Why Bennetts customers are left hanging on the telephone

23 December 2008

Christmas is as mad as a box of frogs - not just for the customers who risk a kick in the crotch and claustrophobia on the High Street, or the sales staff in imminent danger of being trampled to death, but for customer service departments, too. That's assuming, of course, you aim to provide some level of customer service at this time of year.

Unfortunately, Bitterwallet reader Edi was left none too impressed by recent dealings with Bennetts Electricals:

I placed an order for a laptop last week with Bennetts Electricals online. The laptop was in stock at the time of order, payment was taken from credit card immediately and online order status was updated to 'awaiting dispatch'. Heard nothing for several days hence contacted their online orders helpdesk (0808 178 1818) and was placed on a long queue only to be disconnected with an automated message saying that there wasn't anyone to answer the call.

Took me a few days to realise their online helpdesk is CLOSED 24/7 and all calls are going in a queue before being disconnected with a message asking to email the customer service instead. NONE of the emails were answered too and as a final resort, I contacted the head office who apologised and took a message. Received a call later saying the laptop will be dispatched this week and I received the item today. Bizarrely, my online order status still showing as awaiting dispatch; may be they'll send another one?

We called the number for online orders enquiries. Twice. Both times we were placed on hold by the disembodied voice of automation, and then... silence. Not even Greensleeves crackled in the ether to remind us we were still connected. We were kept on the line for nearly four minutes, before the voice re-appeared to disconnect us. Gah.

Edi isn't the only customer to have reported problems; several HUKD members have a bone to pick with Bennetts over a recent laptop promotion:

bbazman Mine apparently arrived and was signed for yesterday - despite the fact that my order status was noted as awaiting dispatch this morning. Absolutely no communications of note from Bennetts. Their administration and communication is a nightmare.

Jefft I still have not received my refund despite several telephone calls to Bennetts and two assurances it has been done.

Reading through the accounts of other HUKD members, the root of the problem seems to be a classic case of over-promising and under-delivering; Bennetts has seemingly told some customers they sold more laptops than were in stock, not that that excuses the accounts of poor service.

So what's going on? We called the number for Bennetts head office which, unless you know a specific extension number, puts you through to Customer Services. There wasn't a press department we could talk to, but the adviser told us there are just seven members of staff handling enquiries for all online orders and, with it being Christmas, they couldn't handle the volume of calls being received. If that number is busy, callers are then diverted to the number for Customer Services, where there are only three members of staff - and that's the same Customer Service staff dealing with calls for head office, too. Don't most public-facing retailers take on additional staff at this time of year, to avoid disappointment?

Oh, and we did ask what you should do if you've received conflicting emails or are awaiting a refund regarding the recent laptop promotion. Bennetts suggested you call Customer Services. Merry Christmas.

TOPICS:   Consumer Advice


  • Dank
    Never heard of 'em. And to be honest, highly unlikely I would ever use them in the future either! Sound like a bunch of amateurs.
  • JudgeDread
    They're actually quite a big company down here in East Anglia, Quite lucky I suppose I can walk into a branch and get what I need at the website price.
  • Vince
    Does anyone know good medium so that I can try and contact Bennetts electricals OFFline? Sent a couple of e-mails to them to chase up my order for a home cinima system placed on the 9th Jan (Christmas rush over me thought). No response, now thats what I call great customer service. Is there a head office phone number? Looks like I'll give it another week and get my credit card company to reclaim my money so that I can pay the extra £100 I thought I was saving and get it the good old fashion way on the high street.

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