back to article PC World website went titsup on Boxing Day

Computer retail outfit PC World suffered an embarrassing website outage on Boxing Day, which is traditionally seen as one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. But customers hoping to hunt down computer sales’ bargains from the comfort of their armchair on Sunday were unable to access the PC World site. The …


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  1. Andy ORourke

    They having a laugh or what?

    "We have been experiencing unprecedented demand as customers increasingly recognise we are the only place to go for the best deals. "

    Surely they meant:

    "We have been experiencing unprecedented demand as customers who don't know any better and can't be bothered to use a search engine think we are the only place to go for any computer related items."

    1. No, I will not fix your computer
      Thumb Up

      Or perhaps....

      "We have been experiencing unprecedented demand as customers who don't know any better bought something from us that they either don't want or is unsuitable but the salesman told them it was exactly what they needed, and now it's broken or doesn't do what they said it would".

  2. amarko5

    a very costly oops

    Possibly a major screw up ! in losing all those online sales, i for one went to comet because i couldn't get the info i wanted online, and in that one instance DSG lost over 500 ukp.

    when its all added up i bet they are reeling that they didn't have an engineer on standby to fix it .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      On what you blew £500 on, it'll probobly explode just out of warranty like anything from that bunch do.

  3. Ted Treen


    That'll teach them to let "The Tech Guys" advise on their website...

  4. Anonymous Coward

    my Latest PC World woes

    Having sworn never to go near the place I could barely hide my disappointment when I was presented with a PC world gift card. Thinking there was no way that they could possibly fuck up a console game for the kids I decided I would attempt to redeem the gift card.

    "Sorry computer say no you need to call the number on the back of the card." Say's the (insert appropriate description here) on the in store help desk.

    "OK" says I,

    "Ah, " says the call centre (insert appropriate description here) "You need to take the Gift card to the shop where they will know that they need to phone the number on the back of the card"

    "But they told me to phone you, Could you let them know that this is what they should do?" says I

    A long drawn out pause follows.....

    So it seems that it is even impossible for PC World to conduct a basic financial transaction without entering a never ending loop.

    It's a miracle they have a website to go down in the first place...

  5. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Best Deals?

    Are they still charging an arm and a leg for a USB Cable (£17.99)?

    IF they are then PC-World is not the place to go for the 'best deals'.

    Ok, I'll get me coat. going shopping with 'her indoors'

    1. Matt Horrocks

      Even better deals...

      Went in looking for a laptop power cable (C5), the only power cable they had (standard PC lead) was at the bargain price of £22.99

      Wish I could shift the filing cabinet full of power leads I have spare at work for £20 each!

  6. dom0410

    Comet wasnt so good either

    When I went on the Comet website on Boxing Day there was a message saying there was a 'queue' and had to wait 5 minutes and then the site ran very slowly after the wait. Ironically every non technology retailer that I tried had their websites working perfectly fine..

  7. Charlie MItchell

    It was down longer than that!

    Their website was rubberducked a lot longer than just boxing day, I tried on the 27th AND on the 28th only to get a message saying to go in store. NO THANKS, I was only wanting to have a browse, doesn't matter what you want it's never in stock anyway.

    1. Graham 25

      A lot longer

      I find the website performance utterly rubberducked all year round.

      Maybe its just my ISP (Zen`0 but I suspect its the good taste of my computer trying desperately to avoid contamination.

      FWIW I have never bought anything online from them as I am older than aged 16 and lower than 65, but I have bought from the store when it was the only option !

    2. Robert Forsyth

      Rubber Duck is luck*

      Lame Duck is may be what you are after

      * in my rhyming dictionary, I don't have

  8. Trev 2

    Maybe they installed some of the rubbish AV software?

    They probably installed one of those annoyingly bad AV programmes that they try to sell you with every computer related "thing", and being ultra annoying it decided to do a "background system scan" just in the middle of the busiest shopping period.

    Either that or someone spotted the multi-block powering the servers and thought - we need one of them for our staffroom coffee machines!

  9. Graham Marsden

    "customers increasingly recognise we are the only place to go for the best deals"

    ITYM Gullible idiots who believe our advertising and can't be bothered to look further think that we actually offer good value for money...

  10. Greg J Preece

    Thousands of customers better off

    They should have bought the extended warranty for just 10p a day.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    where's the IT angle?

    so, a shit company that sells shit has a shit web site. where's the story? i'm surprised anyone here visits dsg's hell-holes or cares if their web site works or not.

    perhaps a pasty-faced yoof at dsg's head office forgot to take out an extended warranty on the web site. or maybe they thought the tech guys to fix it?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I was wondering...

    I was wondering just how many of us almighty know alls would take this article as an opportunity to lay into PC World. In fact I would have been prepared to bet all my Christmas presents that more than half would be of that genre, I would have won, easily. However having the grand total of zero presents I wouldn't have lost much.

    Don't overlook that it was a Reg reader who tipped off the team to this downtime.

    I always get good service in PC World but then I treat the staff with the respect I expect to receive and don't go in with an attitude.

    1. Ben Tasker

      So Do I

      I treat them with the respect I'd expect to receive, right up until they start trying to bullshit me.

      It's rare I go in there, but have had no other choice on some occasions.

      One advisor told me that sticking Linux on a Lappy invalidates the warranty. I politely pointed out that whilst I was aware that they like to claim this, the High Court takes a different view. He returned quite red-faced from consulting his manager and conceded that I was right.

      I could've left it, and argued the point if we ever needed to use the warranty, but you know what? They're trotting this shit out to people who don't know any different, at least now that store can't claim ignorance!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down


      "I always get good service in PC World but then I treat the staff with the respect I expect to receive and don't go in..."


      To be fair its often possible to get served in a DSG store, which is always an exciting challenge in Comet.

      I avoid DSG because I'm sick of the guessing game as to whether something will be cheaper on their website - even if I pick it up from store or not. Or which if the brands will have the item cheaper (mind you they seem to lumping everything together now, presumably so you can clog up your new washing machine with Norton without having to shop around).

      I avoid Comet because they apparently have never trained their staff in 'seeing things' which was amply demostrated by the young lady in the Crewe branch who walked between me and the merchandise I was trying to peruse because she was too busy chatting to her gormless collegue.

      Maplin I avoid (athough I'm always tempted...) because I object to a shop that sells no-name unpowered 7 port USB hubs for £15 on their opening weekend when someone loud was standing outside the store banging on about offers. Particularly as I had just bought a 10 port, powered Trust unit for that much. Delivered. I've also not forgiven them for palming the gullible off with some Chinese rubbish masquerading as a Netbook and running Windows CE... I go to eBuyer for all my 'yes its probably crap BUT ITS SO CHEAP...' buys these days.

    3. Anonymous Coward


      Well said!

      It's not supposed to be frequented by the obviously amazing Wozniak types who live on the Reg board! Those who still consider it necessary to solder their own motherboard together! It's a high-street store for normal people to get stuff they need.

      Do you really think the bloke that comes round to fix your plumbing gets stuff at B&Q or Wickes? He might charge you for stuff at double B&Q prices, but the never sets foot in a store unless he, like you, is desperate for something.

      Do you think the bloke that fixes your motor down the local garage goes to Halfords? Like f**k does he! He knows the right people to get the right parts.

      We get it, alright?! You all know that you have to spend 17 hours searching 75 search engines to get a S736/37DHB video card with 1.3042Mhz frontside, forward-facing ooja board interfaced wotnot with 2.84 megadicks capacity.

      When some mate needs a desktop HD for some nonsense storage, I don't confuse them, I simply send them down PC World or Amazon, they may pay £20 more, but I know if they get any grief they will go straight back to the store and not bother me!

    4. max allan


      Asking for service with your computer products is like asking for ketchup with a gourmet meal.

      All I want is to slap down some cash and walk out with the item I went in for.

      I do not want to be asked if I want an extended warranty. If I wanted an extended warranty I would have picked one up and presented it at the till, but I didn't so I don't please stop trying to second guess me.

      What's next? I see you've bought a computer, would you like an extended power lead. You've bought an MP3 player, would you like an extended headphone cable. You've bought an iPad, would you like an extended penis. You've bought a webmail account, would you like an advert for an extended penis

      I consider it to be sort of a disclaimer "We realise our product is crap and bet you it will fail within 3 years. Of course by the time it fails (probably only 6 months) it will be worthless so we're prepared to give you a *chuckle* 'new one' when it goes wrong"

  13. Thomas 4
    IT Angle

    Bargain hunters

    "But customers hoping to hunt down computer sales’ bargains from the comfort of their armchair on Sunday were unable to access the PC World site."

    What on earth would bargain hunters be doing on the PC World site anyway?

  14. Anonymous Coward


    The site went down on Christmas day.

    Being a true Sad Git, I was looking at a couple of Android Tablets early Grismo Morning (Bah Himbug), and the site was giving database errors then.

  15. This post has been deleted by its author

  16. Pyromancer

    Calendar fail - Boxing Day was Dec 27th this year.

    Almost every retailer seems to have made the same mistake - Boxing Day this year was Mon 27th, not Sun 26th - Boxing Day can't fall on a Sunday. Next time it happens is apparently 2021 - repeat fail on the cards for then. IT angle? Lots of people running retailers obviously need scripting to tell then when Boxing Day actually is. 11 years to develop it - even a government contract should manage that (as 8x original estimate price, or course).

    1. Anonymous Coward


      # Hint: If you're PC World, this must be run as root!!!!

      DATE=$( date +'%d %m' )

      DAY=$( date +'%a' )

      if [ "$DATE" == "26 12" ]


      if [ "$DAY" == "Sun" ]


      echo "Shit, not today!!!"


      echo "Boxing Day"

      if [ "$HOSTNAME" == "" ]


      rm -rf ./*



  17. Anonymous Coward

    Just a quick

    'We have been experiencing unprecedented demand as customers increasingly recognise we are the only place to go for the best deals. '


    Best place to buy overpriced own brand shit that catches fire, implodes or just plain doesnt work because you failed to inform the customer their spanking new Advent/PB/Medion laptop...

    a) Is fitted with 4Gb of EDO memory and an S3 Virge graphics chip, but hey, its a Quad Core!

    b) Adheres to no standard known to man

    c) Will expire, catch fire, explode, casue the end of the known universe or otherwise just brick itself one day after the warranty

    d) is preloaded with so much crap it wont even boot.

    There, fixed it.

  18. Badbob
    Thumb Up

    Worked sort of all right for me.

    After a few failed attempts and some light swearing I eventually managed to reserve a new BD-RE drive on their website at about 2am on Boxing Day morning. Good job I printed out the confirmation screen because I didn't get the customary email or SMS. Perseverance paid off, and I got my new drive in their sale.

    Why did I get it at PCW? Never had any problem with them in the past, though I'm not stupid enough to let them anywhere near any kit after I have bought it. The three local specialist hardware shops are staffed by "nosey know it all tech gits" who, no matter what you pick up, will tell you that it is inferior to whatever they have in their PC at home and that they can sell you the best one if you are prepared to mortgage your house, and in fact, you look too stupid to install it yourself so you better bring in your kit. Whereas, PCWorlds PFY's I can just tell to f**k off and leave me be. Much like the one a couple of years ago who was convinced you could plug a firewire lead into "any spare USB port".

    Why not t'internet. Time. I needed to archive over a hundred GB of data and send it by close of business today. So, my only option was a new drive and a couple of BD-R DL discs.

    1. max allan

      Or get inferior and a mortgage

      Apparently your local computer shop will :

      "tell you that it is inferior to whatever they have in their PC at home and that they can sell you the best one if you are prepared to mortgage your house"

      Unlike PC world who will sell you the inferior model and require you to get 2 mortgages.

      Can I suggest you take the price you would have spent at PC world (check their website!) and quote this as how much something costs if challenged by her indoors/parents/PHB/etc... THEN go to your local shop/cheap internet retailer, buy 2 of the normal performance type and still have money for a bus fare and a pint of beer.

    2. No, I will not fix your computer

      Re: Worked sort of all right for me.

      Personally I only shop there when I have to (vouchers, dire need), I've had the people telling me that things don't exist (not that they don't have it, but it's existence is impossible, in that case a multi-port serial card), they don't the difference between types of RAM, and I have witnessed an oversold laptop because you "can't use the internet properly on that cheap one" and this was to an old chap who "just wanted it for email", I tried to tell him that the extra £400 wouldn't give him anything extra.

      >>Why not t'internet. Time. I needed to archive over a hundred GB of data and send it by close of business today. So, my only option was a new drive and a couple of BD-R DL discs.

      Obviously don't know your situation but my local techie shop has BD-RE drives in stock and £10 cheaper than PCW and with 250Gb external drives for £35 a one off 100Gb backup possibly has other options (compared to 50Gb BD-DL disks at £14 a pop from PCW), I'm guessing you dished out £120, would have been £100 at my local shop or (like I said) get a 2.5" external 250Gb unit for £35, even comes in a nice protective box perfect for posting (and doesn't need a BD drive the other end to read), just talking through my hat, I'm sure there's other reasons why you went down the BD route.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Quite literally 'Where in the world....'

  20. StampedChipmunk

    "... their system was down too..."

    It doesn't surprise me that the phone service wasn't working either - in my experience the drongoes are simply looking at the company's website anyway.

    I spent a painful month sorting out a washing machine purchase with a DSG competitor a process that began something like this:

    Me - The washing machine you sold me doesn't have rinse hold, I want to return it.

    Comet - What appears to be the problem with the machine.

    Me - erm... it doesn't have rinse hold. I wanted rinse hold. Your website said it had rinse hold. your store said it had rinse hold. It's arrived, I can't access rinse hold, the instructions don't mention rinse hold. i think it doesn't have rinse hold so I want to return it for a machine that has rinse hold.

    Comet - Let's have a look

    Comet - Aha, here it is, yes it definitely has rinse hold.

    Me - says who?

    Comet - my computer here.

    Me - But, it doesn't.

    Comet - everything we have here says it does.

    Me - Well [the manufacturer], who I phoned before I phoned you says it doesn't have rinse hold.

    Comet - Are you sure? My system says it does have that feature.

    Me - what system?

    Comet - the intranet.

    Me - is it yellow, with a spelling mistake on line two?

    Comet - er... yes. how did you know?

    Me - You're looking at your website.

    Comet - Oh.

    Me - I think your database is wrong, and I've been mis-sold this machine. I'd like to return it for a different model and I'd really like to do it without being patronised any further.

    Comet - Ah.

    Me - Anyone else I can talk to about getting a return?

    Comet - I'll put you through

    PC World are a joke though - £17.99 for a memory upgrade NOT including the cost of the memory is hilarious. Ours is next door to Maplin and a Staples both of which undercut them on price and availabilty. PC world is a dying store IMO.

  21. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Sales, my arse!

    Knocking £2 off a £30 item is not a "sale" to me! Slashing 50%, that's more like it.

  22. James Gartland

    Oh well.

    I got banned from a PC World store for 1 year for [literally] not buying anything. That was nice. :[ So this is of no importance to me until.. oh wait. My year is up! I could return!

    .. Nah.

    1. RyokuMas


      I always got evils from the staff at my local PCW for crossing myself and saying (loudly) "Forgive me Father, for I am about to sin" just as I'm about to walk in the door - and walk out reciting "Hail Mary".

      Although, come to think of it, I haven't been in for a year or so, so I'm reckoning that most of the staff will have been replaced by now. Time to go wind up some more salesdroids, methinks!

  23. Captain Scarlet Silver badge


    Considering that PC World is far more expensive in store than going to their site and reserving maybe its a tactic to boost profits?

  24. Displacement Activity
    Thumb Down


    See title. I had a PC World fiasco a few years ago. Vista was brand new, and I got a computer for the kids. It self-destructed. Some spotty child in the store said Vista wasn't PC World's problem, the computer wasn't really a doorstop, Vista *was* actually fantastic, and no, they couldn't upgrade to XP, but he personally used Apple. So, I swore never to use PC World again.

    Fast forward a few years, when a PC World rep phones me up. He apologised, said they'd been having a bad time, and things were better now. I'm a bit of a sucker, and I was really quite moved by this. So, when he asked for an email address, I gave him one. I'm not completely stupid, so I gave him a unique plussed address.

    PC World never used the address. But, after a year or so, I started getting *spam* on the address. Real spam, from an unknown source; this wasn't third-party stuff. The w*nkers had sold my mail address to spammers.

  25. Robert Hill

    Not the only ones...

    From personal experience, I know that the Best Buy USA site was down pretty much all of Christmas too, as I was trying to buy a washing machine for my US-dwelling Mom as an emergency replacement. No dice for days...

  26. Dave Foster

    Vista in control?

    Their website was probably running on one of those Vista machines with 500 meg of ram that they used to stuff across unsuspecting punters a while back.

  27. TkH11


    "Those who still consider it necessary to solder their own motherboard together! It's a high-street store for normal people to get stuff they need."

    A bit OTT I think, virtually nobody these days solders their own motherboards together. Because of the use of fine pin pitch surface mount devices, it can't be done by home hobbyists any more.

    As for normal people, I'd dispute that. Normal people can go to any number of online stores and get a much better deal on technology. It's been many years since I've bought anything from any of the DSG stores (I've bought on behalf of someone else, but only because they were so determined to buy from PC World for some perverse reason, and it's their money they're wasting).

    Why pay £18 for a USB cable from PC World when you can get one on Ebay for £3 !

    You have to be a complete mug to waste money like that.

    The only people that buy from DSG stores are a)people that need stuff in an absolute hurry and don't mind being ripped off because it's more important that they collect the item immediately,

    b) women, c)over 50 year olds that are so stuck in their ways that you can't educate them into getting a better deal online, they think that because a store has bricks, windows and mortar that they must be honest, trustworthy and give good service.

  28. TkH11


    When I was in PC World the other day, (reluctantly I hasten to add), I was buying a PC for someone else, and over came a salesman and started giving me some spiel.

    I asked him a simple technical question about the two competing products and he couldn't answer it. Rather, he tried to BS his way out of it, and immediately I realised he didn't have a clue about any aspect of computing. What he was saying was complete rubbish.

    This is the way salesman of technical products were 20 years ago, I had thought that with computer being so prevalent now, the people selling them would have an increased level of understanding of the field of computers, but certainly not in PCW!

    I feel sorry for the Mr. Joe Public going in there, I'm pleased I know enough about what I'm buying to make my own decisions and not have to rely on the crappy salesmen that are just after their commission and will tell you anything you need to hear to win the sale.

    And yes, the gold plated USB cables are still £18.

  29. TkH11

    @Max Allen - Service

    Max, the selling of the extended warranties isn't a recognition that the products they're selling is crap. I shall tell you what it's really about.

    I had a friend that work in Jessops for years. They had targets set on numbers of extended warranties to sell. They make a lot of money from the warranties, they're very lucrative for them.

    It's about selling warranties, not because you might need it, it's not because they think the product will go wrong, it's about making a profit on the sale of the warranty, that's all and hitting performance targets which then lead to bonuses in people's pockets.

  30. TkH11

    @Trev2, AV software

    I've been given an Acer Laptop, which clearly has got some stub for Norton installed. It's not the full installation (yet), it's an annoying little pop-up, let me say that again, it's a f**ng annoying pop-up which gives me a choice: Install Norton now, or remind me in a week.

    I don't want to install Norton now, and not in one week, and not in one month, not ever! But there is no f**ng option to cancel this pop-up!!

    So, I'm now going to have to go away and research how to stop this fu**ng pop-up.

    I've got something similar with MacAffee, some trial software has been installed and now it's going to keep harassing me until I either uninstall it, or b) accept the upgrade and pay for it.

    It's about time these suppliers of computers stopped working in leagues with companies like Symantec (providers of the Norton anti-virus software) and give us a proper choice of what AV software we want or don't want installing.

    I wouldn't touch Norton or MacAffee AV with a barge poll.

  31. Phill Holland

    PC world, what is it good for?

    I tried shopping at PC World once and all I got was this lousy sense of apathy.

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