Nov 1, 2022
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John Lewis Partnership apologises for new credit card woes

Nov 1, 2022

In an admission that major retailers can get it wrong, John Lewis Parnership has admitted to problems after introducing its new credit card in partnership with provider NewDay this summer. And heading the apology was chair Sharon White.

John Lewis Partnership

Under an opening statement that ‘Trust and loyalty are the lifeblood of any business’, White said the John Lewis department store/Waitrose supermarket retailer is now making “significant customer service changes” to its credit card system. 

The move comes after the contract with long-term credit card provider HSBC ended, replaced by NewDay. However, problems arose after an unknown number of customers became frustrated at needing to reapply for the card or who found the application process “difficult to navigate - particularly for those without an email address or mobile phone”.  

Some customers even reached out to White in cases where their applications have been declined or credit limits reduced.

“We have been listening closely and are responding, making a number of important changes to make the process smoother,” she said.

This includes introducing a new manual underwriting process for customers where their income cannot be verified in an automatic way; NewDay enhancing its affordability assessment process, reducing the proportion of customers being declined for not meeting affordability requirements, by two thirds; introducing more agents on its customer service helplines at NewDay to take customers through the process; and for customers who don’t have a mobile phone, creating a created a bespoke process to enable them to apply for the new card, “which we will be able to share with customers within weeks”.

White also said: “We’ve made the process as smooth as possible by giving customers an option to have the application form pre-populated using a unique reference code, and set up a dedicated helpline for customers”. 

At the same time, the Partnership also said it has introduced a new mobile app and the ability to spend instantly on the card using Apple or Google pay.

However, she also admitted: “Unfortunately, there will still be some disappointed customers unable to access the new card because they do not meet the credit or affordability requirements of responsible lending. 

“We want to strengthen the loyalty of our long-standing customers, many of whom have held the card for decades, while making it more accessible to customers that may not have previously considered the Partnership card”.

However, the statement also said that nearly 600,000 customers have already opened their new card account, “which is the vast majority of those who were using the previous card, with 96% of applicants being accepted”. 

She ended: “We don’t take our customers’ loyalty for granted. So we will continue to listen and work with NewDay to make improvements. 

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