Currys PC World's Flawed Customer Service


Despite all the efforts with the merging, the brand revamps, and the heavy advertisement budget, it's no secret that the Dixons branch Currys PC World doesn't exactly rank too high in the world of retail customer satisfaction. It's silly, really; customer satisfaction is one of the easier things to mend in a retail environment, and you'd think the branch would do everything it can to try and compete with the ever-more dominant e-commerce force. As I found out first-hand recently though, it becomes all too clear that they're failing against the Internet for a reason. Allow me to share my experience.

It's September 2016, and I'm done with my iPad. Spoilt, maybe, but I found the iPad wasn't giving me enough power to do what I wanted with it. I couldn't use it like a more portable laptop, and that, after years of tablet use, is what I've discovered I want from a slate. The most obvious solution was the Microsoft Surface Pro 4: a full Windows machine in a tablet body. It was basically made for me.

Goodbye, Cupertino

The good thing about having an Apple device is that they retain their value really well, so long as you keep them in decent condition. My iPad was spotless, and as such I managed to claw back nearly 70% of the money I initially paid for it, despite it being damn near a year old with constant use. As a comparison, I'd get perhaps 50% of my money back now for my 5-month-old Samsung S7 Edge. Anyway, bottom line is that I had the sting taken out of the Surface's steep £1,000 asking price.

I chose to go to Currys PC World (despite knowing about the iffy service) because I'd rather not trust couriers with something so expensive, and it's nice to pay for something and receive it immediately. More important than all of that, though, the shop was running a promotion that made it cheaper than the rivals.

The general atmosphere of the store is nice and fairly inoffensive. Products are nicely on display, and allow customers to freely have a fiddle with most of their functions - that's something e-commerce will never be able to compete with. I had a play with the Surface, and sure enough it felt nice and premium: exactly what the countless online reviews I'd read were saying. I was sold before I had even set a foot into the store, but physically playing with the device gives you a bit more security. And confirmation bias, obviously.

It took a while before any member of staff noticed me, but I'm not slating them for that. I wasn't exactly calling out for them, because I'm socially inept. The guy was nice enough, and I asked for the precise model I wanted. Sure enough, about 2 minutes later, he emerged from 'the back' with a brand new shiny Surface Box. This is where things started to go a bit downhill.

The guy led me to a computer screen, and took down my details, including my address and email. Seems a bit unnecessary, but in my case it allowed them to send an 'e-receipt', which I thought was a good idea (I'm always losing paper receipts when I need them), and a gift voucher as part of the promotion. He then moved on to selling a warranty service for my tablet, which was about £100 a year. Nothing wrong with that, but I politely declined. I thought that would be the end of it, but oh how wrong I was.

Under Pressure

What followed was some insanely persistent guilt tripping from the customer assistant. He was making me feel guilty, like I was making a really bad choice, and developed a fairly hostile tone to his voice. I can only assume the employees have a target of this warranty thing they have to sell in a certain period of time, but if anyone else is like me, then it rubs the customer in completely the wrong way. I left the store feeling dissatisfied, and relieved I was finally away from the near-on begging for the extra sales.

Which takes me back to my original point. Currys PC World are not particularly a huge success story right now, and with the current practices they're employing at the moment, they're essentially shooting themselves in the foot. It would be so easy to change the tone of the sales people, but they clearly prioritise revenue over satisfaction, which is an awful long-term strategy. Part of the reason why Amazon are so successful (besides the sheer ease of buying something) is that they're on the customer's side. If something's faulty, you get a refund with no strings attached. Try that with Currys PC World, and expect a fight to get your money back. They only give refunds if you haven't opened the box.

If the Dixons carry on as they are, I can't see there really being a place for them in the near future.