Saturday, 1 December 2012

John Lewis: I love you and I hate you (with an aside about M&S)

Ah - the first Saturday in December in Reading town centre. Truly hideous! Still, I was on a mission to by my new sewing machine, and after weeks of research and prevaricating, today was the day I'd go to John Lewis and buy it. Or not. And I'm afraid this has led me to list the reasons why, John Lewis (Reading), that I love you and I hate you:

  • I love you because: of your business model. It's a good one, and more organisations should consider following it and having actual principles to act upon, rather than corporate social responsibility waffle.
  • I hate you because: your model doesn't go quite far enough in today's society. Where is your commitment to fairtrade, to British-made, to organic in the products and concessions you stock/support?

  • I love you because: you have an excellent, child-friendly cafe.
  • I hate you because: you only have a single toilet in the parent room, and toddlers don't like waiting.
  • I love you because: you have an actual haberdashery, one of only two (that I'm aware of) in Reading town centre and by far the better stocked.
  • I hate you because: you've now moved it to a difficult-to-access mezzanine area, meaning I can't just pop in to browse if I've got the pushchair with me.

  • I love you because: you're never knowingly undersold - and that's a good promise.
  • I hate you because: of the experience I had today. Sewing machines aren't really very big, or heavy, in the grand scheme of things, so why can I not just go into your store and pick one up to take away with me (after paying for it, obviously)? The only options I was offered by the surly sales assistant (after the clueless till boy had gone off to get some assistance) was to pick it up 'from Mill Lane' or have it 'delivered'. 
'Where is Mill Lane?', I asked.
 (Vague pointing) 'Oh, over that way, by the IDR - easy to get to by car.' 
'I don't have a car', quoth I.
'Oh. Well you can have it delivered for free.' 
'When would it be delivered?'
'Oh, within the next 10 days - we can't guarantee when.' 
'But I'm at work on week days so would need to know when it was arriving.
'Well, you could pay £50 for Parcelforce Delivery.'

No thanks - I think I'll just go and buy a machine from Argos, where I can order it online and the item will be waiting for me to collect it, at an easily accessible store, within a few hours. Of course, having just looked at the John Lewis website, this option also appears to be available to me, if I buy a sewing machine from them too (I can specify that I want to collect from the town centre store, rather than Mill Lane) - would have been helpful to be told that by the 'assistant'.

Oh, and Marks & Spencer - what's the point of having a Plan A to support, amongst other things, the environment and then having your heating turned up so high at the beginning of December that your staff are all wearing t-shirts?!!

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