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John Lewis launches online price match promise

30 September 2010 - 11:21 by Simon Crisp

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UK retailer John Lewis has been offering its 'never knowingly undersold' price match mantra to in-store shoppers for over three quarters of a century, but now it will be offering online consumers the chance to get the cheapest possible price from its e-commerce venture.

In the past it was possible to get the best price on any product sold by John Lewis, if it was found cheaper at another retailer within eight miles of a given store. If you had already bought with John Lewis and later found a cheaper price it would refund the difference.

This policy worked well until safe shopping online became the norm, at which point geographical boundaries became meaningless and the consumers buying products from the firm online were not given the same privileges as those who headed to the high street. However, this is all about to change as John Lewis brings the same rules,albeit with some significant conditions, to the world of e-commerce.

Essentially John Lewis now promises that if you find a product which it sells online cheaper on another website, it will honour its pledge and refund the difference or match the price. However, the catch is that it will only compete with retailers who not only have a website, but also a high street presence.

The main implication of this rule is that e-commerce firms like Amazon and Play.com will not be eligible to compare with and get reductions on John Lewis prices. Things do get a little more complex as John Lewis is also excluding the likes of Dixons.co.uk from the list of compatible price match stores, despite the fact that it is owned by a chain that operates in the high street.

There are fears that consumers will be confused by the various caveats to the 'never knowingly undersold' policy operated by John Lewis, as it moves into the world of safe shopping online. If properly executed, it could work.