Sue Peters thought little of it when she was told she had to reapply for the John Lewis credit card she’d held for nearly a decade.
Like thousands of loyal John Lewis and Waitrose customers, the 79-year-old from Battle, East Sussex, uses the card for almost all of her daily needs, allowing her to accumulate reward points to spend in-store.
In addition, she has never missed a payment and makes up her balance every month without any errors.
Furious: Retired air traffic controller David Martin (pictured), has been a loyal John Lewis cardholder for years – but that’s about to change
John Lewis had explained in his letter that there was nothing to worry about – the retailer just switched from his card supplier from HSBC to a company called NewDay. All customers had to do was fill out a form and a brand new piece of plastic would arrive in the mail.
But despite Sue’s loyal habit, her application was rejected.
Even more mind-boggling, she has since found herself rejected despite a perfect credit score: a rating of 999 from credit reference agency Experian.
“I’m very disappointed,” Sue says. ‘I use my card for everything – petrol, food, household expenses and utilities – and had a limit of £12,000.
“I buy from John Lewis instead of Amazon, and my average spend is £4,000, which I pay off every month. It really shocked me that I wasn’t approved.’
NewDay told Sue she had to submit bank statements and other confidential information for three months before reconsidering her case, which she said was dismissed because she was initially unable to verify her income.
Sue is far from alone. Complaints have been made to Money Mail from loyal John Lewis and Waitrose customers with high credit scores saying they are either being turned down for a new John Lewis credit card, or given lower limits on how much they can spend on it.
A number of angry customers have told us they have perfect or near-perfect credit scores – and some are so frustrated that they threaten to stop shopping at John Lewis and Waitrose.
Long-time customer: Mary Thomas says she’s been denied credit for the first time in her life, despite an excellent credit score
Launched in 2004, the John Lewis credit card is popular for its generous rewards. Customers can earn five points for every £4 they spend with the card at John Lewis or Waitrose, which can then be exchanged for vouchers to spend in-store. Over the past five years, the company has issued £230 million worth of vouchers to its cardholders.
The existing cards (provided by HSBC) expire on November 1. Customers have been told to reapply for the NewDay card before December 31 to transfer their loyalty points – or risk losing them.
Those who switch will have the chance to earn triple points on purchases from John Lewis and Waitrose for the first 90 days.
Anyone with more than 500 points who doesn’t register for a new Partnership card will receive a £5 voucher. But those with fewer points will lose the lottery ticket.
David Martin, 79, and his wife, Janet, have been cardholders for over a decade. The retired air traffic controller from Farringdon, London, says John Lewis and Waitrose had been their ‘go-to’ shops.
But that’s going to change. The couple just applied for a credit card with Lloyds Bank after being told their credit line would be reduced on a new John Lewis card.
‘My existing card had a credit limit of £7,000, but when I applied again online I was given an expected credit limit of £1,000, which I found totally inadequate,’ says David.
“When I asked why, I was told it was just a prognosis, but they would come up with a final limit when the application was ready.”
The John Lewis credit card allows customers to earn five points for every £4 spent using the card in John Lewis or Waitrose, which can then be exchanged for vouchers to spend in-store
When David tried to reach John Lewis, he claimed to have waited 45 minutes to speak to a consultant, and when he finally got through, he was put through to another employee and put on hold for another 30 minutes. upwards.
He says: ‘I am very irritated. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a John Lewis card, but it’s like customer loyalty counts for nothing. I went to Lloyds online, asked for a credit card and within five minutes got one with a £7,000 credit limit.
“John Lewis and Waitrose have lost their way and seem to do everything they can to alienate their customers.”
Mary Thomas, 74, a retired computer programmer from Swindon, Wiltshire, says she was rejected for credit for the first time in her life, despite having an excellent credit score.
Mary, who has had a John Lewis Partnership credit card for five years, says: ‘I have a good income and I’m retired so it’s normal. I have paid off my mortgage and have a perfect credit score. There is no understandable reason why they rejected me.
“I respect John Lewis as a good company and I’m disappointed it won’t give me a reason why I was turned down.”
After Money Mail contacted the company, it contacted Mary and has now accepted her application after “reviewing her documents.”
John Lewis made a £99m loss in the first half of this year.
Money Mail asked the company to forward your complaints directly to boss Sharon White so she could understand how frustrated loyal customers had become. Instead, John Lewis said Amir Goshtai, director of John Lewis Financial Services, was “best placed” to answer the questions.
He says: ‘About 96 pc. of the applicants was accepted, 84 pc. received the same or a higher credit limit.
“We are very sorry that a customer has been disappointed and we are listening to feedback and working with our new lender, NewDay, to do everything we can to help while providing credit responsibly.”
A spokesperson for John Lewis says it has trained more than 400 “partners” in its facilities to help customers with applications and significantly increased the number of consultants in call centers.
The spokesperson added: ‘There are several reasons why customers are being refused’ [for a card]including a change in their financial circumstances since they first took out the card, not being able to easily prove their affordability, or the information the credit bureau has about them may be incorrect.
“We are constantly reviewing customer feedback and are urging those who believe they should have been approved, or would like assistance applying, to contact us and we’ll do everything we can to help.”
If you are having trouble applying for the new card, please contact the dedicated customer service team on 033 0165 4868. It states that the average call wait time for October is 1 minute and 44 seconds.
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