/ 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

Well done for getting them to apologise – yet again. Let’s hope this time it has some effect.

Hi, just to let you know that we pushed this story far and wide with our challenge to Currys PC World. It has covered by BBC, Telegraph (p10), Mail (p23), Mirror (p15), Sun (p26) and Record (p36). Here’s the BBC write up (currently 5th most read on the website): http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43418774

And here’s Reddit, where the story originated in 2015, talking about the story: https://www.reddit.com/r/unitedkingdom/comments/84tsx7/currys_says_sorry_for_extra_charges/

Anonymous says:
17 March 2018

Fantastic work! I used to work for them and some of the upsales we were asked or should i say forced to bring into conversation were shocking! Can’t believe it when i look back

It is a real problem when nice ordinary people who work for these organisations become the perpetrators of such immoral and probably dishonest behaviour.

Were we to overcome the culture of fear that presumably makes them participate, then we might begin to put a stop to it. I believe we need a culture that encourages ordinary people to disclose malpractice and, if there is any victimisation the organisation concerned should be heavily penalised.

Unless we make the effort, and set up the appropriate system to help and encourage them, malpractice will continue to infect the consumer society. Could it be that government is afraid such an initiative might affect their tactics?

Its getting something concrete to happen like them being prosecuted , like what happens in the USA but I forgot this is “Open Britain ” open to all sorts of devious practices etc and no real prosecutions taking place because of political and economic dogma and , lets be honest -Fear in the face of the power of US massive conglomerates . “America First ” is working .

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

Many commenters on Convos have been pushing Which? since 2015 to “do something” about Currys malpractice. It would be nice to think the apology – and hopefully cessation of the tactic – was a result of co-operative action between Convo contributors and their Consumers’ Association, making them “as powerful as the organisations they have to deal with”.

I’m in favour of consumers helping Which?; pleased with the result here. Well done Which?.

Is this the last we have heard of Currys’ sharp practices………………………??

And now for Amazon 2 pin plugs…………………??

Has Which grown to big ?? Has it changed from it’s original purpose it was started for ? Many reported problems seem to involve large organisations or companies is Which now going the same way by becoming to big trying to do too much ?

Bishbut , the whole purpose of any organisation, business, etc is to grow larger otherwise it recedes in the face of competition . Which has got competition , maybe not directly but in many ways . Why do you think big conglomerates buy up small companies ? -day after day- cut out the competition and expand . Staying still is not an option for Which and I will take a bet they know that . Even charities are expanding “Age Concern ” for just one example . No Bishbut to lock yourself in a cocoon of “cosyness ” in this modern world will just make you fail and be ripe for a takeover . I have said many times Which is pushing ahead , some may not like the way they are doing it but ,in my view , its the only way to go.

Hi all, as our top community members, and hopefully fans, I’d hope you’d be pleased by the action we’ve taken on this issue.

I thought you might be interested in this story too where we’ve challenged 46 retailers in the consumer rights advice they’re giving, which has so far resulted in change from huge organisations including Apple:

“Of the 46 retailers we looked at, 10 made changes to the information we highlighted: Aldi, AO.com, Apple, Ebuyer, Iceland, Lakeland, M&S, Ocado, Tesco Direct and Wiggle. Two retailers – Lego Shop and The Body Shop – made changes to their terms after we told them about our findings, and are reviewing the returns information we raised. In addition to the changes it’s already made, Apple told us it intends to update the incorrect information we highlighted on its timelines in the next few weeks. A further seven retailers told us they will be reviewing their returns advice in the coming months.”

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/03/which-reveals-the-online-retailers-getting-your-refund-rights-wrong/

We have bite and we will always do our best to make change happen on behalf of consumers. We might not win straight away, but we’ll always be there and with your help, change is always round the corner.

Glad to hear it Patrick especially the last paragraph.

Excellent news Patrick. It’s amazing that well known companies don’t know their legal obligations. I do hope that Which? will be pursuing the companies that have yet to take action because I cannot see anyone else doing this.

I am disappointed that the article didn’t mention Apple’s outstanding attitude towards their products which fail after four or five years. Apple actually prints on their site that if goods fail before six years they will repair or replace them.

This is what Ian is referring to: https://www.apple.com/uk/legal/statutory-warranty/ It’s about time that other retailers included this information on their websites.

I would be interested to know what information is/was wrong on the Apple website.

I asked the question ? You gave me your answer ! No one else appears to have answered Thank you

@wavechange We will be keeping a careful eye on all of these retailers, a fact all have been made aware of.

That’s encouraging, Adam. I compared the archived and current pages on consumer rights on the Apple website and could not find a change or an obvious problem. I wonder what I missed.

Lauren’s introduction includes: “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.”

One of our contributors mentioned bait advertising fairly recently. Please could Which? help one of its members who as lost money take legal action against Currys. This case could be cited by others as a precedent in order to reclaim money they have lost.

Hi Wavechange, we’d be happy to help – but I don’t know what issue you’re referring too. If it’s a pre-setup laptop that this member paid for, then they can request a refund directly from Currys PC World by emailing the email address above. And if the member is also a Which? Legal member then they can speak to the Legal team directly. We have a free advice guide for challenging a misleading offer here too: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-complain-if-you-think-youve-been-misled-by-a-special-offer

Hi Lauren – I’m suggesting that Which? contacts one of those who have been pushed to pay more than the advertised cost of a laptop and helps them recover their money, which could then be used for publicity purposes. Doing this for a group of members could make a worthwhile feature on TV. Unless something is done, Currys PC World may carry on using the same sales technique and others will follow.

I remember two reports in Which? magazine, a year apart, where we were told that well known companies were giving false information about faulty goods, for example referring customers to the manufacturer once the guarantee had expired. Which? used actors in both the undercover investigations, but if members with faulty goods had been supported to pursue claims under the Consumer Rights Act this would have made another good TV feature.

It is great that Which? alerts us to problems but it would be better if Which? could claim successes in putting an end to poor treatment of consumers.

Hi Wavechange, we called on Currys PC World to refund customers – and the retailer has agreed to do so. As Adam French explained, we’re keeping a keen eye out for any more reports of consumers falling foul of such issues.

Lauren – In the early days of Which? Convo I was contacted several times over posts that I had made. In one case I had £180 in gift vouchers without expiry dates that no-one would accept. There was nothing that could be done, but it was encouraging to be contacted. I believe that there is a great opportunity to make use of consumers who report problems on Convo to help show that promises by the company are not working.

I’m dubious about rewarding people for making such comments. Like paying people to take part in surveys. However I do think Which? needs to encourage people to provide help and expertise to supplement its own staff’s efforts. Sustained help of this kind might attract some non-financial reward, such as a limited-term subscription to one of its mags or services. But it is important, I think, for people to contribute for the “right” reasons (altruistic).

Your right Wavechange how long does prevarication last ? –forever ? Why don’t people get embarrassed at their sly actions directed against the British public which has got worse since the bodies that used to control this have had their teeth pulled because of “Open Britain ” . Action speaks louder than words ..

There have been plenty of examples of malpractice submitted to these Convos. Given the restricted audience on Which? Convos this is probably the tip of the iceberg.

Pursuing one legal action is maybe just reflecting an “aberration” on a Currys’ staff member but bundling all complaints on Convos together over the last 3 years would make a more compelling case.

This, surely, is a job for Trading Standards? Currys “write to” contact address is in Sheffield. If this is the appropriate office then Which? could discuss the issue with:
Sheffield City Council
Trading Standards
Howden House
5th Floor North
1 Union Street
Sheffield
S1 2SH

t: 0114 2736289
f: 0114 2736248
e: trading.standards@sheffield.gov.uk
w: Sheffield City Council Trading Standards website

They might, of course, refer you to Citizens’ Advice. 🙁

I tried without success to find out which Trading Standards office acts as primary authority for Currys. Individuals have to deal with their local TS office but perhaps Which? might be allowed to find out the primary authority for Currys and raise this issue with that office.

We were told that Peterborough TS acts as primary authority for Whirlpool and Which? did have discussions with them.

As the “parent ” of the parent has its head office in London logically that should be the primary authority , unless of course its an off shore island like everything else nowadays . Are they “above the law ” ? if so they are making a “laughing stock” of the British public.

Before working at Which, I previously worked at Curry’s PC World, back in late 2015.
Every time someone came to buy a laptop, or tablet, employees were pushed to add on other items or deals to the person buying, from their rip-off after sale support, to overpriced antivirus and setting up laptops for an additional fee as mentioned above.
In many cases, products were taken out of the packaging and ‘set up’ (which boils down to skipping a loading screen and making a backup, which would realistically cost no more than £5) to the point of which there were no devices left that were not pre-opened
Employees were then told to tell the customer after they had found a device to purchase, that there would then be an additional £35 surcharge that was non-optional due to it already being set up, even though they had the right to purchase the goods at RRP and the service was unwanted, and eventually these practices lead to me quitting.
I feel there may be a magnitude higher people affected by this practice, from the 10s to 100s of thousands, and is just one on a list of many unethical practices Curry’s engages in, ranging from barely ever stocking Chromebooks due to the inability to push MS Office and AntiVirus with them, and charging up to £80 for ‘premium’ cables, that cost no more than £2.50 to buy wholesale and are of poor quality, and these are just examples I have first hand experience of.

Wow. Well done, Alex, for such a forthright and honest post.

AlexWing, do you have written evidence of Currys’ instructions to employees re the non-optional surcharge? If this was “head office” policy, and not just isolated instances as Currys would have us believe, then legal action may be appropriate.

Thanks for posting, Alex. There is a link to Reddit in the introduction where a former employee explains the importance of selling extras because the profit margin on the accessories is higher.

Unfortunately Malcom, I don’t as I think Curry’s were well aware of what a written instruction of something so blatantly unethical/borderline illegal would do if leaked by staff (as many of others I worked with were equally unhappy about this policy), but this position was always reinforced in person, both from my manager at the time and the store manager, that targets needed to be hit in terms of add on sales or you would be sent for sales training or dismissed for not hitting quotas if it was consistently below.

Perhaps if enough disenchanted employees supported this then some action could be taken, if anyone were sufficiently interested?

Cultural fraud is the hardest to identify.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I wonder if anyone has suggested employees tell what their managers’ instructions were? I presume that is where the practice emanated, not from the shop floor employees having an inbred culture.

If we want malpractice to stop we have to make an effort to uncover the facts. Or do we just let it go, and see what the next tricky practice might be, then have a moan about it?

This applies to both commercial and public organisations of course.

Few employees would be happy to take action against an employer if this could cost their job. Those who have moved on might be, but the best way of finding out what is going on is to have someone to work undercover in the organisation and report their findings.

I suspect you misunderstand my post, Malcolm. I wasn’t referring to an ‘inbred culture’, which seems to be something of an oxymoron anyway, but to the culture of Curry’s as a trading company. Culture is a set of norms, mores and expectations which are generated by others – in Curry’s case, probably the senior management teams.

Institutional cultures have been responsible for some of the worst excesses in history, yet those involved often seem to be able to justify their behaviour to themselves, at any rate. Once normally aberrant behaviour becomes the norm, then the behaviour is exacerbated by normal group pressure. It’s this phenomenon which lies at the heart of abuse in closed societies, such as chldren’s homes, residential schools, Prisons, Care homes and the armed forces.

The key element is the difficulty involved in proving it. What seems to be obviously fraud and deception to the outsider is often viewed in a very different way by those inside the group.

Simply provide employees who reveal their version of the facts with anonymity from their employer. A suitable independent party can be given their names in confidence to verify their credentials.

We need more responsible people to be prepared to reveal misdeeds at all kinds of organisations, public and private. The result should be people like Currys realising they may no longer get away with deceitful practices.

In the same vein,we need fraudulent traders – selling unsafe products illegally marked for example – severely prosecuted to make it no longer worthwhile.

Yes…it doesn’t work, for so many reasons. Guaranteeing anonymity to an employee doesn’t work if prosecution is involved. And, in any case, sufficiently determined employers can always find out who’s made the complaints – and employees know that. And once someone is identified as a ‘whistle blower’ their chances of future employment are severely limited.

Lets just roll over and give up then 🙂

I believe the airline industry operates a scheme where pilots can in confidence report any issues that concern them to an independent third party that guarantees their anonymity but allows incidents to be investigated, not hidden away. I see no reason why secure schemes cannot be used for other industries and organisations, including care homes, the NHS, for example. Like Trading Standards (should) operate, enough similar complaints would instigate an investigation.

As for Currys, we’ve had enough complaints from customers to show this is not an isolated practice. Had someone, with Which?’s co-operation, contacted these customers for “evidence” then we might have stopped this much sooner.

I agree with Ian. If it was easy, problems would be reported and dealt with.

Yes, pilots can use the AAIB to report near collisions or mishaps in confidence. But those are of the non-lethal or legal kind; there’s no suggestion of prosecution as the aim of the process is to allow all pilots to benefit from the mistakes or misjudgements of others.

The Currys situation is different. And almost certainly immoral, if not illegal. Facetious as it is, suggesting we “just roll over and give up then” implies that the person putting forward what they see as a solution is the first to have considered the issue, when we’re certain Which? has been working it for some time. I suspect there’s good reason why Currys hasn’t yet been brought to book.

In advertising, companies generally know what they can get away with without falling foul of the Advertising Standards Authority. Maybe the same applies here.

I am with you on this Malcolm where does excuses end and prosecution take place , if I commit a traffic offense I dont get an “out of jail card ” for free I will NOT accept any compromise /apology /etc if this continues to happen take some real action , if not Which will for ever be compromised and seen to be limited in its ability to achieve results against a major company , I am an action person , procrastination nor “excuses ” do I find acceptable . As far as I am concerned Which is being “led up the garden path ” . In relation to organisations/businesses I am incisive I can see through double talk as my intuition just shouts

[Hello Duncan, your comment has been edited to align with our commenting rules. Thanks, mods]

I find that extremely hard to accept legally Wavechange it implies an upsetting of English/Scottish Contract Law .

What we need is someone to challenge the practice in court, Duncan. Until this happens we may carry on complaining and achieve nothing.

Patrick Taylor says:
16 March 2018

Whistleblowe charity wbuk.org/
also pcaw.org.uk

The best advice is to lobby for monetary rewards towhistleblowers at % of the eventual fine. Works well in the US. However when dealing with carehomes, hospitals etc it may be better to offer cast-iron security or compensation for eventual loss of office and stress.

It is very necessary in large societies with no real cohesion that people working for the public benefit are recognised. The public sector is rife with problems that need reporting and proper investigation. proper penalties. Unfortunately councils with long traditions of party dominance , be they Labour or Conservative seem to attract poor and also corrupt practices.

Whether Labour or Conservatives at Westminster have any appetite for clransing the swamp is debatable.

As for Curry’s – I think they are intent on showing that Which? is a paper tiger. One would think there must be grounds for prosecutions of the individuals in contravening the laws. If Which? feels that there are no grounds whatsoever perhaps they could run through why that is. If the upshot is the law is unenforceable other than by TS then let us lean on them. If the law needs changing so be it.

Mandatory fines per instance would be amusingly direct.

Patrick Taylor says:
16 March 2018

From PCAW who published a report last year. There are examples but this one featuring the Fundamentally Supine Authority shows how those we assume are there to regulate actually seem to be a figleaf to mucky business as usual.

“I n my case I later found out that a
record about me was made by the FSA
stating that because I was talking about
my experiences as a whistleblower, this
may be of relevance to my ‘fitness and
properness’ should I ‘ever seek FSA
approved status in future.’ The reason
for this was stated to be because I may
breach an agreement I had reached
with my former employer. In effect, this
meant that the regulator had blacklisted
me from working in the industry. When
I uncovered this through a Subject
Access Request, the record was
expunged and I received an apology, but
the damage had already been done.

“The whistleblower is almost always
outnumbered, out manoeuvred and
invariably outlawyered

. In the majority
of instances, whistleblowers act alone,
it is not that other people do not see
what the whistleblower sees, rather they
see it, but decide to do nothing about
it. People like the status quo and whilst
they witness wrongdoing, they become
passive observers, often controlled and
influenced by colleagues and managers
and are therefore consciously and sub
consciously persuaded to accept the
said status quo.

“Absent a change of culture and
attitudes, it is not easy to encourage
whistleblowers: there are far too many
unhappy endings in the stories of
whistleblowers. The change of attitude
could or should start with an improved
welfare programme: whistleblowing is
very stressful and if whistleblowers are
to be encouraged and valued we need
to recognise that value and help them
with their stress.

As a society we need
to value whistleblowers: they need
to be seen for the force of good that
they are
. If banks want to encourage
whistleblowing, they need to openly
promote and support it

I did not know I was stealing because the whole family stole , so I thought it was the “natural ” thing to do , so I stole and was jailed . Ian how can that be acceptable just because its a big company and not an individual ? Insisting that the price advertised was “wrong ” and that the “right ” price is £40 dearer in what world of reality except -La -la -Land is that acceptable ?

[Sorry, your comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines/. Thanks, mods.]

I completely agree. As I said, the issue is always proving who’s at fault.

You all make some great points. It is a shame this continues to be an issue. I am the first to confess how little I know about technology, and I fear I would end up paying the additional charge if I was made to feel like I had to.

Please be careful when commenting. I have had to edit a couple of comments which use the phrases like scam/fraud. This is because they could be identified as defamatory or libelous. This isn’t to discourage you from discussing the issue, it’s just to protect you and us from any unnecessary legal issues.

Any questions on this please ask – but would better to @ me on The Lobby 🙂

Alex I will no longer use the words “scam/fraud ” in relation to CPCW although it breaks my heart and goes against my whole being. But what I will say I do NOT believe for a minute , even a second that the “practices” carried out by CPCW dont come with approval ALL the way from the Boardroom. I have stated my case on this previously to some agreement with posters . I do get the legal point though.

I’d like to see “how we can” try to improve a situation rather than “why we can’t”. If potentially constructive comments are made, better to develop and improve on them isn’t it?

Of course, but surely it’s also useful to be aware of which proposals simply won’t work – almost certainly because they’ve been tried? Potentially constructive comments are fine, but all remedies have to be workable. It’s very obvious that Which? is indeed beavering way behind the scenes, and I:m also pretty sure their legal bods are better versed in what might work than either of us.

In that case it would be useful if Which? informed its Members accordingly. At the moment, they appear to have taken no action against Currys, Amazon, Hotpoint, VW, Sony (ZXperia), Kindle (going back a bit), as examples where consumers suffered detriment and you might expect their Association to come to their aid. Or explain why they are/were unable to do anything for them.

When I saw the press release this morning I wondered why W? had said nothing. However, if they say anything in here, then it becomes public knowledge instantly, so I can see they might wish to keep their powder dry.

Patrick Taylor says:
16 March 2018

Ian – Your faith in Which?’s legal bods would seem to be misplaced if there is no explanation provided on the legal niceties and why action is impossible. If indeed it is.

There is a perception amongst some that Which? is not punching its weight against various companies/industries and supporting consumers in highly justfiable cases. I assume this is the decision of the executive.

I have not the time to read all the case law relating to consumer legislation; I expect Which? to do this and explain clearly the situation as to the penalties and who gets to enforce them.
Quite simple.

The Currys PC World add-on ripping off customers 16 March 2018
“Which? has warned Currys PC World it may be in breach of the law after more than 100 customers complained they had been pressured into paying up to £40 more than the advertised price for a pre-setup laptop.”
says today’s press release.

Why, if they are in breach of the law, and have been for 3 years, have they not been prosecuted? Persistently ignoring consumer law, if as Which? believe they may have, should surely not be ignored. Who do we think should be helping consumers defeat this sort of action. Is it Trading Standards?

I have been saying from the beginning that they are breaking the law Malcolm , its because they are devious and use sly excuses to justify their actions , like it was the salespeople not us , and its only “one or two ” complaints completely blown out of the water not only by Which posters but on many ,many complaints on other websites . Why is it that “everybody is lying” except CPCW ? This is contract law we are talking about I know they are mis -representing what they are selling .

Marc says:
17 March 2018

I was caught out by this “mis-selling” tactic in January and ut is only now that Which have raised it in the press again that i have become aware how widespread it is. I spend at lerst half an hour chosing a replacement laptop with a sales man and even when i was sat down by him at his desk and he when through the spec., my details etc there was not mention of the extra charge. It was only when he returned with the laptop in hand did he then say that this was one already backed up and that this would save me up to an hour of my time and that there was an extra charge. I asked why the backup was needed as if i had to reinstall Windows surely i would do this online using the Product Key. Hereplied that Microsoft no longer was allowing one to reload Windows 10 and hence the need for the backup (IS THIS CORRECT?). This seemed odd to me. I said that it was very late in the sales process to be suddenly asking for an additional payment. £5 was knocked off and at that stage i went with it unaware that this was a practice Currys was using on a far wider scale. I was robbed!!
I certainly feel, and indeed did on the day, that i was “ambushed” by this tactic and should be refunded.

You could try to recover your money, Marc. There is plenty of information in this and the previous Conversation.

Marc the only thing holding me back from saying what I really think is legal advice from Which . You have been , in American parlance , been sold a “Bill of Goods ” Absolute BULL ! that you cant re install Windows 10 . MS Redmond know EXACTLY what the build+ model/ serial number etc of your MOTHERBOARD is they use that as security when you ask for a re installation to stop it being installed on another computer that is a FACT ! if I didnt have to “tip -toe ” round this I would say a lot more BUT no way can they challenge ENGINEERING TRUTH. YOU Marc – have been lied to. Those “excusers ” saying -its only a “small minority ” ( ring a bell elsewhere ) lets hear the excuses ? Is this country so weak in customer protection compared to the USA that “anything goes ” ? well it seems that way to me , it makes my blood boil “

Right just in case of some tech guy arguing with me went to MS official website – advice from Microsoft -quote – you can change hard drives forever and you can re install windows and it will activate . You are thinking of Motherboards . Your license is NOT tied to your HARD DRIVE but MOTHERBOARD . It may use the HD to ADD to the ID but that never means you need to buy an new Windows 10 license if your HD fails . HD,s fail OFTEN . BUT if your Motherboard fails THEN you have to buy as new license , very unfair ? of course it is . There you are STRAIGHT from Microsoft Redmond re- Windows 10 re installation website .

Folks, I find that, these days, MS is so keen to get Windows 10 “out there” that it lets everyone freely download and install it.

If you don’t have (or obtain) a valid product key, you cannot register your copy, but that does not seem to stop you from using the OS indefinitely.

I have tried this out “for evaluation purposes” and it seems to work just fine, with no cut-off date (i.e. unlike what XP used to do).

As an advocate of free software, I don’t condone the illicit use of unlicensed software, but it seems to me that anyone with a legal licence to use W10 should have no problem downloading install disks, if they ever need to re-install W10.

For that matter, when starting out with a shiny new W10 PC, it is also a simple matter to make your own recovery media. On modern Windows PC’s, I like to use the free edition of Macrium Reflect for this, but there are now also built-in cabbilites for this in W10.

Not having to worry about recovery media is a big advantage of using Linux. It allows me to focus on just keeping my user data backed up.

While you are there Derek , its now a week of using Manjaro and I am now booting it up instead of Mint , it quicker in all respects- boot time approx 10 seconds , updates are roiling updates to the system , install themselves in lightning quick time never need to install a new system unlike Mint which has now brought out a new version as has Ubuntu . Never thought I would say it , its better than Mint , its also either top or second in ALL Linux distros , haven’t spotted any serious faults so far.

Cheers Duncan.

My main tie to the Debian family is for Handbrake, I don’t know if it is supported on other flavours.

In other news, I’m now also evaluating Chrome OS and CloudReady.

Couldn’t live without Handbrake – and its even more powerful sister – MKV.

Derek-As I do audio and not video I haven’t downloaded Handbrake although it gets good write-ups. As regards chrome OS if you like using cloud apps and online apps + programmes okay, but a powerful PC it is not, it’s not business orientated nor will it do downloaded strong computer programmes that you are used to. Work online? great just the job, its “horses for courses”. I am using Waterfox browser to post this it’s pretty secure and independent of Mozzila being open source not hampered by FF tracking you now and blocking your own advert blockers etc in some versions but it doesn’t have a spell checker, it says it does but its non existent so I got the most popular one for this browser -Grammarly works very well except it doesn’t correct mixes of capitals and normal English .

DerekP says:
17 March 2018

Duncan, so far ChromeOS looks excellent for web browsing / Gmail / YouTube / Netflix – which is almost everything that I now do by way of home computing. It’s like having an ultra lean mean Linux system but without the bother of having to do a bespoke distro build.

In some ways, ChromeBooks are rather like tablet computers but with decent keyboards built in.

I’m sure I have some elderly relatives and/or numpty friends who’d better much better off using ChromeBooks that struggling with more complicated machines.

Now that I have real one for comparison purposes, I can also look again at the CloudReady option for re-purposing old PCs into near equivalent ChromeBooks.

Can I just add a technical response to this. The ‘product key’ concept does not apply any more for pre-loaded copies of Windows. There is no need – and little use – for a backup on USB. The sales pitch is utterly wrong (as in deceitful).

Just for info once a PC has a ‘legal’ copy of Windows 10 (either through purchase pre-installed on a pc, through the Windows 10 upgrade program or a purchased upgrade) you can always do a full install from media downloaded from the Microsoft website. So called backup media add little or no value.

Yes Paul the product key is stored by MS relating to that particular computer and ,as I said , MS know the Motherboard spec for each computer to stop , in their eyes , fraud . So you are right its an aspect I never thought of , just adds to my “censored ” opinion of them.

I’ve just written to Currys as advised by Which. I tried to buy a laptop less than 4 weeks ago and left empty handed as they refused to sell me a laptop at list price. I then went to another store where an unopened product was available and they issued a falsified sales receipt!
If someone from Which monitors this thread I can copy you on the email I’ve just sent to Currys to provide further details of my experience.

Paul -that is serious legally in more than one type of Law . Under no circumstances part with the receipt to anyone get photocopies . I am hindered by having to watch what I say but if your post is the truth and I have no reason to doubt it Which,s Legal department would be interested , so also would a lawyer if you went to litigation as it is highly illegal in as I said contract law and civil law and might affect your guarantee in the future as CPCW might challenge you in court -DONT part with it ! I hope Which does take note of this?

Hi Paul – You could send your information to: conversation.comments@which.co.uk

I would love to see this Conversation become obsolete.

It’s interesting that the email address supplied by Currys for customer issues still uses the Dixons brand. I seem to remember they dropped the Dixons brand because it was toxic following various issue relating to selling of warranties. I suspect a reference to Leopards and spots applies.

Dixons, DSG, Dixons Retail and now Dixons Carphone. Currys, Currys-PC World. It’s a big employer and no doubt important for our economy.

Paul-Thats because the PARENT company is DIXON CARPHONE who in turn is owned by DSG International which is listed on the Thailand stock exchange. I found out a lot about this company some years ago but it was removed from Which,s website for legal reasons , again I am having to watch what I say but there is “more to this company that meets the eye ” .

I’ve had a response from Sheffield TS on which trading standards office is responsible for Currys:
Currys/PC World are trading names for DSG Retail Limited and its Primary Authority for Trading Standards is Hertfordshire County Council, Trading Standards, County Hall, Pegs Lane, Hertford, Hertfordshire, SG13 8DQ – 0300 123 4040.“.

Right on Which?’s doorstep (well, one of them). Perhaps those who’ve had problems could contact them, although you’ll probably have to write as otherwise they’ll send you to Citizens’ Advice. However, Which? may have a direct way to make a collective complaint.

Not sure if this article has been brought to attention here………

Currys PC World apologises for extra charges on laptops – dated 16th March 2018
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43418774

Currys PC World said it was “urgently re-briefing” its stores.

“We are urgently re-briefing our stores now to remind them that, in the small number of cases where only pre-set up models are available, customers should not be charged for the service when they buy their laptop.”

The don’t say they will refund customers already affected but do say:
Customers affected by this should email Currys PC World at whichsupport@dixonscarphone.com,

Thanks for the investigative work here, Malcolm 🙂

We’re keeping a close eye on what happens next – if there are reports of this still happening then we certainly want to know. We really do encourage everyone who has experienced the additional charge to contact Currys PC World to get their refund and share the details of which store this happened in.

Malcolm – Sheffield TS was more helpful than National TS, which runs the primary authority service for businesses and declined to tell me which TS is primary authority for Currys.

================

On 11 January 2018 at 08:19, [my name and email address] wrote:
Good morning

Please could you advise me which Trading Standards office acts as primary authority for Currys.

Regards
[my name]

Thank you for your enquiry. National Trading Standards is a private company set up to fund national and regional issues and as such does not have any appropriately qualified staff to advise or assist you.

The Citizens Advice Consumer Service provides first tier advice for consumers, this is a government funded service and is different from the local Citizens Advice Bureaux. You can contact this service via the helpline on 03454 04 05 06. They will provide you with advice on your rights and pass details of your complaint on to trading standards where appropriate.

If you want to try to contact your local trading standards office directly your local authority contact details can be found by visiting the Help and Advice pages on our website https://www.tradingstandards.uk/consumers by scrolling to the bottom of the page and entering your postcode. If this directs you to the Citizens Advice Consumer Service then you can make contact with trading standards by contacting your local council directly.

Thank you,
Kind regards,
National Trading Standards

Email: Nationaltradingstandards@actso.org.uk

ACTSO Ltd is a subsidiary company of the Trading Standards Institute. Registered in England and Wales. Register Number 8091348. Registered office: 1 Sylvan Court, Sylvan Way, Southfields Business Park, Basildon, Essex SS15 6TH VAT Reg. No GB 795 8626 60

Thanks @alfa – this BBC article was the result of Amelia Wade’s (@awade) work using the reports posted here on Convo and elsewhere – here’s our own news story: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/03/currys-pc-world-add-on-ripping-off-customers/

And this is from our press release:

‘Which? has called on Currys PC World to refund customers who were forced to pay the charge even though they did not want to take advantage of the optional service.

In response, a spokeswoman said they were sorry to hear some customers were charged for the Knowhow service without asking for it.

‘We are urgently re-briefing our stores now to remind them that, in the small number of cases where only pre-set up models are available, customers should not be charged for the service when they buy their laptop.’

Currys PC World asked customers affected by this to email them directly at whichsupport@dixonscarphone.com so they can refund the extra charges and feed back to their stores and regional managers.’

I had a similar reply from the CTSI:;
“Thank you for your enquiry. The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a private company and professional body for trading standards professionals and as such does not have any appropriately qualified staff to advise or assist you.

I thought local trading standards were funded by taxes – public money – so am a little baffled to know why an organisation that is funded by them can become a “private company” unable to help the consumer.

I wish all organisations – particularly public ones – would be more helpful.

Thanks Malcolm. “National Trading Standards is a private company set up to fund national and regional issues and as such does not have any appropriately qualified staff to advise or assist you.”

“The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is a private company and professional body for trading standards professionals and as such does not have any appropriately qualified staff to advise or assist you.”

There is a slight similarity in wording here.

We know that local Trading Standards offices are funded by councils are in place to help citizens of this country. I think we made an incorrect assumption that National TS might help us because their name included Trading Standards. Our local TS is there to help us with problems we experience but there seems to be no organisation other than Which? that can help over local issues. 🙁

There is a list of primary authorities for companies, accessible from this page: https://primary-authority.beis.gov.uk/about

In order to use this it is necessary to have a password, so it’s clearly not intended for use by the public.

“Standards” wording. 🙂 We need a public National Trading Standards organisation that works with local trading standards but handles all national issues – in other words, issues that can involve consumers throughout the UK, and not just those in a local area – county perhaps or city – affected by a local company or organisation. An organisation that can handle Whirlpool, Currys, VW, Amazon….for example,

@ldeitz, Lauren, Which? might like to comment on what a proper trading standards structure should look like and how they might lobby to help achieve it.

May I reiterate in reference to a reply I gave to a poster a few days ago who was replying to my point on not needing this “service ” because its the Motherboard details that MS take as reference to checking any demand for a re-installation is legitimate and the HDD is not required ( in the event of a failure ) The said poster confirmed that I was right and added the fact MS will download the system again as they hold all the customers info therebye calling into question the need for a BACKUP to the ORIGINAL installed Microsoft -Windows 10 operating system . That saying “its just a few ” while -in MY view , patently breaking the law by continuing to (watching my words ) “deal in an incorrect manner ” with the public is beyond comprehension and no fancy talk has any effect on me only real actions by this company . Again I say- How Long must the British public be treated this way when it would be illegal in the USA. ????? I went to Microsoft Windows official US website and they confirmed I was speaking the truth as regards their Windows 10 operating system.

Tony says:
22 March 2018

You will never change the company when you still buy from them . The money this company generates is way beyond any complaint ever being brought against them . From employment to sub contract services to the purchaser exploitation is the business ethos . ..

I agree – and I’m very sad to see Which? still directing folk to buy laptops from CPW.

On pages 60 – 61 of its “spring edition” 6 out of 12 “best buy” laptops are “Cheapest at Currys/PC World”.

It is quite right that when the majority still trade with a company, perceived by some as a little “undesirable”, whether an electrical retailer, energy supplier, bank, that company will see no incentive to change until adverse sales or publicity reach a significant level. Of course it may be that the “majority” who trade with them have no problems that bother them and are quite happy with their dealings. And if they get the best price at Currys, why ignore that on principle? It is the purchaser who will pay the price.

I have bought from Currys and Hotpoint and been quite happy with their service. So why do I join in criticising them? Because I would like to see things done better – in my view, of course – just as when I criticise, occasionally, Which? I see things that they do that I feel could be improved. But that is a personal view and this is the danger with trying to generate a witch hunt or boycott – trying to persuade others when they really don’t care.

Dont really CARE malcolm ???? I hope you are speaking for yourself here? I care deeply for the way this “company ” is treating the British public arrogantly, browbeating them into getting more profit from “devious ” practices , boycott in my case yes .

duncan, if the majority of people continue to trade with Currys then clearly they don’t care about, or even know about, the problems raised here sufficiently to change their habit.

I’m always speaking for myself (“ in my view of course”) as are you, and anyone who feels like you is free to take your business elsewhere.

What is does show malcolm is the power of advertising and the massive control of the public by the mass media. I can not come to terms with how the public allow themselves to be swayed by adverts , its a type of “Rapture ” and “automaton ” behavior. Its obvious I have something far wrong in my brain as I do not conform to “hive ” thinking .

Not sure where the “mass media control” comes into this. I traded with Currys simply because they stocked what I wanted at the best price. I take note of what some adverts say, because they do inform of new products and services, but I do so critically and am not, I hope, swayed by them (well, not too much 🙂 ). I did see an advert for a specialist shirt company and did end up buying from them – they offer all shapes and sizes in a large range of styles and fabrics. I am very pleased with the product. They have their uses.

Mr E Badger says:
27 March 2018

When going into Currys / PCworld always be prepared for the “hard sell” , also check out computer accessories, they can invariably be obtained at a local computer shops far cheaper especially leads etc.