/ Shopping

Why can’t Argos send us what we order?

Argos sign

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.

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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
  • Fridges
  • TVs
  • Sewing machines
  • DVD players
  • Shredders
  • Kettles
  • 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?


I can only say that last year I ordered – to be collected – an electric drill – It waiting for me and was exactly as ordered – A couple of months later They asked me how I liked it – It was and is superb and cheap.

Sophie Gilbert says:
7 October 2010

I have ordered good from Argos about half a dozen times over the year and all were delivered on time and at the right shop near me and the goods were what I ordered, in good nick. The only problem I’ve had with them was the last time: I ordered a single futon bed and was given a specific date to have it delivered to my place. A couple of days before that date I received a phone call saying that there was a problem with my order because only the frame had “arrived” (at their warehouse presumably) but not the mattress. About a month passed before I finally got both items delivered. Fortunately I wasn’t in a hurry for them, but if ever I need something quickly I doubt I will turn to Argos.

Fearless Goat says:
13 December 2010

I tryed Argos online for the first and last time.
Anyhow I ordered a few presents for **********, online. Order didnt go threw, the secure part just didnt load up. So I figured the order didnt go threw.
Decided to call into the shop to order the goods instead and that was fine.
Few days later the order that failed online arrived. I had no confirmation by email, not a thing to suggest the order was put threw. Plus the 3d secure page didnt load up so I couldnt confir anything. Is that even legal for them to send and take payment without my consent?

On a lighter side, I phoned up there returns and they will pick up the goods in a few days time, but after this I am not so sure they will.

Avoid buying online from these guys, I wont use there site again and when my goods are refunded I will delete the online account.

David says:
11 January 2011

I bought a acer aspire laptop with dedicated graphics card
I got an acer aspire laptop with intergrated graphics card.
The difference being about £100 in price.

Problem was as im not the most compute lit person I didnt notice for 6 months.
Atm im in court with them over this


Reminds me a little of my first PC – a BBC B in 1981 from Dixons. It was the only one in the shop and the demonstration model.- but I wanted it. Took it home – switched it on – and found it wasn’t as ordered. It contained the optional floppy drive hardware (the standard was tape cassette) – The add-on was worth £100 in 1981 say around £800 now – bought a floppy drive and never had to use slow cassette tape loading!!! 🙂

I didn’t bother to tell them!!

Julia says:
1 February 2011

I purchased a Samsung N130 notebook recently at Argos, reserving it on line and collecting from my local store. The laptop was faulty, the keys were stiff and didn’t type all of the letters. I thought that this may just be because it was new and used it for a while. It became apparent that there was a definite fault with the keyboard, and due to snow, Christmas, new year and illness I was unable to return the computer until 2 days over the 30 day back money guarantee, although this item was exempt from this. I was told, when returning the item back to the store that the computer would have to be sent off to be repaired. I explained that I need the use of a computer daily and that having it repaired was unacceptable, I wanted a replacement that matched the description of a working computer. The sales assistant, claiming to be acting manager, was very rude and I felt so patronised when she would point out the Argos policy, asking me if I’d like her to read it to me again!
I also pointed out to her that the 30 day money back guarantee does not include my statutory rights, and that included that the customer not be inconvenienced when an item is faulty, or that any replacement or repair be of any cost to the customer, which it would be if I was to be without a computer while the faulty one was being repaired. The assistant didn’t know what my statutory rights were and would not accept my explanation, claiming that Argos has it’s own policy and what I was asking was for her to change it.
To cut a long and annoying story short, I was eventually given a replacement of a dearer model, to which I was required to pay the difference as the original computer was not in stock. I was told that they only replaced this as I had been ill! It took me two journeys to the store, a speeding fine, and letters, telephone calls and e-mails complaining about the service.
I would not shop at Argos again, that’s for sure!!

chris says:
5 September 2013

This isn’t really on the subject, but it’s the only place on the Which website I can find to make this comment about Argos’s online service. If you cancel an online purchase within the 7 days cooling-off period, beware of them not refunding your postage charge. This happened to me. They said they’d refund the purchase price. I said, what about the postage. They said, no, we don’t refund that. I then found out that under the Distance Selling Regulation you’re supposed to get any postage charge you’ve paid refunded as well as the purchase price. I also saw that in Argos’s small print they say you have to tell them you’re cancelling your purchase under the DSR so they can refund your postage. I rang them and said I didn’t know I had to say that. They said you don’t have to – it should have been refunded automatically. They then refunded the postage charge. Incidentally, I couldn’t find any info on DSR and the refund of postage charges on the Which website.

Petraa' Amponsah says:
26 June 2014

I got given the wrong product from Argos. I wanted a 60 piece dinner set but instead I got given a 12 piece set. Actually disappointed! I have complained about it. How can you get a order wrong?! Common sense I think not.

andy oshea says:
27 November 2014

after recently suffering a fire at my home from a 10 month old tumble dryer bought