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My vulnerable father’s struggle to return a faulty John Lewis TV

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My parents, in their 90s with limited mobility and partial sight, ordered a television from their local John Lewis store and paid for delivery and installation. Two days after installation the screen went blank. My father rang the store and was told he should report the fault via the website. In vain he explained that he could not access the internet. I tried on their behalf and found that technical support was a text-based service that rejected my parents’ order details. My father therefore struggled back to the store and was told that he would have to bring the television in. He replied that he would not be physically able to do that. Eventually, it was agreed that it would be collected for a refund. The courier arrived without warning one day at 6.45am when my parents were asleep.
AN, Manchester

John Lewis trades on its reputation for customer service and it is dispiriting that staff were so heedless of your parents’ vulnerabilities. It turns out faults can be reported by phone if proof of purchase can be provided, and the company tells me the member of staff who spoke to your father should have contacted the store to obtain the receipt to spare him an onerous outing. Your father should have been consulted about the collection date while in the shop. Time slots are sent by text the evening before delivery, but that’s no use to customers without a mobile phone.

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John Lewis says: “This is certainly not the level of service we strive to provide, and we are investigating how this happened.” Your father has been given a refund and a gift voucher and promises that the management at the store has been told to shake up training so staff have the wit to deviate from a script to meet the needs of vulnerable customers.

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