back to article Brit retailer Currys PC World says sorry for Know How scam

Currys PC World today apologised for forcing customers to pay an extra £40 for pre-configuration on their laptops that they didn't request – a dodgy practice brought to light by consumer charity Which? Since 2015 more than a hundred customers have complained to Which? about the aggressive sales tactic. Despite ordering online …

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  1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    Hanging

    is too good for them.

    1. PNGuinn Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Hanging

      I've got one word for carphone whorehouse / curried bx: MAPLIN

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hanging

      Having worked for the group then I can confirm that these sorts of problems were down to bad management, the staff were trained and forced to sell and deal with customers this way. However in my time of working for MasterCare supporting every store it was not all of them and officially the group did not condone it.

      One example where a customer who "couldn't connect to the internet" was sold a new modem each time he complained to the store finally called MasterCare because he had filled every card slot and serial port with modems. After confirming that there really were 5 modems then I got him to remove all but the original suppied with the machine, got that working then gave him my name and told him to take the rest back to the store for a refund. I told him that if he got any arguement that the store manager was to call me and I would explain to him why, .

      Unsuprisingly I never got that call back instead MasterCare got a new Exec who's only qualification IMHO was from being a Leeds football club player who had met Sir Stan Kalms. This ex footballer and his "team" demanded that MasterCare support staff also sold to customers calling for support in the same way as the bad stores, after a year all the experienced support staff had left so he replaced them with ex bank staff who would just do as they were told. The new management team were IMHO offensively unprofessional lying bullies without a decent bone in their bodies and were a continuing embaressment with antics like taking the staff out for a meal and attempting to run off without paying. Just disgusting drunks with zero ethics or respect for anyone.

      Needless to say with no one to train the new staff it took six months before all the MasterCare management was sacked and Capita was brought in to replace them. I do not know if that improved things because I had already left and had stopped using the stores.

      So from my experience I can say that there were good stores and staff who were just as disgusted at the antics of the bad ones and if you were lucky enough to meet them then you would finally get the service you paid for.

      1. LeeH
        Flame

        Re: Hanging

        I worked with them when they were PC Service Call. Did myself no favours by solving the problems people had with their computers. Gave PCSC a year of my time. I left a few months after they palmed the non home computer support calls on to us under the guise of an 'every digital good is a computer' premiss that made it feasible under our contracts.

        I remember well the dancing bonus targets, desk-chains, staff employed under the promise of particular shift patterns who were promptly slammed into unworkable shift patterns, staff afraid to do their jobs because they would cost their team its bonus, ideas being stolen from their originators and passed onto others to develop (happened to me at least twice). Horrid work environment. Never known any work environment as disgusting.

        One night shift I was picked up by a taxi driver who had worked at the same Nottingham call centre. He told me he left when he was unable to sign in. He was so stressed from the job that he could not move pen to paper to sign in. His wife told him to quit there and then. He was not alone.

        I do not miss being told 'Your call times are too short, your call times are too long, you can't tell people to take their computers back, you can't tell people their statutory rights, you can't tell people their contract rights, you can't send out engineers to replace faulty parts, you fix too many problems...' all in the same meeting.

        The last straw was when my team leader said he was going to "Break me down to build me back up again." At that point I understood why one colleague quit as soon as he heard this particular team leader was taking over our team.

        The week I left with stress was the same week a hundred or so more walked off too. When I explained my feelings to my doctor he looked at me, tutted, and sighed 'Not another one' before saying "You have severe stress. Get another job." as he signed me off with depression.

        I won't shop with Curries, Dixons, PC World or any member of the Dixon's PLC group and have not done so for 15/16 years. I should sue the bastards. I'm not the only one who should do so.

      2. Scorchio!!

        Re: Hanging

        "Having worked for the group then I can confirm that these sorts of problems were down to bad management, the staff were trained and forced to sell and deal with customers this way."

        Funny you should mention it, I did have a brush with them a few months ago when my laptop broke down and I needed an emergency replacement. They also tried to persuade me that desktop computers were no good (I need a new one of those), and then tried to tell me who should be PoTUS and who should be the British PM. The replacement for my Novatech desktop will probably come from them.

      3. Port_able

        Re: Hanging

        Been wokring in IT since mid 80's, anyone remember Word 1.1a lol. Anyway often supported friends to go back to PCWorld and KH a few times. Watch as they tried to weasle out of fixing anything in favour of a sale or two "essential" to making it work right. Then I'd step in and say .."maybe ..." "Possibly if .." - the goods being under warranty still with the store. Would hear the techops voices rise a few pitches as the ground they stood on would falter.

    3. John Smith 19 Gold badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Hanging. is too good for them.

      No need to go all Daily Heil on us.

      Think of it as the continuance of the old "maintenance contract" scam they used to be so fond of.

      New decade. New opportunity for BS.

    4. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

      Re: Hanging

      I, for one, will be glad when these scumbags go out of business once and for all.

      And no, I don't care about their jobs. They deserve it, slap it right up em!

  2. TonyJ Silver badge

    Really?

    People don't want to upgrade their £600+ phone from a year or two ago to a £1000+ phone that offers nothing new? Go figure!

    In other news, people aren't spending money on overpriced tat that they can get for much much lower prices online whilst avoiding slimy salespeople trying to pull this kind of thing.

    And in yet other news, bears defecate in woods.

    Next up, someone buys a bridge...

    1. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

      Re: Really?

      I have one of those $1200 models (X 256gb) and and downgrading tonight to my 6S Plus. The problem is, the X did offer something new, a user interface of absolute terror. I have to lift the phone up and look at it face first or type a 6 digit pin which also requires picking the phone up to read my text messages.

      I’ll dump this piece of shit on my wife and take her old phone as my spare travel phone.

      1. Ishtiaq

        Re: Really?

        An interface of absolute terror?

        Picking your telephone up and looking at it (which you would have to do anyway) is terrifying?

        So you dumped 1200 dollars on a telephone that you did not try first? Pull the other one.

        I have to ask you how do you read the text messages without picking your telephone up?

        I think you are telling porkies.

        Cheers… Ishy

        1. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

          Re: Really?

          I touch the finger print sensor with my finger and that’s all. The X requires that it either sees you or have to pick up the phone to trigger the gyro or you have to get a grip to push the poorly placed power button which also if you simple squeeze side to side also triggers the volume buttons.

          And although I told my boss I didn’t need a new phone, he convinced me to at least try a new one. It was company policy that I should have one. So, I got the one my wife would want if I didn’t want it. The company paid half, I paid the other.

  3. Snorlax Silver badge

    Sharp Practice

    And bricks and mortar retailers wonder why people buy online?

    Dixon’s used to try this very same thing back in the day. Old habits die hard I guess...

    1. Halfmad

      Re: Sharp Practice

      I still remember one of my friends buying an Amiga from Dixons years ago and paying almost half again for an extended warranty I could here him repeatedly saying to the salesperson he didn't want.

      It'd be nice to know if the charge PCWorld etc were abusing included any commission for staff.

      1. big_D Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Sharp Practice

        I remember being in PC World and a salesperson was trying to sell a Psion Surfer modem to a customer. I was standing at the end of the row and listening in... After nearly a quarter of an hour of spiel, he had nearly foisted the 150 quid modem on the customer, he said, again, that it was a great modem.

        At that point I chipped in, "yes, it has just won an award in PC Pro..." Salesbod smiles... "for modem under 100 quid." Sales person turns red.

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Sharp Practice

        My response to the 'would you like extended warranty' question is 'Oh, is it so unreliable I need that? Maybe I shouldn't buy this then?' soon shuts them up.

        1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: Sharp Practice

          > My response to the 'would you like extended warranty' question is

          Mine is, “no I don’t need it, I’m only buying it for the components, I’m going to take it to bits as soon as I get home. Do you know if these are Philips or posidrive screws on the back? I chose this one because all the others have torx screws”.

          Usually works.

          1. Law

            Re: Sharp Practice

            "I chose this one because all the others have torx screws"

            What's wrong with torx?!

          2. pavel.petrman
            Pint

            Re: Sharp Practice

            @Phil:<p> Philips or posidrive</p><p>Here, have a beer for this bit alone!</p>

        2. Dunning-Kruger Trump hater

          Re: Sharp Practice

          I once was about to buy a laptop at Best Buy that i wasn't too sure about. At checkout they gave me an extended hard sell on the extended warranty. I told them "if it's that unreliable, I don't want it." and left.

      3. Tubz
        Thumb Down

        Re: Sharp Practice

        In my day at PCW, staff received a small amount of commision for gerneal sales, but a bigger lump for warranties and pressure from sales manager to flog it even if customer didn't want it. In my defence I used to respect the customers wishes and take the flak from managers, after 6 months, I left.

      4. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: Sharp Practice

        @Halfmad - thank you, and an upvote, purely for the Proustian rush of reminiscence you've just given me, about the happy times I spent with my succession of Amigas - back when computing was fun. Still remember my A500 with great fondness, and the thrill I felt when I finally was able to get a 4000/030 (a whole 25MHz! if I recall correctly, which I probably don't). Must get my A1200 out of storage soon for old times' sake.

        Now, back I go to wrestling with Windows 10 and its incessant insistence on updating me to a version I neither need nor want. Grrrrr.

        1. Byron "Jito463"

          Re: Sharp Practice

          @David 132

          My very first computer was a Commodore Amiga 2000. I still regret giving it up.

      5. CIAW

        Re: Sharp Practice

        As a former employee of CurrysPCWorld, I can say there has not been commission for salespeople within the last 12 years.

      6. iRadiate

        Re: Sharp Practice

        I find it amazing how difficult it is for some peoplw to say no.

        As soon as any retailer starts the sales pitch within a few spoken words i just interrupt and say no thanks. Sometimes the poor sales chap might start the 'lets scare the crap out of the buyer' by stating that the warranty is only for a year and that after the warranty period.... Blah blah blah to which i respond with the sales of goods act which says that the item being purchased needs to be manufactured to a reasonable standard etc. Basically it means that while you might expect a 1 year warranty for a toaster that cost 50 quid to last a year, a flat screen tv that cost 1500 is expected to last a lot longer e.g 5 years. I think its one of then reasons John Lewis gives free 5 year warranties not because they're nice people but because its deemed a 'reasonable' period of time for an expensive product to last.

        1. Snorlax Silver badge

          Re: Sharp Practice

          @iRadiate:"I find it amazing how difficult it is for some peoplw to say no."

          Some people don't care.

          Some people are too timid to say "NO!"

          Some people don't have a clue about the SOGA.

          Take your pick...

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      Re: Sharp Practice

      Dixon’s used to try this very same thing back in the day

      Friend of mine was (for a short time) a sales droid at Dixons. They used to get only a miniscule commission of the actualy goods but a much, much bigger commission of the aftersales warrantees and insurance.

      Since he's a fairly moral chap he didn't last long there. Apparently, him objecting to pushing something at the customer that they didn't want or need made him unsuitable.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Sharp Practice

        Also it's illegal to offer charge for an extension of 1st year warrrenty for a 2nd year as Apple found out in Italy. Yet Argos, PCWorld/Currys and others still doing it despite SOGA 2 year, MINIMUM.

        1. Tom -1

          Re: Sharp Practice

          No, the minimum 2 year guarantee applies in all of teh EU except Britain, which negotiated a deal limiting the warranty to 1 year for sales in the UK because the requirements of teh 1 year warranty give the consumer advantage for that first year comapred to the EU requirement. That's teh official story. Of course the real reason was that our government wanted to give our manufacturers a license to sell absolute crap. Of course there are other laws about merchantable quality, and they are more use than any of the warrantees if you can cope with the hassle of getting the supplier to believe your threats of legal action.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sharp Practice

          Why do people keep saying things that are not true? UK gov negotiated an exemption to the EU rule. Blame your government mate

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sharp Practice

        I worked for CurryPCWorld for 5 years during college and Uni 2002-2007.

        Sales people were not paid commission on extended warranties. There was however a considerably amount of pressure from management to sell the extended warranties and the shitty finance option called EasyPlan. You would get shamed by management if you sold a big ticket item (£2-3k Plasma TV) without selling the extended warranty.

        I was once dragged into a formal meeting for failing to meet my CoverPlan (extended warranty) target - about 15% of my sales. I remember reasoning to my manager that I did not think it was a good product. His response was that it was not my job to think, it was my job to sell - which is a pretty good comeback to be fair.

    3. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Sharp Practice

      I was looking at a whiteboard recently and found this one on Amazon. It doesn't sound too bad it's £10 for an A3 size and has the capability to be hung from a wall with two hooks. The optional installation is listed as £48.

      I have had this slightly in reverse from Currys they'd tried to sting me for set up fees and I said no. I did say that I'd be very interested if it was possible to get a machine without an OS loaded. They were a bit confused by this and told me that I couldn't load my own OS at which point I told them they'd lost a sale.

      In another store (I can't remember if it was Currys or not) I wanted to buy my first flatscreen TV. I was told the price for the TV, the bracket, the cables, the installation and the delivery. Enthusiastic sales bloke tells me they had several delivery slots coming up. I couldn't work out what the installation charge was for and so I asked. It was for attaching the TV to the wall and attaching cables neither of which I needed. So I politely declined and said I was going to put it on a unit I already had. I also don't therefore need the bracket the cables or installation.

      This was not the correct answer as he told me that the TV would be too low for viewing. I said my perfect location for a TV* was where the eyes of the viewer i.e. me was in the centre or just below it of the TV. There was no way to install the TV at that height given what would be on the wall behind it so I dibn't need it installing. Again the installation is pushed, this time though it was just the cabling and (expensive gold plated) cables he was pushing. I declined this again saying I made my own aerial cables out of CTF100 and had a stock of fully wired Scart and cables doing nothing. I also knew how to wire up a TV to my hifi, DVD etc. and the aerial socket. He gave up and sold me just the TV. It was the same price for both forms of this "installation" which was a real rip off.

      *Except in the bedroom where it's higher up to facilitate watching lying down.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sharp Practice

        I really don't understand why people ever get to explain themselves when they refuse some extra crap in a store while buying anything. If I hear any bullshit, I say, very politely, with a smile, "No, thank you very much". If they continue, I say, firmly, and reasonably loud, "I've just said NO!", at which point they immediately move to take the payment part of our "relationship", which suits me fine.

        p.s. of course, if I happen to be shopping with offspring, I'll soon hear "dad, you're embarrassing us AGAIN!", but I just shrug it off.

        1. Phil Endecott Silver badge

          Re: Sharp Practice

          > "I've just said NO!", at which point they immediately move to take the

          > payment part of our "relationship"

          I haven’t mastered the right tone yet. Too soft and they keep trying; too firm and they accuse me of being rude.

          I am thinking in particular of “heritage” organisations trying to get me to join for a year, rather than just paying this one entry fee.

        2. jelabarre59 Silver badge

          Re: Sharp Practice

          p.s. of course, if I happen to be shopping with offspring, I'll soon hear "dad, you're embarrassing us AGAIN!", but I just shrug it off.

          But that's a dad's JOB, to embarrass his kids.

    4. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: Sharp Practice

      And bricks and mortar retailers wonder why people buy online?

      What happened here is even more egregious - these people HAD bought online. They chose to click and collect their orders, and when they turned up the B&M sales staff tried to force them to pay extra for the thing that they had already paid for or they could not have the thing they ordered.

      There must be something criminal in that.

      1. Snorlax Silver badge

        Re: Sharp Practice

        @Tom 38:”What happened here is even more egregious - these people HAD bought online. ”

        You know what I meant. Buy online and get it delivered to your door, not some click and collect malarkey...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sharp Practice

        > There must be something criminal in that.

        It would probably qualify as a misleading statement under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Practices 2008. Said act does incorporate provisions for criminal offences, although I've not looked at what the threshold would be.

    5. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

      Re: Sharp Practice

      Every time I’ve been to Dixon’s, I’ve been scammed. Last time, I saw a great deal on a prepaid SIM card and modem for while I was in ireland and after I bought it, they informed me that the SIM card cost extra and I’d have to buy that somewhere else... at car phone ware house.

      I haven’t been back.

      1. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Sharp Practice

        Carphone Warehouse and €99 Sony Xperia on pre-pay/ Pay as you go.

        "So how much is it SIM free? I have SIMs I swap."

        "Much more than the €150, that's with a SIM locked to an operator."

        "But it says €99!"

        "There is a small 'from'"

        "So how do I get it at the Cheapest price?"

        "It's €109 if you switch Mobile Operator."

        "Can't I just have the new operator as well?"

        "No, we have to move your existing number"

        "The advert should state it's €190 or whatever and discounts for locked network and transferring number. It's dishonestly misleading and wasted my time."

        "It's perfectly honest it has 'from €99', we don't have space for all those details on an advert."

        (In their own spacious shop)

        Yes, the BIG advert beside the dummy phone had in small print "New SIMs require an initial €10 top-up."

        Maybe it really doesn't break the law, but are they going to build customer relations and trust? I wondered why it was so much cheaper than online. I'll buy it online. It STILL has an SD Card slot and a 3.5mm earphone socket.

        I felt like I was in a dead parrot sketch.

    6. Mage Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Sharp Practice

      Be wonderful if you COULD buy "blank laptops". Save time that would. They all seem to have W10, unless you pay a lot extra for an OS that's sort of reasonable, like Mac OS.

      Pity Apple doesn't sell Mac OS for non-Apple branded HW.

      1. Craig100

        Re: Sharp Practice

        Dell do lappys with Ubuntu. I got a great one. Wiped it immediately and put Mint on it :) Didn't have to pay the M$ tax.

        1. Snorlax Silver badge

          Re: Sharp Practice

          @Craig100:"Dell do lappys with Ubuntu. I got a great one. Wiped it immediately and put Mint on it :) Didn't have to pay the M$ tax"

          I know. I've got a Latitude E5450 running OS X. Same spec as a MacBook Pro at the time, half the price...

    7. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Sharp Practice

      Dixons tried it on with my mum some years ago.

      My Dad wanted a small camcorder (gives you an idea of how long ago).

      The camcorder itself was about £200 as I recall. I went with her to get it.

      The salesmen went to town: "Of course he'll need x and y and z accessory and you'll absolutely want the extended warranty and..."

      I let him waffle on right until he'd rung up over £600 on the till.

      At which point I stepped in and said we neither needed nor wanted any of the extras. He lost his temper then because he'd recorded the sale and it would need a manager. At which point I said tough and we walked out, down the road to a local camera shop and got the same thing for around £150 with none of the crap sales tactics.

  4. Kaltern Silver badge

    Oh Currys. Their sales tactics are horrendous. I mean, I remember buying a laptop for a father-in-law, and being asked if I wanted to have a 'recovery option' for something like £50. I asked why did I need a recovery on a new laptop. The reply? 'Oh, we would need to recover the operating system for you to be able to use it for the first time, otherwise it won't work when you turn it on'.

    Experts, you know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Oh Currys"

      Yes indeed. I had a shop there a few years back when my venerable old widescreen CRT TV decided to die the week before my relatives arrived from overseas. Popped down to my local Curries/PC World and chose an older model flat screen TV which is on sale to replace it.

      All going well so far, until I try to by the damned thing. At this point, it transpires that the remote control has 'dissapeared'. The salesman coerces me into signing up an extended warranty policy in return for which he'll apparently supply me a remote control taken from another unit in the store.

      At this point I'm very very tempted to walk out, but I don't have any other options to get a new TV at short notice... what dodgy scumbags. Signed up the warranty and cancelled it the next week.

    2. Camilla Smythe Silver badge

      I asked why did I need a recovery on a new laptop.

      Well done!

      I assume you are one of those clever L33T people, experts, who know that the first thing you do is create 'recovery media' from the 'recovery partition'... No?

      1. CheesyTheClown Silver badge

        Re: I asked why did I need a recovery on a new laptop.

        The “l33t people” probably would just download a new copy when they need it because they don’t waste a thumb drive on keeping a copy of Windows on it.... which they probably wouldn’t be able to find when they need it if they ever do need it.

        I just checked Lenevo, Dell and HP. Apparently, they all have websites where you can download the system recovery images for their PCs. Seems like there isn’t much point in making one anymore. I suppose if you’re single, live alone, on a farm... in the country, it might make sense if you didn’t keep your old laptop around for stuff like this.

        I’m pretty sure that if you’re the type of person who thinks being “L33T” is required to google “Thinkpad X1 Carbon System Recovery” and follo directions, then having the system recovery media or not is irrelevant.

        1. JRW

          Re: I asked why did I need a recovery on a new laptop.

          The reason you might want to create the recovery thumb drive is if it is the only computer you will have access to. Computer down ... internet down ... creek without a paddle.

          I did it for the laptop we bought my Dad. Fingers crossed I don’t have to ever talk him through using it.

          1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

            "the only computer you will have access to"

            I'm not sure I understand this concept.

            Why wouldn't you just get one of your Raspberry Pis out of the drawer.

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