Secret film embarrasses Currys and CometWhich? tests shop staff on HD TVs and TV recorders

25 January 2011

Watching HD TV

Freesat is a good option if you want to watch HD TV

Which? research shows that some shop staff at the UK’s biggest electrical chains lack basic knowledge of the technology products they sell.

Almost one third of the 154 visits by undercover Which? researchers to branches of Comet, Currys, John Lewis, Richer Sounds and local independents, were rated as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ for knowledge by our experts. We posed as shoppers looking to buy an HD TV or digital TV recorder and asked staff for advice.

Which? members can read the full article. If you're not a member, subscribe to Which? magazine now to try three issues for just £3.

Comet and Currys did badly

Not one visit to electrical giants Comet and Currys could be rated as ‘excellent’, so we went on follow-up visits with secret cameras to investigate further.

In five visits to Currys where we enquired about recording digital TV, we were steered towards a DVD recorder – a more complicated way to do this than the personal video recorder (PVR) which would have suited our needs. PVRs allow you to record TV programmes and play them back.

Other examples of poor advice across all our visits included staff confusing HD Ready and Full HD TV - you can watch Full HD only on Blu-ray format currently. Some staff simply didn't know how many hours of TV different PVRs could record.

There was also evidence in our visits of hard sell tactics - staff steered us towards buying cables we simply didn’t need, or towards more expensive cables when cheaper ones would have been just as good.

John Lewis best for knowledge

John Lewis had the most number of visits rated as ‘fair’ or better for knowledge of HD TV and recording digital TV, with Richer Sounds not far behind. But our research found that even visits to these chains could be a bit hit and miss. Across the board, only eight of all our 154 visits were rated as ‘excellent’ for our experts.

How do customers rate the big electrical chains? Take a look at satisfaction ratings from more than 14,000 shoppers who bought electrical goods - in the Which? shops survey, which is the biggest in the UK.

What do you think about shop staff knowledge? Join the Which? Conversation and tell us.

More from Which? Home and Garden...