back to article Currys PC World given a spanking for misleading laptop savings ads

Currys PC World was today placed on the naughty step by toothless watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority over the way it misleadingly promoted savings to push laptops sales. A disgruntled consumer contacted the ASA to question the retailer's £200 discount claim on a lappy that was initially priced £1,149.99 for just 21 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "The retailer reckoned consumers splashing out on a new portable PC were likely "tech savvy" and had resources and brain power to judge if the price was genuine".

    Really, tech savvy people buy computers from PC World? Not unless they are desperate.

    1. Geoff Campbell

      I've had a few reasonable laptops from them. There's normally something on "offer" at around £350 which will be perfectly usable for a couple of years.

      There's no way I'd buy a premium model from them, however.

      GJC

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        In the days of the £200 netbooks running Linux, I went to buy one and they tried to flog some (Windows) antivirus software as well as the obligatory extended warranty.

        1. katrinab Silver badge

          I had that with a MacBook. They also tried to sell a Windows version of MS Office, and they do actually have the Mac version in stock.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      My last few machines*, generally high-spec, have come from PC Dixon's Curry World, for no real reason other than convenience.

      As a professional techie, I always come away feeling a little bit dirty, but at least I have a new machine.

      * apart from one, which came from Staples of all places

      1. Mark York 3 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Staples

        Had a few nice higher end laptops (ex-display) from Staples (Canada) & from my local branch in a small town outside of Calgary (Helps if you know the sales staff too) at good prices.

        Had some nice misc nice purchases from the clearance bins\end of lines, as its a smaller town the manager usually applies a 25% discount (at the till) as a minimum right across the board on some of the better items.

        I think my Sony 1080P camcorder cost me about $115.

        I treat Best Buy\The Empty Units Formally Known As Future Shop in the same vein as Currys\PC World.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Had the Manager of a PC World pop into Maplins recently. He wouldn't buy from their own store. Go figure.

      1. djstardust

        Don't believe that .....

        All Maplins stock is at least three years out of date and three times the price. Not a chance.

      2. Linker3000

        Things are really BAD if Maplin is a better option than PC World

    4. Allan 1

      Sorry, but I've bought a couple of high end laptops from PC World, and are quite satisified with the spec and the price. Not happy with the way they really push hard to get you to buy McAffee, Microsoft Office, Knowhow Cloud, and Knowhow Setup though. A polite "No thank you" is not enough. You need multiple "No thank you. I said no. I am sorry but what use is mcrosoft office to me when I use libre office? NO!"

      1. TheProf
        Angel

        I've bought several laptops from PC World. The trick is to order over the internet. Next day delivery and no salesdroid trying to flog tat.

  2. djstardust

    Yada yada

    Same old same old. Sorta pointless rapping them on the knuckles once all the stock has been sold.

    It'll happen again and again and again.

    Remember folks, just like DFS sofas 50% off an artificially high starting price is not a saving in the slightest. Until retailers are stopped from increasing the base price then giving a discount to the "normal" selling price then nothing will change.

    Mind you, Debenhams have been caught out by this as no-one shops there at full price anymore, they just wait for a blue cross day and buy it then.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: Yada yada

      Boots Opticians used to alternate 50% off and 2 for the price of 1. No idea how they got away with it for so long.

      1. wolfetone Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Yada yada

        "Boots Opticians used to alternate 50% off and 2 for the price of 1. No idea how they got away with it for so long."

        Because if you went during the 50% sale, and bought 3 glasses, you'd effectively pay for 1.5 glasses.

        And if you went for the 2 for 1, and you bought 4 glasses, you'd pay for 2.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yada yada

      Not sure how much can really be done to prevent it, or why. If you think you're getting a bargain and presume that the retailer is genuinely offering you the best price on the market out of the goodness of their heart, then there's not much to help you.

  3. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Does the ASA not realise the free advertising they are giving Currys PC World?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    PC World still exists?

    That's good, because I really need an overpriced HDMI cable with extended warranty.

    1. King Jack
      Headmaster

      Re: PC World still exists?

      Make sure you get the one that 'improves' colours.

      1. Boothy
        Paris Hilton

        Re: PC World still exists?

        Don't forget it needs to be gold plated as well, you can really tell the difference when they are, honest!

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: PC World still exists?

          I always get the oxygen-free cables with Teflon insulation. The bits slide through more rapidly and arrive free of rust. This allows the TV to work without a TV licence (a fact that I have conclusively proven).

          1. Terry 6 Silver badge

            Re: PC World still exists?

            always get the oxygen-free cables with Teflon insulation.

            You have to be careful with those. If they get tangled the bits get all mixed up inside then.

            1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

              Re: PC World still exists?

              Accept no substitute

              1. Boothy

                Re: PC World still exists?

                @Aladdin.

                Thanks for the link, it's worth a read of the page if only for a laugh!

                Some highlights: (bear in mind this is an RJ45 Ethernet cable!)

                Quote:

                * Solid 100% Silver Conductors : Perfect-Surface Technology applied to extreme-purity silver provides unprecedented clarity and dynamic contrast.

                * Directionality - All audio cables are directional. The correct direction is determined by listening to every batch of metal conductors used in every AudioQuest audio cable. Arrows are clearly marked on the connectors to ensure superior sound quality. For best results have the arrow pointing in the direction of the flow of music. For example, NAS to Router, Router to Network Player.

                * Dielectric-Bias System - All insulation slows down the signal on the conductor inside. When insulation is unbiased, it slows down parts of the signal differently, a big problem for very time-sensitive multi-octave audio. AudioQuest’s DBS creates a strong, stable electrostatic field which saturates and polarizes (organizes) the molecules of the insulation. This minimizes both energy storage in the insulation and the multiple nonlinear time-delays that occur. Sound appears from a surprisingly black background with unexpected detail and dynamic contrast.

                What do these people smoke!?

        2. Richard Boyce

          Re: PC World still exists?

          "Don't forget it needs to be gold plated as well, you can really tell the difference when they are, honest!"

          Especially valuable with optical connectors, of course. It's not just PC World offering such bargains. http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/maplin-digital-optical-mini-tos-adapter-a14ny .

          1. Baldrickk Silver badge

            Re: PC World still exists?

            Optical connectors.

            That really is stupid. Even worse is that the linked one is £9.99, and this one: http://www.maplin.co.uk/p/digital-audio-optical-toslink-to-mini-toslink-adapter-web-only-l71ba is £0.22 despite being identical...

      2. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: PC World still exists?

        LSD version ?

    2. MGJ

      Re: PC World still exists?

      There was a Chewing The Fat sketch with them flogging extended warranties 'for total peace of mind' on batteries.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ebuyer / Amazon Hard disk prices

    You could have a field day with Ebuyer and Amazon regards WD / Seagate Hard Drive prices, regarding their "was prices" on same principle.

    Amazon advertises the 4TB WD Red hard drive as previous £151.87, yet it's being £126.98 for a good few weeks now, to make this the 'normal price' and the 4TB Seagate Barracuda was £95 a couple of weeks back, now £108, yet "was price" is £182, a price it has never been sold for by Amazon.

    1. Dale 3

      Re: Ebuyer / Amazon Hard disk prices

      Top tip: Go to uk.camelcamelcamel.com and copy & paste any Amazon URL into their search. It will show you the price history of that item, so you can see how good any bargain really is.

    2. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Ebuyer / Amazon Hard disk prices

      "it's being £126.98 for a good few weeks now, to make this the 'normal price'"

      Careful with this. The regulations have probably changed, but back in the day, the "normal price" had to have been charged for the item for at least 28 days of the previous six months, meaning that, of course, a brand-new item can't be advertised as "marked down from X" until it has been offered at X for four weeks... (So yeah, they stick it in one store on a weird shelf in the back somewhere so that nobody ever finds it, but if you stumble across it you could in theory buy it, and of course there's a "Beware of the Leopard" sign in front.)

    3. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Ebuyer / Amazon Hard disk prices

      Amazon has always been up front about their policy. The price you see is either the RRP (on which they have a very aggressive discounting policy), or the price they've sold items at (on average) in a certain period of time. But usually it's the former (i.e. RRP).

      I once worked for a group that tried to use Amazon as a selling channel. Being told by Amazon that they expected to be able to give up to 60% off the RRP (which cut into *our* profit significantly given that the RRP was 20% above cost) gave us enough pause to decline and say 'thanks, but no thanks'.

  6. pleb

    I'm quite sure there is an incubation area behind the staff toilets at Curry's where a single example of every impending promotion is 'offered for sale' at price plus future discount. Even if an errant customer stumbled across them, at that price they would only sell by accident. After incubation, the stock is rolled out to the high traffic displays showing the stupendous 'discount'.

    And even don't get me going on Amazon... but at least there is camelcamelcamel.

    Actually the furniture stores best the lot of them, they advertise 'discounts' against future prices they didn't even charge yet.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Actually the furniture stores best the lot of them, they advertise 'discounts' against future prices they didn't even charge yet."

      I've seen sale prices at a sofa shop where the original price was stated as "previously on sale at £blah at our $town_name branch. I sometimes wonder if some of these chains have a "special" shop where everything is sold at $list_price + an extra mark-up (and rarely, if ever, sell anything) so they can then sell in every other shop at a "50%" discount.

      1. Baldrickk Silver badge

        Not one shop, instead, they make product A expensive in location #1, product B expensive in location #2...

  7. Commswonk Silver badge

    Another misleading advertisement?

    Quelle surprise...

    "Situation Normal" more like.

  8. Colonel Mad

    Keep Kalm

    Been doing it for forty years!

  9. A K Stiles

    PC World pricing

    Haven't been in for a good few years now, but the one I used to visit occasionally always had items on the shelf behind price tags for similar-description-but-different-and-much-cheaper items. There was nearly always someone at the till complaining that an item had just been put through at way more than the advertised shelf price.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: PC World pricing

      Last time that happened to me, I had made sure the label was for the correct item. When the price came up on the till, at over 3 times as much, I went back to confirm, then got the manager involved.

      They honoured the price, that time, but removed the tag.

  10. Tachikoma

    I used to work for Tiny Computers when I were a wee lad and fresh out of college. They used to do the same tricks and the computer was only advertised on a small print out in a plexi-glass standee at the back of the store for two weeks before it appeared in the catalogue at the "reduced" price. One time the computer was legitimately a good deal even at the inflated price, and the "reduced" stock was always ridiculously low, maybe 20 units across the region just to get people in through the door and sell them something more expensive. I tried to buy the PC at the inflated price and got a call from the regional manager and was told explicitly that if I tried to go through with the sale that my time with the company will be short lived.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Then get a friend to come in and buy it, after some time spent browsing?

      With cash, of course.

      1. Tachikoma
        Pint

        That was an option, but I think* I spent the money on a Dreamcast and a boat load of alcohol instead.

        *almost certainly alcohol because I can't remember

  11. mrfantastic

    It has been bollocks for at least 20 years.

    I worked at WH Smith from 1992 - 1996. They bought a nice Teradata system, so they could do what Walmart did even they - i.e. know the correct selling price for a million SKUs and even change them depending on the weather at each store, historical trends, etc.

    Like most chains their Swindon branch was never discounted - this was to allow the '20% off at one store' bullshit allowed under ASA rules. Luckily most people in Swindon worked at their HQ, so got staff discount, which made up for this.

    If anybody tells me that 20 years hence there is no progression in IT, computers are not faster, and these chains cannot know what was sold at what branch for how much and when it is seriously time for me to give up and take up goat farming. These excuses are crap, and we need to start clamping down.

  12. Daedalus Silver badge

    The real scandal

    £1,149.99 for a laptop! Almost cheaper to fly to the USA to get one!

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      Re: The real scandal

      Almost cheaper to fly to the USA to get one!

      Dunno. I'd rather pay bit more than have to travel there.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The real scandal

      Yeabbut, Currys/PCWorld dont; give the you the 3rd degree while pulling on the arm-length rubber gloves. Yet!

    3. Anonymous C0ward

      Pfft

      I bought a Mac...

      (Not at PC World, I might add.)

  13. davenewman

    Re: He made one mistake

    There was a regulation on how long something had to be sold at a higher price before being used as a from price on a discount ticket in a retailer. Shops that broke the law were prosecuted by the Trading Standards officers. I don't know if it still exists, but it seems to be ignored by retailers. It could be worth reporting them to the local trading standards department as well as the ASA.

  14. Stuart Halliday

    If you haven't reported a store to the ASA, can I recommend you do so. It's fun and very easy to do.

    I reported a big single fruit company (not really fruit) and sure enough the advert was banned. The company tried to get in touch with me for a tour of their factory, hinting at a give-away. I declined.

    Done this reporting a few times now.

    1. AIBailey Silver badge

      Would this "factory tour" also include a tour around the basement, including the areas where the lights are dodgy and the CCTV doesn't work, accompanied by a couple of oversized security guards carrying a length of lead pipe and a newspaper?

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        That's not the basement, that's just the normal factory.

      2. paulf Silver badge
        Terminator

        "The company tried to get in touch with me for a tour of their factory, hinting at a give-away. I declined."

        What I took from that is it looks like the ASA share the personal details of the complainant with the the alleged perpetrator. As much fun as it is causing problems for companies that think the law and regulation is optional for them I'm not sure I'd like to have my details on file with that many companies all wanting an inexpensive and messy revenge as AIBailey suggests...

  15. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    "There are lies, damned lies, and Currys PC World Special Offers."

    Winston Churchill. Overheard while fighting on the beaches by Lady Astor.

  16. William 3 Bronze badge

    I like going into PC world.

    It's fun watching the jackals circle me, believing me to be prey.

    Only when I tell them I could smell their desperation from the other side of the car park and that every second passing is the sword of Damocles swinging every closer to their demise as more and more people simply use their store to see products in person before they go home to order it online and not have to deal with the pressure of after sales at the till, the smell of desperation in the sales staff, the woeful customer service if anything goes wrong, and the high rip off prices, and that everything they've just said to me about the products they were trying to flog me was absolute bullshit.

    I always leave the store feeling like a kitten whose made his first blood by dewinging a stray moth. The poor staff, left fluttering around on the ground wondering what just hit them.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Re: I like going into PC world.

      I like to go in and browse, and see if any actually know what they are talking about.

      The last time I went in to look at the computers, the guy working the area actually knew his stuff, and actually admitted that I was better off looking elsewehere for what I wanted.

      I have to admit to being suprised that they don't sell some high end kit to go with the trash - isn't the (home) PC market being held up by gamers these days?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In a second judgement, Curry's PC World was sanctioned for spreading alarm and distress by offering for sale a 1m HDMI cable for £23.96.

    Many complainants said they became upset and disoriented when they spotted the price didn't end in .99 and panicked because they felt they may have wandered into the wrong store or fallen through a wormhole into an alternative universe.

    When advised that a reasonable quality 1m HDMI cable could be purchased at Poundland, many complainants expressed dismay at potentially having to fork out 1p over their ideal price point.

    1. Baldrickk Silver badge

      Only £24? when I was looking for a new TV, they were on sale for over £65 (ok, it was 1.5m, not 1m)

    2. Timbo

      "In a second judgement, Curry's PC World was sanctioned for spreading alarm and distress by offering for sale a 1m HDMI cable for £23.96.

      Many complainants said they became upset and disoriented when they spotted the price didn't end in .99 and panicked because they felt they may have wandered into the wrong store or fallen through a wormhole into an alternative universe."

      It is quite normal in the retail world for shops to price some items with "unusual" pence figures, as this is a "quick and dirty" way to let store staff know what the deal is on that item:

      ie:

      x.99 = normal price

      x.98 = special offer for "y" days

      x.97 = end of line - no more once sold out

      x.96 = in store promo with supplier with extra commission for store staff

      etc

  18. msknight Silver badge

    I buy...

    ... from Morgan Computers. Lower warantee but good kit at good prices... pays your money, takes your chance. I7 sinkpad with most of the trimmings for three hundred-9Ish) squids. Obviously upgraded it with SSD and a touch extra RAM... now runs Linux Mint at a blistering pace. If the hardware holds together, it will last me years.

    1. JimmyPage Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Morgan Computers !

      ...are they still going ??

      I remember them from the B&W adverts in PCW circa 1987 ....

    2. TheProf

      Re: I buy...

      warantee = ouch that hurt my head

      warranty = blissful smooth reading experience.

      1. msknight Silver badge

        Re: I buy...

        I know... I'm dyslexic... so sew me :-D

        It drives me crazy when I write centre and center ... because I can't remember which is which, and then I've got to type colour in order to work out what the local spell checker is doing.

  19. hi_robb

    Ahh

    Good old Currys / PC World.

    A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted a 4K UHD blu-ray player, a panasonic DMP-UB700 to be exact. Amazon were out of stock until the week after, but a cursory glance in google brought up Currys / PC World in the serach results for the same price as everywhere else. The Currys one even came with a free UHD disc (the girlie Ghostbusters so nothing to shout about, infact I'm ashamed to say it's in my possession!).

    To be fair, the website was easy enough to use and I reserved my player to be picked up from my local store that very afternoon, and off I went to get it.

    Once at the store I went and reported in to the customer service desk and the pimpled faced sales yoof brought my purchase out. As you can guess I got the extended warranty speil, told him no home insurance and the card I was paying on had better converage thanks. He stopped right away tyring to seel their crappy insurance to be fair, but then he dropped his big sell!

    PFSP: "Do you need a high speed HDMI cable for that Sir?"

    Me: "I have a number of HDMI cable at home thanks."

    PFSP: "Ah but you'll need one that's high speed and support HDMI spec 2. blah blah and can carry a 4k signal."

    *Now at this point I realised he may be actually telling some truth and that I may only have some older 1.4 spec cables in the house.*

    Me: "Ah ok, I may need one, what have you got an how much is your cheapest?"

    PFSP: "How long do you need the cable to be Sir?"

    Me: "2m should do it thanks."

    And without a trace of shame, not a blink of an eye or even a pause..

    PFSP: "Our cheapest is £154 Sir."

    Needless to say I paid for the blu-ray player, didn't take them up on the bargain cable and I I walked out the shop, got on to Amazon 2 hour prime same day deliveryon the phone, and had one of Amazon's own brand basic high speed cables delivered 34 minutes after I walked back through my front door.

    The Amazon cable cost me a fiver and works perfectly.

    That's where Currys make their money, selling wankpuffin extras to wankpuffin people who are too stupid to know any better.

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