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I first signed up for a Choice catalogue account in 2001, after being harrassed in the High Street by a sales person. (No surprise there.)
I was 18 at the time and had only just moved into my own house. Being somewhat paranoid about getting into 'bad debt' I thought that when the catalogue came through I would not use it, and instead simply chuck it away.
However, when the catalogue came through I though that both the prices and payment terms of items offered were very reasonable, and so ordered a couple of essential items (such as a jacket etc) which I knew I could afford at the time.
After experiencing very good customer service, quick delivery and problem free returns for some time, having ordered for both myself and friends etc, I became confident in using this company... but I was soon to be dissapointed.
Around 1 and a half years after first using the Choice account, I was made unemployed through no fault of my own. At this point I panicked about paying off the existing balance on the account (approx £250.00), and was relieved to know that as I had taken their 'Account Cover' product, my payments should be covered if I simply put in a claim.
I was wrong.
After initially filing the claim, I was given the run aroung by the company for some 3 - 4 months, during which time I was simply unable to make the minimum payments required, however I was assured that I should pay what I could and that when the claim went through these payments would be 'backdated' and paid by the insurance.
After being 'messed about' by the claims dept for some 3 - 4 months, asked for more information, told that letters etc had not been recieved by them (Although I knew they had as they were sent recorded delivery), I was astounded to recieve a letter from the company stating that my claim could not be paid as it was now outwith the timescale for making a claim!!!
Apparently, the fact that the original claim date was some 3 - 4 months earlier counted for nothing, and the company works by the date that the claim information is collected and finallised. As such, I was informed that no claim would be paid, although they admitted I was fully entitled to it, and that it would have been paid if I had 'hurried up' and 'claimed within the claim period'.
I was informed, therefore, that I would be responsible for making all payments myself, and that all of the payment arrears (which I was told would be paid by the company) were now my responsibility.
I was obviousely outraged at this treatment, as it was obvious that the company had messed me about for this time in order to state that the claim could not be paid as it was now 'too late'.
After more months of worry and threatening letters etc I managed to pay off the outstanding balance in full, and decided that I would cancel the account and never deal with the company again.
The only reason which I still have the account is that, although I did not order anything from the company for some 3 years after this incident, I never actually got round to cancelling the account.
Upon moving into a new house in 2004, and having been informed by Choice in not so many words that 'all was forgiven' (which I found very insulting), I decided that the only way that I could acquire some essentials (e.g. furniture) was to order them from Choice (who had now for some reason raised my credit limit to around £3000.00. Presumably because I had paid of all my previous arrears and kept the account.
Between this time and 2006, I experienced no further problems with the company, and actually forgot about my previous bad experiences in 2001 / 2002.
I had placed various orders between 2004 - 2006 with no problems at all, and had managed to build up a good credit rating with the company and a credit limit of around £4000.00
In June/ July 2006, however, the company Choice was taken over by another company (Littlewoods I think it is).
From day one it was as if I was dealing with a different company altogther. The customer service was terrible, many terms and conditions were changed with no notice, prices were massively raised, and the range of products cut to virtually nothing.
I also found that my monthly statement payments seemed to fluctuate wildly, at one point totalling around £150.00 minimum payment per month on a balance of only £500.00!!!
Whenever I phoned up about these or any other strange occurances on my account, I was simply told in a very rude manner, and a tone of voice which suggested that I was an idiot that "this was happening because of the account changing to the new account".
Now, I don't know about you but to me that is not an explanation. Generally, I have an excellent credit rating, I am very careful with money, I know exactly when all my bills are due and exactly how much they should be etc. So upon going over all of my previous statements and the terms over which I had ordered the items that made up the balance I could find no reason whatsoever for these fluctuationg and massively high minimum statement payments, other than the fact that this is what the 'new' company felt like charging, and they were obviousely counting on the fact that customers would not feel confident to disagree or argue etc over the phone (or more likely that customers would not be in possession fo all their old statements etc)
Once again, I vowed that after this balance was paid off I would never order anything from the company again. But, as fate would have it, I soon found myself in a situation where my tumble drier reached the end of it's life, and Choice was the only option for me to attain a new one.
Having experienced no problems with this purchase, I subsequently ordered another few items for both myself and others, over the following year. (2006 - 2007).
Up until recently, I had no problems with these items. All the minimum payment amounts and statement balances appeared to be correct (I was now checking every statement and online details), and on any occasion which I had to contact the company all queires were promptly sorted out.
I was suspicious however to find that many aspects of the website had now also been changed after the company changed hands and all aspects where the customer was able to 'check up' on their own account had now been removed. Very dodgy.
The problems started again in October 2007. I had ordered a fridge freezer for a customer thr previous December on buy now pay later. The item was due to be added to the account in October 2007, but I found that when it was added, the company had ameded the payment terms of the item from 52 weeks to 20 weeks!
This in effect meant that the mimumum payment for this item alone was around £60.00!!! Obviousely there was no way that either myself or the customer were going to agree to pay this, and it took some weeks of phone negotiation (during which I had to pay the higher amount out of my own pocket), before the company finally gave in and said that although they could not change the payment terms to 52 weeks, they would change them to 104 weeks!
Although this meant that we would now have to pay around an extra £200.00 interest on the item, I felt that I had no option but to agree.
More recently, I have encountered some ridiculousely bad customer service via phone, regarding returns and promotional offers, and have also found that the company is deliberately attempting to stop customers from using certain promotional codes to attain discounts, buy now pay later deals etc.
The company have also ,on more than one occasion, added goods to my account that i did not order, added goods to my account at a much higher price than when i ordered said items, and also added 3 microwaves and 2 office chairs to my account when I only ordered 1 microwave and one office chair.
When I phoned to have these matters sorted out, the reaction of the staff was as if I'd demanded that they tell me the meaning of life!
In conclusion, I'm sorry for rambling on, but I would say that the only reason that I still use this company is that I feel that I am now left with a bad choice (using Choice) or no choice (as it would take me lots of time and useless small orders to build up the same credit limit with another company.) Despite all the chances I have given Choice, they have never failed to let me down, and I have actively encouraged people NOT to take a choice account after my experiences with the company, particularly since the company changed hands in 2006.
I ordered a suit from Choice in January 2001. It did not fit well and I went to return it via the company's courier service. I could never get through to the courier and left numerous messages to no avail. I called customer services and was told that it was up to me to get through to the courier and that they never return phone calls. I was sent an address label and sent the suit back through the post office and got a certificate of posting. At this time, it was advised on the company's website that you can return items via the post office, but to get a certificate of posting. Shortly afterwards, I received a statement that I still owed for the suit and called the company. I was told the suit was never received and to send in a copy of the certificate of posting, which I did. I heard nothing more from the company. A bit over a year later, my husband and I received a copy of our credit reports from Equifax and Experian. I was shocked to see that Choice had reported to Experian that I defaulted on my account! However, this was not reported to Equifax at that time. I wrote a strongly worded letter to Choice and sent in another copy of the certificate of posting, which was sent by special delivery. Shortly afterwards, a collection agency contacted me and demanded the money for the suit! I was told by the collection agency that Choice never told them about the certificate of posting or the letter I wrote and suspended my account until they got an answer from Choice. A few months later, I got a letter from a solicitor demanding payment on the behalf of Choice and then a threatening letter from the collection agency that they were taking me into Hull County Court. I told them to take me into court and sent another copy to the collection agency of the letter I sent to Choice and the certificate of posting, again using special delivery. I also said that I will then sue for expenses and anything else I could get. Shortly after, the collection agenc
y sent me a letter that they have withdrawn my account and have sent it back to Choice. Recently, I ordered another copy of my credit report and have found that Choice reported to Equifax that I defaulted on my account one month after I wrote a letter to them and sent in another certificate of posting! I had good credit until Choice decided to do this. I was able to get a personal loan and mortgage before this, but have now been turned down for a credit card with my bank due to the information Choice has given. I have written to the credit reporting agencies and included all of my evidence, which is substantial, and asked for the entry to be removed. I have now filed a complaint with the Mail Order Trader's Association. A company that operates like this is extremely unprofessional. I will never use Choice again and have warned all of my friends about this company. They act like rogue traders and have done serious damage to my credit rating.
I have been shopping with Choice catalogue for quite a long time. I prefer to use their website to place my orders. You can either enter the catalogue number or search for a product, but I prefer to browse through all the different catagories. If you want to shop quickly this may not be the site for you, if like me you like to spend time browsing then this site is great. I start off looking for childrens clothes, but because of all the links end up in the toy department buying something completely different. The pictures are clear, the available sizes and the prices are always displayed When you decide what to buy and before you add an item to your shopping bag you are told whether or not this item is in stock or not. When you place your order a confirmation email is sent and you can keep track of all your orders and deliveries on your account at the touch of a button. The security on the site is also good because you not only enter your account number because you gain access, you need to enter your postcode, telephone number and password. So if you are a shopaholic this is the site for you.
I was recently aproached in the street by a woman trying to get people to agree to receive the choice catalogue, and being the type of person that can never say no (and the fact that she had my name down before I could blink), I decided what the hell....I can always chuck it away. Well, no such luck. The catalogue arrived about a week later, and a few days after that the phone calls started. The first one was from a very nice lady asking if I wanted to order, I told her I hadn't actually looked through it yet and would get back to her, thinking that would be the end of it. How wrong could I be!!?? A couple of days later I returned from work at about lunchtime and checked my answering machine and caller display to see if I'd missed any calls. There were 2 messages from Choice both from different people asking if I'd decided to order, and 2 further phone calls from them in which they hadn't left a message, I couldn't beleive it, I felt as if I was being hounded. I decided I'll call them after I'd had lunch, but halfway through my sandwhich they called again, and again an hour after that. Well, I called them and told them firmly I did not want to order, hopeing that would be the end of it. Well, the phone calls stopped, but about once a week I receive a letter from them practically begging for my custom. I'll not order from them now as a matter of principle. They should not be allowed to annoy people like this, if we want to order then we will. My advice to anyone is not to sign up to Choice, go elsewhere, but be careful when giving your telephone number out.
When I first received Choice through my door, I thought that it was just a wonderful catalogue with really beautiful pieces of clothing, which it is. When I looked at the prices, I thought that they were a little steep, but thinking that I would only be able to get such lovely things through mail order, I sent in an order for 7 items, the total coming to £147. This was 2 weeks ago. They told me that the delivery would be 48 hours over the phone - I am still waiting on them. Following ringing them we were informed that they were out of stock - that was OK with me, I guess it happens everywhere, so I decided to wait. While in town the other day, I picked up the new Argos Additions catalogue, and settled down with a cup of tea to browse through to see if there was anything nice. Imagine my surprise to see the same clothes that I had ordered two weeks ago - only cheaper - a lot cheaper. We are not just talking about 1 or 2 pounds here, I mean £7 and up on EACH item!!! Well, I nearly dropped on the spot! I am now so glad that the order didn't come through, as now I can return it to them. the price difference is ridiculous. I'll give you an example. A three piece set of nightwear - a nightie, PJ top, and PJ bottoms were in the Choice Catalogue for £25 the exact same item (on the same model and everything) were in the Argos Additions one for £17!!! If Argos can sell these items at £7 or more less than Choice and still make a profit, think how much Choice are making out of us! I'm afraid that Choice does not have my vote, my experience of their service has been bad, and their prices are extortionate! *UPDATE* 26/2/01 The clothes from Choice eventually arrived, when I opened the package the quality of the clothes for the price I was paying was not at all great. I had ordered a twin pack of summer dresses. Now anyone would think that these would be exactly the same size - wrong - they were supposed to be both size 12, one fitted
beautifully, while the other clung to all the places I would rather other people did not see! The material used in the so called "denim" items, was hardly denim and the kind of clothing that I have come to expect from shops such as Internacional - fine if you are wanting to keep up with the fashion, not so great if you are paying a reasonable amount, expecting the clothes to last a while! To top it all off, the pair of shoes, the one thing out of the whole order that I had wanted were not included! I really am not pleased with this company. I sent the package back, and will not be ordering from them again.
I have been running this catalogue for a few years now and haven't had an ounce of problems with them. The items are delivered promptly. The prices are reasonable. And you get commission when you pay. Choice have a similar stock to other catalogues. Their Autumn/Winter catalogue has more in it as they have a bigger selection of toys and gifts ready for Christmas. They do lots of offers such as buy now pay March 2001 which is on at the moment. Brilliant if you are short of cash and want something now. You can also pay a small amount extra if you want to get an extra guaruntee on your items. This is not like some places a large amount but pennys. It is great. I will continue to use this catalogue for as long as they stay this good. So lets hope that is a long time.
I have been running this catalogue for a number of years now, but I keep on coming across the same old problem, whenever I go to make an order they hardly ever have the item in stock! This problem is even worse when the new catalogue as been distributed, why give out a catalogue when 3/4 of the products are not available for another month. This is exactly what happened to me yesterday I tried to place an order for a few items from my brand spanking new catalogue to only be told that none of the items would be in stock for 3 weeks, I don’t want the stuff then I want them now! I did complain to only be told that ‘I don’t send the catalogue out’ no but the company you work for does. I was then transferred to someone who could deal with ‘my problem’ to then be forgotten about in the system and then cut off, no way was I ringing back! When the items are in stock they are very good quality and always fit very well and the items in the catalogue are always easy to find. The product range covers clothes for most ages, sizes and taste and they also have a good household range and the toy range is good at Christmas too. I would probably use this catalogue, because I am a sucker for the weekly paying off without interest system, but if they improved there stock availability and customers services representatives, then it would make the whole experience a lot more pleasant.
Choice is very similar to Look Again and Freeemans in the types of clothes they sell, although perhaps not quite as 'trendy' as Freemans. They offer 20% off your first purchase like most of the other catalogues and the usual free gift for referring a friend to the catalogue. Bearing all that in mind then, it is such a shame that they employ utter morons to staff the telphones. Last year a friend of mind ordered a leather coat from Choice and gave her order over the phone. When the coat came it was the wrong size, not because of any mistake in the warehouse but because the telephone operator obviously wasn't listening and wrote the wrong size down. Personally i would have stuck to Freemans (if anything, i don't normally use catalogues anyway) but I got accosted in the street by one of their sellers and took pity on her and gave her my name so they could send me the catalogue. Well i recieved the catalogue about 10 days later at the end of May. I found quite a nice turqoise cardigan and matching skirt and decided to order them for my holiday. A couple of days later I got a phone call saying they were out of stock because I had ordered from the Spring/Summer catalogue and they were just about to bring out their Autumn/Winter catalouge - at the end of May!!!! Ok, so it couldn't be helped, and no despite the girl on the phone repeating and repeating that the had the lime green version in stock, i DID NOT WANT A LIME GREEN OUTFIT!! The next telephone operator to phone me up about a week later, asked if i was happy with my purchases. No i wasn't, i havn't recieved anything, my order had been cancelled. Cue long spiel telling my how to order the next time, and then cue me saying I think since I managed figure out how to order something the first time, i could probably be relied on to get it right the second time. The last telephone operator from Choice phoned me this morning. Are you happy with your purchase
s she asked? Me, trying not to swear told her my order had been cancelled and could she please write that down this time so i wasn't called again. As if this wasn't bad enough she had a voice that was just unbelievable. Dragging out the last letter of each word in a pitch which was half an octave lower than the rest of how she was speaking. She sounded patronising, stupid and most of all bloody irratating and of all the jobs in the world should not have been a phone operator. To top it all off she wasn't intelligent enough to actually listen to what I was saying, she was so obviously reading from a script and just couldn't manage to veer away from it. I have been a telephone interviewer myself and it is not that hard to sound like you are just talking to the person and not reading from a script. So despite me having just told her that my order had been cancelled she went on to ask if everything was alright with my statement. For gods sake, i havn't got a statement because i havn't actually completed the process of ordering something! Why am i so polite in these situtations, it left me so irritated that i had to come on here and write it all down!! Even when she asked me at the end if I would mind being telephoned again to see whether I was happy with Choice, i simply said no i don't want to be phoned again. Aaaaaah. Having said all that i'll leave it up to you whether you want to enter into any kind of relationship with Choice catalogue. Personally I wish i'd never seen the damn thing.