back to article PC World ordered to rip up promo for next-day repair promise

PC World has been ordered by the UK ads watchdog to pull claims it offers a next-day collection service for repairs under its Care Plan Premier warranty. Pcworld.co.uk boasted that the biz would pick up a customer's dicky gear the following day if the punter called before 3pm and had shelled out for the aforementioned warranty. …

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So "a "snapshot of calls from the same area as the complainant on the same day" is not enough to "support PC World's advertised promise", but a single complaint is enough to discredit it?

Seems a bit sketchy to me. I'm all for demanding statistically valid sampling to substantiate statements, but that goes both ways. One chap's problems do not equate to the entire service being mis-sold across the board.

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Agreed

I'm no fan of DSG but this seems harsh, it looks to me like they've held up their end of the deal. There will always be the odd case where some gibbon messes it up.

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It's a bit harsh, but if you say on an advert that you offer next day collecting, then you have to be able to prove that you do. In the same way that if you say 8 out of 10 cats prefer it, you have to be able to substantiate that claim before the ASA. And if you advertise nationwide, the offer has to be valid nationwide.

The only "proof" they could offer was a list of scheduled dates. There was no indication of when those customers phoned up, whether their kit was ever picked up, whether it was picked up on time, etc. so they can't substantiate those claims. Sure, the ASA could chase after the individual customers but then you end up with the ASA having to perform cat-trials for every brand of cat food too - and that's just stupid.

It's not up to the ASA to substantiate their claims, it's up to the company (this is not a legal "innocent until proven guilty" or even "reasonable doubt" situation - it's a code of practice to be adhered to and thus is more stringent in its terms but less in its application of doubt to those terms).

And PC World couldn't prove, from their own customer data, that they do collect next day if you phone by 3pm. They just had no data. And if you have no data, how do you make that claim? It's like saying that your car magically sucks in unicorns and blows out invisible rainbows. You can't make that kind of claim in an advert without FIRST being able to substantiate it, and PC World couldn't even do that AFTER the event.

So the complaint may be initiated by one man with a grievance but it's been upheld because PC World shouldn't be making claims about their products/services before they can actually substantiate them - and nothing to do with his particular instance at all (another reason they dismissed the data being only "local" to the guy who complained - who cares, you made a promise in the NATIONAL press so it should apply to everyone).

It's to stop people gaming the system. Any startup could run a national press advert and claim they offer next day service and then not actually do so. Hell, they could say "unprecedented demand" until they are blue in the face. And that could be either because they only ever had one customer before the advert (the chairman's sister, say) or because they were genuinely caught off-guard. The fact of the matter is they they DON'T have the power to substantiate their own claims, even after the adverts have gone to press. So how were they able, with a straight face, to make them in the first place and not be misleading?

Seems harsh, but it's actually pretty fair and necessary to stop the scammers.

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but they did have data to show 23 other people in the same area and they could prove they had unfilled collection slots for that day. Seems a bit fishy that one person could throw this off. You'll always find one person who wants the moon on a stick - i.e. call at 2.59 and want a pick up before 4pm only.

Im not fan of DSG either but ive had to work with some pretty unreasonable customers before too.

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Stop

That is missing the point - they didn't advertise that they could pick up devices from that particular area before 3pm next day, they advertised to everyone in the UK that they could do it. They failed to prove that they could pick it up from anywhere by next day 3pm, just that they did in one area, hence banned.

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Alien

Not enough information

The details on both sides are too vague to draw any firm conclusions, but I'd guess the complainant got stiffed by PCW's constantly rotating terms of service and care package names, and had been led to believe he was entitled to something that ultimately he wasn't.

I think it just boils down to PCW (perhaps deliberately) confusing customers, hence the ASA's involvement.

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Seems a bit harsh

I thought it would have taken more than one incident based on flimsy evidence to find PC World in breach of their advertised service. I am by no means a fan of PC World, but come on be fair.

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Anonymous Coward

Chnaces are....

...they said we can collect between 8am and midnight and he took the huff and stormed off.

His side of the story is so vague I can't see how they ruled against DSG.

Did I just defend them?

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Windows

Re: Chnaces are....

Did I just defend them?

You've just proved one can't be wrong all the time. Even PC World.

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Sounds like the customers fault but...

...it could also be some idiot at DSG on the phone who told him to take it to the store.

The WEH plan next day cover is dependent on the item being collected directly from the customer by a courier, since the item is not necessarily taken to the nearest store, but the nearest repair/service workshop (although this could be in the nearest store it more than likely isn't). Where the product goes to will depend on the type of product, and will also be different depending on if it is a normal 12 month warranty fault or a claim under WEH cover which is actually an insurance policy rather than a warranty.

I suspect what has happened here is either one of two things, the customer has called up and been told by someone who doesn't know what they're talking about to take it into the store, or the customer called up and was told a courier could be sent to collect it but the customer didn't like this option and decided he would take it into the store despite this not being an option.

I've had trouble with returns and repairs at DSG before there they were at fault, but more often than not they are very good, and this particular incident doesn't sound like it was really their fault or warranted a complaint to the ASA.

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Re: Sounds like the customers fault but...

I wonder whether he was confused between a courier collecting it and a DSG-appointed technician collecting it.

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Sounds like less "Whatever Happens" and more "Yeah, whatever". I always thought a DSG extended warranty was just something you declined because its main purpose was to generate a bit of extra commission when you buy something.

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Stop

I think it's not really a case of a single complaint that the ASA have used to discredit the ad, the single complaint was used to bring the ad to their attention, then the ASA investigated it and determined that PC World had not proved it.

It could have been thousands of complaints or none, it doesn't matter, the point being that once ASA were aware of the ad, the onus is on PC World to substantiate the claim the ad was making. They failed (proving that they could have picked up this customer's kit before next day 3pm was missing the point - they had to prove that they in general could pick up ANY customer's kit as the ad was aimed at everyone in the UK), hence it was banned.

So in other words, it doesn't matter if there were complaints or not, if the ad is misleading, it's misleading.

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WTF?

Epic double standards

"So in other words, it doesn't matter if there were complaints or not, if the ad is misleading, it's misleading."

Yet, in another tech area, companies frequently advertise using the word "unlimited" which has been actually proven time and again to include specific limitations (capping, no tethering, speed restriction, blah blah).

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Re: Epic double standards

Yes, but you see, the ASA's dictionary has a few missing pages and they can't afford a new one.

Perhaps we could help them out?

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Anonymous Coward

How is PC world still in business?

IMHO here in Rep of Ireland, PC World offer the worst of everything: the worst prices, the worst ranges, the least knowledgeable staff. Their stores are even frequently dirty... and friends and family often tell me they staff routinely lie! I buy off Amazon only BTW, but as the go to tech guy for friends and family, I often have to pick up the pieces when someone acts on impulse and buys from PC World only to get burned.

The thing is, I rarely see anyone buy anything in PC World, most go only to compare prices as electronics is quite expensive here compared with UK/USA etc. So how do PC World stay in business? I don't get it.

But the fact that Curry's is very often right next door to PC world, with Dixons not too far away is telling-- as they all are owned by the same outfit. So in reality, there is little competition between any these three high-street retailers. They get business merely by operating real-world stores on the high street which automatically generates foot-traffic. Am I wrong? Someone please enlighten me on their business model...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How is PC world still in business?

...How does PC World in the UK stack-up for instance?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How is PC world still in business?

"...How does PC World in the UK stack-up for instance?"

Every bit as 5hite as the description given of the Irish operation. Customers fall into two categories, as far as I can see: "don't know any better", or "know better, but money burning a hole in the pocket, and needed to buy something, anything now".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: How is PC world still in business?

In the UK it's moved on a bit since the early 90s. Dixons doesn't exist as a high-street retail entity in the UK and many PC World and Currys shops have combined under the new(ish) PC World/Currys brand. I don't think they've got the same reputation for sky-high prices here that they used to (maybe others might disagree; they're still not competitive with Amazon but I'd say it's now a price difference in reasonable proportion to the convenience of proximity). The staff have improved but only in the sense that they leave you alone to browse rather than harassing you every 2 minutes but I've certainly been lied/bluffed at once or twice in the last year.

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Re: How is PC world still in business?

They're better than Maplins, but then that's like winning an award for being more truthful than a politician.

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Re: How is PC world still in business? @ Rob Moir

I don't understand the reference - I have never had any trouble with Maplin (not "Maplins" - that's a holiday camp in an old, crap TV comedy), and I've used them all over the country. The staff are always friendly, knowledgeable and low-pressure. Stuff is rarely out of stock, and their prices are no more than I would expect for the "bricks-and-mortar" surcharge.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to Maplin other than being a satisfied customer.

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Mushroom

Unfortunately I've dealt with enough of these types of customer service issues...

to know with almost abolute certainty, that the customer in question here is your typical ignorant arsehole.

He will have been the kind who in general doesn't listen to simple instructions, has no clue how to operate a computer, and will have installed a million browser toolbars, 6 unintended antivirus programs, and every peice of crapware available on the internet within minutes of plugging the dam thing in.

He then phones some poor hapless call centre support bod, and shouts for fifteen minutes demanding a brand new computer.

This all too typical genus is incapable of learning, because he/she refuses to accept just how useless they are at using a computer (never actually reading a message that pops up on the screen before clicking wildly in the hope of getting a new screensaver), and therefore makes the call centre bod's extremely difficult job simply impossible.

I mean, it takes incredible diplomacy to explain to someone who's patiently listening "the reason it's messed up again, is basically because you're an idiot" without offending them. Our poor call centre tech bod (not generally known for their social skills) would stand no chance with Mr. shouty here.

Some of you may think I'm being a little harsh toward the customer, but the evidence is in the story itself. An intelligent, patient man would be more interested in getting his computer working. While obviously annoyed by the unnecessary trip, would chalk it down to a simple misunderstanding, and hey, the PC is here now, and they're willing to fix the problem, so what's the problem?

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Re: Unfortunately I've dealt with enough of these types of customer service issues...

He then phones some poor hapless call centre support bod, and shouts for fifteen minutes demanding a brand new computer.

Possibly because when he bought the computer the salesperson selling it got him to buy an extended warranty by saying "if anything goes wrong with it then you'll get a brand new computer". I once overheard this sales spiel in one of the DSG stores where the salesman basically told the customer that if they bought the extended warranty then just before it expired they should "accidently" knock a mug of coffee over the computer so that it broke and they'd get a replacement under the warranty and "because this model will be out of date you'll get the equivalent model so in reality you'll get a free upgrade".

Having said that, I do agree that its probably a case of an "I've seen watchdog so I know my rights" person who has caused the underlying problems and then wants to excert his rights to get everyone else to sort it out for him.

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Re: Unfortunately I've dealt with enough of these types of customer service issues...

"if anything goes wrong with it then you'll get a brand new computer". I once overheard this sales spiel in one of the DSG stores where the salesman basically told the customer that if they bought the extended warranty then just before it expired they should "accidently" knock a mug of coffee over the computer so that it broke and they'd get a replacement under the warranty and "because this model will be out of date you'll get the equivalent model so in reality you'll get a free upgrade"

It happens in different industries where people can feel they get one over their boss.

Late last year I had the rear box on the van replaced as it blowing. the exhaust company fixer noticed the 3 year warranty on the middle section was due to expire the beginning of this year and said for me to call in in Dec with the warranty and they would replace it.

I didn't bother going back as it's unnecessary and only leads to more expensive exhausts for everyone else.

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Re: Unfortunately I've dealt with enough of these types of customer service issues...

@Psymon: Took the words right out out my mouth, thank you for saving me a fair bit of typing. (These type of people are also the one who give 10 different mutually exclusive descriptions of the problem, and wonder why they get vague repair time/cost quotes.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unfortunately I've dealt with enough of these types of customer service issues...

I do that with every Dell laptop I buy. Take out the optional accidental damage cover, and then smash it to pieces after 11 months or so. Get a newer better model every time...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Unfortunately I've dealt with enough of these types of customer service issues...

Does it work with Samsungs? I've blown a couple of USB ports connecting a device with an improperly isolated PSU.

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Meh

Normally I wouldn't defend PC world

But a lot of issues arise with extended warranties when the customer doesn't bother reading the documentation.

They then feel aggrieved when some spotty call centre slave points out some key points.

Having said that, the plain English campaign should get involved with all warranty and T&C documentation to make them easier for the hard of thinking.

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Anonymous Coward

Currys never did that whole next day thing the whole time I worked there, let alone write a customers laptop off after 10/21/28 days. East London/Erith are a waste of time on collections! Even from store it was usually 3-5 days! And staff in store have to get it in the neck.

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Anonymous Coward

Bought a laptop from PCW, screen broke after 5 months.

Took it in for repair, all wrapped up shiny shiny

Goofball behind the counter ripped it all off the packaging and started clanking the plug and power adapter all over the laptop then chucked it in a bread basket behind the counter

Came back 2 weeks later scratched to f*ck and a gouge out of the back of the 'new' screen, so bad I wouldn't accept it.

Screen held on with jimmied screws and loose casing

what a mess, terrible service, I'd wrapped it up so nice as well in bubbles and a laptop bag for them

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Underpaid techs are never going to give quality service. This is the fault of the company.

Pay good wages, but hire the truly qualified.

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Vic
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Re: As an ex PCW employee (15 years ago)...

> Cust: I don't have the box, I threw it away.

I once had to return a PC - I *think* it was back to Dell, but it was a long time ago...

I didn't have the box - so the vendor shipped one out to me.

Goods Inwards weren't at all happy. They rang me to find out what had been delivered, and were less than pleased when I said "a box"....

Vic.

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Unhappy

Misleading? No Such Word in the US

This would NEVER happen in the US. Misleading is "just kidding" while outright false claims are merely "annoying."

"We DARE you to sue us."

- Giganto Corp

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Good customer or Bad its irrelevant

The argument was they could not prove they provided the service they advertised simples as the furry animals say.As for the Whatever Happens Happens warranty I guess it did in the case.

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Re: Good customer or Bad its irrelevant

Exactly

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I feel dirty now.....

...., but only because I am going to defend PC World for a change. Yes they are over priced, but a couple of months ago my wifes laptop power cable stopped working. I didnt know at first whether it was the power cable or the socket on the laptop (two kids things get rammed and pulled all over the shop!!). I rang the PCW helpdesk and asked if they could put me through to the Lincoln store after explaining what the problem was they put me through. I chatted to the guy and asked if they had a multi adaptor that I could bring the laptop down to the store and test it to see where the problem lay.

No problems whatsoever (except for not having the one connector I needed) he tried every one he had, didnt charge me or try to sell me anything and seemed genuinely apologetic that he couldnt help me. Maybe this guy was the exception to the standard rule, but I had no problem with following that visit with an email to his boss asking him to thank him for his service.

I am a big believer in finding something cheaper elsewhere, but if the service is shit I dont care how cheap it is I most likely wont shop there. If I get good service I would rather pay a bit more.

In this case I feel that PCW have been screwed over slightly more than likely to either a bullshitting salesman or an overzealous customer who didnt read all the T+C's in the contract

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Trouble is, there's the large print and the small print.

Many companies sell because of the large print and the company is fully aware what they are implying to the customer.

For example, we a PS3 from a well known catalogue and took out an extended warranty. While I take the blurb they say with a pinch of salt, it said and still says at time of order

----------------------------

"Service Guarantee

We’ll fix it, normally within 2 days, or send you a replacement if we can’t

Terms and Conditions apply"

---------------------------

I think its fair to assume that when they advertise normally fixed within 2 days, most people taking out such a policy for a gaming console would thing that by doing so, they wouldn't be without their console for weeks.

The PS3 died.

I phoned them up the next morning. which was a Wednesday, the earliest they could arrange for it to be picked up was 2 days later on the Friday which meant it wouldn't be looked at until Monday at the earliest.

It was returned to us on the following Thursday with a node dated the day before saying a reflow had been done.

Just 10 mins of use and it died of exactly the same fault. Phoned them up, and the earliest they could pick it up was the following Tuesday.

So it took 8 days for the initial phone call for a repair that failed within 10 mins. And phoning them up to tell them this, it was another 5 days before they could pick up again..

End result is it took about 3 weeks before they supplied us with a brand new PS3.

I don't think 8 days turn around is at all bad (had the repair worked) . The small print may well say repairs can take up to 6 weeks, but the simple fact is, its sold on the understanding that repairs are usually only going to take a couple of day, most people taking out a warranty for a games console would not do so itf they thought they might be without their console for up to 6 weeks.

If you click on the "Service Guarantee Explained" link when they sell you the warranty, it says

---------------------------------------------

Certain things in the house you simply cannot be without. Look after your new items with our essential Service Guarantee and relax knowing that with just one call:

We’ll aim to repair it in 2 days.

And if we can’t fix it we’ll give you a new one.

In addition to this:

There are no call out fees with nothing extra to pay.

We’ll only use our trusted network of repairers so can guarantee a high level of service.

An easy claim service, one call-instant decision.

-------------------------------------------------------

personally I think 3 weeks is too long to have to wait when it's sold as they word it. 8 days turnaround for a repair is not a bad time (had it worked) but that doesn't get around the fact that their advert is misleading.

The way they fix consoles,it is impossible for them to ever do it within 2 days.

A best case scenario, I phone them at 9am Monday, they arrange for collection Tuesday. It's delivered to them Wednesday, fixed that same day and dispatched that same day, I get it back Thursday. Even if they managed to arrange for same day collection on the Monday, and they did manage to fix and dispatch it on the Tuesday, I still wouldn't get it back until the Wednesday, hence totally impossible.

Don't advertise what you cant normally, do simple.

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Black Helicopters

It seems to me

... that how long it DID take was irrelevant; they could say within SIX MONTHS and still have the ads ruled against -- if they didn't have at least six months of proof.

Black helicopter -- because some folks would only be satisfied if service were delivered that way.

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