Buying a new computer or any electronic product from Currys/PC World should be a 5 to 10 minutes hasslefree experience, but as I learnt recently shopping at their stores is far from that, with aggressive staff trying to sell you products and services you simply don't need.
After a family laptop was on its last legs, I thought I'd treat the gang to a new one, and picked a fairly cheap all-rounder costing £330, recently reduced from £400.
Since it was listed as being limited stock, I decided to reserve it online, however, there was no option to pay for it via credit card, instead this had to be done at the store.
No problem. I presumed since I had reserved the laptop it would be waiting for me at the store and all I'd simply have to do was pay for it and leave.
Oh, boy was I wrong.
Rather than the woman at the "Knowhow" desk having my laptop ready for me, she went off to find the "laptop guy" who actually turned out to be a woman in her late 20s or so. First thing she did was to take me over to the actual laptop I was buying and asked me what I would be using it for. I told her nothing special and just general surfing and online banking.
She then desperately tried to sell me Microsoft Office and of course an antivirus software product. I told her no thanks, as I have McAfee antivirus software provided by my Internet provider and would never require Microsoft office, however, she had to double check, and insisted the McAfee antivirus software product Currys/PC World are selling had special online banking security features.
Again, I had a tell her no thanks, and she finally went off to get the laptop. This took at least five minutes as she didn't actually prioritise getting my laptop, instead she decided to rearrange some of the shelving units over the other side of the store.
This, I guess, is a delay tactic with the hope that you'll change your mind or browse and buy other products.
My Laptop Is Here, but the Horror Isn't over
I waited near the tills, and as she approached, she wasn't interested in taking my payment, but instead wanted me to sit down at the nearby desk to discuss other matters before finalising the transaction.
I told her politely but firmly, that I was on my dinner break and needed to get out of here ASAP. She said okay, we'll do it at the till. With my credit card in my hand she still wasn't quite prepared to take my payment.
This time she gave me a lengthy sales pitch on the "Repair & Support Plan" which would apparently take care of any repairs if my PC broke down, and offer a yearly checkup. I said no thank you.
I was then offered a service that would set up my PC and make a backup copy of my system restore on a USB stick. Again, I said no thank you.
By this time I had been in the store at least 20 minutes for what basically should have been a simple pickup.
She finally got the message that I was only going to buy the laptop that I have reserved for £330, and finally took my payment.
Her attitude when we first met was bright and friendly, yet her tone of voice turned quickly and she looked at me as if I was screwing her over by not buying the barrage of unnecessary extras.
I'm no stranger to buying products from Currys/PC World, and occasionally by a new television or computer in the sales every few years. It's rarely ever an enjoyable experience shopping at any of their stores, and the sales staff hound you before and after you buy, but their tactics clearly have gotten more aggressive in recent years.
Lucky for me, I'm very tech savvy, and know exactly what I want and don't. An inexperienced buyer could as easily walk into Currys/PC World and end up buying additional extras and services costing more than the product itself. Even worst, if you have learning difficulties, a mental illness, or are elderly, these vultures won't take any pity on you and will bleed you dry.
The True Cost of These Extras and Services
Antivirus Software: Virtually every new PC comes equipped with a 30 day trial of a well-known virus product, failing that Windows 10 has built-in virus protection, or you can use several free products which are just as good as the real thing.
Currys/PC World wanted to sell me "McAfee LiveSafe Premium 2018" which would have cost a whopping £79.99.
Microsoft Office: Again virtually every new Windows PC comes with a trial version of Microsoft Office pre-installed, allowing you to try before you buy.
I'm not aware what version Currys/PC World would have sold me, but prices range from £59.99 to £229.99 for the top version.
Laptop Repair & Support Plans: Also known as "Repair & Support Plan" and formerly known as "Anything Happens". This will apparently cover you for any kind of mishaps or component failures, even though every single electronic product having a minimum 12 month manufacturers warranty. Despite it being dressed up as some kind of insurance policy, it is in fact a service plan backed by a trust fund, thus it isn't regulated by the Financial Services Authority or protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme or the Ombudsman.
Repair and support plans prices vary depending on the price of the product/s you have bought. In my case, my laptop cost £330, and I could have taken a two year plan at £109.99 or a three year plan at £149.99. There was also a monthly option at £6.99 per month.
PC Setup and Factory Recovery USB Stick: A few years ago, most PCs came with a recovery CD/DVD, allowing you to restore your PC to its factory default if something went wrong. This is now built into the computer's hard drive allowing you to perform a factory reset without inserting a disc or USB stick. It is however a good idea to make a backup copy of this onto either a disc or USB stick.
I'm unaware of the actual price of this, as I didn't get as far as discussing this with the sales woman, but an online search reveals it costs up to £55, which is a blatant rip-off since a 16 GB USB stick (which is usually required) will cost you less than £10, and around 45 to 60 minutes of your passive time to set up the PC and make a recovery backup.
If I had taken up the offer on all the available products and services they were offering (or forcing on me) I could have ended up paying an extra £305 to £515.
The grand total could have been (including the laptop), a massive £849, £515 over the actual price of the £330 laptop.
Currys/PC World staff will try their hardest to sell you unnecessary products and services to go with your new computer, and I recommend that you do not under any circumstances buy any of them.
Most of what they're offering can be had for free, such as antivirus software or an alternative to Microsoft Office. If you want to insure your new computer, then ensure it with a reputable insurance company, not Currys/PC World's Repair & Support Plan, which has plenty of bad reviews online. Making a factory recovery USB stick is fairly straightforward and will only cost you around £10.
In the future if I do see a good deal on Currys/PC World, I'll be ordering online (with no extras) and have it delivered straight to my door, bypassing the morally bankrupt sales staff.