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John Lewis 'sorry' for credit card chaos as more complain of rejection

‘I’m quitting shopping at John Lewis’: Retailer denies stripping loyal credit card customers the right after loan firm NewDay hires to run card







Retail giant John Lewis has vehemently denied stripping thousands of its loyal credit card customers the right as a result of lender NewDay’s appointment to manage the card.

Hundreds of John Lewis cardholders contacted The Mail on Sunday in response to our exclusive report late last month, pointing to widespread customer concern over the move.

Many are outraged that when applying for their credit card again – a legal requirement – they were either rejected by NewDay or their credit limit reduced from four or five digits to just three.

Rejected: Lorna Smith will now stop shopping at John Lewis and Waitrose

Rejected: Lorna Smith will now stop shopping at John Lewis and Waitrose

Most have a history of cleaning up their John Lewis card balance on a monthly basis and believe that their financial prudence has worked against them because NewDay considers them “unprofitable” customers. Some say they will never shop at John Lewis or the Waitrose food stores again.

On Friday, John Lewis said 96 percent of customers who applied for the new partnership card had already been accepted by NewDay. More than 84 percent, it claimed, had received the same or a higher credit line.

Amir Goshtai, director of John Lewis Financial Services, told the MoS it was “more than regrettable” that some customers had been left disappointed. Regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, NewDay has refuted allegations that it barred prudent, creditworthy customers from going ahead with their John Lewis card.

It also said it was “definitely not the case” that it was only interested in targeting customers who didn’t clear their balance every month. John Lewis cardholders who are successful with their new application will pay an interest of 18.9 percent on unsettled balances.

The store’s partnership card is extremely popular with John Lewis and Waitrose shoppers for the generous rewards it offers.

For example, for every £400 they spend on their card at a John Lewis or Waitrose store, they will receive a £5 voucher. Over the past five years, John Lewis has issued vouchers worth £230 million.

The loss of these vouchers is one of the main reasons why those who have been refused a new card by NewDay feel so angry.

Among the disenfranchised is Lorna Smith, who runs an arable and livestock farm with her husband in Towcester, Northamptonshire. Lorna, who also runs a livery stable on the farm, has had a John Lewis credit card since its launch in 2004. The 61-year-old had a £14,400 credit line and loved the regular vouchers she would get for using the card .

When she received the email saying she had to apply for a card again, she thought it would be a formality. Lorna says: ‘Myself and my husband Peter own our farm, we have a successful business – Block Aid UK – that rents out concrete barriers and tent weights and we own a number of properties for sale. We also have savings and stocks. We are not super rich, but we are not on the bread line either.’

Yet it counted for nothing. Her application was rejected and she was left stunned. “I’ve never been turned down for a credit card in my adult life,” she says. “It’s crazy because I pay my card bill in full every month.”

Angrily she complained to NewDay. Last Wednesday, she received an email from her “executive and media” complaints team saying it could not approve her application on the basis of “eligibility.” She describes the decision as “insane” and says she will stop shopping at both John Lewis and Waitrose.

Cathy Pole has also been told she does not meet the criteria for a new John Lewis partnership card.

Like Lorna, the 75-year-old former chief executive of the Human Genome Organization has always used her card cautiously, never capping the £10,000 credit line available to her.

“I’ve lived at the same address in Radlett, Hertfordshire for 46 years,” says Cathy. “I have a decent pension and although my investments fall in value when the stock market falls, I have no mortgage, no debt or children to support.”

She also complained that she had been rejected — and received the same letter Lorna received from NewDay’s complaints department about her unfitness.

“Maybe I’m too good of a customer and not earning them enough,” says Cathy. “I am both stunned and annoyed by John Lewis’s decision to dump me after being with them since 2004.”

John Lewis’s Goshtai told the MoS on Friday, “We know how much our customers love our partnership card, so it’s extremely unfortunate that any of them have been disappointed by this change.

“The only reason a customer would be declined or given a lower limit is for affordability or creditworthiness reasons which are legal obligations for credit providers.

“Any customer who has a question about their application should contact us and we will do everything we can to help.”

NewDay said disappointed John Lewis cardholders should contact the customer service team (new card request) on 033 0165 4868 (lines open Monday to Friday 10am to 7:30pm, Saturdays 9am to 5:30pm).