/ Shopping, Technology

Life in the old dog yet: will you go back to HMV and Jessops?

HMV shop logo

With previous casualties Jessops and HMV returning to the high street after being placed into administration, are you rushing back to them with open arms? Or are you practising caution?

Just two months after going into administration, camera chain Jessops has re-opened two of its stores in London and Birmingham with plans to reopen another 30-40 stores. Hot on its heels is HMV, which is to have 141 stores saved in a £50m deal from restructuring specialists, Hilco.

Peter Jones, the Dragons’ Den star who bought Jessops, referred to the camera chain as an ‘iconic British brand which can lead the retail resurgence on Britain’s high streets’. But are you quite as convinced this Dragon? Will you be buying from these previously bruised brands – or would you rather go online or to an alternative retailer?

Going back to HMV and Jessops

The retail industry has undoubtedly suffered in recent years, with many high street shops struggling to stay afloat in an online world, where your chosen item is often at its cheapest on the net.

Still, there’s no getting away from the fact that buying your camera online lacks the opportunity to speak to someone face-to-face about your potential purchase. Nor do you get the chance to handle it in store.

Peter Jones has also said that he aims for customers to get products for the same price in store as on the Jessops website. So perhaps customers will be keen to snap up cameras on the high street? I also wonder whether people will be more likely to shop in HMV and Jessops just for the simple fact that they want to support their favourite high street brands to make sure they don’t go under.

Your rights when companies go bust

Personally, I’m a bit cautious with any company that has gone into administration.

I find it hard to believe that the problems that faced these companies before, are going to be sufficiently minimised to make it worth re-opening them for trade. I’d worry I’d be burned if I bought from the company and retail lightning struck twice I’d be left out of pocket.

Normally, you have a right to return faulty items under the Sale of Goods Act. However, if you do buy from a company that’s gone into administration, your rights depend on the administrator. To save the store the administrators may decide not to accept returns, and it could refuse to accept gift vouchers. This was something HMV and Jessops customers initially suffered, but thankfully both stores are now back on the cards.

So, do you think it’s second-time lucky for these stores, or will you be giving them a wide berth – and if so, why?


Now that Comet has gone and Currys is on my blacklist for their continued inability to recognise consumer rights under the Sale of Goods Act, I might well use Jessops. I am prepared to pay a little more for the privilege of being able to see and handle goods, though if I know exactly what I’m buying I will usually buy online.

I only used HMV to buy gift vouchers for teenagers. They have grown up now and I no longer trust gift vouchers. If they get rid of the annoying music I might consider shopping at HMV.

I agree about the annoying music. For a chain that used to stock many types of music (including some classical) and video, I never understood why the shop manager thought their particular taste in music would appeal to the majority of their customers. Or was it purely for the benefit of the staff?

Either way, I always regreted going in for a browse and made a hasty retreat after about 5 minutes of ear bashing – empty handed, of course. In fact, I can’t remember when I last bought anything at HMV.

But presumably I’m in the minority and they knew what they were doing … oh no, they just went bankrupt!

It will depend on how competitive they are on price. I purchased my camera about 18 months ago from a local independent dealer. Their price was competitive with online prices, but Jessops were almost a £100 more expensive.

I used to check Jessops whenever I wanted other equipment but never found them competitive. I will continue to check prices now they’ve re-opened and will be happy to purchase but only if the price is competitive.

Will vouchers sold before they went into administration be valid in the re-opened stores? I had one for Christmas.

How very generous of Jessops. Either they should change their name and wave goodbye to there existing customer base, accept the vouchers, replace them with new ones, or offer a full refund.

Hello Florence,

Thank-you for doing this for me. Much appreciated. I will send the voucher to Jessops and let you know what happens (I don’t live near any re-opened stores).

Louby says:
16 May 2013

I have a gift voucher given to us as a wedding gift. What was the gift you got back?
VERY dissapointed in Jessops, we were going to buy a canvas and now have nothing to show for our gift.
Agree with Wavechange!!

Tony S says:
11 April 2013

I think there are two different cases here. I don’t see how anyone buying a camera (for anything other than the sort of capability available on a ‘phone) could buy one without handling it first. You need to see whether you can see through the viewfinder (if it has one!), handle the controls and understand the basics of the menus. HMV’s product range of CDs/videos etc. can all be bought “as seen”, without examination. I would therefore be delighted to see Jessops return to my area, but I’m afraid that Amazon has the HMV-related market covered for me.

Yes, I’m buying paper online from Jessops as they have always had some of the best quality at a very good price – even lower now for a bulk buy. But I am not very likely to visit a store; from past experience I’d say they must make store visiting more welcoming and helpful than it was.

It is often not down to the store whether it is welcoming. Town centres are not welcoming. As of necessity, they are full of traffic and parking restrictions with notices giving out negative images: No waiting. No parking. No turning. One way … etc. When you get to a shop, they very often have to “get” what you want. It is delivered to them, and you have to go back and pay to park etc. before collecting it. One suggestion I might offer to Mr Jones and others trying to revive the high street. If a shop has to “get” something specific that the customer wants, offer to have it delivered to his home at no extra cost. We get almost everything by delivery these days. The choice from merchants at eBay and Amazon can never be matched by a high street, even somewhere like Oxford Street. I don’t think in not to many years to come people will shop in high street any more than they go about in horse drawn carriages. It is obsolete.

Andy says:
19 April 2013

I almost never go shopping by car. It much easier to walk or cycle (cheaper and healthier transprt too!). So town centres win in terms of location. Buying online is a real pain because anything which won’t go through the letterbox has to be collected (from the Post Office, which is the town centre! so one has to make extra visits to the town centre to collect items one at a time).

I once delayed going to work in the morning by an hour of so, so as to be in when the courier delivered my camera which I had ordered from an online retailer – I had got an approximate delivery time from the courier. I waited and waited but it didn’t come. It transpired that the courier company had sub let the delivery to another courier company who finally turned up at 5:30pm. Buying on line had meant taking the whole day off as leave.

It happened that I had bought this camera on-line after being shown it by Jessops in their shop local to me. But the Jessops shop was not prepared to match the Jessops online price so I went hunting for the best online price. I had been quite prepared to buy from Jessops as my previous camera had come from a Jessops store and they had matched their own on-line price.

Returning goods bought on-line, which I have had to just a couple of times, is horribly inconvenient. More visits to the Post Office!

There is one chain of stores who sell on-line and in stores but prices in-store are sometimes lower than on-line.

There are many items which need to be seen and touched and evaluated before purchase so there will always be a place for dedicated showrooms. In time these showrooms may come up with gimmick of letting you buy and take way the items you have looked at. Er, that is what a shop is!

I used to shop in HMV but stopped about 15 years ago, their prices were just too high, and I can see no reason why that’ll be any different now. As to Jessops, never shopped there and don’t see him changing that fact now either.

Malcolm says:
11 April 2013

Unfortunately I have to be honest here and say that I will go back into Jessops but only to try a camera before buying it elsewhere online for much cheaper. I know this is completely wasting the time of the staff at Jessops but unfortunately that’s the way it goes in retail and there prices are just too high for me.

The same goes for HMV. I may browse in there but my purchase will no doubt be made online for a download or CD. The amount of illegal downloading going on at the moment is incredible so this obviously does nothing for there profit. The future is looking rather shady for the future of these two companies as far as I’m concerned but I hope they succeed but it will be of no thanks to people like me (bargain hunters) who like a good deal on there purchases.

Not only were Jessops more expensive than other camera retailers, but more often than not the staff were salespeople rather than photographers, so their advice was limited. I have always preferred to buy my cameras and equipment from specialists who have expert knowledge of what they are selling, and I will continue to do so. With modern DSLRs being so expensive, expert opinion is vital.

T. Calvert-Linnell says:
12 April 2013

No, I will never return to Jessops, whose reputation has been terminally damaged. I was very lucky to retrieve some important photographs from the store in Lichfield – by dint of standing outside the grille already in place in front of the shop…. So very little notice of closure for loyal customers and a seriously unhelpful/dismissive notice online. A sad outcome for a shop around for decades. Reputation matters…and always will.

I returned goods to Jessops long before they went into administration and was promised a refund as allowed by the distance selling regulations. I suspect but can not prove refunds were stopped by a decision at high level, I will not get the monetary owed to me. Greater legal protection for consumers is needed if confidence in these companies is to be restored. People who gain from the administration by purchasing the assets a low prices hopefully will support the excellent shop staff.

I’m pleased to see HMV stay as it’s an interesting place to browse in. However I haven’t bought a CD for ages as no-one is producing any music I like. They should consider having a performer live in store to Jazz things up a bit. I also agree with others that the canned in store music can be awful, so they would need to change the performer and genre each week otherwise you could suffer endless hip-hop. I also had problems finding artists in there because I didn’t know what category they had put them in. If I like a singer/band I don’t want to spend ages looking through one section only to find they were elsewhere. Virgin used to be easier to find things in.
As regard to Jessops I agree with David and Malcolm.

Suze – Excellent idea. Coming out of left field the idea of making the shop a good place to go has a lot going for it.

I have always been amazed that the “record companies” make so much of signing artists for obscene amounts – or more to the point a dead artists estate for £133m – and then complain when people feel less or no guilt in copying his records.

Relying on the US to extend artists copyright to the detriment of many and the enrichment of a few is typical but not very likely to engender widespread observation of the law.

As for Jessops I have sympathy for shops where the physical article is necessary to handle but unfortunately the management were not very savvy in marketing itself – tey neede a suze.

The company is run by a receiver. He is a lawyer. Lawyers just play by the rules – like chess players. They play to maximise their fee income. They have no feelings for the people involved, or sense of right or wrong except for their rules. Non-lawyers are just pawns. Lawyers are not selfless dedicated idealists trying to do what is right for society, they are gamers maximising their “points” (fees+VAT). This has gone on for hundreds, maybe thousands, of years. It will only change if somehow the money motive can be divorced from legal process. No one has invented such a system yet, despite comments by people such as Shakespeare and Dickens, and more recently Richard Dawkins.

Gerard Phelan says:
14 April 2013

I bought quite a lot of DVDs and CDs from HMV between 2004 and 2011. Most were from their on-line arm, but sometimes their stores undercut their own web prices. I stopped buying late 2011, when their formerly useful twice weekly emails multiplied into about 10 a week leading me to un-subscribe from their mailing list.
Sadly for HMV, my purchase decisions were mostly based on comparing prices with Amazon and a few others. Sometimes, HMV were the only stockists of certain titles. If they start selling on-line again, then I will be happy to buy from them if their prices at least match others prices, after all it is in MY interests to ensure there are viable competitors who will keep Amazon’s prices low.

Personally I liked HMV and Jessops. Although I do buy a lot of things online HMV was great for browsing if you want to buy a gift for someone, although their prices were very high. My local Jessops had knowledgeable staff and I find the opportunity to handle a camera essential so I would not buy one online. I got a nice DSLR with an extra bundled lens so it was no more expensive than buying online. If all these shops go then we’ll not have the chance to try before buying.

John Foxx says:
31 May 2013

HMV – can’t say I’m impressed with the re-floated version. They keep emailing me offers which are largely not great and their website seems sparse. I can really see no reason why they won’t go down the toilet a second time. The lessons haven’t been learnt.
HMV committed the unforgivable “crime” of trying to sell CDs at £16.99 when you could get them for under £9 online. Yes they have overheads, but £8 worth a CD!?!?
Jessops – decline – we no longer need to buy rolls of film for starters and get them “developed”. Adapt and survive. In the end, they were just a camera shop and you can buy cameras almost everywhere now and expert advice is available online. They all fail because they fto surf the wave of change so they wipe out…. Record companies, publishers, even Apple – bubbles burst – all tomorrow’s fossils.

Paula Louise Neale says:
7 June 2013

I will never ever buy from HMV again. They have treated their customers appallingly. They did finally honour the vouchers bought for my children as gifts but today they have really shown they are not worthy of trading.

Last September I bought my son a Arnova 10b G3 tablet from their Canterbury store. It has stopped working completely. Today, I went into the (very unhelpful) Canterbury store to see what my options are and if they would give me a refund. I did not have my receipt but I did have my bank statement which showed the date of purchase and on looking up Arnova sales on that day they confirmed that I purchased the tablet there. They tried to fob me off with a telephone number to the administrator, so I told the guy that as he was the manager he could call them for me. He did they gave him another number for me to call which was for Arnova. I called Arnova from the HMV store. They said to me they can not refund as I have not paid them directly for the product but that I could have brand new replacement as long as I have the receipt or obtained confirmation from HMV that the product was purchased there. HMV will not give me a screen print of my sale. So I am now £359.98 (£159.99 for the original tablet and £1.99 for a new one) out of pocket as I have has to go an buy my son a new tablet elsewhere and there is nothing I can do about it. I feel like I’ve been robbed.

This is the sort of situation where Google Glass would be very useful. If shop “assistants” knew that they were being filmed and could appear all over the Internet they may well behave more helpfully.

Paula Louise Neale says:
7 June 2013

I will check those out – Thanks 🙂

I wouldn’t dream of buying anything from Jessops – not ever. Not after doing two mystery shops for them very recently, one requiring considerable travel costs for me, and discovered they had joined forces with the mystery shopping company they engaged to scupper any chance of being paid for both assignments. Why? Just for not photographing the front of the store, which had no bearing on any of the questions posed in the evaluation reports, which both passed quality control with ease. The sole reason they wanted these photos was to prove I had attended both assignments in the first place.Well, if that is the case, why didn’t they check their CCTV, not fiddle me out of my well earned fees both jobs whilst still probably benefitting from the content of my reports. Furthermore, I won’t be doing any more mystery shops for them either now that I’ve done one more that I was already committed to completing a couple of days ago.