Rose bowls instead of fish bowls, hair straighteners in place of a hairdryer… just some of Argos’s crazy substitutions. So should they be doing more to give us what we ask for?
If you order a hairdryer, you expect to get… umm, a hairdryer.
Even the most pessimistic customers would surely only expect it to be delayed, not look quite like the picture, or at worst, be substituted by a nearly-identical model?
What you wouldn’t expect is a set of hair straighteners. After all, hairdryers blow hot air and hair straighteners… well, I’m a bloke so my knowledge is limited here, but I have established that they don’t blow hot air. But that’s exactly what happened here at Which? HQ when we tried to buy a hairdryer from Argos for testing.
Search for alternative suppliers
When you test approximately 2,000 items a year – as we have in the last year – it’s a disaster to not get what you ordered on a regular basis. And it has been happening with such regularity that for the last 18 months we’ve avoided buying from Argos where there’s an alternative supplier.
Despite that, here’s a list of the types of item where we haven’t got what we ordered over that period. Deep breath now:
- Washing machines
- Sewing machines
- DVD players
- Cordless phones
- Set-top boxes
These were all times when – either online or in store – we didn’t get what we ordered, and weren’t told about it either.
Sometimes the differences have been relatively small – a kettle with an extra knob. Sometimes they’ve been different models – as with washing machines. Sometimes, as with the hairdryer, it’s a different item altogether.
Is it just us? Have you ever had this happen to you with Argos or other retailers?
All in the smallprint?
Argos pointed us to its terms and conditions: ‘Sometimes the product specifications from the manufacturer may change, in which case we will do our best to offer you a similar alternative. We may experience problems with the supply of certain products and may therefore supply a substitute of the same or better quality at the same price’.
Leaving aside the issue that we weren’t told we’d be getting something different, in some cases we didn’t get items of the same or better quality, or a similar alternative. In others, they weren’t even the same type of product, nevermind the same product.
The Sale of Goods Act says goods must be ‘as described’. If they aren’t then the supplier is in breach of contract and the consumer can reject the goods if they act promptly.
Meanwhile, BBC Watchdog found, among other things, a rose bowl being sold by Argos as a fish bowl and a CD wallet illustrated as holding one CD per level actually holding four.
So what’s been your experience? Is Argos blowing more hot air than that hairdryer we never got?