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Does it matter that John Lewis has changed its price guarantee?

Woman going into John Lewis

John Lewis, the company that made its name on dependable customer service, has arguably shaken customers’ confidence by changing its guarantee: ‘Never knowingly undersold’. Will it stop us shopping there?

The thoroughly decent types at John Lewis have upped and tarnished the family silver.

Since 1925, the company has told customers that it is ‘Never knowingly undersold’, meaning that if you bought something at John Lewis, and then found it cheaper elsewhere, it would refund the difference. It also has a team whose job it is to scour competitors’ prices.

The terms have changed

Ever since I can remember, John Lewis was a place where you could assume the store prices were the lowest around. But recently, customers who tried to get a refund under its price guarantee were turned down.

Many hadn’t noticed that some recent additions (in smaller print) to ‘Never knowingly undersold’ meant it no longer related just to the upfront cost of the product.

Since the addition of ‘….on quality, on price and on service’, it now included extras such as guarantees and delivery. So if you found, say, a washing machine for £60 less at Argos, you’d be turned away because the Argos guarantee was one year, not the two (or three) offered by John Lewis.

Can John Lewis still compete on price?

The shopping landscape, and price competition, has been changing, and John Lewis has extended its guarantee to websites as long as the store has a bricks-and-mortar shop.

John Lewis is reportedly saying it’s now putting a ‘great deal of resources’ into checking competitors’ prices and ‘lowering ours, where appropriate’. ‘Appropriate’ must surely mean where it finds exactly the same guarantee and delivery offer as well as price.

You have to wonder how often that’s likely to happen, and, therefore, precisely how much this guarantee is really worth any more.

As a John Lewis customer of many years’ standing, I feel not only that this was done with little acknowledgment, but also disappointed that I can no longer simply assume that its prices are the lowest.

Comments

l agree that these comments now seem out of date I recently bought a Sony TV from JL mainly because of the 5 year guarantee & the good service that I have always had in the past. When I got home, I noted that Curries were selling it for £80 less albeit with a 1 year guarantee. The JL website specifically mentioned that they would pricematch even though a competitor had a special offer on at the time so I called customer services. Initially I was told that it wouldn’t apply because of the difference in guarantee time but she agreed to pass the query through to the pricematch team for them to have a look at it. The next day I received a call from them accepting the pricematch & confirming that they would refund £80 onto my credit card. I am very pleased with the result.

Ferdinando says:
26 September 2017

John Lewis customer care and fitting and installation service is terrible. I report here my email thread with JL’s customer care team, after the catastrophic service they provided when I purchased an electric hob with them. You judge….

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Dear F,

Thank you for your email.

Whilst I understand your disappointment with my previous response, we are unable to take this matter any further as we are satisfied the installation was carried out correctly and you did not give us the opportunity to revisit your property to inspect to rectify the situation.

Your complaint has reached the highest point of escalation within the John Lewis Partnership as my department deal with complaints on behalf of our Chairman, Management Board and Head Office as we are best placed to deal with any matter within our distribution network.

Yours sincerely,

Customer Service Distribution
Customer Fulfilment Operations
John Lewis

————— Original Message —————
From: F
Sent: 22/09/2017 22:04
To: yourenquiry@johnlewis.co.uk
Subject: Re: Complaint

Dear X,

Speaking to my wife just now, we both agree that your assistance was entirely unacceptable and would like to make a formal complaint about this process. How best to move forward? I could simply post this thread online and let the public judge the extent of John Lewis’s customer “care”, but I do not think it would be the most appropriate way forward.

Please advise as how to formally complain about your choice of resolution. We have been customers for decades and are appalled about the treatment we received.

F

On 22 Sep 2017, at 14:41, “yourenquiry@johnlewis.co.uk” wrote:

Dear F,

We are satisfied this installation was carried out correctly however we were not given the opportunity to revisit your property to have a look at this so we can not be held liable. We can confirm the boiler was turned off so the installation could be completed and the pilot light was re-lit before our crew left.

Because of the above, no further action will be required by John Lewis and as we believe the installation and disposal were carried out successfully, we will not be able to refund this cost.

Yours sincerely,

Customer Service Distribution
Customer Fulfilment Operations
John Lewis

————— Original Message —————
From: F
Sent: 22/09/2017 10:46
To: yourenquiry@johnlewis.co.uk
Subject: Re: Complaint

Dear X,

Let me be as concise as possible, and perfectly clear. The fitters DID NOT use the correct fuse, as the electrician replaced a blown 3A fuse from the fitted plug within the cabinet, which your fitters installed on the electrical hob. And the fitters DID NOT properly handle the gas supply, as the plumber had to open the gas at the mains, which means the fitters DID NOT ATTEMPT and allegedly succeed to leave the heating system as they found it, before they left. I am surprised that you are suggesting I am lying about this, and not your fitters, since I was very clear in my previous email about what happened, explicitly with regard to the fuse. I have two adult witnesses who could testify to what happened here, but I would not expect that you would question my word.

Therefore, while you did take the time to reply, which is a start, you are nowhere close to providing the customer care you so clearly seem to believe you are doing. I did have to call in emergency plumbing, indeed our usual plumber, to get my flat back in order, and a friend to sort the electrics. As I explained in my previous email, I could not wait any further. But I absolutely expect that you will refund the 115 pounds fitting and disposal cost, which I paid to you when I purchased the appliance, as you unequivocally broke your terms and conditions.

I hope to have been sufficiently clear this time.

Regards,

F

From: yourenquiry@johnlewis.co.uk
Sent: 22 September 2017 09:23
To: f
Subject: RE: Complaint

Dear F,

Further to my email yesterday, we have now conducted the relevant investigations and have looked into this mater further with the crew involved in the delivery and installation.

Our crew have advised the correct fuse was fitted, which was 13 amp as per the manufacturers instructions. The boiler appeared to be re-lit and alight when the installation was complete and the crew left your property. If the pilot light has then went out and cannot be re-lit, this is not within our remit to resolve this.

We do advise of this on our website when the purchase is made and the terms and conditions of the service are agreed to: “Our installation team will have to temporarily interrupt your gas supply to allow a safe installation, so we’ll endeavour to restart any gas appliances in your home. However, we’re not responsible for any appliance that fails to restart, including central heating and gas boilers” (https://www.johnlewis.com/our-services/home-appliance-installation-services#cooking).

We would have been able to arrange a revisit to see if there was anything further we could do however we were advised you had already had someone out to resolve the problem.

Unfortunately, we will not be able to cover the cost of an emergency plumber as the installation was completed successfully and as our terms and conditions advise, we are not responsible for any appliances which do not start up again after installation.

Whilst I understand your disappointment and appreciate this is not the response you are looking for, I am confident the explanation will confirm our position on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Customer Service Distribution
Customer Fulfilment Operations
John Lewis

————— Original Message —————
From: yourenquiry@johnlewis.co.uk [yourenquiry@johnlewis.co.uk]
Sent: 21/09/2017 12:34
To: f
Subject: RE: Complaint

Dear F,

Thank you for your email. Your concerns have now been referred to myself within the Customer Service Distribution Department as we are best placed to deal with matters within the distribution side of our business.

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the inconvenience this has caused you. I would appreciate your patience while I investigate this matter further and will be in touch with you when I have an update on the matter.

Yours sincerely,

Customer Service Distribution
Customer Fulfilment Operations
John Lewis

————— Original Message —————
From: F
Sent: 19/09/2017 16:14
To: no_reply@johnlewis.com
Subject: Complaint

I am appalled at the level of service I have received. I purchased a £400 electric hob from your online store (xxxxxxxx), and paid an additional £115 to dispose of my gas hob and install the new appliance.
your contractors came, made a right mess of the kitchen, installed the wrong fuse in the appliance, meaning the fuse blew the instant I turned on the hob, and they left us with no heating or hot water, having fiddled with the gas in a way that I cannot understand. As of now, my family of 4 with two small children have no hot water and no heating. After a day on the phone with both your technical support team and your after-sale Department, I am no closer to sorting this, with the latest customer representative alerting me it is my problem now, as the installation team does “not come back to the property after the job is done”. They of course suggested I find my own technician to sort the mess, but were unwilling to cover this expense of course, as “it was not their responsibility”.
for a company that prides itself with excellent customer services, I think you should be ashamed of the quality of service I actually received. About to book emergency plumbing now, as we cannot all be with washing for another day, but who is going to pay for it?!

F

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David Sewell says:
21 November 2017

I used to always extol the virtue of buying from JL – not any more. They have a very “holier than thou” attitude when something goes wrong with a product and will stick rigidly to “their” policy when something does go wrong with it. I have had recent dealings with JL and was very disappointed! Companies like Sainsbury’s and Asda are much more understanding when items break down. JL seems to think that by offering a 2 year warranty on items, that that absolves them of going beyond the demands of S79 Sale of Goods Act and treating customers to the sort of service JL was once famous for! Shame on JL!

I have been told that if John Lewis reduce their price of a article within a set number of days a refund can be requested, is this fact?

The John Lewis website contains a list of the different ways in which its NKU policy works but I could see nothing that answered your question. Personally I think it would be unlikely as it would be a nightmare to operate around their ‘clearance events’ [aka ‘sales’] and their frequent reductions in response to competitors’ promotions. See –
https://www.johnlewis.com/customer-services/prices-and-payment/never-knowingly-undersold