back to article Dixons warns of looming Brexit storm cloud amid bumper results

A spectre is haunting Dixons Carphone - the spectre of Brexit. Despite posting a 19 per cent jump in half-year profits to £144m, the reailer is warning of stormy times ahead. Sales in UK and Ireland rose 4 per cent to £3bn for the six months to 29 October, as group turnover increased by 11 per cent to £4.9bn, the electronics …

  1. David Lawton

    The Dixon group are the very definition if incompetent. In the last 30 days i have had so much hassle with them i won't be actively doing business with them ever again if i can help it.

    1) Order a TV on their website, shows as in stock at local Currys so i reserve and head on down. TV has been sold they have no stock!? But i reserved it!!!!! Somebody must have bought it on the shop floor as i clicked reserve the assistant tells me. So i just go home and get it from John Lewis instead.

    2) Black Friday order 2 Tassimos in the Black Friday sale online for delivery. Only 1 turns up, ring up, they have no more stock to send me a second one and won't be getting anymore, i'm STILL waiting for a refund on the 2nd one. Why let me buy what they don't have stock of!

    3) At work we needed 1 fridge, 3 microwaves and 4 kettles. Check local Currys for stock of the items. All in stock it said, so reserved them and went to collect. Nope, get there only the fridge is, they cannot find the rest so must not be in the stock room need to pick other items. WTF?!

    So in short, Dixons stock control systems are pure utter crap and you should avoid this company if you can.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's taken you this long to realise? I bet they still tried to sell you extended guarantees. Or do they not do that any more? I stopped using them years ago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Warranty

        Many years ago I went to Currys to buy a sandwich toaster. It cost £15. At the counter they pushed forward a spotty PFY who was either the FNG or a YTSer to deal with me. He then tried to sell me an extended warranty for the thing costing £10.

        Considering the utter absurdity of this I unfortunately fell back into arsehole mode, asking him "so are you are telling me that this is unreliable then?" The poor kid stammered a bit then said no, at which point I informed him that I didn't need a warranty then and in the unlikely event that a thing I would probably only ever use about twice a year did break down, then I would just buy another one or do without. At this point he admitted defeat and processed the sale.

        Having now moved to Oz, I take great delight when I am "offered the warranty opportunity" of asking them to detail exactly what protection the warranty offers me that I don't already have under the Australian Consumer Guarantee legislation. This usually brings either a blank look or some mumbling.

        1. marc 9

          Re: Warranty

          I bet you felt good after that.. poor kid was just doing what he's been asked to do.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Warranty

            Not really, I actually felt a bit sorry for him for being put in that situation. I have worked in retail myself and been in the same situation, which is one reason why I never buy extended warranties. I know how worthless they are and how they are almost entirely pure profit for the retailer. At the place I worked at the margin on the PCs was so slim that they made more money on the warranty than on the 2 grand PC it was sold with. Unfortunately they went bust. Shortly after the warranty company went under as well leaving customers high and dry.

            Whenever I was buying a product where I expected to be sold a warranty such as a fridge or TV, I would always say to the person I was dealing right at the beginning with that if they said the word warranty, I would leave the store. You could almost see the internal conflict as they struggled not to say it.

            However, I wasn't expecting Currys to try to sell me a warranty on such low priced product as a sandwich toaster, especially when the warranty was 66% of the cost of the product. For 5 quid more I could have just bought 2 and had a RAIST.

        2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

          Re: Warranty

          Extended warranties and such are a form of gambling. There's a chance the product will fail during the lifetime of the plan.

          When you buy the plan, you're betting the device will fail during that period, and that it will cost at least the price of the plan to fix.

          When they sell you the plan, they're betting the device will NOT fail, or will cost less than the plan's price to fix.

          The house gets to set the terms and the price. You've only got Hobson's choice. In the meantime, they have your money to collect interest on, you do not, if you buy.

          In the long run, the house always wins.

          To win the game, take the price of each plan you're offered and put it into savings or other investment (instead of buying the plan). You get to collect interest, and you have money set aside for repairs that should, statistically, exceed the cost of the repairs. There are some assumptions baked into that but you should come out ahead in any case.

    2. Valerion

      The other day I reserved a printer. Went and picked it up no problem. Then half an hour later had a phone call from them apologising and telling me it wasn't in stock and so I couldn't come and collect it. Left hand, meet right hand.

      I only went there because nobody else had them in stock. I generally refuse to shop there since they advertised 10% cashback on Quidco for iPads for Black Friday 2015 and then only paid 1%. I'm still fighting that over a year later.

      Amazon and John Lewis are the way forward for decent service.

  2. Unep Eurobats

    More opportunity than threat

    "reducing our fixed cost base, identifying areas of potential market share growth" ... Not so much doom-mongering as cautious optimism, methinks.

    Of course dreadful things may happen, but maybe not to Dixons.

    Feel free to wring your hands anyway.

    1. Dave 15

      Re: More opportunity than threat

      Basically using brexit as an excuse to sack a few people and I assume replace them with cheap labour elsewhere.

      Typical me thinks... to be honest if we hadn't left there would be some other excuse - probably that staying in is forcing the price of the pound up and reducing competitiveness.

    2. paulf Silver badge
      Pirate

      Re: More opportunity than threat

      I think this part of the quote was more interesting (My emphasis): "In particular, we have been focusing on reducing our fixed cost base, identifying areas of potential market share growth if the world becomes a tougher place for our competitors, and generally preparing for all eventualities - just in case."

      IOW - If a competitor to one of our foreign operations does a Comet, leaving us as the only major gig in town, we'll respond as we did in the case of Comet by cutting service levels lower than your thought possible while extending our price gouging on the poor hopeless saps in that country as all vestiges of being able to go somewhere else equally crap but possibly a bit cheaper and less likely to insist they buy an overpriced 5 year warranty evaporates before their very eyes, while we rub our greedy hands with glee laughing maniacally.

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Of course dreadful things may happen, but maybe not to Dixons.

    Correct - have a look at their financial results in Greece, especially during the first months of the Greek Debacle. A downturn is quite often a "now or never" signal for white goods and large ticket entertainment goods upgrade/replacement for a lot of consumers.

  4. inmypjs Silver badge

    "identifying areas of potential market share growth"

    Given a choice between trying to buy a phone from Carphone warehouse and stabbing myself in the face with a fork I would take the fork.

    Not being a pack of completely useless wankers would be a start towards market share growth.

    1. John Lilburne

      Re: "identifying areas of potential market share growth"

      Oddly dixons/currys have been considered a bunch of "completely useless wankers" for almost 40 years. Yet here they still are. Now true you don't go in there and ask advice other than "Where are the ...?" however, they are still there where others have folded.

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: "identifying areas of potential market share growth"

        @ John Lilburne "Oddly dixons/currys have been considered a bunch of "completely useless wankers" for almost 40 years. [...] however, they are still there where others have folded."

        That'd be the "We're cheaper because we're useless wankers and we're depending on you relying on one of our more expensive competitors (with decent knowledgeable staff) to answer your questions then you coming here to buy for less" effect.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Carphone warehouse also has problems

    I attempted to buy a PAYG landfill android phone from them using click and collect, and got a confirmation e-mail. I was then supposed to get an e-mail a day or two later confirming that the phone was available to pick up, which never arrived. When I rang them up to chase the order a few days later, I was told there was a problem taking my payment and they had cancelled the order (without telling me), and I could try and buy it again either over the phone or online. The price had gone up by £10 by then (hmmm...) and cost the same as buying it direct from the mobile operator, so I bought direct from the mobile operator instead.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Carphone warehouse also has problems

      SOP for a number of companies in my experience.

      The company suddenly realise that they are making a loss on an item and it goes out of stock and they refuse to honour existing orders even if the purchaser has all the correct paperwork.

      Amazingly, it comes back in stock at the store and at the same or higher price than elsewhere with them hoping that people will be too lazy to shop around and give them their business.

      This was covered in my MBA.

      1. Doc Ock

        Re: Carphone warehouse also has problems

        >This was covered in my MBA.

        And what MBA would that be ?

        http://www.acronymfinder.com/MBA.html

        Master of Beer Appreciation

        Married But Available

        Mediocre But Arrogant (Abhijit Bhaduri book)

        Media Blaggers Association

        Master Bullshit Artist

        Etc...

      2. inmypjs Silver badge

        Re: Carphone warehouse also has problems

        "The company suddenly realise that they are making a loss on an item"

        Nope, that would require competence that CPW doesn't have.

        In my experience the only CPW employees that give a rat's arse about anything are those on commission and then only while they think they have a chance of getting some.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Carphone warehouse also has problems

          I've never come across a company whose staff give less of a shit about them. Last time I wandered into a Carphone Warehouse, the staff (who all looked about 14) were busy playing football with a scrunched up bit of paper. When I asked for advice on something fairly basic, the assistant just called the same number I could have called from home and waited the same amount of time (no fast track for staff, and definitely no training beyond brochures that were available to customers anyway). Granted this was a few years ago now.. Weirdly I couldn't feel annoyed with the employees at all - I figured if I worked for a company whose management were that remote, disinterested and disengaged, I would probably give just as much of a crap as these kids.

      3. Dave 15

        Re: Carphone warehouse also has problems

        Makes a change from land of leather, world of leather, leather world, leather land or whatever the bunch or arsewipes call themselves today...

        They take the approach of having a sale, taking payment (or at the very least deposits), going tits up, reopening with a different name, the 3 piece you have already paid for still in the show room... and then turning round and offering to sell it to you a second time. Oh and yes, the receiver (chum of the guy in charge no doubt) makes a packet sending you letters explaining how you will never get the money back. And the bank then tells you that you paid with the visa debit not the visa credit so they will also not help....

        Government turns round and says... well the tax man was first in line for payment and got his dosh, customers and suppliers can swivel.

        Great world this corporate bugger everyone over to pay the shareholders and CEO more money...

        BTW, anyone here ge caught up with Lufthansa? Cancelled my flight twice, said tough shit a strike is not covered by any compensation so swivel... and no its clearly not our fault we offered the workers 2% while the board took 25% pay rises.. thats just plain reasonable

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Carphone warehouse also has problems

        "The company suddenly realise that they are making a loss on an item and it goes out of stock and they refuse to honour existing orders even if the purchaser has all the correct paperwork...Amazingly, it comes back in stock at the store and at the same or higher price than elsewhere."

        In that case there's no reason not to honour it or take to trip to the Small Claims Court.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I had a phone in my name, but used by my wife.

    At 20-odd months old, she got a phone call from CPW's direct sales business in Loughborough. Pushy little guy, kept talking her into some Sony mid-range handset. We'd already been out looking at phones and she wanted an Xperia Z5 - but no, this chap decides that she needs a worse phone for the same price and would she like to go for it?

    "But I'm not the contract holder" she replies.

    "Well, we'll sort out the details, I'll put it on the system, and I'll phone back and get him to agree it"

    She spent a while refusing to even entertain the idea of buying a phone in this way, and he started on the whole "price only guaranteed for 24 hours" lark - finally agreeing to phone back and talk to me from the top.

    Lo and behold, he calls back and I take the call. The story has now changed to say that my wife has "already agreed" to the phone, "loved" the deal and just needed me to say yes. Bollocks had she. Asked a few questions as to how she'd agreed when it's my name on the contract, and why she'd love it when it's barely a better spec than the old handset she had nearly 2 years ago.

    Pushy, arrogant and a liar is sadly the way I'd describe him.

    The really awful thing is that the reason my wife's phone was in my name was because I got a really good staff tariff - since I worked for Dixons Carphone. It was really depressing to hear one of my colleagues dishing out lies and bullshit to sell a phone - because in all honesty, that rarely happened in my experience. Understaffing yes, high prices yes, but by far the majority of people I worked with were honest and good at their job.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Alert

      @AC

      Presumably you are a regular here at El Reg? If that's the case you should have explained to your better half the art of telling unsolicited calls selling crap or asking for personal information (and the like) to (bugger off)^2*. Had you done so (this is your failing not hers!) she would have told the "Pushy, arrogant [...] liar" to summarily get lost saving you both a lot of hassle.

      *You can work up to "string them along for entertainment" over time.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        " If that's the case you should have explained to your better half the art of telling unsolicited calls selling crap or asking for personal information (and the like) to (bugger off)"

        Or simply ask them to hang on for a moment and then lay the phone aside until it makes that siren noise.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Holmes

          @ Doctor Syntax "Or simply ask them to hang on for a moment and then lay the phone aside until it makes that siren noise."

          Yes on a landline (assuming you don't mind the line being blocked until you hang up after you hear the off hook siren), but the OP noted his Missus was called on her Mobile...

  7. Andy Non
    Thumb Down

    Not the best customer service

    Last time I wanted a mobile phone I went to the local Currys PC world and the salesman couldn't have been more disinterested in explaining the different options available. Maybe it was time for him to go for lunch or some other pressing engagement. Bought one elsewhere.

    The staff are also generally clueless. The Mrs had decided she wanted to buy one of those new fangled flat-bed microwaves (with a grill). They only had one small one in stock. I explained we wanted to be able to put a large rectangular dish in there for cooking lasagnes for example so a revolving plate wasn't feasible. She suggested buying an ordinary microwave and removing the revolving plate. She obviously wasn't aware of uneven cooking and the risk of food poisoning.

    Where do they train their staff? Or don't they bother? The only thing they seem proficient and well trained in is trying to sell unwanted extended warranties.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Not the best customer service

      "the salesman couldn't have been more disinterested"

      Uninterested more likely. A disinterested salesman is more rare than a hen's tooth embedded in a unicorn.

  8. MR J

    All I want for christmas is for DSG to go BUST, DSG to go BUST, DSG to go BUST.

    Seriously.

    Something that's this Monopolistic and propped up by the gov at the same time needs to go.

    While they don't get "Direct" funding, I have seen contracts made out in specific ways that resulted in schools and such having no choice but to go to a DSG store to buy the specific product. A bit like when some US gov contracts would call for power supply color coding that only Dell used..

    I just got back nearly £200 from the ombudsmen from one of the DSG stores due to a problem. The "Apology" letter I requested came from one part of the group (all it says is "we have been told to say sorry, here it is" (no signature), and the cheque that came has arrived from yet another part of the group and it says the cheque is a refund as agreed for my customer loyalty contract, they look forward to hearing from me again!...

    As to the "Fault"... Well, It has never happened... It has taken me over 3 months to get my issue resolved. Will anything at DSG Change... Nope... It doesn't need to.

    There is little to no brick and mortar competition to them any longer. The gov says there is.

    Currys has competition from Currys Digital, who has competition from PC World, who has competition from PC World Buisness.

    Ever had to deal with "KnowHow"... Does anyone "Know How" to fix something AFTER they have looked at it... Doubtful!...

    Generally nice staff through most of the DSG stores, but so little must actually go into actual training to understand products, they know ever buzzword - but ask them what the buzzword means and they instantly get stumped.

    I would seriously love to see the whole group go under, be split, and become born again. Christmas wishes will not come tru for me this year tho.. Too much bad Mojo.

    1. paulf Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: All I want for christmas is for DSG to go BUST, DSG to go BUST, DSG to go BUST.

      @ MR J "There is little to no brick and mortar competition to them any longer. The gov says there is."

      The only real remaining High Street competition, if you can call it that due to their more limited reach, is the department stores (John Lewis, HoF, Debenhams, et al), to a limited extent the larger supermarkets and the "Poor Fucking" HP stores like Brighthouse. If you thought Slurrys were determined on their extended warranty sales you've clearly not seen how ruthless places like Brighthouse are with their claims you can only get the necessary "loan" if you buy the extended warranty. Talk about the next PPI in its genesis...

      The only training Slurrys dish out is how to read information off the shelf ticket. If the answer to the question put to the sales droid isn't on that ticket you're SOL.

  9. SVV Silver badge

    Looming Brexit Storm Cloud

    Now that's the best name for a cloud service yet.

    Presumably it'll be hosted here in the UK, so people don't give their money to those bloody foreigners.

    "Do the patriotic thing - use the Brexit Storm Cloud, supporting BRITISH businesses"

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Looming Brexit Storm Cloud

      When you ask for the intended specifications of this alleged cloud service, the answer will be the tautological answer that "your Looming Brexit Storm Cloud *means* a Looming Brexit Storm Cloud".

      Pushing for anything resembling even the most basic specification, you'll eventually be promised that it'll be a "red, white and blue Looming Brexit Storm Cloud", at which point it's obvious that they'd never actually expected anyone to buy it, hadn't planned what to do if they did and are making it up as they go along to suit themselves.

  10. long-in-tooth

    Pay in sterling? No thanks!

    So Dixons are preparing for a sticky future. Sensible!!!

    The Luxury Coach Firm I have used for the past 20 years for European holidays and travel announced that they will finish business at the end of 2017 with one final bash in January 2018.

    Reason?

    By then they will have run out of euros which will mean an increase of 10% minimum in all their prices if they have to pay in sterling. Even now some of the European hotels they use have said they will not accept bookings that might be paid in sterling.

    Fortunately we bought enough euros to last us for years pre-brexit vote so we have not had to buy euros since. One of the few investments that paid off big time!!!!

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