Wednesday, 2 February 2011

A Rare Case Of Poor Service From John Lewis

I love John lewis. It's a great store and it's opening in Liverpool One a couple of years ago made Liverpool our shopping centre of choice after years of traipsing to Manchester. In the past year we've bought loads from Lewis' and we've been happy with their service - they aren't the number one high street brand in customer satisfaction for nothing. 

So when we saw them advertising a home design service and our bedroom was due for a face lift it was natural that we should give them a try. It was August and we planned to have the bedroom refurbished at the start of January when I would be over the worst of the hip replacement. There were a few building jobs to tie in - new windows, the removal of a fireplace and relocation of a radiator - and, being our main bedroom, we wanted the disruption kept to the minimum. So we planned well in advance.

John, the consultant from John Lewis, visited us on 1st September, listened intently to our ideas and within a couple of weeks sent us samples of wall coverings, carpets and fabrics that were exactly in line with what we wanted. We went into the store and met up with John again, chose some great curtain poles and ordered everything we needed for the room. So far so good. We contacted the decorators and the builders and they pencilled in the first and second week of January for everything to tie in with John Lewis' delivery date.

In late October we had a call from the design team to say that the curtain fabric was delayed and would not arrive until 19th November and did we wish to choose an alternative. As the wallpaper and carpet were coordinated with the fabric we said that the delay was not a problem as, after all, the curtains were not required until mid January.

The day after the fabric should have arrived, another call was  received and we were told that it had been further delayed and was not now scheduled until early January which would mean early February for delivery. We couldn't change the fabric as the wallpaper and carpet had already arrived. It was a set back but hardly important in the grand scheme of things and our builders and decorators were flexible and agreed to a delay. 

In early January another phone call notified us that the material had now arrived and the fitting date would tentatively be 6th February. OK. Again that was not a problem. But a day later we were told that the people making the curtains had spotted a flaw in the fabric and had rejected it but, not to fear, a new batch had been ordered and would be sent overnight so 6th Feb was still a possibility. The builders and decorated were told to start and we camped out in the spare room.

We were then told two weeks ago that the fabric had not been sent overnight but instead had to come from overseas and would not arrive at John Lewis until Friday 28th January. Yesterday we had a call to say that the fabric had finally arrived and they would like to schedule fitting for 25th February. By now the whole bedroom has been decorated, fireplace removed, new radiator fitted and the carpet is due tomorrow but we won't be able to use the room for another three weeks. Why? Because there is a three week waiting time for curtains to be made.

Now I'm not a seamstress (or a seamster for that matter) but I can't believe that it takes three weeks to make a pair of curtains. Yes there might be a queue but, in the name of good customer service , would it not be possible to delay another customer by a day or so? One that did not order the stuff in October? Would it not make sense to pull out the stops and push our curtain order into pole position? 

One of the design team, Julie, has always been extremely helpful when she has handled our calls but others have given the impression that it was us who were being unreasonable in asking for decent service. We were even told that, although the fabric had arrived with John Lewis, it would take three days to get to the people who make the curtains - have they not heard of overnight carriers?  I know that with all the problems in the world, moaning about a late pair of curtains may sound pathetic but everyone else involved in doing this job - builders, decorators and central heating people - has been extremely cooperative, despite the inconvenience to their schedules and, with their excellent reputation for customer service, I expected more from John Lewis.

Rant over. Off for a day in Liverpool. And yes we'll still have a look around John Lewis.