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PC World – Repair Policy, Customer Service and the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002

pcworld and the sale of goods actI have had a run in with PC World.

They will not replace a faulty computer.

PC World, I note from my internet research today, has been described by others as ‘Like Hell, but with worse customer service.’

I cannot say whether this is true as I have not yet had the pleasure  of visiting Hell, but my experience of PC World in Charlton has reduced me to an infernal despair.

It appears from my web research today that I am not alone in my despair. In the hope that it may assist others, here is the text of my letter before action I have crafted to the MD of DSG Retail who own PC World, and, I believe, Currys.

Take due note that under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 consumers have a RIGHT to require EITHER repair or replacement…so do not be fobbed off with a compulsory repair policy.

PC World is not so PC, after all, in my experience.

So here goes….

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Mr Stephen Campbell
Managing Director
DSG Retail – PC World
Maylands Avenue
Hemel Hempstead,
Herefordshire HP2 7TG

Dear Mr Campbell

PC WORLD – CHARLTON STORE- FAULTY TOSHIBA LAP-TOP
SATELLITE C660-130 | PART No: PSC0QE -00500CEN  |  SERIAL No: XA295426K

We represent Mr C J Sherliker, who purchased the above Toshiba lap-top from your store, PC World Charlton, South London in December 2010 as a Christmas present for his son who needed, and still needs, the lap-top in connection with his studies.

It has never worked properly.  It will not turn on. It never reaches the end of it boot up cycle. The machine turns itself off after 30 seconds. The screen remains black.

Our Client has twice requested an in-store credit and twice been refused.  We regret having to trouble you in this matter. You, no doubt, and we, have better things to do, but if you could do what you can to bring some reason to bear in this matter and ensure that PC World complies with its plain statutory obligations, it would be appreciated.

The legal position is simple. Under the Sale of Goods Act 1979, as amended, our client has a right to be compensated if the goods do not conform to description, or are not fit for purpose or are not of satisfactory quality. PC World, as seller, has an obligation to replace or repair the goods within a reasonable time. You have twice failed, on request, to replace the goods and, further, you have failed to repair the goods within a reasonable period time. Further, under section 48A(1) of the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002 our client, dealing as a consumer, has a right to require PC World to repair or replace the goods. Our client now exercises that right. Unless the goods are replaced or a full refund offered within 14 days from the date of this letter our client will have no alternative but to commence proceedings. Sadly, this appears to be the policy of your company. We would observe that it  is not a winning policy.

The facts of the case, should you be interested, are as set out below.

The machine will not turn on. In January 2011, the machine was returned to store and a replacement machine, or a refund, was requested.  In contravention of our client’s rights under  the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, the Service Desk at PC World, Charlton, declined to do either, and insisted that the machine was picked up by TechGuys to be checked and for the ‘fault’ to be ‘repaired’.

Our client asked to discuss the matter with the manager but was told that it would make no difference because the machine fault would still have to be investigated before the store would consider a refund. Reluctantly, our client agreed to this procedure. In retrospect, our client should not have agreed to this procedure. In doing so, he was acting reasonably and not insisting on his clear statutory right. Our client does now insist on his statutory right.

The machine was picked up from these offices on 25th January and returned some days later. The machine booted up twice but then reverted to the previous fault. It has not worked since.

On Sunday 12th June, the machine was again taken back to store. A replacement machine or a store credit was again requested. Again, contrary to our client’s right to an immediate replacement under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, the Service Desk at PC World, Charlton, informed our client that, due to the fact that the recurring fault had not been reported within 7 days after the return of the machine from its previous services that it would have to be picked up by TechGuys yet again for investigation and repair. Such conduct on the part of PC World is, quite simply, illegal. Our client is no longer prepared to tolerate such treatment.

Given that the lap-top was manifestly faulty on sale and, further, that TechGuys had been given ample opportunity to remedy the fault but had signally failed to do so, our client understandably sought to insist on a replacement or  at least a full store credit. Contrary to our client’s plain statutory rights under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, our client was informed by the instore Service Desk at PC World, Charlton, that ‘only TechGuys could authorise a store credit’ and invited our client to call them from the Service Desk phone. Our client did so and discussed the matter with TechGuys and with PC World Customer Service for over  45 minutes.

PC World Customer Service requested to speak with the Store Manager,  advising that a request for a store credit or replacement based on the fact that the machine was not of reasonably satisfactory quality within the meaning of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 was a matter for the ‘discretion of the Store Manager’. We regret to inform you that the discretion of the Store Manager at PC World does not prevail over the will of Parliament. The Assistant Store Manager came to the phone and discussed the matter with PC World Customer Service. He then went to fetch the Store Manager who introduced himself as Vincent but refused, as a matter of company policy, to provide our client with his surname.

Notwithstanding that the machine was faulty on sale and, further, that TechGuys had failed to remedy the fault, the Store Manager, Vincent, refused either to give a store credit or a refund, contrary to our client’s statutory rights under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002. Given the delay in reporting the failed repair, he said, he must insist that the machine should again be returned to TechGuys for  further investigation and repair.

We would draw your attention to the fact that this machine was faulty when sold and, very soon after prompt investigation and repair by TechGuys, as agent for PC World, it developed exactly the same fault again. It is quite obviously not of satisfactory quality and unfit for purpose and, at the date of writing, remains so. PC World has been given a reasonable opportunity to repair it and has failed in this endeavour.  In these circumstances, we find it difficult to comprehend why the Store Manager, Vincent, did not immediately agree to replace the machine or provide a store credit but he did not. Instead, he invited our client to pursue his statutory rights by means of court proceedings. The customer service policy of PC World amounts to ‘See you in court’.

We would like to place these facts on record and also the fact that, again, our client has arranged for the lap-top to be picked up on Tuesday 14th June for ‘repair’ by TechGuys. Our client does so without prejudice to his statutory rights in this matter.

To summarise. Our client bought a Toshiba lap-top that did not work from PC World, Charlton.  Without prejudice to our client’s right to have the machine replaced under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, our client provided PC World with an opportunity to ‘repair’ the machine. They failed. Our client has on two previous occasions requested a refund or an in-store credit but has been refused on each occasion.

Our client now seeks a full cash refund of the price paid for this lap-top pursuant to his rights under the Sale and Supply of Goods to Consumers Regulations 2002, and will if necessary pursue formal proceedings to ensure that this is done.  In any such formal proceedings, we will be calling the Service Manager, the Assistant Store Manager and the Store Manager from PC World Charlton to give evidence and will be seeking an award of costs on an indemnity basis.

In those circumstances, we will also be bringing the matter to the attention of the local Trading Standards Office with a full report of the facts of this case and a request that the outright and determined manner in which PC World seeks to avoid its statutory obligations should be investigated forthwith.

We will revert to you in due course as to how we intend to proceed in this matter but, if in the meantime, you could intervene to bring an end to this tiresome charade and provide our client with a Toshiba lap-top that actually boots up and functions as a lap-top, it would save us all a lot of time and money.

CC: The Manager
PC WORLD,
Unit E, Stone Lake Retail Park
Charlton
London SE7 8LU.

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I will let you know what transpires…..

2 Comments

  1. Andrea Fox says:

    You go get them tiger! Sick of seeing big companies walk all over us. Best of luck and keep us posted.

  2. Heather Townsend says:

    Having had a similar battle with PC World after a leased laptop I bought through them developed a hard disk strike within 5 months of it being bought, I found the only way to get them to honour the terms of their agreement (which had been missold) was to e-mail the CEO.

    I suspect the route of the problem is that replacing your laptop will mean the store has a financial penalty – probably the profit margin of the toshiba machine on their P&L account, as this was the reason why my store would not replace my machine until it was ‘told’ too by the CEO’s office.

    On the surface the ‘tech guys’ seem to be part of PC World. However, I strongly suspect that they are a separate legal trading entity, as my problems with PC World & the tech guys (on a separate occasion) were down to the fact that the contract PC World had with the tech guys, was different to the contract that they had sold to me about maintenance for my machine.

    The tech guys are targeted on how quickly they can deal with a customer query. This means they are not allowed to ‘chat’ or wait while you download something they have asked you to do. You can not phone any customer service rep from PC World or the tech guys directly. Even a very senior troubleshooter was unable to give me a direct phone line I could contact her on. I had to wait for her call.

    I recommend you get a full cash refund & buy a dell from dell direct.

    I’ve twice needed to call upon the services of the CEO’s office to sort out and get my statutory rights… But each time I received pretty quick response and got what I wanted & required.

    Good luck.

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