PC World, selling stuff you don’t need…

PC World

Having recently been made redundant I have found myself on my first Monday, unemployed and somewhat adrift. I had stuff to do, like hooking up my parents laptop to their TV and visiting my grandparents, but I had some time inbetween, and there was little point in going home as it would involve backtracking (no man likes to backtrack).  So I stopped by PC World to have a look about, see what they had in that was new, and to see if they had yet set up some sort of ‘Official’ Microsoft section, which they had not.

I perused the Apple section which was of course set up beautifully. All the latest Mac’s, iPads, and Macbooks were on display, all priced up, and running the same demo, very neat, tidy and well, attractive. The PC section however… was shocking.

Apple Stand

The first row of devices you encounter when you walk in the store was horrifying (Apple were in fact the second row). The First row was tablets, primarily various Android tablets with a few ebooks thrown in for good measure. Over half of the devices were not priced up, had no demo running, in fact only a couple were turned on although not connected to the internet. Having worked in retail myself I was amazed that it was so messy. This is the first row of products people see when they walked in, and it was a shambles.


NB: In all fairness I originally went in on a Monday, and like may retail stores PC World was no doubt busy at the weekend. I remember many Monday’s tidying the store and re-stocking when I worked in retail, so I went in again on a Wednesday and the photos here are from the Wednesday shoot.

Having got over the terrible display ethic, and got past the oh so pretty Apple stand I moved on to the PC’s. I was quite surprised to find that about 2-3 rows were all exclusively laptops, ultrabooks and randomly, a couple of netbooks. there was 1 dual row for desktops, and another for all-in-one’s, but otherwise it was all laptops. Clearly mobile computing really is the buzzword 2013 for PC world.

Mobile Computing

Whilst wandering around I overheard a sales chap talking to a couple looking to buy a new, Windows 8 laptop. The couple I think were roughly in their late 40’s, perhaps early 50’s and in fairness were asking all the right questions. This couple had clearly never encountered Windows 8 before and the sales chap was explaining the Windows Store, the desktop option if you want it, and was doing an ok job, until it came to one question from the customer.

“Can I still get my email from Outlook?”

This is a fair question, and leads me to believe that the customer has Outlook, the office edition on the desktop. I come to this assumption as the customer in question when asked, stated they used a virginmedia email address, and that their son had installed outlook and sync’d the virgin account to it. Fair enough.

Credit: Microsoft
Credit: Microsoft

The sales chap, clearly sensing an opening; stated that Windows 8 does not come with Outlook on the desktop and that they would need to purchase the entire Office 2013 package. In store Office Home and Business is £218.99, or £190.00 as a web ‘exclusive’. There was no mention of the fact you can easily sync any third party email account to the currently installed ‘metro’ email client. Whilst he didn’t lie to the customer he didn’t mention the fact that they don’t need Outlook for the desktop, for purely home use, thereby upping the clients bill by around £200.00.

So that’s one thing already mis-sold.

Second – The customer stated they were concerned about viruses and what not getting in to the computer, wiping files etc… which is all fair enough, and it is good that they are aware that anti-virus is a must on any internet connected device. The sales chap of course jumps on this, and says that they can sell them ‘at a discounted price’ Norton 360 which will be a years license of anti-virus. NO mention of Windows Defender, at all, which has been hugely updated and really does negate the need for a third party anti-virus system to be purchased.

Credit: Norton
Credit: Norton

Third -The customer, bless her, said that she didn’t want to have to hassle her son to set up the laptop, and would PC world do that for them. This is potentially the worst thing that you could ask of PC world. I have heard so many complaints, and horror stories about PC world’s engineers that when the sales guy went to ask what their backlog was like, I almost said to the customer that they don’t need office, that their son would no doubt be happy to set up the PC if it saves you money. I didn’t do this, but man was I tempted.

Fourth – The customer straight up asked the sales chap which is the better laptop for the price. The choice was between an Acer and a Samsung. The sales guy didn’t enquire about their usage, their storage or anything only “The Samsung has a better screen for the price”. That’s it. Whilst in this particular occasion he is right, its not necessarily what the customer wants. There was no probing into their usage of the laptop. Do they travel a lot? Do they watch movies? Do they use the laptop for music? In this instance I’m assuming its general consumption of media, email and internet browsing, the Samsung Laptop was a good deal heavier than the Acer and if its going to sit on someones lap for a while, its going to get uncomfortable.

I suppose in many respects this blog entry is just a rant, but I was just surprised that there was so little care for the customer needs and that the sales guy increased the price from around £349, to £549 with the addition of Norton and Office, all of which the customer in this instance, does not seem to require. This is of course not including the ‘set up’ cost that PC world will charge the customer so their son doesn’t have to do it. I know that like any business PC world need to make money, but not at the expense of mis-selling to the customer. I would love to work at PC World and would happily talk about computers all day, and would make sure that the device fit the person. The issue here, is that I would no doubt be let go from the business, as I wouldn’t upsell what the client doesn’t need.

At this stage i’m tempted to email PC world and ask what their customer ethos/mantra is (lets face it, all companies have something akin to this), when it comes to helping customers, and then tell them my thoughts as a customer of their store. See what happens.

What really gets me…. I know that those poor people will have been upsold a 3 year warranty at point of sale, something else, they won’t likely need.


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