/ Shopping, Technology

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

laptops for sale

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…

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?

David says:
9 November 2018

WE bought our daughter her first pair of shoes and a rivet came loose on them within 1 week of having them, which is a potential safety issue. When returning them to the shop, my wife was initially told that they would only offer a direct replacement, we could not get a refund (ridiculous, as we don’t want the same shoes as they will potentially have the same flaw/safety concern). When going to collect the shoes today, she immediately returned the new shoes (as we are unhappy with the quality and potential safety issues), but again, the store says their policy is no refunds, they will only offer store credit.
Would i be correct in saying that they must offer a refund (on the original defective pair) under the 30 day right to reject policy? Or does them offering in store credit equate to a full refund??

David says:
9 November 2018

Interesting, thanks Duncan! So in effect, by displaying a notice saying they don’t offer refunds, they are breaking the law! (unless store credit is considered a refund?!?)


Yes David you have every right to show that they are breaking the law and demand a refund in cash.

Pavel says:
17 November 2018

Hi, I bought at Tesco a lawnmower 5 months ago. The first time I used it within the 30 days from the date of purchase it worked but the second time it stopped working and it was also within the same 30 days. I was not well and I couldn’t return the product on time and ask for the refund. The next time I tried to use it and it started working again. After another time I tried to use the product and cut the grass it stopped working again. I had enough and I definitely wanted to return the lawnmower and get my money back. I contacted the retailer and they offered me a repair but I have lost my trust to the product and want full refund because the product is faulty. Would you advise me what shall I do to get my money back. Thanks for your help. Pavel


You are out of time to reject the lawnmower and get a full refund, but you have the right to a free repair. I suggest you accept the offer – you have nothing to lose and will at least have a working lawnmower.


Hi Pavel,

There’s more info on your consumer rights here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/what-are-my-statutory-rights-and-when-do-they-apply




I bought a PlayStation 2 second hand from a traid in shop for £40.I have connected it the correct way but will only play 1 game.The others will not load on.I returned it and they said it worked in the shop.we tried it again and still no good.I took it back again and they still said it wasn’t faulty and I have tried it on 2tvs.What can i do


Ben-Second hand goods must still work as advertised , playing only one game doesn’t quality as a working PlayStation 2 .

This is strictly down to internal programming somebody has worked on it or did some programming to it as a PlayStation is just a type of computer .

It is not as advertised therefore the shop should reimburse you . I take it the games that did not load are compatible with the PlayStation ?

DerekP says:
23 November 2018

Hi Ben, if there is nothing wrong with the games discs (or whatever media) that are used by the games you have that won’t work, then it sounds like your s/h PlayStation does indeed have a fault.

If the fault was not brought to your attention at the time of purchase, and if you discovered this within, say, 2 weeks of purchase and them immediately returned the PlayStation to the retailer, then they should offer to refund or replace. If you took much longer though, they may only be obliged to offer a repair.

Most national chains of second hand tech shops operate with a guarantee on this basis, but I don’t know about other places.

On the odd occasions when I’ve had to return non-working s/h kit, I never had any disagreements on such matters, but, were that to occur, I expect to demonstrate the fault to the shop.

In summary, I think the basic law here is that goods sold by a shop must work as described – if they don’t, they are faulty and the shop is expected to set things right.


I have started a contract and received a new razer phone after 2 months it developed a fault I contacted razer and mobile phone provider and requested a new replacement after 2 months of email tennis and dispatching defective product to German they have sent me a refurbished phone which I deem as unacceptable how do I stand on receiving an agreed new replacement


Gary- if your check your contract ( small print ) you will find they are not obliged to replace your 2 months old phone with a brand new one .
Its a Singapore company with dual headquarters the USA one being in San Francisco . If you are dealing with the company which you probably are the UK base states quite clearly that they can fit “refurbished parts ” -see-
Even through “authorised resellers ” the same type of guarantee applies .
They state “they do not guarantee the product will be error free /uninterrupted .
Read- Remedies under this limited Warranty .
If you purchased it under a “Razer reseller ” then you contact them .
I would like to think the UK Sale of Goods Act would help here but I think they have this sown up.


Thank you for your input Duncan, I to have read the implied warranty and your right they do appear to have it pretty locked down .. one statement drew my attention was they had to abide by individual countries.. so was wandering weather consumer or sales of goods act could be cited?? I have also contacted phone contract customerservice to see if they could advocate?? Shocking a so called premium manufacturers can get away with this should have stayed with apple!!


THegpp99- its now the CRA -Consumer Rights Act see-
The only bit I can see any cause of action is under -Unfair Terms but as the company have used terms a City QC would be proud of its going to be a bit of a struggle to get a judge to accept your point of view –not impossible but hard.


Thanks again for your input Duncan.. I’m not holding out much hope for a positive outcome.. but one can only try!! Appreciate your advice and guidance


thegdp99, Which? Legal may be able to give you some qualified legal advice on this.

Arthur Donnellan says:
16 December 2018

I bought a new Beko dishwasher in April and it started tripping switches in the house so I got an engineer out twice and it’s still doing it so I rang Beko up to get an uplift but they flatly refused as it was outside 30 days they said but the shop I bought it from agree with me what can I do to force an uplift number please??

DerekP says:
16 December 2018

Arthur, your contract is with the shop, not Beko. Hence the shop must either replace or repair or refund that appliance.

Which? gives detailed advice here:



Your legal rights are against the retailer rather than Beko, the manufacturer. Retailers often ask customers to deal with manufacturers and it might prove helpful but the manufacturer can refuse to help, as in your case. Your rights under the manufacturer’s guarantee (through the retailer) are in addition to your statutory rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, which allow claims to be made within six years of purchase (five in Scotland).

If a product fails within six months of purchase, the CRA states that the fault is presumed to be present at the time of manufacture unless there is evidence to the contrary or abuse can be demonstrated, and the retailer is liable to provide a remedy. After six months, the responsibility switches to the the consumer and the consumer may be asked to provide an expert’s report about the nature and cause of the fault, which should not be difficult to establish in your case.

Under the CRA, the retailer has only one opportunity to provide a remedy unless the consumer is happy to accept other attempt. The alternative remedies are replacement of the goods or a partial refund that takes into account the amount of use the consumer has had. This document is a guide that informs companies of their responsibilities: https://www.businesscompanion.info/en/quick-guides/goods/the-sale-and-supply-of-goods#Whattheconsumercanexpectstatutoryrights

Free help is available from your local Citizens Advice and if the retailer fails to comply with its legal responsibilities, ask to be referred to Trading Standards. Which? has advice and template letters for complaining about faulty goods: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/l/faulty-goods You could also pay to obtain tailored advice from Which? Legal.

Best of luck, Arthur, and please let us know how you get on. I find that being polite and persistent generally works – at least with goods bought in a shop, where you can stay at the customer service desk for as long as is needed.

Edit: I see that Derek got in first 🙂


Arthur is the shop you bought it from living in the real world ?
You are very lucky your mains distribution board has trip fuses .
You have a serious mains voltage/current leakage , I have worked on many and only by the fact I was standing on dry ground and had thick skin presenting a high body resistance to electricity I would have had a severe shock .
One of my aunts had an electric iron that developed a leak , she was blown across the room with the shock.
While washing machines are more liable to leakage I have found high end models were better engineered electrically.

DerekP says:
16 December 2018

I recently bought a used breadmaker from a charity shop.

The shop had supposedly tested it, but every time it progressed to the baking phase of its operations, it tripped my ring main.

I know the shop in question uses volunteer labour to test its electrical appliances (but also has some paid staff).

In this case, I bet a lack of specific product knowledge resulted in them on doing simple insulation tests, but none in which the main heater was actually switched on.

So they ought to have found the fault (a) if they tried using it for baking bread or (b) if they had conducted electrical tests under all of its programme settings, including the “extra bake” option that starts by engaging the main heating element.

In my case, the shop did not quibble when I returned it for a refund, but that was only a few days after I had purchased it.


Exactly Derek–thats what I am getting at .
Cheap insulation testers from China with low pressure testing .
I have an old, large ex military Megger with a voltage pressure of 500V/1000V at a current strong enough to give you a nasty nip done by hand generation and a large insulation resistance scale going from zero to infinity.


Metal-sheathed heaters such as those used in ovens and kettles often cause nuisance tripping and with portable appliances can fail PAT tests even if they are working normally. The usual test voltage used in 230V PAT testing is 500V. It is possible that the fault had developed after Derek bought the breadmaker but it seems likely that the charity shop just did basic checks with a multimeter, which operates at low voltage and is not satisfactory for testing insulation resistance.

In many homes including my own there is only one RCD and this sort of fault will turn off all power including lighting. It has not happened yet but my New Year’s resolution is to have something done about it.

DerekP says:
16 December 2018

wavechange, it is theoretically possible that my fault developed either while I was carrying the breadmaker home or the first time that I attempted to use it.

However, given that the unit appeared to operate normally, mixing the dough nicely but then always failed when it was time to bake the loaf, I think it is more likely that the fault was already there – but not revealed by testing – when I bought it.

Most importantly, none of these failures resulted in any loss of nice yummy bread – I just ended up having to bake the dough in my regular oven.

I’ve no idea what sort of test gear the shop would have used – I think it is uncharitable of Duncan to infer that cheap Chinese test gear could be to blame (or to infer CE approved but inexpensive test gear would not work as certified). In my experimental railgun days, we used a 10kV Megger for our routine insulation tests, but then our power supply was an 8 kV capacitor bank.

I’m also a little surprised by Duncan’s tautological usage of the word “pressure” in connection with voltage – it’s almost as high a crime as the above uses of “PAT testing”, which should just be either PAT or PA Testing 😉 😉 😉


I dont know how old you are Derek but I have electronic/ electrical magazines/books going back to the 20,s and earlier and can assure you the “pressure” of the voltage was used back then by those not far removed from the actual description of the discoverer of electricity.
Taken from Physics forums-

When you have something under pressure, you can make a hole in the tank and let the water flow out of the hole. This flow can be put to use, (turn a paddle wheel, run a generator). The more pressure you have, the faster the wheel or generator will turn.
Likewise, the more voltage you have, the more work you can possibly do. Its just an analogy so that you can have a tangible understanding of it.
You need a pressure to push the electrons in a conductor. If not, what will force the electrons(current) to move? With no pressure(electro motive force or potential difference), the electrons will simply idle around at a small pace.

Don’t flip- But, think of the Ocean wave as the Voltage and the water as the current.

So, if you take a voltage source, then there has to exist a difference between the two points in order for a voltage to be generated. Potential difference is defined as how much work is needed to move a charge from one point to another. You can integrate the Electric field from one point to another to obtain the Voltage.

Does EMF make you feel any better Derek ?

And other physics specialist who is the staff mentor-

I don’t know why you’re going to flip – the reason people compare these phenomena is because they really are exactly the same thing. A watt is a watt is a watt whether it’s electrical or mechanical or chemical. If you want to calculate how much electrical energy you can get from a hydroelectric dam, for example, you calculate how much mechanical energy is released by the water flowing through it (and multiply by the efficiency of the turbines). It should not be surprising that the equations for describing what happens in the wires look a lot like the equations for what happens in the pipes.
Just to back it up-

Ohm’s Law for cuurent in a conductor : V = IR
V : voltage or potential drop across ends of conductor
I : current (or rate of flow of charge)
R : resistance of wire/conductor

Power drop in a resistor = IV

Effective resistance of conductors in series, R(eff) = R1 + R2 + … + Rn

Effective resistance of conductors in parallel, 1/R(eff) = 1/R1 + 1/R2 + … + 1/Rn

Flow of incompressible fluid through a pipe : P = Qr
P : head or pressure drop across ends of pipe
Q : fluid flow rate
r : impedance of pipe

Hydraulic power drop in pipe = PQ

Effective impedance of pipes in series, r(eff) = r1 + r2 + … + rn

Effective impedance of pipes in parallel, 1/r(eff) = 1/r1 + 1/r2 + … + 1/rn

Well, do you now see the reason for drawing up the analogy ?


Gentlemen – I have realised that we are well off-topic. Hopefully Arthur will have his dishwasher replaced or receive a refund.


Well that’s the first time I have got a “thumbs down ” for simple algebraic expression.
Keep it up , what next even more mathematical truths being rubbished then fake news will have triumphed ?


It’s not the jokes, Duncan, but the way you tell them.


I will take that as a joke Ian but I will be sticking to algebraic fact thats been used since it was discovered/worked out .
There wouldnt be a hint of bias there as Georg Ohm was German ?
There are various form of the same law rejigged by people like Gustav Kirchoff another German but the same mathematical truth applies .
You realise the end result was quantum mechanics about a 100 years later


Even clots like me know the rudiments of electrical terminology, Duncan. Personally I prefer to have things explained using the currently conventional words as they relate more closely to what I have learned. You have no doubt given an expert historical justification for what you have written but I don’t know why you could not have just used “volts” and “voltage”. I relate “pressure” to gas, steam and water. If you keep things simple fewer will disagree with you or give you bad marks.

All I can say is that quantum mechanics is like a hat to me. It just goes right over my head.

No bias in using the word “volt” either even though it was named after an Italian [Alessandro Volta].


Okay John I accept that and to show you I dont mind constructive criticism I will give you a thumbs up .
I will try to “dis-remember ” the very old electrical/electronic wording I learned in old dusty books.


Thanks DL – I have cut off both of your bad thumbs.

DerekP says:
16 December 2018

Duncan – my point was only that “voltage pressure” is a tautology just like “mandatory requirement”, so given that you had said “voltage” you didn’t need to then add “pressure”. And you didn’t seem to notice the emoticons either 🙁


Sorry if you took offense Derek your right I should pay more attention to them .
Thunderbird blocks them automatically .
I have been put off using them as they can be used for other purposes -like tracking/malware /etc but dont take my word here is a US business website advising businesses to block them.-
WordPress can block them if needed.

DerekP says:
17 December 2018

Duncan, that linked article only says: “As reported by TechRepublic’s Jack Wallen: ‘Twitter, Facebook, and Google can use emoji to track your employees and target their devices with ads.'”

It doesn’t cite any actual evidence of actual harm being done or indicate, in absolute or relative terms, how bad this harm might be. So it seems to be little more than scare mongering…

And, if WordPress can block emojis, wouldn’t they and/or Which? disable them, if they were significantly harmful?

Andrew says:
16 December 2018

I had issues with my iPhone 6 that I had from Vodafone, although it was out of warranty apple replaced it on the 19th of December I have since had issues with my phone freezing and apple has tried to fix it over the phone without success and ask that I go into the city Glasgow to get it seen by a technician. My issue is I have little time to do so, apple says the consumer act applies with Vodafone and not them, basically I just want a replacement phone since my phone has issues within 30 days of a replacement. Any help appreciated as I have sent a good 12 hours with apple between this fault and the previous fault


Believe it or not Andrew you are not alone and has to do with update iOS 9.3 which could be linked to incompatible third party apps . I am very surprised Apple did not tell you this nor gave you the routine to fix it .
Potential solutions are given below on the URL website -dated December 9th -2018. This reminds me of windows operating system (nightmare ) blue screening with the authoritative advice from Redmond—- re-install .
Anyway enough of the commercial politics click on –
There are a lot of trackers but its safe with a genuine Comodo certificate.
If that doesn’t fix it get back please. keep to the instructions dont deviate.

Hannah Lightowler says:
17 December 2018

I don’t have a problem with the know-how part of PC world… It the online orders that I have a problem with. I ordered and paid for a laptop 17 days ago from their curry’s/PC world website. I didn’t want to pay extra so got the standard delivery… It has passed it’s expected delivery date by 10 days. I have tried to phone but I don’t have a specific order number beginning with 74- I never got sent anything that started with 74. I have emailed them twice asking where it is to no answer… what do I do? They are unlikely to deliver next week.


Hannah -Contact Us-Please call 0344 561 0000 to speak to a member of our Sales Team.
The reference number should be on your –Order Confirmation Email.
Standard delivery is normally 5 days but large items take longer –
but more to the point they say on Standard delivery they do not guarantee time of delivery especially to remote areas of the UK.
Having said that 17 days is too long phone the above number, on the Team Know How -Track it website
it say-if your kit is being delivered by:-

Royal Mail – click here (example reference: JVNNNNNNNNNGB)
DPD – click here (example reference: 1550 NNNN NNN NNN)
UK Mail – click here (example reference: M762048NNNNNN)
One of our other suppliers (order reference begins with 49), please give us a call on the numbers below
-0344-561-1234 also same number if you need additional help.
No mention of a “74 ” reference number



PC World are still using this tactic on 18th December 2018. I went into the store near Warren Street – just a 5 minute walk from Which?’s office in London – tonight, and when the sales assistant brought up the laptop I wanted from the store room she trotted out the exact same line – this has been set-up by the Know How team and because they’ve spent time doing that, it will cost an extra £40.


Thank you for that Phil.
Well nobody can argue the criticism directed by me and others at CPCW . Its patently obvious even to a dead one celled organism that they are leading all those well meant organisations who try to help the public —-up the garden path .
Oh yes ! its only a few “well meaning ” salespeople – bull !!!
What have I said from the very beginning a long time ago ?
Instructions from the top . I have been censored for making a statement which-IMO- is the truth and obviously CPCW complained , obviously I wont repeat it but I still stand by it even now .
Arent those help organisations and websites just a little embarrassed by the **** they have been told ?
I actually feel sorry that they have been “taken in ” by this its no better than a barrow boy in old Petticoat lane banging the wooden barrow and shouting – not one -not two -but three plates for a £1 , while the three plates combined cost wholesale 30p or less depending on where they obtained them.
This is never going to be fixed by soft words and intelligent thought , they had an answer in the MIddle Ages — the Stocks and the public pelted them with all sorts of rotten vegetables/fruit etc — that cured them.


We know how ands why it is happening; the question is how we [or Which?] can stop it.


Either legislation against –well you know or create a UK version of the FTC of whom I have a long list of multi Million $$ fines for sly advertising shall we say (having to watch my words on a UK website) not so on a USA one as regards issues like this.

DerekP says:
19 December 2018

With regard to stopping this practice, I’d like to see Which? take a policy decision to never say “cheapest at PC World” in their reviews, when that appears to be the case on the basis of CPCW’s advertised listed price.

Given that we know CPCW will aggressively upsell, if their list price is within, say, £40 of a competitors, then the competitor is probalby giving the cheapest price.


The legislation is in place, Duncan, otherwise Currys PCWorld would not back down when challenged. The problems are, first enforcing it, and second getting the company to do what it has promised to do and stamp out the practice.

I just Which? would adopt a tough response to this trickery that that has been going on for such a long time.


I didn’t know that John , thanks for the info.
Too big to fall comes to mind just like the banks.
The FTC are so good big business USA are lobbying to “cut it down to size ” .