back to article Maplin shutdown sale prices still HIGHER than rivals

Closing-down sale posters are being plastered over the shop windows of moribund Brit 'leccy tat emporium Maplin Electronics, but even now the discounted goods can still be bought more cheaply from rivals. The Maplin administration team at PwC, appointed on 28 February, has so far failed to strike a deal to sell the retailer’s …

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Hands up, everyone who is surprised the prices are still too high?

No-one?

( Although, to be fair, comparing maplin prices to ebay is unfair. One gives you absolutely zero ongoing customer support or legal backup. And the other is ebay. )

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Support from Maplin ?

so how much support do you think that Maplin will give you on kit that you buy from them today ?

Dead companies do not give support -- which is part of the reason why the price as to be low enough to make the risk worth while.

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Re: Support from Maplin ?

@Alaiin you may want to re-read the OP. That was the exact point made...

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"One gives you absolutely zero ongoing customer support or legal backup. And the other is ebay."

The law gives you redress if its faulty so its irrelevant what a given shop provides in the way of consumer protection. Also ebay is full of scammers and junk. At least in a physical shop you can see what you're buying first and take it back the same day if it doesn't work instead of pissing about going down to the post office to send a parcel and hoping for a refund from some nameless person who might be a fraud (assuming you received the goods in the first place). Quite what the appeal of internet shopping - aka electronic mail order - is I've no idea. Mail order was crap 35 years ago when sending off a cheque to Sinclair and hoping something showed up, and its crap today.

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"The law gives you redress if its faulty so its irrelevant what a given shop provides in the way of consumer protection."

Does it? Even if the retailer is bankrupt?

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Re: Support from Maplin ?

@Alain; As Alien8n already noted, that *was* the OP's point... but you also seem to have missed the point of the story itself. The closing-down prices really aren't "low" at all (#); still more expensive than many online outlets and thus hardly "low enough to make the risk worthwhile"!!

(#) "Take the Western Digital 8TB My Cloud Home for example: it is being flogged by Maplin at £278.20 compared to £309 before the closing down sale began, but it is also available brand new from eBay for £254.99."

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"Does it? Even if the retailer is bankrupt?"

Obviously not, I was talking in general just like the OP. However if you pay by credit card you are covered.

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"

The law gives you redress if its faulty so its irrelevant what a given shop provides in the way of consumer protection.

"

"The law" provides no redress whatsoever. It can however compel *the retailer* to provide such redress. So long as the retailer is still in business ...

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Childcatcher

Tandy it ain't

I remember the halcyon days when Maplin was a slightly better Tandy: bigger, more stuff, more interesting stuff. A veritable Aladdin's cave for electronics geeks.

Then it became PC World 2.0 with a few token electronics bits thrown in for good measure, and awful prices to match.

Maplin is not only dead, it's long dead. It's just taken a couple of decades to bury its rotting corpse.

There's a reason that private equity companies are known as vulture capitalists.

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Re: Support from Maplin ?

In the Strand store (the one pictured, I thought I recognised it) on Sat, there were notices up in the window and instore stating that purchases made after a certain (earlier) date were not covered by anything other than statutory rights - and good luck getting them!

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Anonymous Coward

WTF - are you over 60?

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Being unfamiliar with European and/or British consumer law, do consumer goods there not carry a statutory warranty? This ensures that, among other things, if the retailer that sold you the goods no longer exists, you can simply deal with the manufacturer (or local distributor) of the goods.

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In a complete about face...

"Being unfamiliar with European and/or British consumer law, do consumer goods there not carry a statutory warranty? "

Yes, they do.

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Re: Tandy it ain't @Oh Homer

Got to take issue with the "I remember the halcyon days when Maplin was a slightly better Tandy:" line,

Maplin in it's heyday was run by hobbyists and staffed by hobbyists in the shops, it was *much* better than Tandy, you could get valid opinions and valuable, accurate advice in stores and the catalogue was a work of art in many ways, not least the cover art.

Then came along the investors and venture capitalists to suck as much profit and knowledge out of the company as they possibly could, the result was a drive to make the once great into something as bland and useless as any other retail park shed.

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Re: Aladdin's cave

I don't recall ever having a cave.

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Re: In a complete about face...

Statutory warranty. Not in that sense. There are strong protections about the durability and fit-for-purpose of the goods. But the contract is with the retailers ( and/or credit card company where applicable). If the retailer goes the warranty goes. Unless the manufacturer chooses to give a warranty.

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Re: In a complete about face...

Even if you can claim against the manufacturer (a big IF), you'd struggle to even id the manufacturer of most of the tat they sell and fail completely to get those far east sweatshops to respond anyway.

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This ensures that, among other things, if the retailer that sold you the goods no longer exists, you can simply deal with the manufacturer (or local distributor) of the goods.

No. Your contract is with the seller, not the manufacturer. Any warranty offered by the manufacturer continues to exist but that is separate to your statutory rights.

OTOH once a company is in administration any subsequent transactions are underwritten by the administrator. You have reasonable legal protection now buying from Maplin: enhanced customer-service terms such as buyer's remorse provisions may well no longer apply but your statutory rights are watertight. Oddly enough, now they are in administration they'll have no problems getting credit insurance as a consequence.

The difficulty arises for a transaction that occurred before administration but there is an issue to be addressed afterwards: in that case all bets are off.

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Re: Tandy it ain't

I gave up on Maplin when they stopped selling Ethernet cable by the metre with plugs so you could build the length you needed and were instead forced to buy vastly overpriced ready-made lengths.

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Two of us have said this;

"Your contract is with the seller, not the manufacturer. Any warranty offered by the manufacturer continues to exist but that is separate to your statutory rights.".

I've quoted the other person's. That person got no votes, up or down. I got a down vote. For stating the simple truth. In the UK you have a contract, a civil contract, with the supplier. When that contract fails, because the supplier ceases to trade, you become just another creditor. And since the hierarchy of creditors runs, insolvency practice, government, preferred lenders (banks etc), everyone else there is little chance of getting redress from the insolvent supplier. You join the back of the queue.

Unless you have a manufacturer's warranty that gives you the same protection ( it's unlikely to offer yo a refund). You can claim on a credit card against the card issuer if you paid for part or all of the item by card.

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do consumer goods there not carry a statutory warranty?:

Yep, of up to 6 years. However your contract is with the retailer you purchased from, not the manufacturer. The manufacturers obligation is only any additional voluntary warranty that they might choose to offer.

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"However if you pay by credit card you are covered."

For about 90 days usually...

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"Maplin shut down sale prices still HIGHER than rivals"

If anything this is probably one of the main reasons that they are closing down - people are savvy enough now to realise that if they can wait 24hours for delivery that they can save a decent amount of money..

The maplin near me is next door to a PC world, Last year I needed a new external drive *same day* I saved £20 by walking next door (And PC world still ripped me off compared to the price online!)

I'm sure that if maplin were competitive on price with online retailers that they would still be around now.

That said, their AA rechargeable batteries were always good value - I might go and stock up!

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AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

Really?

I thought expensive.

Maybe cheap compared to Tesco,

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I'm sure that if maplin were competitive on price with online retailers that they would still be around now.

That's true, but not terribly helpful. If they were an on-line only retailer they'd have the same relatively low cost base of other online retailers, but then they wouldn't be a bricks and mortar retailer with a wide geographic footprint. And for on-line only we've already got people like Farnell and RS, a range of smaller specialists, not to mention Amazon skimming the non-specialist market, aided and abetted by that company's devious tax avoidance.

There's no way for a high street retailer to compete with online sales, because of business rates, sales staff costs & the support overheads, property lease costs, and the low turnover per square foot of a retail outlet. My local Maplin has/had a business rates bill of about £50,000 a year for a large retail park unit. Staff costs I'd guess at 4 FTE, so fully loaded for corporate costs that's £120,000, lease costs I'd guess at £200,000 a year for this location, plus utilities, insurance, maintenance, etc that I'll guess at £30k, giving me a neat round £400k a year for one retail park store. That's £400k extra that Farnell or RS don't have to factor in. It's over a thousand quid a day in this store that on average probably only sells about a thousand quid of product a day....

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woah woah, slow down, it's not like online distributors dont have any costs. they still have staffing, warehouse, distribution, utilities, packing, support, management, marketing. its not the same cost base, for sure, and is likely cheaper (hence the competitive advantage, you've stated), but it still comes with it's own set of costs.

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It's like nobody learned a lesson from the Jessops story.

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Really

Faceless warehouse with minimal staff paid on zero hour contracts at the minimum wage.

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Anonymous Coward

RS have 16 over the counter locations in the UK

And they are an FTSE company operating worldwide with revenue of 1.5 beellllion pounds

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Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

"Really?"

Yeah they put them on offer quite frequently - Bought a few packs of 14 (which is an odd amount to supply in a pack) for £10 a while ago.

Useful for remotes and xbox controls for the kids.

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FAIL

@ d3vy "That said, their AA rechargeable batteries were always good value - I might go and stock up!"

Did I miss a <sarc> tag? Their Rechargeables (IME, YMMV) were a bunch of crap which was unfortunate as it was one of the few things I went in there for. I bought loads of them over the years but stopped when the occasional failure became a routine thing. I found they lasted perhaps 4-6 years from purchase but no more than 100 or so charge cycles (if that!). You might think 4-6 years is about right for a NiMH but I have Uniross rechargeables from about 2000 (yes 18 years old) still working in daily use and I'm sure they've long exceeded their specified limit of 1000 cycles.

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"My local Maplin has/had a business rates bill of about £50,000 a year for a large retail park unit."

No wonder the high street is going out of business! 50k per year , just for permission to be there from the council. Not rent . permission. Al Capone would be proud.

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@Ledswinger

Thats just wrong though isnt it, because plenty of places have bricks and mortar shops and price match with online retailers.

Not just in IT either Go outdoors has a policy where you can hand them a item at the till and say "Its cheaper on site xyz" and a few minutes later you get the item at the online price.

PC world also do it for *some* items.

I'd also point out that online retailers still have physical buildings holding their stock - they employ more pickers and packers and have higher distribution costs than companies like maplin supplying primerally though physical shops. Im also certain that online retailers have to pay a shit load more in IT costs than companies like Maplin.

My original comment was that if they lowered their prices they would have probably sold more - higher quantity of sales with a lower margin is preferable to high margin with almost no sales.

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Re: Really

"Faceless warehouse with minimal staff paid on zero hour contracts at the minimum wage."

You realise that these businesses are not just warehouses dont you?

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Im also certain that online retailers have to pay a shit load more in IT costs than companies like Maplin.

Considering Maplin also offered online ordering/delivery and therefore had associated warehousing/picking/posting/IT costs... probably not.

To be honest, modern logistics requires a hefty amount of IT. Whether you're taking orders from a website and posting out boxes of picked product, or taking orders from retail stores and replenishing their shelves makes very little difference.

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re: The maplin near me is next door to a PC world

Battery park ?

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@PaulF

I suspect our use cases differ - I buy the batteries for the kids to put in toys and XBox controls and the like - I'd be shocked if half of the ones that I bought last year were still in the house having been lost at friends houses and accidentally being thrown out unthinkingly when flat!

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@d3vy Perhaps. I expect them to last long enough so that cost per charge over the life of the battery is significantly lower than disposable batteries. That's probably not happened with some of them I bought whereas the Uniross ones work out at fractions of a penny per charge. IIRC the Maplin ones worked out at about £1.25-£1.50 each to buy whereas you can get 30 branded AA batteries in one of the DIY sheds for less than £9 (and probably cheaper elsewhere). While I respect your attempts to avoid disposable batteries, considering your lossy use case you'd probably be better off with the disposable ones in the kiddie toys?

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woah woah, slow down, it's not like online distributors dont have any costs. they still have staffing, warehouse, distribution, utilities, packing, support, management, marketing.

Too true, but I was looking only at the EXTRA costs of a bricks and mortar retailer.

Maplin still needed warehousing, stock control, picking, warehouse-to-store logistics, not to mention the costs of their own dismal online presence. Warehouse to store logistics will be cheaper than warehouse to consumer, but then there's other costs of retail outlets like "shrinkage" that probably offset the lower logistics costs of bricks and mortar.

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Jessops shops are back in some parts of the UK, and it is still more expensive than the competition. How it continues as a business is a complete mystery to me.

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Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

Given I've not purchased any batteries since 2010, they were cheap compared to quality rechargeables such as Hahnel. Although in my box of circa 50 AA batteries(*), I do note that about 50% of the Maplin batteries have failed compared to ~10% of the Hahnel ones, 30% of the Ansmann & Jessop own label and ~80% of the more widely known high street brands (eg. Uniross, Energiser).

(*) Large number due to using flashguns that eat rechargeables and having kids who toys could also eat batteries.

> While I respect your attempts to avoid disposable batteries, considering your lossy use case you'd probably be better off with the disposable ones in the kiddie toys?

Been there, no comparison: especially at Christmas, there is no real comparison between a 2800mAh rechargeable and a cheap multipack of Duracells from the discount shop.

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I mean, only in the sense your council tax is 'permission to live in your house'. There's a reason it's called 'rates', just as the predecessor to council tax was.

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Re: Really

"Faceless warehouse with minimal staff paid on zero hour contracts at the minimum wage."

Thats ok, so long as people can get their cheap tat without having to get their fat backsides off the sofa they could be chained slaves in those warehouses for all they care.

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people are savvy enough now to realise....

I think the Maplin bosses needed to have a talk with the Screwfix management.

They manage just fine. Presumably at least partly because their rates must be significantly lower, being mostly on light industrial estates rather than in retail parks.

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Trollface

Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

using flashguns

Not as bad as popping in those flash bulbs and popping out a hot one into your hand.

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I once bought a PVR (Daewoo brand. Yep surprised me too) from Jessops online presence.

Quite a good machine at the time and best price around. Served me well for quite a while before being supplanted by Mrs L's Skybox

Reminds me I ought to open it up and see if there's any residual use in the hard drive before sending it to recycle.

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Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

"especially at Christmas, there is no real comparison between a 2800mAh rechargeable and a cheap multipack of Duracells from the discount shop."

Agreed, but possibly not in the way you intended. I have lots of kids, and I had lots of rechargeable batteries. The problem was getting them to keep apart the newly charged and the ones that have lost charge by not having been charged for a few weeks or having been drained by heavy use. On Christmas afternoon the toy running on 3 fresh cells and one spent one doesn't perform to well, which is frustrating after having religiously recharged all the NiMh in the run up to Christmas to try to avid their inherent self discharge problems.

Now I just buy big boxes of disposable batteries, and everyone is happy. Even me.

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Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

>The problem was getting them to keep apart the newly charged and the ones that have lost charge by not having been charged for a few weeks or having been drained by heavy use.

This problem... :)

For the very young it is handy the battery compartment tends to have a fiddly screw lock requiring Dad's attention...

For the not so young, my son has discovered the importance of not mixing used and charged batteries in the Xbox controllers and thus labelled two clip top containers: Charged & Dead...

Also a 4 battery fast recharger doesn't take up much space - important when Christmas has to fit in the car as it is spent at the grandparents :)

FYI I think the investment I made in AA rechargeables back in 2004 was the correct one - for the pocket and ease of use when shops are closed or I can't be bothered to go out, given how frequently the charger is on...

One thing I did omit, none of the C sized rechargeable batteries have stood the test of time, probably because they weren't used as much. Neither have the AAA sized, in part because whilst they work in telephone handsets they don't seem to last in toys or other appliances (eg. TV remotes) where they aren't constantly being recharged. So for battery sizes other than AA, I still buy conventional batteries...

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Holmes

Re: AA rechargeable batteries were always good value

Useful for remotes and xbox controls for the kids.

Oh really? I thought batteries where just pocket warmers. Thanks for the tip!

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"Staff costs I'd guess at 4 FTE"

Perhaps, but helpful staff seem to be few and far between, which means that regulars started going elsewhere a long time ago and their recommendations had a direct effect on other purchases.

Dale Carnegie's maxim on negative experiences holds true even today.

In any case, unlike RS or Farnell, Maplins turned into a cheap gadget shop a long time ago, but unlike the average cheap tat shop they weren't cheap. As such (Like PeaSeeWhirled) they became the supplier of last resort on a Sunday afternoon when you absolutely needed something today.

I'm surprised they lasted this long. It's clear they've been on life support and the _only_ viable way forward would have been downsizing back to being a mailorder business with a counter at the warehouse.

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