Maplins for a good laugh from an ex customer

  SSmith 02:32 11 Mar 2005

On monday I went into Maplins to buy a few things. In the past I've found their staff have no real idea what they are talking about but mondays experience topped them all. I sent them this email and as I look back on it I see the funny side but I don't go there for a laugh I go to get what I need. Obviously in keeping with the store ethos the customer service manager hasn't bothered answering it

Dear Sir/Madam

Since my visit to your Tottenham Court Road store I've been very curious as to how a business model based on getting rid of customers works?

As an australian who has lived in many countries I am used to varying levels of customer service and I have to say that in London it is uniformly terrible. However my experience yesterday was a new record.

I am a musician and estimate that in the last 12 months I have spent around £900 at Maplins. Yesterday I called in to buy a packet of patch
cords, some audio adapters and possibly a wi fi setup. I soon found the patch cords and adaptors but couldn't find the Wi Fi stuff I was looking for...

Then the fun began.

To sales assistant
'Hello, I'm looking for an 802.11 wi fi card with an antenna extention lead and high gain antenna'

'yes sir the television accessories are over here'

'I'm sorry but it's not for a television, it's to go inside my PC'

'I used this cable with my television and it worked fine'

'excuse me but I don't think you understand, it's wi fi stuff for the computer, 802.11'

'Here are the television antennas, this one works well in London'

'Er..... Look it's for the computer so I can set up a small wi fi network'

'Oh I'm sorry sir, we don't have televisions for computers'

'It's not a television for a computer I want! I want to set up a small wi fi network on my computer - do you understand what I am talking

'Yes sir, we don't have anything like that, you should go to a radio shop'

At this point I was so jacked off I walked out of the shop and glanced at the wi fi cards in the cabinet! I realised when I was on the other
side of the road that I had the patch cables and adaptors in my hand unpaid!

I turned around and walked back in to the store and went to the cash register. There are I believe 4 or 5 cash registers. 5 people (men)
were stood talking and 1 woman was serving a difficult customer. After standing there for several minutes with a long queue growing behind
me, I called out

'would anyone like to take my money?' The men rapidly disappeared. 5 minutes later I was served and left vowing NEVER to shop at maplins again. And in hindsight it would have served you right
if I didn't pay for the patch cords.

Could you please explain to me how you make money when you have a policy of getting rid of good customers? As a musician much of my success is based on offering the punters what they want - is this some form of reverse psychology?

I will be posting this on several musician/audio/computer websites so in fairness I will wait for your response and post that with it.'

As I said they have not bothered to answer. Anyone know what other shops sell all those odd little bits and pieces you need every so often. In the USA Radio Shack do a good job but they don't seem to be in Britain?

  €dstowe 06:49 11 Mar 2005

Radio Shack was in the UK but it failed - partly due to the success of Maplin.

I use Maplin stores but treat them in the same way as I treat my local Tesco, I work on the assumption that the staff know nothing about what they are selling and I go around looking for what I want on the shelves myself. Normally, the sections are well marked so at the least, I can find my own way to the appropriate department.

What I always do, however, is consult their catalogue, either in-store or my own copy, to ensure that they do stock what I require and obtain a reference number for it if they do.

  g0slp 07:06 11 Mar 2005

Radio Shack's name in the UK was Tandy, of course.

I've just visited the US for the first time in 5 years, & I have to say that Radio Shack's gone downhill. Very small 'bits' availability; shelves full of mobile phones, electronic toys & blank CD spindles. Very depressing...

  Colin 11:53 11 Mar 2005

Why would you expect to get an answer to your e-mail? Straight away, you are provocative and sarcastic and the fact that you stated that you wouldn't use them again anyway, hardly gives them a reason to respond to you.

I am sure that an e-mail pointing out their failings without resorting to derision, would have got you a response.

  SSmith 12:57 11 Mar 2005

I think it's the summation of living in London for two and a half years and the frustration thats built up around terrible customer service in general. I'm not saying anywhere is perfect but nowhere is it as bad as London with at best indifferent attitude.

  SSmith 12:58 11 Mar 2005

I think it's the summation of living in London for two and a half years and the frustration thats built up around terrible customer service in general. I'm not saying anywhere is perfect but nowhere is it as bad as London with at best indifferent attitude. In the end I thought it was quite funny and became sarcastic about it all. I don't think I should have to the one to point out to businesses that if they want my money then I sometimes need service?

  Stuartli 14:00 11 Mar 2005

This reminds me of another group of Maplins employees - in the TV comedy series Hi-De-Hi!

  Colin 16:59 11 Mar 2005

SSmith, I agree with you. Customer service in this country can be awful, but I do have some sypmathy for the "frontline" staff. They get paid poorly and, as you know, are trained poorly, too. But it usually they who get it in the neck from irate customers, not the senior staff. However, people still keep pouring into these places, leaving the company with no incentive to improve anything, apart from paying lip service.

  Forum Editor 17:17 11 Mar 2005

and I'm sorry to hear that you feel so negative about the service you've received in London. I occasionally use a Maplins store that's not far from where I live, and my experience has been the exact opposite of yours - the staff are knowledgeable and helpful, especially one girl, who seems to know just about everything about every component they sell.

By complete contrast, and to illustrate just how personal all these experiences are, the worst service I have ever received in my life was in a computer shop on the last occasion I was working in Sydney - where the sales assistant was incredibly rude, and incredibly ignorant about the products he was selling. So you see, it can be the same the world over.

My view, and you obviously share it, is that there's no point in moaning about bad service unless you complain - I did it in Sydney, and you've done the same thing here. My complaint (to the shop manager) resulted in exactly nothing - no apology, and no recognition of the fact that his colleague had done or said anything untoward. Let's hope you fare better.

  oresome 17:46 11 Mar 2005

€dstowe's attitude is the best to adopt.

To be fair to Maplins, I've always found them pleasant and as helpful as I would expect. They sell a diverse range of products and it's unlikely that any employee would have a expert knowledge of all that they sell.

If you call in armed with a part number, the staff are good at locating it within the store for you. Some have a particular interest and can give sound advise in this area........if you can find them!

  SSmith 18:11 11 Mar 2005

Yes customer service in other countries can be terrible. In Australia it started to get better when some of the american multi nationals moved in but it's still patchy. The best service - although you know it's all an act - I've found is in the USA. I didn't give the frontline staff at Maplins a hard time - although I did stare in disbelief - I complained to customer service (who got back to me today after I gave them a link to this page) I think in Britain the problem is complex however I'll narrow it down to two things. The first is that the staff don't seem to connect with the notion that it is the customer who is paying their wages. The second is a massive culture of blame which is a great disincentive to taking responsibility. eg I've been expecting an important parcel from Finland. When I got home at 12 there was a postcard from Royal Mail saying they had tried to deliver it and there were a few options. I needed to call the number on the reverse during the stated 08:00 -17:30 office hours. I started calling at 13:00 and it just rang out over and over. By 16:00 I'd had enough and called Royal Mail customer service. Everytime I got to a certain point in the long and complex menu it would disconnect. After about 45 minutes I got through and mentioned this. Their response was 'It must be your phone that is faulty!' BLAME had been shifted and now we can all relax. I then found out that the delivery office may be open during those hours, they just don't answer the phone. The advice was that I should go there - 2 bus trips each way in Greenwich Traffic - and if it's not open complain to the manager. Eventually I got a vague promise that it would be at my local post office maybe on Tuesday or Wednesday next week and I could pick it up. Although it's not computer related it illustrates systemic umacceptable levels of customer service.

Enough from me. The whingeing Aussie.

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