LEE BOYCE: Why wouldn’t John Lewis want loyal, reliable customers using its credit cards?
Another week, another Money Mail postbag stuffed full of complaints about John Lewis credit cards.
Dozens upon dozens of you have written to us over the past seven days aghast at having to reapply for a card you’ve used for years, only to be told ‘Computer says no’.
One theme running through all your letters is bafflement. Many of you cannot understand why you’ve been rejected and feel hurt.
Refused: Most of those rejected for a new John Lewis credit card are people who pay off their spending bills diligently
And I completely get it. You shop loyally at John Lewis and Waitrose for years, put all your spending on the company’s credit cards (which it marketed to you as a loyalty reward scheme, by the way) and pay the full balance off every month without fail.
You regard having a John Lewis card as a badge of honour, a nod to a brand you love. Then, seemingly without rhyme or reason, you have all that thrown back in your face.
It hasn’t escaped my attention that many of the stranger rejections in Money Mail’s postbag relate to customers over the age of 70. Surely a company such as John Lewis wouldn’t turn down someone because of their age?
John Lewis forcefully denies any suggestion of ageism. In fact, it says the acceptance rate for retired customers is higher than for those still working.
I’m prepared to take John Lewis’s word that this isn’t ‘ageism’. But I can’t help wondering whether the application criteria being used by its new credit card supplier, NewDay, is somehow to blame.
Let’s not forget that in all sorts of areas of our financial lives older people inadvertently end up with the worst deals. It’s not necessarily deliberate. Take savings rates, for example. All the best offers are for customers who have access to the internet.
For younger generations, that’s no skin off their nose. But for a generation uncomfortable online, it often means accepting worse returns on their nest eggs.
Or take paying for parking. Car park operators are increasingly ripping out coin machines and making us use fiddly mobile phone apps.
Some older readers have told me the switchover has put them off going into town for their shopping or to meet a friend.
I hope I’m wrong, but it wouldn’t surprise me if, somehow — despite trying to be fair to all — John Lewis’s credit card supplier is inadvertently rejecting some older people because they don’t fit into its neat boxes.
This wouldn’t matter much if we were dealing with an ordinary credit card being flogged to the masses.
But the people being dumped by John Lewis are existing customers. They want to keep using their cards after proving themselves reliable borrowers. In other words, John Lewis is alienating some of its biggest fans.
To its credit, the company is listening to our concerns. It has reviewed many of the rejections we’ve put to it and is working hard to ensure customers are treated fairly.
That’s all we ask. Of course, not every customer who applies for a financial product should be accepted.
But surely loyalty — and reliably paying our bills each month — should be front and centre when credit card companies decide who to take on as customers.
It’s safe to say I’m green with envy of those who have held on to Index-Linked Certificates with National Savings & Investments. The accounts feel almost mythical, having not been on sale for 11 years.
But while Britain’s biggest banks continue to give savers a raw deal, those who patiently stuck with the certificates are now seeing it rain interest.
There are 345,000 savers out there with them and I’m sure many will be Money Mail readers. They typically pay the equivalent of the Consumer Prices Index plus 0.01 pc, for a term of two, three or five years.
I would love to see them make a comeback, but that is wishful thinking in today’s high inflation environment. You can keep reinvesting your money and the interest in them, but you cannot add new cash.
NS&I told me some £17 billion is held in them with an average investment of £49,400.
Do you still hold them? I’d love to hear about how long you’ve had them and the amount of interest you’re coining in . . . and fizz with jealousy.