back to article Comet can't sell anything, including itself

Kesa Electricals has vowed to determine the future ownership of UK subsidiary Comet before Christmas, having failed so far to flog the business to interested parties. The European retailer today filed numbers for its fiscal first quarter – from the start of May to the end of July – with group sales down 10 per cent. However …

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  1. Vitani

    One thing I'm still wary of buying on-line is large electrical goods; TV, fridge, washing machine, you know what I mean. Comet is a great place to buy such goods from, unfortunately I only need these things perhaps once every ten years, and that isn't often enough to keep them in business. While I do think that is a shame, I'm not going to increase the frequency of my freezer purchases just to keep them around.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Strange, we're quite the reverse ... I would *rather* buy big ticket items online ... first off, you get a chance to pore over the specs and features, and can compare them at leisure. Second, no dealing with under-qualified ove commissioned sales 'driods ("it's HDMI innit ?") with the insistent "extended warranty" pushing. And you're covered under the DSR.

      When we were looking for a new telly (eventually bought from eBuyer in 2008) we noticed that most of the shops (Comet, Currys/Dixons) hadn't set up the display models properly, so even that advantage of a bricks 'n' mortar shop was gone. Like when PC World refused to demo a Kindle, and then wondered why they lost the sale.

      1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Have to agree

        Even the old Argos catalogue no longer lists many specs compared to previous catalogues which has meant for every purchase where I wanted to compare features on for example a washing machine I found it was just a price spin and energy rating which isn't enough to make me want o purchase it via them.

        Easier to go online compare pricing and go to retailers who can be bothered to research (Sorry read the manufacturers spec sheet) the products they sell

      2. Macka

        Agree with JimmyPage

        Except that we went to Comet et al first to eyeball the products we were interested in and get their prices; then went home and researched online to compare specs and find the cheapest online places to buy from. We replaced our fridge, washing machine and added a tumble drier (with all Miele products) purchased online and saved over £500 from the street price. No problems and no complaints.

        Comet are just too expensive now compared to buying from the Internet. They need to lower their costs and drive down their prices to tempt their customers back.

    2. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      what I do

      buy a new product (an lg washing machine) and buy a separate 3rd party warranty. This has worked for my washing machine and dishwasher - cheaper than store price even with the warranty - and ive claimed on the dishwasher warranty once (some kind of sensor) and washing machine twice (drum sensor and drain pump cutout sensor).

      1. PeterM42

        You bought LG????????? Oh Dear! You WILL need that warranty.

        If they can't even make decent, reliable phones, what chance is there of them making heavy duty stuff like washing machines?

  2. Arrrggghh-otron

    Consumer confidence

    Lets call a spade a spade shall we? Consumer confidence?

    It's got more to do with the fact that most of us are brassic and would rather save a few quid (when we have to buy something) by buying cheaper on line and waiting for stuff to be delivered rather than paying high street prices (and regardless of what they say about bringing their web and high street prices in-line, they are still bloody expensive for most things).

    Monster cables anyone?

  3. Simon 6
    FAIL

    This comes as no surprise to many. I have nothing at all against the staff but I have a lot against the hard-sell insurance and whopping mark-up on some items.

    It was the hard selling of insurance and the remarks made when I refused that stopped me wanting to shop there anymore. I now use them only as a last resort and I’m sure there are many like me…

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "I now use them only as a last resort and I’m sure there are many like me…"

      I last used Comet nearly 10 yrs ago and that was only because our freezer packed up 3 days before Christmas.

  4. Phil Endecott Silver badge

    Cross channel

    Can someone explain what "cross channel" means in this context? On first reading I thought it was referring in some way to the English Channel (note mention of shops in Belgium and France) but then I realised it could be talking about the "channel" between manufacturers and consumers.

    (Bloody buzzwords.)

  5. 0laf Silver badge
    Holmes

    Some of their deals are not bad. But as Arrrggghh-otron (13:10) notes we ,the public, are paying the price of a small TV every time we fill up the car, and the price of a cheap plasma every time the gas bill comes round.

    That isn't really leaving much cash to buy actual TVs and other 'wants'. We're only buying 'needs' and 'musts' right now. And that's not likely to change much over the next 5 years.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Unhappy

      way to go

      well that fucking depressed me. I was happy ignoring how much diesel I was using. Now i'm depressed.

      1. thejackle
        Happy

        Awww

        Cheer up mate - pull a few sickies and buy yourself a new telly with the money you'd save on diesel - sorted.

  6. Jonathan White
    FAIL

    The fact is you can't go into Comet or wherever and buy a fridge any more. None of the shops have any warehousing in them. You can go into Comet, pay for a fridge and then they'll deliver it some time next Tuesday (they won't tell you what time of course, it'll be some time between 8Am and 6PM).

    Given that, why the hell not buy the thing online anyway? What exactly are the shop giving you in terms of service that's worth having, as oppose to just trying to flog you an 'extended warranty' that will cost you a third of the price if the item and is even less use than the spotty oik doing the selling.

    If the shops offered something that was worth having, people would use them. They don't, so they don't.

    JOn

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Jonathan White - 13:42

      They do offer something useful. You can go in there and look at and touch the goods before you write down the product codes then go and search for them online at a much cheaper price.

      1. Arrrggghh-otron

        That's all I've used them for for years... maybe it's my fault!

        I'm sure they hate me scanning bar-codes with my phone and looking prices up on-line.

        Well that's what they get for trying to sell me monster cables...

  7. damien c

    What a shame

    Title not being sarcastic simply true.

    I worked at Comet for 3 year's and to be honest I had never worked for a company that was so easy to work for really.

    Where I work now is the best place I have ever worked but Comet is not really that far behind.

    I will only buy from Comet, won't buy from Curry's and PCworld because of there attitude to me when buying stuff or returning faulty item's.

    Everything I have bought from Comet since working there has had a Extended Warranty bought on it because they are worth the money I THINK, don't give me abuse about that as it's true in my case.

    32" £300 tv goes faulty get it replaced with a 37" £500, that goes faulty and choose to downgrade to a 32" and get a PS3 at the same time all cost me £800 in total as the Warranty does not transfer to the new TV because I got the money for each TV back.

    Currently have a 42" which has a Warranty on it and have had the TV for 18 month's, and it's still going strong but if it break's I get £650 back, to buy a new TV with and also I still have my 32" as well which will give me another £300.

    I just feel sorry for people buying thing's as online you get very little information regarding what they are like, unless you trust Which Magazine who give the product's a review relating to the amount they spent, on advertising in the mag.

    I also feel sorry for the people who work there considering they may be out of a job because of this.

    As for people mentioning price why not look at Dixon's I remember flying out to Cyprus while I was working for Comet, and I went in to the Dixon's in the airport and found a TV made by LG for sale in there at a discounted price of £1500 from £2000 at, the same time Comet were selling the exact same model of TV for £700.

    I have alway's found Comet's price to be fair on TV's etc compared to other companies who stock the exact same model.

    Oh and good luck if something goes faulty after buying it online heard to many horror stories about online retailers.

  8. Lord Ted

    I'm not surprised that they are having problems

    Every time, I go into Comet, with a comparative price from a competitor, and ask the staff if they will match the price, they go running off to their manager. When they return they say, no, so I go elsewhere.

    I phoned their online support the other day as their website states that they will match their competitors prices, when I gave them the name of the shop that was selling an item cheaper, they stated that this shop was not of their competitors!!!

    They deserve to close

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Full Circle

    Electrical retailers like Comet and Currys.digital (yeeees) are doomed. It's just a matter of when, not if.

    The irony is that the future is department stores, which is what we had before specialist retailers.

    Consolidation is where it's at these days. One large premises only selling toasters and washing machines isn't going to be as profitable as a department store. That's why supermarkets are trying to morph into department stores, will full electrical sections, clothes, white goods, videos, DIY, eateries and more. I'm surprised Tesco or Asda haven't yet added a cinema to their larger stores, with lots of their supermarket food available to buy cooked or in smaller quantities, not to mention lots of adverts for their lines on the screen before the film starts. Oh, and pump the smell from the bakery and coffee shop into the cinema ten minutes from the end of the film...

    1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      That's a good point.

      I hadn't thought of it before, but the trend towards modern department stores is fairly clear. Well observed, AC.

  10. big_Jim
    Go

    Why not have warehouse model?

    We all agree the Comets/Curr'ys of this world are being destroyed by the forces of the Internet (by which I mean Amazon) and John Lewis (if you are of That Age and Class *cough*my mother*cough). What I don't understand is why, given their footprint in retail parks and warehouse distribution they don't abandon the broken shop model and go over to a Screwfix/Argos type model in Industrial Parks?

    You'll be able to

    Order Online and same day collect at a warehouse (including an inspection)

    Order Online and next day receive a delivery

    Order Online and arrange a return (pick up)

    Go to the warehouse and immediate collect stuff (if in stock) or arrange for delivery

    Go to the warehouse and return stuff, moan or otherwise waste time

    Go to the warehouse and look at a small range of stuff on special offer while you wait

    1. David Evans

      @big_Jim

      You can do all that at Comet and have been able to do so for years (they were one of the first in the UK to implement a proper "Click & Collect" strategy). Hasn't helped though.

      Bottom line in the UK for electrical retailers is that margins suck and property and labour overheads are high; not a great recipe for success.

      1. Mike Richards

        They're probably doomed

        Because of all the reasons laid out so well above.

        But doesn't it seem a little unfair for Comet to fail BEFORE the even-worse Currys is finally consigned to the extended warranty in the sky?

      2. big_Jim

        @David Evans

        I see your point. I've never heard of "Click & Collect" but I do buy tons of stuff via Screwfix and (electronics) via Amazon.

        The margins must be there somewhere if the costs are low enough.

        Does "Click & Collect" actually work at Comet? I tried it once at Homebase and it was an Epic fail.

        1. 0laf Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          It did for me. Bought a washing machine on offer at short notice and picked it up the next day. No problems at all. Not an issues getting a hand to lob it in the car either.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @big_Jim

          As others have said, the only way you can really sell electricals is if you're purely online so costs are low (although they're not as low as they used to be), or, if you're offsetting the low margins on electricals with other, higher margin products, like the department stores do. You can cope with a 10% margin on a telly if you're also selling a duvet with a 50% mark-up. A lot of the time the likes of John Lewis are only flogging electricals in-store because it drives footfall into the store from men; they all go and drool over the LCDs while the missus buys towels, clothes and bedding (totally sexist, but completely true).

        3. Darren Barratt
          Mushroom

          Proping eachother up.

          It appears that Currys is consolidating with PC World, enabling them to limp on for a while. Last time I went in PC World in Peterborough, it's full of Tellys and Washing machines.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Extended warranties

    > insistent "extended warranty" pushing

    Remember buying a fridge-freezer and a dishwasher ~15-ish years ago at Comet. Price wsa good so wanted to buy it. Salesdroid was pretty insistent on the extended warranty at some huge price - somthingf like 25% the cost of the items. Conversation was something like this (though heavily condensed)

    SD: You'll want the extended warranty won't you

    Me: No thanks

    SD: Are you sure?

    Me: Yes, I don't want it.

    SD: What about if we give you 50% discount on it?

    Me: No, I don't want it

    SD: How about if we give it to you free?

    Me: Ok, I don't really want it but if its free then that's ok

    SD: I'll go and check with my manager

    <SD exits then returns a couple of minutes later>

    SD: Sorry, my manager says 50% discount is as far as we can go - do you want it?

    Me: I've already said no - either sell me the items now or I'll go somewhere else

    at which point SalesDroid reluctanctly agreed to sell me the items!

  12. pctechxp

    Good riddence

    Only thing I've ever bought from Comet that hasn't given up shortly after or even before the warranty has ended is a fan.

    Even a cheap PC I bought they didn't want to know about when Fushitsu Siemens washed their hands of it it was that crap, even with an extended warranty.

    Paid for installation on a dishwasher I bought but the delivery blokes didn't want to bother doing it and said they weren't qualified, again no comment from Comet.

    Sure enough the dishwasher gave up one month after the standard warranty ended.

    Currys/Dixons and PC World are no better.

    I now get my PCs custom built and I do the OS install and I go to John Lewis for my big electrical stuff and Amazon for my little gadgets.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe...

    They should have a Buy One Store Get One Free offer.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually I'm buying Comet myself....

    Cept I'm standing around trying to find a sales droid to take my truckload of cash...they all seem to be busy talking to each other.

    Maybe I'll just go buy another shop instead.

    1. SmallYellowFuzzyDuck, how pweety!
      Coffee/keyboard

      You would be buggered anyway if a member of staff did talk to you

      It's unlikely there is a product description written on the side of the building for them to read outloud if you need to ask them any questions about buying the shop.

      1. Tony S

        Classic!

        You sir, deserve an upvote purely for the great handle. One upvote on its way.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'll be sorry to see them go, where else to you get to fondle the goods before ordering online.

    My favourite salesdroid experience was many years ago in PCWorld where I wanted to buy a modem (goggle it kids). Faced with two seemingly identical items priced about £5 I asked said droid what was different about the dearer one, after several minutes reading the descriptions on the box and scratching his head, he proudly announced.... this one comes in a bigger box.... hmmmmm... I was truly grateful for his valuable insight.ge

    1. Darren Barratt

      Pay peanuts, get monkeys. Or possibly elephants

      The problem is, if they had any useful IT skills, they wouldn't be stuck working in PCWORLD.

  16. Androgynous & Awkward
    FAIL

    Jiminy Criminy

    Once tried to buy an external drive from them (good price on offer) and took said item to the counter in perspex security box.

    Indifferent yoof on counter couldn't open the security box so call his mate.

    Spotty mate was flummoxed by plastic box too.

    Spotty mate took box out of my sight but not earshot and all I heard was banging.

    I, being curious, popped my keen eye round the corner to see Mr Spots jumping and stamping (futily) on tough clear cube with drive clanging around inside.

    Hmmmm thought I, "let's go elsewhere dearest"

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "When people in Britain want to buy a pet, they go to a pet shop. If they want to buy a pet shop, they go to a pet shop shop. If they want to buy a pet shop shop, well, they're just being silly."

  18. tekgun

    2001...

    People still go to shops for electrical items? how quaint.

    Last time I made a major purchase at a shop, and had to put up with all the bs that goes with it was yea late 2001.

  19. Michael Strorm

    @big_Jim; "Why not have warehouse model?"

    "What I don't understand is why, given their footprint in retail parks and warehouse distribution they don't abandon the broken shop model and go over to a Screwfix/Argos type model in Industrial Parks?"

    The irony is that from what I've heard, Comet *did* rise to prominence doing something very similar.

    Though this was mostly before my time, I've heard- and had it confirmed by others- that they spread as a low-cost discount retailer with stores in light industrial areas. For example, when I was younger, the local Comet was based slightly outside the city centre, in one such part of town. The sort of place you might have a discount carpet warehouse. Much cheaper to rent, I assume- not as slick or as nice, but that's how you get- or got- your stuff cheaper.

    Apparently they also used to print listings of products and stuff in newspapers. Though they did- at least by the 80s- have stuff on display.

    That store closed in the late 90s, probably because it didn't really fit Comet's newer, more mainstream retail-park business model. Now the low-overheads of the Internet are making it harder to keep the high rents that those large out-of-town custom-built developments require. But I'm not convinced that they could go back now- things aren't the same as they were in the 60s and 70s or whenever.

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