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Rory Cellan-Jones

Gadget gluttons or tech tired?

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 3 Jan 08, 12:03 GMT

I was packing for my trip to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas - the annual celebration of gadget gluttony – when news came through of the disaster at DSG. Shares in Europe’s biggest electrical retailer - owner of Currys, PC World, and Dixons.co.uk - plunged this morning after it issued a profits warning.

The firm blames poor sales of laptops and heavy discounting of flat screen televisions for its problems. So does this mean that consumers are losing interest in the latest kit? Should I be cancelling my trip to Vegas? Well, what do you think I’m going to say?

Consumers are anything but bored with gadgets - from games consoles to flat screen TVs to laptops, sales are booming. But DSG’s woes are due to long-term changes in the way we shop. Remember the days when anyone wanting a new television or a computer would pop into a Dixons or a PC World, knowing little or nothing about the technology, seek advice from a spotty salesman, and walk out with both the product and a pretty pricey extended warranty and a few accessories? Well we have all moved on.

One veteran analyst put it like this to me: “PC World has always been predicated on the unintelligent consumer. As people get more knowledgeable, that approach becomes less relevant.”

To be fair, DSG has moved on, ditching the Dixons name on the high street in favour of Currys Digital, closing many of its stores and putting far more effort into its online operation. It’s also launched a technical support team called The Tech Guys, in an attempt to provide the kind of end-to-end service it thinks the modern electronics consumer is seeking. The trouble is, the margins online are slimmer than on the high street and shoppers are less likely to buy those extended warranties that used to be the bedrock of Dixons’ profits.

I have been looking back at the firm’s share price over the last eight years and remembering the heady days of March 2000 when, under its original Dixons brand, the business was firmly lodged in the FTSE 100 - the index of Britain’s most valuable companies. And even higher up that index was Freeserve, the free internet service, launched by Dixons’ boss Sir Stanley Kalms in 1998, then floated within months at the height of dotcom mania.

Back then, it looked as though the old dog had learned new tricks, transforming itself into a hot new digital property. But after the dotcom bubble burst, Dixons seemed to decide the online revolution had passed and it could go back to the real world of the high street.

Meanwhile, from Dell to Amazon to Tesco.com, the online retailers kept on growing – and offering keener prices to an increasingly knowledgeable public. The move to flat screen televisions has bolstered DSG’s profits in recent years but now prices are plunging, down by around 35% over the last year.

A new man has just taken over as CEO at Dixons Store Group, and as the man who got Tesco.com off the ground John Browett seems ideally suited to change the focus of the business. My friendly analyst isn’t so sure - “he must have been blinded by the size of the cheque to take on that job.”

Mr Browett has sent a team of top executives to Las Vegas to try to spot what will be the hottest gadgets to win customers back to his stores next Christmas. I am sure the appetite for the latest kit - from ultra mobile PCs to laser TVs - has not been sated. But DSG may find that canny consumers inspect the gadgets in its stores - then head online in search of a better price.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 01:42 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Adam wrote:

I'm really not surprised DSG are doing badly, I'm just amazed they are still in business at all. Last time I compared their prices with Amazon (this was for a Sony memory stick, if you want to check), the DSG price was about 3 times the Amazon price. Is it any wonder they're losing customers to their rivals?

Plus, of course, the absolutely dreadful levels of customer service.

  • 2.
  • At 02:14 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Andrew McIntosh wrote:

Rory's comment of canny consumers inspecting the gadgets in DSG stores then heading home to search online for a better price is more likely the norm for anyone who isn't panic buying.

It's how I have been doing my tech shopping for the last few years and I've been pleased to note that there are some real bargains to be had in Currys or PC World where they do actually beat the internet price even without taking into account the postage and packaging.

The more mobile the internet gets the faster the transition from perusing the aisle to the online search. The business is still there for DSG but they've got to be more flexible on price, when someone knows that they can get get it £50 cheaper online but is willing to pay that bit more to walk home with it its got to be worth it to DSG to cut their margin and build the goodwill and customer satisfaction.

  • 3.
  • At 02:42 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Jingo wrote:

Surely i'm not alone in seeing places like PC World as actualy being the convenient option. The online option to buy at night and have it delivered is great but it takes a few days and someone has to be there to accept it.
The only time i even consider going to PC world is when i want something now and can get it on the way home. In these instances i don't really look for prices, surely this and other areas should be exploited rather than attempt to do the imposible and compete with online prices.

Clearly some items sold well for Christmas... if you visited the Apple shop the Saturday after Christmas you couldn't get near the racks of iPod cases, the simple equation being that they were swamped by people who received iPods and now wanted cases. Do laptops and flat-screen televisions sell as Christmas gifts? Laptops maybe but not televisions - surely the Christmas market is right for smaller gift-centric gadgets.

If DSG outlets had been the sole suppliers of Wiis I bet they would have had a bumper Christmas.

Clearly some items sold well for Christmas... if you visited the Apple shop the Saturday after Christmas you couldn't get near the racks of iPod cases, the simple equation being that they were swamped by people who received iPods and now wanted cases. Do laptops and flat-screen televisions sell as Christmas gifts? Laptops maybe but not televisions - surely the Christmas market is right for smaller gift-centric gadgets.

If DSG outlets had been the sole suppliers of Wiis I bet they would have had a bumper Christmas.

  • 6.
  • At 03:37 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Mike wrote:

I am not suprised to hear about the cut in profit for the DSG group.

As mentioned here I think the customer base has become more knowledgable about the products and the service offered by the stores is quite if not very poor.

While it is true some of the prices are very competative they seemed to be selling bottom end P/C,s in the £300 to £400 price range for Christmas presents ... in the main I would have thought this too expensive for gifts.

I think they have lost the plot a bit and need to re-focus .. which is what seems to be happening.

  • 7.
  • At 03:48 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Nigel wrote:

I first became anti Dix..ys when the spotty sales person tried to convince me that spending £300 on an Extended Warranty was great value. Am sometimes tempted to look in the store but unless it is one of the very large floor space ones, there is never enough room to move. Last time I decided to order a fridge freezer from them on line. Guess what. Although the web site said it was available....it wasn't. But only after fobbing me off for a week until they could decide to tell me. Am certainly not surprised that they have come unstuck.

  • 8.
  • At 03:48 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • SD wrote:

Having used Dixons Online to purchase a Flat Screen TV which was delivered faulty and the subsequent "customer service" in an attempt to have the faulty product replaced I am not in the least surprised that the DSG profits are falling. If my expeience of the DSG customer service ethos is anything to use as a benchmark then DSG have more troubles ahead. I have vowed never to use Dixons Online again and to only use the other stores in the DSG group (but not online) unless absolutely necessary. This has cost DSG at least £1000 in lost sales to myself since November !! I ended up buying my TV at rivals Comet and although it was £100 more expensive the Customer Service and the confidence in being able to get any problems sorted more than made up for the additional expense.

  • 9.
  • At 03:48 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

After going to Currys to purchase a new television I'm not at all surprised to hear about their profit warning. It was an incredibly bad buying experience. I knew it was a mistake to buy anything from there and I should have trusted my instincts and gone to John Lewis as I normally would but alas I ended up exposing myself to the Currys 'customer experience'.

If anyone ever wants to publish a case study on how to lose business then look no further than their Wimbledon outlet.

To cut a long story short, after getting the TV home and setting it up the wife and I noticed a small fault. The next day we returned to Currys for a refund. Sounds simple doesn't it? After braving the hour long queue for returns I managed to speak with someone. "Could I get a refund please?" I asked.

"No. We need to test the product." Okay, fair enough I suppose, so we unpacked the TV and showed the person the fault.

Him "Well I can see something's wrong"
Me " Well may I have a refund?"
Him "Let me get my manager"
Manager "I don't see a problem"
Me "Well everyone else can"
Manager "Ah yes, that must be a manufacturing fault"
Me "Great, I'll have a refund"
Manager "No, we need to test this further and keep it"
Me "I bought this yesterday, I'd like a refund"
Manager, Well all the TVs are like this in this range"
Me "Yes, well it's a fault and I'd like a refund"

At this point the manager laughably said I could have an exchange.

Me "But you said that all the TVs in this range have this fault"

Manager "But I don't see a fault" he says.

Me "You said you did"

Manager "Well you can have an exchange:"

I'll never shop in Currys again. Went to john Lewis, got the TV after a 5 minute wait (not 30 minutes like Currys) service with a smile and a free 5 year guarantee on the TV, no questions asked.

  • 10.
  • At 03:53 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Steve Wootton wrote:

I bought a firewire card today from PC WORLD today.I reserved it on-line and the on-line price was £15 and I went and picked it up from the store. However , if I'd just gone in off the street it would have cost me £25!!

Why such a big difference . It appears they still think the average customer is not switched on. I can see why they are struggling.

  • 11.
  • At 03:55 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Arthur Priest wrote:

Interesting....if I were as wealthy as the directors of Dixons I'd buy from a real store every time, although I'd research the product on the Web rather than trust a salesman. There are a number of potential hassles when buying online - if Postie can't get it through the letterbox, he'll tap lightly on your door and run. You may then have to stand in a long line at some distant depot, only to be told that your parcel isn't there yet. Returns and refunds can also be precarious, and you'll probably end up paying the carriage. I know Dixons isn't reknowned for hassle-free after-sales service, but the law is pretty firm on consumer rights, and if you stand your ground, you'll get justice.

So I presume it's all this pay restraint that's causing a store slump. Free markets are like that - however much the wealthy want to force ordinary wages down, it can't be done without serious knock-on effects on sales. I predict that DSG will only be the first casualties in a general downturn - though merely having lower profits than last year is hardly the end of the world. Their profits are still pretty huge compared to my salary.

  • 12.
  • At 03:55 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • martin wrote:

I agree with Adam - shopping in any DSG outlet is an excerise in futility. The goods are over priced and the service is still shocking.

I recently purchased a HDMI Cable from the Southampton West-Quay store, and the dis-interested teen on the till did'nt even acknowledge me or say thank you for my purchase. She simply scanned it, chucked it in a bag and put my card in the PDQ machine! at least when I order online a get a nice webpage that says thank you for your order.

DSG, like a lot of other retailers out there need to learn that the days of shoddy customer service are long gone, and need to evolve acordingly.

  • 13.
  • At 04:08 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Chris wrote:

I'm not at all surprised by this news, however rather than it being due to changes in consumer habits I suspect it has much more to do with poor stock-management. I tried to buy a digital photo frame as a present from a number of electrical retailers and nearly all were out of stock of all but the most expensive or luridly coloured examples. This was still the case when I returned after Xmas, with money burning a hole in my pocket. I wonder how many other potential customers are lost purely due to the inability to forecast potential demand.

  • 14.
  • At 04:21 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • DB wrote:

Poor stocks has been a rather large internal issue, with a massive amount of clearance stock amassed from the Vista launch and low stocks of popular items this Christmas which came from a lack of paying attention to the actual market and not the hype that Microsoft tried to convince everyone with regarding Vista.

As shocking as it may be compared to the overall sales DSG's profit isn't that much and when it comes down to store prices well some are more than a match and others are more which I'm afraid is just part of trying to match others but at the same time being a business.

As for the bit about closing stores while it may true they are a core part of the business what should never of happened was for DSG to open so many and should of instead focused on the larger stores they had, if they have any sense they'll close the smaller less profitable stores.

These factors combined with the long overdue credit issues have combined to make Christmas a bittersweet one, and one that I'm sure will not just be limited to DSG.

  • 15.
  • At 04:41 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • stuart wrote:

Rory...I am a 45 year old salesman from Currys in Sheffield, no spots even at 16, I am proud to give excellent service to many of my REPEAT customers, the main problem is that some customers want our advice, and then go shop online. Warning -If you continue to do this, then you will be only shopping online and never able to see the product you are purchasing, is it right for you, are you buying a television far to big for you, does the product suit your real needs, will you be able to pop down to your local currys and see someone in person. Beware you may get what you wish for.

  • 16.
  • At 04:57 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • James Tully, BC, Canada wrote:

I gave up on this chain of stores years ago. The real issues for me were (i) lack of training hence no real understanding by the sales people of the products they sold, and (ii) an appalling after-sales support. I would only actually go into a store to see and touch a product -you obviously cant do that online. In comparable chains in North America I am blown away by the salespeople's knowledge of the products and by their attitude to continually learning: its an enthusiasm that died a long time ago in the UK.

  • 17.
  • At 05:21 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Brian wrote:

Called into PC World Plymouth yesterday (Wed) looking for a scanner. The store doesn`t appear to have improved from the day it opened. Same dispirited staff. Same lack of product knowledge. Same high prices. Same lack of choice. They couldn`t even be bothered to stock a full range of inkjet printing paper.

I`m not suprised DSG`s profits are down. Shopping with Dixons and PC World is a depressing experience, where being a customer in need of help feels almost like an imposition.

PS: Last night, I found a high-end Canoscan online with DABS. It arrives tomorrow.

  • 18.
  • At 05:41 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Nick Lewis wrote:

Re Stuart's post (no 15).

It's a funny old world. It seems only yesterday that similar (and entirely justified) warnings were coming from the small specialist retailers being wiped out by the likes of Dixons, Currys etc.

Now, it's their turn to be hit by the next retail development. What goes around, comes around, it seems!

  • 19.
  • At 05:52 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Michael wrote:

No mention of stagnating laptop sales due to nobody wanting Windows Vista?

  • 20.
  • At 05:59 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

Why not follow Comet? In my experience their online prices are as keen as any and you have the advantage that you can pickup from your local store and crucially take it back to your local when it all goes pete tong. Something the online retailers can never match

  • 21.
  • At 06:40 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • David Bondy wrote:

One of the problems with DSGI - and I include ALL of its subsidiaries here, is that, in the main, the stores are all staffed by total muppets! They are ignorant, most of them do not speak English and they seem to be congentially incapable of making any kind of recommendation on what to buy always, as they do, recommending the most expensive item as being best.

Renaming their in-house goons "The Tech Guys" has not made them any less ignorant.

On occasions I have been forced to buy from PC World (for reasons of expediency) but I would rather have red-hot needles pushed into my eyes than trust any part of my business to them.

At least Tesco.com et al know what they are. They just sell the stuff and leave it to you to do your own research.

Let us all hope that DSGI and all its subsidiaries soon join the great car-park in the sky for total crap retailers!

  • 22.
  • At 07:18 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • s west wrote:

I visited a dsg establishment before Christmas, many of the computer things on 'demo' looked like there had been a war going on between the various brands with keyboard bits.

There where also alarms going off, and the stock i thought was rather basic and overpriced.

To top it off - there was note from headoffice telling you when the sale started (dont spend your money now), and also that on that day please dont return stuff here because you will get bad service.

Theres a lot of issues there, no wonder things turned out like they did.

  • 23.
  • At 07:36 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Rex wrote:

If all these chains keep paying crazy rents (with their customers money) to commercial landlords they deserve to go bust. With the credit crunch reining in consumer spending, they will. Then what will their overpriced extended warranties be worth?

  • 24.
  • At 08:07 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • ARQ wrote:

Whine whine whine ... like a broken record Peoples livelihoods may be at stake and some find this amusing. Have you worked in a high pressured retail enviroment? Until you have I suggest you keep your belittling remarks to yourselves.

  • 25.
  • At 08:10 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • BobInBury wrote:

I bought a laptop from PC World a few weeks back because I needed one in a hurry. I researched reviews and specs and decided on the exact make and model I wanted. PC World's price was competitive, so I went there. And regretted it.

The assistant knew far less than me about PCs. He gave me false information about Vista compatibility, tried to scare me into buying anti-everything software that I didn't need and persisted in his 40th attempt to sell me a warranty, despite my threatening to brutally kill him if he mention it again.

I pity people with little computer knowledge at the mercy of these fools.

  • 26.
  • At 08:11 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Stuart Murkowski wrote:

I shop online to simply avoid Michael's problem (post 9). By buying online you're protected by the Distance Selling Regulations and so therefore have a cooling-off period of seven working days. If it's faulty, send it back. No arguments. No "testing". No "we can exchange it". It doesn't even have to be faulty, if you simply change your mind and you're still within the 7 days, back it goes.

  • 27.
  • At 08:29 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

People do not have to shop at any of these stores. If you wish to play with the product then these highstreet stores are the place to be. If you think you know enough then order online at a cheaper price. But beware, buying off the interent is not subject to the same Rules and regulations that protect you from buying instore - hence the fact its cheaper online. Just a word of warning. Yes We (PCW employee) need to step up our game but the consumer needs to think wisely as well - soon there might not be electrical stores on the highstreet and I for one dont fancy visiting Tesco to buy everything - it may happen sooner than you all think!!

  • 28.
  • At 09:40 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Paul wrote:

The last item I purchased from Curry's was a CD & twin cassette player, which at the time was over £100. When it conked out after 14 months (two months after the guarantee expired) the only advice I got from the smug arrogant sales assistant in the shop was 'well you're better off buying a new one mate'. Eventually, after contacting the manufacturer, I was able to get spare parts supplied free of charge, but still had to pay Curry's a hefty service charge for the repair.

It is because Curry's / Dixons has the largest market share that it can afford to treat customers like dirt and still others will go there in the hope of a bargain. It is now worried about falling profits. Well oh dear. It does not care about its customers and consquently I gave up shopping there ten years ago. So if DRG goes out of business I for one will not be sorry. Good riddance to it! It is definitely one of the worst retailers in this country.

  • 29.
  • At 09:59 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Tim Jackson wrote:

Unfortunately I have had experiences similar to most other posters here.

Including paying an extra £200 to currys digital to have my new TV professionally fitted, only to find an odd job man and a man incapable of speaking English turn up at the allotted time, then disappear 2 minutes later because I wanted my TV sited more than 1 meter from the aerial socket. (Further than the supplied lead).

Don't even get me started with Genesis Communications, their little known mobile communications billing service. If anyone offers to make your telecom bill cheaper by providing you with minutes from Genesis, then break their legs for attempting to inflict such a cruel thing upon you - then run in the opposite direction!

  • 30.
  • At 10:10 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Harry P wrote:

I think DSG (along with O2) used to own a stake in The Link mobile phone retail chain - maybe they thought there was no money to be made in mobiles back then and thought they'd get out!

Speaking of mobiles - it won't be long before anyone with the slightest tech savvyness will be stood in a Currys or PC World, with his internet enabled device in hand (be it mobile, iPod, Eee PC) googling for the best price for desired item. It would seem that DSG retail is already dead on price.

But then DSG don't really do online that well either - aside from recent innovations like order online and collect in-store - you'll find loads more info on competitors websites.

Anyway didn't they realise that they would have cleaned up if all they were selling was Wiis and Eee PCs?

  • 31.
  • At 10:36 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Ben Cornwell wrote:

If you want to see why Dixons etc are bad, visit Best Buy in the US. Loads of knowledgeable, keen, friendly staff who seem genuinely happy to help, answer questions and sell you stuff. As opposed to in the UK....

  • 32.
  • At 10:57 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Craig Manchester wrote:

It would interesting to see if these trends are borne out by DSGs competitors. Perhaps the problems may be a little closer to home. In turbulent times a shrewd business would do all possible to keep their existing customer base. Take a trip to your average Currys and if you can stomach parting with your cash it's is absolutely despite the appalling service. This business has treated its customers with contempt for too long. Perhaps the chickens have now come home to roost? Judging by a number of comments on here perhaps so.

  • 33.
  • At 11:08 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Martin Jordan wrote:

Not surprised at all if my recent experience at PC World is anything to go by.

I wanted to buy a laptop computer which was £500 in the store but £430 on their website. The idea is that you order online and then collect in person from the store.

So naturally, since I was there in the store after having made my selection and with money at the ready, I asked the guy if I could order it online from there to save me having to go all the way back home to do it, and then having coming all the way back again to pick it up.

There followed what must be the Cardinal sin of retail sales: He told me head office had stopped them doing this. I pointed out the sheer madness of what he was suggesting, but he said his hands were tied. So I took my money back home and went online...to the DELL website.

PC World are actually turning away customers who have made a selection and want to buy! Is it any wonder their profits are suffering?

I'm not surprised by the news at all.
More and more people are shopping online than going to the retail outlets.

DSG couldn't even get online shopping right! You order the product online and then have to collect it from the store. I guess that's so they can try to sell the extended warranties and accessories.

Why would anyone go online to buy and then go and collect it from the store when thousands of other companies will deliver direct to your door - often the next day?

  • 35.
  • At 12:03 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • David Hunter wrote:

I'm rather pleased that their business isn't doing so well. I've experienced first hand the appaling customer service which amounted to defrauding me, the customer. They make everything so awkward and the staff really do not have a clue about anything, something I find ALOT with electronics outlets (in a Sony shop they tried selling me a simple cable for £20 just because it had 'superior' gold connections, I got the cable online for under £4 in the end). I cannot stand these ignorant staff who try to coerce you into buying things that are not necessary and this bit of news is a small piece of justice after seemingly getting away with this service, or lack thereof for so long.

  • 36.
  • At 12:34 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Sam Beau wrote:

DSG have chosen not to compete on price. As the only alternative is to compete on service - and DSG's is woeful - they are doomed.

  • 37.
  • At 01:06 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Dave wrote:

I pride myself on always giving good manners to my customers, even if they cannot be bothered to give me the same respect! If I do not know something I will do my best to find the answer as soon as possible,

I wonder if you could know the ins and outs of twenty laptops, 10 pcs, the main games consoles, Sat Navs, TVs, Computer Peripherals, and Cameras, all constantly changing and all for not much more than minimum wage?

Yes there are good DSGi stores and bad ones, I frequently have to deal with the mess from local stores, and DSGi made absolutely massive mistakes with stock this Christmas, certain smaller stores getting disproportionately larger amounts of stock than others which could sell it.

The consumer expects the world and some more for next to nothing,

Happy New Year, and please go to a DSGi store with an open mind and most importantly your manners, I hope that they can pleasantly surprise you.

  • 38.
  • At 02:03 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • pete wrote:

the problem here is that there must be one price for the same item within dsg - the price varies from pc world/ dixons website / and currys stores and online.

almost all customers are now coming in - demanding the lower internet price.

the initial web set up reflected the fact that no sales people were paid - no shop rents were paid - the overheads were far less - but now people are getting more savvy with internet shopping its all changing.

sometimes the difference between web and shop is 2 or 3 hundered pounds - currys shops are having to match the price or take no money.

but the profits are as good as gone for alot of sales.

i see a future of currys stores just dishing out items reserved online - and small appliances held in a small shop warehouse - the larger items would simply be delivered out to you.


sad - but things must change.


  • 39.
  • At 08:23 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • BobInBury wrote:

Re: 37. At 01:06 AM on 04 Jan 2008, Dave wrote:

"I wonder if you could know the ins and outs of twenty laptops, 10 pcs, the main games consoles, Sat Navs, TVs, Computer Peripherals, and Cameras, all constantly changing and all for not much more than minimum wage?"

I don't see the connection between the ability to do the job you're employed to do and the salary you earn.

Could you know the ins and outs of several thousand medications, a vast range of illnesses, dozens of laws and constantly shifting government policies? Because that's what all our pharmacies have to know and they don't try to blag us with dodgy advice to make a quick profit.

Sorry mate, but it's a job and the people in those jobs have a responsibility to make sure they've got the knowledge and skills needed to perform it.

  • 40.
  • At 08:32 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

In response to post #26 and #9, if you buy something that is faulty then the retailer has to give you your money back as long as you return it to them in a resonable time (Usually upto a couple of weeks).

Also note that they are responsible for the goods for up to SIX years (FIVE in Scotland) after the purchase. In other words if they develop a fault then they still may have to contribute to the repair within this time. Thats why 'Extended' warranties really are a rip-off.

  • 41.
  • At 08:57 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

In response to post #26 and #9, if you buy something that is faulty then the retailer has to give you your money back as long as you return it to them in a resonable time (Usually upto a couple of weeks).

Also note that they are responsible for the goods for up to SIX years (FIVE in Scotland) after the purchase. What this means is that its reasonable to say that a TV should last say 3 years? If the TV develops a fault within that period then they would have to contribute to the repair even though its out of warrantee. Thats why 'Extended' warranties really are a rip-off.

  • 42.
  • At 09:35 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Ben wrote:

In response to post #26 and #9, if you buy something that is faulty then the retailer has to give you your money back as long as you return it to them in a resonable time (Usually upto a couple of weeks).

Also note that they are responsible for the goods for up to SIX years (FIVE in Scotland) after the purchase. What this means is that its reasonable to say that a TV should last say 3 years? If the TV develops a fault within that period then they would have to contribute to the repair even though its out of warrantee. Thats why 'Extended' warranties really are a rip-off.

  • 43.
  • At 10:35 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • mark wrote:

Well said ARQ, again the "Great" British public start the new year by moaning louder than any other country on the planet. I used to work for PC World and I know they had their faults, anybody care to show me a company that hasn't had a Brit have a good old whinge about? There may be jobs lost, good people that have been tarnished by the bad few, the bad few that exist in every walk of life and every company in the UK. What a bunch of small minded whingers the majority of you are.

  • 44.
  • At 11:50 AM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • dan wrote:

after falling foul of the dreaded pushy salesperson myself im actually a bit dissapopinted to hear this.
in the last 12 months my local currys and pc world have been the mainstay of my electronics shopping from fridges to my new 40' lcd television and my xbox.

the reason why?
great service i have recieved from bad situations and the unfaultering attempt to price match web sites.

i have nothiong but praise for knowledgable salespeople and being in sales myself i feel this is critical to being able to sell a product.

  • 45.
  • At 12:07 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Joanne wrote:

I replaced both desktop and laptop in 2007, but not from PC World. Too much of what they have on offer is cheap tat. Okay, they are targeting those who are less computer savvy than my chosen supplier, but that's no excuse for ripping people off.

PC World aren't the only High St retailer taking the micky when it comes to memory card prices. They probably sell these to unwary customers who are buying a digital camera and who need memory cards to be able to use their new toy. No excuse for charging 300% of what online retailers charge.

PC World needs to focus on offering good quality/value for money with enough information for people to make truly informed decisions.

As for the so-called 'sale', all they did for many items was to reduce the price to what other retailers were charging all the time. Where's the bargain?

One person I know of bought a laptop in the sale and still paid over the odds for it compared to other online retailers. A 10% price differential one can excuse, but not a 20-30% overcharge on a sale item.

Time to wake up to the realities of 21st century retail - be sure your customers will find you out (and shop elsewhere in future).

  • 46.
  • At 01:42 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Mark wrote:

View in store (but bear in mind their stock is very limited). Buy whereever is cheaper (probably online, probably another company). They will go out of business, or will be replaced with smaller, leaner, internet-shop-fronts. Hardware review sites with consumer contribution and ratings will become more common, and are already a better bet than the bad salesmen. There will always be a place for the good salesmen.

  • 47.
  • At 02:22 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Vic wrote:

Many moons ago as a student and a very motivated one at that, I worked for PCWorld when they were PCWorld. Customers actually respected the knowledge and ability of both sales and technical staff. Along came DSG and took them over. Focus was on sales and extended warranties - suddenly, a dip in quality of service, a clamp-down on discounts (if only to align to other outlets) and a rise in complaints.

As I was conscious about "extending the truth" (which I refused to), providing better service and generally making the experience for customers a pleasant one, I always put the shoes on my feet when responding to/addressing customers. I actually found customers came back for repeat business and brought along their friends, family and work colleagues.

I think DSG need to learn from North American counterparts, as their service, knowledge and ability, politeness and after-sales care is one that would see immediate benefits in both revenue and customers that care to come back for more.

Agree with comments - particularly from James Tully, BC, Canada. I lived near Vancouver. The computer/ electronic stores and staff were simply brilliant at delivering good 100% quality service (which felt like 150% to me).

I am certain customers would pay a little more to be able to see, touch and try products prior to purchase but, any more any all is lost! Suggest while DSG sends staff to CES, they also visit some of the stores to learn about educating staff, knowledge ability, service and quality.

Vic

  • 48.
  • At 03:15 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Keith Sterling wrote:

If its over £100 I would not even consider given Curry, Comet, Dixons et al the time of day. I have yet to get decent service from them, find the range of "exclusive" Packard Bell, Fujitsui and Benko equipment laughable

My favourite sport on a slow wet Saturday afternoon is to pop into the local red label electrical shop and listen to some of the advice given my the sales reps.

  • 49.
  • At 03:50 PM on 04 Jan 2008,
  • Mark Watson wrote:

I went into a large Comet store, having done a lot of online research, but wanted to get my hands on the kit there and then.

Me : Have you got the Archos 605 2gb version?

Salesman : They don't do them that size.

Me : They do. I've done a lot of research, and they're on the Comet website.

Salesman : No, they don't. The smallest is 20gb.

Me : Whatever.

So I walked next door to Currys, and bought the 2gb version from them.

  • 50.
  • At 10:24 PM on 05 Jan 2008,
  • digduke6 wrote:

well as retail member I have to reply to alot of the above. The 1st thing is to get a life for much of the moaners, I see them at my store - ie I must speak to my computer expert[gets mobile and phones] no we dont need anti virus as my 'friend' can get a free one, no we dont need any support as my cousin/friend/uncle is an IT expert, which mean they can switch the pc on all by themselves. Oh the pc you sold me is faulty[what happened to your friend/mates etc] you told me they can fix anything and replace anything? where they trying to fix it now you come back to us.

And with ref to the service from overseas etc. I have worked for Harvey Norman is Aust and NZ and yes I would say the service is higher, but you are paying customer advisors treble what they are paid here and plus they are on commmision. So Mr and Mrs Cheap Skate would you pay £500 pound for a laptop with all round sales experience or have a customer advisor on the minimum wage and get the laptop at £300?
The choice is yours!!!!!

Also coming from abroad the reason you have 'spotty teanagers' serving is thats all the retail enviroment can afford over here. Are you going to get a person with 25 years in IT working for £5.50 an hour? no, so dont expect that sort of service when you go to a retail store. Again would you realy pay for service and have another £200+ put on a pc sale to get the level of service I see people expecting - no you all want everything without paying for it.

when someone goes and buys a pc or laptop, the store can make - margin yes minus margin on a stand alone sale. So for all you 'tech' experts out there, bare that in mind when you see no pcs in DSGI.

Also the staff in retail in UK are some of the worst treated and paid, have to work saturdays and sundays(dont you have a life) for no over time like anyone else in the real world, and no overtime for early starts and late finishes as happens in over parts of the world and certainly a crap xmas bonus and pension scheme.

You get what you pay for, so you deserve what you get!!!!

  • 51.
  • At 04:25 PM on 06 Jan 2008,
  • Scott wrote:

I have read all the comments on this page, and most are relavent, most do have degrees of truth in them. I am sure that DSGiplc management is fully aware of the shortfalls in cusomer service, price points, margin issues that they have. However, I do think that in certain cases customers expectations are just unrealistic, many customers are ignorant to the technology they have purchased (and will automatically assume it is faulty) and some customers are just plain rude.

I read the comments from David Bondy (comment 21) and he thinks the staff that work for DSG are "ignorant" and "most can not speak English". Unfortunately you can type in English and others have to read your moaning drivel . . . belt up man and get some manners. You are probably the type of customer people in retail do not want to serve. I can just imagine you in a PC World or Currys store shouting your mouth off about whatever you want to shout about . . . I would love to know were you get that bronze droplet of information from? ! ?

  • 52.
  • At 01:51 AM on 07 Jan 2008,
  • Charles wrote:

DSG's problems aren't so much to do with altering consumer tastes, rather the extremely poor consumer service in their shops. The staff are non-existent in PC World and when you do collar one they'll recommend any old cak to you as they don't really know. Currys isn't much better. Of course where it really hurts is that high street stores are so over-priced except for large items like TVs.
The curious thing is I've found is that there are few places to buy electronic goods unless I go into central London as my local Dixons closed.

  • 53.
  • At 02:00 AM on 07 Jan 2008,
  • Annie Wallace wrote:

DELIGHTED to hear DSGs woes! A long time coming. For a company whose entire business model is based on half-truths and bullying, this might be come-uppance time.

Most GOOD, HONEST DSG stff leave after a while; they simply cannot accept the treatment doled out to staff and cutomers alike - therefore you get the yes-men in power, and those desperate for a job at any cost down the ladder.

Get 20 ex-DSG employees in a room and learn something.

I have predicted for some time that there will a tipping point in favour of online businesses for electrical commodity items, especially computers, mobile phones, pdas, digital cameras etc. DSG are particularly vulnerable because of their aggressive expansion into outternet locations during the 90s when any reasonable foresight on their part would have been to rein in physical expansion and concentrate on virtual expansion. At some point in the not distant future they will not be able to dematerialise their stores fast enough and will be left with a very unpleasant hole in their balance sheet. I suspect the share price has a lot further to fall.

  • 55.
  • At 10:57 PM on 07 Jan 2008,
  • Behn K wrote:

I went to my local PC World searching for a PC (sorry, it seems obvious now I write it) but found all systems either overpriced or just seemed shoddy. Also, their staff seem to know less about computers than the average consumer, which means that I will probably never want to shop there again.
I ended up finding better quality cheaper products at a large stationary store.

  • 56.
  • At 09:39 AM on 08 Jan 2008,
  • Robert W wrote:

Visited Currys Digital in search if a shiny new US-style fidge-freezer. Pounced on immediately by a bright young man but when I explained that I wanted a fridge he told me that he was a computer specialist and would get someone else. After much hunting around I found someone else whose idea of explaining the differences between the various models was to read the display card out loud to me. None at all available from stock. Now what am I missing here - why should I contribute to the profits of a company which doesn't actually stock anything it sells and charges a hefty delivery premium on top?

Off to John Lewis. Friendly helpful staff and the feeling that you are their customer and not the other way around.

  • 57.
  • At 01:40 AM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Phil Allman wrote:

As an employee of a Currys store in Chester, I would like to contest some of the points above:

DSGi may have reported a shortfall in profits, but this is a company which has a £200m profit turnover... an achievement which shouldn't be overlooked. Online retailing is fantastic, and something I use myself, but it is no match for the interpersonal relationship between a sales person and customer.


Secondly, it is fair enough to complain about poor examples of customer service, but to the posters who make comments about 'all' DSGi employees... get some manners. True, there are some members of staff that aren't committed to offering stellar customer service, but these people aren't a true reflection of the hard working and knowledgeable staff who make an effort for each and every customer. To be branded as useless and pushy is unfair and rude.

  • 58.
  • At 10:44 PM on 09 Jan 2008,
  • Tony wrote:

As i read through these comment about the company i work for, i am infuriated as to what i see. Ignorant staff? Im sorry but i feel as though some of you are "Ignorant customers". "Off to john Lewis"? Expect to pay Lewis prices.

In Response to 41, 42 and 43 "All reposts" Yes you are given a 6 year "Warantee" Do you know what this entitles you 2? At Currys there is a 28 Day Exchange period, any faults you bring it back it gets exchanged, simple as. After that manufactuers have a "Right to repair" If they wish to repair it, They have EVERY right to do so. After 6 Months the Onus is on the consumer to prove that the unit is faulty from day one. To the 6 Year warantee, you have to get a registered engineer to come and view the fault, and make sure sure its not "User Error" *not cheap*. If its all good and its not user, Then you have to take it to a small claims court to recover costs. Thats IF you win. That is your 6 year warantee. Thats the law, thats the same for Comet, Currys, John Lewis. The List goes on.

Re: 39 At 08:23 AM on 04 Jan 2008, BobInBury wrote:

"I don't see the connection between the ability to do the job you're employed to do and the salary you earn.

Could you know the ins and outs of several thousand medications, a vast range of illnesses, dozens of laws and constantly shifting government policies?

See, you just proved your self wrong there, Im on Minimum wage, whats that 11k a year. Medicine and law start at what....20k+?

To end this, I pride myself on giving Top Quality customer service, to make the customer feel special, take make them feel like we are the number one retailer in town. If you stop expecting the world, stop being so ignorant, and so rude, you may get somewhere with us.

  • 59.
  • At 04:25 PM on 10 Jan 2008,
  • andy wrote:

Re point 58 - Tony "expect to pay Lewis prices" have you not heard of there "never knowingly undersold" policy? Simply do your research first and buy from friendly knowlegable staff who will price match with all retailers within the area. Even better when they throw in a free 5 year gntee on there TV's.

  • 60.
  • At 10:27 PM on 17 Jan 2008,
  • Pete wrote:

They (dsgi) seem to have based a business on bullying customers with useless unnecessary extended warranties and scare tactics. The sale of goods act is there to protect us customers, we have our consumer rights which are respected and honoured by decent run businesses like john lewis.Rip off tactics might work as a short term dodgy business plan, but it now looks like dsgi have been found out.

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