You are going to sell a load of consumer goods cheap - then pull out of the market in the middle of January?
Where is customer support and warranty provision going to come from?
Best Buy may be retreating to its homeland with a bloody nose, but it could yet ruin Dixons Retail's margins this Christmas before it turns off the lights. The American electronics retailer's costly flirtation with UK consumers is coming to an end and the firm admitted last month that one of the reasons why its entry had not …
... Just make sure that a) the purchase value is over £100 and b) you use a credit card (not a debit card) to buy the goods.
That way, under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act the card company is jointly and severally liable for the transaction, so if anything goes wrong and Best Buy don't want to play, you can tell your card company to sort it or give you your money back :-)
...on the last afternoon, they just sold what was left in their shop for 10p per item, regardless of what it was. It was mostly worthless trash that didn't shift in the preceding weeks, but it was good fun nonetheless. I walked out with a couple of soap dishes, a packet of good AA batteries that must have been dredged from the back of the warehouse, and a couple of masonry patches that I will never, ever use.
Unfortunately I don't live near a Best Buy but it will be great for those that do.
> retail rival Dixons upping its game.
So that's what it was!
I recently had cause to visit a copy of PC World (aka Dixons) to return an item I'd bought online that didn't meet the description on its website. After getting my refund I had a wander round the store to see if they actually stocked the item I thought I'd been buying (they didn't, but the one I'd bought online was there - for 50% more than the website was charging).
It turns out that the store, a fairly large one, had undergone a revamp since my last visit a year or two ago. While the in-store personnel are still as unwilling as ever to make eye-contact, in case you try to ask them something, the store itself was vastly different. It was now much more themed towards the glossy end of the market: with greater emphasis on big TVs, lappies, and shiny things than their previous rather drab piles of stuff in half-opened boxes. It did seem to me that the actual number of products per running foot of shelf space had taken a drop. Gone were the rows and rows of identical products - with 3 different price stickers (all wrong) at various places on the shelf edge. Instead the displays were much more "boutique" and sparse. With individual items tastefully presented and widely spaced - often with just a single product up for grabs.
It was still the same old stuff that they'd been flogging before, but the presentation (if not the availability) seems to have had a makeover. The carpets seemed cleaner, too.
While there's no doubt that in law, at least, you may well still have rights - the exercising of those rights becomes harder when your local sales outlet has closed down.
Instead of just being able to haul your malfunctioning goodies along to the place from whence it came, walking up to the service desk and saying "fit it" or "gimme my monkey back", you now have a disinterested voice in a call centre somewhere in the world who will tell you something like:
"Yes we'll pick it up. No we can't say when. No we can't say how long it'll take to replace. No I don't know if you can get a refund ..." and all the other things that call centres say instead of the ideal: "certainly sir, I'll personally bring round a wad of tenners and take the old crap away. See you in 5 minutes" that we can only dream about.
So in terms of a warranty, sure: it's still there - at least in theory. But instead of invoking that warranty at a time and place of your choosing you are now doomed to wait at home for an indeterminate number of days, fearful that if you even step outside to drop some rubbish in the wheelie bin you'll return to a card on the hall floor: "Sorry we missed you" and will have to restart the whole hellish call centre process all over again. No thanks!
"Yes we'll pick it up. No we can't say when. No we can't say how long it'll take to replace. No I don't know if you can get a refund ..." and all the other things that call centres say instead of the ideal: "certainly sir, I'll personally bring round a wad of tenners and take the old crap away. See you in 5 minutes" that we can only dream about."
It doesn't matter a jot what some call centre drege tells you if you've paid by Credit Card (and the amount is over £50 or £100 I can never remember that bit) the CC company is liable to pay you back.
If still under manufacturer warranty and the manufacturer call centre try to give you the run-around you simply tell them that they have 14/30 days (something reasonable) to rectify the situation or you go to the CC company (also worth emailing / writing to them so you have it on record if you cannot record the call).
Don't count your chickens. It's not exactly a massive sale you know. Up to 10% off* is not going to save you a monkey on two and a half grand's worth of gear. I'm guessing you'll be lucky if you even "save" £250. And you won't even be saving that much since most of their stuff is already available cheaper if you shop around.
* Hey look "up to" and consumers are allowed to work out what it means on their own. Unlike "up to 20Mb/s" where consumer groups think we're all too stupid to know what that means.
Very, very few retailers perform any significant technical service in-house, though if you purchase a house-branded product you might have problems. Most "Name Brand" manufacturers cultivate and maintain their own service networks which can repair their products regardless of where they were purchased.
All new products you buy in the UK come with a standard 12months manufacturers guarantee.
by law, for that 12months the retail outlet you buy it from has to deal with its return to the manufacturer, if the retail shop closes down, then you have no option but to deal with the manufacturer direct.
Make sure you register your purchase with the manufacturer (send the card off/ website), and if possible, buy the item on a credit card
IIRC, EU directives say manufacturers should give a standard 2 year guarantee, and you have 6 years (from the first 6 months?) to claim for a fault.
Then of course then there are certain rights according to law. I've never tested this but there is a loosely defined life expectancy that the courts will most likely honour should you fail to get support from the manufacturer, whereby you can sue them for full or partial costs to repair:
Irons, Kettles, Hair Dryers etc. 2 - 3 years
Medium Size Appliances
Cleaners, refrigerators and freezers, spin and
tumble dryers, Microwave Ovens 3 - 6 years
Electric Cookers, 5 - 10 years
Dishwashers, washing machines, 3 – 6 years
Low priced portable CTVs 2 - 5 years
Higher priced non-portable CTVs 4 - 8 years
Low priced DVD player/recorder 2 - 5 years
Higher priced DVD player/recorder 5 - 8 years
Low priced Hi-Fi Systems 2 - 5 years
Higher priced Hi-Fi systems 5 - 8 years
All well and good, but remember "fault" means a fault in manufacture or materials. If the failure is not caused by this you don't have the right to claim anything. However it might be worth checking your home insurance. Your home insurance will often cover you for accidental damage.
This is why extended warranties are such a bad buy. If you are covered by EU law for faults in materials and/or manufacturer and your home insurer covers you for accidental damage, what's left for the warranty to cover?
Yup it's the usual trick. Sell the big stuff on low margins then con the punter into paying too much for accessories. Oh and the extended warranty.
There's another con in action at most of these retaillers. I recently bought a printer for less than the cost of the replacement inks. When I bought it I was asked if I needed any ink, so I asked why. The sales weasel told me that this was because the printer didn't come with full cartridges. I declined her kind offer since this would have more than doubled the amount of money they got out of me. On returning home I checked the included cartridges and they had the same part number as the replacement items. I contacted the manufacturer who told me they were defininitely proper retail cartridges included with their printers. So far I have printed more than half the page count predicted for the cartridges and only 30% of the ink has gone so it looks like the manufacturer is not pulling my plonker. The retailer, however, was.
Could it be that the printer was a loss leader and the retailer doesn't like people walking in and buying their loss leaders without buying something else? After all the weasel first asked if I needed a USB cable, but since I already had one I didn't make up their profits by giving them a tenner for a quid's worth of cable.
There's something properly wrong when you can buy a printer with inks for more than 30% less the price of the inks alone. Which is it do you suppose? Are they selling the printer as a loss leader, which is strictly speaking illegal? Or the inks and several hundred percent mark up, which bloody well ought to be illegal?
This sounds similar to what the printer companies do to people here in the US. I'm not sure which it is, but I suspect HP, Cannon, Epson, Brother, etc are selling the printers at cost or maybe lower, and the ink and toner is definitely their cash cow.
The answer is to do a bit of research on the web, if you are buying an ink-jet printer, you can find a 'Continuous Ink System' for many models. A CIS is basically a set of tanks with ink in them that sits outside the printer and is attached to a modified set of ink cartridges via a small set of tubes.
This amounts to ink anywhere from 75% to 90% less than what you'd pay if you bought the manufacturers ink at retail. You'll want to see if you can find reviews of course.
Note that the ink tank MUST be level with the printer or you'll get siphoning one way or the other, which is really messy.
As for toner some cartridges can be refilled/tweaked, the Brother HL-2040 is a good example of this.
Nah. Just buy a new printer every time the ink runs out.
I noticed in one store the other day they were selling a printer discounted because there was no ink in the box. So maybe the best idea is buy a new printer for the ink, transfer the ink to your printer and then flog the new one on fleabay without the ink. Reduces the effective cost of ink even more.
The consumer printer business model is sometimes referred to as the Gillette razor model; sell the razor very cheap and make the money on blades, which you need to continue to use the razor.
Same with printers and ink; sell the printer at more or less break even and make the money on ink. There's a HUGE profit margin on ink.
Actually I didnt want to be accused of exaggerating, but I have experiences pretty much the same mark-up, a SCSI cable that cost £1.99 from a PC fair was marked up as £59.99 at my local PCWorld.
Not only that, but they were out of stock!!!!! That means there were ejits actually paying that much!!!
"The sales weasel told me that this was because the printer didn't come with full cartridges."
It was previously the case, certainly on HP printers, that they gave you "starter" cartridges, but I believe that's fallen by the wayside of late. Was true in the late 90's, the box even said as much
I still remember being appalled when my first USB printer didn't come with a USB cable! In the good old parallel printer days, you always got one - that was another sneaky "peripheral cha-ching" trick for them...
Having said that, the XL HP ink packs are going really cheap in Best Buy... managed to grab about 6 before a gentleman came in and bought the entire stock, presumably for his own shop.
Might be a good opportunity to get some cheap CDs and DVDs , because we all know about the hit-and-miss TV at Christmas time. Apart from seeing the great David Suchet in a new Poirot, I'm expecting to catch up on watching my collection of DVDs.
Otherwise I'm not fussed about buying electrical gear that could come without warranty.
I think I'd rather buy something from a company that I knew was going to disappear in a few weeks' time than buy something from Overclockers again.
The level of customer service will undoubtedly be better from the company that doesn't even exist any more. I'd rather take my chances in dealing with the manufacturer or my credit card issuing bank because Best Buy have gone Bye Bye than have to wrestle with Overclockers unhelpful staff and idiot-tastic forum. At least Best Buy would have an excuse to not care less about my duff products I bought from them.
...had a problem with Overclockers and I've brought LOTS of stuff from them over the years (from laptops to motherboards, and components to peripherals). Mind you, they are walking distance away from me (well, walking distance if you're not lazy, but 2 minutes by car lol), so I get to speak face-to-face with a real person.
Had a nose around on Monday when the "sale" started. Prices are still expensive. Another 20% and they would be in line with Dixons/PCWorld.
Maybe if they had stacked em high and solld em cheap (like they said they would) they wouldn't be running back to where there are no national competitors for them.
I think they missed out on the economic realities when they moved over here.
Maybe they didn't understand the size of the bulk deals that Dixon's deal in. It's not just about how many of a particular model of TV they buy from a manufacturer, but how much business the group overall do with that manufacturer.
Maybe they didn't factor in that overheads are higher over here than in their home market.
Maybe they didn't consider the extortionate rate of VAT.
Whatever the hell it was they were clearly confident when they came that they would be able to undercut everybody in the UK market and they couldn't even compete. As such it's clear they miscalculated somewhere along the line.
If you're going to buy from this company make sure that you use a credit card. By doing so you make the credit card company jointly liable under the Sale of Goods Act 1979. If your product develops a fault after the company has disolved, you can likely claim against your credit card company.
I would think that Best Buy made a small but loud move into the UK looking at spending a relatively small amount but giving the impression it was in preparation for a larger venture. This would surely lead the major competitor to suddenly spend large amounts on updating their stores and flashy advertising when they already have profit issues.
If Best Buy were then to "sell-up" at Christmas time and flog the inventory you have, at a price that undercuts their competition at their peak time, this might cause the competition to then be in very vulnerable position and ripe for take-over and a nice easy way to spread nationwide in established locations should it be purchased.
But of course I am not a cynical person.....
That would make sense were it not for one thing...
"If Best Buy were then to "sell-up" at Christmas time and flog the inventory you have, at a price that undercuts their competition at their peak time, this might cause the competition to then be in very vulnerable position"
Their sale doesn't undercut Dixons group. Hell, it doesn't undercut anybody. Even at 10% discount Best Buy are still Worst Buy.
Just tried to buy a Kindle at 10% off the RRP, but when I click to 'reserve and collect' it instead takes me to a page where I can instead buy a Sony Touch Patent Black Leather Cover at £19.95.
I think I'm gonna struggle to read any books on a leather cover so I'll give it a miss, thanks all the same, Best Buy.
Never heard of them - well, I have, but never even knew they were in this country?
Guess it must be a city thing, as I've just seen the nearest outlet to me is 39 miles away - ok, that figures.
Maybe that's the issue - very little market penetration or awareness?
Then again, if the economy continues the way it is, soon the only brick 'n mortar retailers we'll have left will be Tesco and sainsbury.
Maybe it's also because, for the last 10 years, I've bought *all* my electrical goods online - there's only one reason to shop at one of the electrical retail outlets, you need an item immediately or ... you need credit and don't have a credit card ;)
@tmTM, yeah that's how Circuit City did it too. They are like "Oh, we REALLY need to clear these stores, we're CLOSING!!" and then they'd have a game "discounted" to like $55, when it was $40 at some nearby store. I could see doing this at first? But, they were at the final days and STILL didn't drop the prices. They just ended up closing the stores like 1/3rd full.
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