On the BBC News website of 28 May 2010, reporter Lucy Rodgers1 published an article entitled ‘Retailer W H Smith is ranked joint bottom in a customer satisfaction poll by consumer watchdog Which? So has the former High Street favourite fallen out of favour?’ Apparently the consumer organization had named the company worst for service and quality alongside Currys.digital with a 48% customer satisfaction score2. A comment left on the BBC site by a reader said this:

‘Smith’s [sic] can’t compete on price so has to compete on service but it doesn’t. It used to do so; only a couple of years ago I sent a letter of praise about a particular assistant in a local branch to their manager but sadly that assistant has now gone (as has her welcoming smile and her small-talk which was friendly and not intrusive). This has been replaced with ‘bargain offers’ on chocolate bars and a charge on wrapping purchases. The latter is only a small fee but if it’s raining outside I want my newspaper to stay dry and in any case if I’ve just spent £18.99 on a hardback book I want it protected from knocks & dirt. It’s a cheap way to treat loyal customers – so like many others I’m no longer loyal and increasingly do most of my shopping for books, music & DVDs online.’

(Leigh Williams, Buckinghamshire, UK)

This is damning stuff for a long-established British firm: a household name, that was founded 218 years ago and built its reputation over 200 years to become a ...

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