Annyone surprised, when they still want sell USB cables at £24.99 in their PC world shops and the numpties know f...all about their products, except selling extended warranties?
Please surpise me more.
The UK's favourite electrical retailer Dixons said this morning that sales are still crap, and getting crapper. For the full year ended 30 April 2011 sales in the UK and Ireland were down 3 per cent on a like-for-like basis. But for the last six months - 28 weeks ended 30 April - sales were down 7 per cent. Pure e-commerce …
Do Dixons not know of their poor reputation for customer service, selling used goods as new and many more problems?
The only thing they seem to attempt to boost sales is to cut prices, which only works temporarily.
I was in the Heathrow Airport branch of Dixons where they promised to price match Amazon or John Lewis. Using a shopping app on my phone with its barcode reader I showed the staff that only one item was lower in price, most were significantly more.
It's no wonder that Best Buy have been able to sweep into the consumer electronics market in the UK.
Went into one of the newly merged Curry's/PC World out of town shops the other day. It was to buy a TV that I knew was a good price and a good spec ... I could hardly believe it myself.
The staff on the floor were actually helpful and polite. However, when I got to pay, the guy behind the till went straight into the hard sell on the like-for-like replacement cover and then got mightily offended when I politely refused.
Until they remove the incentives that lead to that behaviour, they'll continue to alienate their customers.
By contrast I went in to the Manchester Central Clearance shed and managed to get a well spec'd Dell Inspiron for a penny under a half ton, the lad who dealt with me rattled through the obligatory extras questions (Anti virus? Office? Bag? Warranty?) barely waiting for me to say no. If I need any white goods for the house, and it's still there, I'll probably be going back. :)
"A recent analysis from Morgan Stanley found Dixons annual rent bill in the region of £220m - or about three times its annual profits. It would need to treble margins or slash 15 per cent from capital investment in order to get out of the red."
Reason I don't shop, in any of DSG stores, unless I absolutly have to have something that day, is they are more expensive than online. If I have to I do the reserve online collect in store to pay web prices which are still usually more than other providers.
Trebling the margins would not make me more likely to buy in store.
If your survival strategy (with particular reference to Dixons as the worst culprit in the group) is rubbish customers service, weaselling out of warranties wherever possible, and considerably up-marking your stock prices (over smaller stores like those on the Tottenham court road rather than just the internet) then you can hardly be surprised that once Amazon comes along you're sole customers are credulous people still frightened of the internet and window/airport shoppers.
The writing has been on the wall for these guys a long time, and their demise is somewhat deserved.
I hope this is the start of the end of DSG, Pixmania, curries, dixons.
no-nothings have worked in their stores for years, never give you any true info, and now they operate a "you buy it, you keep it" (even i you return the same day) , and are over priced
Don't even mention comet lowest of the low gggrrr
A considerable number of PCWorld's appear to be situated directly next door to a Currys. There is easily a 30% overlap in the stuff they sell - computers, games, televisions, cameras, satnav, consumables are all common between the two. Two brands, two sets of staff, one company.
Why not just shut one store down and move into the other? Failing that, knock holes through the walls between and make a single open plan space. And get rid of 30% of the staff who could probably be shed in the process.
Meanwhile, start selling stuff at REASONABLE prices. If I can buy a cable or USB hub or an SD card reader from poundland for a quid, why does the equivalent item (sometimes even identical) in PC World cost 10 quid? When I see PC World trying to rip me off on the little things it makes be disinclined to visit them at all. They need to get footfall by having weekly deals and lots of cheap essentials with the intent of flogging people higher value stuff.
By cutting costs, perhaps they can start competing again. If not, well so long PC World / Currys / Dixons.
When a computer case including psu costs less than identical PSU.....
When you can buy an SD cardreader including USB cable for less than USB cable......
When the SCART cable to connect your freeview box costs more than the freeview box....
...you walk into their shops with the little voice in you head saying ' beware, the robbing b******s are going to scam you'.
Does not inspire you to open your wallet , does it?
They've started doing this now. The Coventry branch has merged the adjacent Currys and PC World stores into one vast aircraft hangar of a store.
They've also implemented the "Can I see your receipt?" policy by the exit doors. When I was last there* I could see they were doing this and I asked the assistant behind the checkout what the purpose of this was. She said "So that you make sure you haven't forgotten any of your items"! Wot? Seeing as I am holding the items when I purchase them, just before going through the exit doors, the chances of me forgetting anything in intervening 10 second period is pretty low. Why not just say "It's an anti-theft measure?"
I was itching to be stopped so that I could act like a dick and refuse to produce my receipt before walking out anyway, but they were busy with something else when I passed, so I didn't get the opportunity :-)
*Yes, it was Sunday, my mobo network adapter had died and I needed a cheap Ethernet card quickly. I have to say the Tech Guy was VERY helpful and assisted in making sure the card I wanted would work with my OS. It was quite difficult getting past the sales droids in order to be able to speak to him though.
Actually, made a return visit to the Leamington PC World to buy a netbook** where the manager, to his credit, didn't get pushy with the AV and extended warranty, although it was probably because he realised I was technically aware and knew I'd not go for it.
**Needed it quick, OK? It was a good bargain as it happens.
Good luck with that.
Slashing their bricks and mortar overheads is the only way they're going to regain margins, in a fiercely fought, razor-thin margin market.
The economies of web are making places like Amazon et al the place to go...and Comet/Dixons the place to go to try kit out first before buying online elsewhere. (C'mon...who here hasn't done that...?)
It's good to see a company failing due to treating their customers like dirt. Whenever I'm unlucky enough to find myself in one of these shops I have to summon up massive amounts of willpower to stop myself interrupting salesmen in conversations with other customers after hearing the ridiculous lies that they spew just to make a sale.
On one occasion, I was in Currys with a friend who was buying a laptop (it was on offer so the price was surprisingly good) and had to argue quite loudly on the shop floor with a member of staff because he simply refused to get the message that we didn't want to pay extra for bad antivirus software.
an experience a few weeks ago. My router blew up so I was force to go to PC world and while there I was having a look at the macbook air. The sales dude was talking to a guy about th air and when the guy asked what the difference was between the two models on display he said "the other one has more memory", he clearly hadn't notice that one was 11" and the other 13". He also then went on to say that the 2.2Ghz processor runns much faster in a Mac than on "normal" PC's.
I wandered off chuckling to myself. I hate those stores...
Worse than the BS he gave to the customer, he lied about the memory - both have 2Gb as 4Gb is build-to-order and not available through the channel.
It's amazing that the kids in the stores don't have the riot act read to them about the sale of goods act which renders the shop assistant liable for mis-selling. 30 years ago I worked in a Dixons over one summer and the managers beat that into the juniors.
Of course the problem nowadays is there's no managers who know their stuff; they can only afford to pay peanuts so there's no career hence no senior staff, leading to crap service, fewer customers and the inevitable slide into insolvency.
I can't help feel that it is possible to compete against the Internet based on service. Trouble is, there's sod all reason for going in a Dixons on the high street as there's nothing worth buying in store and what is there is completely overpriced (friends don't let friends buy Monster Cables).
Really? OMG what a relevation!
Re Currys and PC World both existing, often next to each other - they are fixing that - the stores are getting merged now. Local to me two have already gone that way, so they are fixing that.
Whilst its obvious they are more expensive compared to online, I shop there when I need something in a hurry and probably most people do exactly the same. I'd go elsewhere but DSG have annihiliated all independent opposition by under cutting them... which probably tells you that the independents, if there were any, also would be too expensive compared to Amazon etc
So in summary, big stores trump little stores and websites trump big bricks and mortar. Obvious from ten years ago really and only a matter of time before the race to the bottom is complete.
Overheard in Currys:
Anxious elderly couple buying first computer: "but does it run Windows?"
Spotty DSG Youth on a mission to upsell: "oh yes; all computers run Windows; that's what makes it a computer"
Shame he was showing them £900 worth of iMac...
The trouble is, once you buy your first computer, you never need to visit a computer store again, you can just use your computer to buy a new computer.
To the computer owner, there is no need to go into a shop and "try out" a new computer. Note that "trying out" a computer in PC World means looking at the screen saver or Windows Media Center, perhaps playing Solitaire if you're lucky enough to get 5 minutes away from the salesman. Impressive stuff if it's going to be your first ever computer, but distinctly unimpressive for everyone else.
Clearly then, PC World need to do something to appeal to those of us who have actually seen computers before. Maybe a more techy area with a bunch of antistatic workstations and barebones computers, plus piles of components, where you can go to build your own computer in the store. If you're happy with the result, you can buy it.
Obviously this idea is so good that PC World will never do it.
The least they could do is get a geek in to run free workshops on how to set up home networks and file servers and rip music or movies. If you're going to run a store for noobs, at least give them a reason to keep coming back.
Image this, I want to be a dentist so I go into Dentist World and buy a whole bunch of overpriced dental equipment, then when I ask the guy how to use it he tells me, with a cheeky but reassuring grin, that I can just wave the dental drill around inside my mouth, "or some shit like that", and everything will be fine, as long as I buy the extended warranty. "These dental drills break ALL THE TIME, not to queer the deal or anything, *wink wink*, and the warranty comes with free Carbon Brush replacement for the first 2 months".
Preston PCW used to do this. I know because I was one of the geeks employed to do it. It was a partnership with Preston College, we used to run free courses on building PCs, using photoshop to do useful things (clone, remove red eye, stitch etc), using office (and windows). This was back in 2001 so I imagine things have changed now but I worked there for a good 3 years. The courses were funded by a learning grant and PCW gave the small area to us for free (as people often went back and bought components from PCW after the courses - although part of the internet side used to point them to SCAN down the road....)
I think PCWorld may have actually got a little better. I went in there last week to buy an external hard drive. The price was pretty close to Amazon's, I didn't get harassed or have to queue for a long time and I was out in 5 minutes. They even gave me a 5% discount voucher for next time.
Dixons/Currys still horrible though.
I can't help wondering if part of the real story here is the ridiculous price of property to buy or rent, commercial or domestic in this country.
Agreed, the stuff is expensive and the staff are often awful, but the _concept_ of somewhere local you can walk in to, look, get advice, try before you buy AND take the product home that day is still good. (And get someone to install/repair it for you, if you have more money than IT sense)
I've used them recently, to buy a replacement AGP graphics card when my favourite supplier(s) couldn't tell me when they would have the stock. I paid 50% more for that convenience, and it was well worth it.
The supermarkets undercut PC World when they started selling blank media, cables etc, but you won't get advice from a supermarket.
Don't forget that IT-savvy El Reg readers are hardly representative of the world of PC users! Most people might trust Amazon, but I think their presentation is awful even if you know what you're looking for.
In february, I bought a Cyborg RAT 3 mouse from PC World.
In April, it died. Cyborg's own customer service acknowleged it was a fault with the mouse, no worries sir, just return it to the store, its warrantied for 1 year.
PC World pointed to a little clause on the reciept limiting their warranty liability to 28 days, and wouldn't budge. Either I write the mouse off (it cost £45), or I try and fight a mega-corp.
They need to go bankrupt, seriously.
Sale Of Goods Act...
Almost every retailer will try it on with a customer once they've got the cash in the till, because they know that most of us still don't know our legal rights despite it becoming increasingly easy to find out what they are. Once you make it clear to the appropriate person (usually not the minimum-wage slave manning the returns desk - chances are they know as much about consumer law as you did before you started to get clued-up) that you know your rights and are have no intention of backing down then you usually find the retailer becoming strangely co-operative. Granted, it may still take you a bit of time and effort (visiting the store a few times, writing/phoning head office etc.) but don't let them persuade you it's not their responsibility.
Unfortunatly for PC World their receipt does not take precedence over the law. Your mouse is under warranty for one year whatever the T & Cs on the receipt say (I believe its the Sale of Goods Act).
If necessary mention 'Trading Standards Officer' & 'Small Claims Court' this often persuades shops to see things your way :-)
I got in an arguement with PCWorld years ago over returning something that was broken under the sale of goods act. They countered with their terms (Does not affect your statutory rights), and in the end they replaced the product. Next day there were signs everywhere saying 28 days policy.
The 28 day policy is not legally binding, go back with a copy of the sale of goods act. You only have 6 months from date of purchase for this. And you have to give them a chance to check and see if it is a fault or YOU did something. After 6 months you have to prove it is an inherant fault.
The law is on your side. The SOGA says the retailer is liable for 12 months for any faults. The Act doesn't allow for the retailer to restrict your statutory rights as a consumer. In fact it would be illegal if the reciept doesn't say "nothing in these terms and conditions restricts your statutory rights", or words to that effect.
There is nothing in ANY paperwork that gets them out of their legal obligation to repair broken equipment. What they have done is introduced a 'no arguments' return policy so that you can simply get a replacement for any reason for a month. After that period they then have the right to sent eh item back to manufacturer for repair.
What that means is that they may take the mouse off you to send it back for repair, but does NOT mean they can just refuse to repair. They are mis-reading the Warrenty and trying to hide behind that mis-reading, and in doing so are not following UK law.
Insist on seeing the store manager, and then insist on seeing the area manager, then start a formal complaint at head office, and at every level threaten to report them to trading standards.
Actually, get some record of what they are telling you and report them to Trading Standards anyway. You may be surprised to hear that it was all a 'misunderstanding' on your part (Cough) and they are only too happy to repair/replace.
you were probably covered a lot longer than this since the manufacturer had stated a problem with the mouse. That means you can be covered for a few years in reality. Most people think SoGA applies to 1 year but you can get things fixed a lot later than that - I had an LG washing machine fixed after 3 years (known faulty drum position sensor) despite comet trying it on, I had a letter from LG stating it was a known fault - therefore faulty from the start. Took a couple of calls, a few letters and 1 registered post letter to comet HQ
...in the past 6 or so months I've found myself choosing to check out Currys before considering a trip to Comet, whereas for god knows how many years prior to this I'd only consider stepping foot inside a Currys store as the absolute last resort if any other retailer was unable to supply the item I was after, with Comet being my first choice for any offline purchases. Not sure if that says more about the downward trajectory of Comet following their latest rebranding exercise than any improvements in the DSG shopping experience, mind...
Still, as Greencat reminds us, DSG can sometimes be a decent choice for stuff, particularly on things where the reserve online price is within a gnats crotchet of any other online supplier (and can usually be in your hands far faster than even the most express of delivery services from online stores), and if you happen to catch them when they're doing a special offer then you can bag some genuine bargains. IMO the problem DSG, and pretty much every other specialist high street retailer (e.g. Maplins) has as far as appealing to clued-up buyers, is the inconsistencies in pricing - their deserved reputation for being peddlers of overpriced and/or out of date tat tends to detract from the stuff they do seem able to sell at reasonable prices.
Dixons often supply the same white goods cheaper than currys or any other store..Recently I orderd a tumble dryer from Currys & a dishwasher from Dixons ( about £50 cheaper) and as I expected they came both together from the same warehouse deliverd in a Currys van !
BUT the customer service from Dixons is farcical !!
Wasn't Apple meant to revolutionise the entire industry by getting everyone to use tablets? Last time I looked, the DSG Group was at the head of hyping them - where did the sales go?
Anyhow: for the people hoping they die - what's the alternative? Please don't say the Internet - some of us like buying right now from a shop, or having a look in person, or not having to worry about sending back bulky items that don't work. As bad as their customer service is, someone to talk to is still better than a webpage.
It was better when you had lots of independent computer stores, but they've mostly died out now.
Whilst PC World etc may only seem to care about your average user, they do stock a decent amount of things like motherboards, cases, graphics cards etc, that more mainstream shops won't. There's Maplin, but often their prices are more expensive, and their range limited.
So where else?
"It's all laptops and tablets."
If that were true, why isn't it helping PC World etc, who sell these far more prominently than desktop parts? Hell, their websites even give a product placement advert to "iPad" in their title! Whilst I'd be sorry to see them go, I won't have any sympathy for their jumping on such a bandwagon, if it leads to their demise. Now that PC World have become "Apple World" (seriously - last time I walked into the store, there were even Apple logos on the entrance doors) to a large extent, their problems don't surprise me.
I used to use PCW quite a bit for the "have to have now" moments. Ordered online and collected in-store. That was until the PCW was "merged" into the existing Dixons store.
This essentially amounted to a new sign over the store and the some shelves with a purple strip on.
It only stocked the same as what it did as a Dixon's only before the merger. All the collect in store stock vanished, no components, nothing.
It hasn't got any better since.
I used a "local" firm instead for my Buy online, get in person stuff. OK it;s a 15 mile drive instead of 2, but i can get what i want at a reasonable price and not have to wait for delivery.(Except Sunday, but i'll live with that).
I have no reason to go to a DSG store anymore, I suspect that will be true for many others.
I do wonder how many of you have actually set foot in a PCWorld/Curries recently. Staff aren't as knowledgable as the average El Reg reader, and they don't get paid enough to be.... your whinging on the web and they are working at minimum wage to try and get a foot in the door.
Give em a break. If you are polite to staff then they are back. Treat them like people and they won't treat you like a clueless idiot.
Chatted to a member of staff about a Laptop I'd put on the collect at store. Ran some benchmarks/etc to make sure it was okay, then bought it. No push for peripherals, and I can't remember the last time someone I know had a salesperson try to push a warranty.
Returns are another matter though, and dealt with by management from what I can gather (where they try and screw you over every way they can). If the floor staff dealt with returns (which they used to) then there would be fewer problems.
I think all the DSG folks need to do is to pop in to their local John Lewis and see if they can work out what they do differently. John Lewis have been reporting very good sales results over the last year or so. DSG might have trouble competing with online sales due to rent etc., but surely JL are paying at least as much rent as DSG.
I think it comes down to customer interaction. For some reason, if I actually want assistance with a product I can stand there for ages and be ignored; yet, if I'm just browsing, someone will accost me every few seconds. And they are sometimes just a bit too physically repulsive. Can't they get Mary Quantas off the telly (or whatever her name is) to give them a makeover?
Treat people like a customer, not like a piece of crap and yes they'll come back.
You'll always find people to pay a bit extra to be able to see the product before buying and give it a quick try out. Its the obvious business model
6 months ago, cooker blew up, and was too old to get parts. Shopping in Currys, Disinterest from the staff even though we were looking to spend a few hundred quid with them.
John Lewis? Much better, come in have a good prod and poke, "You've brought some oven trays to try for size? Good idea, go right ahead, just give us a shout if you want anything"
They even price match . They got the business, currys didn't.
They have also got business for other stuff as well after we just got fed up with DSG Group's attitude. I refuse to go there now
Just replaced my fridge/freezer in my fitted kitchen with them. I couldn't just buy any old kit as it wouldn't fit, so that's where John Lewis had an advantage over internet sites, because they provided real personal customer service - advice on models that would replace the broken fridge, someone coming to fit the thing. So I definitely agree about the obvious business model of being able to try things out, that will always be there.
There is also an air of class about John Lewis without pretence. They have a presence on the high street as opposed to PC World which tend to be out of town premises. The ambience of John Lewis tends to be more homely, traditional department store as opposed to PC World which is harsh lighting, hostile. The staff are also better presented with a more balanced demographic, compared with PC World purple uniforms that ill fit.
The other thing about John Lewis is that they're a partnership, owned by the staff. Whereas PC World are a company with shareholders. Perhaps this says something about our modern times where some extreme capitalist models have failed?
Apart from the fact that everyone knows not to buy from a Dixons shop now, because they've ruined their reputation by effectively turning into an insurance company pushing "warranties", they can not compete with the wibbly wobbly web on hardware any more, nobody can!
Ebuyer have effectively killed the market for computer gear, they are too cheap and they offer next day delivery on orders placed up until 11pm! No shop can compete with that, and it's been that way for years. The only good thing is that some people haven't heard of Ebuyer but they've all heard of Amazon, so you're back to square one.
Even local independents are only surviving because of the repairs and services they're selling. The days of the big computer shop are well and truly numbered, Dixons should shut their big empty shops (Have you been in one lately?) and negotiate to have small departments in supermarkets like Asda and Morrisons (Not Tesco though).
It is a shame because even though they are hated by so many, it's always nice to browse computer gear if you like that sort of thing. Plus the convenience factor comes in to play, when you need an item fast, and have no choice, they're there. But that's the only business they're getting nowadays and that's why it's not sustainable.
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