How can John Lewis wipe out three years of my extended guarantee?

In 2018 my mother purchased a £379 Bosch washing machine from John Lewis and, at the same time, paid an extra £100 to extend the guarantee to five years.

The machine recently broke down, but John Lewis won’t fix it because it says it is outside the two-year guarantee. It seems that when she bought the machine, it failed to register the added care policy, which appears to be administered by another company, Assurant.

My mother has wasted hours on the phone trying to rectify this issue. John Lewis customer services won’t help. It has said it will send a VAT receipt to the added care team. However, that team has, in turn, told her they need the money transferred to them from John Lewis. In an email, Assurant even said that she might want to go back to John Lewis “to speed up the process”.

Getting nowhere, she contacted her credit card provider – which, of course, is John Lewis Financial Services. Incredibly, the staff said she could not claim on her credit card since this related to a John Lewis service, and that she had to use its customer services to resolve it.

It said that if it had been a purchase with another company it could have looked to investigate and potentially refund it. What on earth is going on?
DD, London

If Sharon White, the respected chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, wants to know what’s gone wrong at the firm she presides over, she could use this letter as a case study. The company, once a byword for customer service excellence, appears to have lost the plot.

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Online reviews for John Lewis make for appalling reading, with the customer service operation repeatedly criticised for its inability to solve basic problems such as the one experienced by DD’s mother. Has it subcontracted so much of the business that its various sections can’t, or don’t, want to talk to each other? It certainly looks that way.

Fortunately, the press office is still an efficient operation, and the matter has been resolved. It says: “We are very sorry to hear about Ms D’s experience. Due to an administrative error, the added care policy was not added at the time of purchase. This has now been correctly set up and an engineer has visited her property and fixed her washing machine.”

Addressing the suggestion that holders of a partnership card could not rely on the section 75 rights afforded to all credit card holders if the dispute was with the retailer, it says this was not true.

“When issues like this are raised with our partnership card team, the usual process is for the team to follow up with John Lewis to investigate further, and then action appropriately. Unfortunately, it appears that in this instance this did not happen. To ensure that this process continues to be followed, we have taken steps to remind our JLFS team about the process and we apologise for any confusion,” it adds.

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