back to article UK tech retailers are rubbish

Staff at UK electrical retailers such as Currys and Comet know nothing about the products they're selling – unless you're after an extended warranty of course. This revelation comes not from usual source of the bleeding obvious WikiLeaks but from consumer organisation Which? It made 154 visits to shops including Currys, Comet …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yep...

    I started going into shops last year asking about Freeview HD and when it would be built into new TVs. I was repeatedly told by incredulous staff that I meant FreesatHD. Sony, Dixons/Curries a couple of indipendants and even Ritcher Sounds. It got to the point that each sales guy in each shop was so convinced that I was wrong that I started to question myself.

  2. whattsamattayou
    FAIL

    old news

    I went to dixons to buy a displayport to hdmi adapter for my laptop. They tried to sell me as solutions in no particular order, a usb cable (as thats probably what I meant), a hdmi cable (as the port is nearly the same size its probably what you need), a DVI to hdmi adapter (as DVI is the latest tech and displayport is an older tech I guess), a HDMI right angle adapter, etc

    Even though I spelled it out for them they had not a notion....not a notion...i explained and they insisted i was wrong...even involved other staff...I left in the end

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Yep

    I've had to walk out and buy elsewhere several times because of their warranty upsell. To the point that I now don't really bother ever going there anymore.

    1. Tony Humphreys
      Thumb Up

      Warranty - great!

      No, no, no. Always haggle down as far as you can, then say cheaper on the net. When they wont match say that you were thinking about the warranty, and cant get that online. The price will come down much more if you buy the warranty.

      The best bit is that by law you can cancel the warranty within 60 (I think) days, and receive a full refund for it. So you get the tat for a lot less, and no warranty.

      Its just a haggling toy - and if you play it too then you can beat them at their own game.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Tony Humphries - funny story

        Not overly relevant but I was in Comet couple of years ago buying some Christmas stuff and when I gave them the old "cheaper on the net" spiel they just tried to argue -

        -can't trust no-name stores

        -warranty useless and invalid

        -no face to face staff if there is a problem

        -not easy to get a warranty honoured

        -hidden costs not visible till you buy

        and so on. Basically they were telling me whoever I was looking at on the net must be lying, stealing scumbags who would rip me off and laugh at my misfortune. So I showed them the on-line price showed on comet.co.uk and after a brief stunned silence they shrugged and offered me the web prices.

        Remember, a reduced purchase price to whoever you are speaking to may mean a reduced profit for them, but it is still profit. No matter how much you pay elsewhere it still means zero profit / turnover for the store you are in.

        1. DPWDC

          Warranty

          I once bought a desk fan for £19.99 from Comet (I was in a rush) - they tried to sell me 12 months of "like for like" replacement warranty for £20... I pointed out that I'd save 1p if I had to buy another one... It was lost on them.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Paris Hilton

            Last time I bought from DSG...

            A new Iron.

            £20. Extended warranty, Sir? £30. Seriously.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @AC:Warranty Upsell

      Shame you walked out as you missed Warranty Upsell 2.0 - unnecessarily expensive cables.

      "No but sir, this GBP 100 HDMI cable will give you so much better picture and sound than the GBP 20 one you're considering"

      I can't believe that the likes of What Hi-Fi came into the digital era stating that the GBP 150 optical cable gives richer/better sound etc than the GBP 40 one. That may have worked in the analog era but no more my friend. Once you get past cheap tat that's pretty much it.

    3. John Bailey
      Thumb Up

      Been there..

      I got offered an extended warranty on a pair of £17 ear buds the last time I went to Richer sounds. Even the sales guy was embarrassed. A pity.. They used to be good.

      Now I buy all my consumer electronics online.

      No trudging to the shop, no hard sell, no risk of the damn thing being out of stock, and requiring a second visit.

      Dixons group.. Give me strength.. I've seen cabbages with more technical knowledge.

      A friend told me last week that he was sold an external USB DVD drive and assured that it would work for recording TV programs.

  4. TeeCee Gold badge
    Stop

    Surprise me.

    "...and were recommended a DVD recorder rather than a cheaper personal video recorder."

    Tell 'em to wait until there's a promo push on PVRs and go back. They'll be able to specifically ask for a DVD recorder and get pushed a PVR on some pretext* then. They're sales droids these lads and they'll sell whatever's got the commission rates jacked up this week.

    Which's mystery shoppers should thank their lucky stars that they didn't end up leaving with a bloody washing machine......

    *Carefully adjusting the picture to its best on all the stuff you wanted to sell and randomly twiddling the knobs on all the others was a favourite trick back in the day. SCART connecting the stuff on promo and relegating the rest to coax via the tuners was another.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think they still do that to an extent.

      Some tellies on composite, some on component (which is split and probably about a mile long by the time it gets to the telly) and some on HDMI.

      That's why when I bought a telly, I checked it out at several retailers, then saved £100 by ordering it off amazon.

      1. JohnG Silver badge

        Online/Mail order vs. high street

        "That's why when I bought a telly, I checked it out at several retailers, then saved £100 by ordering it off amazon."

        This is the crux of the problem - going to a retailer to see the product and then buying it online/mail order. We all do it but this is why the traditional stores that actually knew about the TVs and other electrical goods they sold (and even how to repair them) all went out of business over 20 years ago*. We are left with a bunch of box-shifters who employ the cheapest school leavers they can find, so as to be able to compete with the online stores.

        *For those too young to remember, before online shopping came along, people used to buy mail order stuff from adverts in magazines.

        1. Naughtyhorse

          given that this survey backs up all anecdotal evidence

          that the people working in these stores are..... eejuts.

          why do you people bother going to the store in the first place?

          If im going to order online, then i'll be sat at my computer anyway, so why not just get the dope from the horses mouth, i.e. Mfrs' website? it's what i have done for years.

          1. Zot

            But perhaps

            People go in the shops just to see what something actually looks like and if it's a TV then I think that's really important.

            I go in have look around then go home and buy it on the Net!

        2. John Bailey
          Stop

          Quite the oppsite in fact

          Actually.. The big box stores were the ones who killed off the specialist stores 20 years ago. Not the internet. Now the internet is killing the big box stores. And nothing of value is lost. And who is on the internet? The little guys the big box stores killed off.

          Online retailers are a joy to deal with. And the few times I have needed to return anything, it's been accepted and I get the refund as quickly as possible.

          Bug box = Expensive cab fairs, hassle of arguing with some kid who barely knows how to plug the appliance in, and tries to pass off a credit note, as "store policy".

          Once you get outside amazon, there are plenty of small specialist knowledgeable operations selling good quality stuff at reasonable prices. Many couldn't survive in bricks and mortar land, because they are just too specialized.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Different chain different country

        A local crowd of box pushers has competitive pricing for their stuff. To compensate they ONLY carry

        the $300 AUD hdmi cables. I bet they burnt a few people with that scam.

  5. Nigel Brown

    title?

    I recently bought a full HD tv from RIcher Sounds. While enquiring about the HDMI cable I needed I became aware of a similar conversation to my left, where the couple were told that nothing less than a £100-odd quid cable would do. The guy making my sale offered me a £20 cable with a grin and told me I wouldn't notice the difference between them.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Still ripped off.

      My HDMI leads cost £5 and work fine.

      1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
        Coat

        So were you.

        £2.99 from the online tat bazaar...

        1. Silver

          Re: So were you

          And you were too.

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/1-8M-HDMI-Cable-Gold-Connectors/dp/B0017RW94A/

          £1.34 :)

          1. Ian Stephenson Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            @silver: yes

            I deserved that one.

            (And yes I upvoted your post)

            1. Silver
              Happy

              Re: @silver: yes

              Bless you Sir for your generosity :) Although I was half expecting someone to come along with a link to a 99p one!

              1. Peter2 Silver badge
                Joke

                Re: @silver: yes

                99P?! That's a ripoff for a SCART cable!

                http://www.dhwelectronics.com/To_Scart_Standard_017001400020/T113D_Black_15m_Multicore_Screened_Scart_Plug_to_Scart_Plug

                (70p inc VAT. Now beat THAT!)

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  70p!?

                  You need to ask for the 5 finger discount man.

              2. CmdrX3
                Pint

                Well not quite but...

                If you happen to live near one, you could save a few more pennies

                http://www.poundland.co.uk/product-range/a-z/signalex-hdmi-cable-for-home-entertainment/

                1. Mike Richards Silver badge

                  If you really need a SCART cable

                  Drop round my place and I can give you a dustbin bag full of them.

              3. xenny
                Happy

                99p HDMI cable

                Here you go

                http://www.bargainspy.co.uk/node/312883

                99p from Wilko.

          2. Alan Lewis 1

            Even cheaper here

            Ahem - and you

            http://www.amazon.co.uk/1-8M-HDMI-Cable-Gold-Connectors/dp/B0017RW94A/

            Price: £0.37

            And 534 reviews that say much the same thing

            "There's absolutely no difference in quality between this, extremely well priced one, and the over priced ones that the oh-so-convincing sales reps might convince you that you need."

            "I've compared them with a friends M*nster brand cable and THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN PICTURE QUALITY!!! "

      2. corrodedmonkee

        boo

        Aye, I've yet to see a need to have anything other than a £5 HDMI cable to do that entire metre.

        When I bought my AV amp from Richer Sounds I noticed an £111 HDMI cable. More money than sense, I suspect.

    2. Adam 10
      Thumb Up

      Ah, Richer Sounds

      This is the same Richer Sounds who used to proudly proclaim that they would never sell TVs, midi systems, portable audio or washing machines.

      The same Richer Sounds who now sell all the above apart from washing machines... then went and acquired Empire Direct, the now-defunct online seller of washing machines.

      Lol.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Yes

        The same Richer Sounds that used to pride itself on sales staff that knew something ... and where I over heard one such "knowledgeable" employee telling a potential buyer that one set of speakers was more powerful than another.

        Oh for the days when that original London Bridge shop was a treasure trove of *real* hifi odds and ends.

    3. Mike Richards Silver badge

      Not just Richer Sounds

      Comet are especially evil in this regard. They carry Monster cables - and we all know what good value for money they aren't - and bully customers into buying them with a TV. My parents got scammed for £60 for component cables (and were told this was a special offer because they were buying a table) - when both their DVD player and TV had HDMI.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    it's not their fault bless 'em

    many of these staff live on the breadline.

    Let's take the case of a typical sales clerk named Dave:

    Dave has to live in a squalid bedsit with a communal toilet 3 floors above. At 3am every night his drunken neighbour, Mr Scumbag, comes home and tries to open Dave's door by mistake. One night Dave forgot to lock his door and woke up with Mr Scumbag's balls right on his face. Mr Scumbag had also eaten Dave's cereal, which meant that he now had nothing to eat for the following week.

    Having eaten several candles to stave off hunger, Dave is now freezing to death, as his single glazed window has never been able to close. The local kids throw dog turd in through it.

    Dave has nothing to do at night except stare vacantly at the jug he has resorted to pissing into, given that the communal toilet was "out of order", thanks the landlord, who on a drunken bender decided to smash it with a golf club.

    Luckily the golf club was left at the scene of the crime but unluckily Dave's teeth are not strong enough to eat it.

    Sometime later an angry shopper kicks Dave to death.

  7. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Just like Tesco

    Try this. Go to your local supermarket, corner a shelf-stacker and start asking them about the calorific value of their chunky pickle, or whether "I can't believe it's not butter" is better than "Olive spread". You'll get just as poor quality advice from their untrained and disinterested staff as you will from the untrained and disinterested staff in any computer store.

    The big difference is that shoppers in computer stores generally know even less about the products they are prepared to hand over money for, than the untrained and disinterested employees. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

    Now, I appreciate that yer average ASDA doesn't advertise about how every checkout person has a PhD in nutrition or food science. But it's *advertising*, people - you really shouldn't expect facts, truth or fairness. They're after your money, for the least cost to themselves, surely that's not a surprise to anyone?

    The good thing about computer stores (and those ones that sell electronic toys) is that the staff know that they know bugger all about any of the products and will go to great lengths to avoid talking to or eye contact with, any potential customers. In that respect at least, they're helping us.

    1. BorkedAgain

      Not quite the same...

      I buy bread, cheese, pickle, margarine, milk etc on a fairly regular basis. So does pretty much everyone I know. It's not a major outlay (although the way things are going...) and it's something we all do all the time. Everyone pretty much knows their preferences by now and, beyond a little promotion-inspired brand disloyalty, you probably know what you're going to buy this week and how it'll taste.

      If (heaven help you) you're visiting Dixon's or Vomet or wherever to make a tech purchase, you're in a different position. You probably don't buy a new telly, PVR, laptop etc every week, and if you're Joe Public you probably don't know your GB from your Mb/s so you are going to be relying on helpful staff who have the faintest idea what they're about and are motivated to help you find the best solution for your needs, not the best sale for their commission.

      To put it another way, you're screwed.

      As someone else said, these stores should be treated as a place to check out the hardware in real-life before ordering it for a hefty discount online. And spread the good word to anyone non-techie you care about, to save them falling victim...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh?

      But the article was about shop floor salespeople, they're supposed to know a bit about the stuff they're selling so they can sell it. AFAIK supermarket shelf stackers are employed to stack shelves and tell you where the baked beans are, not sell stuff on commission.

    3. James Hughes 1

      Not the same

      Tesco's shelf stackers are not supposed to know about the products - they are not selling it, they are stacking it. The retail staff on the high street are salespeople - they are supposed to know about this stuff in order to sell it.

      And they don't.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh?

      Just because you made something up, doesn't make it true. I know quite a few people who work in sales and while none of them are exactly coining it in, they're not living in squalor.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "they're not living in squalor."

        ...yet.

    5. jason 7
      Happy

      I would like to be asked that as a stacker.

      Because then I'd know there was someone with a more boring and insufferable life than mine.

      1. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

        RE: Just like Tesco

        Gotta agree.

        When I was in 6th form, I worked at the local Asda. We were always told to take a customer to the product if they asked where it was, rather than just point it out.

        One day on elderly gentleman asked me where he could find the Calgon. It was accross the other side of the store, so on the way, I enquired why he wanted a water softener when he lived in a soft water area. He had just seen the adverts, and wanted his washer to last longer.

        After a brief explanation, he agreed that he didn't need them, and carried on with his shopping.

        Later that day, my boss collared me. The gentleman in question had stopped him and praised my efforts, something which would normally have earned me a pat on the back. Instead it earned me a bollocking for stopping a customer spending money.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Customer Service

          Thats just wrong, the training stores provide like Sainsbury's clearly state you are there to help the customer not mislead them, your boss should have been made to sit through the cheesy 80's videos they have.

    6. peter 45
      Linux

      Don't tar with the same brush.

      In Tescos just before Xmas and wandering around the Tech section and overheaed a conversation between an Tesco member of staff and a pensioner. The pensioner wanted a replacement phone and obviously did not know even what Sim card was, let alone where is was in her phone.

      The Tesco employee asked all the right questions about her phone usage, the carries etc and steered to a sim-free, simple and cheap as chips. Could not have choosen better myself from the range on offer. He then offered to swap her sim over, show her how it worked, charged etc and helped ensure all of her phone numbers came over. I was so impressed that I went to the employee supervisor to compliment him on his knowledge and helpfulness.

      Contract that with the Dixons employee who was asked about HDMI cables to join my new freeview box to my telly, showed me their range of USB cables. (Also, heapest cable was £30, so went to Tescos who sold me on for about £4.)

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Management decision

      Why employ a member of staff that knows what they're talking about when you can have three that don't for the same price.

      Electronics products sell themselves, most of the time the shop floor staff just exchange a few re-assuring smiles and nods as the customer explains to them why they want the latest Gaget-a-tron 2011 and the sale is done.

      "Must have good customer handling skills - NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY."

      Quite.

    8. Chaosechoz
      Grenade

      @Anonymous Coward "it's not their fault bless 'em"

      YAY!

      Someone else who shares my insider knowledge the exact sort of morons Tandy's, (for those of you old enough to remember them), Dixon's, Curries and PC world employ to save a few pennies for the share holders...

      I was once gang raped into buying a P.O.S 28" HD (apparently!) Gaming Monitor from PC World. I went in to purchase a specific model that I spent 3 days researching every tiny detail of then when I arrived some sales droid basically forced me to purchase a lesser model. I took it home, smashed it to bits, put it back in its box and sealed it up.

      Took it back with the receipt and spoke to the bastards manager claiming and I quote "See that twat over there, he sold me this.." handed him the box then proceeded to say "I came in 2 hours ago wanting this model *hands over model number * and that 'sales' assistant you call him effectively forced me to purchase this model which.. well is smashed to crap"

      After about 45 mins of my unrelenting tirade of verbiage the Manager apologised offered me a complete refund, store credit and free delivery of any item I wanted :)

      Guess what the manager did next..... Took the lad out the back and while I was stood after making the exact purchase I originally came in for, he fired the lad and threw him out of the store.

      I love it when scum-bags that "think" they know more than me get what's coming to them!

      1. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: @Anonymous Coward "it's not their fault bless 'em"

        "Gang raped"?

        1. Annihilator
          FAIL

          Re: @Anonymous Coward "it's not their fault bless 'em"

          "Forced me to purchase"? Who's really got the lesser mind here?...

          1. Chaosechoz
            Go

            @ Annihilator....

            Ever tried to say no 11 times It gets boring after half an hour of the sales vermin saying "no seriously you want this model I got one myself on my staff discount and it is 'Well Wick'd' " ...

            So knowing what I know, which is far more superior than your average teenage wannabe sales mong. I did what I had to do, took the item, made some personal alterations to the product, I.E. Gave it a good kick in! then took the item in question back and got EXACTLY what I wanted in more ways than one.

            So OK, gang raped and "forced me to purchase" are a bit excessive but I am a extremist and proud of it!!!. Don't like it? Well tough cherry dipped shit cakes to you!

            I know what I like and if I don't like something / someone ill do my damnedest to make them or it look like the worthless servile piece of left over excrement they / it truly is!

            1. Annihilator
              FAIL

              re: @ Annihilator....

              "Ever tried to say no 11 times It gets boring after half an hour of the sales vermin saying "no seriously you want this model I got one myself on my staff discount and it is 'Well Wick'd' " ..."

              Never had the need. "Do you have this in stock?" "No, but here's an alternative.."

              Walk out the bloody door you fool. Or fantasize about how you got someone sacked for selling a product to an idiot - as someone else has commented, it never happened...

      2. PsychicMonkey
        FAIL

        I smell BS.

        if, and thats a big IF, your story is true, then it's the manager who should be fired. The salesman was doing his job, comvincing you to buy the product that made him and his employer more money. The fact you were too stupid to get what you wanted is your problem.

        But I call bullshit. it didn't happen at all.

    9. Thomas 4
      Thumb Up

      A stirring tale, sir.

      I can hear the violins playing even now.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's because....

    ...if they knew anything much about the devices they are selling they would not be working in a shop earning little more than minimum wage would they!

    You might get the occasional salesman who happens to be an enthusiast about the particular item your buying, but that’s about the best you should ever expect from high street retailers in terms of knowledge and advice.

  9. Oliver Mayes

    Not exactly new

    I remember accompanying my dad about 10 years ago when he needed a new phone, and the woman in the phone shop tried to convince him to pay extra for one with 'polyphonic graphics'.

  10. Mike Brown

    curreys et al, thats hardly news but....

    have you noticed the amount of "which?" adverts on the telly? I suspect that with the rise and rise of the net, and free review sites," which?" might be finding it losing its customer base. Who in there right mind pays for reviews these days? All you need is google and a spare hour. And all the info you could possible need on any item can be found.

  11. Stef 4
    Pint

    Researchers were also recommended expensive, and useless, cables.

    "Researchers were also recommended expensive, and useless, cables."

    And so beings the debate about the $200 HDMI cable verses the $10 ebay equivalent and how they are the same. Except for the deluded people that can "Clearly tell the difference between an expensive HDMI cable and a cheap one from the online tat bazaar ebay" etc etc.

    No word on domestic surge protectors being sold as protection against lightening, despite the packaging clearly claiming they won't protect against lightening?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Nigel Brown

    .... The guy making my sale offered me a £20 cable with a grin and told me I wouldn't notice the difference between them

    You wuz robbed!

    The grin was probably because he also knew you wouldn't notice the difference between an £20 HDMI cable and a £5 one from Amazon or even cheaper from marketplace etc

  13. Semaj
    FAIL

    Definitely

    So true.

    I remember years back when Dixon's still had high street stores all over the place and my friends noticing a computer advertised as having 512MB of RAM (unheard of in those days other than really high end stuff - what they actually meant was the PC had 512 MB of RAM).

    We politely pointed out the obvious typo but the sales guy was adamant we were totally wrong and clearly didn't know what we were talking about.

    Though the next day the sign had the section scribbled out with marker pen and the much more sensible 64MB written instead :) The guy just couldn't admit he was wrong to a bunch of college kids.

    The same shop also sold me a USB cable to go with my parallel port scanner ... not really useful!

  14. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Commission

    I was told by one guy that on the sales training courses they go on, that when they see a punter walk in the door, they are to say to themselves: "3%. 3%. 3%" (Or whatever the commision was) Commission is king for these people. It's how they make their living.

    If their pay was based on some other metric*, then maybe this sort of problem wouldn't exist**.

    * No, I'm not clever enough to come up with a suitable metric

    ** Yes, I know it will only last until someone works out how to scam the new system.

  15. Scott Thomson
    FAIL

    My 2 pence worth

    Went to buy TV from Curry's last year after having seen an advert for it at a decent price.

    I trolled the member of staff a bit to ask whether it had freeview built in (knowing it had), he disappeared to check the computer and came back to tell me it didn't but that they had an offer on freeview boxes and tried to flog one to me.

    Then i asked for an antenna cable.... TV store... must have them.. surely... They only had a cable in a kit that included numerous other things that i had no need for.

    HDMI Cable... he handed me an HDMI cable that was in the region of £90 for 2m and they didn't have anything cheaper. He tried to sell the benefits of gold connectors to me and how "electrons flow better in it, mate"

    I went to a local supermarket and got both cables for under £20.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: Definitely

      May I politely point out your obvious typo...

      "advertised as having 512MB of RAM" .... "what they actually meant was the PC had 512 MB of RAM".

      Think you might have meant hard disk storage ;)

    2. The Cube
      Stop

      Who in their right mind pays for reviews?

      I think Which should be funded by the BBC to publish their reviews. Every "review" site out there is stuffed with retards and astroturfers, go and pick on any product and then wade through the bullshit until you find a review written by an adult, who can actually spell, who doesn't work for a "viral marketing agency". Take a PVR for example, the "review sites" will be full of;

      1) A Twat, Stupidsville - 1 star I hate this product, if I could give it 0 stars I would, I bought it to backup the photos of my feck ugly family from my PC and even when bought is £200 gold USB cable is useless, only records television on the hard disk innit.

      2) A Marketing Scumbag - Soho - 5 stars!, This product changed my life, it is better than sex, you won't need to have sex any more after buying this product. God himself appeared to me and said "wow, that is one tasty PVR". The picture is so real it is like being on the film set. Buy this product now! Please help me get my soul back from the red guy with the horns!

      At least Which pay to do the review so we have some hope of understanding what the motive of the reviewer was, now admittedly the people they choose are not the sharpest tools in the box (well, rubber hammers) and if they try to review anything like HiFi they think the Bose system with one bass note, some awful tinny treble and no midrange at all sounds perfect but they are fine for most domestic white goods.

      (Bose astroturfer, that is your cue to say how spending £500 on a set of $1 paper cone speakers in little boxes and a fart box to put behind the sofa got you laid for the first time)

      1. dotdavid
        FAIL

        Talking about Which...

        Have you seen their tech reviews? I remember them reviewing antivirus scanners at one point and recommending Norton. After that I began to wonder whether they knew anything about the other product categories they review either...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        RE: Who in their right mind pays for reviews?

        Gave me a chuckle reading that!

        Agree, a staggering proportion of user reviews are worthless as quite often they are unwittingly moaning about their own inept stupidity rather than the actual device in question. Can be quite amusing reads sometimes though!

    3. annodomini2 Bronze badge

      You missed a part

      The company then screwing the sales individual over by moving targets, it's not staff only screwing the system, it's the system screwing the staff.

      I've worked in this kind of role, selling PC's at Toys'r'us, I worked 5-6 hours a week and still had the national sales record when I left. Probably because I did know what I was talking about.

      When I started it was sell a pc get a £25 bonus, by the end it was sell 20 pc's in a week and get £25.

      Then they don't pay you.

      At which point you couldn't care less, simply because there's little chance of you achieving the target and even if you do odds on actually seeing the money were low.

      1. stucs201

        Interesting you mention toys-r-us

        I remember many years ago reading a pcplus round-up of high-street pc retailers. Toys-r-us seemed to be an odd inclusion, until they turned out to be the only ones that were any good.

    4. Robert E A Harvey
      Thumb Down

      They lost me

      I was a member of the Consumer Association back in the 1960s. When they tested something then they put the actual measurements in the report. Round about 1971 they switched to coloured blobs to rate things, and turned into 'reader's digest' with the amount of special offers and advertising mailshots.

      I said 'buggerm' and cancelled the subscription.

    5. BorkedAgain
      Coat

      Did you buy the cable?

      ...Just wondered...

    6. Rimpel
      Coat

      lightening protection

      the best way to protect against lightening is to keep it out of the sun...

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It could've been RAM

      ..but it'd have been 512 mebibit rather than 512 MiB as 512Mibit=64MiB.

    8. Slick Rick
      Unhappy

      Commision myth.

      Dixons, Curry's, PC World haven't paid personal commision for at least 10 years. They may get some sort of small team bonus if they do target for the branch but that's about it. Same goes for the rest as well. I worked for Dixons up for 15 years up until 1999 and left as I could no longer make a decent living.

      The reason sales staff are so poor is simple, there's no point in learning about stuff, you don't get paid anything extra whether you put your heart and soul in it or do bugger all. Older and experienced staff who had loads of real product knowledge have been replaced by cheap labour which doesn't work and never will. Having recently purchased a number of new electrical items I can only agree with the report, i found trying to spend money in these places a truly frustrating experience. Managed to buy a fridge/freezer and cooker, but gave up and bought a netbook and Blu-Ray player on the net after reading various reviews and articles.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        They still want sales recorded against assistants

        When I needed to replace my adsl router I decided to go to PCWorld as it was quicker (and a lot easier than finding and ordering one online through a mobile phone) .

        I went in with heavy heart expecting a lot of botheration and thought I'd found what I wanted when a sales person arrived. However the salesperson spotted that I'd picked a wired and not wireless router and fortunately stopped me making a fool of myself.

        So when I went to pay at the checkout, I did tell the cashier the salesman's number as he'd asked me to.

    9. Annihilator
      Happy

      re: Definitely

      I remember a sign in 1998, proudly proclaiming that the PC on sale had a 15" colour modem. Bless him, the sales chap did try to explain that it meant it was the size of the modem it was referring to, until he realised and admitted it was a mistake.

  16. Rob 9

    PC World?

    PC World are just as bad (obviously). I went in a couple of weeks ago looking for a new monitor as I was fed up with the two small ones that I had hooked up. I thought i'd stroll in and pick up a nice big 28" one or something. After looking around for a bit I finally grabbed an 'assistant', only to be told "I'm sorry, we don't sell monitors"... Excuse me? I thought I was in PC World there for a minute, I must have misread the sign on the way in...

    1. Frank Bough

      Obviously...

      ...what you want is MONITOR World. Are you thick or something?

    2. Thomas 4

      The sales drone was quite correct

      Should have gone to a pet shop.

      1. Kool-Aid drinker
        Thumb Up

        @Thomas 4

        Yes, they'd have sold him a monitor that gets bigger as time goes by, so he'd never outgrow it.

  17. There's a bee in my bot net

    You needed a comsumer report to tell you that?

    I would imagine that the majority of Reg readers have had similar experiences from the half wits that populate most of the big electrical chains.

    Once of my pet hates is Monster cables, made worse by the introduction of HDMI cables. I once bought a £25 upscaling DVD player from Comet and the pimply faced youth tried to sell me an HDMI cable that was almost 4 times the price. He tried to tell me that the picture quality would be better with a monster cable. I tried to explain the concept of differential digital signals and bit error rates, signal reconstruction and that all this is part and parcel of the HDMI spec and is good for up to 15 meters on all but the nastiest of cables and that I would be much happier paying £1.99 for a 0.5 meter cable from ASDA. And that I really didn't need my calbe to be able to support 4096×2160p24 as I'm not likely to be buying such a screen for at least 10 years.

    His response "I can assure you SIR that it does make a difference to the picture quality". Clearly I had been bested by the highly qualified shop assistant. It seems my engineering degree in comms was a waste of my time!

    The only real advantage I could see was that for your £90 odd quid, Monster would replace the cable every time the spec changed for life. Or perhaps that was just the shop assistant making it up.

    Thank god they weren't selling these ( http://www.russandrews.com/product.asp?lookup=1&region=UK&currency=GBP&pf_id=1558&customer_id=PAA1237014111701KYWGGSXPYLGKRJPJ ) or I might have hit him.

    My other pet hate. Mobile phone sales assistants insisting that I MUST charge the battery for 24HRS! I no longer try to explain about BMS and that it is impossible to charge most phones for more than a few hours before they stop the charging themselves...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      Peter Belt Anyone?

      You could always just tie a reef knot in your existing power cables

      http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/

    2. BorkedAgain
      WTF?

      Oh come on.

      That power lead has to be a joke, right? Tell me nobody actually falls for that shit.

      I despair...

      1. There's a bee in my bot net

        It's a joke...

        ...to you and me. But a fool and their money are soon parted.

        http://www.technama.com/2010/worlds-10-most-expensive-gadgets/

      2. Annihilator
        Go

        Power cord review

        Search for What HiFi's article about that power cord - there is a user who has commented on how it's improved his system:

        "I've just auditioned the Reference SuperkordII and it made a stunning improvement in my system over the previous Classic Superkord I've been running nearly a year."

        "The turntable responded really well to the cleaner power supply, and even my streamer perked up significantly.Bass better controlled and top-end a little less harsh. Yes, it seems expensive, but not with regard to improving a system costing 25 times more "

        I love audio-buffs!! :-) http://www.whathifi.com/news/Russ-Andrews-introduces-SuperKord-Reference-and-Signature-mains-cables/

    3. Skymonrie
      Coffee/keyboard

      keyboard please!

      The link to that...power cord has me...lost for words.

      "The most advanced mains cable we have developed, in our opinion capable of making a profound improvement to the performance of your system."

      profound improvement being higher blood pressure after seeing the receipt?

      1. BorkedAgain

        Profound improvement...

        ...being over how it would perform with no power cable, I guess. Which is a fair point.

        And if you're seriously stupid enough to actually fork out for something like this then I guess the option of looking at the bottom of the box that the equipment arrived in for the *supplied* power cable would be a little too technical in any case...

  18. David Gosnell

    Many staff also struggled to tell researchers how many hours of TV different PVRs could record

    In fairness, that's a near impossible thing to determine. Yes, a lot of PVRs boast a certain recording time, but it's all hand-wavy finger-in-the-air stuff given the enormous disparity in broadcast data rates between the different channels. But on the other hand, I doubt they explained that either...

  19. Bowrolio
    Stop

    Why ask for advice then?

    Just an idea - if the advice of people who work in these shops is so poor, why even bother asking them for any help?

    Ok, true you have to get some help from them to actually buy big items such as a computer - there not just lying around to pick up and walk away with, but I know from personal experience (I used to work in PC world before coming to university to study a computing degree) that, certinly in the store I worked in, the "sales" people knew at least a little about what they were selling, but the targets set by management were impossibly difficult to achieve - so everyone had to push hard to get the sales.

    At the end of the day, retailers arn't there to provide an advice service (as many of the customers seemed to think) retailers are there to make as much profit as possible, with the customer facing staff, the people everyone slags off all the time being stuck in the middle. There just trying to stay in a job, on a low wage (usually minimum) - and in sales under a hell of a lot of pressure from both management and customers demanding impossible discounts and not even listening to their pitch. Remember, its the fat cats earning the millions at the top of the company putting out the adverts about all these amazing deals - conviniently forgetting to mention the limited stock available, or the additional addons (such as internet security, or the fact that if you want to type a letter, you need Office, or to download OpenOffice - something novice users wouldnt even know where to begin).

    Point - if you're the sort of person who needs advice, most people have a knowlegable friend/relative who can help, or you can find out the information for yourself. If your really desperate, i'm sure there are still some people in shops who are genuinly helpful, but remember what they are there for - to make money, not to provide a free help and advice service!

    1. Sooty

      generally

      you have to ask for help because the 2inch square of card on the shelf in front of the item, just doesn't give you enough to make an informed decision.

      Pc world, for example, will not say what sort of graphics or sound a pc has. If you're lucky it will tell you what processor, but more than likely it will just say i3 or i7. It will tell you how much memory and hard drive, but not what sort. How much cheaper it would be if you didn't want Norton with it, etc.

      Most consumers may not want this info, but it's crucial information that should be available for the people who actually do want to know what they are parting with their money for.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Customer sevice

      "but remember what they are there for - to make money, not to provide a free help and advice service!"

      No, thats what they are there for, in theory. To help customers and provide infomation. That is what good customer service is about, and Which is there to tell us where dose not have this so let people know to avoid these places. If it was just about money money money why have floor staff? Why not just run the place like argos?They pretend they are there to help but are realy there to push people who trust them in to spending more, which is imorral.

    3. Mark 65 Silver badge

      Sales and advice

      Surely the most profit comes from selling people what they need (i.e. they don't come back for a refund) and getting repeat business rather than f*cking them off with something well beyond what that actually need which they then either return or bag the sh*t out of your store to anyone that will listen?

    4. Andy Enderby 1
      Stop

      bugger the title

      Fair comment, retailers are in it to sell and make money, and the retail staff are at the pointy end. That said, back in the nineties my wife and I worked for a PC manufacturer selling to DSG (she in sales support, my self in tech), she visited a PC World store and witnessed a member of staff knowingly flogging Mac software to a PC user. I lose track of the outrageous guff I've heard from them whilst picking up odds and sods and a hell of a lot more recently too.

      There is no excuse for ignorance or the occasional rogue deliberately attempting to mislead the punter, DSG staff are not alone, but as the biggest player in the market, it does flavour the UK tech shopping experience. I actually applied for a job (yes, I was desperate at the time, don't laugh) with Tech Guys, and the fear of my CV when I handed it to the in store manager and he started reading was palpable.He had no clue. Tech Guy my arse, snake oil salesman would be closer to the truth.

      As for the friends/relatives approach, I agree, in principle, I've seen and heard some very erm.... interesting views on tech from self appointed experts whilst lurking in places like PC World.

  20. Tron

    Well what do you expect?

    High street shops are not there to educate the public. They are there to make as much money as they legally can. That's 'legally', not 'ethically'. What part of free market economics are you having trouble understanding?

  21. Rhubarb
    FAIL

    Well..

    what a surprise?

    I for one have never relied on the 'expertise' of a store salesman in these kind of stores. Must be mad to take their word when there are plenty of sources of info online, product reviews etc.

  22. squilookle
    FAIL

    Curry's

    I bought a laptop from Curry's last year, and they tried to sell me Antivirus. I declined on the Antivirus, and told them I wouldn't ned it because I would be installing Linux on the machine.

    She looked at me like I had two heads, then went into some rant about how the Antivirus she was selling was better than AVG, and then tried to sell me Microsoft Office...

  23. Dr Wadd
    Stop

    Comet's Diamond in the Rough

    While I normally find this sort of retailer absolutely terrible, I did have a good experience buying a HD television from Comet a couple of years ago. I went in with a stack of questions that the sales assistant couldn't actually answer, but rather than risk losing a sale he actually got on the phone to Samsung to find out the answers. It was quite a revelation, but sadly it has only happened the once.

    As for televisions configured to present them in an unfavourable light, when I was visiting various shops looking for that television I checked to see what sort of connections the demo model was using. If the set wasn't being displayed using appropriate connections I asked them to connect something up to it using HDMI. Some shops would help, some didn't want to know. The latter would lose the sale there and then. If they aren't prepared to help the customer then the simple answer is they don't get my money.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Shop assistants not knowing what they sold... is news?

    Slow news day much?

    I've been buying home electronics kit for years, and more than once I've gone in to shops, specifically to troll to see how good the shop floor folks are.

    They've been crap for years. At least with an independent store there is a fraction more chance that they know what they're selling. Not a lot, mind.

  25. Tatsky
    FAIL

    This one time, at ASDA

    I remember shopping in ASDA one day and looking at headphones or something. Behind me the conversation went as follows:

    Customer: "I am looking at this blue ray player, but do I need an HDMI cable for that?"

    Clerk: "You only need that if you have an HD telly. You can just use normal cables" <- Normal cables anyone?

    Customer: "I have an HD telly"

    Clerk "No, it will be HD ready. All TVs are just HD ready, because there is no HD yet."

    Customer "...... oh"

    Clerk "......mad isn't it"

    The clerk then moved to me and asked if I wanted any help. As I was looking at noise cancelling headphones, I thought the conversation I could have had would be tremendous, but I just walked on.

  26. Gordon861

    PVR or DVD Recorder

    To be honest I wouldn't be advising someone to by either of these, instead buy a DVD Recorder with a built-in Hard Drive so you have some means to get the files off the machine if you want to keep them.

    At least until they bring out a decent priced PVR that will record to a decent compressed (DivX etc) format and comes with a ethernet port so you can pull the files off that way.

  27. Lee Dowling Silver badge

    And?

    It's entertainment to me.

    My wife used to do mystery-shopper work in Currys, Dixons, etc. and drag me along. Basically all she had to do was buy things, act the idiot, check prices were correct, etc. Sometimes she did a longer "audit" where she had to check hundreds of items were priced correctly and drag the manager around with her.

    I took to entertaining myself while I waited by listening out for the "advice" handed out and correcting it where people were not just stupid but obviously trying to scam punters. But it's not just Dixons, Currys, etc. - good staff are hard to find everywhere. I was in Maplin's only the other week and was watching a poor couple being "talked at" by one of the sales staff. They were buying a portable hard drive (I don't even know if that's what they wanted, but I assume it was) and the sales guy wouldn't leave them be. Instead he was *insisting* that they absolutely NEEDED a surge protection strip to plug it into. As in, the thing would blow up and die if they didn't because it was so fragile.

    The poor couple had no idea about computers whatsoever and were literally umming-and-arring over getting the surge protection strip. Sales guy wandered off to find one and came back with a £50 model (!) that he insisted they must have (the same price as the damn drive they were buying!). He was so insistent that they honestly thought it was something vital (even to the point of "Oh, yes, I've seen one of those at X's house and he has a drive too"). The sales guy got distracted and went off (presumably to find a more expensive model).

    At this point, I considered it my geeky duty to step into the conversation and whispered in the couple's ears that I'd worked in IT for 15 years, couldn't imagine a situation where a surge strip would actually be needed in London, certainly not one that would save you from corrupt data (or where the stuff on the drive at the time of this "supposed" lightning strike would figure against the cost of rebuilding your home after the fire), and had yet to ever hit a situation that required a surge strip for anything - certainly not just a portable hard drive. And if they REALLY wanted one, Argos sold one for under a tenner. They thanked me, and bought the drive and left while the sales guy's back was turned.

    (I would have pointed out that for £50 they had a UPS on the shelf behind them instead of a silly extension-lead-with-a-fuse and that would do an infinitely better job at surge-protection and their drive not conking out mid-power-cut, but didn't want to confuse matters.)

    And then people wonder why I get stroppy about the constant "Can I help you, sir?" and "advice" offered by these people and never buy anything from those stores (a poor relative bought me a £5 Dixon voucher once - I threw it away after finding there was NOTHING in the store for less than £10, not even a USB cable, or something simple). Your sales staff are there to help. If they can't help, they are useless. Most sales staff actually ARE useless in any technology-related place and I tell them where to go as politely as possible.

    "Can I help you, sir?" Yeah, stop insulting my intelligence with your prices, your undertrained staff and your sub-standard products. Thanks.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Tech retailer buying advice is bad, so subscribe to Which - says Which (?) / does it matter

    This Which article could be seen as self serving, for Which to increase its readership.

    Does it really matter that sales staff in UK tech stores apparently fail to meet the expectations of the customer - when there is plenty of buying advice online to be researched before making a visit?

  29. Bowrolio
    Happy

    Before I get beaten too it...

    One thing I didn't emphasise in my last post, (or more rant haha!) I really can't stand when shop assistants blatently lie - not much experience of this myself (I usually just get "i'm sorry, I really don't know, but I can try and find out for you) - in which case I should have just got off my arse and found out for myself prior.

    End of rant :)

    1. Michael Strorm

      @Tron; "Free Market" relies on free speech- and we have both!

      "High street shops are not there to educate the public. They are there to make as much money as they legally can. That's 'legally', not 'ethically'. What part of free market economics are you having trouble understanding?"

      Funny, didn't notice the majority of people here saying this was actually illegal or that they should be jailed for what they were doing.

      I've got news for you. The "free market" doesn't entitle anyone to protection from criticism- they're free to provide shitty, questionable service, and we're free to point out that it's shitty, questionable service as much as we like. Regardless of whether we plan on shopping there or not.

      In fact, I'd say that "free market economics" are dependent upon the free exchange of information (i.e. free speech) to operate effectively.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Down

        Balance of power

        Free Market works on the basis that equality exists between customer and retailer. In a situation like this it dose not.

        I do hope you come across a lieing insurence salesman one day... Take a look at the changes to PPI laws in the uk, because the people were lieing and cheating just the same as some of these storys.

    2. peter 45
      Coffee/keyboard

      Ha. I can better that.

      I went to buy a laptop for my father and Salesman tried to sell Norton which I declined, He then told me that he was 'not going to allow me to buy the Computer' unless I could name the AV package I was going to use. When I named AVG, he said that installing it instead of Norton would invalidate the warrenty.

      I walked out, but he probably thought he had done me a favour by protecting me from all those computer nasties.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Like the V+ box you mean

      Oh, hang on

  30. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Doh

    "Shop in 'staff are salesmen' shocker".

    While good service is valued by customers, if the customer is clueless and the sales person sells them a product that works and is in their price range then that surely isn't a problem?

    Okay, it might not be the cheapest they could find, but there are occasions when cheap means 'difficult' or poorly supported.

    Often it depends on the scruples of the sales person, some will want to shift a lot of old junk they've had in stock for ages. So they're more likely to want to shift their Advent MP3 player than an iPod, even though the iPod would be a lot easier to use for the most part.

    I know for instance that when recommending something for my father I won't recommend something cheap and nasty as I will end up having to sort out all the problems. The same should be true of a retailer, they won't want to make a sale and have something come back for a refund within a week.

  31. dotdavid
    Paris Hilton

    Special cables

    I love the special cables they try and sell. A while back I was in Currys (or Dixons Digital or whatever they're calling themselves this week) helping my father in law buy a new TV. We'd found the deal online, and this was actually the cheapest 42" plasma we found - surely it couldn't be in Currys I thought? But we went to check it out.

    Indeed the price was correct, but they must have been using it as some kind of attempt to get people into the shop as immediately after we arrived and enquired about it we were given the hard sell to "upgrade" to the better (and undiscounted) models. Naturally we turned them down. Then they tried to sell us "special" HDMI cables, which I said I would get elsewhere thankyouverymuch. They did manage to sell us a stand though.

    In the shop they had two displays up, one displaying a picture with the special cables and one with the normal cables. I am sorely tempted to go into the shop one of these days and see whether all the brightness/contrast and tuning settings are the same on both these displays... ;)

    Paris because she probably knows more about technology than most of these shop assistants.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Badgers

      @Special cables

      Leave the displays alone.

      Swap the cables.

      Then see how they look.

  32. boombelly

    We've all got a story

    A couple of years ago I needed an SD card reader as i'd just bought a new digital camera and needed to download a couple of pics in a hurry. I went to a few stores and all found that most places only sold multi-readers for £10 plus. When I asked an (and I use the term loosly...) "assistant" in Comet if they had a cheap reader for just SD cards, he told me that single readers were actually *more* expensive than multi-readers, and I could be looking to pay up to £30 for one!

    I eventually found what I was looking for in my local Pounderama...for a quid, obviously.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...recommended a DVD recorder rather than a cheaper personal video recorder

    That rings a bell. Somebody (I don't know from which shop) mis-sold one of those lemons to my dad and stepmother. They assumed it was the latest Digital HD etc. and were disappointed when I explained to them what they had to go through to timer-record a digital channel (have to press many many buttons on both remote controls), the impenetrable DVD+/-RW jargon, and why recordings came out a bit fuzzy and not always the right aspect ratio.

    Why ask shop assistants for advice? Because most people aren't techies and want to buy something that *just works*. Sadly a lot of consumer electronics doesn't just work.

  34. Valerion

    Wine

    When I was a young lad of 17 or 18 I had a part-time job stacking shelves in Asda. I was on the beers, wines and spirits section.

    Many times a customer came in and asked me what wine would go well with lamb, or whatever. How the fuck would I know? I put the stuff on the shelves when its getting low. I know nothing about wine other than it comes in 3 colours and sometimes it's fizzy.

    No real difference with the staff in Currys or PC-World really. Ironically the reason I was working at Asda was because I had been turned down at PC-World. Perhaps they were worried that because I actually knew something that I'd show them up or something.

    1. There's a bee in my bot net

      Except...

      When I worked as a shelf stacker in PC World I knew more about their products than any of the sales staff.

      I didn't want to work in sales. I would rather have sold my soul than swallow the sales bull that went on. I was happy lugging boxes around for some extra cash. On the rare occasion I was asked for help by customers I told them what they wanted to know, including comparing prices with the local and on-line retailers. I would have had a 90% conversion rate if I was actually working in sales.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Exactly

        Sales staff are not shelf stackers. If someone in ASDA, or wherever, came up to me when I was looking at wine and asked if they could help I would expect them to know something (Actualy I would think they were accusing me of looking like a shop lifter, but thats not the point...)

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. chr0m4t1c

      I'm trying to figure out

      If that is better or worse than the guy who tried to sell me blank video tapes when I bought my TiVo "so you can record stuff on it".

      Not understanding the technology is one thing, but ignoring the huge display banner that told him it recorded without video tapes was particularly poor.

  35. jason 7
    WTF?

    I love the John Lewis Mac shuffle.

    If you walk into the John Lewis computer dept. you will often see this.

    Elderly/Baby boomer couple walk into computer dept.

    Shop assistant spots them and leaps on them. Asks them what they are looking for.

    Elderly couple say they just want a cheap PC for email and Ebay, usual deal.

    Shop assistant pulls/shuffles them straight to the Apple Mac table well away from the £4-500 PCs.

    Elderly couple end up spending £1500 instead of the £500 they were planning on. Plus another £100 to have it installed for them at home.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      I luv John Lewis

      My PC died, completely, so looked for new m/c.

      CURRYS

      The wretched "greeter" who assumed I couldn't find the PCs.

      The salesperson who straight away started to show me some horrid m/c which was, "Very good for gaming". (I don't do gaming). On it went, so off I walked.

      JOHN LEWIS

      Chap with even whiter hair than mine asked politely if he could help. I said, "Yes". So he asked, "What do you use a PC for and will you be using the new PC for the same tasks?".

      I explained that my needs were simple; email. simple photo-printing & maybe some i-player.

      "Good", he replied,"This is a simple Compaq/HP m/c that will do want you need". "Its got W7; have you used W7?" I said that I hadn't, so he said, "Have a play, see how it suits you".

      It looked good, the price was only fractionally over Amazon and the bloke was helpful.

      I bought!

      The essence is, "Does the sales-rep ask what your need". If he/she doesn't, then walk, they've already decided what they'll try to sell.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually ...

      Daft as it sounds that's probably a better deal. I have one elderly relative that really really struggles with a PC and another one who is delighted with a macbook. I know the one is considerably more than the other, but the extra is worth the time I don't spend trying to sort out endless problems. For no single identifiable reason the macbook is much easier to use and much less problematic.

      John Lewis staff, at least in our local two John Lewis stores, are generally pretty damn good.

  36. CD001

    OTOH

    On the flipside - I found the staff in a store called Apollo 2000 actually seemed to know what the hell they were talking about. It seemed they had staff who knew about specific areas, one guy for TVs another for white goods and so on...

    ... it might have just been a bizarre fluke, in that one particular store on that one particular day, but it was a refreshing one.

  37. This post has been deleted by its author

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Surprise, surprise.

    Would you expect anything rom the Sh*tsons group?

  39. stucs201

    Not just computers and teles

    Places that sell cameras can be fun too. They tend to know nothing other than what the 'megapixel' and 'times-zoom' labels say. When it comes to SLRs they have their own special additional tat sale - the 'protective filter' (yeah great, stick a 15 quid bit of window glass in front of my 500+ lens, when a hood would offer more real protection if you sold one that wasn't a generic rubber thing that causes vignetting at wide angles). For a giggle see if you can find one that knows anything about prime lenses other than "they don't zoom".

    My favourite though comes from Halfrauds. When I wanted a wired connection from iPod to the standard headunit in my 206 I thought I'd see what they had available, rather than wait for something to arrive in the post. I found a nice helpful booklet fixed to the edge of the shelf, but nothing actually on sale. When I found an assistant to ask he insisted that there was no such thing and that I needed either a new headunit or an FM transmitter. I pointed him at his own shop's info, but he said he knew better because his was the 206 GTI in the carpark, obviously I knew nothing because I only have a 1.4. I was really tempted to go back and find the guy when my connector from ebay arrived

  40. johnnytruant

    last time I bought a telly

    But a few short months ago, the chap in Curry's was extremely well-informed, and interested in what he was selling (to the point where he excitedly got out a magnifying glass so I could admire the extra yellow pixel on the Sharp display). I did feel this level of service was rather unusual, but I did leave with a bigger, and more expensive (and better!) TV than I went in with.

    In East Anglia, we're lucky enough to retain an independent electrical goods supplier - Hughes Electrical. Never, not when asking about fridges, TVs, dishwashers or whatever, have I spoken to anyone who isn't knowledgeable, helpful and able to answer any question I have without attempting to upsell me pointless crap. I happily pay the little more they charge because it's worth it for the service. Also, most recently, they're the only place any more who will let you listen to headphones before you buy them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      Halfrauds

      Halfrauds are generally useless. The PC World of the motor factors universe.

      I went in once to buy a mid range CD player with a line in connector. Got it home to discover that it wouldn't work, had the trim surround missing, and had a CD already in it!

      Took it back "oh we must've lifted one of the returns by mistake". Mistake I'm sure...

      Then I was looking an air filter for a 2005 Fiesta. No-one was about (as seems to be usual). Went by the book, which claimed a 1.2 from 2001 onwards would take a particular number. Went to fit it, was the totally wrong shape. Turned out to be for the "old" shape type and not the "Focus" shape type of car.

      Needed a bulb for an Alfa GTV. The headlight dipped and main beam bulbs were the wrong way round on their book. Seemed to trick everyone, as every one of those bulbs were sellotaped up returns. Said the sales guy, didn't want to know.

      Chanced asking for LHM flush for a Xantia, got a blank stare and got pointed to the brake fluid.

      Got touchup paint for a metallic blue 406. Gave the correct paint code and still ended up with a totally wrong shade of blue.

      Apparantly they are all experts on alloy fitting to Novas though.

      As for PeeCee wurld. Remember the days in the mid 90s when they didn't have VAT on their prices?

      They seem to be obsessed with their insurance covercare. Had to argue not to get it as I was happy with manufacturers 1 year then whatever costs incurred to me afterwards. I guessed if it breaks it'll break immediately or it'll break a few years down the line, when what I have saved from not taking covercare can pay for repairing or replacing it.

      When a relative wanted a cheapish Toshiba laptop (remember when they were bulletproof?) off them, they were unhelpful regarding downgrading to XP (the Vista era), argued that AVG (when it was good) was useless and to buy Norton bloatware, that OpenOffice was no better than MS Works and to buy a full MS Office licence, and that it will break if you look at it, and to take covercare (which does not cover accidental damage anyway, as I inquired....).

    2. Dapprman

      segueing here slightly but ....

      You do actually want that cheap filter on your £500+ lens as hoods don't protect from stones, insects, and other detritus that can scratch. It's a lot cheaper to replace a £15 piece of clear glass than a grand or so on your high quality lens.

      TBH - as some one else has said, the camera shop sales droids tend to be a lot better, but then they tend to be enthusiasts. I've heard lots of complaints about Jessops, but never been in one myself where the person behind the counter did not know what they're talking about (I might just have been lucky).

      1. stucs201

        Er no actually.

        If I wanted any filter for protection I'd want a decent quality 70 quid bit of glass that won't cause flaring and degrade the image. Mulitply that up by a few lenses and you get to the point where you're getting to the cost of a lens (or at least a front element replacement). Most of the time though the stuff thats likely to get on a lens isn't as likely to scratch as the shards of glass from a broken filter would be if the lens suffered an impact that the hood didn't absorb.

    3. Nuke
      Thumb Down

      @ Stucs201 - Filters - Bad Example

      Sorry, you are wrong about the lens filter. Remind me not to buy a used lens from you.

      If you take outdoor pictures much, especially in poor weather or by the sea, you will need to clean a lot of crud off the lens front. Better to scrub a £15 UV filter than a £500 lens. Also, if you ding it, whether the rim or the glass, you have only to replace the £15 worth.

      And filters are not "window glass". Hoya, Cokin and co put a lot of care into their filters, with muti-coating and a very high degree of flatness.

      1. Dapprman

        @ Nuke

        Don't think Stucs201 believes either of us or has looked in to it.

        But then he's only using cheapo £500 lenses (where's the tongue in cheek emote)

        1. stucs201
          Pint

          Getting way off topic

          We're getting a bit off topic, so I'm not going to continue (especially since I've seen how long this discussion can get, e.g. : http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/readflat.asp?forum=1029&thread=37301241&page=1

          (Pint? A glass we can hopefully agree on)

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    One strange exception

    I have never found a sales person in a camera shop (proper slr camera shop) who didn't know what they were talking about.

  42. Lloyd
    Thumb Down

    In other news

    It was discovered that bears do actually defecate in the woods and the pope is indeed a catholic.

  43. Magnus_Pym

    last visit to Currys

    I had done all the on-line research and selected the best option. I thought it might be worth nipping to the shops rather than risk the vagaries of the post for a birthday present.

    Me: I'd like to buy digital camera 'a' for my 10 year old daughter.

    Assistant: You don't want that. You want double-the-price digital camera 'b'

    Me: goodbye.

    She's 20 now.

  44. Will 19
    Unhappy

    Curry's and cables

    Few years ago I went to Curry's to buy an optical lead for my 5.1 setup. I'd found what I'd wanted for about £7 and a sales guy nabbed me and tried to sell me one that had gold plate at each end of the connector. Apparently this would offer me far superior sound quality! I pointed out that the lead was basically 1m of fibre optic, no electrical connection at all so any gold plating was totally redundant. He really couldn't see it!

  45. Richard Porter
    Gates Horns

    @JohnG

    *For those too young to remember, before online shopping came along, people used to buy mail order stuff from adverts in magazines."

    And it was priced in guineas to make it look cheaper!

  46. mark 63 Silver badge
    Coat

    what the hells a PVR

    what the hells a PVR?

    yeah i know , its a DVR.

    but what the hell is the P for?

    "Personal" you say?

    what like a walkman? can i use it on the train? NO

    is it 'Personal' in any aspect? NO

    i dont know why but i'm really irritated about that 'P'

  47. Gary O'Brien

    cr*p job

    As a previous poster has said, its not the best job in the world to have to make a living at, my daughter is currently selling PC's, Mobiles etc. Their sales targets were £75,000.00 in Dec to make a 2% commision, thats hard going. On top of that its conditional on them selling 5 support packages in that month. £75,000.00 of sales only 4 support packages NO COMMISSION. We wonder why they dont give a shit.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Surprises Here Then

    I work for one of the companies you have mentioned in your report and I couldn't agree more. When I joined I received literally 2/3 days training. For me not going out and researching about products I would be absolutely clueless but luckily for me that's not an issue. 80% of colleagues at stores are not trained and do not know about products. The issue with big retailers is they want to maximise on profit as prices of products have come crashing down. Warranties offer the biggest income as do attachments such as expensive HDMI leads and Surge Plugs. Don't get me wrong I love working in my store and all the guys/girls are really nice and friendly. When you have figures and targets ringing in your ears 24/7 you can't help but sell, at the end of the day it provides food on the table and these companies do employ a lot of people. I think until proper training is given to colleagues you will always get them blagging they way through a sale and it annoys me because often these are the colleagues who the managers like because they can sell the add-ons. I have noticed people often have a go at salesmen but it is the higher ups, the CEO's and Area Manager's in the companies pushing the products THEY want to be sold.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Customer service in general is shite ...

    Last time I was in PC world, was to buy a mouse for my son ... we selected the mouse, got in the checkout queue (only 1) behind the guy being served. Turned out out his credit card was naffed, and the till guy couldn't seem to work it out. After about 5 minutes, the "manager" finally came over, and repeated the procedure - with the same lack of results. So now I've been waiting 10 minutes, and the queue has grown to 5-6 people.

    Manager tells till operator to open the next till, and tells people at the END of the queue to use him.

    "Excuse me" I said, "is that fair ? I have been waiting longest"

    "Oh" said """"manager"""" "he won't be a minute".

    I put mouse down, and walked out ... I noticed a couple of other people in the queue did the same.

  50. Mage Silver badge
    Boffin

    UK retailers Dominate Irish Retail

    TV is MUCH scarier here in Ireland.

    They have NEVER had disclaimers in ANY shop that the Digital part of the TVs are not compatible. They sell "Freeview HD" stuff in the UK branches but not the Irish Branches. UK "Freeview HD" works on Irish Digital. Freeview sets don't unless they happen to be pan-European Models with MPEG4. Tesco is worst with only a "Freeview is not available here" disclaimer.

    http://www.wattystuff.net/2011/01/money-back-if-it-isnt-a-tv/

    DVD recorders will of course never work on MPEG4 or HD other than to record via Analogue from SCART on a set-box. Irish Digital is MPEG4 minimum. RTE2 is HD transmission only, no SD simulcast. Currys only sell DVD recorders here. Not one single "freeview HD" PVR (which would work on Irish Digital http://www.saortv.info

  51. Richard Porter
    Happy

    @Captain Scarlet

    "your boss should have been made to sit through the cheesy 80's videos they have."

    Oh you mean those John Cleese/Video Arts ones where the one thing you remember afterwards is how NOT to do it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      HMV

      Similar to HMV.

      The queues for the main tills were all the way up the aisles.

      I wanted to buy a netbook (an Acer, not last years Disgos! and it was to use up gift vouchers), so went to the tech til at the back of the shop.

      A few of us queued, the guy then decided "This til is now closed, you would all be best joining the main queue".

      They missed out on a netbook sale there. I also noticed others from the queue putting their potential purchases down.

      Customer service in the UK is shockingly bad.

      That "secret shopper" programme on C4 seems to show a few of the things that are gripes - long queues for anything, some shops are like a jumble sale, staff who dont know / care about stock. Although the programme usually feels like an hour long advert for a "new kid on the block doing things differently" clothes or sofa retailer......

  52. Richard Porter
    Gates Horns

    Can I help you, Sir?

    to which the answer is "well it depends if you know the first thing about what you're selling."

    As for extended warranties, it can be fun to sit down and go through the figures with them.

    How likely is the product to go wrong in the second and thord years?

    Then either a) Oh well in that case I'd better not buy it then.

    or b) So what's the point in having the extra cover then?

    Of course they only want to cover you for the period when the line is flat at the bottom of the 'bath tub curve'. Once it starts going up the other end they're not interested.

    Then you work out what percentage of the price the extra premium represents.

    So if I took out extended warranty on all of my equipment it would cost ....

    An how likely is it that more than one item would break down in those two years?

    What about more than two items?

    So I'd actually be better off just putting some money aside in case I had to replace something, and I could earn interest on it in the mean time. And hey, if nothing broke down I'd be well in pocket!

    Thanks for all your advice.

    1. Peter Ford

      Betting on failure

      My approach to the extended warranty sell is to point out that they are asking me to bet £100 (or whatever) that the product will fail (in a way that is covered by the warranty).

      So what are the odds?

      As a general principle, never insure something that you can afford to buy.

      House, yes.

      Car, yes, but only 'cos it's the law.

      Health? if you don't have a NHS to fall back on, then maybe.

      Anything else? nope.

    2. Paul 172
      WTF?

      Warrantys

      "As for extended warranties, it can be fun to sit down and go through the figures with them.

      How likely is the product to go wrong in the second and thord years?"

      ...this kind of comment has cropped up a few times now. Remember that the sale of goods act would protect you if a product stopped working in the second or third years... even 6 years later...

      1. mark 63 Silver badge

        sale of goods act

        2,3,6 years?

        thought it was 12 months?

  53. luxor
    Stop

    No surprise

    "Staff at UK electrical retailers such as Currys and Comet know nothing about the products they're selling"

    This is news? I thought that was common knowledge.

  54. Newt_Othis

    Just a suggestion

    To prevent future customer/staff communication failures I propose the following scheme:

    On arrival, the customer is invited to choose a colour coded hat that conveys their intentions. The hat colours could be, for example:

    Yellow - I am just browsing. I neither need nor want your help. Please leave me alone.

    Orange with blue stars - I am looking for a particular item and may require assistance.

    Purple and cyan stripes - I have a rough idea what I want and will need expert assistance to reach an informed decision.

    Light green with a black pinstripe - I know exactly what I want and do not require an extended warranty.

    Similarly, the staff could also wear colour coded waistcoats to help customers:

    Scarlett with gold spots - I have no desire to help you and my knowledge is poor in any case.

    Black and white 'cow' pattern - I am willing to help you but my knowledge is also poor.

    Magenta swirls on a tartan background - I am willing to help and have excellent knowledge, but only speak Polish.

    Beige with brown piping - I'm on my break, fuck off.

    The staff uniforms could be further augmented to help determine their seniority:

    Junior staff should wear red noses, large flappy shoes and curly wigs.

    Senior staff/managers should wear aviator style sunglasses and sport bushy mustaches (fake or real). The store manager would wear a deely-bobber with gold stars.

    I'm sure that would improve everybody's visit to the store.

  55. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Should have gone to Maplin then...

    Quite why Which didn't go to a decent High street store like Maplin is odd.

    There they would have found informed and intelligent sales staff.

    My local Maplin have always been keen and technology savy people I've found.

    Nice to see the Which guy in the video acknowledging that you can buy fairly inexpensive HDMI leads from a tenner from Maplin and they sell PVRs too.

  56. Monkeybanjo

    Pretty typical

    I've been told some complete lies from shop assistants in the big stores. All the big names are equally guilty here, to the point when I simply tell them they can't help me, unless they need to get me the box to inspect it myself.

    Having worked in shops like that myself, you have to sympathise with the fact they receive no technical training at all. So what do we expect?

    1. Annihilator
      Thumb Up

      Some missing categories

      Can you fill me in on the hat I need to wear for the following situations (and the only ones I generally use):

      a) My girlfriend is shopping in the clothes shop next door and I'm bored, feel free to engage me so that I can ask you tricky questions to pass the time.

      b) It's raining and I'm waiting for someone, but in a bad mood, so kindly eff off.

      c) I urgently need a peripheral device and such is my desperation I'm willing to be ripped off, but I feel dirty for doing so and will be paying cash so there is no evidence of my visit - please kindly switch off the security cameras as well.

      Other than that, I approve of your plan wholeheartedly.

    2. BorkedAgain
      Paris Hilton

      Absolutely.

      If you fancy paying £6 for an RJ45 coupler. That's for one coupler, not a pack of ten...

      Paris, for the tongue in cheek.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Shop assistants are peoples too !!

    Talk to the shop staff and they'll cite the customers as either rude or just plain numpties. They also complain that their managers are downright nazis....

    I'm married to one (a shop assistant that is)

    Just sayin'

  58. Is it me?

    Be fair

    Which has been doing it's job for years, and it does a very good one, just because us tech savvy reg readers know not to touch Currys, PC World and Comet with a barge pole, doesn't mean the average Which reader does. I seem to remember they do this survey every so often, probably in the vain hope things might get better, but the woods are still full of Bear s*i^.

    Actually, I find John Lewis isn't too bad, and exponentially better than anyone else, and I like to have someone to shout at when I buy a new telly and doesn't work, who will actually do something.

  59. ScottK
    WTF?

    Curries

    A few years ago I went into Curries to buy a sandwich toaster. Found one for 14.99. The person behind the counter pushed me towards someone who looked about 16. Presumably he was a new guy on training.

    Me: I want this sandwich toaster please.

    PFY: Would like an extended warranty with that. It is only 10 pounds.

    Me: (after several seconds of dumbstruck silence) A warranty.... for a sandwich toaster?

    PFY: Yes. If it breaks down in the next 3 years, you will get a new one.

    Me: So you are telling me it isn't reliable then?

    PFY: No, it is reliable.

    Me: So why would I need a warranty? Especially one that costs almost as much as the toaster?

    PFY: Just in case it does break down.

    Me: If it breaks down I think I will just buy a new one.

    At this point he admitted defeat and processed the sale.

  60. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Paul 172
      Thumb Up

      John Lewis

      "Actually, I find John Lewis isn't too bad, and exponentially better than anyone else, and I like to have someone to shout at when I buy a new telly and doesn't work, who will actually do something."

      I agree, they're usually good. Great returns policy too

  61. damien c

    Ex Comet Worker

    I use to work at Comet and I know what they are like.

    The store I worked in had no one who knew anything about PC's until I came in, I had to try to give training to people who were straight out of school.

    We were targeted on selling £100 cable's and extension lead's, and if we didn't reach that target then our hourly rate would stay at the minium wage.

    We got no commision on the actual sales it was all based on the cable's and warranties.

    We were targeted on selling warranties.

    Regardless of what people think even before and after I was working for them I alway's took the warranties, simply because I know they are worth it I have a number of thing's go faulty after the 12 month's warranty had ran out and I ended up with better stuff thank's to the extended warranty.

    The training given to the staff is worthless really.

    I even went in to Curry's and PC World when I worked for Comet to see how there sales staff did what they did, so I could adapt it to suit my self but after I was told that shared graphic's on a pc is better than dedicated graphic's, just because the laptop they wanted me to buy was £800 but the one I was looking at was £600 and was better than the £800 model.

    I am not suprised by these result's and to be honest people saying by it of the internet instead of from a store, because it is cheaper well carry on doing it but watch what happen's if that company goes bust.

    1. David Hicks

      Bust?

      I thought PC world and the likes were more likely to go bust because they're losing so much money.

      Even the 'normal' folks don't like them any more. It's now common knowledge that they're overpriced, their stuff is behind the times and they don't know what they're talking about.

      Buying from an established online firm (and there are many) is every bit as safe.

      1. damien c

        Ex Comet Worker

        How can you say there stuff is out of date when most of the stores get there equipment at the same time as web retailer's and phone retailer's?

        Overpriced is because of them having store's and employing sale's staff granted that may not know much about what you want, but other than the general spec what would you do if you needed to actually try it 1st or see it working?

        Oh wait you would go in to a store and waste there time just to buy it online now do you see why they are more expensive than the website's who are normally only ran, by a warehouse with people in it and then probably only about 10 people answering email's and phone, and taking order's.

        I refuse to buy of websites because if it goes faulty then you have to send it to them, then wait for it to come back which is the same as a store you take it to them and wait.

        But online you have to do everything by the phone or email only you can't go in and speak to someone.

        You do also realise that the profit that the companies make on the stuff they sell is small really compared to a web only retailer because of the store's and the staff.

        What would you do if all the store's wouldn't tell you any information etc because they were not there, for you to try or see something before you buy it?

        You would be screwed really because then you would have to buy it and then send it back because it doesn't do what you wanted and then buy another one and try that.

        People can say what they want about store's but thank's to kid's coming out of school with no knowledge of anything, not having to clean up after themselves or wash anything because they mummy and daddy does it all for them, then thing's are going to get worse.

        I'm 25 year's old and learned how to cook and wash my clothes at the age of 10 years old, I learned how to Iron clothes at the age of 12 years old. I learned how to build computers at the age of 10 years old because my parents said it was for my own good and thank's to them I have more knowledge of general everyday electronics than 99% of people my age, hence why Comet did not want me to leave but they refused to match the wages I am on now in my current job.

        1. Paul 172
          FAIL

          Relevant title

          "but thank's to kid's coming out of school with no knowledge of anything"

          ...I'll be honest, I have you down as a 14 year old just from your posts....

          1. BorkedAgain
            FAIL

            Yikes

            I was guessing 19, but only 'cos he said he'd worked in retail already...

            Deary me. And yet the A-level scores are rising year-on-year? Remarkable...

        2. jason 7
          Stop

          Young Damien......

          ....you still have much to learn.

          You've also not tried taking back a faulty washing machine to Currys either. Then you will realise why folks would rather deal with internet sellers than Currys.

          Yes Currys can make face to face contact seem less personal than a email.

          But you are still young and there is still time.

  62. Luke McCarthy

    The real reason physical retailers are losing out to web retailers

    They don't add value, in fact what they do is worse than nothing. I'm looking forward to seeing them disappear. I'd rather watch ebuyer TV...

  63. Lottie

    Warranties

    I was in Comet once to buy a cheap assed personal stereo. I think it came to £12. I was offered an extended warranty for a tenner.

    They kept trying to push it on me with reasons of how if it broke within the next three years I'd get it replaced and so on. I figured if it broke within 3 years, I'm sure I could afford another £12 for a CD player.

    Halfords are terrible as was mentioned in an earlier comment. I went in once for some feeler gauges when I was doing a service on a friends car and they took me to their after market rev counter section.

    They also tried to convince me I needed an alternator belt instead of a cam belt.

    The only time they DIDN'T try to sell sometheing was when a friend went in to get brake pads and the guy who didn't want to root around in stores was all "nah, you don't need a fitting kit". 'cos y'know, reusing old components in a safety critical situation is safe...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Halfrauds

      I have to agree, Halfords are terrible. The last time I went it, I went in for a 5L bottle of motor oil, 15w40. On asking the unnecessarily spotty youth where the oil was, he asked me what kind of car I had. He insisted that instead of the 15w40 I wanted, he told me I HAD to have the 5w30 Castrol ExtraCostage or whatever it's called. That may have been true when the car was new mate, but 11 years and 140,000 miles have passed since then, and I know that my car runs better on thicker oil these days, you know, what with DRIVING THE DAMN THING EVERY DAY!

      I don't mind people selling whatever particular product to people who don't know what they want, but if I ask for a specific item, there are only two correct responses:

      1) Certainly, it's over there

      or

      2) Sorry, we don't have any in stock right now.

      PERIOD.

  64. ph0b0s

    Good to know

    Rumours that Which?'s next report will uncover bears shitting in the woods and Catholic tendencies within the Vatican are yet to be confirmed.

    We can be sarcastic about their efforts to discover something we already know. But I think Which? doing this is useful as now there is irrefutable evidence of what we already knew, but could not prove.

  65. Mark .

    Wikileaks?

    "This revelation comes not from usual source of the bleeding obvious WikiLeaks"

    Possibly I'm missing an in-joke here, but the various leaks from Wikileaks are not at all obvious, and in fact involve things like videos and documents, not facts, so the concept of being "obvious" or not doesn't even apply.

    As for the article - I hate how buying a laptop or netbook from PC World results in someone hassling me about anti-virus. The first time, I get someone trying to sell me Norton, and he refused to believe when I said there were free anti-virus programs available. The second time, it was as if he wouldn't let me buy the product until I told him the name of the free anti-virus I was going to use(!) I suppose one could argue it's a good thing to make sure users are going to put anti-virus on - but if they were that worried, why not supply one of the free programs as standard?

  66. Mark .

    Re: Actually ...

    "I have one elderly relative that really really struggles with a PC and another one who is delighted with a macbook. I know the one is considerably more than the other, but the extra is worth the time I don't spend trying to sort out endless problems."

    My parents have no problem with their first PC.

    Had they have spent three times the price to get an Apple PC ("Macs" are just another brand of PCs these days, after all), they'd be confused at why it's different to other computers they use. And annoyed that programs they download don't work. And find it harder to get advice from people.

    The only times they've called me for problems would have still applied to an Apple PC (e.g., Internet issues, or Firefox).

    "For no single identifiable reason the macbook is much easier to use and much less problematic."

    Funny how claims that it's easier can be made, but the people making these claims can never identify a single reason.

    Here's an actual reason for the counter-argument: when I tried using OS X, I had no idea what the red/green/blue buttons do on windows. On Windows, you get a text tooltip when you move the mouse near it. Not so on OS X - you're left guessing. That's not easy to use.

    Anecdotes are not evidence - your anecdote may be true, but so are mine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Linux

      Hmm

      Laptop cost about about £600, macbook (bought a year later) cost about £700. Yes, it's possible to pay three times the price, but don't jump to conclusions. And no, the laptop wasn't substantially better, it's about the same spec given the age difference.

      I wonder what version of OS X you have that doesn't tell you what the red, green and yellow buttons do? (The blue one is a lozenge at the other side and not all apps have that one.) I can't remember what they do when you hover over them, but whatever it is I've never had any trouble working out what they do.

      The point about the "no single identifiable reason" is that there is no single identifiable reason: its a combination of a lot of small things. I know that there are people out there that don't like macs (I don't like the keyboard, the single-button mouse, that menu at the top of the screen, the lack of tool tips on the window icons, the jobsian lock-in, the expensive hardware, the fashion accessory look -- the excuses are endless). The half dozen people I can think of right now that I know with macs wouldn't be parted from them -- it's still not statistically significant, but it's getting away from just being an anecdote.

      Linux is better of course :-)

    2. Craig Newbury

      Left guessing?

      "Here's an actual reason for the counter-argument: when I tried using OS X, I had no idea what the red/green/blue buttons do on windows. On Windows, you get a text tooltip when you move the mouse near it. Not so on OS X - you're left guessing. That's not easy to use."

      When you hover over the red one an X appears (Close Window), the yellow, a - appears (minimise), and the green, a + appears (maximise). Gee, what an enigma of symbolic instruction, how on earth did you manage to figure it out?

  67. lyris
    FAIL

    Which?

    The irony of Which? Magazine criticising anyone's technical knowledge is hilarious in itself.

  68. Fuzz

    maplin

    I went to maplin , needed an RJ11 cable for an ADSL modem in a hurry. Asked an assistant where the cables were, he asked me what it was for and took me to the right section of the shop. He then told me that the cables on the left costing £5.99 were for ADSL, the cables on the right costing £3.99 were only for modems.

    I picked up a £3.99 cable and went to the checkout where I was served by the same guy, he told me that the cable wouldn't work with ADSL and I needed the other one. I explained that using 1.5m of a cheap cable on the end of a phone line that was most likely 1500m long was going to make a lot of difference and it would work fine. I thought for a moment he was going to refuse to sell me the cable.

  69. Len Mackin

    You could have lots of fun.....

    Why don't you just go into to a PCWorld /Curry's and have some fun on a dull day. Just walk up to the sales counter and state that you would like to buy a computer. When they ask what kind point to the cash register and say "one like that would be great. Does it have plenty of coloured flashing lights and a warranty?" If you wish to push it further an appear extra 'wind-up' clueless, open the disk tray on a computer and remark to the assistant how brilliant it is that they have included a tray for your tea/coffee/beer mug!

    Endless hours of fun, then just walk out saying it's all too complicated.

    1. Lottie

      Indeed

      or ask if a camera flash card is like the flash cubes for an old polaroid.

  70. chubbymike

    Which wine is best?

    "When I was a young lad of 17 or 18 I had a part-time job stacking shelves in Asda. I was on the beers, wines and spirits section.

    Many times a customer came in and asked me what wine would go well with lamb, or whatever. How the fuck would I know?"

    Exact same thing used to happen to me at a wholesaler that served a large number of very middle class (see: snobby) women. I would be asked what wine was the best for Christmas lunch. When I apologised, told them I had no idea but I would go find someone that did (we had "wine experts" on staff for this type of thing) you should have heard the filth come out of her mouth! She basically expected me, in dust and dirt covered clothes cutting open boxes to know my Merlot from my Sauvignon. Daft bint.

    I do sometimes think that customers expect a bit too much, and that you should look up the damn info beforehand!

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC world etc

    After my last purchase I would not buy from them again. The basic item if you knew what you wanted was OK price, their backup was atrocious, accessories more so. Still I did buy a modem from them at silly money as the item had been misold and was therefore second hand. For the rest No way Jose.

    Cable elswhere £4.00 there £16, same make, same packaging.

  72. Hawknic
    Go

    Surprised?

    A little by Richer Sounds, I must have had an unusual good trip there. But the rest, maybe the good experiences were inflated due to PC World not being on the list - would drop the average even further.

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