back to article PC superstore suffers breakdown over Linux notebook

PC World's shop floor management and the PR machine behind the retail behemoth's marketing strategy appear not to be on the same page when it comes to customer satisfaction. You may recall our report last week about how a PC World customer, known to us only as Tikka, had been refused a hardware repair to his broken, still …


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  1. Greg

    Shock, horror!

    PCW in crap service shocker!

    PC World are rubbish. Let's make this plain. They're shite. They pander to people who know nothing about anything computer related (their staff), and generally sell to people who don't know any better or can't get any better. I have a long running joke with my friends that one day I will get a part time job at the Evil Purple Place, and be manager by the end of the week. (This may come true - I'm in need of a part time job for my return to Uni.) Having said that, I know of at least one person who was refused a job there for being over qualified for the position. He was a uni student too.

    Having said all this, if Tikka is a Reg reader and Linux user, we can assume some level of IT literacy, surely? What the hell were you doing buying from PCW?? These people haven't HEARD of Linux, and when they eventually do encounter it they have a similar reaction to that of the Catholics when they first encountered the Muslim faith. Of course he thinks you've validated your warranty - he probably thinks you put the machine in the middle of a pentagram and started chanting in order to install Linux.

  2. cor

    PC World ..

    ..becomes unhinged as client tries to Open Source the issue..

    This cook-up will cost them a Vista dollars before its over

    PC World not very PC nor worldly.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cut out the store manager

    You know all he ever had to do was call customer services on 08702420444 (option 4) and they would have e-mailed the duty manager with instructions to accept the machine for repair. Or better still sent a DHL courier to his home to pick it up and fix it for him (no not the DHL courier though that would be impressive).

    If they had dragged their feet he could have asked to be passed on to the escalation team.

    I'm getting the impression that he likes self abuse or the attention.

  4. Fragula The Furry

    PC World support

    That is the kind of "service" I have come to expect from PC-world. No suprises at all.

  5. Colin Millar

    PC World????

    Where's the IT angle?

    I'll get me coat

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Overqualified for PC World.

    "I know of at least one person who was refused a job there (PCW) for being over qualified for the position. He was a uni student too."

    Hell, my hamster is overqualified for PCW.

  7. Steven Griffiths

    Oh what a surprise...

    PCWorld in "right hand doesn't know what left hand is doing" shocker...

    Well no, I used to work for what they used before the "Tech Guys", in their Sheffield call-centre, & we were always coming across instances where the shop staff, especially the management, didn't have a clue what was happening in the rest of the company(/world). You'd routinely get people in the call centre getting people coming through who'd been told absolute loads of bollocks by the shop staff, & getting set straight by us, we'd even had the odd manager phoning us from the store at national rate, & waiting 3/4 hour in the queue just to ask us what they were supposed to do!

    What with the other crap, including but not limited to supplying re-conditioned kit as new, fobbing off customers with un-necessary re-installs (a company favourite), replacing parts with returned kit, & blatantly lying to customers about their rights, they are neither a good company to deal with or work for.

    Oh & their payroll department's even absolute shite. When a friend of mine left, they worked out that they'd overpaid him by a grand & a half ish, & sent him an invoice!

  8. Gavin

    PC world to everyone who referes to the base unit as a hard drive

    Yep my experience of PC world is that, they don;t know what they are doing, they don;t know what they sell and generally only one person there has an IT qualification and usually he/she's on holiday.

    PC world to me is "oh shit my hard drive died and need a new one oh god its Sunday where do I go"

    no normal situation would I buy from them.

  9. Alan Paice

    If ye deal with the devil

    If this guy is tech savvy enough to install Linux then why didn't he just bung back on

    windows.. So in summary he is tarded enough to firstly buy from Pc world.. and then doesn't bother to put windows back on.

    I advise all my friends, family and clients that if they buy from PC world not to expect support from me or any of my contacts..

    Its the only way they will learn...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Please point to your ass, and now your elbow.

    I work repairing computers for a small company, we get many people that have just had enough of PC world and there ways. The rumour is PC world will not repair any computer you take in unless it boots into Windows so forget it if your system’s stalling on post that’s a bit beyond them.

  11. Tim

    Warranty returns

    Surely everyone knows that if you do a warranty return you backup what you've got and reset the machine to factory default before returning it? At the very least to ensure there's nothing incriminating on it ;-)

    Returning it with linux on it is asking for trouble.

    Still, could be worse and you bought it from ebuyer who take months to eventually reply to a return request only to tell you to contact the manufacturer direct.

    And in this case the manufacturer being Acer I'd go direct anyway as Acer will turn it around in 3 days (or that was my experience), no hassle.

  12. Andy Taylor

    I thought they were pulling the "wear and tear" excuse

    I'm sure I read an article that said PC World were saying that it was wear and tear and therefore not covered.

    My partner got a laptop last year and when the power socket broke they refused to fix it citing "accidental damage". They did offer to pick it up and look at it but warned me that it might cost me £120 for the "uplift" (why they can't just say collection and return) if their technicians agreed with the accidental damage diagnosis (almost certainly).

    Instead I had the machine repaired for £116 including VAT. Never again.

  13. Mountford D

    Not for much longer

    In view of the EU ruling today, Microsoft may lose the advantage of having Windows pre-installed on every new PC bought from box-shovellers like PC World, in which case they had better train their monkeys to be better informed on non-Microsoft products and O/S. Perhaps they will start hiring real IT pros instead of air-heads whose main computer experience comes from an 18-hour daily diet of Windows games.

  14. Steve Skipper


    He could have taken a screen shot from a windows XP desktop and used is as his wallpaper in linux, the tw**s at PC World probably wouldn't have noticed the difference.

  15. Karl Lattimer

    Similar thing happened to me

    I bought a laptop from PCworld, then found out that the bios on it was so broken and the manufacturer didn't provide any updates, software or firmware. This was a phillips laptop, DO NOT BUY A PHILLIPS LAPTOP!!!!!

    To make a point, before going into any more detail... I said to the sales clerk "I'm going to install fedora core on this, would that be OK" The sales clerk said "sure, it should run all of the latest software..." :)

    Anyway, back to the story, after trying 4 or 5 times to get Fedora 5, then 5.91 installed (this was a week before 6 was released). The machine would do some pretty weird stuff, for instance, if I loaded the driver for the wifi, it would die, or at least the graphics driver did I could still SSH to the box, even over wifi! Now this was based on intel kit, i945gm, ipw2200 wireless etc... so the hardware should work fine together.

    Eventually I put it down to some quirk in the IRQ steering or something similar and had no choice but to take it back. When returning it to the store manager told me that because I'd killed off the windows install, and put linux on they wouldn't provide a refund. However, I had an ace up my sleeve.

    I said to him, that when I bought the machine I had informed the sales clerk that I was going to install linux, he told me that would be fine, and under the sale of goods act 1970, if I purchase a machine after informing the sales staff of its intended purpose, if it doesn't work I can take them to court and say that the machine was "unfit for the specified purpose".

    Thats the key, remember the sale of goods act, and remember that last quoted statement. According to the CAB these are key to getting what you want out of PC world.

    Also, if they tell you that you can't run linux on the machine, there are a whole different set of rules which govern that! Check it out, but I'm pretty sure if you're refused sale based on the intended use of goods they're being prejudicial against your usage requirements.

    One last thing, the mastercare warranty that comes with these machines is terrible, they will kill off your data without telling you to back it up first, they will replace your machine without giving you notice that they are intending to do that, leaving your hard drive in the hands of someone you can't vouch for with regard to destruction of data.

    In the end I bought a macbook, works like a charm, never had any trouble with it which wasn't solvable I've had it back to apple twice for hardware issues which had come up and they didn't say anything about linux

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well, that's Trading Standards for them now.

    I think the PCW PR people need to get hold of this idiot PDQ and give him a new job suitable for his abilities, like mopping the floor.

    This idiocy has already caused incalculable damage to what was left of PCW's reputation. Even if it was a simple one-to-one customer dispute I'd given the chap what he needs to get the fire out - that single incident is costing tens of clients.

    However, it's worse because the customer is one hundred percent right and has the law behind him. To not help the chap in that situation is unforgivable and will result in active interest by Trading Standards.

    I hope he files a formal complaint.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC World

    The IT equivalent of Arthur Dailey's used motors.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warranty Returns

    Yep, I'll go with resetting the machine to factory default. It's a small point of pride (I do have others, I'm not that one-dimensional) that I successfully blagged a whole new machine out of PCW after overclocking my original laptop. It broke, but not enough, so I just overclocked everything until it fried good and proper.

    Granted, I had to wait a month for them to do nothing, but eventually I just walked into my local PCW and demanded a replacement, two weeks before the warranty was up. Sweet. I even promised to bring them back the box, which I didn't. I'm such a rebel.

  19. greg


    You should apply as headline editor for el Reg!

  20. gautam

    So post the video and photo of store manager !

    Just post his photo and video for everyone to look at. That will galvanize everyone into action and send it to BBC Watchdog. That would be very interesting.

  21. Sam Liddicott

    The real damage to PC World

    The real damage to PC world is not this case, and any inability to give any kind of service, but all the similar horror stories that have cropped up on each of the many international forums where this case has been discussed.

    Can there be anybody in the country left (with an internet connection) who advises friends and family on IT needs who hasn't read this and come to the conclusion that they should never never never buy from PC World?

    The damage is that now the whole world knows that their bad experiences are not unique and one off due to misunderstanding, but actually (it seems to me) part of PC Worlds overall customer abuse strategy, and so the whole world knows just not to bother with PC World.


  22. greg

    Hardly surprising!

    This is coming from a shop that shamelessly sell kettle leads for £10 each. You can also try buying a 1m patch cable from there if you're willing to spend £14 - ONE WHOLE METRE! I find little shock in this, yet it goes to further show how much of a farce PC World really is.

    Oh another thing that makes me sad is that they make people buy Norton, with the premise it will secure their computer. They don't mention that Norton doesn't really work, whilst hogging 90% of your computers resources (yes I exaggerate, but it drives me nuts, especially when I have to go and fix someone's PC cos they bought it from the most cliche shop ever).

  23. Matt Jordan

    Why did they turn it on?

    I dont get how they found out it has linux on it...

    Why would they need to turn it on to fix the hinge on the screen?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Warranty replacement

    Sounds like the store manager (or his attitude) needs to be replaced under warranty...

  25. Ross Fleming

    Appreciate the principle, but just restore it

    Agree with Tim and Anonymous' "cut out the store manager" post.

    I recognise the moral high ground that Tikka is on, but seriously, for the sake of an easier life, just back it up, use the restore disk and send a mate in with it. As far as I'm aware it will still work to get that far? Failing that, rip out the hard disk and do it in another machine.

    Generally I've found with PC World's repair strategy, the instore guys just phone the same helpline as customers do.

  26. Nano nano

    Typo ...

    "... has ran out of ..." -> "... has run out of ..."

  27. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Their repairs are shoddy too

    I remember when the hard disk blew in PC owned by a ex-partner of mine. They insisted it just needed to be re-imaged (re-install Windows). It was plainly obvious this wasn't the case and we told them that smoke had come out of it (a chip on the controller board had blown apart).

    When they did fit the replacement drive the engineer was clueless, phoning people up for help all the time. The disk needed a jumper so it was recognised as the master drive, but obviously didn't have one with him and so he bent the two pins together to short them out.

    I had to correct all this myself, I would have done it all anyway but it was under and insurance policy.

  28. Jocke Selin

    My last PCW encounter.

    Right, so after years of Linux use I decided to switch to the darkest side; Mac... All well, until I really started to get annoyed at my WiFi dropping out constantly. So I thought, I'll just waltz down to a large store and pick a Wireless Access Point up, and connect it to my existing LAN. I wanted to go to a store, so I could easily return it if my quirky Mac didn't connect properly...

    I walked in to Oxford PCW... went to the WiFi/Network section, stared at a few boxes for 10 minutes, and to my luck there were two already opened boxes, but without prices. I smelled a bargain... But nobody came to my 'rescue'. So after a while of not being served I went to this 'speakers podium' that was erected in the midst of an isle and there were two middle aged women gossiping there. Finally, I got to ask if I could have some help with an access point. The rest of the discussion went something along the lines of:

    Me: Could I have some help with the access points over there..?

    PCW: Who's your ISP?

    Me: erhm... ISP? I just would like to get some help with an AP!?

    PCW: Yes, but who's your ISP?

    PCW: Is it BT, Orange,... etc

    Me: Eclipse, but...

    PCW: OK, so you have got a normal ADSL line...

    Me: LOOK, I have a network, I have an ADSL modem, it's all working except my stupid Mac won't connect to the WLAN...

    PCW: Oh, we don't sell anything for the Mac

    Me: (thinking: but you sell the freakin' Macs too!?) Look, I don't want a specific Mac thing, I just want a standard 802.11g network access point.

    PCW: Yes, but we don't sell anything for the Mac.

    Me: I don't need it specifically for the Mac, I just want a standard AP.

    PCW: No, you need an Airport and we don't sell anything for the Mac, because Apple has told us that you'll need an Airport.

    Me: hrmpht, so you're not selling me one..?!

    PCW: No

    I walked out, feeling very very insulted - I guess that's what I get for abandoning Linux and going corporate. :P Argos down the road had one for £40... just what I wanted. :)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    stop moaning

    Why do so called “tech savvy” people like this bloke feel the need to ego trip like this? Yes he uses Linux and most people don’t, what does he want? A penguin engraved medal? This page is full of anti PC World comments by sad people with too much time on their hands. Hell, my 8 year old brother could install Ubuntu and configure Apache with little effort. Now, because someone in who works in a shop doesn’t happen to use this superior operating system, you think they must be stupid.

    The only people in PC World who need to know technical stuff is the repair people, shop floor staff surely don’t need a working knowledge of how the CPUs execute instructions and place values in the different registers, let alone how the operating system pages memory and manages IO streams. All they need to know is user benefits, just like a car salesman wouldn’t be able to tell you how the engine combusts and how the air-con you ordered make the air cooler. Do mechanical engineers moan about car sales people “knowing nothing”? No they don’t because it’s not their job to and they have enough self-worth not to need to.

    If the PC has Linux on it then it’s not in its original condition, so PC World doesn’t have to accept it. If the customer made a recovery disc, then why not just give it to them with the CD or put quickly windows on it? It’s likely he didn’t bother making one, if he never planned to use Windows – still I’d like to think PC World would just accept it for good service. Could this “tech savvy” bloke not just wipe the whole hard disk and say it did that its self? Not his fault!

    I don’t and have never worked at PC World, but I do shop there from time to time – and I hate it when self confessed “I use Linux so I must be an expert at all things computing” users moan and moan and moan. For the record I use Linux and develop software for a living, yes I’m “one of you”.

  30. Fluffykins Silver badge

    @Steve Skipper


  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC World

    I bought a PC from PC World some 5 years ago now - never again, so not suprised at the problems Tikka had.

    Mine was an ex display machine that never worked, would boot up and then die after about thirty seconds. So I took it back to the store with receipt, several times, to be told to ring an extortionately expensive premium rate telephone number - which I did. Ran up a telephone bill close to £30 over a two month period for continuous calls and in the end decided that it wasn't worth bothering with - so why did they refuse to refund me?

    On about the tenth call and getting nowhere a very rude man asked me if I had had an electrical storm recently - I said yes and that it was irrelevent because the computer was switched off and in fact the internet connection was always disconnected during a storm. On my next call I was told that the operator had logged that I had told them my machine had been damaged during a storm and that therefore it was my fault and they would not replace the machine!

    PC World lie and will do anything not to replace faulty goods - so whatever special offers they have on, forget it, it may end up costing you more in the long run.

  32. Filippo Negroni

    Contact Acer

    I would recommend Mr. Tikka calls Acer and gets his laptop repaired by them.

    I purchased an Acer laptop myself 3 years ago, directly from Acer, and it came with a 1 year warranty including home collection service.

    Sure PC World should honour the claim on behalf of Acer.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Given the pittance that DSGi offer in their salarys, it would undoubtedly cause a massive increase in retail prices within their stores to hire competent staff. I believe such a proposition doesn't "fit" with their business model (i.e. box shovellers). They cater to the entry level market on the most part.

    If the likes of PC World had a product I wanted at the price I wanted then I'd be prepared to shop there. But as others have stated, if you require after sales service then there's no point in locking horns with them. Back up your hard drive and restore to the default settings. Does nobody else ever feel like they have to "dumb down" a bit at times to get things done? Of course we can all be pompous and have a laugh at the expense of others but PC World is a successful company, doing what they do and (usually) doing it well.

    BTW, I have plenty of experience with PC World's Tech Guys. Someone got it very wrong if they indeed stated the warranty was void but they would be very likely to state the unnecessary requirement for an OEM windows restore prior to conducting any service. They require this in order to complete a basic test on the machine before it's returned to the customer. It is also very necessary in *many* cases to avoid machines with software faults being returned for repair.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC World Sucks but......

    yeap, practically 99% of all IT Professionals hate PC World and i'm one of them!

    but they do have a plus point! 99% of all people that go there and actually buy stuff at stupid prices are computer illterate muppets! so If I ever get a phone call from one of these computer illiterate muppets e.g My Sister, I just refer them to PC World so I have more time to pick my nose whilst wasting my life online playing games!

    Thank you Muppet World!

    and yeah your right, the only reason why I would go there is to buy a hard drive that just failed! but i've learnt my lesson and I keep a spare! so I haven't been there in 3 years!

    Quote of the Day - PC World - Providing career opportunities for people who aren't quite smart enough to stack shelves at Tesco

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They don't think much of their staff either

    A number of years back I bought a modem that came with drivers on 3.5 and 5.25 inch floppies (remember them?). The box had obviously been opened and they had had difficulty getting everything back in the box - the 5.25 inch floppy had been folded in half to get it in!

    When I went back the manager told me that it was probably one of the 'Saturday Monkeys' that they employ.

    Things don't seem to have changed.

  36. kain preacher


    they can get away with not acceptiing the machine back if it has a different OS installed on it. This is because most stores on the receipt says you must return it in the same condition as you bought it.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'v been telling everyone I know for years that PC World suck. I used to do a little work in small computer shop and customers would be shocked to see that the USB cable they saw in PC World for £14.99 was on sale at our place for £2. Even then we were making a good profit ;-)

    My friend's sister got a job at PC World. She will even confess to you all that she knows nothing about computers.

    And don't get me started on Norton. For one thing it is just a terrible piece of software, the UI design needs a rethink and I love the dialog "Your PC is still infected with threats" or whatever it displays when it cant get rid of something. Um... didn't I just pay for this software to remove my virusses rather than alert me that they are there but nothing can be done? Go figure.

  38. Stu

    The real reputation issue

    Yes, PC World are ***** (slander removed).

    The sad, nay depressing, fact is that PC Worlds reputation being dreadful will never work its way into the minds of the masses who simply want a new laptop and/or printer and see the easy route out of the confusion - the average goit is simply directed towards which combo to buy in most cases! Yes, from somebody who doesnt know squat!

    It was the same for hifis and tellys in the 80s when the DSG was only currys and dixons, and its like it today.

    This mis-treatment is there hundreds of times every day pre-purchase. They could have a thousand such cases of mis-treatment post purchase, plus now we have mis-treatment post resolution from ElReg, the general populace only see the TV adverts over time and buy into that fantasyland instead.

    Their annoying but incessant TV Adverts continually drill into people the simple truth that it is just too easy to trundle over to the nearest PC World warehouse and pick one up. The staff are there solely to put the final nail in the coffin by cajoling you into parting with several hundred pounds invariably for an unsuitable machine, the customer thinks they've done great out of it! £299 for a laptop now? Thats amazing! NOT.

    This could be said about all high street type shops too, the situation is pretty dire throughout. I always thought that if I could set up any old business but run constant national television advertising for it (At a massive loss), that It would turn out a complete success, I could be selling turd! It wouldn't matter cos its on the telly!

    Us lot being an IT knowledgeable crowd don't need their advice, ever. We can choose a suitable PC for ourselves, but the killer for me comes in the prices they charge, I make a point of buying from local business or internet startups - all you are doing paying inflated PC World prices is subsidising their shop front, crap staff and annoying adverts.

    The other crux too is that they offer credit - a lot of local small PC businesses cant or wont. My brother buys his new PCs from there just because he gets credit with them. Bad credit too, really BAD credit APRs. Hes too stupid to see the significance of his mistakes!

    ...And I didn't even get to the after sales support!

    Me? I just used PC World to find new kit on the market then go off and find it online for a fraction the cost. I dont any more because our PC world is looking a bit run down and might shut down. I keep a candle lit for that hope.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    repeat after me

    "purchase crumby hardware from crumby supplier and get a crumby service."

    Repeat this 1000 times and learn your lesson.

    Get a fixed part off ebay repair the laptop and consider it a lesson learnt.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Trading standards...

    ... *NEED* to be involved in this. Denying his consumer rights on a completely spurious excuse like this is fraud. Those who say he should just let it go, or "work around" the problem don't get it: this organisation has STOLEN from him - there's no way on earth he should settle quietly. Or they'll carry on doing it, to other people, perhaps less well-informed about their rights.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Shock, horror!

    No, no. You've got it all wrong. The laptop in placed in a HEXagram with offerings to the god EdLin. Though, the truely difficult installs require a microwaved copy of a windows install CD as a sacrifice. Vista seems to be the most pleasing for all involved.

  42. Squits


    PCWorld Customer Services, My name is Shane, how can I help.

    That would have been the end of his problem, if of course I still worked there.. They drove me mad.

    I used to work in the Sheffield call centre on the real customer services desk for PCW, not the farty little line you would normally get through on, as the above person said, option 4.

    I have shouted at managers before and told them that they ARE going to do this, that and the other, lots of them give in, some don't, then you just tell them to bill customer services for it. Its all bonuses see, that's all they care about, refunds eat into their bonus.

    Frankly speaking, I'm glad I got away from there, nothing worse than non-tech-savvy idiots day in day out.. and then there's the customers(boom-boom).

    Having to cite the SoGA to managers is stupid, faxing them a highlighted copy of it..

    Meh, no wonder I turned to drink.

  43. marc

    RE: PC World Sucks but.....

    Anonymous writes

    "99% of all people that go there and actually buy stuff at stupid prices are computer illterate muppets!"

    I am sure you are a illiterate if you can't even spell illiterate, but that's not my point. Not everyone can be a master of everything, while you may design CPUs in sleep and probe USB ports in your dreams, most people don't.

    If you walked into B&Q and asked a technical question about plumbing, would they laugh in your face about you being "pipe illiterate" muppet?

    Some of the comments on here do nothing but solidify the stereotype computer geek who thinks because he can use a computer proficiently he's god. Try flying a plane or saving lives for a living. I'm a software developer and I know my place, I don't look down on people like a lot of you ignorant folk.

  44. Stan

    Stick to his guns

    Have to argue with all the posters saying he should re-install windows and bring it back in.

    1: PCWorld have already admitted a mistake was made, and made it in writing.

    2: Acer, much as I dislike there laptops, provide a good warranty that has no conditions on what OS is being used.

    3: This is a known fault

    4: Anyone higher up the evolution tree than the manager could see the OS has nothing to do with the fault.

    If it were to go as far as a court of law PCWorld would, without a doubt, be found at fault. Personally I think he should push it as far as it takes and get as much media attention as possible while doing it.

    The used car dealer reference further up is a good one and companies that operate this way do not deserve to be seen as market leaders.


  45. Andrew Macrobie

    @stop moaning

    The hardware is blatantly defective - the issue is that PCW are using the end users choice of OS for not repairing a hardware issue.

    If you choose to install Ubuntu or NT4 on a server instead of Windows 2003 and then the handle on one of the hot swap bays fell off, would you expect the supplier to tell you you're voided your consumer rights because of your (often necessary) choice of operating system ? Is this any different to the hinge failing on the laptop at the centre of this ongoing issue ? I think not.

    The application and use of this equipment (the computer is intended to be used as a computer, not as a doorstop) does not deviate from the norm and the user has not used the equipment in a manner that may be considered incorrect nor out of the ordinary - freedom of choice in terms of installed software (including operating system) is a perfectly legitimate and reasonable requirement for any computer. If the user was purchasing an appliance (Snap Server, Firewall etc etc) and replaced the OS then it's a legitimate claim that they have modified the equipment and voided the warranty as they are attempting to modify the equipment in order to change it's purpose. To change the OS on a computer does not change its purpose nor does it change the functions the user will require of it.

    Moreover, it's easy to argue the supplier has not taken sufficient measures to ensure that the user can restore the equipment to its original state - I know all about the recovery partition, but that really doesn't hack it, all you need is for the partition table to become screwed and repairing the computer is, quite literally, a non-starter. I understand there's an economic argument for supplying the recovery data on the hard disk, but in the long run, it simply costs the suppliers (and subsequently the manufacturers, in terms of lost sales) more by doing this as every time a machine takes a big poo on its hard drive (not entirely uncommon) the machine will have to have engineering time wasted on it having the disk re-imaged or replaced.

    To take the short view that it's somehow the users fault for installing linux is missing the point entirely, there's a principle here - PCW abusing the rights of it's customers (the right to freedom of choice) in order to excuse their desire to not repair or replace the defective laptop.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get serious.

    I find all the complaints about PC World unforgivable and if it continues I am extremely worried that it might have a detrimental effect on the company as a whole.

    My biggest concern is that because of this issue, and the complaints, they could go bust and if that occurs then my weekend entertainment would be curtailed……

    Let’s face it, what could be more entertaining than going into PC World and asking for assistance with a technical matter? Be it networking, CPU’s, storage, memory or even plain old software there will always be a member of staff who will attempt to help and eventually start spouting ‘that which is best for feeding the roses’!

    Go on, give yourself a treat this weekend and visit your local PC World with a few simple questions!

  47. Daniel

    Another comment

    Right i posted on the original as i am a worker for PCWorld. As much as i would like to defend PCWorld i can admit it has numerous faults. infact i had the chance to enter a "top of customer services" achievement award thing... anyway the reason i didnt answer??... all i had to do was fill in a form with 2 questions;

    Q: "Can you name one instance of high customer service"

    A: Easy as believe it or not i pride myself on helping people.

    Q2: "what one thing would you change to improve customer service"


    Needless to say i didnt get it.

    Anyway as for this subject the only reason PCWorld could refuse is if the fault was actually caused by accidental damage. and the instore techies dont even touch the bloody machine when it comes to fixing it. so why the hell this guy doesnt dial 0870 901 3000 and book it his bloody self i dont know.

    And as for all the bullsh*tters in this post, shut the hell up. First of all we're not all that retarded. (but a lot are). The reason a system restore is highly recommended... well if it is to be repaired we have to rule out the OS as a cause, and if you deal with hundreds of customers a day who regularly screw their operating systems, you would see why we recommend it. And how about this in online stores they charge you if you try and send something back faulty and it isnt (for wasting their time). We dont do that, you want us to waste our time diagnosing a machine that "doesnt connect to the internet" well thats because you have no idea how the hell the internet works and its not our fault, we offered to set it up but you declined saying "my mate dave will help"

    End of the day we cater to a market, PCWorld will soon realise that as the younger generation learn more and more, their sales will go down and down, simple as. They will be down the drain within 5 years unless they sort it out.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "mis-treatment post resolution from ElReg"

    I like the sound of that. Weird images come to mind.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hang on...

    ... cracked hinges isn't a clear cut case of an inherent fault (to satisfy SOGA) or a manufacturing fault (to satisfy the warranty) anyway.

    Ignoring all the biz about PCW, Linux and stuff, we don't even know that the fault is inherent or manufacturing defects.

    Personally I've found that this kind of thing is never as clear cut as one sided accounts such as this make out - after all, SOMETHING has caused the fault and, again, IME cracked hinges on laptops do not happen if this is treated as a fragile item and looked after, regardless of the OS installed.

    Damage which is neither caused by a manufacturing defect nor present when the item was purchased is not covered in neither the warranty nor SOGA respectively.

    In reality, no manager of any retail outlet will act to deliberately flaunt rights of a consumer under SOGA, as that would be acting illegally.

  50. na101010

    @ Daniel

    That's all well and good, but when you bring it in with an obvious physical problem that is totally unrelated to what the OS even touches.... I mean, unless Linux has evolved into such a beast that it can control the case too....

    Oh no! One of the little rubber feet came off the bottom of the case! Quick, break out the Vista recovery disc!

  51. call me scruffy


    Why is a PCW Customer like an amnesiac in a brothel?

    They've both been screwed, and neither of them know it.

  52. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To all those "dial 08702420444 (option 4)" idiots

    How should the poor guy know that 08702420444 (option 4) is the way to get some kind of PCW service? How should the poor guy know that PCW is the only shop in the world where the in-shop servants are even dumber than the call center dolts?

    How should the poor guy know that it is apparently PCW's standard procedure to not provide any customer service in the shop at all, and that violating consumer rights is apparently part of PCW's business plan? You buy it at location X, you bring it back to location X is apparently to difficult to understand for those manning the magic 08702420444 (option 4) number.

    Why can't any of you 08702420444 operators give Tikka and the store manager calls and sort it out from your end, instead of wasting PCW's company time by commenting here? Get your arse up and help Tikka, instead of following standard PCW procedure to insult the customer.

  53. Pete


    From experience (including reading this thread this morning) there is a serious issue of intelligence when getting involved with PC World, maybe it's just a Curry's with a purple front (though I have found Currys cheaper), but being perceptive, listening to customers (when they are only trained to hear them) and various other communication/intelligence shortcomings are all what makes a shopping experience with them what it is.

    Tikka - go see and call them or email them, very useful service this but be totally sure of your facts before contacting the Consumer guys.

  54. A. Lewis

    @stop moaning.

    Actually no, you cannot refuse to honour the warranty for a hardware fault because the software has been changed.

  55. Ozimandius

    They're morons - plain and simple

    Disclaimer: I'm sure there are some staff at PCW who do have an idea about computers - but I'll be buggered if I can find any!.

    This reminds me of my last encounter with the place - needed to get some RAM for a work PC so I go straight to the memory section and start looking for the right stick. In about 10 seconds a staff member comes over to ask if I need help which I (politely) decline - but he continues on to say "Ahh, I see you're after some memory things - most PC's don't have any of these, but if you do add some it's like putting a turbo charger in your car"

    After giving him a dumbfounded look, I ask to speak to his manager who trys to tell me the exact same thing!

    Have any of them actually USED a computer before?

  56. Nick Palmer

    @ Hang on

    "IME cracked hinges on laptops do not happen if this is treated as a fragile item and looked after, regardless of the OS installed."

    Actually, they do if the laptop has a manufacturing or design defect - a fact to which I can attest after the hundreds I've issued over the years. Basically you're begging the question (in the classic sense), assuming the "fact" which your statement purports to prove. If your experience is that cracked hinges on laptops don't happen, then you obviously haven't dealt with that many. I've seen the problem on HPs, Dells, Sonys, heck, just about every manufacturer you can think of. All it takes is a flaw in the metal of the hinge. Simply opening and closing the laptop normally will cause the hinge (eventually) to break along the pre-existing flaw. In this case, the laptop was only a few months old; absent any accidental damage (and if there had been evidence of that, the PCW manager would have been all over it), that's a fault, and most certainly NOT (as the PCW muppet attempted to then claim) "normal wear and tear".

    Oh, and retail store managers and staff flout (that's "flout", not "flaunt") consumer rights all the time, in the same way that they hand out dodgy advice. Their assumption is that the customer knows less than they do (even though they may not know very much) and will have the power to do even less. I'll file "In reality, no manager of any retail outlet will act to deliberately flaunt rights of a consumer under SOGA, as that would be acting illegally." along with "governments never lie", "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear" and "an innocent man has nothing to fear from the police".

  57. gautam


    So if Tikka went in with his frineds and camera (video) and recorded the sorry episode, why doesnt he post it here for everyone to see? Would be a sure entertaining laugh. Might be on for a you tube award for being funny/causing maximum laughter and ridicule.

  58. vale

    I'm ashamed to admit it!

    Yes I got desperate between my 2nd and final year in university and I resorted to getting a job in PC World.

    I went for the interview and the manager looked at me rather oddly, he said I knew alot of computers, I replied well thats what I study. He thought about it and then gave me a job in the software department, as the stores software specialist. When I asked him about the commision based sales posistion he said that I would be better suited using my knowledge as an advisor in the software area. I was pretty shocked to find out that half the people in the sales posisitions knew next to nothing about computers, they just recite the same drivel over and over just trying to make that particular branch the best in the region, they have huge competitions and leader boards its mad! (Kinda like that employee of the month film).

    So I took the job being desperate or money and all. The job was a nightmare, half the people who came in there didnt know there arse from there elbow when it came to computers or anything related...some of the most amusing questions being can I use this wireless mouse on the left hand side of the keyboard etc! The people who did know what they were doing literally came in bought and went.

    Anyway the reason why they probably dont repair laptops without windows is because there diagnostic tools etc are all windows based, plus they like to reinstall all the pcworld shite that you get bundled with the computer again. But they do sell mac and linux in store so i dont know why they dont support it. Its just not bundled with the electrical paper weights they call computers they sell there.

    I suppose its your own fault for buying in pc world haha I have only ever used it in emergencys like needing the odd cable or spindle of dvd's.

  59. Steve Barnett

    PCW - Comet - Powerhouse

    I went into Comet to buy a Hoover and I had to show the sales guy how it worked.

    If you think you're gonna get better service from a PCW because they're "a technology retailer" you're wrong.

    The issue was and is the law, and their ignorance of it / refusal to adhere to it.

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Forget the Reseller go DIRECT!!!

    Stop going to PCW, and phone Acer.

    Acers Support is: 0870 853 1000

    Or Email Them:

    The Manufacturer will sort that out, PCW are crap, always have been and always will be.


  61. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Name

    'PC World Series' only some OS's invited to attend!

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reality Check

    Has anyone forgotten that the super markets are in on selling PC's and Laptops now. If you had been on the receiving end of their service or the broadband providers extortionate and often useless support lines then you'd soon realize that while far from perfect, a good portion of questions can be answered by PC World's customer services.

    The mass of questions I see ranging so widely from ability are often questions that other people haven't answered. Over 50% of the people I interact with on customer services just want questions answered about stuff they've never bought from us or stuff they bought years ago out of warranty. I don't send them away, I answer the questions as best as possible from the information they give me.

    A massive problem is that most people don't know what to ask. They have a problem but can't express it clearly enough which makes trying to eke out a solution difficult at times. Imagine asking 20 people a day if their machine can go into windows or if we need a password to log in; and you get a blank stare.

    On these sites your interacting with people that quite clearly have at least a rudimentary understanding of how to use their machines, professionals or enthusiasts (despite some over inflated opinions of their own abilities). But when you interact with the public you have to change how you think and explain things, because they just don't grasp the most basic things.

    Trying to get someone to understand the difference between software and hardware when they've knocked out their DVD drive's Upper & Lower filters by installing wrong drivers or old software is incredibly difficult.

    Customer services on the phone have the luxury of being able to hang up, and they forget that. When someone is in the store in your face you have to get the problem sorted, there is no escape. Again while branch call seem to be well trained there are exceptions where technicians with 8 or 9 years experience will ring up and tell them the machine has already been diagnosed with faulty RAM only to be told they don't know what they are talking about and should restore the machine.

    But in the context of the masses of small independent machines that have no COA or media; or super-market machines that were sold by monkeys that can't even tell you what RAM is for; then I feel that PC World is the lesser evil. If the super markets keep grinding into the market the way they are then who's going to be left to actually sell the products?

    The above example of a car sales man was dead on. Unfortunately no matter what company you buy from, at times you'll run into idiots that will have a little nugget of information and no real understanding. But if you make the right calls you will find that often the actions of a minority will often be so far against the rest of the team that you will encounter a positive supportive response.

    For the record I've worked customer services for a big retailer for years, I've run super stores and have been the guy to make these decisions and at times give customers bad news. Some times customer expectations can be unreasonable and I have had no choice but to stand firm and take the risk of upsetting them. Other times I have to swallow my pride and forget the technical experience I have in order to follow company guidelines when I know I could get something sorted myself.

    But my experience of competitors is that they are no different and that small independents are no better (the few that are exceptional at customer services usually go out of business).

    None of this is to say I don't sympathise with Tikka, first thing I did to my Acer was make the recovery media and replace Vista with FreeBSD, SkyOS and Ubuntu. I just think that he could have got this sorted so much easier if he just called customer services.

    The sceptical might wonder if he worked for a competitor and enjoyed dragging PC World through the mud, or others might say he was just a consumer sharing his experience as a cautionary tail. But it could have been sorted so easily by making a phone call.

  63. David S


    Funnily enough, I'd heard that vista had a habit of making machines unstable, but I had no idea it took such a direct approach...

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I used to work in a store as a "technician" for several months (I'd just moved to the area, was broke and desperate for a job).

    It was a new store opening so there was a several month brainwashing course for the new staff, basically most of it was tactics to sell their Coverplan (or whatever it is called today).

    I remember one day the store manager decided to put some PCs on offer and put them on a pallet in the front of the store. Later that morning a car pulled up outside, three guys ran in, grabbed a PC each, ran out and sped off :)

    Anyway, this story doesn't surprise me, we were told many times to breach trading standards and similar laws, but they will always be big enough to get away with it and will always prey on those who don't know any better. It was one of the reasons I quit in the end. Ironically after I quit I became the administrator of a LUG and ran the servers for a Linux hosting company.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Reality Check

    So Mr. "Reality Check", you work for PCW, don't you? Instead pf posting your PhD thesis and conspiracy theory, why don't you help that guy getting his laptop fixed? Call that Mr. G Tank, tell him to contact the customer and arrange for a replacement / repair.

    Too difficult? Well, I bet. All words, no action from PCW.

  66. Cheeba

    Ex-Tech Guy

    The best thing Tikka can do is contact the Tech Guys (number is on their website or his documentation) once PCW have sold the machine they don't really know enough or have an real dealing with it. Support for PCW world sold computers falls to what used to be PC ServiceCall and owned by DSGi but now owned by Capita (I think). The provide the technical hardware assistance to the unit. One sticking point which is probably what the manager is getting confused about it in the manual of most OEM machine there is a clause stating that for support the machine must be returned to its original settings, i.e the original operating system must be installed. In most modern systems this is provided via a hidden partition which access by the pressing a function key, and the option to make your own recovery disks which from reading Tikka's blog he hasn't done. Although I am not defending PCW they are ultimately complete shite for support, you just have to know who to speak to.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Reality Check - you suck!

    I once bought an Advent laptop from PC World many moons ago, and it had this annoying habit of freezing for 1 second at a time at random intervals (possibly interrupt req or something)... anyways, I took it back and they said nothing wrong with it, I would just have to live with the freezing?! Well... Im a programmer and a 1 second freeze is impossible to work with if it stops logging keystrokes during it (which it did). So I decided not to argue with the thick-chav who knew less than my mum about computers and instead I went home with my laptop in hand, calmly walked through my front door and straight out of my backdoor into the garden, walked halfway down and threw the thing into my boggy pond!! :)

    Rang up homecare people (PC World insurance basically) as it started to bubble and sink out of view and told them what happened... they picked up the laptop within 2 days (still covered in rotten marshy crap) and within another week I had some brand-spanking new vouchers for the Dixons group!!

    That time I went with a more reputable brand and bought from Currys (step up from PC World, but you still cant polish a turd!).... no more problems for 3 years. I vowed never to go in since then to any dixon group shop. My latest laptop is from an online retailer (not ebuyer! lol).

  68. john

    More PCW..

    A while ago we had a thread on usenet for PCWorld-baiting. It provided a diversion if you were in there for some blank CD's and some staff member annoyed you.

    Lots of people got the "AMD stands for Another Microprocessor Division" within Intel (this was in pre-Athlon days) or that AMD chips were Intel chips that didn't make the grade.

    My own entry (from PCWorld Leeds) was asking (in a suitably newbie innocent and confused voice) why my monitor was described as 17 inch when the screen didn't measure 17 inches across the width.. The answer was that the 17" referred to the distance from the front to the back of the monitor....

  69. Daniel


    I Didnt mention anything to do with the OS, your warranty is not void by the OS, you just lose support... try and keep up

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I REPEAT DON'T BUY FROM PC WORLD, IT'S CRAP. You will feel robbed and depressed by the customer service.

    I searched on their website for a linux distro as I know they sell it in store and the search results bring up vista premium!??? I mean wtf?? Maybe their website was created by PC World Staff, MOST LIKELY.

    This situation Tikka is in is quite annoying. I say we all email PC World and demand they fix Tikka's laptop!

  71. carlos


    back at Uni I did apply for a technician job there....

    in the interview they asked me what would I do if the brought me a non-booting computer, to which I answered:

    "i'd ask the customer if the hard drive is failing, look at the BIOS, look at the boot files, try to boot fail safe"

    the interviewer cut me short and said:

    "NO! you would have to ask if they have an antivirus"

    so I ended up trying to sell ironers and casio digital pianos in Comet just across the road, where I managed to last one day :D

  72. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    carlos you moron

    why is asking if they have anti-virus any less valid a question than asking if they know if the hard drive is failing...why does everyone that visits this site assume that end users have the faintest clue what a hard drive even is??? the simplest solution is usually the correct one...a non-booting machine could indeed be a virus issue - or it could be a floppy drive stuck in the machine - or, and trust me when i say this, it could be a blown fuse, or an unpaid electric bill...stop mocking other people's opinion when your own standpoint is on very shaky ground

  73. Hawknic

    One more anecdote... in case you needed any more

    I use PC world fairly frequently (apologies to the "why use it if you know what you're doing" crowd, but like most people I go for convenience, especially when I can serve myself and not rely on help). I've found the people there mixed to be honest, with the most unliterate being a senior person I asked a question a couple of weeks ago.

    Anyway, last time I was there I stood behind an irate customer having a rant. He'd been sold a modem or router, having been told that it would work p'n'p with his new Vista machine (don't get me started on Vista!). Suffice to say it didn't work as planned.

    The Tech advice given - go back home and download the Vista drivers from the internet! Need I say more?

    PS lots of opinions above re what the guy is doing wrong (re-install Wndows with a hardware issue? call Acer or PCW customer service rather than go to the shop?) some of which seem to miss the point. If you buy something and it breaks, you shouldn't have to go anywhere but where you bought it for a repair or return, and if you've used it in a reasonable way (i.e.a way that wouldn't surprise a normal user) and it fails, it doesn't work as promised, no question. Why accept poor behaviour from these people by going elsewhere or adding work for yourself. The law is seldom on our side, but in this case it is, and we shouldn't forget that fact.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have you seen this cartoon?

    Someone's reading the Reg....


  75. sack

    Carlos might actually have a point

    It all depends on what 'non booting' means. There's not enough information in the question.

    My first question would be 'what is the last thing you see before it stops'

    BIOS screens I go with carlos, anything windows related I try safemode - and multiple AV installations were quite common machine killers.

This topic is closed for new posts.