Most companies spout pious slogans about their customer commitment. The pandemic has exposed which ones really mean it. This column ordinarily broadcasts the failures, but when we emerge from captivity, it’s the good guys we need to hear about, so we know where to entrust our custom.
Some of you have written in to laud excellent customer service – or rather customer service that should be standard, but so rarely is.
Here are some of the traders who did put their customers first, sometimes at great cost to themselves.
We booked a cottage for Christmas with a family-run firm, Weardale Holiday Cottages, in County Durham. When new restrictions were announced, the company changed our dates to accommodate us and, just before the holiday, when we were put into tier 4, it agreed to cancel and refund us the next day.
SJ, Monmouth, Monmouthshire
Hats off to Grace Darling Holidays in Northumberland. When we had to cancel a family half-term break due to Covid, I was offered a rebooking or a refund – we opted for the latter, which was promptly paid.
GM, Newcastle, County Down
We had booked various trips with Caledonian Sleeper. The company emailed me within a few days of lockdown being announced to offer a full refund, regardless of the initial ticket type – and that, in fact, our service was still running. We took the refund and rebooked – only to have to cancel again for an unrelated reason. Again, we received a refund almost instantly.
We had booked two trips with Titan Travel before the first lockdown. When the first one was cancelled, we got a full refund almost immediately. For the second, we were sent a voucher and told that, if it was not used within four months, we would get a full refund. In fact, we received it before then. Both times someone rang us to ask about our plans.
EK, Basildon, Essex
Each year we visit the Edinburgh festival in August and stay at the Premier Inn. For 2020 we had booked a non-refundable deal. When the festival was cancelled we were contacted by Premier Inn advising us that they had changed the status of our booking, and offering the option of rebooking or a refund. We asked for a refund, which appeared in our bank account two days later.
HB, Cullercoats, Tyne and Wear
To mitigate the impact of household restrictions, we bought a £99 pergola from Wayfair. Four weeks later, the frame was buckled beyond repair by a storm, while the cover was intact. We emailed Wayfair asking if the framework could be bought separately. Within an hour it replied, sympathising with our predicament, and promising a free replacement. Three days later, we received a brand new pergola.
JF, East Kilbride, Scotland
I was given a pannier bag for my bike as a birthday present. A few weeks later, one of the hooks that attach it to the rack snapped off.
I contacted the manufacturer – OverBoard – which needed proof of purchase and photos of the damage. As it was a present, I didn’t have a receipt, but they accepted a confirmation of delivery, instead. They could not determine if it was a manufacturing fault, but replaced the bag, which arrived the next day!
LC, Crosby, Merseyside
My aunt sent us M&S wine and chocolates for Christmas. A few days later, an identical gift arrived. M&S explained that the first carrier hadn’t confirmed delivery. But I was allowed to keep both.
BP, Ormskirk, West Lancashire
I bought a set of Arlo security cameras from John Lewis. One was faulty and customer service arranged for a new set to be delivered immediately, without waiting for the faulty item to be returned.
TB, Shrewsbury, Shropshire
The battery of my six-week-old Vax cordless vacuum cleaner developed a fault and I rang Vax late that afternoon. At 8.30 the following morning the new battery arrived.
RDJ, Blaenavon, Gwent
Over two years ago I bought a pair of waterproof Scarpa Vortex GTX walking shoes from the Mountain Boot Company. On their first outing, in very wet conditions, one leaked badly. MBC provided a free return label and within a few days a replacement pair arrived.
TK, Forfar, Angus
Like many others in lockdown, I got working on my neglected garden, only for my Spear & Jackson garden fork to break. Though it had a 10-year guarantee, I could not find my receipt nor remember where I bought it. I sent S&J a picture, and, within a very short time, I was contacted by Wendy. Despite them having sold out due to the pandemic, a free replacement was arranged.
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