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....