The vitality of the UK high street has been on my mind recently (see my blog below on the demise of HMV ). So when my son finally wore my wife and I down and we agreed to let him buy an Xbox I was in a quandary. On Friday we went online and discovered that the ideal model at the best price was at PC World. And here was the problem. You see, on Thursday I had spent nearly an hour in conversation with (ok, yelling at) their so-called service department over the woeful way they had dealt with my daughter’s camera repair. Long story short, we had handed in Elsa’s camera before Christmas. Eight weeks later they sent it back unfixed saying ‘we can’t find anything wrong with it’. And…? There was no ‘and’. Just come and pick it up, unrepaired and with the problem unresolved.
Hats off to them, in a way. It takes some skill to use a complete range of poor service gaffes in a single phone call.
First stonewall (we can’t find any fault), inferring the customer has either fantasised the problem or is just plain stupid. Then blame someone else (actually the workshop can’t find any fault -you should really take it up with the manufacturer) Now, hedge (we are not saying there is no fault just that a fault was not found) and then hide behind the rule book (I assure you, we have followed the correct procedure in this situation). If that doesn’t work – and it didn’t with me – play good cop (Mr Pearl, I am trying to help you here), then bad cop (There’s really no need for that language, Mr Pearl) and finally fall over and play dead (There is nothing more we can do).
Nothing more you can do? Nothing? You can’t replace the mother board or whatever? You can’t swap the camera? You can’t refund my expensive and useless insurance? Until you have exhausted all the options and sent a liveried courier to my house, with a bunch of Azaleas and a hand written card personally apologising for treating me like an idiot, there are actually PLENTY of things you can still do!
So back to the quandary. Buy online and join the mouse-clicking hordes ruining our high streets? Or swallow my pride and give PC World one more chance? Fast forward to me and Zach standing with his hard-earned pocket money in front of a wall of Xboxes at our local PC World. The gesture was wasted though as the Xboxes turned out to be just that. Boxes. Empty boxes. The nearest actual console was in Dumfries or somewhere. Yes, they could order it for us but it would actually be quicker if we ordered it ourselves – you guessed it – online.
And who says the high street retailer is a click away from extinction?
I don’t want to leave with you the impression that PC World was entirely unhelpful. As we were leaving, shaking our heads and choking back the tears, an assistant buttonholed us. He was that rare breed of shop assistant who seemed to think his job was ‘assisting’. He wasn’t patronising. He didnt have someone more important to talk to on his iPhone. And he had three priceless words of advice which actually solved the problem. By the end of the afternoon my son was blasting aliens and hammering Juventus on FIFA 2013. Thank you Hameed.
And those three words? “Go to HMV”.
Have you had a similar or worse customer dis-service experience? If so, I want to hear about your high-street horrors.