Regular readers (just my little joke there) may recall my ongoing battle with Debenhams for a fairly meagre, token-of-goodwill refund. Which is quite ironic now, because two months down the line any goodwill it might have engendered has long since evaporated. Anyway, here's the latest chapter.

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Dear Denise

You may recall that back on February 1st, you replied to my previous enquiry as to the whereabouts of a promised refund. You wrote that it was "being dealt with as a priority in order to get your refund credited back to your account". Which begs the question as to exactly what glacial state of movement Debenhams works at when it considers something to be of low importance.

You asked me to allow 3-5 working days for it to show on my personal records. Having dealt with Debenhams before, I knew better than that and have now allowed 13 working days. Take a moment here to guess what has happened in those intervening days. Seriously, sit back for a moment, ponder, cogitate, weigh up all the available options. Maybe it isn't going to be what you think.

It appears that Debenhams have not processed my refund. (Sorry, I guess it was what you were thinking after all.) Vasco Nez de Balboa's sense of wonderment and awe on being the first European to see the Pacific Ocean are as nothing compared to the wave of almost hysterical bewilderment I felt upon this realisation. Debenhams, trusty, reliable Debenhams? Solid, 'dealt with as a priority' Debenhams? Debenhams, that Debenhams, have not followed through on a commitment? Goodness me, if the company did not have an almost 100% record of having failed at every turn to do what it said it was going to, I would probably have fallen off my chair.

However, I am still on my chair, and happy to continue to play this long-running game of chicken in which you appear to have engaged me. Apparently, you will make increasingly outlandish promises which you have no intention of keeping - delivering items, exchanging items, refunding money in 5-7 working days, refunding money in 3-5 days - and I will take progressively longer and longer to get round to protesting about the fact that you have not kept them. If we both survive long enough, I foresee a time when you harness the power of CERN to promise me a refund that will appear in my account before I have even complained about it, and I will then take several years to point out that it has not arrived. By this point in the distant future, the sum in question here - a paltry 10, lest we forget - will be all but worthless. But on we will plough, you and I, Debenhams and customer, engaged in an endless, insoluble ritual, like some latterday Waiting For Godot.

Nothing to be done, as Beckett wrote. Perhaps you might like to approach his estate and see if you can use it as a slogan.

Yours sincerely

Captain Autumn

PS Please give my regards to your colleague Ross, who was responsible for the 5-7 day email back in December. It is so much nicer dealing with actual, accountable individuals, rather than fictional employees who give a spurious human aspect to what would otherwise be a faceless, corporate blob of indifference. This way, there's a sense that someone needs to actually get the job done, because otherwise the customer can come straight to their contact and deal with them directly. Isn't that right, Denise? Ross? Anybody?