Category Archives: shopping

John Lewis Your Delivery Sucks

by Jake McMillan

Zanussi ZWG5148P Washing Machine

I’ve written a few silly letters in my time, but this time I have a very legitimate complaint about the exceedingly poor delivery service provided by John Lewis.

Mr Lewis,

Do you mind if I call you John?

John, I need to tell you a tale. It starts as an ordinary tale of a man ordering a washing machine and a kitchen tap and ends  … well, this epic tale has only just ended and I’m not sure I have taken it all in yet.

 I live with my wife Judy and have recently taken in her emotionally-challenged sister Maggie. Maggie’s troubles are too numerous and involved to get into, but her arrival a few months ago has caused a massive increase in the use of our ageing washing machine. Hence the order of a new Zanussi ZWG5148P Washing Machine from your website, that and a new kitchen tap.

This online order triggered two delivery phone calls from you. Not from you personally John, of course. The first was to arrange delivery of the washing machine, this would take place sometime between 7am(!) and 1pm. The second call was to arrange the delivery of the tap. The latter was a lengthier call than expected as I was quizzed on what floor I lived on, whether there was parking? a lift? etc. Both items were set to be delivered on the same day.

Delivery day arrived and I arose from a poor night’s sleep (Maggie had been having more of her troubles) eager to receive the new washing machine and for the old one to be taken away. At 10am, the buzzer buzzed and I ran down to see one of your vans with my brand new washing machine.

My happiness was squashed after a short exchange with your burly delivery gents.

“Sorry mate, we don’t deliver to the third floor, you need the 3-man heavy lifting crew who have the proper trolley”.

Maggie’s friend Keith had come over to have some bagels and offered his kind services to help. I enquired if I could borrow your trolley and we could take it up to the flat ourselves? A resolute “No” was the answer. There was concern I would sue if your trolley broke. I said I wouldn’t, but that didn’t seem to be enough.

Further discussion revealed that this trolley could be used to deliver to first floor properties. I persuaded your delivery chaps to take my new washing machine to the first floor and then Keith and I carried it up the remaining two floors and installed it. They couldn’t take away the old one but would arrange for a 3-man crew to come and collect it as soon as possible.

Was this the first washing machine you have delivered in London John? I hate to break it to you, but there are probably millions of the population who live above the 1st floor and so maybe you should perhaps ask about this before organising a delivery? Just a suggestion.

30 minutes later a separate truck of yours arrived. Despite them having all the information on which floor I was on and the location of the car park, I still ended up having to go out on the street to collect the kitchen tap. The delivery man could not find the package in his van and so I was left hopping about in the freezing cold until he eventually located it.

Fast forward three weeks and the old washing machine is still yet to be picked up. I had a missed call and the long rambling voicemail was from one of your colleagues asking to know if the washing machine had been picked up or not as they didn’t have the information? I helped plug this gap in your knowledge and I had another missed call from an unknown/withheld number asking me to call back at “my convenience” to arrange the pickup. Of course, the message didn’t leave a phone number so I couldn’t actually call back. Another missed call supplied this information and a reference. I called back, but apparently there was only one person I could speak to about this and they were not there, but they would call me back.

I did get a call back a couple of days later. I was told that one of your trucks was 3mins away to collect the washing machine?! No one had told me, but I happened to be home that day so all was good. The buzzer buzzed and I ran down again to meet your colleagues.

They ask, “What floor you on?”, “I’m on the 3rd floor”.

“Is there a lift?”, “No, just stairs”.

“Oh, you need the 3 person crew and a special trolley for that”. They drove away quicker than you can say ‘spin cycle’.

Phone calls and apologies ensued and was told this Friday that a 3-man team would come and collect the washing machine. They would come between 7am – 1pm. Despite another night of Maggie difficulties, I was up and ready to receive your colleagues from 6.50am.

In the end, they were only 2 hours late (3pm arrival) and it was simply a joy to watch the professionalism of these three men: one man put the washing machine on the trolley, one stood in front of it just in case and the other chatted to his friend on his mobile.

So thanks John! Thank you for turning something that should have been a very straight forward simple tale into an epic tragedy. Or is it a comedy? I can’t quite figure it out.


Jake, Judy and Maggie


Related Posts:
Service as Quick as Coal
A Complaint About The New Forest
A Complaint About Vagisil

The Hierarchy of UK Supermarkets

by Jake McMillan
The supermarket brands here in the UK are so well developed that there is a clear hierarchy of the supermarket chains:
  • Top is quite clearly Waitrose, followed by Sainsbury’s.
  • Tescos, ASDA & Morrisons are at the same level. People do argue about which of these three are best, but essentially they are on the same level with individuals having slight preferences over the other two.
  • Iceland is on a level between the above and LiDL and ALDI as although Iceland is seen as being quite ‘pikey’ it actually does sell well known branded products. LiDL and ALDI are quite firmly bottom as they both sell very cheap foreign branded products.

A Complaint about Fair Trade Bananas

I would like to register a complaint.

It’s about these Fair Trade bananas that I have been purchasing from the supermarket. I am, of course, very much in favour of the concept and work of the Fair Trade Foundation in getting better prices, working conditions and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. This means that the Fair Trade banana is likely to be more expensive than a banana that has been sourced from an area where exploitation may have taken place.

My local supermarket only sells Fair Trade bananas and I am okay with that, my complaint is that the bananas are really not very good and completely bland, even by a banana’s standard. So I am paying over the odds for a crap banana, how on earth can that be a fair trade?!


Jake McMillan

Americans, Sort out your Pricing!

I got back from an amazing weekend in New York recently and I am definitely a big fan of your country, your people and culture, even more so after the weekend in NYC, however, I was reminded again of the pricing problem you guys have. You make it all unnecessarily complicated and hard work?

In such a modern and civilised country full of fantastic convenience services and devices, I find it incredible that Americans waste so much of their lives trying to figure out the actual price of whatever it is they are buying. The problem is created through complex sales taxes and confusion over tipping.


Sales tax in the US is non-standard, unlike many other countries (e.g. the UK’s standard 15% Value Added Tax), and varies from state to state. For example, in Chicago (Cook County), Illinois, the sales tax is 10.25% which is made up of 4(!) constituent taxes: 6.25% is the state tax; 1.25% is the city tax; 1.75% is the county tax and 1% regional transport authority tax.  I am not suggesting altering your entire taxing structure, but would it be so hard to put the price on the label that includes the sales tax? Can you imagine a world where the label says $4.85 and that was actually the price you paid?! Other countries manage it, so can you.

Why do you make everyone do a maths calculation when they pay for something? As a tourist it is doubly worse as not only are you not sure of the sales tax rate, but you are also trying to do an exchange rate conversion back into your own currency to see if the good or service is actually worth purchasing.

Tipping in America is a minefield. Somewhere along the way you have combined service charge and tipping together. A tip, or gratuity, should be a voluntary ‘extra’ payment that is given to those who you feel have given a service that is beyond satisfactory.  A tip should not be compulsory as then it is not a tip, it is just part of the normal cost of whatever it is.

As a humble guest in your country I found it extremely difficult to know when and how much to tip? I was fortunate to have 3 kind New Yorkers show me around my first visit to NYC and I was told to tip taxi drivers 20% and 15% in restaurants and in bars where there is table service. However, if ordering from the bar then I was told to tip a dollar a drink. Is this standard? Nobody knows.

Every time we ate out together there was a big discussion about sorting out our shares of the check and moans from the group of “I hate having to work out the tip”. People like to have wine and other alcoholic drinks and so makes doing mathematics even more arduous and mentally taxing when slightly or a lot inebriated. Calculators are brought out and it becomes a whole “to do”.


So America, my request is that you sort out your price labels so they display the actual final price and add a standard service charge of whatever percentage you see fit to the food bill. That way you will spend less time arguing and sorting out the check and more time being happy.

Go on, do it, it’s easy.

Jake McMillan