Do dealers play the system!

  spuds 11:08 03 Jan 2006

Over the past twelve months or so,on-line internet purchasing as increased alarmingly.And computer sales promotional offers have perhaps lead to this.But as this caused some dealers to 'play the system' so to say. We are hearing more about payments being taken at the time of order, yet when things go wrong it can be a nightmare to get your money back. Okay, in consumer law the dealer should return your money within and upto 30 days (far too long in my view), but how many companies use your money to resolve a cash-flow problem.

The same applies to some warranty claim procedures, and we find that the 'on-site' repair may mean, back to base.With the possible end results that you have no computer facilities, until the computer as been returned.One particular posting recently, stated that a camera was returned for repair, with the end result that a bill for inspection was sent to the customer, as the dealer regarded the fault was not a warranty issue. The dealer stated that the camera could be repaired for a slightly extra charge, with an overtone of 'Pay Up' for the inspection or repair or we keep the camera.In this case the bill was over £100.00.

The same thing applies to 'your call is important to us' telephone helplines. You connect to an 0870 number, then placed on hold for ages, whilst you are told that 'all our agents are very busy, please hold on, your call is very important to us'. Yes it most probably correct, after all you are holding on, paying for the call and waiting for that actual human response.Then when you finally make contact, you can never be sure if you will resolve the problem, that you held on for.

I do not know if this still applies, but I recall an incident last year. I made a visit to the local PC World store, and made a purchase. On the receipt it stated the advisor's name and that I was to make contact if I required further assistance. All looked prim and proper, with easy access to the person who had just sold me the item. Not so, I later found. Got home, had minor fault with item, phoned the number on the receipt and informed that it was a call centre that couldn't connect me to the store or adviser, but I could return the item back to the store.Result, waste of 'your call is important' telephone call, and return journey to the local PCW store. All to ask a few questions regarding installation, as the item was not faulty.

So, do dealers play the system to their advantage, or do we get value for money.What do you think!!.

  pauldonovan 13:18 03 Jan 2006

RE: taking money when ordered - although I don't like this, to be honest it is probably a result of the margins (as I understand it) being low in PC production and too may consumers ordering a PC (which is built to order) then deciding they've found it cheaper elsewhere and cancelling the order. At the margins some of these places work at they can probably ill afford that (i'm guessing a bit here).

We as consumers expect lower and lower prices but not to see any change in the quality of service. Something has to give. Would you be prepared to pay 25% more for your PC to have the guy at PC World answer your call? Would everyone? I think some suppliers still need to adjust to the internet age and also to perfect their CRM (Customer Relationship Management) which aims to treat all customers like a personal relationship, augmented by IT, but doesn't always work as well as it might.

These people are businesses after all, so you would expect them to try things that can increase or maintain their margins however they should be balancing that with maintaining customer good will.

  spuds 14:04 03 Jan 2006

I would agree that these people are in business, but when one company can take your money immediately for an off the shelf item, so to say,and another company will not take any funds until the item as actually been dispatched, then this can make a very big difference to a customer and customer relations.

Paying PCW 25% more for a sales assistant whose name appeared on a receipt or one of their store collegues to answer a phone, would still equate to a call centre charge on an 0870 number possibly, and in the end it still resulted in a return visit to that particular store, by the customer. The problem was solved within a three minute discussion, whereas the return journey took fifteen minutes each way, not including vehicle costs.The helpline was not 'kitted' up on this occasion to answer the simple question.

Don't get me wrong, the books have to balance at the end, but when companies like Amazon and Crucial offer a 1st class service with a minimal inconvenience or surcharge,then other far less reliable companies need to improve their act.

  flaming 15:52 03 Jan 2006

PC salesmen and call centre PC engineers are just as much at the mercy of the system. I was new to computers in 2000 managing until last year with e cafe equipment. I bought my own stuff at a large well-known PC outlet, served by a nice young man qualified up to the eye-balls (I asked) no doubt on a 'target' pay system, with unsocial hours. I would have gladly paid extra to further discuss what was in my purchased box, and to have had installation from the company. I also bought a 3 year warranty, mindful of how difficult it would be for me to take it back if it went wrong. I soon learned about that! I did manage to get an on-site annual health check for £25 extra, but that was cheap compared to hiring someone to get the PC back to the shop. In the meantime I have had 3 visits from a PC engineer, extra this-es and thats, help phone calls as on-screen instructions result in panic and glazed eyes. On the whole I am pleased with my 'new magic'. I have had to accept that users must muddle through what is still a wondrous new technology and no-body knows everything there is to know. In the main I think we users get value for money so long as we do not necessarily take the one salesman's opinion - but that applies to any trade, doesn't it?

  Sapins 16:19 03 Jan 2006

On the subject of 0870 numbers you can find an alternative regular number at click here

  pauldonovan 16:26 03 Jan 2006

Is the PC we are talking about an 'off the shelf' item though? If so, why isn't it charged and despatched immediately - I suspect because it isn't really as off the shelf as you think it is? I wasn't talking about time-to-refund... I think you'll find that a lot of even 'standard' PCs from mail-order companies are actually built to order rather than them keeping huge stocks but I may be wrong.

You can't really compare Amazon and Crucial with say a PC Manufacturer or PCW (if you are) - Amazon aren't really offering a product backed up by a service like PCW or a mail order computer supplier, they are just shipping out packages.

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