Loyal customer Viv gets the runaround from catalogue firm

Vivienne Morge was left disappointed by Damart's customer service
Vivienne Morge was left disappointed by Damart's customer service

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Loyal Damart customer Vivienne Morge is furious about the way she was treated when the firm cashed her cheque, messed up delivery of her order, then gave her a hard time when she asked for a refund.

Damart is a long-established multi-national catalogue and online retailer, specialising in fashion and homeware. It proudly boasts 60 years of trading in stylish ready-to-wear clothing and aims to deliver orders in a week or under.

I don’t like direct debits - when I buy anything I always pay for it by cheque

Vivienne Morge

Viv, 64, from Gosport, was a dedicated customer for around 20 years. She drifted away from catalogue shopping for a while, but then went back to it about two years ago.

She’d placed countless orders with Damart, mainly for ladies’ wear, and until recently had been entirely satisfied with the shopping experience.

But last October, her satisfaction rating plummeted when she placed an order for three garments totalling just over £42.

She says that, unbeknownst to her at the time, an administrative error by Damart had created duplicate address records for her with different postcodes. She then wound up with a ‘Select’ credit account, as well as another account for pay-as-you-go purchases.

Viv said: ‘I put my order in and from there on everything went haywire.

‘I’ve always paid by cheque whatever I buy. I don’t like direct debits, which I’m not into at all, and when I buy anything I always pay for it by cheque.

‘I just bundled the order and a £7 gift voucher in the envelope, but when two weeks went by I rang to find out what was happening.’

Viv was told the delay was all down to some items being out of stock, and it would take another two to three weeks before the order could be completed.

In the meantime she received a personal credit account statement advising her she now had another £158 to spend and her cheque had been cashed. When she checked her bank statement, it confirmed her worst fears.

Damart had taken her money but hadn’t sent any of the goods she’d ordered.

By now it was mid-November and, perturbed by what had happened, Viv dashed off a quick letter to the firm to ask what had gone wrong.

To her surprise and annoyance, a customer services operative told her order had now been despatched. But Viv was adamant it must have been sent to the wrong address because she hadn’t received it.

She told customer services she wanted to cancel the order. But an agent told her nothing could be done until she returned the order she hadn’t received.

Unwilling to be drawn into a fruitless but expensive circular argument on the phone, Viv decided to await further developments.

A day later the delayed package turned up. A carrier arrived with it, but when Viv told them she’d cancelled the order they agreed to return it to Damart.

Viv fully expected a refund cheque from Damart would soon hit her doormat. But her patience was tested to its limits when in early January it appeared about as elusive as the original order.

Once again she put pen to paper in protest and, when another couple of weeks slipped by without explanation, she decided it was high time to get in touch and ask for our help.

Damart is not on the Streetwise radar for unresponsive or poor quality service, so we decided to go straight to the top for an explanation.

We relayed Viv’s sorry saga to chief executive Andy Hill, who immediately pulled out all the stops to resolve her complaint. Within a few days there was much better news for her on its way.

The refund cheque arrived, and token compensation was agreed.

Mr Hill said: ‘We’re disappointed with the service Mrs Morge has experienced. I can assure you we take all complaints very seriously and will fully investigate this matter urgently to try to ensure it does not happen again.

‘We have called Mrs Morge to apologise for the service she has received.

‘Everything is now resolved, a cheque is on its way to her today and she is very happy.

Viv said: ‘Thank you very much for your help. They’ve now recognised my complaint was from a valued customer.’