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Industry News

Published on December 17th, 2014 | by The GC Team

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Electrical retailers failing to tell shoppers they have the right to return goods

A new Which? investigation has revealed that some electrical retailers are giving misleading advice to consumers on the return of faulty goods.

Mystery shoppers from Which? visited or called six leading electrical retailers across the UK, making 72 visits to speak to shop-floor staff and 45 visits to talk to managers about a faulty product that was out of warranty.

In its shop floor visits, Which? found that Apple fared the best with nine out of twelve visits rated fair or better, while Argos had the lowest score with only three visits rated as fair or better, a slight improvement from last year in which the retailer scored fair or better in two of the visits.

A Which? consumer rights lawyer rated the information that was given to the mystery shoppers from ‘excellent’, where staff gave accurate advice, to ‘very poor’, where it was explicitly denied that the consumer may have rights.

Currys was the only retailer to score an excellent rating for one of its shop-floor staff. The employee clearly explained the shopper’s rights and gave detailed information on the options that could be pursued to fix or repair the faulty product.

As for John Lewis, Which? said it had been “less than impressed” with the responses given by shop-floor staff. “Of the eight visits that failed to pass muster, we had three very poor and five poor experiences. Comments such as ‘we don’t actually have to do anything’ summed up one of the visits, leaving our mystery shopper with a clear impression that John Lewis could not help.”

In discussions with managers, Apple again achieved the highest score in the investigation. Of the 10 visits to Apple managers, nine were rated fair and one as good. Currys managers also scored highly with 10 out of 11 visited rated as fair or better, with two visits scored as excellent.

Richer Sounds was among the lowest, with only one out of four visits being rated as fair or better. “Our mystery shoppers found it difficult to get hold of managers in stores and on several occasions we were told a manager was unavailable,” said Which?. “Out of the three visits rated poor or very poor, one of the managers incorrectly told us it was up to the manufacturer ‘to do something’.”

Amazon also scored poorly when Which? called and asked to speak to a manager, with only two out of five calls being rated as fair or better. Advice received from managers was mixed and rated from very poor to good.

“Since our results were revealed to the companies we investigated, some firms, particularly Richer Sounds, have been actively working with us to improve,” said Which?.

Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “While it’s clear major retailers have improved their consumer rights knowledge since our previous investigation, it is still unacceptable that customers could be left out of pocket by following incorrect advice. Stores must ensure the information staff are giving is correct.”

A copy of the Which? report can be found here

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Get Connected is the top trade journal for the UK electricals industry. Its website is the fastest, most interesting and up to date in the business.



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