Laura Ashley just lost out. Here’s why…


So social media aggro prevailed where personal customer service failed. It needs to be the other way around 😦 .

It’s not rocket science is it. If you hide behind hideously long T&Cs, if your surly telephone customer service is sat behind two tiers of confused automated options, and then presents a service brick wall that Trump would be proud of, you’re going to lose business!

Here’s the story: wife and I would like to buy some fabric for some curtains, store doesn’t have it in stock. We order 4 metres of it online, thinking it’s pretty much spot on. Big writing when adding to basket says If you are not completely happy with your item, return it to us for FREE. So it can always be returned. No problemo.

We receive delivery, but aren’t that keen, wife goes into shop to return as promised. Dead pan lady says because it’s under 5m it can’t be returned. Full stop.

I check online, below promise of free refund is a small link saying Exceptions apply.

Click link, a few hundred words down is a buried line which indeed states below 5m length cannot be returned unless damaged.

Call customer services, get told I’m entitled to my opinion with a tone of voice like I’m some ignorant naughty kid. They tell me that’s the refund policy, and I’m expected to read this policy before I make a purchase. I say I did (you muppets), it says in big writing when I add it to the cart. Surely they understand people don’t check to see if this is contradicted in the long T&Cs behind the link.

Ok, benefit of the doubt time. I should have read them. It said Exceptions apply and I made a mistake. It’s my fault, in spite of the fact such a vital exception should be stated at point of adding to cart.

Here’s the thing, a global, wealthy company who spend millions acquiring new customers should have the foresight to show flexibility and courtesy to a customer with money to spend. They should perhaps offer a voucher, credit note, 20% off next purchase to cover their costs. They should understand that being inflexible and lacking empathy loses customers, that Debenhams is around the corner and that in my lifetime I’ll worryingly be buying lots of chintzy lamp shades, ornaments, curtains and so on. For the sake of a few quid cost to them, at least a partial credit note, a smile and a false acknowledgement I’m always right is a no-brainer.

Gobsmackingly, it would appear not. Dead end. I actually asked this, and these guys are happy for me to blacklist them as a consumer, to tell several people about my bad experience and to go elsewhere in future.

And while I’m doing this they’re spending massive sums on some new customer acquisition. What a shocking waste of money, time and effort.

As was me buying 4m of sodding curtain fabric from a company with among the least thoughtful customer service, and evidently least commercial foresight, I’ve ever had the misfortune to walk into.

PS: I’ll update this should the situation change

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