Originally written for TTUK Website, so you can skip it if read there, am posting in full here as a test of G+ reach and comments.
So, here in the UK, we basically now only have one ‘independent” mobile phone chain, and they are known as Carphone Warehouse. They have lots of branches, 4 in little old Ipswich, including one inside Currys, which they picked up after Phone4U ceased trading. I put independent in quotes as they like to pretend to be looking to offer customers the ‘best’ deal (via some tablet software designed to fool the average normob) but in my view, they do not as they don’t even offer the 3 network here in the UK, who offer some of the best deals especially for data use.
Anyway, yesterday morning, (Monday the 16th March 2015) I decided I wanted to try a Lumia 735, it has been a while since I tried WP, and this handset has been getting some Twitter buzz lately, not least because EE are doing it for £119 (inc £10 top up) on PAYG at the time of writing. It was Green though, so I thought the CPW offer of £169 inc top up with a Free Fitbit Flex (that I could sell for £40) was close enough for me, and I could get Black or even a nice Cyan, which is a CPW ‘Exclusive’ on the 735 here in the UK. I was not bothered about what network at all, so was totally open minded, and often CPW PAYG handsets are unlocked anyway, but keep in mind, I would buy any network.
So, as luck would have it, I was going in to work a bit later than normal yesterday, so I thought I would go to my nearest CPW store at Anglia Retail Park Ipswich for dead on 9am, so I could buy it and still get to work by 9.30am. It is on my way to work, and only a mile or so from my house, so this should be easy. I am a good consumer, I did my web research carefully. The Lumia 735 was on PAYG from CPW ‘from £159 plus top up‘ I was careful to check that this was not a ‘web exclusive’ because then, as I know to my cost, the SPO (Sales Prevention Officer) in store takes great pleasure in telling you, “oh no, I am sorry Sir, that is a web exclusive, we can not possibly match that price here today”.
As an aside to that ‘web exclusive’ reference, it is kind of stupid anyway, since all you have to do is order it online the day before and get it delivered to that same branch, you know, the one that can’t actually sell it to you that day for the same price as the online version of the same company. Complete and utter madness if you ask me. In the past (and again yesterday) I was advised to do exactly that, leave the store, go home, order it online and request next day delivery to that same store I was stood in with credit card in hand. I never have by the way, since if I am ordering online and waiting anyway, there is a very high chance someone else is doing an equal or better deal anyway, or is a much nicer company to deal with (not hard, when comparing to these jokers!)
So, in the past (and yesterday actually) what I would do is go away and order the item from Amazon, or in many cases, order it from Amazon from my iPhone in the damn CPW branch I was standing in. You hear a lot about ‘showrooming‘ in the press these days, and all CPW are doing with this ridiculous tactic is actually increasing the use of it. As I say, total madness.
Anyway, back to the 735 simple purchase. I forgot to say, the website not only made it clear it was NOT a web exclusive, but it showed the Black version was in stock at Anglia Retail Park store. So, I arrive at 9.04am, I am in retail and hate it when customers turn up before or on the stroke of opening (or closing!) time, so I gave a little bit of leeway. But alas, the store was dark, and all shutters were down, and two other people were sitting in their cars waiting. Hrmm, maybe try a little tweet at @cpwtweets account, but I was too subtle for them it appears, and they reply with the standard opening times.
So, I decided to wait a short while longer, after all the visit would be simple and quick right? At 9.08am a chap pulled up, fag in mouth, and opened the front door, the fag still alight was thrown onto the ground directly outside the store, (as another aside what the hell gives smokers the right to litter everywhere with impunity, really pisses me off) and he started to open up. As I entered the store (gave it another couple of mins out of politeness) he did apologise for the late opening, and I wandered over to the PAYG display to check pricing was exactly the same as web (been caught before) and it said from £169 plus top up, so £10 more than online, but hey ho, never mind, I was here now.
Me: ‘I would like to buy the Lumia 735 in Black, please’
SPO: “Hrmm, they are like golddust them, don’t think we have those in stock’
SPO: “You are in luck (come on now, this is a bloody WP we are talking about here, don’t push it) we have one’
Me: “Great, I will take it, you are £10 more here than online, can I get it for online price please?”
SPO: “Oh, its probably a web exclusive” (Do they get paid each time they say that?)
Me: “I don’t think so, can you look on website, does not say it is”
SPO: “No, I can’t look at website”
Me: “Oh” (gets iPhone out and shows him, while he is busy hunting his stock system), OK, well I will still take it at £169 as it comes with free Fitbit”
SPO: “Don’t think you get Fitbit with PAYG”
Me: “Um, well this website AND your display over there says you do”
SPO: “Oh, maybe you do then” (then cheers up for first time) “you don’t get it in store today anyway, you have to apply for it” (seems really happy to explain this negative news, oddly)
Me: That is OK, if it is same £169 on Vodafone I will take it on that please, if not, cheapest”
SPO: “Its £199 on Voda and O2″, oh, its £199 on all of them” “you may as well buy it SIM free”
Me: “Umm…..it says £169 on your display over there and £159 on your website and its not an exclusive so now you are telling me its £199?
SPO: (oddly happy) “Yep”
Me: “Well that is pretty misleading isn’t it?”
SPO: “Nothing I can do about it, its on the computer” (visions of Little Britain “the computer says no” pops into head)
Me: “Right, so I just wasted almost 30 mins then?”
SPO: “Just order it online at £159 and have it sent here for tomorrow”
Me: “Tell you what, I will order it for £109 from EE and have it delivered to me tomorrow”
I leave the store staggered at what just happened, but you know me, a sucker for punishment, I have to go past the Currys store on the way, and have a little bit of time left, so I call in, head over to the young lad on duty and after checking wall display (just in case I misread it at other store) still said from £169 (it did) I asked him if he had any Black ones. “Oh no, we don’t stock them, I can get you one in a few days”. The way he said it made me wonder if I had just some completely mad question, it was like, ‘in stock, what is this craziness”.
This is what I don’t get about some retailers today, they pay a fortune for the lease, the fitting, the TV and other adverts, and then when you go to buy an item, they don’t have stock, and see no irony in saying you can come back in a few days when in 99% of cases you can order from Amazon for next day delivery, and cheaper in many cases.
So, I failed yet again, and yes I do see the irony of the fact these idiots are actually saving me from buying a Windows phone (joke!)
I worked until about 5.50pm, and on way out, decided to try one last time at the Futura Retail Park store which is 500 yds from where I work. Never having had much luck in that store, I never had high hopes, but even so, the chap excelled himself, I bet his bosses would be proud. I am gonna call him ‘Redfoo” as he looks a bit like him, and I expected him to break into “Party Rock” at any moment lol.
Me: “Hi, can I get a Black Lumia 735 on PAYG please”
Redfoo: “Hang on a moment” (works away at computer), ‘they are £199 on all the networks, which would you like?”
Me: “I would like the one at £169 as per your wall display (yes, I checked before asking) over there” “don’t care which network”
Redfoo: “Well they are all £199 so I can not do that”
Me: “This is a bit misleading isn’t it” I ask. It is now 6.05pm and this is important it turns out.
Redfoo: “Well we CLOSED (he raised his voice for that one word) 5 mins ago so I expect they were £169 earlier today but tomorrow they will be £199 and we will change the signs”
Me: “Well, I know that is not true as I have been in two of your other stores today and they all quoted £199″
Redfoo: “Well we stopped TRADING 5 mins ago and should not even have let you in” (why did you then?)
Me: “Not sure the relevance of that, but thanks SO much for your help” (walks out staggered again at the level of staff training and recruitment in these stores, and not convinced that Redfoo actually heard the sarcasm in my parting shot!)
Now don’t get me wrong, these guys get paid peanuts, and we know the rest of that saying, but come on, a bit of common courtesy never hurt anyone, and also, would have avoided this rant which will get seen by several hundred people at a minimum.
I got home about 7pm, and about 10pm decided I would still like a new phone to play with today, so I went onto eBuyer.com, and despite being so late at night, the phone will be delivered today, free of charge. That is what you call good service. And we wonder why online shopping is taking over?