Customer Service at Currys / PC World

A couple of weeks ago I was asked by the owner of a company to pick-up some laptops on his company’s behalf from Currys / PC World. At the time of ordering and paying for them my friend was assured by the business manager of the branch concerned that, as long as I had the relevant reference number(s), electronic copies of the receipts and proof of who I was (my mobile number had been given as the sole point of contact) for collection, it would be perfectly acceptable for me to collect the items in question.

So on the very day they called me to say the laptops were ready, I attended the store with the aforementioned references, emailed receipts, photo identification and the very mobile phone that the store had called me on. I politely outlined the circumstances to a young lady on the ‘Click and Collect’ desk and she immediately asked to see the original paperwork. I explained that I didn’t have that but told her that I did have the reference numbers and offered her my mobile phone to view the emailed receipts. She neither waited to hear me recite the numbers nor looked at the emails on my phone but merely turned to a male, clearly more experienced, colleague to seek advice. He immediately took over my case and point blank refused to even look for the laptops or seek out the electronic record of the purchases that must have been stored on the computer terminal in front of him. He clearly felt if he kept to a ‘no paperwork – no collection’ stance he wouldn’t have to go to the inconvenience of looking anything up or trying to find the items my friend had paid over a thousand of pounds for. It didn’t matter what evidence I offered of my qualification to collect, he just told me to come back when I had the paperwork. So at great inconvenience to all concerned I had to return some 3-4 days later with the original paperwork that had been hastily posted to me.

Needless to say, I wasn’t impressed with the way I had been treated and vowed at the time to avoid buying anything from Currys / PC World again.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly memories fade especially as you get older. Proof of that very concept came along this morning when I needed a document scanner and checked the very same store online to see if they had one in stock. The website showed that they had the make and model that I wanted at a reasonable price so I used the ‘Click and Collect’ facility on there to reserve one for collection.

Some two and a half hours later I went with my daughter to pick up and pay for my scanner. I should have ‘smelt a rat’ when the lady on the desk didn’t have my intended purchase to hand. She disappeared deep into the store in the direction of where I assumed the scanners were on display. We stood for over 10 minutes while I fumed to my daughter (don’t worry – she’s used to it!) that I might as well have not bothered asking for it to be reserved if I have to wait for one to be found from stock. Eventually the assistant return only to inform me that there had been a “stock mismatch” and they didn’t have a brand new scanner to sell to me. The only one they could offer me was the one that had been on display and I could have that, if I wanted it, at 10% discount.

I explained that I wanted and indeed expected, after reserving something for collection, that a new one would be available and should have been, all things considered, at the ‘Click and Collect’ desk on my arrival. I was told there were 43 new scanners in their central store and one could be ordered from there: It would arrive in about five days. I was also told there was one in another store some 2-3  miles away if I fancied fighting my way through the traffic and paying for parking in that location. I declined both those offers and left chuntering on as loudly as possible about how big stores don’t care about their customers and how good Amazon was.

So what have  I learned today?

  1. Don’t rely on Currys / PC World’s  ‘Click and Collect’ function – they might not have a new one in stock;
  2. Don’t expect an email or phone call if there’s been a ‘stock mismatch’ – they will tell you that when you get there two and a half hours later;
  3. How ever old you get, don’t forget which shops give bad customer service!

N.B. On returning home I ordered the exact same scanner but cheaper from Amazon and it will be delivered free tomorrow.

The True Cost of Double Glazing

We have used a local, reliable and independent replacement window and door firm (Marathon Windows of Epsom) since 2010 when we moved to our current address. They have, in the last seven years, replaced several ‘shot’ units in our original double gazed windows, removed a set of French windows installing a double-glazed sliding door instead and taken out an ageing wooden front door and replaced it with a modern properly insulated one. Their products are guaranteed for 10 years and do exactly what we want (i.e. keep the draughts out, stop heat escaping and increase our home security). So when we decided that we would replace the aforementioned original double glazing on twelve of the windows in our house we were 99% certain we would be going back to the same company.

However in the waiting time between calling Marathon and their salesman being able to come round, a representative of Anglian knocked on my door and asked if their company could give me a quote. I assumed they would claim their product was better than a local small company and probably charge a little more per unit but I decided that being a nationwide organisation with a much greater turnover they just might be cheaper so I accepted their request.

‘The Man from Anglian’ came round the very next day. I must admit that I switched off for much of his sales patter although I do recall that he didn’t seem to push their product as much as I expected. After measuring the twelve windows we wanted replaced he did let slip that Anglian were likely to be “10 to 15 percent more than a local company but a better product all-round” then proceeded to input what we wanted into a program on his Microsoft Surface tablet.

I never actually made a note of the full price that came up on his screen but it was in the region of £35,000 (In case you think I’ve typed an extra zero there I haven’t – that’s nearly £3,000 per window). “Don’t worry about that”, the Man from Anglian said, “We’re doing an offer at the moment that could get you up to 50% discount and, if you pay the deposit within the next four days, another discount on top of that.” So after he had ticked all our qualifying boxes the price bottomed out at about £14,000 just a mere £21k below the full price. I have no idea what Anglian’s profit margins are but assuming they weren’t selling to me at a loss, they apparently expected me to believe that they were prepared to forego £21k of their profit to get my business! As someone once rather aptly said “I might have been born during the night but it wasn’t last night!”

I still had another couple of days before Marathon were due to come round so I thought I give Everest a go in case they had a different attitude. Perhaps, I thought, they might just quote me a real price without all the discount nonsense.

‘The Man from Everest’ had a lot more sales patter than his predecessor. He couldn’t stop talking about the product he was here to sell and was constantly singing its praises. There was absolutely no doubt that he knew what he was talking about but he was like an unstoppable express train rattling through station after station on its route. Eventually I persuaded him to measure the windows and he duly entered the details into his laptop. I have a printout of Everest’s full price and it was £35,947 (suspiciously similar to Anglian’s) but once again apparently I was eligible for discounts. So all sorts of drop down menus appeared in his software package and my qualifying discounts were applied. Lucky me! Everest were prepared to give up over £21k of their profit and offer me the twelve windows for £14,695. Like the previous offer, I had to pay a 15% deposit within a relatively short time (3 days I think) to ensure the discount.

So what conclusions have I drawn from these two experiences? The first and obvious one is that both companies treat their potential customers as complete idiots. They falsely inflate their prices in the hope that you will either accept the full price or, perhaps more likely, fall for the ridiculous discount offer. Both firms rely on well-trained, persistent salesmen who both followed-up their quotes by phone twice within 48 hours. Both firms also set unreasonable time limits on the discounts in an attempt to get your business as quickly as possible.

Yesterday the ‘Man from Marathon’ came to call. He was knowledgeable but not at all pushy. At no time did I feel I was being treated like a fool. He measured our windows, calculated the cost on paper and informed me that his company raised their prices in October 2016 for the first time in five years. When I said I might not take up his quote until September this year (2017) he assured me the price would still be the same. Marathon’s quote for exactly the same work as the other two? £8,391.

 

There was no need for a follow-up phone call as I accepted Marathon’s offer today (the next day). They only required 10% deposit and will do the work in 4-6 weeks time – the same time-frame as the bigger companies.

Political Proportionality

I confess that I don’t know what the rules for broadcasters are during a General Election but shouldn’t the coverage should be apportioned approximately according to the relevance of the political party concerned?

The Conservative and Labour parties both polled over 30% of the vote in the last election so I would expect them to get the most airtime and for it to be roughly equal. UKIP got nearly 13% of the vote and the Lib-Dems nearly 9% so no more than half that allocated to the two main parties for Mr Nutall and about a third to Mr Fallon. So how can the BBC justify a full half-hour interview by their political ‘big gun’ Andrew Neil for both those leaders?

Worse still, in my opinion, the SNP got just 4.7% of the vote in 2015 but Ms Sturgeon also got an half-hour grilling by Mr Neil and she seems to be on the television every time I turn it on!

Yet Another ‘No S**t Sherlock’ Report

Today the BBC are running a story on Breakfast News and their news website about how many drivers were caught using mobile phones whilst driving after the penalty for doing so had been doubled to 6 points: Apparently it was almost 6,000 in four weeks. The only surprise in this statistic, to anyone who drives on, cycles on or just crosses our roads, is that it’s only 6,000!

You don’t have to be a criminologist or psychologist to work out that increasing the penalty for doing something illegal is only part (possibly even a small part) of the deterrent factor. You have to also increase the perpetrator’s perception that he or she will be caught. Drive on any of our roads here in the UK nowadays and we all know that when we do see a police car it is invariably hurrying somewhere on its blue lights and two-tone horns. Seeing a police officer ‘walking the beat’ or posted somewhere on foot to stop offending motorists is a very rare event and as for traffic cops – I really can’t remember the last time I saw one.

So, according to the BBC anyway, in would appear that the Press Association decided to serve Freedom of Information Act (FOI) notices on all 43 police forces in the UK to find out something that we could probably have worked out for ourselves.

Here’s an idea. Why don’t the media be a little more discerning and cutback on the number of FOI notices they serve on the police? In that way, given the reduced resources that constabularies are having to work with, some of the staff that are currently allocated to deal with FOI requests could be reassigned to do some police work.

The 190th Fulham Palace Parkrun held on 6th May 2017

Once again it was Parkrun Day (formerly known as ‘Saturday’) and at 8.30 a.m. the 32 volunteers, without whom the whole event wouldn’t be possible, began to turn up and report to Richard the day’s Race Director. I mention this because I’m fairly sure that only a few of the 468 who ran this week realise quite how many volunteers it takes to hold our Parkrun and how hard our Volunteer Coordinator Dawn has to work some weeks to fill those 32 slots.

P1010995

As Richard was ticking off the arriving helpers on his list, it was quite clear that we were going to have another healthy turnout of first timers at Fulham Palace. I counted at least three separate briefings over by the table tennis table all of which seemed well attended. In fact, we had 69 first timers this week and I hope they all felt welcome and, perhaps more importantly, I hope they come to Fulham Palace again!

P1010997Standing out from the crowd of first timers was Станислав ЗАДОЩЕНКО (Stanislav ZADOSHCHENKO) of the Stride Running Club seen here being welcomed by Richard. He had travelled to the UK from Moscow primarily, I believe, to run in a Race for Life in Cambridge on the Sunday. Apparently a friend of his back in Russia had told him that the Fulham Palace Parkrun would be “a good experience for him”:  I hope that was the case as he came a creditable 73rd in the run with a time of 21:27.

P1020001The other notable runner on Saturday was Alice Riddell-Webster (pictured here before the race). It was her 100th Parkrun and her 94th at Fulham Palace. Alice is a member of Fulham Running Club who regularly run, volunteer, pace and occasionally take over completely our Parkrun. Alice was the first female runner to cross the finish line (38th overall) with a time of 19:45. Not a PB for her but she did achieve the highest age grade of the day – 84.89%. Congratulations Alice on all counts!

The other female placings went to Stephanie Tollemache also of Fulham RC (51st overall – 20:30) and Helena Green (53rd overall – 20:41).

The male placings were led by Riel Carol of Clapham Chasers in 17:01. He was placed first for the 4th time in 11 appearances. In second place was Stuart Farmer of Fulham Running Club (17:05) and third place went to John Wray also of Fulham RC (17:08).

P1020022Finally, I feel two of our younger runners deserve a mention. This young man (11-14 category), William SCHNEIDER, came 40th in an astonishing time of 20:00 – a PB for him on his 6th Parkrun. Well done William.

The other young man (sadly I don’t have a photographer of him) is 9-year-old Ollie Winter who came 70th with an equally astonishing time of 21:18. More importantly for him, he beat his Mum, for the first time I believe, by a magnificent 11 seconds. I did manage to speak to his mother in the café after the run and she claimed to be disadvantaged having run in the London Marathon last month but Ollie and I weren’t accepting that! Well done Ollie!!

Well done all 468 who ran, jogged or walked the course. 70 of you attained new Personal Bests. See you all next week.