Portsmouth pensioner Mary Lale bought what she thought was a perfect matching wardrobe from World Stores, until son-in-law Ross tried to put it together.
She parted with almost £620 for the self-assembly wardrobe last December.
But three months later it was still only half-built after the firm repeatedly bungled sending her missing parts to complete the job.
The 75-year-old widow told Streetwise: ‘I had a G-plan wardrobe for years and when one of my grandaughters decided to move in with me I needed to find something matching to replace her old ones.
‘I went to Argos, and looked in furniture shops, but it was all pine furniture which didn’t look right.
‘Then I saw one I liked from World Stores on the internet. My grandaughter ordered it for me at the end of December. It arrived a fortnight later.
‘My son-in-law started to put it together for me but soon discovered there were parts missing. He emailed World Stores about it but couldn’t get an answer.’
Mary was at boiling point with the top internet homeware company because she then spent a frustrating two hours on the phone trying to get the problem sorted.
She added: ‘It made me cry at one stage. All I wanted to do is buy a wardrobe for my grandaughter. She couldn’t even get in her bed because all her clothes were on it, and the wardrobe was still only half built.’
Mary and Ross persisted trying to phone and email the firm for the next two weeks but got nowhere, apart from running up £50 mobile phone bills. So did her other grandaughter Danielle.
Tempers began to fray, when they discovered their abortive mobile calls to the firm’s 0300 contact centre number were clocking up charges of around 30p per minute.
Every time they rang a recorded message assured them their call was important but left them hanging on the line only to get cut off and have to start all over again.
Ross was relieved when eventually he got though to World Stores customer services and explained they’d a problem with the missing parts.
He was instructed to email them with the details and they would be promptly despatched so he could finish the assembly.
They waited yet another two weeks, more in hope than expectation, but the hope remained dashed when the necessary parts didn’t turn up as promised.
Another round of fruitless emails and phone calls finally resulted in a further appointment by World Stores to deliver the elusive parts.
Mary patiently waited in all day, only to have her expectations dashed again when no-one turned up.
Stressed out, when she eventually got through she told customer care precisely what she thought about their shambolic service.
Then out of the blue a courier finally delivered a package of parts. Mary was over the moon until Ross unwrapped it only to find they were the wrong finish, white instead of walnut.
To Mary this was the last straw. Convinced she was the victim of a cruel joke, a chance meeting with a neighbour resulted in a suggestion to contact Streetwise to see if we could help.
Danielle sent us a blow-by-blow account of the family’s battle with World Stores to provide the DIY assembly wardrobe that Mary had originally ordered and paid for.
Streetwise got onto the firm’s boss Joe Murray to put him in the picture. We said we were horrified at the sorry saga of bungling and incompetence that Mary had experienced which had brought her to the point of so much anger and frustration.
Once alerted, the company moved swiftly.
A spokesperson said: ‘We would like to sincerely apologise to Mrs Lale for all the delay and inconvenience she has experienced, for the manner in which she has been treated, and the undue stress we have caused.
‘We will collect the faulty goods and issue a brand new replacement or reissue the replacement parts. Alternatively, we can process a full refund.’
A short while later the firm’s public relations manager phoned us to say it welcomed the feedback and had got the message they’d fallen down badly by not providing their normal high standards of customer service. Lessons would be learned from Mary’s unfortunate experience.
Mary was just grateful that at long last someone had sat up and taken notice.
She said: ‘I just couldn’t put up with any additional inconvenience getting Ross to dismantle the part-built wardrobe so I decided to give them one final chance to send the correct parts, which arrived a few days later.
‘Ross checked the package and at last it looks like the right bits. I’m 99 per cent convinced that unless Streetwise had got involved the matter would never have been sorted. It really was making me ill. Thank you so very much for fixing it for me.’