don’t think my situation here is unique – you only have to trawl through the 1500-odd comments on House of Fraser’s two recent Facebook announcements and the hundreds of tweets.
Searching for answers
So, where do I go from here? As each day passes, my frustration heightens. I recently walked through a House of Fraser store and felt incredibly saddened to see the same products I’d ordered online and not received sitting there in store.
I’m still desperately seeking answers from House of Fraser, and angry on behalf of every other customer in the same or similar boat. It’s now 21 September and I’m still yet to receive my order or any correspondence.
And what about the gift card situation? Has anyone managed to receive a refund after returning them to head office?
This is a guest post by an anonymous writer who contacted Which? to share their experience. All views expressed are their own and not necessarily shared by Which?.
We reached out to House of Fraser for comment on this guest post, but it is yet to respond.
Have you ever been faced with a similar situation with a company enterting administration? How did you resolve it?