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Today I go to order some curtains (don’t ask) from Next online. All goes well until the point where I need to sign in or set up an account.

I choose the latter but am told that I already have an account with them. A quick search of my email (I save everything!) confirms this – I bought from them 4 years ago.

As I don’t have a record of them in my password manager I attempt to sign in with my “usual” password (we all have one). At this point I’m told that I never set up a password and must sign in with my customer number. I would do but I don’t know what it is – it’s not on any of the emails that they sent me 4 years previous. There’s no “Forgotten your customer number” option so I resort to their Help section. There is a “what to do if you don’t know your customer number” entry and it duly informs me that I need to request it via their online form – clicking on this takes me into their Customer Service section and an online email form. Except you can’t contact them unless you have your customer number. I kid you not.

So, I ring them using the number they provide on the same page. They want to know my customer number, so I explain that’s what I’m ringing about. They take all my details and then inform me that they’re going to put me through to customer services. So who did I ring? I used the number they provided in their Customer Services section of the website.

I’m transferred and explain, again, what I’m after. The only way they’ll give me my customer number is by emailing it to me. In 1-2 days. Great. No, don’t worry Next I wasn’t bothered about ordering anything from you anytime soon.

Whilst I have them on the phone I explain the problems I’ve been having but they don’t seem overly interested. I got a limp-wristed apology and a rather condescending answer back of “next time put your delivery invoice to one side as that’s got the customer number on it”. Yes, because keeping 4 year receipts is something most of us will do.

Needless to say I’m unimpressed. If anything now goes wrong with my order now I’ll be writing to them – as it currently stands they’ll just get this notable mention. No wonder I only order from them every 4 years 😉