Debenhams wedding lists - unbelievably bad

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Weddings & Anniversaries
24 replies 14.3K views
talksalot81talksalot81 Forumite
1.2K Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Weddings & Anniversaries
We have had a list up and running with Debenhams for several weeks now. We went there thinking that they are a big retail store with lots of choice and a reasonable reputation. Unfortunately, with only about 15% of our guests having used the list so far, our opinion has been totally altered.

Basically our arguement is with the 'substitution' policy. We knew about this from the outset and it sounded like a good idea. If an item is unavailable for the wedding, an alternative would be substituted.

So, 3 months before the wedding, our first gift is purchased. It is a lovely cut glass item. All seemed well. Unfortunately the online record very rapidly showed it had changed to become 4 glasses and a vase. We thought that there must have been an error - the wedding is not for 3 months yet, why would it have been substituted? Furthermore, why is it back on the list? So a few phone calls and the real detail of the substitution policy become clear. In fact debenhams will go around the local store on the day of order. If the item is not in stock, they immediately try and substitute. There is no attempt to get stock or wait for stock. Immediate substitution - no questions. Now our guest did not like this either. They wanted what they had been led to believe they bought. After an arguement, they took the money back and just handed us the money to buy for ourselves elsewhere. We hoped this would be an isolated incident.

Unfortunately not.

Today the same thing has happened - this time the item was substituted for seven small items. This time it was a pan. How hard can it be to have stock of a pan? But alas they did not have it and one is not allowed to ask questions. Basically debenhams told me "tough luck". I told the guest of this goings on and he too pas fuming. So he was on to debenhams - they were just as rude with the underlying tough luck message.

In all of this another detail transpired. If an item is ordered and not in stock, debenhams will substitute and return the initial item to the list even though they are now fully aware it is not in stock and they have absolutely no intention of ordering it to get it back in stock! So when questioned, the woman basically admitted that if an item was not in stock, it was pot luck whether it would ever be available for our guests.

On top of these major problems, there have been smaller ones. They had several items we wanted which we could not have because they were not on the computer yet and it would not be until march that this was rectified. They failed to recognise the importance of saucepans with handles. They instead referred us to casserole dishes - the woman did not comprehend our problem! In the end, they are simply not able to supply the full set of pots/pans in the right colors. We can get them all - but only in a mixture of colors! Then again today we hear another bad report. One guest went in for an item and was fobbed off with an item without its packaging. She had the choice of that or you cant have one. Like come on guys - wise up!

So in basic conclusion, do not go anywhere near debenhams if your guests place the slightest importance in selecting their own gifts. Debenhams have the terms written up such that they basically can substitute any item for any other on your list. They make no note of stock levels so what you see on the order page is worthless. When you argue about it, they then refer you to a set of terms and conditions and say "tough luck". I would love to get away from them but having sent out invites already with gift list details, this is not feasible. So I recommend that anyone else considering them to only do so as a very last measure. They are not only bad in service but do so at a price premium.

I hope this is helpful to someone.
2 + 2 = 4
except for the general public when it can mean whatever they want it to.


  • My Niece is getting married this year & I think she plans to ask for M&S & Debenhams vouchers, so no substitues involved;)

    But I agree it is bad form of Debenhams, they have loads of time (usually) before the weddings, they should order it. If you list a set of white towels, you want a set of white towels, not a purple duvet set:mad:

    Surely you can though take these "substitutes" back after opening on the day & get a refund or gift voucher or even the desired item:confused:

    Hope your Big Day goes really well:beer:

  • Well the substitutes are items on the list, so they are things that we want. The problem is that it is not what the guest wants. We can of course return items but only for credit - which I am not sure will be any good because I dont know whether debenhams will be inclined to get the items specially for us!

    Our real problem is the attitude. Debenhams seem to think that the only important feature of a gift is its value. They totally neglect that a guest may want to buy a specific item (perhaps for sentimental value) and that the monetary value is of secondary importance.
    2 + 2 = 4
    except for the general public when it can mean whatever they want it to.
  • Bizarre, we had our wedding list through Debenhams and all the stuff we got was from the list, plus we also got a £50 voucher just for setting up our list with them!
  • EmmsEmms Forumite
    956 Posts
    Were going this weekend to set up a list with Debenhams, mostly just to get the £50 voucher. We have also set a list up elsewhere as im not impressed with how much debenhams charge for delivery so hopefully not too many people will buy from the debenhams list.

  • Curious_George_2Curious_George_2 Forumite
    2.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    It was my brothers wedding a few weeks back, and they had a debenhams wedding list,
    while i was looking for something to buy them i noticed that since they had picked their items, some of them had gone down in price, so now there were over £60 worth of towels (TOWELS!!! :eek: ) for just over £20 (inc p&p) so i bought them... expensive or not... you always need towels,

    and as a extra present just from my daughter we got them a special photo frame with a pen so everyone at the reception could sign it.

    about a week after i had ordered I had a letter from Debenhams telling me that the towels were not in stock and they had chosen substitutes to around the same price....

    BLOODY PHOTO FRAMES! :mad: :mad: :mad:

    seeing as we are paying for postage, couldnt they ship the original items in from another store? or... i dunno.... order some! :rolleyes:
  • Hi there,

    don't know if this is any help, but we had our list with Debenhams at the end of last year.

    Edinburgh was our closest store, but because we were in Glasgow for the day did the 'beep beep' bit there (Dearly Beloved loved that bit). Unfortunately, when our list went to Edinburgh they told us we couldn't have most of the items we wanted as the Ed. store didn't have those consessions.

    After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, we moved our list to the Aberdeen store (mum lives there). A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE!!! The staff in the ABERDEEN store were fantastic and couldn't do enough to help. They advised not to allow guests to pay for gift wrapping (a pay extra option) as they were running down their stocks and didn't feel they would be getting VALUE!

    They put items on order and advised guests that they were doing that (web purchases). Some guests collected items to wrap and deliver themselves, no problem. For the heaviest items, they actually delivered them straight to Mum's so she wouldn't have to manage them herself. It was still exciting as we knew what people had bought (obviously), but a car full of blue and silver bags with no pre-clue to the contents was just as exciting and saved our guests a fortune in paper & ribbon which would just have been thrown away.

    We not only got everything on our list (either in actual gifts or sums on the gift card for the bigger items), but we got £50 from Debenhams for having the list there, 5% of the value of the list purchased when it was closed, free coffee everytime we went to the store, and, because our guests purchased a wedgewood dinner set, Royal Doulton - their parent company - gave us a pair of crystal champagne flutes and vouchers to 20% of the value of the Wedgewood. That meant that we could have a complete set of crystal glasses (12 settings) - FOR FREE!

    The moral of the story seems to be - regardless of the store, it's the STAFF who make the difference. The flowers and card to say thanks were the least we could do.

  • Emms - you can opt to collect your items from some stores and that saves on the delivery charges, unless you have items from the Direct list as they are always home delivery and therefore always have the charge.

  • Clive_WoodyClive_Woody Forumite
    5.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 1,000 Posts Name Dropper Photogenic
    We had our wedding list at the Guilford branch of Debs just over 4 years ago. They did a great job, as far as I can remember substitutions were not an issue and we got everything that people ordered for us. To be honest with that kind of notice I don't see why they can't order in items that are out of stock.

    I guess the best solution would be to get vouchers, but I know a lot of people like to give gifts rather than vouchers or cash.
    "We act as though comfort and luxury are the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about” – Albert Einstein
  • leblylebly Forumite
    218 Posts
    Subs are only made where necessary. The staaff try to see if they can get the item locally (from another local store) or see when the item would be coming in. They try their best to get the itme requested, the itme requested may have been discontinued so no more available (this could be due to season change etc). If you have a problem with the way the staff are dealing with the problem then my suggestion is to go into the store you list is held at and talk to the staff face to face if you get no response/ help speak to their manager!

    They are not al stoppy monsters you know!
  • AgutkaAgutka Forumite
    2.4K Posts
    The only real problem we had was the delivery charge - as gifts people got after the wedding we had to pick up ourselves. I substituted gifts ourselves, such as SIL got us a duvet set, but I preferred the pans nobody bought and there were no problems.

    But, Debenhams do give you £50 for nothing. And you can't be put off getting such a freebie by some bad customer service.
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