Sue Peters thought little of it when she was told to reapply for the John Lewis credit card she’d held for almost ten years.
Like thousands of loyal John Lewis and Waitrose shoppers, the 79-year-old from Battle, East Sussex, uses the card for almost all her day-to-day needs so she can rack up reward points to spend in-store.
Plus, she’s never missed a payment and clears her balance each month without fail.
Livid: Retired air traffic controller David Martin (pictured), has been a loyal John Lewis cardholder for years – but that is about to change
John Lewis had explained in its letter that there was nothing to worry about — the retailer was merely switching its 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 post.
Yet despite Sue’s fiercely loyal custom, her application was rejected.
Even more bafflingly, she has since discovered that she was turned down despite having a perfect credit score: a rating of 999 with 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 £12,000 limit.
‘I buy from John Lewis rather than Amazon, and my average expenditure is £4,000, which I pay off every month.It really shook me not to be approved.’
NewDay told Sue she must provide three months of bank statements and other confidential information before it considered reviewing her case, which it says was rejected as it was initially unable to verify her income.
Sue is far from alone.Complaints have poured into Money Mail from loyal John Lewis and Waitrose customers with high credit scores who say they are either being turned down for a new John Lewis credit card, or given lower limits on the amount they can spend on it.
A number of angry customers told us they have perfect, or almost perfect, credit scores — and some are so frustrated that they are threatening to stop shopping at John Lewis and Waitrose altogether.
Long time customer: Mary Thomas says she’s been turned down for credit for the first time in her life, where to buy fake dollar bills despite having a top-notch credit score
Launched in 2004, the John Lewis credit card is popular because of its generous rewards.Customers can earn five points for every £4 spent using the card in John Lewis or Waitrose, which can then be swapped for vouchers to spend in-store. In the past five years, the company has issued £230 million worth of vouchers to its cardholders.
The existing cards (supplied by HSBC) expire on November 1.Customers have been told they must re-apply for the NewDay card by December 31 to transfer their reward points — or face losing them.
Those who switch will have the chance to earn triple points for the first 90 days on purchases at John Lewis and Waitrose.
Anyone with more than 500 points who does not register for a new Partnership card will be issued with a £5 voucher.But those with fewer points will lose the lot.
David Martin, 79, and his wife, Janet, have been cardholders for more than ten years. The retired air traffic controller from Farringdon, London, says John Lewis and Waitrose had been their ‘go-to’ stores.
But that’s about to change.The couple have just registered for a credit card with Lloyds Bank after being told their credit limit would be slashed on a new John Lewis card.
‘My existing card had a credit limit of £7,000, but when I reapplied online I was given an anticipated credit limit of £1,000, which I thought was totally inadequate,’ David says.
‘When I asked why, I was told that it was only a forecast but they would come through with a definitive limit when the application was completed.’
With the John Lewis credit card customers can earn five points for every £4 spent using the card in John Lewis or Waitrose, which can then be swapped for vouchers to spend in-store
When David tried to contact John Lewis, he claims to have waited 45 minutes to speak to an adviser, and when he finally got through he was transferred to another member of staff and put on hold for a further 30 minutes, by which time he gave up.
He says: ‘I’m extremely annoyed. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a John Lewis card but it’s as if customer loyalty counts for nothing.I went online to Lloyds, asked for a credit card and within five minutes I was granted one with a credit limit of £7,000.
‘John Lewis and Waitrose have completely lost their way and seem to be doing everything they can to alienate their customers.’
Mary Thomas, 74, a retired computer programmer from Swindon, Wiltshire, says she’s been turned down for credit for the first time in her life, despite having a top-notch credit score.
Mary, who’s held a John Lewis Partnership credit card for the past five years, says: ‘I have a good income and Russian Ruble I’m a pensioner, so it’s regular.I’ve paid off my mortgage and have a perfect credit score. There is no understandable reason why they have turned me down.
‘I respect John Lewis as a good company, and I’m disappointed that it won’t give me a reason why I have been declined.’
After Money Mail contacted the firm, it got in touch with Mary and has now accepted her application after ‘reviewing her documents’.
John Lewis made a loss of £99 million in the first half of this year.
Money Mail asked the company to pass 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: ‘Some 96 pc of those who applied have been accepted, with 84 pc offered the same or a higher credit limit.
‘We’re very sorry that any customer has been disappointed and we are listening to feedback and working with our new credit provider, NewDay, to do all we can to help while still lending responsibly.’
A spokesman for John Lewis says it has trained more than 400 ‘partners’ across its branches to help customers with applications and has significantly increased the number of advisers in call centres.
The spokesman adds: ‘There is a variety of reasons why customers are being declined [for a card], including a change in their financial circumstances since they first took out the card, not easily being able to demonstrate their affordability, or the information held on them by the credit bureau may be incorrect.
‘We’re constantly reviewing feedback from customers and urge those who think they should have been approved, or want help with applying, to get in touch and we will do everything we can to help.’
If you are having problems applying for the new card you can contact the dedicated customer services team on 033 0165 4868.It says the average call wait time for October is 1 minute 44 seconds.