If you want to use the John Lewis “Never Knowingly Undersold” promise to price match your shopping, you don’t have much time left.
For a good while John Lewis & Partners shouted very loudly about how it’ll price match competitors so you get the best price. I was a big fan and used it to save on a range of items, from an oven and TV through to clothes and more.
Sadly, it’s days are numbered, and you’ve only a few weeks left to take advantage. Below I’ve explained more, and how to use it before the deadline.
When will it end?
In the past the scheme has put John Lewis in some financial trouble. When struggling shops such as House Of Fraser and Debenhams ran sale after sale, the low prices meant reduced profits for the partnership.
As a result back in 2020 it was announced the scheme was under review, and then earlier this year it was revealed the department store would ending the policy in the summer of 2022. Apparently less than 1% of customers actually used it.
And now we know the exact date. From 23 August 2022 you won’t be able to make any price match claims before or after purchase.
So that leaves just a few weeks to take advantage for anything you’ve recently bought or plan to buy. I’ve details how it works further down the article.
Will it be replaced?
There won’t be any official price matching scheme taking the place of “Never Knowingly Undersold”. Instead the department store will put £500 million into “Quality & Value” where they will proactively look to offer value rather than react to price changes elsewhere.
What this means in reality is there will be an increased range of own brand items, including the budget Anyday range.
The department store says it will still monitor competitor prices, so presumably they’ll react to offers on some items some of the time.
The big change is that it’s no longer in your power to get a cheaper price.
Should you still shop at John Lewis?
To take advantage of the price matching you needed to shop around for the lowest price. That doesn’t change. But rather than get JL to offer a lower price, in most cases it now makes sense to buy direct from the cheapest retailer instead.
Of course, John Lewis might still be cheaper or the same price as the rest. If so, go for it. But do check to see if you can also improve the prices you find at other retailers, whether that’s by using a cashback site, applying a voucher code or paying with a discounted gift card.
But sometimes prices isn’t the most important factor. Some stores, including John Lewis, might provide boosted warranties on tech and white goods or improved returns policies. It might, in some cases, be worth paying a little extra for these.
Can you price match elsewhere?
Yes! Some retailers also let you price match – though it remains to be seen if they follow John Lewis and ditch their own schemes. Here’s more about which shops offer this and how they work.
How the John Lewis price match worked
The Never Knowingly Undersold policy says John Lewis will price match a high street competitor. So if you find an item for sale for less elsewhere, you should be able to get it for the same price at John Lewis.
Price matching criteria
There are various criteria, such as the retailer has to have a physical shop, and with multiple premises nationwide. This rules out online-only shops, factory outlets and pop-up shops.
The item must be exactly the same. Same colour, same flavour and so on. I was turned down once because a jacket had a slightly different colour blue lining.
You also need to ensure other terms are the same. So if it comes with a guarantee, is it shorter or longer? If there’s a delivery charge is it the same?
You can read what counts, and what doesn’t, on the John Lewis website.
You can make a claim after buying something
Something worth remembering is you can make a claim four weeks after buying at John Lewis. So if there’s a promotion elsewhere that drops the price of your purchase, call up John Lewis and get a refund.
You can do this even if you’ve already submitted a price-match request before buying, so it’s worth keeping an eye on price changes after making the purchase.
Obviously the 28 days won’t apply now as all claims stop on 23 August – though you can claim after purchase until then.
You need to fill in a new form for each price match request
This is an annoying bit of admin which surely could be easier. You have to fill in a separate form for each item I wanted to price match – and that even counts if you were getting different varieties of the same item. You can also make a claim in-store or over the phone.
Don’t forget to claim your money
I was surprised that the price match wasn’t automatic when I bought something. Instead I had to buy it as normal and then claim the difference back to my payment card.
To do this you’ll get an email with a reference number. Keep this in a folder so you don’t accidentally delete it. You’ll need it once you’ve made the purchase.
My tips to make sure the John Lewis price match works for you
This is something I only discovered a few years ago. At the start of March 2020 I bought a jacket and wallet in the John Lewis Oxford Street branch. Then a few weeks later lockdown happened and the shops closed their doors.
Online I spotted the jacket was reduced by £40 so I got in touch to request a price match. But it turned out the only way to price match something in-store is to go back to the store you bought it in!
That’s not always practical (I’m rarely in London), and it wasn’t even possible at this time at the shop was still closed. Despite the circumstances, I spend weeks going around in circles with the call centres and in emails- it looked like I wouldn’t be able to claim the money.
I eventually managed to get the Oxford Street store to retrospectively do this for me via the phone. But this took a lot of effort and was an exception due to Covid.
You might be able to go to a different store, but this wasn’t a possibility for me at the moment.
So the moral of the story is order online if you want to make it easier for you to price match at a later date. You can still choose to collect it in-store rather than get it delivered, and you’ll also get additional protections in case you do change your mind.
Don’t assume something has already been price matched
When John Lewis says it’s “Never Knowingly Undersold”, that’s not true. If that was the case it would reduce items as soon as they honour a price match.
In the past I’ve had a price match approved but the price on the website has stayed the same.
This means that even when something is labelled as reduced as part of a price match, make sure you can’t get a better deal still elsewhere.
Here’s a video I made about my first JL price matching experience in 2017.
The first time I tried it out, when Selfridges ran a 20% off promotion during the Black Friday sales a few years ago, I thought it was a good chance to assess it. And it wasn’t the easiest process.
My first call about price matching was positive – yes they would price match this promotion. But since I didn’t know the product number of the candles I wanted to buy I was asked to get that information and call back. But on that next call I was told John Lewis couldn’t price match it.
Confident that was wrong, I hung up and called again. This time I was told yes, John Lewis were price matching the Selfridges offer. Result.
Since then I’ve mainly been price matching online. Most of the time the applications have been successful, but at times I was told no. So I completed the form again – and a couple of times a different customer services person agreed to the price match.
That doesn’t mean “don’t take no for an answer”. You won’t be able to match everything, but if you think it’s a legitimate claim based on their criteria then it’s worth trying a second time if you are rejected.
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