Which? has warned Currys PC World it may be in breach of the law after more than 100 customers complained they had been pressured into paying up to £40 more than the advertised price for a pre-setup laptop.
Despite Which? bringing up the issue multiple times since 2015, customers at Currys PC World are still reporting they’re being cornered into paying the extra charge.
Since January 2015, 108 people have been in touch with Which? and said that despite ordering online or going to a store after seeing an advertised price, they were told that pre-setup laptops were the only ones left in the shop so they had to pay more.
In the last three months, nine people told Which? about their experiences with the unadvertised charge at Currys PC World.
After questions from Which?, Currys PC World says it’s ‘urgently re-briefing’ its stores that if there are only pre-setup models available, customers should not be charged extra.
Currys PC World does offer an optional £35 ‘Knowhow’ setup service, as advertised on its website, which includes a USB recovery stick. But customers have reported to Which? that they were not told it was optional.
Customers have told Which? that, despite ordering a laptop online, when they arrived to collect it in-store they were told the pre-setup computers were the only ones left in the shop so they would have to pay an additional set up fee, which they were not told about at the time they made their order.
These stories suggest Currys PC World could be breaching the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations with ‘Bait advertising’, a practice whereby a retailer lures someone into their store with attractive advertising, knowing they can’t honour the offer or there’s only a limited supply of stock.
Currys PC World is also required to advertise the full price of a product that is bought online under the Consumer Contracts Regulations.
Which? has called on Currys PC World to refund customers who were forced to pay the charge even though they did not want to take advantage of the optional service.
In response, a spokeswoman said they were sorry to hear some customers were charged for the Knowhow service without asking for it.
‘We are urgently re-briefing our stores now to remind them that, in the small number of cases where only pre-set up models are available, customers should not be charged for the service when they buy their laptop.’
Currys PC World asked customers affected by this to email them directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
This is not the first time Currys PC World has come under fire for this practice. Which? raised similar concerns with Currys in January 2015 after a flurry of complaints on Reddit and confirmed with Currys PC World that if you weren’t aware of this set-up service before purchase, nor did you request it, that you should not have to pay any additional fees.
At the time, a spokesperson from Currys PC World reiterated to Which? that the service was optional.
But after Which? continued to receive complaints, we again contacted Currys PC World in December 2015 and in March 2017 who then said they were ‘genuinely disappointed’ the incidents kept occurring.
Alex Neill, Which? Director of Home and Product Services, said: “This issue has been going on for more than three years without resolution and we are disappointed people are continuing to report feeling pressurised into parting with their cash.
“We want Currys to make cast-iron guarantees that it will put an end to this practice and that customers who’ve been caught out will be reimbursed.”
What are your rights?
Under the Unfair Trading Regulations there are 31 practices which are listed as being unfair and one of those is bait advertising.
A retailer can’t lure a customer into their stores with special prices, knowing they won’t be able to honour the price.
They also can’t promote one product with the intention of selling you something else – this is known as a ‘bait and switch’.
If a laptop is advertised for a specific price but there are only models with an upgrade installed left in the store – they have to honour the advertised price.
Use Which?’s guide to complain if you’ve been misled by a special promotion.