/ Shopping, Technology

Paying £35 for a laptop service you didn’t ask for?

Laptop on man's head

Have you bought a laptop from Currys or PC World and been asked to pay an extra £35 for a set-up service? Did you know about this ‘Knowhow’ service before buying? Read what Currys has to say about this.

A submission on Reddit by Iamnoss just after Christmas brought to light some curious goings on in some Currys stores.

You see, Currys offers a Knowhow service to set up your laptop, including a USB recovery stick. This is an optional service you have to pay for, costing from £35.

However, Iamnoss wasn’t given the impression that this service was optional:

‘Three to four weeks ago, myself and my housemate reserved a Lenovo Flex 14 laptop for £449 on the Currys website for collection in Hove. However, when we arrived at the store we were told that they were out of the ‘regular’ laptops for £449, and only had laptops that had been ‘set up’ – the definition of this being the inclusion of a USB recovery stick. We were then informed that this would cost an extra £35 on top of the RRP, making the price £484 instead of the £449 price we had reserved the laptop for.

‘After refusing to pay this price, the shop assistant made a counter offer of £25. We again refused this, and he offered it again to us for £10, rather than the original £35. At this point we decided to cut our losses after driving especially to the store to pick up the reservation, and paid £459 rather than the £449 the laptop was reserved at.’

Iamnoss’ father had the same experience at Currys in Derby a few weeks later, but this time refused to buy the laptop.

Paying £35 for a laptop set-up service

The Reddit thread unearthered a number of similar stories from Currys and PC World customers, like this one from Mannginger:

‘They tried this with me before Christmas as well. I simply told them that I wasn’t going to pay for it and if they wanted the sale they’d remove the £35. I got a puppy-dog look and “oh but they’ve done the work” etc but he was removing the cost as he said it.’

VoxSecundus was also asked to pay extra:

‘This happened to me when I went to help my grandmother buy a PC from PC World/Currys. They tried to charge us £30 for a system repair disc, something you can create for free using an application that is a part of all Windows systems. Disgusting. ‘

What Currys and PC World have to say

We got in touch with Currys and PC World to try and get to the bottom of this. A spokesperson told us:

‘We offer a number of set-up services on laptops in store for those customers who don’t have the time, or don’t know how to set up a laptop correctly with recovery media.

‘This process can take two to three hours and in order to speed up service delivery for customers we pre-set up a number of machines in store. This service is entirely optional but is very popular with our customers.’

We have confirmed with Currys that if you weren’t aware of this set-up service before purchase, nor did you request it, that you should not have to pay any additional fees:

‘On those few occasions where stores only have pre-set-up stock left, a customer is offered the pre-set up unit at the normal price of the laptop, getting the additional benefits of the service for free,’ the spokesperson adds.

‘If any customers have queries around their particular laptop purchase, they can always speak to our Customer Service team on 0344 561 1234.’

In the meantime, we’d like to hear from you. Do the above stories sound familiar? Did you have to pay Currys or PC World a fee for a set-up service you didn’t request when you bought your laptop? Has anything similar happened in another store?

Update on 24 December 2015

We’ve again contacted Currys on your behalf to see what they had to say. Currys told us the following:

‘We have been very clear with stores and our teams here, following last years concerns, to ensure that whenever the store’s only or ‘last one’ PC’s should have the service set up completed as a goodwill gesture at no charge to the customer.

‘This is also highlighted in the Boxing Day Brief that has gone to stores. This says:

“In the event of a customer Resevce and Collecting where you only have a Pre-Setup machine left in-stock, you must ring to advise them, and you are to offer the service to them for free.

“A customer should NEVER be informed they must pay for a pre-setup product even if these are the only units you have left in stock.”

You can contact Currys’ customer services team on 0344 561 1234 if this wasn’t your experience. As ever, if this has happened to you, please do let us know.

Update on 2 March 2017

Due to continued comments and complaints about this, we reached out to Currys to ensure action was being taken. Jason Roberts, Head of Knowhow Customer Contact Centre, has responded on behalf of Currys and PC World:

‘We are genuinely disappointed to see and hear that incidents have occurred whereby customers have been charged the set up costs in instances when only pre set-up models of laptops have been available to buy.

‘When Which? raised this issue at the same time last year we immediately took action and thoroughly re-iterated the absolute correct procedure to our retail store teams via a host of forums and directives by last March. That procedure is explicit in explaining that in the instances when only pre-set up models are available, the customer is absolutely NOT to be charged for the set-up fee and it fully details the till procedure whereby the USB stick is recorded through the till and written off at 0 value. We have provided the evidence of the actual procedure, accompanying notes and briefing packs (which included the actual article from Which? last year as a reference) that were sent to stores for inclusion in briefings early in 2016. We can also evidence that during the last peak period (Nov to Jan) we wrote off the largest number of USB’s we’ve ever done. So you’ll appreciate why we’re disappointed to hear that the vast majority of our sales colleagues are being let down by a few individuals.

‘We would invite those people who have shared their experience on this thread to come to us directly at WhichSupport@dixonscarphone.com and we will look to resolve their experiences on an individual basis.’

Update on 16 March 2018

Over the past three months, nine separate Currys PC World customers have complained to us here on Which? Conversation 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.

We have therefore called on Currys PC World to stamp out this practice. Alex Neill, our director of home and product services, said:

‘This issue has been going on for more than three years without resolution and we are disappointed people are continuing to report feeling pressurised into parting with their cash.

‘We want Currys to make cast-iron guarantees that it will put an end to this practice and that customers who’ve been caught out will be reimbursed.’

A Currys PC World spokeswoman said:

‘We are sorry to hear that some customers have been charged for a Knowhow Laptop Set-up service on their new machine when they did not request it.While setting up machines in advance enables customers who want the service to benefit from it straight away, it is not something everyone needs.

‘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 retailer has also asked for customers to email it directly at whichsupport@dixonscarphone.com to arrange a refund.

Colin Tyler says:
18 March 2019

To redress the balance a bit: I purchased in October last year an HP pacilion PC from my local Currys; no trying to “[upsell”] (horrible term):– when I connected an existing monitor it ( monitor) failed. I went back to Currys and was allowed to purchase at the “bundle” price the monitor which was part of the PC deal. No complaints there. PC is unfortunatley back with Currys being repaired suspect this is a software problem so will see when I get it back!

Did Currys give you any advice on how to install your old monitor before selling you the new one?

DerekP says:
19 March 2019

Colin, thanks for sharing that. When I last bought a new PC in Currys, they did not try any upselling with me either. Then again, that was in 2011.

I hope your PC comes back mended soon.