Broken laptop and slow service from John Lewis leaves pensioner fuming

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Brian Wakeford would hardly describe himself as a technology whizzkid.

But when the retired 82-year-old business management lecturer decided he needed a computer to send a few e-mails and keep in touch with the world around him, he plumped for a HP laptop from top retailer John Lewis.

The company clearly couldn’t sort out the problem and as the laptop was still under guarantee, it was only right to stop giving him the run-around and get it fixed

On the face of it he’d got a good internet deal. They offered a three-year product guarantee with the machine so he could look forward with confidence that his £379 outlay was covered against any malfunction for the foreseeable future.

If by chance the worse should happen, Brian was confident he had the expertise and the renowned customer service reputation of the John Lewis partnership to fall back on.

All went well with the computer until the end of the first year, when it suddenly started to malfunction.

‘I’m not a computer techie,’ said Brian, ‘but every time I went to download it wouldn’t stop, and just kept downloading forever and ever.

‘The other problem was I couldn’t send or receive e-mails on it, although some elements were still useable.’

As these were the two main functions he wanted to use on the computer, he was a little put out to say the least.

Not being the slightest bit technical, Brian wasn’t sure if he was doing something wrong, so he got his own computer specialist in to take a quick look at it.

After what seemed hours with his expert on the phone talking to John Lewis technicians, they suggested stripping the hard drive of the operating system and restoring it from scratch.

This solution was finally abandoned after four attempts when, to his disappointment, it became clear that it was never going to resolve the problem.

Brian’s blood pressure didn’t improve when he got on to manufacturer HP. It ramped up the frustration when it declined to help because the product was out of its one-year guarantee period.

Undeterred, Brian was advised to take the offending laptop back to a store technical depot to sort out, so he promptly made the journey all the way from Horndean to Debenhams in Southsea.

To his surprise, some 15 minutes later the machine was returned to him with the claim that there was nothing wrong with it.

It appears that as the store didn’t have wi-fi internet access, the resident technician simply switched the computer on and off without checking for an internet connectivity problem.

An annoyed Brian was left to ring John Lewis customer services yet again, this time to be told it would make an appointment for one of its own engineers to come and look at it.

He made sure his own technician was present when the firm’s engineer arrived.

After examining the laptop, they came to the conclusion the problems with it were all down to a defective hard disk drive.

The John Lewis engineer wrote out a report and arranged to take the laptop back for a decision to be made about how the problem was to be resolved.

Almost three weeks later, Brian got fed up waiting around not knowing precisely what was going on.

Yet again he got on the phone to ask what was happening, but no-one seemed to know where his laptop was, let alone what they were going to do about it.

But once Streetwise got involved, the problem was sorted in a matter of hours. We contacted John Lewis, pointing out Brian had not received the level of customer care he was entitled to expect from one of the nation’s top retailers.

The company clearly couldn’t sort out the problem and as the laptop was still under its guarantee, it was only right to stop giving him the run-around and get it fixed.

Streetwise rarely receives any reader complaints about sales or service from any of the companies in the John Lewis group, so we were not surprised that within a matter of hours Brian received an offer to get the problem sorted.

A spokesperson said: ‘We are very sorry Mr Wakeford experienced problems with his purchase from John Lewis.’

‘Our customer services team has now resolved the issue to the customer’s satisfaction. We have offered Mr Wakeford a full refund for the laptop, which he has accepted.’