THEY KNOW WHERE I LIVE
Forget the US Department of Homeland Security, we British have the Department of Home Furnishings Security, a branch of the Department of Department Stores Security. Go figure.
NB: PLEASE FORGIVE THE SQUASHED TEXT IN THE SECOND HALF OF THIS POST – IT’S SEEMINGLY IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE IT, SO AM CURRENTLY APPLYING TO GCHQ ASKING THEM TO QUIT MESSING AROUND WITH MY FORMATTING.
Dear John Lewis,
As I was invited to write to you after making a complaint on Twitter yesterday, here’s my much-awaited missive. I’ll entitle it:-
An Email as Part of an Occasional Series on The Erosion of Civil Liberties in Modern Britain:-
No. 4,796: KNOWINGLY BEING IN POSSESSION OF A COLLAPSIBLE LINEN BASKET
Yesterday I paid a visit to my local John Lewis store to try to buy something I subsequently discovered they didn’t stock on the premises; on my travels around the store, however, (the first 10 miles are the worst, but fun being directed to 16 different locations by 16 different members of staff) I noticed the perfect collapsible laundry basket. I paid cash for it (£15), and was told it would be ready for collection in 30 minutes time.
OK, I didn’t mind waiting, it gave me a chance to buy a paper and have a coffee. What I did object to, however, was being asked for my postcode and house number by the person on the till, without which information the order would not go through.
I asked where customer services was so I could register a complaint. Only there is no customer services facility in the store. Would I like to fill out a form? Yes please. Another 10 minutes passed before I was told they didn’t have any. Would I like a compliment slip with an address on it so I could write a snail mail letter? No, I replied, I’ll complain online. But I can’t apparently do that either.
I made the same point at the Click and Collect desk, and was told somebody would contact me, and sure enough, Smurf* from Customer Services called me a couple of hours later.
Smurf was, to put it bluntly, in a somewhat opaque way (I’m a journalist, I like words, and much more than I appreciate Smurf), ‘a piece of work’. He defended to a metaphorical death the right John Lewis has to demand my home address before accepting 15 quid in cash from me for a linen basket, and told me this was to ensure a letter can be sent out in the post if goods for collection are forgotten by the purchaser. I asked him why I wasn’t asked for my email address, or phone number, but according to Smurf – who lost no time in informing me he’s a teacher – a high proportion of their customers don’t have an email address, or indeed, possess a phone. I resisted the temptation to ask what percentage of them don’t have homes either, which I thought was pretty nice of me in the circumstances.