Over the weekend, I was helping out a friend with the purchase of a new computer system.
We rather fancied the concept of an all-in-one machine and identified an ideal candidate in the HP 520-520-1110ea 23” Touchscreen model which was available from PC-World at a surprising £120 discount on the Amazon price.
I say ‘surprising’ because PC-World (aka, Dixons, Curry’s Digital, or whatever they call themselves this week) are usually a good bit more expensive than Amazon and most other places.
We also decided to purchase an HP All-in-one printer whose ‘online’ price was the same as Amazon—for some reason, PC-World offer many cheaper prices for 'online' purchases, even if you end-up collecting them from the shop.
So far, so good—but getting hold of the goods was not so easy.
Firstly, the computer was marked as ‘not available for home delivery’ which seems to mean that, despite prominent advertising at 'sale' prices, the item is only available ‘for collection’ in a few branches.
Searching around the London area, I found that both items were available in the nearby Mile End branch—that is, until I reached the ‘checkout’ stage when I was advised that there was a wait of several days for the printer unless I was willing to pay extra for delivery by the following Tuesday.
No biggie—I scrapped that item and ordered from Amazon for home delivery.
I then went through the process of ‘reserving’ the HP Computer which was shown as available for collection until close of business on the next working day (Sunday, in this case).
Repairing to the massive Mile End Curry's store on Sunday morning, I presented my reservation and was surprised to be told that “I will just go and check to see if it is in stock”.
After 10 minutes of wandering around, consulting other staff members and general faffing-about, I was advised that the item in stock had a fault but they could certainly help me to find another product to meet my ‘needs”—my needs, in this case, were to purchase the product that I had reserved.
After consulting the computer, it appeared that the nearest available replacement was in Ashford (Kent) but there was no possibility of delivering this to my home or to a closer branch.
The computer also showed 2 of these machine In stock at Mile End but one was on display and therefore not for sale—what on earth is the point of displaying a model which is not available for sale?
As the computers in the sale were supposedly ‘clearance’ items pending the launch of Windows 8, there apeared to be no practical possibility of ever purchasing my selected model, at the advertised price.
It seems to me that PC-World are not really geared-up to dealing with people who actually know what they want—they are more about selling what they happen to have, together with a load of extras such as extended warranties and maintenance agreements which somewhat overlap with statutory consumer rights and existing manufacturer warranties.
Having given-up on PC-World, I returned to www.amazon.co.uk and ordered an Asus all-in-one computer, an all-in-one HP printer, a copy of MS-Office 2010 and a book on Windows 8—all at very competitive prices.
All 4 items were delivered just after noon the following day (Monday), free of postage/packing charges, courtesy of Amazon Prime.
The aforementioned HP 520-1110ea PC briefly disappeared from the Mile End branch inventory on Sunday but was again shown as available ‘for collection’ on Monday morning
Arhur Daley and 'Del Boy' Trotter would probably be easier to deal with.