My favourite affiliate John Lewis operate in a different way to most other retailers and have a well earned reputation for above average first-class customer service.
What makes John Lewis different?
John Lewis have a specific ethos going back to its founder. A big part of this ethos is that the people who work there share in the profits. They aren't known as staff, but as partners. The company is not run to make profits for anonymous shareholders who expect much but put nothing in other than some cash. The people who make the company what it is and who help create the success are the ones sharing any profits.
Quote from John Lewis site
"The John Lewis Partnership's 69,000 Partners own the leading UK retail businesses - Waitrose, John Lewis and Greenbee. Our founder's vision of a successful business powered by its people and its principles defines our unique company today. The profits and benefits created by our success are shared by all our Partners."
The person answering the telephone, the sales advisers, and the person who delivers your appliance all have an extra incentive to give customers a high standard of service so they will remain loyal customers. If they give a better service then John Lewis should prosper and all staff receive a share of the profits at the end of each year.
I have experienced this standard many times myself having purchased the majority of my large products from John Lewis. Any time I've had to telephone for advice, or popped in to a store I found a higher level of product knowledge and customer service. My findings have been borne out by the fact that John Lewis have won several awards for their service and been voted the UK's best retailer on more than one occasion.
| John Lewis give at least 2 years guarantee on all washing machines and other appliances - and even 3 years on their own brand (plus 5 year guarantees on TV's).
The online prices are the same as in John Lewis shops, although they say that occasionally you may find a lower price in one of the shops if they are matching the price of a local competitor, or online if there is a special offer.
Never knowingly undersold
John Lewis is famous for its never knowingly undersold policy. But do they still operate it, and is it available online?
Here's how John Lewis explain the policy.
"Because of our 'Never knowingly undersold' policy, if our shops are matching prices nationally, then our online prices will go down (and up) accordingly.
We do not apply our shops' 'Never Knowingly Undersold' pricing promise to our online and catalogue prices. We do not price match any online or catalogue competitor prices. This is because we are unable to verify the availability and comparability of the goods and the standards of service and support that are offered by others. However, you can always be assured of the same dedication to competitive pricing and exceptional value you find in our department stores. For information on our shops' ‘Never Knowingly Undersold' statement, please contact your local branch."
When it comes to the Internet it's not really possible for John Lewis to price match any website. Even other big retailers such as Currys and Comet cannot do this. At the end of the day John Lewis provide a very high quality service from start to finish and no one can match prices offered from websites that aren't remotely comparable. A few websites do compete with virtually no overheads. Anyone could put a website up and advertise appliances at cheap prices. They wouldn't need any premises, and hardly any staff. They wouldn't even need a delivery van or delivery men because they can simply pass all orders on to the manufacturer and get them to deliver it.
Indeed there is nothing to stop myself doing the same if so inclined. I could start advertising washing machines and other appliances here on washerhelp and just pass on all orders to the manufacturer to deliver. Whilst there is nothing wrong with this practice I feel it is parasitic and offers only one advantage, which is lower prices. Everything else is inevitably compromised and if all you care about is cheap prices at any cost and are prepared to take risks and inconveniences to get them you aren't likely to be shopping at any of the major retailers anyway.
Continued on next column ...
I try to keep up to date and continuously return to keep these retailer reviews up to date - but please check with the manufacturer's own website to confirm that any critical information you may rely on is still accurate.
John Lewis Special Offers
- Energy Efficient Appliances
- Top selling appliances at John Lewis (Goes to my White goods Blog)
- Washing machines section
Free extra long guarantees for large domestic appliances - and TVs
In addition to the first year manufacturer's guarantee* John Lewis provide a free second year service guarantee, (three years in the case of John Lewis brand appliances) plus accidental damage insurance and where appropriate frozen food loss insurance, subject to Terms & Conditions (TVs come with a 5 year guarantee)
The second year guarantee is in effect a 12 month extended warranty with accidental damage cover, which is paid for out of the price of the appliance - or included if you like. On fridges and freezers the accidental damage cover also extends to food loss.
Generally speaking appliances don't often fail during the second year but of course they can - sometimes annoyingly just after the first years guarantee is up. I personally think that having a second year guarantee is comforting and would even be worth paying slightly more for. The three-year warranties on John Lewis branded appliances and five year guarantees on all televisions are an even greater comfort. If a product is the same price or cheaper than elsewhere then clearly John Lewis have the edge with these extra warranties.
* Some appliances already have longer than 12 month guarantees. Bosch for example tend to give two year guarantees, and Miele's come with either 2, 5 or 10 years (depending on promotions). Other manufacturers also give longer guarantees than the traditional one year. In these circumstances you could argue that the second year free guarantee is not so useful though there may still be some aspect of the second year cover such as accidental damage and (in the case of freezers) food loss insurance that could have a potential benefit. The greatest benefit comes with appliances only covered by a 12 month manufacturer guarantee. Appliances with extended parts guarantees would also benefit from the John Lewis 2nd year cover as only parts are covered after the first year.
Britain's Favourite Retailer 2009
A poll of over 6,000 shoppers in a survey published by retail analysts Verdict Research ranked John Lewis first for customer satisfaction. Customers were asked to rank high street shops on product range, price, convenience, quality, service, ambience, facilities and layout. (John Lewis has come either first or second in this survey ever since it began back in 2000)
For the second year running, a Which? survey has also voted John Lewis (and sister company Waitrose) as Britain’s favourite retailers (October 2008). More than 14,000 Which? members named Waitrose as Britain’s favourite shop. John Lewis took second place overall and was rated top in every sector of the survey it appeared in. Both shops were praised for their pleasant store environment, helpful staff and quality products.
They've also won House Beautiful Awards 2008: Online Home Retailer of the Year Gold Award
Free standard delivery on all orders over £50
Standard delivery is currently FREE on everything you order from John Lewis, either in a shop or online. Standard delivery is usually within 7 working days.
Express delivery offer
Disposal of old appliances
John Lewis offer a disposal service for large domestic appliances such as cookers, fridges and freezers, washing machines, dishwashers and tumble dryers. You can arrange for them to collect your old appliance at the same time as they deliver your new one by ticking a box when ordering online. There's a nominal charge of £9 per item which covers not only them taking it away but making sure it is disposed of or recycled according to new government WEEE regulations.
It's important to arrange this when ordering your new appliance as it will be too late if you request it when your new one arrives. As with most other retailers your old appliance needs to be disconnected properly beforehand. For further details on this see - disposal, installation and recycling
The following conditions should be noted, which should be the same for all retailers -
- Washing machines must be disconnected from the electricity and water and drainage supply. Tumble dryer vent hoses must also be disconnected
- If a gas appliance, it must be disconnected by a registered Gas Safe gas engineer (as far as I'm aware this should not apply to gas cookers connected with the bayonet type fixing because you simply push and twist the connection to remove it and it automatically seals itself. It goes without saying however that if in any doubt you should contact a Gas Safe gas engineer)
- Any excess water must be emptied from the machine, i.e. washing machines, condenser tumble dryers, dishwashers (see tip below)
- Fridges and freezers must be emptied of contents, fully defrosted and dry
What's the best way to pull a washing machine out? | Transporting a washing machine (contains tips on draining water from a washing machine)
John Lewis - Own Brand
John Lewis have their own brand of washing machines and other appliances. This is a common practice throughout the industry although most own brands don't carry the retailers name. Comet & Currys for example have own brands under names that don't link back to them such as ProLine (Comet). I don't know why they wouldn't be proud to call them Comet washing machines or Currys washing machines, maybe they are not and to be honest they tend to be created for price cutting.
John Lewis proudly use their name and carefully choose which manufacturers make them. However, I must confess I'm not really keen on own brands. A big motivation for any company producing a product which is exclusively only available through them is that no one else sells it, so this means customers can't compare prices on it. This can't be good in the great scheme of things but having said that, if the product is not competitive compared to other available appliances - especially other appliances made by the manufacturer supplying it - then it's likely to fail.
John Lewis aim to use their own brand exclusives to offer better value for money by influencing their design to either add more features and/or make them even more energy efficient.
"We know from talking to our customers just how important energy saving has become to you – that’s why it was absolutely central to the spec when we developed our own range of electrical appliances."
I reviewed a John Lewis own brand washing machine here - John Lewis JLWM1203 review and hope to review more soon.
I've personally purchased two John Lewis own brand appliances, my built in dishwasher (JLBIDW1200 ) and my free standing condenser tumble dryer are both John Lewis branded with three year guarantees and are made by AEG-Electrolux.
The John Lewis web site is one of the best of the retailers sites in that it is has a very clean and functional design with no overly complex aspects to it.
One particularly useful tool is the "compare selected products" link which is available on pages displaying household appliances and other products such as televisions hard drive recorders and even computers. On any page displaying such appliances there is usually a small white square with the word "compare" next to it. This white box can be ticked by clicking inside it. If you click two or more products (up to a maximum of four) you can then click the "compare selected products" link on the top right of the page and you will be taken to a product comparison page where these products are placed side-by-side with a list of specifications and features that can easily be compared. This is a very useful tool and easy to use.
Another feature I like about the John Lewis website Is that when clicking on a product you get taken to a page full of information about it with clearly laid out and comprehensive specifications and product information. To the right of the page it will usually describe stock levels although this typically appears to be, "more than 10 in stock". This is a little vague but no manufacturer is going to display exact stock levels and I've seen many websites where stock levels are not even mentioned until right at the end of a purchasing attempt having entered all your details and checked out.
I've even seen products on the John Lewis site which stated none in stock. This, if it still happens is a bold and honest approach which I applaud. Most sites would never admit there is no stock and instead will allow you to order a product even when they know they have no stock. I've heard of cases from rival large retailers where the order has gone through but the customer receives a telephone call soon after or possibly even the next day apologising and saying the product is out of stock. They are then offered a possible alternative. By this time a customer has committed themselves to a purchase and may be reluctant to start all over again. This means they could reluctantly accept the alternative.
If this is deliberate policy it is very poor customer service. It could just be poor management of course. If there is no stock then the honest approach is to not take any orders and therefore save your customer a lot of inconvenience and disappointment. This is tough to do because you run a high risk of your customer trying elsewhere. However, I know for a fact that John Lewis at least used to display, "no stock" at the side of the product if they had run out which I respected and is in line with their general ethos on customer service.
Washerhelp's Main Buying Washing Machines Section
General buying advice available from the main Buy washing machines tab. There's more to finding the right washing machine than just deciding which make to go for. The main buying washing machines section tries to cover as much of this subject as possible and to give as much advice as possible.