I’m caught up in Habitat’s own version of the Bermuda Triangle

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I’m one of what looks like very many Habitat customers stuck in a Bermuda Triangle of a late or partial delivery, nonexistent customer service and lack of access to customer accounts for orders made prior to 26 January.

All the accounts have been deleted, despite outstanding live orders, following the merger of Habitat on to the Argos website.

My order arrived with more than half of the items missing, no delivery note about a refund for the outstanding £62 balance, or whether goods were to follow. And, as my order was on 22 January, my account details are no longer online.
CL, Weymouth, Dorset

Laments on Facebook and Trustpilot, where Habitat’s star rating has plummeted since January, all tell the same story. Something has gone badly wrong since the brand merged with Argos under the Sainsbury’s umbrella. The deletion of customer accounts, which Sainsbury’s blithely announces on its website, can’t have helped.

RGC of Halesworth, Suffolk, is in a similar predicament after paying £70 for two picture frames to honour his late wife.

He arranged to collect them from the store in Brighton following an appointment in the town, but when he got home he found there was only one broken frame in the package. His phone calls and online chats were cut off.

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Eventually, he was told he would have to return the broken frame to Brighton – a 300-mile round trip – or, when he protested, make a 45-minute journey to Norwich as nearer outlets were not accepting returns.

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When he declined he was invited to place a new order with a delivery charge and promised a refund. Only £25 was returned to him.

“The frames were for pictures of my wife who died a year ago,” he writes. “We’d been together for more than 40 years. Throughout the various lockdowns hanging pictures of her has made me feel slightly less alone … which makes Habitat’s shabby treatment so difficult.”

It looked as though I’d have no more luck than the Habitat customers. For a month emails went unanswered and its press office phone line was out of action. Sainsbury’s press team was similarly incommunicado.

Eventually, I elicited an admission that “a small number” of customers experienced delays with orders in February. “We contacted them at the time to apologise and rearrange as soon as possible,” it says.

Far from being contacted, it seems it was the customers themselves that had to do the chasing, and it was only those with access to social media who managed to get hold of customer services. CL has been refunded for the missing items, which remain unavailable, and RGC has been promised a full refund plus a £20 goodwill voucher so he can repeat the white-knuckle merry-go-round.

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