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Have you been caught out by Currys PC World's Knowhow set-up service?

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…

Update 15/03/2019

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.’

History repeats

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 whichsupport@dixonscarphone.com 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?

Comments

I would like to see Currys PC World respond to Which?, issue a public apology and make available a claim form for customers to reclaim the additional cost they have had to pay for the cost of their laptop.

I’m not keen on promoting a compensation culture but as John says above, this has been going on for years and maybe having to compensate customers might act as a future deterrent.

I’m glad that there are still stores like Currys PC World as an alternative to buying online but prompt action is needed when companies step out of line.

Corporate apologies are pretty pointless. Like the stsndard “we take our responsibilities very seriously” trotted out as if that quells any concerns.

If Curry’s practice breaks consumer law then they should be prosecuted and penalised. If not, then publicity may be an alternative. A real deterrent that damages profitability or reputation might have some effect on CPCW and anyone else who seeks to profit by deception.

Which? should, I believe, be far more positive on this tactic if they really seek to benefit consumers. But then, so should Trading Standards if the practice is illegsl But is it? Which? suggests it is.

I’m not just looking for an apology but action to refund those who have been charged more than the advertised price.

Hopefully we will see a legal ruling that could provide a useful legal precedent. What the company seems to be doing is deliberately advertising a product that is not available at the advertised price, which is not the usual upselling that we have to put up with.

Isn’t one problem that you order a product online, go to collect and find that all they have “in stock” is the one with “extras”. If so, that is deception.

when buying online you have the additional protection of the Consumer Contracts Regulations. I had assumed that the problems related to laptops bought in store but maybe the same is happening with online purchases.

I think if you go into CPCW to buy a laptop on spec, so to speak, if all they offer is one with a back up then you can simply walk away; no one is forcing you to buy. My impression from posts over the years was that people had reserved online, or found there was stock listed, gone to collect and found it was not so. A comment in the intro says“‘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“.

OK, it’s online as well as in store. At some time in the discussions the technique was identified as ‘bait and switch’ and that comes under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations.

I expect that many would walk away, but consider the scenario that someone urgently needs a new computer because the old one is beyond repair. They may have travelled a distance to the store or they may have ordered online, only to find out that the only option is to pay more. It’s not surprising that some will pay the extra.

The whole point about this is that the company has shown no resolve to stop this switch tactic and it is persisting despite promises to the contrary. I conclude that it is being officially tolerated and condoned as a matter of corporate policy and staff in each store collectively feel under an obligation to pursue it for fear of the consequences of not doing so.

It has taken a long time for a legal warning to be issued and I hope that enforcement of that through the courts will not be held up while we quibble over the legal niceties and finer points of interpretation. From consumers’ point of view any ruling by a court would be useful since the present uncertainty is not conducive to fair trading. If Currys PC World are not acting in breach of the law then Which? can campaign for a change in the law and the general public can be given official warnings of the prevailing practice at their outlets.

I think Which? should also prompt manufacturers to ban the unsealing and opening of their packaging by the retailer without the purchaser’s specific consent.

It would be interesting to know whether ‘click-&-collect’ counts as distance selling.

Whether ‘click & collect’ counts as distance selling will depend on whether a contract was made. They would not apply if a product in stock was reserved for a few days. On the other hand if you paid for the goods and opted to pick them up from a store rather than have them delivered, a contract has been made. I do not know which applies in the case of the Currys PC World laptops.

You are absolutely right that this is not fair trading.

Reserve and Collect at CPCW does not involve payment until you go to the store. They simply reserve the item for you at the chosen store; they show which local store(s) have it in stock and say they’ll contact you if there is a problem.

Probably no contract is formed, just misleading practice if they show stock that you reserve but when you collect they say does not exist without prior warning?. Perhaps Which? could tell us on what legal grounds they can pursue CPCW?

michael says:
25 March 2019

I purchased a laptop 7 june 2017,in June 5 2018 from PC world the device wouldnt connect to internet .It was inside the guarantee ,so expected it to be fixed ! It was returned to me 10 days later NOT fixed and of course was now out of guarantee .It was not fixed by PC world all they wanted was more money from me to send away for repair ,which i refused nor would they consider a refund or a new device .I had to find a computor expert who fixed the device for me .Since then i was reading national newspaper and saw a small article in march 2019 about PC world mis selling and charging people for add ons that were not necessary or not asked for .I looked at my receipt and only then realised they had charged me £55 for setup and they had charged me twice for anti virus Mcafee, plus i was also sold another antivirus in July 2018 ,so three in all I have contacted the email address given in the newspaper article and they are dealing with my complaint Atm.I hope to be fully refunded for the miss selling which amounts to about £170

Michael, you do not say what the computer expert found wrong with your laptop, and fixed. It would be helpful to know.

I presume that if the fault was covered by the guarantee and the product was “repaired” but the repair failed then it should have been dealt with under guarantee by CPCW.

The protection provided after 6 months by the Consumer Rights Act requires you to show their was a fault from new. However, such a “fault” would include lack of durability if it was a physical fault and you should be entitled to some proportionate redress.

I guess one of the problems with computers is that added software can cause problems that are not of the PC’s own making.

Chloe says:
7 May 2019

Unfortunately curry’s still breach consumer rights act 2015.
I have been in an ongoing dispute with them about my dyson vacuum cleaner bought June 2018 for £299.99
The hoover stopped picking up and also has a tear in the wire housing exposing electrical wires. I spoke to them 9th April and they advised to contact dyson for repair, I did and dyson stated they cannot come out to repair for 2 weeks, I spoke to curry’s again and this time sent them a request for refund templated by which? After seeking advice,
I am entitled to a refund of up to 100% after a failed attempt at repair
The consumer rights act 2015 states
Any attempt at repair must be within reasonable time and must not cause the consumer significant inconvenience, in my case not only do I have 7 children and a large home, I have a partner with autism and adhd and has ocd traits as one of his major problems, any mess that is left would cause him a decline in mental health so I quickly replaced the vacuum myself on the basis that my rights entitle me to a refund
After going backwards and forwards with their team know how via email they told me to ask dyson for an uplift number, dyson resounded that curry’s know full well they do not provide uplift numbers after 28 days, curry’s then aid my only option is to go into store, so I did any they just happen to be the rudest of manager there that I have ever dealt with (I have it on film) he refused point blank to refund, laughed at me that I have had the item for nearly a year and should never expect a refund and refused to show me the consumer rights act that he follows and also walked off and said he isn’t dealing with me anymore, he then proceeded to phone dyson and ask them to book it in for repair for what reason?
I had already gone through this nearly a month ago and purchased a new vacuum. I then posted about my experience on their Facebook page where they told me they would help and even apologised, then when it comes to private message they state that actually the tear in the wire housing doesn’t constitute as a fault and when u reminded them that the item must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and for a reasonable amount of time, he refers back to that his opinion is that it isn’t a fault!
Where to go next??

Debbie Cruddas says:
7 May 2019

I bought a pair of Beats Studio 2 headphones from currys in Nov 2017 with a 1 year warranty. In April 2018 sound in one of the headphones stopped working. Currys out of warranty dept told me as they don’t stock this item anymore and they don’t repair it they would offer me £128. I have offered to pay the additional £25 for the next model (costing £245) but they have not responded. What can I do?

Hi Debbie,

A good starting point is the Which? guide here:

which.co.uk/consumer-rights/regulation/consumer-rights-act

I’d expect a £220 set of headphones to last several years if treated right.

So you may have to prove to Currys that the failure isn’t your fault and then argue that, this close to the date of your original purchase, they should refund in full or provide a replacement.

Their offer of £128 seems to assume depreciation of about £70 per year, which implies an effective working life of only about three years. Personally, I’d hope for much longer that that from a £200 set of headphones.

M Ward says:
12 May 2019

Had the same terrible experience buying a laptop from Curries, pressured into buying the setup in store and then the laptop kept freezing, crashing, programmes not working etc.
Took the laptop back to currys and it was a nightmare getting a refund, ended up having to have four separate trips to curries and wasted over 5 hours in all. Customer service non existent, staff incredibly rude, unhelpful and obstructive. They seem to think there is no such thing as consumer rights and tell blatant lies as to what you are/ are not entitled.
Terrible company, I will not use them again.

AJ says:
16 May 2019

I have my macbook air for 5 years I look on the Apple website it said I covered by consumer law for 6 years but they are refusing to fix it my computer was working fine until now it started having lines at the bottom of the screen then it got worse the lines are everywhere and I can not log in or do anything on it I show to apple they said it is display and graphics issue and that if I want it fixed I should pay £460 for it even though it wasn’t even my fault and it is a hardware issue

Hi AJ, is the problem anything like this one?

youtube.com/watch?v=uBB_Wb5SGFA

If so, it might only be that the video cable needs fixing, as opposed to anything more expensive.

One way to check that would be to try connecting your Mac to an external display. If you can get a desktop up on an external monitor, then the circuit boards inside the Mac are likely to still be OK.

Can you say which model of MacBook Air you have, AJ? This can be found on the back cover near the hinge. As Derek says you can use an external display for troubleshooting but you would need to have or borrow a suitable adaptor to connect it.

It is always the retailer that is responsible for faulty goods, so Apple has no responsibility unless you have bought the computer from them. Many retailers will tell you that you must take the matter up with the manufacturer and if they do you can say that they are breaking the law. I suggest you push for a repair, which is possible for MBA of that age because the other legal alternative would be to offer a partial refund, which might not amount to much for a five year old computer. Best of luck.

Looking at secondhand hand values on the CeX website ( webuy.com/search?stext=macbook%20air%205, ) typical ~2012 MacBook Air’s seem to have residual values around £200 – £300, so I guess they are worth repairing, but not if the repair cost is over £400.

Apple Stores are notorious for quoting very high repair prices and for operating from a monopoly position on parts availability. Using Windows PC’s can be much less costly – I’ve just acquired and upgraded a 10 year old Dell Windows 7 desktop to produce a reasonably capable home server running Windows 10 professional and all for a measly £30. Along the way, it was interesting to confirm that free upgrades to Windows 10 are still available.

The convenience of having a portable computer undoubtedly adds to the cost and bear in mind that the average desktop PC mouse is thicker than a MacBook Air.

The cost of a repair should not put AJ or anyone off making a claim under the Sale of Goods (which was the relevant legislation until it was replaced by the Consumer Rights Act in October 2015) since a repair should be free to the consumer.

wavechange – the size and shape – including the height a decent PC mouse should be determined by ergonomic to give a good fit to the user’s hand. Otherwise, it may feel unduly cramped and might carry undue risk of promoting repetitive strain injuries.

That said, I’m sure you weren’t trying to suggest that there should be a “size matters” arms race to reduce the thickness of PC mice.

As someone who now regularly carries a portable computer (or, sometimes, more than one such device) I really do appreciate having something small, thin and robust, with a long battery life.

I can see that, over the last 10 years, MacBooks have led the design revolution there. Most small laptops now use the same basic design internal layout though, as judged by the ones I’ve dismantled for various purposes. I recently splashed out £90 for a nearly new 14″ HP Stream as a “sand box” machine for my computer buddy activities. Previously, I was mostly using my 11″ Chromebook for that, but I’ve now decided to ring fence the latter for online banking and a few other benign activities (e.g. posting on here).

AJ: as Wave says you need to take this up with the retailer – not Apple itself, unless you bought directly from Apple. Apple is outstanding at honouring the six years stipulation in my experience, but if you didn’t buy directly from them you may have a problem with the retailer, since many will attempt to evade their responsibility. Good luck.

FED UP CUSTOMER says:
23 May 2019

I bought a HPs pavilion laptop on 1st April 2019 from Currys pc world, paid for the monthly service and repair fee. To only have issues with my brand new laptop which wouldn’t connect to the BT wifi router.
I spent those 7days trying to call the tech dept and never got through. I wasted a whole lot of money on airtime waiting in the queue.

They never even bothered to provide a flash drive with windows 10.

I recently was scammed by those BT fake callers and got seriously worried. I honestly thought they would help me.

Being new to the country, totally unaware of all the UK scams. Not impressed at all.

So now I sit with this very good looking paperweight and I only got about 2days use out of my laptop before everything went to the …

I refuse to fill in Currys pc questionnaire email. Want NOTHING to do with them.

I even sent HP an email telling them they need to be careful who they allow to sell thier products.

Totally disappointed and disgusted with this whole situation I am in.
Being unble to reset so I can sell the laptop to someone who needs a laptop. Never Again! Will i purchase anything from Currys or an HP product, because they even wanted to charge me money in order to help me get my laptop up and running properly.

Hi Fed Up,

Sorry to hear about this.

Here’s a link to a Which? article that explains your basic rights in respect of faulty goods:

which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-do-i-do-if-i-have-a-faulty-product

If your new laptop has developed a hardware or software fault, then you should approach Currys and they must offer to refund, replace or repair, as appropriate.

As regards the matter of devices connection to your router, BT may also be able to provide customer support there.

If you fell prey to PC support scammers, did they manage to get a remote connection to your laptop? or did its inability to connection to the internet protect it from their unwelcome attentions?

David says:
7 June 2019

They sell second hand/refurbished as new.

I had to return, in turn, 3 headsets due to 2 of them developing faults within 24 hours and one faulty on arrival. One item was sold as a 2019 edition which I believe was the original version as the physical upgrade announced by the manufacturer didn’t seem present.

Each time I changed manufacturer and paid more suspecting this was a manufacturer thing, it took me till my third return and refund to come to realise they must have been second hand/refurbished items sold as new.

I had zero sympathy from the store staff, they even immediately tried to divert my anger saying it has nothing to do with them but the manufacturer! Atrocious customer service, they seemed to have been a bit red-faced when I voiced if they are selling me second hand goods.

Note I have working headsets on my PC aside from the one(s) I purchased, my hardware and software is sound as well as doing extensive diagnosis to conclude if it was me or the headsets.