Thursday, 19 June 2014

Knowing Wink

There is an interesting reflection on retail trends in the latest posting by Timbo making one reminisce fondly of the classic English Department Store, the endangered species in many provincial small town High Streets where only hairdressers and charity shops are clinging on like cockroaches after a nuclear bomb.

I'm still racked with guilt over not using Woolworths enough when they had turned into the showroom for people to look over their potential purchases before popping round the corner to Argos and purchasing via a terminal and an anonymous counter in a wall. The truth is that you can't turn the clock back and once Web 2.0 (remember that?) had facilitated full colour interactive viewing of products and UK distribution systems had stepped up to the mark to facilitate fast and cheap delivery (apart from the Royal Mail), the non-specialist large high street store outside of major retail "destinations" was done for.

Those large retail department groups that have made the transition into mail order integrated with click-and-collect services and view-then-buy are doing quite well, particularly John Lewis who have carved themselves an enormous middle-class niche by upholding quality standards and involving all staff via ownership in the drive for success.

Last week I succumbed to sibling pressure and bought a Nespresso coffee machine from John Lewis mail order after having mooched (mochad?) round their enormous range at the Norwich branch. A sexy black Magimix Inissia with a ticket price of £116.99 including a gift promotion of £40 of free coffee. What could possibly be more attractive? Of course there is the underlying backup of their being "Never Knowingly Undersold". Splendid!

Anyway, later the same day I happened to click a link to Currys which had no doubt been tracked and alerted by the invisible cookie monsters on my PC and discovered the exact same machine with the exact same promotion for £106.96. (Stay with me class, the bell goes in a few minutes).

Like some old pensioner with too much time on their hands, I contacted John Lewis customer service who invited me to fill out a "NKU" form (Never Knowingly Undersold") and sure enough they checked the price offer and came back with a refund of £10.03.

All very good. There is, however, a slight niggle in that the John Lewis web site continues to advertise the machine at £116.99 despite the fact that I've clearly informed them that they are being undersold. I'm off to check the exact dictionary definition of "knowingly".

Perhaps I should just get out more....


Pat said...

Maybe I lost concentration for a nanosecond - it's my age - but did the free coffee come into the equation?
My late business partner always swore by John Lewis and she knew her onions.

Rog said...

It was identical with exactly the same free coffee deal Pat. I didn't realise they sell onions though.

Liz said...

1. I love John Lewis stores.

2. I don't like coffee.

3. Sir Bruin does like coffee and he wants to know when he can come 'round and sample some from your machine. He would have left you a message himself, but he's having even more trouble with blogger than I am at the moment.

Z said...

When my daughter had London Ways, about 12 years ago, she splashed out £400 on a coffee making machine. You put the beans in one end and took out a cup of coffee at the other. It even cleaned itself.

When I bought my iPad, the Apple Store assistant got out her iPad and checked various other shops - Tesco, John Lewis etc - and then reduced its price by a tenner to match the lowest. Tesco and JL were the same price.

Please let us know if you're thrilled with the machine, I'm in the mood to spend money on myself. It's the fact that you then presumably have to buy Nespresso refills that holds me back.

Rog said...

Liz: 1. So does Mrs R 2. We were sold on the froth machine 3. The sooner the better. Take in the Harling Whisky distillery for a complete beverage fest!

Z: The Nespresso system always put me off until I blocked the drains last week with cafetiere grounds. It is great fun at the mo but the aerocini whisking device is the real killer app. Magic! Coffee machines have tended to be 5 minute wonders in the past so ask me again in a fortnight!

Z said...

Hm - I drink coffee black, so whisking is wasted on me. And we've got almost no fall to our septic tank, so are very careful about what we put in the sink - coffee grounds go to the compost heap. But I do like gizmos - as long as they're easy to clean!

Anonymous said...

you can't trust anyone I'm afraid ;)

mig bardsley said...

I'm a cafetiere devotee and have an electronic whisk for the milk. (Even though Barney often has to clear the drains of coffee grounds).
I like John Lewis too but I will treat them with caution from now on.
Oh and I think you can get the aerocini separately and the little coffee inserts are quite expensive. (Two of my children have the machine and I always have to bring inserts when I visit)

Rosemarie Blackthorn said...

I have a stove top and a grinder.

But I'm biased, as you well know.