Dixons vs. John Lewis – Which brand is really never knowingly undersold?

I wrote a piece last October about Dixons and their advertising approach that directly attacks John Lewis.

Well in the last few months, I’ve had two opportunities to test them out and judge for myself. My conclusion? Well, If I tell you I bought both times from Dixons and have been surprised and delighted by their service, then that maybe says it all.

The first time was for a TV for my son’s birthday. Dixons was just miles cheaper for a like for like product. I bought from them, thinking it was something of a risk, but it was perfect. Timed delivery, well packaged, perfect paperwork. Overall excellent.

The most recent time was only last week when our own TV blew up with no chance of repair. I looked at John Lewis and then price compared them with Dixons. Whilst the model number is not identical, the spec itself seems absolutely identical. You decide!

Samsung 37" LCD TV from Dixons at £399.99
Samsung 37" LCD TV from Dixons at £399.99

or

or a Samsung 37" LCD TV from John Lewis at £499.95
or a Samsung 37" LCD TV from John Lewis at £499.95

So the price difference is a massive £100 or in this case, Dixons are a full 20% cheaper. Therefore, what you have to be paying for is the extra guarantee that John Lewis provide. Their claim that this five year guarantee is actually free, is nothing short of scandalous. It’s not, it’s £100.

John Lewis used to claim they would price match anyone, but they have varied the model number slightly so it’s not an exact match and they have added the spoiler of their so called ‘free’ guarantee. The price match in this case would not, by their rules, be a valid one and they would refuse to price match. They would back this up by saying they wouldn’t price match an Internet only retailer like Dixons anyway.

I guess you pays your money and you takes your choice. I chose the rather more honest approach of Dixons. Twice.

Updated

Karen in Customer services has responded twice to my comments which does at least show they have a bit of a system. As you can see below, both comments are almost identical so i’m not being palmed off with a total cut and paste job.

John Lewis price match details - from Karen in Customer Services
John Lewis price match details - from Karen in Customer Services

if you can’t read this, i’ll put it in full here:

Hi John

I just thought it might be helpful if I explained our position further.

We reviewed our Never Knowingly Undersold terms and conditions on 6 September 2010 to include the matching of on-line competitors something we hadn’t done up until then.  We match those competitors who trade in the same way as us in that they have a high street presence.  As Dixons trade solely on line we do not match their prices.

The two models that you highlight are different.   Dixons also sell the LE37C580 which they have priced at £438.95.  We use the model numbers our suppliers give us and I would like to reassure you that we wouldn’t deliberately alter them to duck out of having to price match.

We always try to offer exceptional value on our TVs – on this product we’re at the same price as our key high street competitors most of whom only offer a 1-year guarantee. Therefore we would consider that our 5 year guarantee comes at no extra cost to our customers.  If this additional guarantee is particularly important to a customer they would find that these key competitors would charge up to 33% more than our selling price to offer the TV with the same service conditions.

Having said that I understand it is completely your decision to choose where you make your purchase but I do hope that my explanation of our arrangements is of some help

Kind regards
Karen Eardley Customer  Service Manager John Lewis Head Office

Updated again

When I get it wrong, i’m happy to admit it. And in this case I got it wrong. The specs of the two TV’s I used as a comparison are not the same. The John Lewis one has an HD Freeview Tuner and the Dixons one has a normal NOT HD Freeview Tuner. As you’ll see from the comment below by Ricardo, the specs can’t be compared and as such, neither can the prices.

Oops, I got it wrong, thanks Ricardo. HD Freeview is not the same as NOT HD Freeview
Oops, I got it wrong, thanks Ricardo. HD Freeview is not the same as NOT HD Freeview

But luckily, steaming to my rescue is Karen from John Lewis Customer Services (who Ricardo doesn’t work for). She points out that Dixons do carry EXACTLY THE SAME LE37C580 TV at £438.95 and they won’t price match that either. It’s out of stock though so it’s either selling like hot cakes or an old model.

LE37C580 TV with HD FReeview at £438.95 from Dixons
LE37C580 TV with HD Freeview at £438.95 from Dixons

Okay, so my maths isn’t quite as dramatic. It is not 20% cheaper buying from Dixons, it’s 12.2% or exactly £61.

That to me sounds like a saving. John Lewis won’t price match Dixons, but you have to take the decision as to whether you think the £61 is worth it for the extra warranty.

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17 thoughts on “Dixons vs. John Lewis – Which brand is really never knowingly undersold?

  1. Hi John, this is Karen from John Lewis Customer Service.

    I’m sorry to learn that we’ve disappointed you.

    I will e mail you directly to explain our price match policy further

    Kind regards

    Karen Eardley

  2. Hi John

    This is Karen from John Lewis Customer Services

    I’m sorry to learn that you’re unhappy with aspects of our price match policy.

    I have emailed you directly to explain our arrangements a little further

    Kind regards

    Karen

  3. John,

    You are very much wrong in stating that the specifications of these two TVs “seem absolutely identical”.

    The LE37C580 model at John Lewis has a Freeview HD tuner whereas the LE37C530 model does not, which in the scheme of things is quite a key feature. What this means is that you will be able to receive high definition through your aerial with the John Lewis model while you couldn’t with the Dixons model.

    I suggest you correct yourself before becoming a PR issue for a company operating honestly with integrity.

    The fact that you have clearly misunderstood the differences between these two models reinforces John Lewis policy of not matching Dixons: you have unknowningly undersold yourself by buying an inferior model. By buying a worse product online you have demonstrated the added value in paying a little extra from a bricks and mortar retailer where you could have a) seen the product before purchasing and b) spoken to an expert – ok, this is a variable and some retailers are better than others with this – who could have discussed with you your needs and found the correct TV to suit.

    For what it’s worth I work in the consumer electronics industry but not for John Lewis or Dixons.

  4. Ey up John.

    As I’ve done this a couple of times I know it works in places like Curry’s.

    Take in your ‘web only price’ from whichever site had the lowest price, go into Comet, Curry’s etc and see how badly the assistant wants your sale. Simply by saying you’ll happily walk out of there if they don’t go some way to matching your price usually gets them on board. Even if they don’t match it entirely they come pretty close and with a far better warranty, you end up with a good deal.

    As for John Lewis, I never bother as they always seem to start out more expensive!

    I’m wondering about one of the new 3d TVs, so when I go shopping I’ll let you know the outcome!

    1. You must be doing too well then mate! I can’t help but think that a 3D TV would just make you feel sick.

      There are apparently new 3D TV’s coming out soon that need no glasses, but if you always wait for the next big thing, you end up buying nothing!

      Anyway, cheers Sausage!

      1. I have my doubts to be honest, I spent 20 mins watching a demo in Currys, it is a bit of a gimmick, but we’ll see how good Sky’s output is. Thing is, these sausage fingers might not be able to press the buttons!!

        I believe I’ll be seeing you tonight… no I’m not stalking, but I’ve been invited to the Rotary do by Paul Jones and I believe you’re presenting? I’m looking forward to it!! Hope to see you later.

  5. Dixons is not all wonderful. A Nikon battery for my D5000 is £68 in Dixons Duty Free at Heathrow, and £55 on the high street in Jacobs photo. Dixons’ duty free around 23% more expensive.

    1. That’s amazing and what I think we all know is selling to a captive market. I didn’t even realise they had any retail outlets left, so that makes the John Lewis resistance to a price promise even more baffling.

      Dixons don’t sell the battery alone on the website and the price from John Lewis and Dixons is the same in both at £464. John Lewis quote an extra £47 to extend the warranty to three years.

      The range in price for the batteries online is huge from £2.17 upwards, but I suspect these are the simpler version than the one you are talking about!

  6. John,

    No sooner had you pulled one foot out of your mouth in admitting that you’ve erroneously compared the specifications of the two TVs but you then go on to stick the other foot in with your price comparison against an out-of-stock item.

    It is common practice for many online retailers to drop the prices of out-of-stock items as given they can keep the item pages up they still pull in the punters from search engine results, particularly so given the extremely low price of the item they were seeking. It is a common bait-and-switch tactic as their hope is that whilst you can’t buy the out-of-stock item you might just buy something else from them instead.

    If you’re still looking for a TV I’d be happy to sell you that particular model you were after for only £50… unfortunately though I’m out of stock at the moment but whilst you’re here would you like to buy my old CRT for £100? 😉

    Mathew

    1. Thanks Mathew

      Not sure why you’re commenting on posts that are over a year old though, the market has changed a bit since then and it looks to me like there are fewer survivors because margins are being hammered and people aren’t buying the kit they once were. Dixons drop in profits (otherwise known as a huge loss) announced only this week that they hailed as a success seems to confirm this. I believe they are trying to wipe out the other players by buying the market. There’s no more big replacements imminent like the switch from CRT to flat screen, so I guess there’ll be more casualties yet.

  7. John Lyle, if you’re going to do this blog type thing I do hope it’s not your main income?. John Lewis customer service is exemplary, and if they get it wrong they do everything they can to put it right. Try that with Dixons, who I might add, sell oddball model numbers as they do also have products ‘unique’ to them (otherwise marketed as ‘only available at..’) when really they are made up from the odds and ends that a particular manufacturer has left over after a production run to create this ‘unique’ product offering. Try comparing that!

    1. Hi Leroy. Thanks for your comments. Of course this isn’t a form of income, it’s an opinion based blog. And this particular piece was written over two years ago, before Dixons was closed down. If you read the chain of comments and articles that lead from it, you’ll see that people, including me have already pointed out that it’s difficult to compare like with like.

  8. Have a look at Currys and Dixons (both same company) you’ll fine on some products that infact Dixons is selling the product cheaper and Currys is the same price as John Lewis. it’s just how the web only shops work.

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