Plenty of us have been caught out by a sales tactic at some point. Most recently, a number of you have told us how you’ve fallen for one used by Currys PC World…
For four years you’ve told us about Currys PC World pressuring you into paying for a set-up fee that should be optional.
We took these stories to Currys PC World and questioned their practices and each time they promised to clean up their act.
But as recently as January, you’ve told us this is still happening. Donald Oswald told us:
And they’re not alone. Since January 2015, more than 110 people have told us after buying online or seeing an advertised price they were told in-store they only pre-setup laptops left, so they had to pay an extra fee of up to £40.
So we’ve now sent Currys PC World a legal warning outlining how the practice could breach UK and EU consumer law.
We’re also considering pursuing all available options to make sure this unscrupulous behaviour is brought to an end.
Our Consumer Rights Editor, Eleanor Snow said:
“It is very concerning that Currys PC World has allowed this unscrupulous practice to carry on for four years – despite repeated warnings and overwhelming evidence that it may be in breach of consumer law. Previous efforts from the company to resolve the issue have been woefully insufficient, so we now want to see it tackle the issue head on so no more customers are left out of pocket unnecessarily.”
And this is thanks to all of you who’ve shared your stories and helped those who got caught-out.
But this isn’t over yet. You’re our eyes and ears – if this keeps happening, we want to know. So tell us if you’ve experienced this practice, and in which store and what happened.
Original convo 16/03/2018
You’ve done your research, meticulously picked what you plan to buy, yet somehow a crafty yet appealing offer manages to get the better of you. The result? You end up buying something that you probably don’t need.
Whether it’s upselling of one product to a premium option, or a misleading offer, such as two items for £10, when you could buy both cheaper individually, many of us have fallen foul of a sales tactic at some point.
I definitely have. I’d popped into a shop to buy a new facewash, when a moisturiser caught my eye. Ten minutes later, I found myself being talked into buying a complete gift-box set of items, many of which I simply didn’t need. As a former weekend shop assistant, I thought I was wise to such sales tactics.
But it’s easy to get caught out, especially when the tactics are more sophisticated…
Currys PC World Knowhow service
Some of you here on Which? Conversation will be well acquainted with the ongoing saga of Currys PC World customers being ‘pressured’ into paying an additional £40 for their laptops to be set up, ready for use, with a USB recovery stick included. In some cases, customers were told that there were only pre-set-up models available in store, yet were still charged for the set-up.
This pre-set-up service from the retailer’s Knowhow tech support team is optional and advertised as so. Yet this doesn’t always seem to be communicated.
One commenter told us:
‘We have click and collected a laptop at Currys today, only to be told when we got to the store that it was pre-set-up only, available at a fee of £40. When we questioned it, Currys dropped the fee to £20. When we again complained that nowhere was this mentioned before the click and collect, and we didn’t need the laptop set up, Currys said it could take the stick [USB] out of the box and just charge us the normal price, leaving us with what I would consider a product that wasn’t pristine. We told Currys to forget it and have gone to John Lewis instead.’
Another commenter, Jaydeep Sarma, said:
‘Offered USB recovery stick for £40. Also a software recovery package for £8.49 pcm, which is on my direct debit and will be cancelled immediately. Nice salesperson but clearly working to local commission targets. Only went there as need a new PC and no time to wait for online delivery.’
Over the past three months, nine separate Currys PC World customers have complained to Which? about incidents where they’ve had to fork out extra for a service they didn’t ask for.
Such stories suggest Currys PC World could be breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations concerning ‘bait advertising’. It is also required to advertise the full price of a product bought online under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
What’s most frustrating is that these stories are nothing new.
We first raised the issue in 2015, after complaints were spotted on Reddit. At that point, we confirmed with Currys PC World that customers shouldn’t have to pay for the set-up as it is optional.
Last year, we once again spoke to Currys PC World, after more people told us here on Which? Conversation that the practice was still happening. Again, Currys PC World confirmed that the set-up service is an optional extra that customers shouldn’t have to pay for.
Complaining for change
Some of you, such as John and his wife, have been exercising your consumer rights and refusing to pay for the service:
‘My wife just back from Edinburgh Fort Kinnaird CPW today, which asked for £40. She flatly refused. The store handed over [the laptop] with USB for original price. 👍’
But too many are still falling foul of the sales tactic, so we’ve raised this yet again with Currys PC World.
This time, it has agreed to arrange refunds for those who’ve found themselves having to pay extra for a service they didn’t ask for.
The retailer has also asked for customers to email it directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a refund.
Plus, it’s told us that it will be rebriefing its stores to remind them that where only pre-set-up models are available, customers should not be charged for the service when they buy their laptop.
Have you fallen for a special offer that wasn’t so special after all? What did you do?