Streetwise: Loyalty counted for little in chairs row

NOT HAPPY William High feels let down by The Range. Picture: Sarah Standing (14543-2836)
NOT HAPPY William High feels let down by The Range. Picture: Sarah Standing (14543-2836)
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As loyal customers go, they don’t come any better than William High.

Over the years, his Gosport waterside home has been furnished with attractive merchandise mainly from The Range.

William, who suffers from chronic heart and mobility problems, started to find it difficult getting out of his lounge chairs.

So when the 66-year-old former self-employed decorator decided suitable rise and recline replacements were needed, there are no prizes for guessing where he was first going to head.

‘Most of our stuff has been bought from The Range over the years,’ he said, ‘and we’ve been very happy with it.’

On browsing around the Gosport store he was attracted to the very thing he was looking for – motorised reclining faux leather chairs at a very reasonable £299 each.

Without a moment’s hesitation he bought two of them, and based on his previous satisfaction of the store’s products looked forward to enjoying years of useful life from them.

But on this occasion his expectation turned out to be misplaced. Within 18 months, one of the chairs showed signs of the leather splitting and cracking around the seat, back, and arm rests. The other remained in perfect condition.

Last August, he went back to the store to complain about the defects, but soon discovered his loyalty to The Range appeared to count for little.

He was asked to take photographs of the chair and provide proof of purchase. When he went back to the store with it after ploughing through 18 months of paperwork to find the receipt, he said he sensed they were starting to put up a brick wall against him.

His complaint was recorded in a book, which apparently had to be reviewed by head office. Every two weeks William went back to the store to ask the manager how his complaint was coming on, but the answer was always the same – it’s with head office. There was no offer to chase it up.

On one of the visits he noticed an identical chair on offer showing similar upholstery defects as his own, but at a dramatically reduced price of £45. It was beginning to look as if his problem was not an isolated one.

After nearly three months of getting the cold shoulder treatment William was beginning to get a little hot under the collar at being continuously fobbed off.

He first tried trading standards who registered his complaint. They told him about his statutory rights, and provided information about going to court. Not finding this approach particularly helpful, William decided to contact Streetwise at the Gosport Discovery Centre News weekly surgery.

When we got in touch with The Range and put it to them they weren’t exactly playing fair by William, they immediately sprang into action.

Within 48 hours he received a call from a store manager to say they had finally made a decision to replace the chair after all.

Ten days later, two drivers from The Range suppliers Julian Bowen turned up with a brand new chair. William was chuffed when they set it up for him, made sure he was satisfied, and took the faulty one away.

He said: ‘I’m a bit of a fighter and I won’t let anyone just walk over me. But I’d like to say a special thank you to Streetwise as you sorted it out quicker than I could ever have done.’

We invited The Range on two occasions to comment about William’s experience, but the firm failed to respond.