back to article Maplin Electronics demands cash with menaces

The private equity profiteers behind Maplin Electronics have turned the screws on suppliers to hand over bigger rebates to help pay for physical and digital store improvements or risk having their kit sidelined. The geek fiddlers emporium was sold to Rutland Partners for £85m almost two years ago when the investor promised “ …

  1. Oor Nonny-Muss
    Unhappy

    Sad excuse for the company it once was...

    ... when I was a budding hobbyist electronics enthusiast in the late 1970s when it was run from MD Doug Simmons' kitchen table... I had my 4 digit customer number and was proud of it - sadly the shops have become like Tandy at the end of days and the prices have gone the same way (there was a time when they'd be the first place I'd look for $emergency_widget - now they're amongst the last - even when I'm ready to pay a premium to get it now)

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

      ?I had my 4 digit customer number

      And the basic A5 catalogue with a Concorde on the cover,,,

      These days the physical stores just sell overpriced tat, and Amazon does a better job online.

      1. PNGuinn
        FAIL

        Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was... @ PO'S

        I'll see your Amazon and raise you Fleabay.

        Or CPC Farnell ... or ...

        I can't remember the last time I went to a Maplin's .... I can remember that it was unproductive.

        There are better companies out there - including Woolworth's.

    2. Mike Shepherd

      Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

      Last time I checked, my 4-digit customer number still worked, although that surprised the assistant.

      Maplin shops were fun to browse. I'd usually emerge £20 or so poorer than I'd intended. But now the staff are instructed constantly to pester customers (typically with inane enquiries like "Are you alright there?"). So every visit is unpleasant and to be avoided. If tomorrow will do, I order from hassle-free Farnell.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Devil

        Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

        If tomorrow will do, I order from hassle-free Farnell.

        Bought three weeks ago by a Swiss mini-conglomerate for a 50% premium to the market price. So expect Farnell operations to be messed with, UK management to be reduced, and prices to go up to pay for the over-priced acquisition.

      2. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

        The staff are instructed constantly to pester customers

        And indeed are all hovering near the door as you enter to "greet" you with some vacuous pleasantry but immediately tail you if you move to the further reaches of the store to make sure you don't nick anything. On the rare occasion I can't wait for stuff to be delivered from a better retailer and have to visit their shop, I always make a point of heading immediately for the usually-unmanned basement because it means one of their unfortunate drones has to follow me down the stairs - at which point I immediately race back to the ground floor to grab whatever I intended to buy,

        1. PNGuinn
          Thumb Up

          @ Warm Braw

          Cruel Bastard.

          Have an upvote.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

        Made of recycled bog paper. At least I always assumed its slightly brown tinge was due to.

      4. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

        "If tomorrow will do, I order from hassle-free Farnell."

        As with RS, you pay a 50%-100% premium for that "hassle free one stop shop" over getting it directly from their supplier - and as I've discovered a bunch of times the range that Farnell carry of XYZ manufacturer is 2-5% of the upstream supplier's catalogue.

        If you need anything vaguely mechanical, check Moss Express first.

    3. Linker3000

      Re: Sad excuse for the company it once was...

      The vouchers...don't forget the coloured vouchers...orange ones, green ones and...wow I bought enough to get a white and blue one!

      Bless Doug Simmons...we had an electronics club stand at our school summer fair (about 1978/9) and I wrote to him for some marketing freebies and he sent a large box of catalogues and starship posters.

      /Also 4 digits.

  2. shifty_powers
    Mushroom

    Cheeky bastards.

    Fuck Maplin. In fact fuck all companies that demand money from suppliers for upgrades and improvements. Is it only me that thinks this is completely insane? And the argument that it will grow both businesses is complete bullshit. If a supplier turned round to maplin and said, "We want to invest in R&D so give us more money as it will give you better products and make you more money", how would they react?

    Maplin has for many years been only a step away from shopping in PC World in any case. But I still popped in occasionally as it was useful in an emergency.

    This has just made up my mind to stop shopping there completely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheeky bastards.

      This has just made up my mind to stop shopping there completely.

      To judge by their tumbleweed infested aisles, with the only other humans being bored employees, you could be The Last Maplin Customer. Our local branch is in the building that previously hosted the doomed Blockbuster, another dinosaur from the last century, which seems appropriate and prophetic.

      So, we're agreed they're going to crash and burn. But which well known business will be next to shrivel up after outfit eking out its final days with a business model that time forgot, passed by via technology and t'internet?

      My money's on WHSmith. Or Halfords.

      1. Dan Wilkie

        Re: Cheeky bastards.

        But they'll change your headlight bulbs for £2, or £6, or whatever they charge.

        I got my moneys worth, I couldn't be arsed to do the one on the company Mazda because it's RIGHT behind the battery and a mare to do without cutting yourself to ribbons (and the company was paying).

        I got over half an hours labour out of the poor kid!

        1. Synonymous Howard

          Re: Cheeky bastards.

          Try changing the headlight bulbs on a previous generation smart car .. unless you have very skinny and long arms you have to take the whole plastic front off.

          1. Mikewickwar

            Re: Cheeky bastards.

            Been there & agree changing bulbs on a smart car is a shocker

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Cheeky bastards.

            WRT changing bulbs.

            Removing those panels is a doddle if you have the right tool at hand - and as long as you _mark_ the position of the boltheads on flanges it's generally easier to remove the headlight, change the bulb and put it back than risk bleeding to death trying to do it in-situ (if you change a headlamb bulb you're supposed to realign the lights anyway - not that anyone ever does)

        2. G7mzh

          Re: Cheeky bastards.

          Maybe I'll take my Honda there - to change the bulb you have to take the wheel off! (You can just do it without, but it's a complete pain).

          1. heyrick Silver badge

            to change the bulb you have to take the wheel off!

            But would you trust them to put the wheel back on correctly?

      2. Peb

        Re: Cheeky bastards.

        WHSmith for sure. Once it used to be the place for books and magazines, god knows what it does these days. Most stores seem to be 50% post office, 25% please buy a kobo and some books hidden in a corner

        I think I heard that the only thing keeping them afloat were the airport stores

      3. paulf Silver badge
        Pirate

        Re: Cheeky bastards.

        @Ledswinger "My money's on WHSmith. Or Halfords."

        My money is on WHS lasting a good bit longer but that will make the crash all the harder when it comes. They are adept at increasing profits despite reducing revenues - a blatant sign they're sweating the assets. My suspicion is they will sweat the high street for all its worth until the last customer vanishes with their overpriced check out chocolate and vouchers for Weightwatchers and BHS then shunt it into admin leaving them with the captive market high margin "Travel" branches (Stations/Airports/Hospitals).

        Halfrauds is an unpleasant shopping experience whereas WHS make a virtue out of pissing off the customers they have left.

        And if you want the gory details of how awful Smuts are these days this will amuse and horrify you in equal measures while you marvel at how the hell they stay in business check out WHS Carpet on Twitter.

      4. therebel

        Re: Cheeky bastards.

        I think Staples or Rymans can't be far behind.

      5. goldcd

        Nah Halfords will hang in there.

        They seem reasonably good at diversifying. WHSmith I wouldn't miss. Maplin to the wall first though please.

        Used to love them. Then spend years resenting what they'd charge me for a widget I needed immediately. With their stock now being entirely generic chinese gubbins at ridiculous prices, and Amazon getting the same stuff to my door next day on free (sortof) Prime.. No idea why they're still there.

        Not that I've got an issue with the old High Street. Dixons/Currys/PCW had previously held a similar position in my heart, and then reformed. Picked up quite a few things I wanted from them online, for best online price, and had free delivery to their handy store next-day.

        It's not that I feel I have a god-given right to smite stores from my high-street - but I do walk past them with judgement in my heart.

      6. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Cheeky bastards.

        > My money's on WHSmith. Or Halfords.

        Please let it be Halfrauds..

        1. rototype

          Re: Cheeky bastards.

          Halfrauds, not sure, some of their 'Pro' tools are actually quite good while not being too bad on price. Don't agree with their policy now of having the bikes and other shite downstairs while the heavy car stuff has to go upstairs (If I want to buy a battery I DON'T want to have to carry it down a big long staircase before I pay for it!!)

          Maybe when they do go someone can buy their tools section off them?

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Cheeky bastards.

            > (If I want to buy a battery I DON'T want to have to carry it down a big long staircase before I pay for it!!)

            Get the staff to do that (they hate it but they'll do it) - but wtf are you buying batteries from Halfrauds and paying 100% extra for it anyway? Even europarts are cheaper and that's not saying much.

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Cheeky but effective?

      This seems to be asking suppliers to cut prices on LAST year's goods in return for continued business. An after-the-fact refund for no reason except for what smells to me like demanding a bribe. I think Tesco recently said they would stop doing the same thing to their suppliers, and Premier Foods perhaps hasn't - anyone know? But apparently it still sounds like a good idea.

      The police should send in that American smut labrador.

      1. John Sturdy

        Re: Cheeky but effective?

        I think Premier Foods backed down (but I'm still not knowingly buying their products, as they've shown what kind of people their management are).

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cheeky bastards.

      "As we continue to invest for our shareholders" -- FTFY.

  3. Richard Jones 1
    FAIL

    I Am Not Alone

    I see others have like me, a decreasing interest in Maplin. They used to have interesting kit and parts but now it appears that more and more they have last generation products at next generation prices, with doubtful quality. Often they out price PC World, the wrong way making them a distress and distressing choice for only if you are really stuck on a late Saturday afternoon.

    1. Hey Nonny Nonny Mouse

      Re: I Am Not Alone

      In any retail park environment they are often outclassed and undercut by the pound shops, Home Bargains etc. for the same products at lower prices.

      Maplin, to hobbyists, appear to be a spent force now, their component offering is not even a shadow of its former self (I know, a 2p resistor is not a profit item) and their website, just, yeah, let's not talk about the website.

      I came to the conclusion a couple of years ago that nothing is that desperate I can't wait an extra day if it means I don't have to visit Maplin.

      The staff, they've no clue, I was told in no uncertain terms that ICs don't need to be stored or jandled with any special antistatic precautions, this was after I'd refused to buy a 4000 series CMOS chip that had been taken from a plain plastic drawer, carried in the assistant's hand and then pushed across the counter top for me to 'check' it was the right one.

      Good luck bullying your suppliers into supporting whatever crackpot scheme your management consultants have told you is necessary.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: I Am Not Alone

        You knowbitnis bad when you can pay the extra for shutl and it is still cheaper than maplin.

  4. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Tricky.... Maplins serves the overlap between people who are into hobbyist electronics and PCs, and people who don't order stuff over the internet. It's not a big overlap.

    Also, their alternate business model has been eaten into by the gay hook-up app Grindr, if this story from the Daily Mash is to be believed:

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/society/maplin-is-where-men-meet-for-sex-2014013183134

    “But tell the wife you’ve got to nip to Maplins for a phono audio to HDMI converter and she never asks any probing questions.”

    Eleanor Shaw of Bristol, whose husband is a Maplin regular, said: “I knew he couldn’t need that many external hard drives. Deep down, I knew it.

    “It even has pulsing disco lights in the window.”

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "“It even has pulsing disco lights in the window.”"

      It certainly has a lot of dorky looking weirdos wandering up and down the aisles so it all fits...

      1. Chris Holford
        Boffin

        dorky looking weirdos

        As coffin dodger, I remember Lisle Street in Soho; groups of geezers in shabby raincoats with their noses pressed against the shop windows; ignoring the porn and the walk-up brothels but looking at the ex-goverment stuff in the electonics shops.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: dorky looking weirdos

          "looking at the ex-goverment stuff in the electonics shops." Wonderful. Type 37 transceivers for 30shillings (£1.50). Valve based of course. I recall a series in Practical Wireless with all the details about how you could convert one into a tape recorder...

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: dorky looking weirdos

            The origins of electronic music owe much to surplus WWII kit. In the UK it became muzak for radio commercials, on the continent it was considered avant garde art.

        2. Fr. Ted Crilly

          Re: dorky looking weirdos

          Ah proops, the 'special stuff' right at the back of that grotty shop, good days...

    2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Not a gay hookup service... I hope

      To avoid embarrassment - I am pretty sure that Maplin is not where gay men go to connect.

      Maplin is not for sex, it is instead of sex.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the Maplin value proposition?

    I briefly went to their site, picked a HDD - http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/wd-red-4tb-nas-optimised-35-inch-sata-iii-hard-drive-a27nf

    About £8.25 more than Amazon list it.

    Says available for click/collect. Great, Pop in my postcode, then get 32 pages of 'Out of Stock, 3 days'.

    Or back to Amazon, click, here tomorrow.

    Lets try some other 'hot' items: Anything by Bose? Returns stuff like 'Maplin Vacuum Base Vice'

    How about a Vacuum? http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/dyson-dc58-animal-handheld-vacuum-a12nb (£229.99, says available but no out of stock everwhere), vs. just go straight to https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dyson-DC58-Animal-Handheld-Cleaner/dp/B00FYX0JKO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466679137&sr=8-1&keywords=DC58 (£188.43)

    Phones? Nope.

    I get it. They've got overheads for stores where all the things they list are Out Of Stock. But without some form of differentiation, why on earth would anyone even waste time looking at their site?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Screwfix have gone the same. IN stock at your local store... tomorrow.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Screwfix have gone the same.

        A bit, but not quite as bad. Toolstation appear to be where the trade shop now. I suppose Screwfix were doomed the moment that Bodge & Quodge bought them. And doubly doomed when that French woman they got in to run Kingfisher plc decided that they must be run as a single business.

        It can only be a while months before they decide to relocate the Screwfix counters into B&Q stores to "make things more efficient and lower costs". Then Kingfisher have to react to the fact that the move cannibalises the B&Q mega-margins. So they put up Screwfix prices. Then the sales fall off, so they dissolve the Screwfix operations, and wrap the operation into B&Q's terrible on line operation.

        I suppose Kingfisher have done well to run Screwfix tolerably well for 16 years (largely by leaving it alone), but it is always the same for acquisitions - sooner or later the corporate numpties will kill the acquired business.

        1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

          Screwfix vs B&Q

          In my locale, they are less than 400yds apart. Once upon a time, Screwfix were cheaper than B&Q but not it seems the other way around.

          The only advantage of going to Screwfix is that the car park is easier to get in and out of.

          Then there is the thrust by B&Q to get the trade customers. So we see that the 'trade' (Cough-cough) price is less than use mere average punters have to pay.

          Just show them pretty well any business card and you get the trade price.

          Why can't they have one price for everyone?

          1. Dan Wilkie

            Re: Screwfix vs B&Q

            Have to charge VAT on retail sales, don't have to charge VAT on trade sales I guess?

            So not my area of expertise...

          2. davemcwish

            Screwfix and B&Q closeness

            Unless we're in the same town (and google can't measure) I'm wondering if that's a common occurrence. According to Google maps my two are 350m apart.

            1. David Nash Silver badge

              Re: Screwfix and B&Q closeness

              Mine too...Probably because they are all located in the typical "retail park"

        2. Emperor Zarg

          Screwfix have gone the same

          It can only be a while months before they decide to relocate the Screwfix counters into B&Q stores to "make things more efficient and lower costs"

          It went the other way here... they closed a B&Q and opened a tiny Screwfix nearby. Its like a DIY version of Argos and is virtually impossible to get served in. In a vain attempt, I tried using click & collect, but it turned out that provided zero benefit in store as I still had to join the massive queue.

        3. John Sturdy

          B&Q have also tried "pay to stay" with suppliers, but were careful not to do it in writing.

        4. paulf Silver badge
          Alert

          @Ledswinger

          "Screwfix were doomed the moment that Bodge & Quodge bought them"

          I find B&Q are the most hateful of shopping experiences - a chain that has become very lazy as the competitive pressures have waned leaving only Homebase that's been wounded by years of Argos-isation. I never have a good visit to B&Q and only go there when I have no alternative. The staff there really don't care.

          I remember a time when B&Q employed lots of old guys who had spent their working life doing DIY and were happy to advise you how to do your own DIY jobs, in the hope they could sell you stuff to get it done. Now it's full of the min wage slaves that populate other retail palaces who haven't got the first clue about DIY. On my last visit to B&Q I saw one guy answer a customer question without even looking up from what he was doing. Then there is asking your address when you return an item (an unnecessary invasion of privacy) which Homebase have never done despite various returns over the years. I just hope the new incumbent at Homebase (Bunnings) gives B&Q a sorely needed hard kick up the arse with some serious competition.

          1. David Nash Silver badge

            I find B&Q (larger branches anyway) have more lines and often lower prices than Homebase, which is leans more to the homewares type of thing (do they still have Laura Ashley in store?) than to DIY tools and bits. I prefer B&Q anyway,

            Shame about Maplin. My old customer number was 6 digits and I am sure I still remember it. Still not bad if you want some actual discrete electronic components. Pretty useless for computer bits and pieces though, unless in emergency, and in stock. as others have said.

          2. Lusty

            @Paulf

            Wesfarmers should help turn things around within the next year or so. Once Homebase disapears and some investment happens competition will return. Gotta say though, my local B&Q still has old happy DIY people wandering the isles to help customers so maybe your local is more the problem than the brand as a whole.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: @Paulf

              "Gotta say though, my local B&Q still has old happy DIY people wandering the isles to help customers so maybe your local is more the problem than the brand as a whole."

              Same here. Good help and advice from both the plumbing and the electrical departments recently.

              On the downside, they are heading a bit more down the same route as Maplin in that the actual DIY bits are reducing in both range and stock levels to give more shelf space to self assembly kits or ready made items

          3. Why Not?

            I suspect Homebase will try to go more upmarket. However with competition like Poundland & the Range I suspect they will crash.

        5. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          For those that don't know....

          Jon Goddard-Watts founded Screwfix, sold to B&Q

          Mark Goddard-Watts founded Toolsation, Sold to Travis-Perkins

          Toolstation sell Silverline tools.....Owned by James Goddard-Watts

          1. Fonant

            Re: For those that don't know....

            Axminster Tools - much nicer!

            1. fruitoftheloon
              Happy

              @Fonant: Re: For those that don't know....

              Fonant,

              A yay, verily yay for mentioning Axminster tools, I have only bought 'oddments', but there in-store folk (usually chaps in my experience) REALLY know what they are talking about.

              They are the ONLY company that I am happy to receive daily promo/info emails from, some of the offers are seriously good indeed...

              Btw i have no financial interest/ownership in axminster (regretably...)

              Cheers,

              Jay

        6. PNGuinn
          Facepalm

          I suppose Kingfisher have done well ...

          It started to die the day Goddard-Watts sold it to that bunch of clowns.

          It used to be "if its in the catalogue it's in stock, delivery tomorrow without fail". 99.something true. Now ...

          "Hello - I've got a couple of shortages on my order."

          "I'm not surprised."[proudly] We sent an empty box out last week."

          I kid you not.

          If I can't fill the whole shopping list in one place I might as well go elsewhere.

          Incidentally, I believe Toolstation was started by G-W's son.

      2. Darren B 1

        Argos too

        I tried to order a TV last Christmas which said "available tomorrow" (click and collect done after 4pm on a Sunday so fair enough) all the way through until I decided to checkout when I had to wait 5 days and was then advised to pay for it upfront or the price could change (which as it was on offer I was not going to take that risk).

        1. Why Not?

          Re: Argos too

          Had the same, ended up in Currys who had it in stock & were cheaper.

    2. WhoAmI?

      Completely agree

      More examples of Maplin's idea of competitive pricing

      No name USB to MIDI.

      Maplins - £29.99 (http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/usb-to-midi-adapter-cable-a03fk)

      eBay - £3.49 (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/USB-to-MIDI-Cable-Converter-Adapter-for-PC-Keyboard-Music-2M-USB-MIDI-Cable-M3EO-/221952177214?hash=item33ad61743e:g:tvEAAOSwnipWV86d)

      USB Multi-card reader

      Maplins - £16.99 (http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/e-blue-cadena-56-in-1-card-readerwriter-a39hq)

      Poundland - £1

      With bargains like that, they make PC World look like good value. And the people in PC World leave you alone if you're wearing headphones, even when they're not plugged into anything

  6. Mage Silver badge

    Maplin

    More cheaper stuff from China and at higher price.

    I now choose my own higher quality Chinese junk at 1/5th to 1/10th the price.

    More rubbish tools

    More stupid gadgets and Boys' toys.

    Maplin isn't much different to 10 years ago. I can't see where the new owners have improved it. The staff though are better than Currys/PCWorld/Carphonewarehouse etc.

    1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re: Maplin

      Try looking for the old guy.

      I suffered from the RF connector conspiracy last year. The PFYs took one glance at where I was searching and hid, but the old guy was made of sterner stuff and asked if I needed help. He understood what I was asking for, and picked out the right adapter in seconds. He clearly knew his stuff and understood my shock at finding a competent sales assistant in Maplins.

      These days my only reason for going there is if disaster strikes shortly before a deadline. They do not even have the pretty SciFi artwork on the catalogue cover any more.

  7. Wupspups
    Flame

    Maplin Masters of the huge markup

    I just about fell of my seat last week when a colleague told me how much they had paid for a few passive components. 1000% markup on 1% metal film resistors.

    And don't get me started about the quality of their tools. I've seen harder plasticine.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Maplin Masters of the huge markup

      Last time I wanted button cells I looked in Maplin and they wanted £3 each.

      I went to Amazon marketplace and got 10 for £2.50 including postage.

      I only needed 2 so I would have paid £1 each as the cost to have it now from bricks+mortar but £6 for two 25p button cells? Sod that!

      1. Why Not?

        Re: Maplin Masters of the huge markup

        toolstation for button cells at £1. They seem to last longer than the 20 for £1 in Poundstore.

  8. Franco Silver badge

    To be fair most of the tools aren't theirs but Rolson, although I agree that they are utter shite.

    I used to use Maplin quite a bit for guitar effects projects parts, but TBH it's easier ordering from specialists in this area as it's a bit of a niche. It's rare I can get all the components, pots and enclosures I want just from Maplin.

    1. David Nash Silver badge

      @Franco - guitar effects parts

      What specialists would you recommend? I am thinking of having a play with a project of this kind.

    2. hopkinse
      FAIL

      Rolson tools are what Pounstretcher and other cheap shops sell. Fine for re-wiring a 13A plug but not much else :-|

  9. TWB

    Sad

    I also used to like Maplin (actually still do) and it has/had some good staff. Sadly it will probably fail soon as typically the people at the top these days only seem to know how to run businesses one way and that will be to try and compete by being the same as everyone else.

  10. TRT Silver badge

    Remember the days...

    when their catalogues had useful selected notes and sample circuit diagrams for almost all of their ICs?

    Now they charge you £3 for it and it's just a big sales brochure.

    1. FlossyThePig

      Re: Remember the days...

      I treated it as a useful reference manual...

      ...and I can remember when it was a mail order only operation.

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Remember the days...

        Mail Order from

        Sarfend....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Remember the days...

        .and I can remember when it was a mail order only operation.

        Abs they would also send orders to France and Germany.

        1. Joe 37

          Re: Remember the days...

          ".and I can remember when it was a mail order only operation.

          Abs they would also send orders to France and Germany."

          And Zambia. But that was 30 years ago..

    2. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Remember the days...

      Indeed. I still have a drawer full of components labelled by their Maplin number because - when originally purchased - that was the easiest way to find their circuit diagrams and specifications. It was easier to keep their catalogue, and label by the Maplin number than try and remember or read the tiny writing on the chip / transistor / whatever.

      Nowadays I don't stand a chance finding that kind of information, even in store for products they have on the shelves.

      From what I can tell, they said "Oh, Dixons has gone bankrupt, maybe we should follow their business model and put overpriced tat out for a handful of idiots that don't know what they're buying, not stock anything of use to people who just need a quick cable or connector, fill the rest of the shop with toys, and then spend all the rest on pointless morons wandering around asking if you need help and by extension babysitting the local moron on the difference between a USB cable and a 220v power socket". Because that's basically exactly what they've done. And it's been about as successful for them as it was for Dixons.

      I knew the writing was on the wall when I walked into a Maplins once and walked out again WITHOUT BUYING EVEN A SINGLE PIECE OF JUNK. My wife nearly had a heart attack. Seriously, I once picked up two Video Backer ISA cards in there in the reduced bin. I have no idea why to this day. But I bought and paid for them. When even those kinds of purchases stopped, it was game over for them.

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Remember the days...

        I'd usually end up walking out clutching a plastic bags of mixed components for £5, like it was some sort of goldfish I'd won at the fair. In fact, I still have a box full of those sorts of things.

  11. msknight Silver badge
    Mushroom

    They're going to have to do more than this...

    I saw some headphones at a reasonable price on the web site (I was browsing them) and decided to buy them.

    Needed to get them in store (as there's never anyone at home to sign for anything) and they were in three stores, but not mine.

    Called on the telephone, willing to stump up the cash, only to be told that they were discontinued and because of their status, only in-store people could order an inter-store transfer. The central contact centre couldn't do it.

    Well, I got hold of my store by phone, to be told that I'd have to get in to the store in order to pay and initiate the transfer. Much negotiation later, because I didn't want to make two trips... and they called me back, saying that they were all ex-demo and that the store staff wouldn't be happy selling me ex-demo phones, so wouldn't do it anyway.

    At that point, I gave up and got them somewhere else.

  12. caffeine addict Silver badge

    I know someone who work(s|ed) for them in head office IT who claimed that their entire business model was the emergency cable market, and everything else was effectively upselling of shiny tat once you were in the door.

    That might work if they weren't so insistent on selling £3 HDMI cables for £30. If you want to upsell, make sure the starting stuff is cheap and readily available.

    With Prime, there's never been a cable I can't wait until tomorrow for at a fraction of the price.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      >That might work if they weren't so insistent on selling £3 HDMI cables for £30.

      Where you find a Maplins, there is normally a Tescos or an Asda nearby who will definitely have HDMI cables, external HDDs, 3.5 mm > 3.5mm/phono etc

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        I don't think Asda is cheap for cables either. Their target market is people who haven't heard of Maplin.

  13. jms222

    Like others I _used_ to use them (and have a six digit customer number) and as a teen used Dad's credit card for orders and visited their shops in Hammersmith, Edgeware (or was it Colindale) and even Brum but these days they sell mostly very expensive Chinese tat. If I want tat I can get it cheaply online.

    We have two shops in Cambridge but I only use them for things I forgot to order online that I must have today.

    1. The Mole

      It amazes me that they have multiple stores in the same (relatively small) town, Southampton is another example. Surely the first thing someone should have done was a bit of rationalization of duplicate stores, surely they can't be making a profit at both (or either?).

      To be honest though if I were a supplier I'd just tell them to get lost, I really can't see them lasting much longer anyway - I'm amazed they got through the last recession.

      1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

        "It amazes me that they have multiple stores in the same (relatively small) town"

        In Sheffield they have their original branch in a former petrol station with the associated on-site parking just off the main road out of town, and their second branch right in the middle of the expensive city centre with a bus lane outside and no nearby parking. I expect the bean counters will close the petrol station site before the city centre one.

      2. paulf Silver badge
        FAIL

        @The Mole

        "Surely the first thing someone should have done was a bit of rationalization of duplicate stores"

        I think some of these chains think by maintaining multiple stores they keep competitors out. That would only work if they were a monopoly getting them unwanted govt attention. Blacks and HMV were particularly bad at this and look how it worked out for them.

        At one point Blacks had four stores in Plymouth: 2xBlacks, 1xMillets, 1xFreespirit (Surf/Skate). Plymouth might be near Dartmoor but it isn't big enough business to keep three mid-sized camping stores going. Nor did it keep out competitors like Mountain Warehouse or Cotswold.

        HMV had two massive full range stores in Plymouth after they acquired the former Zavvi store.

        Rationalising duplicated stores should be an easy win on cutting costs.

  14. Steve 53

    Eaten by Amazon

    Since the advent of same day delivery from Amazon, I can get the tool / component I want, with a set of reviews to prove that.

    I can get a bag of 10 STDP switches for the price of one at maplin, same day, without having to make a special trip to a town centre with no parking.

    Asking your suppliers for bribes to keep selling their stuff is a low blow from a dying company

  15. andy gibson

    BBC Micro

    Last time I went into Maplin it was for a DIN plug for a BBC Micro monitor (yes, they still had them on the shelves a few years back).

    When I asked the assistant for directions to where it might be, he thought the BBC Micro was some kind of Freeview box.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: BBC Micro

      "When I asked the assistant for directions to where it might be, he thought the BBC Micro was some kind of Freeview box."

      Well, to be fair, he probably wasn't born until many years after the BBC Micro ceased production. He probably didn't know which shelf held the steel gramophone needles or the blank wax cylinders either. For that matter it's probably the first time he'd been asked for DIN plug of any kind.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BBC Micro

      Kind of ironic he thought the BBC Micro was a Freeview box when Acorn's workstations division briefly wound up making set top boxes as Element 14 which also strangely relates to Maplin in that their competitor Farnell use the trade name element14.

  16. Haku

    I used to like going to Maplin to get bits'n'bobs...10 years ago

    Now the prices are through the roof compared to the plethora of online sites available, so much so that I don't mind the wait because I can avoid spending a fortune.

    For example; 5 meter RGB LED strip with remote & PSU.

    Maplin: £39.99

    eBay, UK sellers: £12.98 (£6.99 LED, £5.99 PSU)

    The only advantage Maplin are left with compared to online sites is the ability to get items within a very short time, so long as you can get to a store during working hours.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I used to like going to Maplin to get bits'n'bobs...10 years ago

      "The only advantage Maplin are left with compared to online sites is the ability to get items within a very short time, so long as you can get to a store during working hours."

      .... And they have it in stock

      I gave up relying on their stock checker a few years ago after several fruitless trips.

  17. Dieter Haussmann

    Maplins used to be tiny shops where most stuff was behind the counter and you filled catalogue numbers from a catalogue and handed it to staff to pick from small drawers. Then they opened big stores at retail parks full of toys and rubbish tech, disco lights etc.. They have gone downhill ever since.

    They should have stayed small and then gone web-only or click and collect from the small shops.

  18. jms222

    Memories coming back.

    "Electronics & Music Maker"

    The ads on the back of many electronics mags. Didn't they sell an organ ? Disco lights.

    Catalogues with futuristic covers featuring the Maplin spaceship delivering to a distant planet.

  19. localzuk

    Costs

    Not good for the staff, but I can't see why the have so many staff in their stores. Our local store is never "busy" that I've seen. Max 5 people in at once. Yet they have at least 5 staff on hand. Seems rather expensive!

    1. Peb

      Re: Costs

      Five staff? Yes but most if them are talking to each other about cool fscebook/twatter stuff thst you have to interrupt to get served

  20. Steve 114

    Tandy Timewarp

    They're now what Tandy was then - place to browse while the wife's queuing in the Post Office. Except that staff (in ours) are quite knowledgeable. When they interrupt your reverie, they sometimes can force a decision on whether you could actually incorporate the not-quite-spec widget you can see or not. No excuse for making suppliers pay protection money though.

  21. Farmer Fred

    Overstaffed and overpriced...

    Ditch the overstaffing and cut prices around 30% and the might have a viable business. I went into one on a trading estate at 6:30pm one Wednesday evening and there were two staff that I could see out back (playing football with a lump of bubble wrap), three wandering the empty aisles and two on tills with no customers... now I'm no HR specialist (although I do work in retail), but I do think that level of staffing would be more commensurate with a Saturday!

    I always chuckle when I recall the three way branding split - Maplin (consumers and small stores), MPS (business customers) and Mondo (superstores instead of corner shops) - I said back then that it wouldn't last and would push them over to a more consumer oriented operation.

  22. jason 7 Silver badge

    The graphics cards...

    ...in Maplins always make me laugh. £50 for a 5 year old bottom range GPU that will sell for £10 on Ebay.

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: Have not used them since finding CPC.

      CPC=Farnell=Swiss buyout (see above). Bye Bye CPC? It was nice knowing you for so long ...

      Rapid Electronics were great and I've used them since the late 80s or early 90s. I still use them but, since the Conrad merger/buyout, things are not quite as good.

      Maplin had a good patch in the 80s but when as soon as they stopped sending you a catalogue and opened high-street shops they were doomed. I remember walking into a store for a couple of emergency bits and picking up a catalogue. They tried to charge me for it and I asked for the catalogue free. "No Sir". I spend £20k a year on components and other kit ... and have a company account with you. "Oh I'll speak to the manager ... Just this once I suppose we can let you have one." Haven't bought from them since.

      Screwfix were sold out to B&Q and opened high street shops and are now total crap (quality and price).

      Is there a theme here?

      What RS like now? Haven't used them for years. They used to be expensive but had nearly everything you wanted in at least two flavours, the best set of catalogues of any supplier, a great Data Library and customer support second to none. Obscure components they didn't carry came from Farnell who were nearly as good ... back then anyway.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Have not used them since finding CPC.

        "Screwfix were sold out to B&Q and opened high street shops and are now total crap (quality and price)."

        Maplins effectively were too (via Kingfisher) and it wasn't unusual to see B&Q products in the Maplin catalogue. I'd missed they were sold on a couple of years ago and that explains why the B&Q lines have disappeared.

  24. TopBanana
    FAIL

    Bye bye Maplins

    They are very expensive and only worth the extra if you absolutely must have it today, otherwise Amazon are your friend.

    Bye Maplins, it hasn't been fun.

    1. kmac499

      Re: Bye bye Maplins

      Just Dawned on me that Maplins the IT and electronic component supplier shares its name with the eponymous fictional Holiday Camp of Hi de HI fame.

      I'll leave the reader to fill in any similarities between a fading destination for novelty entertainment and an 80's TV sitcom.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bye bye Maplins

      I found it easier the other day to pay the premium and buy 6 metres of satellite cable to shift the TV in our lounge at short notice

      Surprised to find cable was better quality than the fitter had used, topped it off by making a better job of screwing on the F plugs.

  25. Justin Clift

    Maplins website didn't work properly for years

    The Maplins website didn't work to a basic, functional level for buyers, for years.

    It used to be that if you did a search on some term, and give it a search order (say "High to Low price"), then only the first page of results was valid for the search order. Every page after that had the items in a completely random order.

    Naturally, that made it literally useless to buy through unless the item you're looking for happened to be on a first page.

    I contacted them about this 3 times over the space of a year, both through the website feedback, through their (phone) customer service, and once via their survey form. Nothing seemed to be done about it.

    Checked just now, and it seems to be working. So it looks like someone with a clue may have noticed the problem. Finally (after a few years). Better late than never I suppose. :)

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Small volume magic smoke suppliers

    I still shop there, for things I want relatively quickly and don't want to mail order, click and collect has worked pretty well.

    The downside is that stock levels in the store tend to be on the low side, so it only works if you want (say) three widgets at short notice that produce magic smoke when a voltage is supplied. When the magic smoke has been lost a few days later and you need some more, the stock at the store is replenished but there's usually only three more magic smoke emitters.

  27. thegambles

    They were so much fun

    Do you remember those fantastic catalogues with every component under the sun and detailed diagrams and notes outlining how they worked. They sold them in newsagents with superb sci-fi covers. My Dad used to get one every year for Christmas.

    I know Electronics as a hobby has reduced to tiny levels (which is a real shame) but their move to sell those 5 minute wonder gadgets that gadget and junk shops provide means they will never recover. It's a race to the bottom. Most of the things that are not in the junk category (CCTV, PC components etc) are either the lowest end of the market (that no one should touch anyway as they usually don't work properly) at massively higher prices than elsewhere or simply way more expensive than the same item in other shops or Amazon. For those that know, it feels like the height of disrespect.

    The last time I actually tried to go to them for components, they had one or two small racks with between 0 and 3 of each component they stocked. When designing or building circuits you normally need multiple of the same component. I do hope Farnell recovers. Otherwise, just left with those good folks at Rapid.

    Very sad.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: Electronics as a hobby has reduced

      But there's a boom in things like Raspberry Pi and 3D printers - they should be able to surf that wave, if they could resist applying their usual ridiculous markup that makes them embarrassingly uncompetitive with UK online sellers, let alone Chinese suppliers.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: They were so much fun

      "The last time I actually tried to go to them for components, they had one or two small racks with between 0 and 3 of each component they stocked."

      Most of the smaller components are still out the back. It's no fun to hand them a list of items, to find that "XYZ is out of stock, so we substituted an equivalent."

      No, a 0.1uf polystyrene is not the same as a 22pf ceramic.

  28. cantankerous swineherd

    if the suppliers are in such a bad way they have to bend the knee to maplin they'd be better off liquidating themselves now. maplins obv. on the slide, they sold me one piece of rubbish too many and I'll never go back their.

    in general, any private equity takeover means you need to look for a new supplier; karrimor being a case in point.

  29. billium

    first online shopping

    I can't remember if it was Maplin or Display Electronics that was my first on line shopping experience. 300 baud modem to their BBS on DOS in the eighties. Seemed to work o.k.

    Looking at their website, I don't think it is a geek store any more but I have not used them for a long time.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: first online shopping

      Display Electronics

      Ah yes, the "distel" service. Brings back memories. I still have a working RGB monitor I bought from them for my Amiga...

      Whatever happened to Watford Electronics?

      1. IsJustabloke
        Meh

        Re: first online shopping

        Whatever happened to Watford Electronics?

        this -> http://www.saverstore.com/

        1. 8Ace

          Re: first online shopping

          Watford or Technomatic. Multi page ads in Electronics magazines, almost every 74 series and 4000 CMOS listed in a tiny font along with with discrete components.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: first online shopping

            My god, they've converted into an Argo rip-off.

            Anon as I worked there in the early 1990s.

  30. Wingtech
    FAIL

    Maplin Staff

    "The staff though are better than Currys/PCWorld/Carphonewarehouse etc."

    Not really, they just have more time to read the boxes while customers don't come in.

    They used to be better when they were hobbyists.

    I agree with others. Out of date products at inflated prices.

    Hmm, I can think of a few defunct PC makers who operated on the same principle.

    They are dying, but the staff don't yet know it.

  31. eloise

    Like Woolworths... No one ever goes there but we'll talk wistfully about them when they've gone...

  32. Milton Silver badge

    Repeating the same mistakes

    It's been a source of incredulous wonder to me, for several years now, that bricks and mortar retailers seem utterly incapable of learning any lessons in the internet age. You'd think the steady predation of the high street by internet operations would have taught some cruel lessons simply through pain, if nothing else ... but British management—the worst in Europe, barring, as always, the Italians—seems wilfully obtuse.

    Maplin used to complete on having stuff, on being competitive and employing moderately knowledgeable staff. Now they often don't have the stuff and they're not competitive, and they're wasting their staff as persistent pests, a role I suspect the staff themselves don't enjoy either. Presumably they'll soon go the way of PCWorld and employ lower primates. (How does PCW stay in business? Does anyone know?)

    Visiting the high street these days feels like stepping through a timewarp, what with WHSmith and Boots unable any longer to answer the question "What are we for?", and I half-expect to wander into a Woolworths and come out wearing flares ....

    1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: Repeating the same mistakes

      Woolworths closed down years ago... how long has it really been since you walked down a High Street?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Repeating the same mistakes

        Woolworths closed down years ago..

        But if you really want that "my name is Sam Tyler..." 1970's flashback, you've still got a few short days to savour it - until they've closed the last BHS.

      2. david bates

        Re: Repeating the same mistakes

        And Wilkos stepped into their shoes. Cheap tat, and bits and bobs of household stuff but not enough in any particular area to make it worth while.

        1. TRT Silver badge

          Re: Repeating the same mistakes

          It's the inevitable way the high st is going. Resistors are futile.

          1. cortland

            Re: Repeating the same mistakes

            "Resistors are futile."

            Feudal. ain't it?

        2. Why Not?
          Facepalm

          Re: Repeating the same mistakes

          and Wilkos seem to think rubbish puns and instructing you how to put the kettle on make them attractive.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Repeating the same mistakes

      "employing moderately knowledgeable staff."

      A few people have made this point. I agree, but I suspect part of the problem is there are far fewer knowledgeable hobbyists and even fewer of them want low paid retail jobs. The student-age hobbyists of today have been infected by the expectation of getting their education while building up a huge debt and then going directly into a high paying job so can service their debts and seem less inclined to "work their way" through college or university.

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Repeating the same mistakes

      Visiting the high street these days feels like stepping through a timewarp,

      That, I think, has more to do with local councils that are unable to grasp the idea that continually pushing rates and parking charges through the ceiling drives interesting small shops out of business, or online. Only the tired old behemoths like Boots and Smiths still persevere, probably because they don't know how to do anything else. Plus the charity shops, of course, who take the cheap short-term end-of-lease deals from the other shops the councils drove out of business.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Repeating the same mistakes

        "local councils that are unable to grasp the idea that continually pushing rates and parking charges through the ceiling"

        The local council's staff argued at a meeting 5 years ago that they _had_ to raise parking rates and eiliminate half-hour parking to make up for central govt funding shortfalls(*)

        No real surprise that 12 months later, parking income had _halved_ and most of the smaller retailers were closed or dying.

        Of course the argument from council staff was that the lack of parking income meant they would have to raise charges yet again, vs some people inside the council being sacked.

        (*) It's completely illegal for UK councils to use parking revenue (fees and fines) as a source of income, but they do it anyway.

  33. Emperor Zarg
    Joke

    Who do they think they are?

    Demanding money from suppliers? Who do they think they are? Tesco?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Who do they think they are?

      Tesco was a dominant multi-billion pound business...well pretended to be anyway. So could afford to piss off suppliers and offer something in eturn.

      Maplins is that store you drive past on the way to Aldi.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Who do they think they are?

        Maplins is that store you drive past on the way to Aldi.

        And Aldi are the people who pissed on Tesco's chips. Time was when Tesco was the main shop and you might risk Aldi for a top up shop. Now it is the other way round.

        And even when there's a Maplin near an Aldi (etc) on retail parks with heavy footfall, Maplin remains a modern day ghost town.

        Maplindroids! Wake up smell the coffee, and get a new job ANYWHERE!

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: you will never become interested

      I've recently been fiddling with Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and as a side effect I've been doing more electronics stuff than I have in decades.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "such shops as Maplins will move to electronic goods as opposed to electronic components"

      Which worked really well for Dick Smith Electronics (Australia's version of Maplin), and is working so well for Jaycar (Australia's other version of Maplin)

      When you're a cheap electronic tat shop it pays to actually sell the cheap electronic tat, cheaply.

  35. JaitcH
    Happy

    When I shop I want a flat playing field. not a supermarket selling eye-space

    Why do we need Maplins when we have www.aliexpress.com or Alababa?

    When using these Chinese websites you see just how much of a rip-off Western websites are - with or without VAT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Meh

      Re: When I shop I want a flat playing field. not a supermarket selling eye-space

      with or without VAT.

      or import duty

      or safety regulations

      or licensing...

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: When I shop I want a flat playing field. not a supermarket selling eye-space

        Dodgy stuff on Amazon too.

        When the product information says words to the effect of if it doesn't work email the supplier and please don't report it to Amazon, then the lack of British Standard marks becomes unsurprising and that CE mark is strictly lip service.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: When I shop I want a flat playing field. not a supermarket selling eye-space

          and that CE mark is strictly lip service

          Everybody knows that CE stands for caveat emptor.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: When I shop I want a flat playing field. not a supermarket selling eye-space

      I go to a local couriers every day to collect parcels for work. It's rare there isn't someone there collecting their Chinese import parcel and moaning about the extra charges for VAT and import duty. It's not always that much cheaper, especially if there's something wrong and you have to ship it back to China.

  36. Lunatik
    Facepalm

    Prices, mate

    Another 'wtf are Maplin thinking' price moan.

    A few months ago I urgently needed a 64GB USB3 drive. There was a Sainsbury's, Currys, Maplin and Argos nearby. The availability/price was something like this:

    Sainsbury's only had 32GB USB2 at about £15

    Currys had one for £28

    Maplin had one for £80 (!)

    Argos had one for £15

    Gues where I bought?

    The chap in Maplin seemed to have no idea his stuff was so overpriced.

  37. short

    Who supplies to Maplin?

    Why aren't Maplin buying direct from China? Who are these middlemen they're trying to squeeze? The few remaining UK electronics manufacturers? Bastards, if so.

    I'm grateful to Maplin for having some 7815s in stock in Cambridge earlier this year when I needed some same-day, but I'm clearly not their market. I'll miss them, I guess.

    Does any retail place support the maker movement, which you might hope could harvest some cash from parents & sprogs at a tolerable markup, or is everyone prepared to wait for delivery? I dunno, kids these days, no demand for instant pocket-money squandering gratification any more.

  38. The Godfather
    Unhappy

    Sad refrain...

    Whenever VC's get a grip of businesses like Maplin, it can only result in tears and hair-pulling. Was a gem of a place in its early days but successive owners have failed to mould it to meet changing buyers habits.

  39. Fonant

    Sad Decline of a once-useful business. Where is the UK going?

    I used to use Maplins a lot, for mail-order electronics stuff, as a teenager some 30 years ago. I too had a four-digit customer number. The main competition then was RS Components if you could find someone at school (or, later, at work) to place an order for you.

    Went into Maplins in Worthing a few weeks ago, and came away very depressed. Random stock, missing the things I was looking for, and a lot of expensive junk.

    Maplins were an excellent mail-order company, and should have been able to transition to the web for online ordering easily. But their website has never been any good. I wish I'd kept some of their catalogues with the whacky Sci-Fi covers and useful informaiton!

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My Last (ever) visit to a Maplin shop.

    I needed a motor start capacitor to repair my sister's tumble drier in a bit of a hurry, she'd described the problem over the phone so I told her what she needed to look for on the motor, she took the thing off (despite her current desk job, my sister used to work on electronics/electromechanical assembly lines) and took it to a local supplier who thought he was dealing with an idiot and tried to charge her £27 for one, she declined, waited for me to finish work and we drove up to the nearest Maplins, where we got two of the buggers for the princely sum of £9.

    Now, my previous visit to the same shop was a couple of years earlier, they still had a couple of people working there who understood me when I started asking for various chips, I got what I needed (and bought a couple of other things on the basis of 'what the hell, I might use this').

    This time?, I've never felt that unwelcome in a shop before, especially when I made it clear it was components I was after, someone pointed to a hatch in the rear wall where they kept the sole remaining staff member with any sort of electronics background caged up, I went up, told the guy what I needed, got the things paid, never went back.

    Somewhere I think I still have a Maplin catalogue which consists of a number of Gestenered(sic?) pages stapled together, it may have escaped the great (and now regretted) loft purge of '98.

  41. mintus55

    Biggest Seller

    The biggest seller in my local maplins (according to the guy on the till), is isopropyl alcohol. The biggest use for isopropyl alcohol has nothing to do with electronics, and everyone pays cash hahahaha.

  42. Jamtea

    Maplin are garbage. I feel extraordinarily lucky to live near enough to Farnell in Leeds that I can shop at the trade counter.

  43. MuddyBoots

    WH Smiths

    Went into WH Smith the other day, and it's the only shop I know that is identical to the one I used to go to in the 1980's, even down to the fountain pen display case. OK they have Kobos next to the escalator, but even they look thick with dust...

  44. cortland

    It's Friday

    and the result of yesterday's referendum may have set them back somewhat; say, about £85m.

  45. FidotheFrightful

    True, has the motto Customers do not count.

    I bought a lamp from them . Got it exchanged due to fault. Eventualy went back 3 times., all lamps failed with in a week. On returning the item 3 times to them, on the second occacasion, got told the lamp failure was " due to a fault in your electrical installation" by a gent who claimed he was an electrical engineer but didn't know what omegaL was! Probably didn't know that cos phi is the power factor either. Never heard of the bathtub failure curve! Eventually after a lot of hassle got a refund and went to TLC Direct and paid a quid more than the Maplin single lamp price, for two lamps. Installed one of them and its still working! The failures that I experienced were typical of a lamp being dropped and the filiament coils being shorted as a result.

    A company of last resort!

  46. Howard Winter

    I too had a Maplin mail-order account number (five digits, I think?) and used to use their spaceship-covered catalogues as reference books. Then they opened the little shop in Burnt Oak (between Edgware and Colindale) and I'd go there on a Saturday to browse and buy things that looked interesting or useful. I understand that shop has now closed :-(

    Watford is now my closest, and it's almost impossible to park (I refuse to pay to park to spend money in shops!). It was the beginning of the end when they got rig of the component counter at the back and incorporated it into the shelf area for remote controlled cars and disco balls.

    Now the chain that I'd like to see go under is Staples. They used to have reasonably good prices, and regular sales that made it worth stocking up on whatever it was. But their prices have skyrocketed, and they don't have the sales any more. A fiver for a ringbinder? And Really Useful Boxes at prices higher than anywhere else - a 3litre one can be had at ASDA for £3, Rymans have occasional special offers such as four for a tenner, I think the last price I saw at Staples was pushing a fiver!

    The US version of B&Q is Home Depot (even has the same orange livery) and a while ago B&Q were thinking of buying them - not the other way round, strangely - but it never happened. The weird thing, to us, is that Home Depot is where all the tradesmen go for supplies and tools - something B&Q have never achieved here. And there are still a few corner hardware stores over there - the last one in St.Albans (with that parafinny-smell and wooden drawers containing everything you could ever want) closed when the building was sold to developers, and there is now a block of flats there. Tragic.

    I think Maplin do the Pi-ZERO DAC for a price similar to the online places, but without the postage. I may see if I can get one before they go bust! :-)

  47. Andy3

    I only go to Maplin when I'm absolutely desperate now. Their prices are absolutely disgraceful! About £2 for a single F-plug, when you can get a bag of 10 or even 20 from CPC for that amount. Audio leads priced at £19.99 for something that's worth £3.99 on a good day. They no longer stock components in-store and many of the staff haven't a clue what they are on about. As sad shadow of its former self.

  48. scruncher

    Screwfix is ACE

    I agree wholeheartedly with everything said about Maplin - I too was a fan and customer in the 80s and have long been sad to see its decline - but I'm baffled by all the bad-mouthing of Screwfix on here. Stop it at once! Both branches here in Edinburgh are the best shops in town. The website is excellent, stock levels are generally great and they fall over themselves to get stuff to you next day, even on a Sunday. As far as shops on the 'high street' go, in my eyes they are a shining beacon. And no I don't have shares in them!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Screwfix is ACE

      I wont disagree with you regarding the general usefulness of Screwfix, having a local shop now saves me a fortune and has started deservedly putting the local 'scalpers' out of this line of business.

      '..and they fall over themselves to get stuff to you next day, even on a Sunday.

      This alone has saved me so much grief on a number of occasions recently, both for DIY and Work, again, I'm glad they opened up a shop here, but I do have to take issue with

      '..The website is excellent, '

      No, just no...admittedly it has 'sort-of' improved recently, and it's a lot better now than it was last year, but when it's still easier to use Google to search it rather than use their own search for items you know they stock, they've still for some way to go. As an example, a couple of weeks back we needed to quickly check if they had an item (Easyfix studs) in stock locally/general area, plonked the paper catalogue reference number into their search, no items found/returned. Google search of item number site:screwfix.co.uk returned the page (and they had them in stock locally) - I will note that they've fixed that 'bug' since, so at least they're working on it.

  49. Fihart

    Soon to go the way of Tandy.

    Radio Shack's European branches sailed into the sunset a decade or so ago. This may have seemed to set the scene for Maplin's High Street expansion but the underlying problem which sank Tandy remains -- hobbyist electronics has all but disappeared and consumer devices are entirely price sensitive (viz Amazon). Recent visit to Maplin proved largely pointless.

    I support North London's last proper electronic hobby store in Cricklewood.

  50. Smitty

    Overpriced isn't the word.

    Charging 20 quid for a mini to standard HDMI converter is taking the piss considering you can buy a bag of 10 for about $9.00 on eBay direct from a Chinese supplier. Actually the same applies to everything they sell, you can get it on eBay direct from the supplier for a hell of a lot less.

    But I'd miss them if they went. I like browsing all the random crap they have.

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