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John Lewis to retire its ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price pledge this month

Tom Bottomley
12 August 2022

Following reports in February 2022 that John Lewis planned to scrap its long-standing ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ price pledge, which it first introduced in 1925, the retailer has announced 22 August 2022 will be its final day.

As of 23 August, John Lewis will no longer accept claims to price match with other retailers, in what has become a much more complex trading ground with so much online-only competition from the likes of Amazon.

The promise was that John Lewis would match the price of branded products in other shops if a customer pointed out they could find it cheaper elsewhere. However, the policy did not apply to online-only rivals.

A statement on the John Lewis website reads: “Never Knowingly Undersold is no longer enough to assure trust because it applies to fewer and fewer sales as shopping moves increasingly online, and isn’t applicable to online-only retailers. So, we’re replacing it with a new approach, which all of our customers can trust because it applies to however and wherever you shop – in store or online.

“We have pledged a £500 million investment so that we can bring you John Lewis quality at great value prices. That’s 25% more than we invested in prices last year.

“Retiring ‘Never Knowingly Undersold in favour of everyday ‘Quality & Value’ means that all John Lewis customers will benefit from great prices everyday – without having to shop around. We will more proactively lead on great value, rather than reacting to other retailers’ price changes.”

Somewhat confusingly, despite dropping the famous 97-year old slogan, the statement does say that John Lewis will still price match so long as the retailer’s dedicated price-monitoring team are satisfied that the product is the same make, model, size and colour, and comes with the same conditions of sale, delivery times and service conditions that John Lewis offers.

The product also needs to be available “through a high street competitor which has a national presence”, rather than an online only company.

If John Lewis finds a high street competitor selling the same individual product, sold with the same service conditions, at a lower price, then it will “meet that price” in its stores and on its website. The statement reads: “So we don’t expect you to find a lower price elsewhere. But if you do, you can easily make a price match request”.

Businesses that trade on a different basis to John Lewis are not deemed comparable high street competitors. Those include: outlets that operate only on the internet or through mail order, showrooms attached to internet-only companies, pop-up or temporary shops, collection points, auction sites, factory outlets, membership clubs, duty-free shops, market stalls or home shopping channels. John Lewis also does not match competitors who are in administration or closing down.

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