/ Technology

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 04/02/2020

Another year on and we’re still seeing reports of these selling tactics taking place at Currys PC World stores.

This isn’t good enough. We’ve sent legal warnings and followed up multiple times over the years; in March last year we stated we were considering our options to ensure this behaviour is brought to an end.

To do this, we continue to need your help. Along with those who have commented recently, we want to hear as many stories as possible so we can bring this forward ASAP.

If you’ve experienced this sales tactic at a Currys PC World store, please get in touch in the comments or email:

conversation.comments@which.co.uk

The team will then put you in contact with me directly.

Update 15/03/2019

By Amelia Wade

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 its practices and each time it promised to clean up its 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, Adam French 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

Schemes like Which? Trusted Traders should be a means to find an honest, competent and reputable trader. They are only of value if they are kept up to date and if regular genuine reviews are required from customers, whether satisfied or not.

I looked for car repairs, servicing and MOTs relatively near me. I only found one listed within 8 miles and that had no reviews.

I would have thought by developing this scheme on a much larger basis would be of great benefit to all consumers. It would no doubt require investment in staff, but better than those failed huge investments from the past. It surely has commercial attraction to appropriate traders, but perhaps could be made into a modestly paid-for service for non members of Which?

The only time I have found a local Trusted Trader when I needed one, he did a competent job at servicing my gas boiler, though he was frequently interrupted by phone calls. I called him the previous year and he said he would get in touch, but did not do so. I reminded him but he never arranged an appointment, so I managed to find another company that did the job.

I’ve found reliable tradespeople by a combination of recommendations and seeing examples of their work, but in the case of car or boiler servicing I would only act on recommendations of people who have the relevant experience.

Em says:
31 May 2020

If you need an MOT, check your local council depot. Many councils test their own vehicle fleets and, I believe, all MOT stations must be open to the public.

I certainly had no problem booking mine in with Surrey CC. Because they do not offer repairs, they have no incentive to cheat and should not call out failures that aren’t. The only down side is you will have to take it somewhere else for any genuine faults and return for a retest.

That is my plan for when my trusted garage closes or changes hands following retirement. I would prefer if all MOTs were carried out independently. I once had a car fail because it was alleged that two tyres were below the legal limit, which was certainly not the case. Had I not had a friend in hospital with leukaemia at the time I would have appealed against the failure.

MR R J SMITH says:
5 June 2020

Ordered an Indesit washing machine from Currys 17 March, including installation. Took 5 weeks of trying to contact them before they discovered they could deliver the next day. I had paid £25 for installation this did not happen. I spent the next 4 weeks trying to contact Currys without success. So contacted Mastercard who then refunded the £25. I have been a Currys customer for 40 years, not any more.

Plywood Manufacturers says:
9 July 2020

Enjoy your article. It’s really informative. Thanks for sharing this post. There is lot of complaints by customer relates to the pc support system.

ronald piollard says:
12 August 2020

i used pc world to recover data they recovered some but not the ones i would have preffered,could they have looked at these legal files and saw they were useful so ignored them.i had a dongle from elswhere they asked had i a receipt.this may be allowed but it is a cheek.