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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