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John Lewis scraps its historic 'Never Knowingly Undersold' price pledge – here's all you need to know

John Lewis & Partners has scrapped its almost century old 'Never Knowingly Undersold' price promise after the retailer said only 1% of customers were taking advantage of it. 

The pledge, which was first introduced 97 years ago, sought to ensure customers couldn't purchase the same item from another retailer's store for a cheaper price. However, the price promise didn't extend to goods found cheaper online.

Pippa Wicks, executive director of John Lewis, said: "Never Knowingly Undersold has been a cherished sign of trust for John Lewis for a century but it doesn't fit with how customers shop today as more purchases are made online."

Instead, the retailer says it's investing £500 million in keeping prices low during the cost of living crisis. It says the £500 million investment is 25% higher than the amount spent on keeping prices affordable last year. founder Martin Lewis said: "This is a historic change for the John Lewis brand, but won't have much practical impact for many. The 'Never Knowingly Undersold' promise has always been a bit of a psychological sop to consumers, giving an arguably false impression that John Lewis is cheap.

"In reality, it allows the store to charge what it likes and know that, for a few price-sensitive shoppers – less than 1% last year – who are bothered to check prices elsewhere after making a purchase, John Lewis will reduce its price but only to that of its high street competitors.

"Where this will be a loss is for those who buy electrical goods. With these, 'Never Knowingly Undersold' allows you to find a cheap price elsewhere, then buy at that price with John Lewis and get its two-year guarantee on electrical items, or five years on a TV. Even then though, it won't consider matching the price of online-only retailers.

"As for the store's new promise to invest £500 million on discounting, the proof is in the pricing pudding – will it be cheap enough for customers to actually notice the difference? In effect, the store's lowest price offering is being taken out of the hands of individual consumers and given to the corporate body. Some will feel the loss of their ability to demand a cheaper price on a specific item, but for many, the famous John Lewis price promise was a bit of a damp squib anyway."

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