Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Why are PC World staff so utterly useless?

I realise I'm not the first person to ask this question - and I won't be the last. But why, when internet shopping - especially for digital goods - is going through the roof, doesn't the main chain where you can go and actually handle the goods and ask questions make even the slightest attempt to provide an acceptable experience for shoppers?

Before Christmas, girding my loins and taking my son along to provide the sort of expert advice I knew I wouldn't receive from the staff, I visited our local PC World to buy a snazzy new iPad for my wife, mainly using store-specific vouchers. After being approached by a sales assistant, and having chosen the iPad Air 2, I asked if they had any cheap analogue transistor radios (we have several digital radios but...well, it's complicated). Looking bored, the salesman led us to the digital radio section and, not having found any analogue radios, informed us that they no longer sold them. On our way to the check-out, my son pointed out a large display groaning under a profusion of analogue radios. I chose one.

When I produced a stack of £10 tokens the same salesman made it clear that processing them was the draggiest thing he'd ever been asked to do, because he had to manually input information from each one separately. Given that PC World had opted to be part of the voucher scheme, and given that I had had absolutely nothing to do with devising their sales processing systems, I didn't see why the salesman felt it necessary to do anything but suck it up and smile - especially as I was topping up the tokens with sizable credit card payment.

This afternoon, my wife took the iPad and a keyboard that clamps onto it which we bought off the internet (£50 cheaper than the equivalent item in PC World) along to the same store to look for a cover to protect both items when they're in her handbag. She was approached by several sales assistants asking if she required help - which she did. They were, by turns, surly, incompetent, unhelpful and seemingly entirely ignorant of the goods they were selling: one of them even quoted a price of £40 for a cover which, it transpired, actually cost £19.99, and another seems to have decided to actually prevent her from buying anything. They needn't have bothered - obviously, we've opted to buy one online, and not from the PC World site.

I don't really blame the staff: there are plenty of websites where you can read about their working conditions. I remember, several years ago, PC World launching an in-store campaign where staff would be rewarded according to customer satisfaction rather than the value of goods sold. I presume that initiative fell by the wayside. I have to replace our geriatric but still-working Macs in the next few months, and I'm almost looking forward to dealing with the sales assistants at the Apple Store in Westfield, who have always been friendly, helpful, knowledgable and enthusiastic. I'd be happy to take some members of PC World management along to show them how it should be done.  


  1. I had a similar experience trying to buy an Ipod at PC World in Guilford. I sloped off in a foul mood to Anderton's, the guitar shop nearby, and immediately had my faith in customer service restored. My experience of the Apple Store is similar. The Regent Street store is full of genuinely knowledgeable, enthusiastic staff who out-perform their 'tech-ier than thou' counterparts in the New York Apple Store in terms of approachability and willingness to tolerate analogue men.

    1. Agreed re the staff at the Aladdin's cave that is Anderton's.

      One of my proudest moments was showing an Apple employee how to delete characters in front of the cursor (press the up arrow key and the delete key at the same time - something I discovered by trial and error). "Wow!" he exclaimed. "I never knew you could do that." I remind myself of this glorious incident whenever I'm being technically incompetent.