CONSUMER: Phone buyer left '˜stunned' by online store's customer service over discount claim

Suzanne Kirkham was left speechless at the way she was treated by an online store when her phone order failed to activate a 20 per cent promotional discount.

Thursday, 18th January 2018, 6:08 am
Updated Thursday, 18th January 2018, 10:42 am

A furious Suzanne from Fareham says she promptly got the elbow from the firm’s customer service team after they refused to honour the discount, despite confirming she’d tried to complete the order correctly and in time.

Suzanne’s extended clash with the online retail giant began back in November when she was in the market for a replacement smartphone.

Husband Tim noticed the £699 less 20 per cent iPhone offer by Very on the Hot UK Deals website and checked out all the reviews.

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Suzanne Kirkham was angry and frustrated when Very wouldn;t honour a 20 per cent discount offer on her new phone

As she already had an account with them, she thought the order process would be a doddle. But the order was repeatedly rejected when she tried to enter the appropriate discount code at the checkout.

Suzanne, 38, explained: ‘I went online with a friend’s laptop and although I hadn’t used the account for some time it was still open because it gave me the option to pay now or later.’

‘I was clicking on the right deal and pressed all the right buttons, but it wasn’t working, so I rang them up and a helpful lady tried to sort out the order process. But it still wouldn’t go through when entering the 20 per cent code.

‘I was obviously panicking that they wouldn’t honour the deal because it was due to end the following day, but she was very insistent they’d honour it.

Suzanne Kirkham was angry and frustrated when Very wouldn;t honour a 20 per cent discount offer on her new phone

‘After a number of attempts she eventually had to cancel the order, but assured me I’d get a phone call about it. The following day there was no call, so I rang them again.

‘Marketing complaints confirmed they would be applying the full discount code as the deal was set to end that day.

‘I began to get the feeling something wasn’t right, so started to record everything. It was getting so daft I just couldn’t believe it.’

However, she soon realised keeping careful notes about what had transpired was to stand her in good stead.

Warning lights flashed again when she got another bizarre call from the firm’s customer relations department a week later. The caller insisted the phone had only been on offer with a 10 per cent online discount code and that was the end of the matter.

Suzanne resolved not to take no for an answer and was determined to stand her ground. She followed through with a number of phone calls to protest about the claim that she wasn’t entitled to the £139.80 discount.

She added: ‘I kept stressing I’d tried to order online but it didn’t work, which was the whole point. I just couldn’t take in they were telling me I’d done nothing wrong, everything had been done correctly, yet they still weren’t honouring the deal.

‘They promised to look into it again, and by this time it was mid-December. Then Very customer relations rang me again to confirm they’d investigated and listened to all my calls. Everything I said was true, correct and honest but still they point-blank refused to give me anything more than a 10 per cent discount.

‘Several follow-up protest calls later, my complaint was referred back to marketing complaints. Despite them knowing I had proof of the deal and had recorded all the calls I’d made to them, they still refused to budge.

‘They claimed the sales agent I first spoke to had misled me and would be disciplined, but still refused to do the decent thing. I asked them to put their conclusions in writing, but they never did.’

An angry and dumbfounded Suzanne was at the end of her tether.

She said: ‘I was stunned and I just couldn’t believe I was having these conversations with Very, which is renowned for customer service. I was absolutely flummoxed,’

Being repeatedly given the cold shoulder was beginning to rankle, but she kept her cool and maintained her determination not to be short-changed.

A friend suggested she should try contacting Streetwise to confirm where she stood and ask for help.

Very is part of the giant Shop Direct group and had never previously crossed our complaints radar, so we were surprised at the disrespectful way Suzanne had been treated.

It was as plain as a pikestaff that they’d made her the 20 per cent discount offer. She’d supplied us with screen shots of it, leaving us in no doubt she had a legally binding contract with the store which it appeared they were refusing to honour.

We were impressed with the systematic way she’d assembled the evidence to back her claim and her determination not to be given the run-around.

We were equally impressed when we got on to the firm’s management to ask what the problem was, and their prompt no-quibble response.

An executive spokesperson for the Shop Direct Finance Company apologised profusely to Suzanne and explained it was all down to a glitch in their online ordering system when her account was reactivated.

‘We were sorry to learn of the poor level of customer service you received when making enquiries in relation to your order and for the delay in this matter being resolved.

‘I can confirm that the calls have been listened to and feedback has been given to the relevant areas of the business who did not deal with your enquiry correctly.

‘Our records confirm that your Very account changed from a cash account to a buy now, pay later credit account.

‘Although you had placed your order on the same day, the code was not accepted and your order was not placed on to the buy now, pay later terms required.

‘We can confirm that now a new order has been processed on BNPL terms, the 20 per cent discount has now been honoured and your account has been credited accordingly.

‘In recognition of the distress and inconvenience caused, I can confirm that a further £20 credit has also been applied to your account. This will be confirmed on your next statement.’

A relieved Suzanne said: ‘I can’t believe how quickly Streetwise got it sorted. It was amazing.

‘It had been going on for over a month then boom, it all happened. I was so glad of your help.’