Published On: Thu, May 18th, 2017

Martin Lewis – John Lewis ‘never knowingly undersold’ policy EXPOSED by investigation


Martin discovered the department store failed to reduce prices on a wide range of products it was aware were being sold cheaper elsewhere.

The Money Saving Expert team wrote on the website: “The high street stalwart did not drop its advertised prices on 15 out of 16 products it was informed were being sold for less by rivals – even though it agreed to pay out individual price match refunds.

“These included goods sold by major chains such as Tesco Direct and Toys R Us.”

The ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ policy promises John Lewis customers: “If we find that [high street competitors] are selling the same individual product, sold with the same service conditions, at a lower price, we’ll meet that price in our shops and at johnlewis.com.”

Martin and his team tested this policy by buying a range of different items, all of which they had found cheaper elsewhere over two consecutive days in March from a selection of different John Lewis stores and its website.

They then monitored the price of the 16 items the department store had agreed to issue price match refunds on – which was an admission their price had been undercut.

Revealing what happened, they wrote: “We checked prices online and in a selection of John Lewis stores, but it only cut the price of one of the items over the next seven days (it or its competitor was out of stock on three items, though while these items were still in stock, John Lewis hadn’t dropped its price).

“Even when we did a final check of johnlewis.com 14 days after purchase, John Lewis was STILL being undercut on 10 of the original items (it or its competitor was out of stock on four items, and a competitor’s price had risen on the remaining item).”

Martin approached John Lewis to ask for an explanation on why it had failed to reduce prices on these items.

Explaining their response, the Money Saving Expert team wrote: “It admitted a good chunk of the products had simply been missed by its ‘dedicated price-monitoring team’, though argued other price matches were approved for individuals but the store prices on these items had not been dropped because competitor stores were not within eight miles – something it doesn’t make clear on the main page on its website explaining the policy.

“It says it’s now ‘reviewing its communications to ensure its policy is absolutely clear’.”

Martin, who earlier this week revealed many people may have unknowingly had their online passwords hacked, slammed the lax enforcement of the policy in a statement on his website.

He wrote: “Our research shows John Lewis is not always the champion of price it wants people to think it is. “After all, if it is agreeing to reduce prices because they qualify for its price match as they are cheaper elsewhere, and then continues to sell the same goods at the higher price to everyone else, it knows that it is being undersold elsewhere.

“The failure was not limited to a few items, which could have been put down to just having a bad day – it was well over 90 per cent of them.

“Some of these are due to its processes simply not working, others due to its ‘eight mile’ policy – that effectively says it’ll give individuals who ask a refund, but keep the price higher, and only reduce it for others who ask. If John Lewis wants to tout its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ catchphrase, it should put up or shut up, or it risks losing its great reputation.”

John Lewis responded to the MSE investigation and said: “Never Knowingly Undersold is at the heart of everything we do and we are disappointed that MSE focused on a small number of specific examples rather than the millions of prices that we lower each year. We will look at the detail of their report to see where we can make improvements for our customers in either our processes or communications on the website.

“John Lewis is the only department store with a comprehensive price promise. Never Knowingly Undersold means that we proactively check the prices of tens of thousands of products everyday so our customers can be confident of getting the best possible price on the high street. If a customer has found an identical product, sold with the same conditions, we would match the price. We have a dedicated price-monitoring team who proactively check the prices of tens of thousands of branded products at our high street competitors every day, including products on their websites.”

To read more about the Money Saving Expert investigation, click here.



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