W H Smith defends "worst retailer" rating

W H Smith defends "worst retailer" rating

W H Smith has defended its customer service record after being voted the worst retailer in the UK.

The chain bookseller said a survey by consumer group Which?, in which it was ranked bottom of a list of 100 UK retailers for the second year in a row, was “misleading”. The survey asked customers to judge 100 retailers on price, products and service from their last visit.

Waterstones came in joint fourth position with John Lewis in the ranking with an 80% customer score. The bookseller was praised for a “comfortable” store environment  by customers who said the staff “always seem to go the extra mile”.

W H Smith received a 55% overall rating, and came bottom of the ranking for the second year in a row. Among the complaints leveled at the company were that its stores were “crowded” and had “limited stock.”

A W H Smith spokesperson said: “This exercise is very misleading as W H Smith does not fit into any of the survey categories, while products like newspapers and magazines are not those that customers would ‘recommend’ a retailer for. The 104 customers that commented on W H Smith in this survey are not reflective of the 12 million customers that visit our stores each week, where our own independent survey of over a thousand customers continues to rate us highly.”

James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones, said the company’s position in the customer satisfaction survey was “further evidence that we are really focused on making our shops nice and inviting places to be in.” He added: “It would be pretty worrying had we found ourselves lower in the table. I would hope we could get ourselves up to the top in time.”

Which? surveyed 12,500 members of the public in February and March 2014 about shops they’d used in the past 12 months. Customer scores were based on satisfaction with the shop in their last visit and the likelihood of recommending it to a friend. Shops had to get at least 100 responses to be included in the overall table.