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October 18, 2010


Dear PC World.

Dear PC World,

It was with some horror that I discovered on-line that you were selling the laptop I wanted at a considerably cheaper price than anywhere else I had looked. Please be in no doubt – I strongly considered paying the extra cash and going elsewhere, but my beer-fund just couldn’t take the hit. I also considered buying the laptop on-line, but I have zero reserves of patience. Thus, I had the misfortune of having to enter one of your stores on Saturday. As ever, it was an experience not incomparable to my vision of hell.

I headed, directly and with purpose, to the ‘Laptop’ section of the store and promptly found the machine I wanted. Having had a quick look at it and confirmed that it had all the things I needed – screen, keyboard, on/off button – I began the thankless task of finding a member of staff to serve me. I discovered one lad (incidentally, why are all your staff – and I mean ALL your staff – confused-looking 15 year olds?) who seemed to be doing very little, but he apparently “only deals with televisions” which didn’t entirely explain why he was loitering around the mouse mats. I then found another member of staff who was as brilliantly polite as he was massively unhelpful, as he uttered the unforgettable words “I’m terribly sorry, sir, I don’t know the first thing about PCs.” My suggestion that this was a strange lack of knowledge for someone working in PC World was met with a blank and somewhat startled look.

Finally, I stumbled across a staff member (who, incidentally, was a spitting image of that lad Kevin off Home Alone) who, he assured me, did have knowledge of computers and would be able to serve me. Unfortunately, my woes did not end there. This lad was, with no exaggeration or cruelty meant, the single most idiotic, inarticulate and gormless person I’ve ever met. When he offered to show me some alternative models, I at least assumed he would try to persuade me to part with extra cash. Not a bit of it. Whilst I suppose I should admire his honesty and thoughtfulness, his suggestion that I should “have a look at some cheaper ones?” still confuses me now. Indeed, I remember being not entirely convinced that he was definitely a member of staff, and not instead just some child dressed up in a PC World uniform.

Anyway, having convinced him that I definitely wanted the laptop I’d chosen, he then apparently remembered he was a salesman and began the standard ploy of trying to sell me hundreds of pounds worth of extras. I was interested in none of them, to his general confusion. When I declined the latest version of Microsoft Office he looked surprised, when I declined anti-virus software he looked shocked, when I declined the extended warranty cover, he looked like he was going to have some sort of breakdown. When the credit card machine stopped working, he seemed close to tears. As, indeed, was I.

After what genuinely seemed like hours, I eventually left the store with my purchase, brain drained, nerves frazzled, and headed straight for the pub. Yes, PC World, your gormless, dim-witted, man-child employee drove me to an afternoon of Hoegaarden. And I’ll have you know, that stuff’s £4.20 a pint. I look forward to receiving a cheque for £16.80, as a matter of urgency – you have my name and address (the exchange of which was near incomprehensible: “What’s your initial, please?” “J.” “How do you spell that? J-A-Y?”).

That you manage to operate as a profit-making business is nothing short of a water-into-wine-esque miracle.

Yours sincerely,

Boris Backer

Read more from Letters
  1. Andrew K
    Oct 19 2010

    I am pleased I am not the only one.

    Three weeks ago I went to PC World in Catford. I found the laptop I wanted, and after a ten minute wait whilst the only visible assistant chatted to his mates, I was told they had six in stock and he would go and get one for me. Fifteen minutes later with no sign of the assistant or my laptop, I asked someone else. In that brief time – there were none in stock!

    However, all was well. If I went to Currys next door (the same business – just a different shop front I was informed) they allegedly had three in stock at the same price.

    Into Currys – and there it was. “May I have one of these please”? Yeah – OK, I’ll see if we have any. Ten minutes later – “sorry man, the computer says we have two in stock, but one is missing the other is a display model, so we ain’t got none”.

    By this time I was losing my rag. I had lost over an hour from my precious Sunday – frittered away in two tin sheds on an industrial estate on the outskirts of Catford.

    Then I was offered a solution…. as I had been given wrong information, the Duty Manager had apparently agreed that if I bought a slightly different model (actually £30 more) they would honour the original quoted price. What’s more, they had one in stock. REJOICE.

    Off I go to pay. Guess what? In the ten minutes that had elapsed between the offer and the transaction, the Manager changed his mind. Actually, he denied ever having made the offer to match the price. (I must have misunderstood – which is odd as the person with me must have also misundersatood as we both heard exactly the same thing). Whether the Manager had lied or the Sales Assistant had lied I do not know – I suspect they assumed once I had got the PC in my arms and had handed over my debit card, I would pay regardless.

    There are two things that set me off – having my time wasted and being lied to. To have them both occur, so blatantly and so unapologetically (and in Catford on a wet and windy Sunday) was too much. I vented!

    The Manager realising he had an unhappy and articulate customer appeared to back down. Apparently he would do me a favour (sorry – I thought I was the customer about to spend £500 in their shop so I don’t know how he was doing me a favour). As a gesture of goodwill, if I paid the full price, they would give me a free computer bag! When I explained that I was not over enthusiastic about being offered a free bag which I did not want or need as I already have several awaiting a future car boot sale, he seemed indignant at my lack of gratitude.

    After that I left – leaving the laptop on the counter and a £500 sale lost. I subsequently bought exactly the model I wanted on line from Amazon – and they delivered it the next day. I think I paid £20 more that PC World’s list price ( but at least Amazon had one in stock, delivered it when they said they would, and I did not have to waste two hours of my life being patronised and lied to by pointy shoed, spikey haired oiks who work for PC World and Currys.

  2. Oct 20 2010

    The sense of dread that enters my heart when I have to enter a PC World is so so painful. The newly re-fitted North London A406 store looks nice but the staff…

  3. ianbeag
    Oct 20 2010

    I reluctantly crossed the threshold of PC’s Stirling store a couple of weeks ago for a simple USB extension cable – PC price £19. 98. After recovering from the shock and politely suggesting to the embarrassed assistant where he could shove the item I ordered from Amazon for £1.12 including postage and delivery at the speed of light. Why does anyone still visit this awful place?

  4. Matt
    Oct 20 2010

    Sadly, ’tis the same in PC World, Telford.

    Though they have the added ‘pleasure’ of god-aweful music played at ear bleeding volume.

    The last time I needed a computer I left PC World a sadder, wiser and deafer person. Then found exactly what I wanted in the nearby Tesco at about £200 cheaper!

  5. Phil
    Oct 20 2010

    Comet is just as bad. Trying to buy a microwave I experienced the same painful wait for any of the floor-walkers to show the tiniest smidgen of interest, finally almost dragging one away from a till.

    Then it said there was an offer for free Le Creuset cookware associated with the item. I asked how this worked and, after another 10-minute wait, was told there was a form in the box.

    Needless to say on unpacking the box there was no form. So I phoned Comet, who told me all I had to do was phone Panasonic with the receipt number and all would be well. Except that Panasonic said I would need a form from Comet…

    Called Comet and put through to the local store and the original salesman. after another wait he told me that it was a time-limited offer and they’d run out of forms. “It must have been that Panasonic only put them in a couple of boxes”. A 3-month time-limited offer over in 2 weeks.

    Guess how many responses I got to my complaints?

  6. Nick B
    Oct 20 2010

    Hope you’re not unfortunate enough to bank with any of the Santander lot – Alliance and Leicester used to have the best customer service, it’s now appalling

  7. Jim Taylor
    Oct 20 2010

    My experience with an extended warrenty from PC World was even worse, so bad no-one would believe it if I went into detail. Suffice it to say that my PC was returned to me after three days for an annual check in a worse condition than it went in, indeed virtually unusable, despite a report claiming everything was working well.
    The laughable “customer services” just ignored my many letters.
    Don/’t touch PC World with a bargepole is my advice.

  8. ARE
    Oct 20 2010

    I found a laptop deal I wanted on the PC World website – I clicked on the offer (a laptop at £399) and it sent me to the purchase page where the item was now £429!

    I emailed to ask what was going on only to be told ‘Third party websites may not always be up to date’ – despite saying I was on their website. I replied explaining this, to be then told ‘out of date link so can only be found through a search engine such as Google’. Seriously. Listen to me.

    I then phoned up to tell them to stop treating me like an idiot – when it was clearly them that was the idiot. Chap on the line did apologise when i took him through it step by step on his own website. Would they honour the advertised price? No, of course they wouldn’t.

  9. Shellsuitwarrior
    Oct 20 2010

    A couple of years back I went to buy a telly in Currys Digital in Norwich.

    With me I had a voucher for 10% off that I had found in a local student magazine. The voucher made no mention of any conditions of sale.

    When I presented the voucher at the counter, I was told that only students with a valid NUS card could use it.

    I pointed out that the voucher stated no such condition, but the manager smugly told me that this didn’t matter.

    This was odd – as I’d previously used a voucher from an older edition of the magazine to get 10% off a camera.

    It was also offensive, as despite the DSG’s group’s many failings over the years – I’d spent several thousand pounds in their stores.

    The end result was that I didn’t buy my telly from them, and have not made a single purchase in any DSG store since.

    I also placed a call to the head of the local Trading Standards department.

    Since then, I’ve not seen their blatantly false advert appear again.

  10. Oct 20 2010

    There’s a sad abundance of these stories!

  11. Iain Gill
    Oct 21 2010

    I bought a CD drive from PC world
    Picked the box, took it to the checkout
    It was very cheap by CD drive standards, but then I had picked the cheapest one in the shop
    Sales assistant rang it up at the till and told me “I don’t believe this is that cheap”, he called “security” over, and asked “security” to go an check that the CD drive was indeed marked up at that price on the shelf
    “Security” guy takes the box and walks over to shelf where the CD drive is indeed marked up correctly at the price the till was showing
    “Security” guy says “this is too cheap it cannot possibly be this cheap” and takes the price labels off the shelf
    “Security” guy then expresses concern that I have tampered with the box in an attempt to steal something more expensive and proceeded to shake the box violently to check that “you have not put something more expensive in the box” – funny test for that
    Which bearing in mind those CD drives break easily if a small inaccessible spring breaks (I knew cos that’s how the last one failed) his action was likely to have seriously damaged or reduced the life of the CD drive
    I told him he had just damaged the CD drive and refused to buy the one he had just shaken and took another off the shelf.
    I then went and paid the amount that had been on the shelf and left with box.
    Boy oh boy only buy from these people if they are the very last option.
    How to upset a genuine customer and show a total lack of understanding in one easy lesson, clowns

  12. Iain Gill
    Oct 21 2010

    and currys?

    I heard a customer ask one of the sales staff “what does RMS mean on this Stereo box where it says RMS Watts” and the sales guy went on to spout the biggest lot of bollocks I’ve ever heard

    I was within a whisker of screaming ROOT MEAN SQUARED YOU STUPID FUCKER but thought better of it and walked out with tears of laughter running down my face

    morale of the story: if you want a stereo go to Richer Sounds where the staff actually have a clue

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