Dear PC World

I came into your shop today with the full intention of buying a new netbook. I didn’t want/need anything fancy, just something to surf the net on, and type up the odd blog or document.

To be honest I didn’t know the first thing about buying a netbook or any other gadget, or even if a netbook was the right thing for me. I’d asked friends and been given some good tips on what to look for and what spec I might need. I’d also been told by several people that I shouldn’t get a netbook as they are on their way out. So I entered your store confused from the start.

I had a look at the netbooks, they seemed OK. The right size to be portable, big enough screen, good sized keyboard and the right price for my budget but I also looked at tablets. I wasn’t sure they would suit my needs; I’d have to get a docking keyboard and to be honest that was over my budget. I also looked at the laptops – again out of my budget reach, we already have a laptop at home, and they didn’t seem portable enough.

I spoke to one of your sales assistants, explained what I would be using the gadget for and she said that a netbook would be ideal for what I was going to use it for. I mentioned that I had been told that netbooks were on there was out but she said she still felt there was a market for them – afterall you did have 8-9 on the shelves to look at.

So I spent a bit of time looking at the ones you had available and indicated to your sales assistant that I’d chosen one. She was actually with another customer but said she would come to me as soon as she was free.

While I was waiting, another of your sales assistants came up to me and asked if I needed any help. I said that I’d like to buy this netbook please. He said ‘Are you sure?’

I have to admit I was a bit taken aback by this. I wasn’t expecting to be questioned on my choice. But I stumbled that yes I was sure as it seemed to be the one which would suit my purpose and budget. He frowned, shrugged his shoulders and said in that case I would need to update the memory as soon as I purchased it as once I’d added an operating system there would only be half of the memory left and it would run quite slowly. He then said that I should consider a tablet instead as netbooks are on their way out.

By this point PC World, I have to say that I was now even more confused, the conflicting advice I’d had from your sales team was really unhelpful. I told the sales guy that he had successfully put me off, thanked him for his time and left your store with the £350 still in my bank. As I was leaving I did see the first sales assistant come and find me and talk to her colleague, who I hoped explained the advice he’d given me.

The reason for writing is not only to let you know of the poor customer service I had today with conflicting advice and questioning a customer’s decision but to also look for some clarify. Are netbooks on their way out? And what is the best portable gadget for surfing and typing for the budget I have?

Hope you can help.


31st August 2012

5 thoughts on “Dear PC World

  1. Hi Kate, I hope you don’t mind a response.

    As an IT professional I can tell you that PC World are notoriously awful at most things. Entering their shop and asking for advice on anything is like going to Primark and asking them to measure you up for a tailored suit. (Note: there’s nothing wrong with Primark clothes, they’re amazing value, you just wouldn’t go there to make a significant purchase, right?)

    There is one single combination of factors that would make me go to PC World to actually buy something:
    – I know what I want
    – I can’t wait for somewhere online to post it to me
    – It’s the only place open
    – Its cheaper than the other places that are open
    As we have a Tesco Extra nearby I can tell you that that combination of things now never occurs for me.

    I was once actually accused of stealing by a store supervisor in PC World. Funnily enough, I’d bought a Netbook. The guy that sold it to me threw in a case for free, but hadn’t put the case on the receipt. The case was the wrong size, so I went back to change it and the supervisor, whilst pretty much having a row with the sales guy in front of my face for doing a deal with me, basically told me that because it wasn’t on the receipt, they’d have to take it back and, rather than swap the case for one the right size, I’d have to buy one.

    And don’t, DON’T ever take a broken computer their for repair. Take it to someone that knows what they’re doing.

    As for whether or not Netbooks are ‘on their way out’. That’s a) a matter of opinion and b) not really relevant. The thing about needing to add more memory is rubbish!

    And you do, really have a choice. Netbooks will be able to do more as they are effectively mini PC’s, so you can install any PC software on them. The key advantage of a Netbook, as you’ve already identified, is the built-in keyboard.

    Tablets are amazing if you can afford them though. I’m typing this on an iPad and it’s brilliant for blogging and writing, even using the on-screen keyboard. Though I wouldn’t go for anything less than a 9-inch display if you want to type/write.

    Tablets aren’t as capable as a Netbook. But what you’ll find is that the things that tablets can do, they do with much greater speed and style than a Netbook would. I love that my iPad switches on in no time at all. It doesn’t need to start up. I just click the home button and in less than a second it’s running.

    I’m a web developer and I can’t do all my work on my tablet – I can’t design and code websites – but when I’m on the move it’s all I need. I can do email, blogging, take notes in meetings, use it as an eBook reader, get maps, check and update social networks, watch videos, play music, edit photos, and play some pretty amazing games, and a whole load of other things too.

    So, if you really want a real keyboard, then go for a Netbook. But for what you need to do I think there are many benefits to a tablet if you can afford one. See if you can find someone that has one and get them to give you a tour and try it out.

    Above all, trust the opinions of people who understand and know the technologies and the pros and cons of both tools, and who are interested in getting you what need, not those of poorly trained, low-paid salespeople who are out to make a quick bit of commission.

    Hope that’s useful in some way.

    • Hi Ross, thank you very much for your reply – and really helpful comments. Shocked to hear you were accused of stealing – really, really poor customer service. I think I need to have a whole rethink on the gadget front – and maybe save a few more pennies. My problem is I don’t really understand what it is I’m buying in terms of spec, functionality etc. I just know what I need it for – portability and practicality – but admit I had ruled out tablets. Maybe a revisit of this is needed. Thanks again for your comments, really apprecaited. Kate

  2. I have shopped there very reluctantly after being regarded more than once as a potential shoplifter simply because I was looking at things that apparently women weren’t supposed to look at (scanners, computers, books about coding…). The then male salespeople were distinctly patronising in their attitude. I have found their product knowledge to be rather abysmal with regard to computers and computing peripherals.
    I somewhat reluctantly bought a baby laptop there 4 years ago and almost instantly regretted it. It was too heavy for its size and the battery only lasted about 40 mins even when new so it’s useless as a portable device. The touchpad was erratic from the start.
    If I had the money now, I’d look at a new baby laptop rather than a netbook – but I want to be able to use photo-editing software, spreadsheets & maybe software to help make websites. I would consider a tablet if I had the money. The people I know who have them seem to like them and find them useful, and I saw a very nice presentation done live on an iPad at a conference earlier this year.

    • Hi Janet, Thanks for the comments – shocked by the attitude you had from the sales assistants, similar to women choosing a new car, very patronising. I’m having a rethink about a netbook now – but will need to save a few more pennies if I go down the tablet route. Could do with having a go at typing on a tablet to see how I get on with screen typing rather than keyboard typing. Thanks again for your comments and if ever PC World reply, i’ll keep you posted. Kate

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